Recently I had the opportunity to pose some of my (and others) questions about Panzerfauste to the brains behind the new game, Rob Alderman and Steve Blease, of Hysterical Games.
So here goes, enjoy!
<JM> Today I will be talking to Rob and Steve from Hysterical Games about their new Kickstarter, Panzerfauste.
Hi guys. Firstly let me thank you for your time today. I’m sure you’re both really busy with the Panzerfauste Kickstarter so I won’t keep you both away from the updates too long.
<Rob> Not a problem, thanks for having us! But yes, things are mighty busy!
<Steve> And tiring! I wasn’t expecting running a Kickstarter to be quite as draining as it is!
<JM> Lets start at the beginning shall we? Would you like to introduce yourselves and Hysterical Games?
<Rob> My name is Rob, I am a hobbyist/wargamer with some 19 years of experience under my belt. I’ve been a fan of historo-fantasy wargames since I discovered Flintloque in 1997 and it has always been a dream of mine to release my own. So, with Steve Blease’s blessing, we decided to remake Panzerfauste under the banner of Hysterical Games (pun very much intended).
<Steve> I’m Steve, I’ve been a wargamer for a very long time now, let’s just say my first box of Airfix soldiers cost 15p and the first rules I bought were Operation Warboard by Gavin Lyall when they came first came out! I’ve written for various magazines, freelanced and run my own small cottage industry company, Wessex Games, for over twenty years now.
<JM> Where did the idea for Panzerfauste come from for you guys?
<Steve> I first discovered the idea of historical fantasy over twenty years ago when a magazine called Games Review Monthly published a great article called Warhammer in the Age of Reason. The author postulated a continuation of the Warhammer Fantasy timeline into the historical equivalent of the Malburian period, using the (then) Citadel historical range and converted fantasy figures (such as 40K Grots with added tri-corns. I loved the core idea that fantasy did not have to be stuck in the medieval/early renaissance and things kind of developed from there…
<JM> Maybe you can tell us a little bit more about the game itself? What is Panzerfauste?
<Rob> Although I could tell you, I think Steve would do a better job.
<Steve> In basic terms Panzerfauste is a 28mm fantasy game set in a world were technology has advanced to early C20th levels. So instead of axes and spears, the fantasy races now use machine-guns and rifles. Whilst some people might think it is WW2 with funny races, it is more than that and although a lot of the imagery and background takes its inspiration from WW2 there is a lot more to it than that from both a world point of view and a game.
<JM> What makes Panzerfauste different to other options for people looking a new game?
<Rob> Well, it’s very simple to get into. For gamers that love small skirmishes, driven by stories, there is the Skirmish game. After that, there is the mass battle game, for those times where you have amassed a larger collection of figures. Basically, the game scales wonderfully, there is a tonne of character and I think it is very, very easy to relate to. We all have some kind of story with the history of early 20th century conflicts, be that a fascination, a family-member or even a computer game, film or book… We all relate somehow. Then, furthermore, bringing that into the realm of fantasy, well, that’s where your creative freedom comes in.
<JM> Congratulations, by the way, on the funding of your Kickstarter. It’s been flying through its stretch goals with more and more being unlocked daily.
I think I read somewhere that Rob anticipated a small but fervent following for this game but could you ever have anticipated it to be as wilder success as it has been so far?
<Rob> Absolutely. It’s one of the factors that has to be considered with such a niche (within a niche) sub-genre such as Historo-fantasy wargaming. It will always have a smaller fan base than most other genres, BUT we didn’t expect to reach quite these kinds of lofty heights with the project. It’s been awesome and a heck of a ride!
<Steve> I’m just gob-smacked at how quickly it funded. I expected many sleepless nights waiting for us to reach the target. Hitting it in just two hours was amazing (thanks to everyone for that).
<JM> How far do you think, realistically, this Kickstarter will go? You’re currently between £17,000 and £18,000 with the funding achieved at £5,000. I know from talking to Rob that you have plans all the way up to £26,000 at least. Do you think you’ll hit those goals?
<Rob> I can only hope so. In fairness, other projects of a similar level at a similar time have ended up anywhere between £25,000 and £70,000. Let’s just wait and see – I’d rather not tempt fate.
