Thursday, 1 May 2014

The Spectre of covert operations goes live on Kickstarter

SPECTRE miniatures is unveiling a world where Special forces, intelligence agents and military contractors are on the front line of modern warfare, carrying out covert operations against a multitude of enemies including ruthless warlords, insurgents, contractors and paramilitary groups. 

Through Kickstarter they hope to get what they hope will be an immersive, world-spanning story through a comprehensive range of tabletop miniatures, wargaming scenery and unique rulesets.  Wee Gamers decided to interrogate the clandestine men behind Spectre Miniatures.

1- so Spectre Miniatures, what can players expect to experience in your game? What's the style of play delivered to the player?
Above all we want the players to have fun. We've designed the mechanics of the game to be dynamic and adaptable - there aren't chapters and chapters of rules to memorise, but they’re extremely versatile and you can play the game tactically in a way that works for you. 

It’s a fast play game, and a small game lasts about 30 minutes or so. You could play a whole campaign in an afternoon. Of course, with larger games involving more models you’ll be looking at more time per game - but it’s time spent playing and not flicking through rulebooks and keeping notes. The game definitely rewards lateral thinking and clever tactics over in depth knowledge of stats and rules.

2- so far you've shown us contractors and insurgents/rebel fighters. But your promo hints at global conflicts. Does the game span non traditional war zones will we see for example homeland security types facing terror threats on their own soil in games?
To begin with we’re focussing on our African theatre models, and there’s a big range to fill. But if the campaign goes as well as we hope it will then that will set up to explore many more theatres, which will bring new settings and many more models to the product range. 

We want to reflect the asymmetric nature of modern conflict in diverse and engaging settings, there will certainly be some non traditional theatres coming up.

3- Different theatres of combat obviously mean various forces at play. So will we see standard core rules with faction specific books as add-ons or what is the format we should expect on a globe spanning game?
In our beta infantry rulebook which will be available for free download, you get a generic force selection list which allows you to pick any kind of force you want from what’s available. We didn’t want this list to be prescriptive; so that players can explore the game as fully as we’re sure they’ll want to. 

However if you know a particular force well and want to theme your tabletop force around it, the generic list will allow you to build your specific force seamlessly. In the future we’d be keen on developing resources to help people create accurately themed armed forces from specially formulated force lists. But the generic list is essentially a free for all, anything goes! In terms of rules, we’re intending to release them in a series of modules - the first of which will be for infantry combat. Rules modules for vehicles and campaigns etc will come later if the campaign is successful.

4- Contract merchant and African militia isn't a miniatures line you see every day. Many gaming voices express disapproval over 'modern current' conflict games. Have you had any negativity expressed towards your own project thus far - and how do you or would you handle such if faced with it?
It is something that we have been very careful with and will always be a controversial topic. Personally we are not overly keen on gaming current conflicts as we all have friends who have fought, or lost their lives in Afghanistan, but we certainly are not going to tell other people that they can’t game current conflicts if that is what they want to do. 

It is one of those situations where you have to draw the line somewhere and think of it as a wargame and a way to express your interest in the modern world and conflict. It’s no different to watching Black Hawk Down or playing Battlefield and Call of Duty.

5- You’re showing off a great many interesting figures. So why the Kickstarter route? What is it that KS will enable you to do that you couldn't otherwise?
We are both freelance designers, so making the range has been affordable to develop ourselves so far. Kickstarter enables us to get these miniatures to the market with a running start. We’d much prefer to release the range in one go rather than drip feed releases which is what we’d have to do without the crowd funding platform. This way, we get our business up and running quickly and our customers get a big glut of miniatures right off the bat! We think it’s a situation where everyone wins.

6- So who makes up the Spectre Miniatures team? How did you come together? And who does what within the project?
There are two full time members of the team. Steve May is the sculptor, he’s responsible for the way the range is themed visually, and the way the setting works. He’s done an incredible amount of work in sculpting the 80+ miniatures in our initial range. All of the weapons and gear you see in the range were created in 3D by Will Jayne, the designs were rapid prototyped and then added to Steve’s sculpts. Will is also been counting the beans, making sure all the numbers add up so that we can make this into a proper business that will expand the way we all want it to. 

We are lucky to have a talented group of friends who we have been able to commission on the promotional and marketing side. A lot great work was provided by Alun Davies is our graphics wunderkind; he’s responsible for all the promotional material, logos and web based graphics you’ve been seeing. He’s done an amazing job developing Spectre’s brand identity, and it’ll be his job to make sure that Steve and Will’s miniatures are presented in a professional and exciting visual style.

