Bag Full O’ Cats

cute black cat in a red bag isolatedLast Friday, the away team at this year’s Temple Con in Rhode Island delivered the 2013 Privateer Press Keynote presentation, disclosing many of the projects we’ve been working on for the past year and what the coming months hold in store for players of Privateer’s games. Only a couple weeks before that, we also announced upcoming plans for the Privateer Press Digital e-reader ap as well as the very exciting new Skull Island eXpeditions fiction imprint that will be exploring the world of the Iron Kingdoms through multiple lines of all new, original fiction from some of the most talented authors around. While there is much more to tell about each of these different projects, the opportunity to finally expose our efforts to the world has come with a great deal of personal relief as I’m now finally free to break my silence…or more importantly, I now have something to talk about.

When I launched this blog last year, we were well into production of several new projects. I had a film project in progress and games we were hoping to bring attention to. For a time, I had more than enough material to ramble on about, and I think some of it was even interesting. But as the summer came to a close and we went dark on new developments, I suddenly found myself with very little I could converse about publicly. As well, I didn’t seem to have a spare moment to talk about any of it even if I could. MattWilsonPrime came to a screeching halt and over the past few months has accumulated dust and cobwebs, a situation that I’m hoping to remedy, starting now.

While I do love a good reveal, I don’t much like keeping secrets. It’s a burden. I’d much rather be able to share openly what I’m working on as well as all of the cool developments at Privateer as they happen, and they happen daily! There are important reasons for holding back info, though. Competition is one of them, but it’s probably the least of my considerations as much of what we’re doing can only be done by us. No one else is going to add a new faction for WARMACHINE, for instance. But chief among our reasons for being a bit coy is simply managing expectations. If we’re going to announce a new faction or a new game, we like to have something to show for it. Giving insufficient information could lead people to the wrong conclusions or leave them underwhelmed, and we always strive to overwhelm, if there’s going to be any whelming at all. (Did you know ‘whelming’ is a word? I fully expected the autocorrect to change that one on me!)

The Privateer Press Keynote largely took the form of a series of videos produced by Privateer’s amazing Tony Konichek and the company’s marketing team. If you had a chance to see them all, I’d be amazed to find out that there wasn’t at least something that you found exciting, even if it wasn’t what you were personally hoping for before the event. But for my part, I’m truly thrilled about all of the new developments we’ve got going on and can’t wait to see them produced and released into the world. I really believe Privateer has the hardest working and most motivated crew of people in the game industry and what makes them so is the pride and passion they put into these projects. They/we love what we’re doing and we love to please the people who play our games and engage in our worlds. We can’t possibly please everyone all of the time, but my hope is always that if we continue to make enough people happy, they’ll keep granting us the opportunity to continue doing more.

I could do a separate blog on every one of the new projects, but I’ll hit the highlights here:

Among the most exciting announcements was the new Convergence of Cyriss faction for WARMACHINE. This is something we’ve been wanting to do for years, but because we’re so involved with the ongoing saga of the Iron Kingdoms setting, it had to appear at the right time. We spent nearly two years developing this faction, coming up with an exciting new mechanic that would make them original and developing the visuals that hadn’t really been explored since our original RPG offering in the Witchfire Trilogy. We’ve only shown the tip of the iceberg with what this faction has to offer and I think that as it unfolds the faction will only become more exciting. I’m personally so thrilled about it that I’m ready to start a whole new army and can’t wait to get my hands on the models to start painting them. Diving into what makes this clockwork faction tick has been an amazing experience and has probably resulted in the single most realized and cohesive faction we’ve ever created. It adds a new dimension to the world and will engage players both on the tabletop as well as in the fiction that supports it. Part of having a world that is so rich and deep is that we have what seems like an endless well of material to explore and this one has been anticipated by us as well as many Iron Kingdoms enthusiasts for over a decade. Cyriss as last!

