Adeptus Titanicus Interview: Chatting With Andy Hoare!

September 1, 2018 by brennon

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We had a chance to fire some questions over to the awesome Andy Hoare, one of the minds behind the new version of Games Workshop's Adeptus Titanicus which is currently taking over peoples hobby right now.

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Have a read through just how it was to bring this game to life!

First up, can you tell us a bit about yourself? What was your role in getting Adeptus Titanicus stomping across the table?

AH. Sure, I’m the manager of the Specialist Games team, a role I’ve had since January 2016 when the team was set up to bring the classic game of Blood Bowl back to the world. I’ve been around Games Workshop for quite a while though, having started out as a writer and games developer in the design studio in 2001 (I also worked in the Warhammer store in Brighton way back in 1993!).

Adeptus Titanicus #4 - Games Workshop

My role with this release was to cajole, harass and generally shepherd the project to completion, but I also wrote the background section, drawing on my previous experience as a writer on Forge World’s Horus Heresy team.

Titanicus has long roots in Warhammer 40,000. What was the motivation behind bringing it back?

AH. It certainly does – the original game was published only a year or so after Rogue Trader, the first edition of Warhammer 40,000 and was written by none other than the patron saint of games design – Jervis Johnson! The game has a special place in the hearts of a lot of people here, and in fact many of the photographs in the old game and associated White Dwarf articles were taken by Tony Cottrell, head of the Forge World Studio (which the Specialist Games team is part of). It’s something we’ve wanted to do for many years, and the creation of the new team made it possible to do.

What approach did you take for the rules? How do you think you got that feel of big stompy robots fighting on the table?

AH. The first thing to do with any new set of rules is to have lots of discussions about the underlying design philosophy – once you get that in place the actual design process can start. We decided early only that the game needed to have a very ‘crunchy’, old school feel to it because like all of the Specialist Games range, a big part of its appeal is its place in wargaming history and the fond memories and experiences many veteran gamers hold dear.

Adeptus Titanicus #1 - Games Workshop

We knew we wanted the experience to be a very strategic one, where the players have to plan ahead, consider orders, manage resources etc – very much the opposite of Necromunda for example, which is all about desperate, up-close-and-personal gunfights where death can come in an instant.

In essence, combat between Titans is more akin to a naval battle, with stately manoeuvres, massive barrages of devastating firepower, degrading the enemy rather than killing them in one shot, that sort of thing – think of the player as the admiral, the Titans as battleships and the Knights as destroyers and you’re pretty much there.

Adeptus Titanicus #2 - Games Workshop

The last thing we settled on was that we wanted the players to feel like they were the Princeps seated in the command throne of the lead Titan in a maniple, issuing orders, fighting and managing the resources of the god-engines under their command. That’s where the Command Terminals come in, as they represent the readouts and data a Princeps has before them, making the game feel very interactive and immediate.

Once all that was settled on, I was able to write a rules brief, which served as the jumping off point for James, the Specialist Games rules writer, to begin the hard work of developing it into a fully realised rules set.

Were there any “Eureka!” moments during the design process?

AH. There were many, but for me personally, there was one early playtest where we had a Warlord facing off against two Warhounds in quite dense terrain. Both sides performed exactly as you’d expect them to given everything written about them in Black Library novels, with the lumbering Warlord inflicting huge amounts of damage, but being outflanked and harassed by the faster, more agile Warhounds.

Adeptus Titanicus #3 - Games Workshop

At the very end, one Warhound was dead and the other was badly damaged, but the sacrifice of the first scout Titan had allowed the second to work its way into the damaged Warlord’s rear arc. The Warlord pushed its reactors to get an extra turn so it could turn to face the Warhound, a move that would decide the game either way. With its plasma running hot, however, it overloaded its reactor and died spectacularly. James developed the game a lot further after that, but we knew right there that the basic experience was spot on.

How did you go about bringing those beautiful Forge World kits down to the size Titanicus needed? What were some of the challenges you faced in designing the models?

AH. That’s all down to the skill and hard work of Chris Drew, one of the team’s plastics designers. Chris joined the team on the 29th February 2016 *(which means he only gets anniversary doughnuts once every four years!) and started the process of ‘debigulating’ (a technical term) the Warlord on his first day here.

Adeptus Titanicus #5 - Games Workshop

Even though the model had been designed as a Warhammer 40,000 scale Forge World kit, reducing the scale is an incredibly complex process that can take several months, and at the time the intent was to release the Adeptus Titanicus scale Titans in Forge World resin. However, the success of Blood Bowl allowed us to invest in making them in plastic instead, which involved even more engineering work. More complex still was the de-bigulation of the Reaver Titan and the Warhound Scout Titans, because these far older Warhammer 40,000 models were made the old fashioned way, not on a computer.

Chris had to measure every component of both kits and recreate them on his screen – as much as it would be great to just 3D scan each part (a process we can actually do) the precision geometry needed to create a complex plastic kit dictated a very different approach, but the end result is well worth the effort.

Why did you decide to stick to the Horus Heresy setting? What benefits does it provide?

AH. Mainly because the original Adeptus Titanicus game was set in (and was, in fact, the roots of) the Horus Heresy, which gives us an incredibly rich narrative backdrop to draw off of and inspire people to play in. It continues the work Black Library and Forge World have already done in the setting and allows people to set their games in a timeline they know very well indeed having followed the novels and campaign books over the years.

Adeptus Titanicus (Chris Handley)

Photo by Chris Handley

Furthermore, it’s a very focused setting, exploring the Titan battles of the most destructive civil war ever fought, which suits us at this time because there are so many Titans and Knights to explore and develop, and entirely new ones to create.

How much support will we see for this game over the coming years? Where do you hope to expand it?

AH. A huge amount! We have a detailed release schedule going forward several years, with some really exciting projects coming. We’ll continue to make all manner of warmachines and have a number of supplements in the works too. It’s going to be a really fun ride!

Finally, the big one, Loyalists or Traitors?

AH. Why not both? I’m starting out with a Traitor force – a Legio Fureans (Tiger Eyes) force, with House Rahja Knights in support. I hope to do a Loyalist force too, and I’m tempted by one of the classic late 80s Legios like the Fire Wasps or Metalica, mainly for the chance to do some impressive old-school hazard stripes!

Thanks for talking to us Andy and we can't wait to see what else drops onto the tabletop for Adeptus Titanicus.

Are you getting stuck into this game yourself and if so, are you a Loyalist or a Traitor?

"In essence, combat between Titans is more akin to a naval battle, with stately manoeuvres, massive barrages of devastating firepower, degrading the enemy rather than killing them in one shot..."

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"I’m tempted by one of the classic late 80s Legios like the Fire Wasps or Metalica, mainly for the chance to do some impressive old-school hazard stripes!"

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