7- What sort of exposure has your game had to play testing so far and what's the feedback been like?
As yet the play testing has been done by the team and friends, and we’ve had a lot of fun doing it! It’s really helped us refine the rules, and we think that when the beta system has been released we’ll receive even more feedback which will be invaluable. 

We’re very keen to be sure that this is a game that works and delivers what people want from it right from the start.

8- Where has the inspiration for your game sprung from? Is this a long standing dream fulfilment or a response to a style of game you seen as missing for example?
Steve has always been interested in Africa, due to the nature of his work, so he approached Will about a year ago is enquiring about making some guns digitally. Will was quite keen to be more involved and it has grown organically from there. I think it’s been our dream to start a miniatures company for a long time! 

The game is largely a response to what we found was a gap in the market. Steve planned this range some time ago, and when Will and Alun came on board a year ago the full scope of what could be done started to become clearer. We all wanted a fast play, intense action game that relied more on wits than memory - and there just wasn’t one in the Moderns sector. So we set about changing that and here we are! But it is at heart a skirmish game, best suited to small groups of miniatures, where each model really counts in the game.

9- Outside of what's now your work :-) what does the spectre team get up to in real life outside of gaming and what sorts of games gain your play time approval?
We’re creative people and we’ve all got a lot of experience working in the wargames industry. 

Steve is a freelance miniatures designer. He has worked for many big names, and has a lot of experience in historical miniatures and games. Will is a freelance digital miniatures designer, specialising in vehicles for resin or plastic injection - his latest work includes all of the new plastic tank kits from Flames of War to date. 

 Wargaming wise, Steve plays a lot of Black Powder, Bolt action and Hail Caesar with the Perry miniatures and Warlord games crowd. Will is more into the modelling side of the hobby than gaming, but still enjoys games. His favourite games are The Lord of the Rings: Strategy Battle Game and Battlefleet Gothic. 

Outside of wargaming we both have many other interests. Steve is starting work in wildlife conservation, in particular studying the effects of armed conflict on wildlife populations. He is also a keen wildlife photographer and travels extensively. Will loves to try new things and find new hobbies, but you’ll usually find him under his Land Rover fixing or modifying something. He’s also a huge naval history nut, and has his own range of resin warship kits that he adds to occasionally.

10 - What about the tread heads? Will we get to see vehicles employed in the games? If yes WHAT WHAT TELL US NOW!!!! IF NO.....ARE YOU MAD? WHY NOT? ;-)
We know that vehicles are really important to gamers, and there’s huge demand for them. Will (devoted tread head that he is) is this very moment working on some ultra-modern cutting edge designs that we think you’re going to love! If the campaign is successful then this is definitely something for the very near future. The possibilities are endless!

11 - Obviously, or maybe not, we get to chat to a lot of games developers. What for you folks is the magic ingredient here for you? Is this all about rapid playability? Gritty realism? What's the hook you sell on when your chatting to Joe public at the convention when he's all 'well why should I?'
I think you nailed it! The game doesn’t drag on, it’s fast paced and demanding - you can make snap decisions and implement them immediately. You can constantly adapt and refine your tactics in a single game, and if you’re clever then your guys on the table will be able to try a new way of blasting the enemy to smithereens with each turn! 

The game is brutal, it’s extremely unforgiving if you’re the type to charge across the open battlefield hoping for a fist full of dice to win the day. Even with hordes of militia, you have to think carefully about movement, cover and weapons or they’ll be shot to pieces in short order! The game really rewards players that can react quickly and apply their assets in the most effective way.

12 - what's been the biggest setback for you so far in the project and how have you overcome the hurdle?
To date, everything has been relatively smooth thanks to our experience, contacts and planning. There have been a few tense moments (the night before Salute for example!!) but everything has come together well even if it was occasionally at the last minute. 

It’s been a 12 month project so far, with a lot of attention paid to current and upcoming military kit. For instance the day before we sent the SAS C8’s off to print we noticed that the British army had previewed the new issue laser designators - so Will went right to work in updating the one he had already modelled and worked hard to make sure it was done in time to send off to the printers!

So far we’ve achieved everything we set out to do on schedule, and we’re confident that our backers will see the benefits of this with the delivery of pledge rewards.

13- So when we are having a coffee with you folks next year at Salute or the UK games expo what will we be looking at on your trade stall? Where will the game and the figure range be by then? ;-)
We think that assuming we have a successful campaign, in a year’s time our range will have grown considerably. Because all our design is done in house, we can move very quickly and we want to release new miniatures regularly. The game’s core modules will have been finalised by them with the support of the players, and we hope we’ll be a fixture of the wargames scene for a long time to come. We want to be your go to guys for ultra-moderns!

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