We also have had several new game announcements recently. HIGH COMMAND the new deck building game for WARMACHINE and HORDES, will give players an all new way to experience the battles in the Iron Kingdoms on a macro level. It also offers an opportunity for people who don’t have the time or inclination to glue their fingers together to engage the world we’ve created. I expect this will become the game that people play as they’re waiting for their gaming group to show up or for tournaments to start. It captures all the flavor of the dynamic battles of WARMACHINE and HORDES in a fast, intense, card game experience while showcasing the vast library of artwork we’ve accumulated through ten years of development.

LEVEL 7 continues to occupy a great deal of my time, as well. I spent much of the last few months working closely with Privateer’s director of business, Will Shick, to create the fiction for a LEVEL 7 [ESCAPE] expansion as well as the all new tactical combat board game, LEVEL 7 [OMEGA PROTOCOL]. Both games reveal new information about the insidious agenda of Subterra Bravo and allow players to explore the nightmares within its twisted halls. And with [OMEGA PROTOCOL], we get the chance to fight back — with miniatures! Taking the next steps with the LEVEL 7 franchise is personally very fulfilling, as we’re following a plan outlined several years ago. If running for your life from aliens and genetically engineered monstrosities wasn’t quite your thing, maybe filling them full of lead will be. But if all of that seems too oppressive, there’s some lighter fare in store as well…

BODGERMANIA is a hoot. It’s fast, raucous, a little irreverent, and brings that crazy cast of maniacal goobers back as pro-wrestlers, with all of the bling and bawdiness associated with this performance sport. I had very little to do with the development of this game, which makes me look forward to it all the more as a player. When it was pitched by DC and the dev team at Privateer, it got an instant green light from me. They took the bodgers in a wholly new and unexpected direction and even playing with a mockup deck of cards, I couldn’t stop laughing through the demos.

The single biggest consumer of my time since August has been preparing for the launch of Skull Island eXpeditions. For years, we at Privateer as well as two or three players in the audience have dreamed of exploring the world of the Iron Kingdoms through long-form fiction. This year, we’re not only going to see a line of novels from Pyr Publishing, but thanks to the prolificness of the portable tablet and the rise of e-publishing, we have the opportunity to make that dream a reality by delivering boat loads of stories set in the Iron Kingdoms. Skull Island X (as our friends call it) has been gearing up for an aggressive publishing schedule that will release monthly offerings of novels and novellas that delve into the characters and events of WARMACHINE, HORDES, and the Iron Kingdoms at large. We’re pulling back the curtain on the shrouded pasts of some of the settings most compelling warcasters and warlocks. We’re following famous adventuring personalities on their never told exploits across the continent of Immoren. And we’ll be seeing the introduction of all new characters that will show us a view of the battlefield we’ve barely touched upon in the fiction we’ve been able to do in the game so far. On top of all that, the first full-length novel from Skull Island X will take us deep into enemy territory as it unravels the mysterious agenda of the Iron Kingdoms’ newest threat to humanity, the Convergence of Cyriss. For months, I’ve worked what has become as second job along side Director of Publishing, Scott Taylor, to shape the content that Skull Island’s amazing lineup of talented authors is preparing to unleash on anyone awaiting a good yarn in this world of steam and sorcery. I plugged one of the stories a while back, The Way of Caine, that we’ll be seeing in a few months, and there are so many exciting titles to follow. But in addition to the great stories, we’ve been procuring dozens of new illustrations. Electronic publishing gives us limitless possibilities for the inclusion of maps and full color artwork, and we’re making the most of it in an effort to realize every nook and cranny of the world as vividly as possible.

In my copious spare time, I’ve actually started developing a new film project as well. It took months of deliberation to nail down what I wanted to tackle next, but I think I’ve settled on a direction. As I hope to do this completely independently, it will likely take years to complete, so I’m doing my best to absolve myself of the stress of a schedule and instead am going to just take whatever time is necessary to make it happen. As I get further along in the development process, I’ll start sharing some of the journey here so you can live vicariously through my self-inflicted pain and suffering.

