April 10, 2015 by brennon
Black Box Games have begun their latest Kickstarter for Lords of War which sees them seeking funding for Elves Vs Lizardmen: Magic & Monsters! We got a chat with the guys behind the game to find out more about the new expansion and where they’re heading next.
BoW: For the uninitiated tell us a little bit about Black Box Games and what Lords of War is all about…
Martin Vaux: Well, Black Box Games is two people – me, Martin Vaux, and Nick Street. We have a wider team of people of who volunteer and help us out with a million other things, but we are the core of the business. We both work in education full time and manage the company in evenings and at weekends with the mission of creating games that work both as gateway games and for hardcore players.
As for Lords of War, it’s our first game line and is currently themed around fantasy – so with Dwarves, Orcs, Elves and so on. It’s a strategy card game with really unique and innovative mechanics, which helped us to win the UK Games Expo ‘Best Strategic Card Game’ for Lords of War in 2013. We launched the game in December 2012 after a long process of play testing and research, the details of which can be found in a Beasts of War Blog Series. Since then the game has spread into over twenty countries, with German, Polish and Czech translations hitting the market, but – weirdly – we’re not really known too well known in the UK or in the US!
One of the many nice things about the game is that it comes pre-built in double-deck packs, meaning if you pick up just a single copy of the game then it’s playable for two people out of the box. From there though you can scale things up to games that involve up to 8 players, you can engage in deck-building to make custom armies and we have this nifty Weather and Terrain Expansion Pack which makes the game feel a bit more like a traditional table top war game. All in all, it’s a big thing, but it comes in deceptively small, pocket-sized packages!
Right now you’re on Kickstarter looking to fund Elves Versus Lizardmen: Magic & Monsters. Tell us a little bit about what the new set contains from new cards to of course all those fancy new spells!
Okay, so, this new campaign is to fund an expansion for one of our core decks – Lords of War: Elves versus Lizardmen. Like the Orcs versus Dwarves Expansion we’re just about to release it offers players tonnes of new stuff. You can scale in different parts of the expansion, or just shuffle the whole thing in to make your Lords of War armies do tonnes of new things, including adding more Moving Units to the game, Flying creatures like Pterodactyls and Golden Eagles, Monstrous Creatures like Ents, Dragon Riders and massive dinosaurs, and – as you mention – new Magic Units.
In terms of the spells this time, whereas the Orcs and Dwarves were themed around Fire and Ice, the Elves are themed around Air and the Lizardmen around Poison. So, with the Elves, you can either damage your opponents using offensive Air Magic or you can buff allies to allow Ranged Units a double-fire capability. The Lizardmen meanwhile can cast Poison, which spreads through enemy ranks when a Poisoned enemy dies, or you can cast a Paralysis spell which prevents enemy units from Moving or Retreating.
What other extras do you have, or indeed have in the pipeline, for Kickstarter backers?
Well, we have quite a few actually! This is our third campaign and, as such a small company, we haven’t been able to offer tonnes of Stretch Goals. This time, we’re really breathing in and trying to give as much as we can afford to fans – although it’s a bit scary when you look at the bottom line!
Anyway, as for the ‘stuff’ we have up for grabs in the Stretch Goals. On the one hand we have accessories, like a lovely Token Bag, but on the other we have a tonne of fixed Booster Packs that we will be giving away – provided we hit the goals we need to. And there’s other stuff, like Kickstarter Exclusive cards and other add-ons. I mean, this time we’re going into the campaign all-guns-blazing!
You guys have done two Kickstarter campaigns before this one and both have been a success. Do you think you’ve cracked the formula or is it all still a bit of a learning curve?
Cracked it? God no! We’re not pulling in £150,000 in our campaigns – although if we could do that this time, that would be AWESOME. Rather, we’ve set modest goals and achieved them by being really up-front with people. It’s not like we’re launching campaigns with loose concepts as to what a game may or may not be – with one of our campaign it’s clear: back the campaign and you’ll get what you’ve signed up for – and you’ll get it damn quick.
We’re amazed as to how some campaigns that were running while we had our first one live still haven’t delivered to backers going on two years later. For our second campaign, we delivered the game in less that two months. We’re trying to build a reputation in the business, so as far as we’re concerned there can be no messing people about.
Templars Versus Undead should of course be the next set in the chain to get its Magic & Monsters expansion. Can you tell us a little bit about what new cards we could be seeing in the future?
Ha! Well, firstly – let’s hope we even fund this time around! It’s far from guaranteed, and every bit of support really does count, even if that’s just a share on a social media platform. So please, please, anyone reading this – do just spread the word a little bit, please? There really isn’t a fallback plan!
As for the Templars versus Undead Magic and Monsters Expansion, it’s all built and will be AWESOME if we get there. In terms of what’s new – well, the Undead can raise dead enemies and use those cards to battle with, so that’s pretty epic. The Templars on the other hand have a whole new religious sect joining them, along with the capacity to make any card in the deck a Moving Unit, which if you know Lords of War means that carnage is on the horizon!
On the topic of the future where do you see both Black Box Games and Lords of War going next? We saw the plans for a World War II version of the game a few months ago – is that still in the pipeline?
It absolutely is – but, frankly, we had an incredible opportunity to partner with some European distributors who flat-out told us that if we did Lords of War: World War II as we had planned then they wouldn’t release the games in their territories. As the UK and US have been so slow to react to Lords of War, to have pushed on with that would have been commercial suicide. So, what we really need is for the UK and US to come online a bit more, and then – once that happens – LoW: WW2 is all-systems-go!
As for the company more generally, we’ve just started artwork for our second IP – so the first ‘non-Lords of War’ game. Our plan originally was to release lots more different games – card, board and, in time, minis, and that’s still the plan, but Lords of War has kind of been all consuming. What with the two of us working all day and only having time for the company around the day jobs, because – to be clear – we haven’t made a bean from Lords of War – there’s only so much time, energy and money to go around.
For the last two years it’s therefore been a case of ploughing every last bit of money we’ve made straight back into Lords of War, printing more decks, completing more print-runs, making more accessories – like card tins, foam-backed battle mats and so on. Now we’ve basically forced ourselves to start prioritising “Game Two” which we are hoping to bring to Kickstarter over the summer.
Realistically though, for a company as small as we are, it’s hard to not just do one thing at a time. For now that means this new Kickstarter campaign, which is going to be 24-7 for thirty days. And by the end of it, provided we fund, then we can get back to thinking about other stuff. Of course, if we don’t fund then goodness only knows what we’re going to do. It could be a real horror-show!
Thanks for the chat and best of luck with the Kickstarter campaign!
If you’re interested in finding out more about Lords of War you can check out my initial review of the game here when Orcs Versus Dwarves released as well as a few other articles that you’ll see linked up above.
Head on over and check out the Kickstarter which launched today!
"Elves are themed around Air and the Lizardmen around Poison..."
"...what we really need is for the UK and US to come online a bit more, and then - once that happens - LoW: WW2 is all-systems-go!"