September 13, 2016 by deltagamegirl22
Underestimated Games has really caught my attention with their stunning artwork and clever characters – so totally different than those we’ve seen in other games. I had been admiring the game from afar until I got to chat with Gary at Salute this year and flip through the fantastic, wooden tome that housed all the concept art.
I was hooked! Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to have a chat with Gary Devereaux from Underestimated Games about their really fascinating world.
Purgatory will heading to Kickstarter this October!
BoW: Where did the concept of Purgatory come from? The game, not actual Purgatory!
Gary: I think I would be telling porky pies if I said that Purgatory, as it exists now, came to me in a random epiphany. However, the seed of Purgatory started on a very long drive home. I’d been thinking about ideas, having been involved in another project for a short period of time and kept coming back to a biblical theme.
Almost immediately ideas tumbled into my mind and I got to thinking about models I had seen in different ranges and came to the conclusion that whilst there were some stunning angel models out there, there wasn’t really a range.
Having gone to a Church of England school as a kid, I was steeped in a great deal of “lore” and I knew I could apply some of this to the world. Though I needed it to be a bit darker, where it wasn’t just angels. It had to be more.
Can you give us a general overview of Purgatory?
As I am currently writing all of the background, this chat comes whilst I am knee deep in our world. In brief, the Gods are creators. They have embarked on a quest to create “perfection”. They are petty and there is infighting as the Gods try to out do each other and prove which of them is the best.
The Earth is one such creation, and though the 7th, by no means the last. Each realm or universe has a heaven anchored to it. It’s like a ruling council or governing power as the Gods have no time nor interest in such things.
Satan was the Angelis Primaris of the seventh Heaven and initially sought to bring illumination and evolution to this realm. The Gods declared it scrap and barren and moved their sight away from Satan and his realm. In resentment, he tried to break the shackles of his creators and claim this Heaven and it’s realm as his own. It was his and his only – none would take it from him. It was his right.
He systematically purged those still loyal and embarked on the greatest war in the history of the Gods, The War for Heaven. Though his reign was short, Michael and the greatest of their kind descended as a vengeful host and cast the traitors down, though some escaped and exiled themselves, scattering amongst the realms.
Many landed on Earth, which is where our story begins in earnest. The angels hid initially but have now revealed themselves and the War that was once in Heaven is now here on Earth and the age of Purgatory has begun.
Who are the factions for Purgatory?
Ok, so actually there are four factions, but when I say that, this is at Host level. We have the loyalists, the traitors, the opportunists and finally the restorations. For example, Death is neither good nor bad, instead she is trying to bring balance back to the world and reset the clock and start anew. If a few million souls have to die on the way, she is pragmatically down with that, because the end result is the same.
St Peter is an opportunist, he wants to work the margins, finally free of the yoke of the Gods, he is down here for him and control is everything. Some of the others like Siren and Penemue are loyal, fighting to rid those that have turned from the Gods. No prizes for guessing what Moloch is and he is joined by the likes of Erishkigal and Lucretia, determined to just smash the place up and kill, well everyone.
Beneath that you have cohorts, groups of people that have elevated an angel and worship or follow them. Murder Inc, for example, are purely in it for the pleasure of the kill. The Refugees of Religion are determined to restore faith and worship in the Gods and the Gangbangers – they just want the biggest slice of pie.
They all serve different roles and in most cases they are a mirror of their host. There are twenty cohorts at various stages, each has a Host which is predominately developed, with an underpinning theme.
The cohorts that come with these are certainly fleshed out for ten in fullness, the rest are at varying stages of completion as we’re currently concentrating on the Kickstarter. We enjoy the creative process and this is often a break from the orderly approach to making sure we make this something for everyone.
We haven’t even really touched on the four horsemen of the apocalypse yet, but you will see those guys at the Kickstarter if we get a big enough following.
What’s unique to Purgatory compared to other games?
What’s unique? Well, we certainly think the characters are, along with the art. I mean, as per our previous statements, when you see what we have done with the four horsemen you will just think, “huh, what?” and then you will look again, read the bio and the card and will hopefully giggle and go “ah, I see!”
We keep saying it but Purgatory needs to be familiar. We believe, rightly or wrongly, that some wonderful Kickstarters have come and gone and in fact, some are still out there. These projects have inspired great swathes of people to invest in our collective lunacy.
But something is missing and we believe that is longevity. Of these great ideas, there are not many communities that have grown and established themselves into something considerable, where strangers can meet, play games and become lifelong friends. This has happened to me and I want to be able to facilitate this for others.
So with that in mind we have spun the familiar with the different. We have applied real life effects to in game rules and coupled this with a skirmish format that makes a game swift and easy to play. You should be able to look at a rule and go “yep, I get it”.