I wouldn’t say that covers everything I’ve got my hands in right now, and there are surely questions about things I haven’t mentioned, but these are the the things that I can talk about now and I think it’ll give me enough to stay busy on this blog for a while. More than anything, it just feels good to finally let the cat — or in this case a whole herd of cats — out of the bag!



14 thoughts on “Bag Full O’ Cats

  1. I for one am extremely excited about Convergence. I wanted to catch the Keynote, but then it was announced that it was cancelled, and didn’t find out it was back on until afterwards. Kind of a bummer, but I was able to catch the recorded bit on Twitch. Man that is one wonky app for the iPad.

    The next day I had a meeting with my players to discuss what was said in the keynote, and get everyone’s thoughts. Everyone was buzzing with excitement. The new mechanic (from what we saw) and models really impressed eveyrone, and the fact that the campaign for this year will tie in with the release is pretty awesome. The only downside is that some were dissappointed that Hordes didn’t get a new faction before Warmachine got a new one, leaving them behind the curve once again.

    High Command, Bodgermania, and Skull Island X also got mentions, and several players (card gamers) were stoked about the news that PP will be doing a deck building game. Level 7 has yet to be played here, but it is my every intention to get it out here and scare the s#*t out of them. Great job bringing the game expansion to life with real models.

    • Thanks for the great words!

      On the WARMACHINE vs HORDES topic, though — I totally get the sentiment, but people need to realize it’s all the same world. More factions under one banner doesn’t put the other behind the curve or disadvantage them in any way, because in the end they’re all going to be met on the tabletop. All of our OP includes all armies, there’s no distinguishing between the two. And from a story/setting perspective, there’s just a lot more to explore that fits in the technological or societal realm of the Iron Kingdoms. Thematically, the ‘wilds’ are being encroached upon, so there’s really less design space there. But like I said, in the end, it’s just one world. What difference does it make if the new faction uses a focus mechanic or a fury mechanic? We have factions in the future that we may introduce that don’t use either! What’s that going to do to players? Blown minds, that’s what! Everyone will be pissed off! 🙂

      • You can blame Privateer Press for that, since they’re the ones who go around claiming Warmachine and Hordes are different games, and some impressionable players pick up the trope. You guys should stop maintaining that there’s a difference, to be honest.

        I would love to see especially the factions we already have, but potentially new ones as well, get access to both focus and fury at the same time. Where is it written that warlocks and warcasters can never agree to work for the same master?

        • That’s a fair comment, Rick, though I would contend that we at Privateer do not “go around claiming” they are different games for any purpose other than to compartmentalize the story and development. In all other ways, our support of the products is managed in concert, blending the two games into a seamless experience. We do not manage two different Press Gangs to promote the games individually and all of our Organized Play includes both HORDES and WARMACHINE. Even the story lines are starting to cross over as the domains of the civilized nations and the wilds are colliding with each other.

          From a development point of view, you have to look at it this way: combining WARMACHINE and HORDES under one title would be extremely cumbersome. What would our core book look like if it contained the basic forces for 10-12 factions? It’d be gigantic! By managing the brands as separate product lines, we also allow our development team to work rhythmically as they alternate their focus between the specific mechanics that do separate HORDES and WARMACHINE. Additionally, this allows us to partition our licensing, rather than throwing all of our intellectual property into one bucket. There are very practical reasons for maintaining WARMACHINE and HORDES as different product lines, but to the user, this separation is really nothing more than a formality and bears no impact on the experience. The reality is we go through a great deal of effort to promote playing WARMACHINE and HORDES as a single experience.

          As such, the notion that one or the other is advantaged by having more factions doesn’t have any real arguments to support it. More factions under either brand simply expands the greater world.

