How's your NOVA Open experience been so far?
It's fantastic. This is actually my first NOVA. I have done all kinds of conventions, but this is the first time I came out to this one. And I'm really excited. It's turned out to be a great show. This is good from a management standpoint and from a gamer standpoint. I've been a gamer longer than I've been in the industry . . . and it's awesome! I love to see people playing games and everybody seems to be smiling.
But it's been a good show. I have been told before that it was almost like a BBQ, that it feels like a big family event, and I can totally see that. From what people been telling me who come for several years, it's even busier than before, and it feels good. You guys have a good thing going, and I think that next year it'll be bigger and better.
Can you tell us about A Song of Ice and Fire?
It's a good thing to note that A Song of Ice and Fire is based off the novels. That Kickstarter ended a few weeks ago and it went very well. It was for the initial starter set of A Song of Ice and Fire, the Starks versus the Lannisters, as well as a handful of mercenaries that are coming along for the backers. After the backers receive their shipments, I want to say that the retail launch is shooting for April or May 2018. After the retail launch (or hopefully before), we'll start telling people about the other factions and get people playing.
Can you give us an overview of the game?
It's a rank and file game. It is a much more streamlined, but also has a lot of game elements that are not necessarily on the battlefield. You can get a lot of the iconic characters like Cersei or Tyrion Lannister, characters from the books who it would be weird to see in battle. Cersei is not going to show up where all the swords and spears are, she's not going to leave the palace, that's not her thing.
So, what we have is a non-combat unit board, like a tracker and every turn your non-combat units can do these intrigue and special abilities: You say, "this time I'm influencing the crown, if I do it two turns in a row, I can have one of your units have minus two rolls because I bribed the supply masters that give you terrible bow strings." There's are a lot of cool back and forth. And there are tactic cards based off which characters you bought, which characters you might play.
The bare bones game is a squared up units-style game where you're moving back and forth, it's I go-you go. The strength of units is based on how many guys are left in the unit - and that changes based off the units themselves. The Stark Berserkers, are more powerful the more damage they've taken. By the time they're almost dead, they're throwing a ton of dice at you. Whereas the Lannister Calvary are going to take a beating all game long, it's going to take forever to kill them because they're wearing the most expensive and toughest armor in the game.
It's a fun and relatively easy system to get into. Where the complexity and tactics come into play are your non-combat units and some of those individuals - which commander is leading my army? He's going to bring special decks to play during the middle of the game.
What thinking went into the development of the game?
It's Michael Shinall's baby. This was his brainchild, so I don't want to step on his toes or speak for him. The primary goal was to create a game that felt like the books, looked like the books, and then had an easier play style that still has a lot of complexity to it. "Easy to learn, difficult to master," that sort of thing. I know that Michael is really good at coming up with unseen gems, and I think as people start to play it and as we get more factions out, and the game grows in retail stores, you'll start seeing it at conventions played by the people. Next year is going to be big for Song - it's going to do very well.
What's happening with the other miniatures systems like Wrath of Kings?
With Wrath, we're still trying to get out all the units from the Rising Conflicts book that came out last year, so there was about five to six units for every house and we're still trying to produce and get that out to people. We ran into a shipping snafu and we had a couple of months where the releases didn't happen. It was an unforeseen circumstance and it put a big pause on things for a few months, but now things are back to normal and we have our releases scheduled into 2018 to get all those units out. We're still talking to Army Painter to do some mouse specific paint sets, which would be cool.
I'm a House Hadross player (my personal thing is that I'm a fish guy), and we got a couple new releases, the Deepmen Nephrons and the Immanis Kraken. I'm psyched to see those on the table. I've had one for a while and I want to see other people start using it. I'm a big fan of anarchy and chaos when things go wrong. Fun over tactics, if you will. And the Kraken, if you don't have a leader nearby, he flips out and kills stuff nearby. I want to see people fail and have squid start eating their fish people. I want to start hearing that on the Facebook page, "my squid freaked out and killed half my line!"
I'm interested to see the new models coming out, too. I just saw the physical models for Gotha Knights and they're amazing. The art was great; the model is better than the art. I'm excited to see people when they get the Gotha Knights in their hands. So, that's where Wrath is right now.
What about Dark Age? Where is that system going?
We just recently released the Dark Age Skarrd Faction book - which is an update several years in the making, which talks about the advent of the Cult of Decay, a brand new Skarrd cult filled with cool fungus zombies, and monsters made from other models. We've also been slowly re-sculpting the dated models to bring them up to our new standards. The guys at Big Child Creatives in Spain are doing most of our sculpting and painting now - they're definitely doing the lion's share of the work - and you can tell. Their models are gorgeous and Sergio's [Calvo] paint jobs are killer. Also, moving away from the blistered line into smaller inboxes has been better for retailers and distribution in the last eight months or, so the game has really taken off.
Dark Age has been around for a while but the last year we have been focused on it and we're getting a lot of great reviews. These last couple of months have been fantastic for fan growth, seeing our Facebook page chatter grow. I'm personally super psyched because it is my baby, it's where I spend most of my time. I'm loving the fact that the fans have got stores contacting us on how to get the product in hand.
So, Dark Age is good. I love seeing it at shows like NOVA Open. GenCon was wrapping up a couple of weeks ago and that was six days of work. It was awesome to see stuff flying off the shelves and everybody buying, but with this show I can see the same kind of thing but I also get a chance to talk to people and play games. I was able to go down to the hall after hours and get a couple of games in - and I previewed a few new models - so people got to play against models that aren't out yet! I'm having a blast - NOVA Open is a great show.
NOVA Open would like to thank Bryan and CMON for supporting our convention and our community over these past few years.
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