GrogHeads Interviews Collins Epic Wargames, Talking Polyversal!
Byron Collins stops by GrogHeads to chat about their re-launched Kickstarter campaign for their sci-fi minis game Polyversal ~
Brant Guillory, 18 May 2016
Give us the 10-second infomercial for Polyversal? Why is this the game that we need to grab if we’re wanting to play a sci-fi minis game?
Polyversal is a universal set of sci-fi minis rules with an open-source design system that allows you to bring literally anything to the table in the 6mm-15mm scale range. With Polyversal at 6mm, you can stage mass near-future battles in a compelling setting, and even help us fill in the details of the story as your own campaigns progress. It’s easy to learn the system, has a unique command and control system with visual ‘battlegroups’ arranged and formed as you see fit, is fully customizable, and offers starter sets with miniatures from 5 manufacturers to give you a broad introduction to what is out there. From there, you can do pretty much anything you want with the system- the flexibility is amazing.
You’d launched Polyversal once on Kickstarter before, but didn’t quite make it to the finish line. What’s changed this time around and which backers are you expecting to get this time that you didn’t get last time?
Our first Kickstarter raised about $30k and had support from 266 backers- but we had a far too high goal of $80k. The game itself wasn’t the issue- but- how we went about presenting it. I posted a critical look at all of the major differences in this blog post.
As a gamer who dabbles in a wide variety of games – role-playing, wargaming, 4X computer games – Polyversal looks a little specialized. What’s the appeal for the gamer who isn’t likely to invest heavily in a large army of minis and table full of terrain?
We make it easy to try by offering boxed games with a variety of “battlegroup” options, which are different collections of miniatures broken into several factions. We do the design work on the stat tiles for each miniature, include the rules, the tokens, counters, dice- everything you need to play- without investing heavily in miniatures. Since the minis are from multiple manufacturers we have contracts with (Hawk Wargames, Brigade Models, Plasmablast Games, Microworld Games, Dark Realm Miniatures), we have taken the guesswork out of selecting miniatures that work well together in the game. This gives you an out-of-the box playable miniatures game. Anything can be used for terrain. With the smaller scale of 6/10 mm models we include, the costs are lower, and on top of that, the value for the kickstarter versions are really good. For the RPG player, the story elements of the game should be appealing- you can essentially run the game in any universe you’d like- you’re not restricted to the one we suggest, nor are you restricted to the models we have selected.
Talk to us about the different factions? What’s the backstory of the conflict, and why are these guys after each other? What (if any) plans are there for other factions down the line?
The main two initial factions are in conflict near the end of this century over a dying Earth and limited options for evacuation. One faction is the UN: a future, powerful, governing UN that absorbs the sovereignty of nations for a chance to be included in Operation Polyversal- a mass off-world evacuation using technology they control. Those not willing to give up their freedom, those willing to fight for their survival in their own way- make up the OPFOR (Opposition Forces), which are loosely-knit groups, former enemies, militias, and others. We are also about to introduce a third faction of Mercenaries in the form of add-on units. This group will fight for either side for the right price. For more on Polyversal’s story, check out this YouTube video and this blog post
Licensing issues aside (we understand why there’s no media franchise associated with Polyversal) give us a couple of movies or books whose battles might be recreated with this game and how they might be worked into the rules.
This is an easy one to answer…. ANY sci-fi movie or book could be recreated using Polyversal. The rules already support it and are open-ended. As mentioned in the blog post above, you aren’t locked into ‘our’ setting for the game. In fact, several players have some big plans for the game along these lines- creating linked scenarios and campaigns in the worlds of their favorite sci-fi movies and books.
What do you like most about playing Polyversal?
This is a tough one to answer. For me as the publisher, I was initially attracted to how easy it is to play. After play testing it for a number of years, I’m now most excited about how flexible the system is regarding customization. Battlegroups are a lot of fun and challenging to form and manage- and the degrading effectiveness of units in the game just ‘feels right’. As you play, you really feel the stress of the battle you’re trying to manage- and the mechanics just sink to the background in a fluid way- keeping players involved and into what’s going on in the battlespace- not elsewhere.
We understand you’re blowing us off at Origins this year to hang out at GenCon instead! Who are the gamers you’re hoping to attract at GenCon? What sorts of demo games and showcases are your running there?
I know! I’d love to do both shows and typically go to Origins- but an opportunity to present Polyversal at Gen Con was something I couldn’t pass up this year. It’ll be my first return to Gen Con since it was my first convention as an exhibitor in 2008. I’ll be running Polyversal demos at my booth as well as demos of Spearpoint 1943 all four days.
Assuming the Kickstarter makes it this time, what’s next for Polyversal after this first wave gets out?
Bruno Werneck, our artist … did the concept art for Tron: Legacy, Thor, the new Star Trek films, and the game Titanfall
I’m confident we’ll fund this time around! Next, Chris Bennett of The Phalanx Consortium, our terrain manufacturing partner, is going to be running a complementary Kickstarter for terrain that has been custom designed to fit within the Polyversal setting- skyscrapers and other massive buildings (and smaller ones too) will be featured and hopefully funded. They look amazing and I’ve got several of his prototypes in our cityscape we use for demo games and film. Next, we’ll see where fans want us to go with the game. I expect we will release several more boxed sets of expansions- those will include the stat tiles we design along with minis and amazing artwork from Bruno Werneck, our artist, who did the concept art for Tron: Legacy, Thor, the new Star Trek films, and the game Titanfall.
What should we have asked you, if you’d been interviewing yourself?
Why should people support Polyversal on Kickstarter?
Well, it’s expensive to make games. I’ve learned that after publishing 5 of them. We can’t make Polyversal without your support. But I’d say the reason to support Polyversal is- the game deserves to be made- it’s customizable, it’s fun, it’s open. I’ve played a lot of games over the years and this one really stands out as my favorite. We’re going big or going home with Polyversal- so- help us go big… get an amazing game with a unique approach. We’re not here to sell you more miniatures- we don’t make them. Yes, we include some from our partners because you need them to play, but, ultimately, we are building a universe and community with Polyversal. One that we fully expect will be supported by a robust fan-base of sci-fi gamers and those who want to get into sci-fi but have never tried. Our goal is to bring together this fan-base under the umbrella of a great set of rules- and to bring new life to models you may have collected over the years.