What a year it has been – certainly one of the hardest, but absolutely one of the most rewarding, of my relatively young life. As I type I do so in a sort of post-Kickstarter haze, a joyful place where I feel both the satisfaction of a job well done tinged with excitement about what’s to come. What a rush!
As 2014 rockets closer and these articles come to an end on Beasts of War, I feel like it’s a good time to ask a big question, so here goes: why make games? It might seem like it’s a bit late in the Crafting of a Card Game day to pose such a monumentally huge question, but I do so because it’s the only real question in my mind these days. It’s endless work, every evening, seven days a week. It’s hard. So, what’s the point of it all?
Through all the experiences I’ve had with Lords of War in the last six months, between being interviewed by podcasts, seeing my game reviewed by so many outlets by so many passionate people, between meeting innumerable strangers who have taken the time to tell me how much they love our game and through seeing retailers putting their faith in us for their livelihoods, the question has kept running through my head – what is all this for?
The conclusion I come to is that we, as human beings – nay, as creatures – cannot help but play games. We like to judge scenarios and predict outcomes, to change our destinies and defy fate. We like to make rules work for us and figure out ways of gaming the system, and we do this in everything. Work, play, friendship, revenge, creative works or any other kind of leisure activity you might imagine.
To say that life is a game seems pretty blasé, but in my view you can see the whole world (and the whole of life, to a degree) as a game. The aim is to lead a happy existence – to learn tactics about how the world works and use those skills to inform how we live. As Lords of War has spread out into the world, I would like to think that the logic at its core, the elegance and cunning of its game play mechanisms and the passion baked into it enriches people’s lives and helps them to achieve small victories that lead to bigger victories. I hope it helps people to grow, because it’s sure as heck done that for me.
A couple of years ago, I could never have imagined attending a game show in Germany, brimming with 150,000 people from all over the world. Organising our presence there, taking part and sharing our passion for Lords of War was a surreal and exhausting honour. In 2014 we will return and make a big splash, or so I hope, but what a challenge to arrange and undertake! And what about meeting with distributors from America, Germany, Scandinavia, Japan, The Philippines, Israel, South Africa and beyond. Playing my game with people from these countries and for them to conclude that yes, Lords of War would appeal to consumers everywhere… my heart still beats faster when I think about it.
And the Kickstarter for Lords of War: Templars versus Undead. What an inspirational, exhausting challenge. If you didn’t follow the campaign, we not only hit our target but exceeded it by over 20%. We aren’t Mantic Games or Plaid Hat or Cubicle 7 – we’re the new guys, and people have put their faith in us in such a profound way through Kickstarter, we feel honoured and are so enthusiastic about what we can now do.
When the campaign ended, as those who follow Lords of War through Facebook and/or were part of the campaign will know, I burned out completely. I came down with flu and was crippled, mentally and physically, for a few days. Only now, more than a week later, am I starting to come back into myself, but what a ride. From August, during which Elves versus Lizardmen hit the shelves and started to shift copies – and not just of itself but Orcs versus Dwarves too – a base of players has grown, the Facebook group has ballooned and the name ‘Lords of War’ has started to be whispered in darkened gaming group corners.
We’ve attended game shows all over the country, shipped out to the third, second and first worlds, and the emails keep coming in.
As things stand, in our first year we have gone from being two normal guys with a big idea to two businessmen with a product people seem to want. Lords of War players are the best people, enjoying the game with their friends, their partners, their children and total strangers. When we celebrated Lords of War’s first birthday at Dragonmeet in London, we had cake with candles, set off party poppers and shared a slice with dozens of the people who have got us where we are. We didn’t get here alone – we got here together, and because of the kindness of others – but we have achieved so very much!
So, Lords of War: Templars versus Undead is coming. It will be released in April at Salute in London (all things being well) and the Lords of War: Terrain and Weather Expansion Pack will also be launched in that time too. We have new opportunities emerging to work with some exciting partners with some exciting licenses and we have dozens of new games we would love to release. Goodness knows how far down our ever-evolving to do list we will get, but we’ll keep working our hearts out and we hope you’ll enjoy what we have in store.
Before I go however, I’d just like to say a few thank you’s. First of all, I’d like to sincerely thank Warren and Ben at Beasts of War for all their support this year. You guys are an absolute inspiration for all the UK’s hobbyists, and Nick and I are in awe of what you do. Likewise there are dozens of other reviewers and websites, from The Geek Syndicate to The Little Metal Dog Show to The Dice Tower, Board With Life, Who Dares Rolls, Polyhedron Collider and many, many more. Your willingness to give Lords of War a try, and then to take the time to write reviews, record videos or just generate content about it is astounding and appreciated in a deep and heart-felt way.
Elsewhere, the players – THE PLAYERS! You dastardly scamps, scoundrels and rogues! Thank you too, for spreading the game and playing it with new people and taking a chance on us. I hope you feel like your investment in our games has worked out!
Lastly, and most of all, I have to say thank you to my family. When I say that I do so knowing that the new family are your friends – the family you choose. My parents have been awesomely supportive, my sister and sisters-in-law have been unbelievable, and Nick has been the Superman to my Batman throughout. He is one of mankind’s very best humans. But my other friends, new and old, you have kept me going – thank you all.
More than all of you though, and you are all awesome, I have to thank my wife. She is the person who has had the toughest time through all of this – I have been absent for much of our first year of marriage, but at every Lords of War event she has been there making sure I’m okay and driving the game to be a success. She’s run more demo games than anyone else – she’s won more games and could tell you more about the mechanics of how it works than just about anyone, and she’s been so funny and thoughtful and charming throughout… I don’t know what I would do without her. None of this would have been possible, that’s for sure – so thank you Dnyan. You’re everything to me.
And to return to where I started – why make games? Well, because there’s nothing harder, more rewarding or more satisfying. So, as long as people across the world will keep playing them, I will keep making them, and as I do please know that, when you take Lords of War off the shelf to play, years of work went into it, and it was absolutely worth it. Especially because you taking it off the shelf – that was what the whole of this crazy business was always about.
Merry Christmas everyone, and if you want to continue reading articles from Martin then he will be keeping a blog about the development of Lords of War: Templars versus Undead on the Lords of War website at www.lords-of-war.com.
If you would like to write articles for Beasts of War then please get in contact with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.