Not even a week into the new year and already there’s a Kickstarter campaign surfacing for another new miniature game, “Beyond the Gates of Antares“. This time it may be something a little special though as the principal designer behind it is none other than former Games Workshop guru Rick Priestley. Over the past few decades Rick has been the force behind some of my favourite games of all time, most notably Epic: Space Marine, Warhammer 40,000, Necromunda and Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle to name but a handful. Unlike a few of the previous Kickstarters I have backed, this is much more a true grass-roots kickstarter. This isn’t an already finished and polished boxed product looking for pre-order backing like Dreadball or Sedition Wars, but a literal start up in every sense.
Not unsurprisingly, Rick isn’t approaching this alone with a back of a napkin design and an empty coin purse, there are some quite serious industry heavyweights behind it, not least amongst them John Stallard, former old school Games Workshop Director. Clearly they have thought through their business and projects plans and come up with a sensible funding goal. Something that might well deter a few early backers being a far from paltry £300K.
That doesn’t deter me one bit however, it just suggests they have thought this through from a risk perspective and estimated what it would take to realistically deliver the game. It also appears production and fulfilment will be handled via a partnership with Warlord Games (the guys behind WWII game Bolt Action, another one of Rick’s games funnily enough).
There is a working design for the game, clearly, and it is probably this which has most engaged me. For years I have harped on about how I feel Warhammer 40,000 has been held back as a game. Where it should have been evolving it has simply been periodically re-cycled ad-nausea. 40K for me is a game tragically encumbered by the weight of its own success. It seems unable to move forward in any meaningful way or adopt more dynamic gaming mechanics beyond its rather tired you go I go roots. Rick, on the other hand has already hinted at a more refreshing approach for “Beyond the Gates of Antares”. Partly he enthuses about a continuously evolving universe where the players themselves have a deep and meaningful impact on the future direction and form of the game and its design. Laudable goals for sure, but that’s not the part that excites me. It is reference to the fact the game is intended to be scalable I find intriguing.
The Kickstarter pitch also hints strongly at a more dynamic multiple action/reaction style of gameplay, with unit activations and a more interactive turn structure. This immediately ticks all my boxes and much reminds me of what I loved about Starship Troopers as a game. By comparison 40K’s I move, shoot, assault then you move, shoot, assault comes across as very metronomic. Clearly this is only my opinion and is based entirely on the limited information available on the Kickstarter overview. However it is sufficient enough to convince me this is worth backing. The names of Rick Priestley and John Stalland alone suggest that there is enough industry experience between them to see there should be a credible business plan behind it.
There has been no shortage of miniature gaming Kickstarter campaigns the past twelve months, not all necessarily that successful. This one however I have a good feeling about. Good enough to put my money where my mouth is?