          Your question, though, raises some really interesting ideas. There is no rule that says warlocks and warcasters can’t work together and I will tell you that we’ve explored the idea little bit internally, but not in the way you’re suggesting, I think, which would be within the same faction. I actually do think there is a possibility that we could see this in the not-too-distant future (mind you, for us that could be several years). Historically, the lines of division here are racial, cultural, ethical and theological. The trick is figuring out how these two different practices fit into a single faction in a way that makes sense within the context of the Iron Kingdoms. Right now, for instance, human warlocks are exclusively druids, and druids are exclusively worshippers of the Devourer, which is naturally at odds with every other human faction, so there’s no practical way that you’re going to see, say, a warlock working within the Cygnaran military. But the world is big and we haven’t turned over every stone yet, so we may see something like this yet. However, I guarantee you will not see me playing such a mixed faction! My head would hurt so much trying to manage both focus and fury at the same time, I’d probably get a debilitating aneurism.

          • On way you can mix the 2 casters and warlocks is with dwarfs, right now we have a mini warlock, what if there was a Rhulic hordes minon sub faction that could easily mix with Rhulic warmachine. We already have the mini warlock theme. Its just an idea, I am mainly a dwarf player and play allot with brun and lug and love that unit allot. It would be way down the line since it would basically be a new mini faction but since they could work with other Rhulic models they could swap out units/solos between the two when ever they are needed, and you could have a caster and a warlock fighting together, Gorten and Brun do it already and they do it well.

          • Technically some of the Warmachine factions can mix and match with the minion warlocks. The interesting one though is the Searforge Commission as it is the only one where it is still the warcasters and warlock (Brun Cragback) are of the same race.

          • Matt, while I appreciate some of the challenges that come with such a combination, I believe that combining the rule book into a single rule book would be for the best, since it would allow people to have all the rules in a single reference.

          • I have long been a proponent of a faction that features both Warlocks and Warcasters. I agree that the blending of the two into a seamless faction is the largest challenge. Honestly, it works much better as a combination of a Merc/Minion Contract/Pact that can draw from both brands of the game. But that just wouldn’t be the same. Not by a long shot.

            As an example, let’s look at Rhul. They are ripe for the development in this regard. They have access to a lesser Warlock currently as well as several Minion models that also feature the Mercenary rule. But for a truly unique feel, I think it would be more prudent to take something else and garner a “Combo” faction from it. Perhaps the gangs of Five Fingers are branching out or the Devourer Wurm has found a way to trap malevolent spirits in structures similar to the Tomb Maiden. There are possibilities. Even a rebellious group of people that have thrown themselves to the service of Thamar and directly competing with Khador for the coveted remnants and artifacts of the Orgoth Empire in the form of Fellblades and Armor forged in the sacrifice of souls…

            Just some thoughts.

          • I’m not trying to be nitpicky or anything like that, but I was flipping through some of the books and I realized that your “human warlocks are exclusively druids” comment wasn’t quite right. There is at least one example of a non-druid human warlock, Dr. Arkadius. I was just curious if this was simply an oversight or if you know some things we don’t. Well obviously you know some things we don’t but I mean things you might be willing to in regards to this particular point

          • Nope, that was an oversight on my part. This world is too big for me to keep the whole thing in my head anymore! You’re absolutely right. Arkadius is a very strange outlier in the setting, unique in almost every way. But he is indeed human! Thanks for the correction!

  2. I heard Warmachine got a new faction and I didn’t know what to think. I then found the video on the privateer website. I’m not normally a fan of automatons but I had a slight intrigue. The more I looked into the small bits you guys revealed the more excited I got. I now pray that they will be available at Lock & Load that way I can pick them up and play with them there. I’ve never bought an army in any game that I haven’t liked the esthetics of first and looking at the caster’s art and the concept for the “angels” I’m sold. So please make my dream come true and enough stuff so I can get some games in with them at Lock & Load! (Bigger than Battlebox)

  3. You know, the kind of explosive development is the kind of thing that interested me about PP. The focus is on new exciting content. Recently I got to meet some of the people from the company on a professional level and just talking to them it helped me to understand more about why PP is successful. It also shows me why I continue to easily dump a few hundred bucks every 2-3 months when for other products I him and haw for 6-12 months before making a purchase.

    Its thrilling to hear about all of the new stuff the company is getting into. Some have expressed worry that game creation would suffer but after talking to folks about infrastructure I really don’t think anything will ‘suffer’.

    well, anything except our bank accounts, that is.