<Steve> Absolutely no idea! I keep reminding myself that this is a brand new company introducing a game that, to many people, is a brand new period. It’s not like it is another SF game or another fantasy where people are inherently familiar with the basic settings so we are in unknown territory really…
<JM> The community certainly is excited for this. I’ve seen shares, forum posts and interest from Scandinavia, Germany and down through Poland and Romania, not to mention here in the UK and the US. Do you think Panzerfauste will be able to compete on the level of similar skirmish games already in the market?
<Rob> I’m a big fan of Skirmish games, and people know that quite publicly. I play Relics, Norsgard, Malifaux, Batman, Necromunda, Confrontation, Arcworlde and much more! I think Panzerfauste’s refreshing simplicity and characterful nature will allow it to sit on a similar playing field to some of those games.
<Steve> Everyone I know who has tried the basic skirmish rules loves them, the core Guts mechanism Matthew developed is still pretty unique in the hobby, which does surprise me as it is simple, clever and effective. I’ve played historical skirmish games with the system and games in other periods, it is very adaptable. I encourage anyone reading this to get over to Wargame Vault, download the free Beta set and give it a spin using whatever figures they have to hand…
<JM> Speaking of further fields like Romania do Hysterial Games have any plans to support the launch into these countries? With the bigger boys of GW and Warmahordes grabbing attention there it can be difficult to get other new games going. Do you have plans for demo guys or materials at big events to generate the buzz a new game needs?
<Rob> Absolutely! Our focus will be on our home territory at first, in the UK, but we will of course try to expand beyond that. I’m keen not to explode too fast, but just grow at a slow and steady rate. Of course, I won’t deny sales!
<Steve> I’m hoping that this will be a real community project, driven by players. When I was involved with Flintloque and the original Alternative Armies, we generated an incredible buzz with wargamers which saw the game explode in a very short period of time. Unfortunately Mac had to sell the company and the game due to financial issues that pre-dated the game which was a hell of a shame. I don’t think the new owners appreciated quite what they had in 1997/8…
<JM> It would remiss of me not to ask about the elephant in the room…..PRODOS. Great minis, probably some of the best on the market today, but do any of the issues they have had of late concern you with regards to Panzerfauste delivery and supply?
<Rob> Not particularly. Obviously, I do work for PRODOS at my day job, but I can see why all of their delays occur with AvP. I know for a fact that AvP has not delayed other products or work, in as much that in converse, other projects have not slowed down AvP. Of course, that is only with the knowledge that I have – I am by no stretch the puppet master there!
<Steve> As a backer of the AvP KS I can totally understand why some backers are pissed with Prodos – I’m still waiting for my copy of AvP too! That said they have a decent track record of supplying third party projects, most recently White Dragon, so I have no major concerns with Prodos’ ability on this score. Still want my copy of AvP though!
<JM> Do you foresee any other potential dangers to the Kickstarter? And if so what are you doing to mitigate them?
<Rob> Only delays, however, I believe in open communication and trust. Therefore, as this Kickstarter is in our control, if there are any delays, we will be quick to tell people and explain exactly why.
<Steve> Asteroid hitting Earth? 😉
<JM> How will hysterical Games be handling the distribution of the Kickstarters and latterly the retail product? Is Panzerfauste based out of the UK or Poland?
<Rob> UK. We hope to ship from the UK, using UPS tracked service. I cannot find a better service that I trust more. Sure, it costs maybe 10-15% more, but it’s really worth it for peace of mind and speed of delivery.
<JM> What were the difficult steps in getting this venture off the ground? I mean 18 years is a long time to keep a project bubbling along and waiting to catch a break?
<Rob> I think Kickstarter sort of expects to see a certain amount of development done already. I wanted to be sure that the project was very clearly deep into the design process and even partially manufactured. It has been 18 years since Steve first announced and released Panzerfauste at Wessex Games, but I’ll let him talk about that.
<Steve> I don’t think it was difficult. Rob was the driving force behind the Kickstarter, I was happy pottering along releasing the odd few white metal figures with Wessex Games when I scrapped up a bit of cash with a view to devoting some more resources to this and some of the other Wessex Games projects once my son is through university and becomes a huge rock star!
<JM> What are Hysterical Games plans for Panzerfauste world domination post-Kickstarter? Is there some **REDACTED** plan?