Our true difference or unique aspect though is two fold. First it’s in combining a tabletop skirmish game with a deck-building aspect. You can compliment your faction by having tailored Gods cards. Second, is the ability to make a gang from anyone, with very few restrictions if any.
Of course we want an element of fluff to determine why X and Y should never be on the same side, and that is part of the background depth. However this sprang up from a frustration. We have all seen that box of models we loved just one model from and either paid double to get it, or never bought the box and trawled ebay.
Our game allows you to either go faction aligned or instead just pick and choose the models you think you like the most or represent the best value for you and you can build until your heart’s content. You can try new builds, switching characters in and out, looking for cool synergies and enjoying that secret aspect of gaming that is army list creation.
Most importantly, you can go at your own pace. If you don’t have a huge disposable income, then you can pick and choose the models that represent the best value for you at that time. As somebody who is expecting their second child in six months, I know full well that real life can come between a man/woman and their plastic army.
We want to encourage unique lists, diversity, and synergy and we believe this is the best way to increase the longevity and options of our game.
What is a typical game turn like?
This is a good question. We have taken on the views of a number of different people and applied these to our world. We can’t do that for everything but we can certainly apply the most relevant and telling. A good game turn will see Moloch stride across the table and scare the life out of people until he flatters to deceive, haha.
Though honestly, my dice rolling with the biggest and meanest of our bunch has been ironically abysmal. There is a lot of testing going on against people. Certain feuds have developed with Barry gunning for Hannibal and Jack gunning for the Katz, oddly enough.
It helps because it validates the level of balance when similar stat line characters go toe to toe. You get a real apprehension as to what will be the outcome.
We have done so much with the game to try and make it familiar. This is really key to us. We believe we have a rich background, story and theme to our world and we want this to be the factor that combines with a familiar, yet different set of rules giving the game a more adult feel and theme that has some truly humorous aspects.
I mean really, a clown floating through the air, using balloons to do so, whilst firing a Tommy gun? Or even the look of horror on your opponent’s face when Jack charges around a corner not needing line of sight, and who can’t just cry and giggle as a set of Katz do what can only be described as a drive by with tooth and claw, the result of which is that your coolest character ends up with Rabies…. sigh!
All of these things have happened and so much more, you will just have to play it and see for yourself I guess.
What size is the playing area, and why did you choose it?
It is currently 4×4. It was 5×5 as we were going to have ten models per starting faction. But, after play testing and listening to you guys we changed it so that games are quicker, more intense and fun. The reduction in models also reduces the funding requirement, which means we can deliver quicker, due to fewer models but also offer greater value.
If you consider that we have already created ten characters for each faction, then it shows that we already have options in the pipeline to switch people in and out, especially for people going for an aligned group. 4×4 is also better for the gamer at home, space is often an issue unless you have a full dedicated man-cave so we are trying to consider people’s lifestyles in the decisions we make.
Who is your favourite faction, and character? Yes, you have to choose one haha…
Ha! Ok. Time to be ruthless, this moment was always going to come. My favourite faction, and I am going to include Host and Cohort here, is probably the Refugees of Religion. The Host is cool and there is something to be said about a forlorn hope. Though I will always hold a special place for Soul Train as our first (and they kick ass too).
Death holds a candle modelwise, I stumbled across a cool backstory and what is not to love about those scissors?!!? In artwork, I really like the Godmother from St. Peter’s bunch. Lorinda has done a great job of that and I think the model could be iconic.
In truth though, I am in awe of all of it. I have so much passion for this which hopefully imbues the readers with a positive line of thinking that there is so much more to come! You wait until you see the Devils!!
Where do you see Purgatory going in the future?
Where will Purgatory be in the future? I don’t know. I’ve seen some great projects fail, some more fortunate have just scraped through which left them in a place where they could never really, truly realise their ambition. Crowdfunding offers no guarantees and I guess this is the reason why I don’t know. Maybe if I reframe the question in what do I want it to be? That helps.
If Purgatory can be something where people are talking on forums about who to take and why, or if people paint models, gaining enjoyment and maybe even winning painting competitions, or even if I see two life long friends or even newly met, throwing dice at each other and acting out our ideas, then I would be truly humbled.
Can it be this? Yes!! Even though I started this I have a team of guys with me that share a passion for this world. It has the potential to be limitless. It’s raw, but it has depth, quality and with some support and lots of coffee over the next three months, it can be whatever people want to be.
Thanks and good luck with the project!
What do you think of the idea of bringing the War for Heaven down onto the tabletop?
"The Earth is one such creation, and though the 7th, by no means the last. Each realm or universe has a heaven anchored to it. It's like a ruling council or governing power as the Gods have no time nor interest in such things..."
"Death holds a candle modelwise, I stumbled across a cool backstory and what is not to love about those scissors?!!?"