    Thanks again Matt for taking the time to share your thoughts with us. I know I always enjoy hearing the musings of people who create things that I love.

  4. I normally try to just ghost around sites like this and not leave comments etc. but I am going to have to leave one on this (blog entry shall we call it?).

    Where I live is very isolated (at least in the gaming sense) and there really isn’t much interest for gaming let alone Tabletop gaming in this area. As such I usually limit my purchases to the Bodgers games and the books (I like to keep up on fluff and model rules). Recently I did manage to get together with a group of guys over the net and start up an IKRPG campaign however so at least I’m getting some gaming in. However I limit my model purchases as theres really no one to play with around here and I dread explaining why I have all of these models sitting around collecting dust to the wife.

    All of that is preface to this.

    I will be attending Lock&Load this year. I will be picking up everything Convergence that you all are offering at Lock&Load. I will do all that is within my power to have said models constructed and running in every Iron Arena game I can possibly fit in over my stay. I will attend as many painting and modeling seminars as is humanly possible. I will bounce around demoing every game PP offers, and will probably pick up whatever other little tidbits surprise us at the con.

    This is significant as I have never attended a con before, never flown cross-country for any event at all really. Matt I have to say, and forgive me if this comes across a bit kiss-a** (hopefully that language won’t offend anyone) never in my life have I been as enamored with a company as a whole as I am with PP. You all continually put out high quality, innovative, and beautiful products. The Convergence has convinced me to pick up the models I had thus far been avoiding and just explain it to the wife as best as I am able. Kudos to you and the team on all the fantastic work and I cannot wield the might of Cyriss against the fleshies!

    P.S. – More mechanical minion spoilers to keep me going in the long wait between now and Lock&Load would be fantastic. We already bought badges, booked hotel rooms, and are booking flights tonight or tomorrow so I need something to drool over to keep my mind off of all of that money getting spent!

    • Gary, thank you so much for all the kind words. I’m thrilled to hear that you’re making the trip out to Lock & Load. I know that you will have an amazing time. It’s really a fantastic event and we just keep making it better every year. And I’ll look forward to meeting you. But here’s a quick little anecdote:

      When I was a really young kid —7-12 years old, let’s say — and before I ever started REAL gaming, my parents had a friend that we would occasionally visit. His name was Frenchie and he was an airline pilot. As such, he had a decent bit of free time and loved to spend it building historical scale models. Frenchie had an entire room in his house that was just his. There was a small modeling work bench and chair, and ever other wall was covered in custom-built glass cabinets that were filled with the most incredibly detailed models I’ve ever seen, to this day. His favorite subject was WWII military aircraft, but he had a great selection of tanks and would even do the occasional naval vessel. There were literally hundreds of models in his collection. Each one was meticulously researched before he started construction, and if anything in the off-the-shelf kit wasn’t 100% historically accurate, Frenchie would kit bash or custom build the parts needed to make the vehicle as true to the original as possible. More than anything, the man was generous. He’d grant me full access to his studio and I’d spend hours ogling the models. And every time I saw him, he’d give me one to take home for my own collection. I attribute every bit of my love of models and miniatures to Frenchie and his incredible work.

      Why am I telling you this? Here’s the reason: there was no game associated with Frenchie’s models. It was pure hobby, a creative outlet for someone who simply loved the subject matter he was working with. And this is the great thing about miniatures games. The game is only one aspect of the entire experience. There are many people who spend much more time with the hobby, or don’t even really play, but get every bit the same amount of enjoyment in engaging with the hobby. On top of that, the books Privateer makes are full of fiction, and we’re expanding the world through the upcoming Skull Island eXpeditions books in just a couple months. So even if you only make it to Lock & Load once a year (Believe me, you will want to come back!) or even if you never play another game of WARMACHINE in your life, you can absolve yourself of the guilt, my friend. There’s nothing wrong with doing the hobby just for the sake of the hobby. Some would argue it’s the best part of the experience!

      Here’s to the Convergence!

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