<Rob> Ha ha! Well, in this Kickstarter alone, we have concept art for 7 factions. Now that might not be feasible, so we will likely release the latter two (sub-factions, really) at a later stage and then move into the next Theatre of War in approximately 12 months time. Steve has a 5 year action plan that I think looks more like a 10 year one, but hey, at least he’s prepared!
<Steve> 8 factions Rob! Pretty much the whole world is mapped out, most of the races are pinned down and depending on how things go a five to six year history laid out. The game could be massive, you only have to look at a historical game such as Flames of War and all the theatres of WW2 they still haven’t managed to cover and think how that would look from a Panzerfauste point of view – epic just about covers it!
<JM> Will the Panzerfauste Quarterly become part of the new games resources? A bit like CTC did for Warzone Resurrection and White Dwarf did for GW games? Do you have plans to use it for player led content and articles?
<Rob> Absolutely! We would love to receive fan submissions, things like scenarios, new unit types, painting guides, conversion guides, short stories! Anything! It’s certainly a Hysterical Games publication, but it’s open to being an enjoyable read.
<Steve> Again I’m looking at this being a community driven resource rather than an internal one. With Flintloque I edited a small fanzine called Orc in the Hills that proved very popular and contained lots of player written content. I’m hoping to create something similar here…
<JM> When can the player base expect to see Panzerfauste in action at Conventions and industry shows? When would you expect that players can get involved with demoing and testing, if at all?
<Rob> Yeah, I love the show circuit. It’s like some kind of freakish circus, where the same people attend and get to know each other as a sort of fellowship. We expect to get started showing people how to play the game very soon indeed, using our own collections of old figures. No harm there for now!
<Steve> I’ve asked Rob to book us into some shows. Theoretically there is nothing stopping us running games using the old Wessex Games figures as I have in the past, but it would be nice to show off some of the new toys.
<JM> Speaking of the industry, has there been much feedback from the wider industry at large? Robs other hat is obviously as Global Head of Sales for Prodos so we all know he’ll be rattling cages to get this game going in stores but will we be seeing Panzerfauste out there after the KS? Have larger national chains or web stores begun to take an interest in stocking and distributing Panzerfauste yet?
<Rob> There has been more interest than I anticipated. Although my daytime hat is with Prodos, my fingers are in many pies and my network is pretty big! It seems that plenty of people can see the growth potential of the range.
<JM> What do you think will be the model count difference between Skirmish scale games and Mass Battle scale games in Panzerfauste?
<Steve> Skirmish is a section level game so approximately ten figures a side, though you can play with less or more. I have played platoon level with Skirmish but employed some house rules, especially for movement, to not slow the game down. Mass Battle is your “Bolt Action” platoon level game so thirty odd infantry, plus support weapons, war-beast “tanks” etc. I hope one day we see some company level, 100 figure a side multi-player games on tables at shows etc.
<JM> Will the Skirmish game allow players to take the larger “Brute” models?
<Steve> Definitely – and war-beasts. There is nothing in Mass Battle that cannot be used in Skirmish one way or another…
<Rob> In fact, that is one of the major parts of re-writing the skirmish game – including rules for War-beasts and Brutes.
<JM> What are the recommended battle sizes? Necromunda uses Credits, Blood Bowl Gold Coins, WH40K/WZR/WH uses points…..what will Panzerfauste use? Is there some cool setting specific way this is done? Warbonds?
<Steve> Skirmish is a bit old school in that it eschews points battles, everything is scenario driven with the scenario objectives being the key. It is more like an RPG in this respect and the game encourages you to run a section through a series of games, gaining experience, replacing casualties, awarding medals etc.
<Rob> Mass Battle, on the other hand, uses Points values. Though, with the Skirmish game, I am sure we *could* come up with a points system, I somehow feel like it would defeat the purpose of having such a ‘fluffy’ game. Mass Battle is where competitive players should really go. 🙂
<JM> Lastly, thank you very much for all the efforts you’ve gone to to bring this wonderful rich world to us and thanks again for your time today. If you want to send any message to the Backers or post any final comments please feel free to.
<Rob> I’d like to thank Steve for allowing me to help with this awesome project and also thanks to all of our fans – new and veteran!
<Steve> I’d like to thank everyone who has shown faith in us through the KS and to the small mad bunch of gamers who have been on this ride since the beginning – I hope they are holding on tight! J