Meeting of Minds – Wrench Games

One of my core aims with The Giant Brain is to promote designers and publishers in the UK gaming scene. To this end I’m establishing a new series of articles where I interview various folks from across the UK tabletop gaming scene to get an insight into their games, their thoughts on current events in the industry and anything else that pops into my head. I hope you enjoy it.

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From Left to Right: Peter Black, Nik Balson, Alissa Dolan, JL Brady, Stuart McKie. Keiran Taylor is also a member of the team but is not in that picture

Wrench Games describe themselves as a multidisciplinary games studio, which basically means they love creating games and have the expertise to do it across the computer and tabletop spectrum. I backed their first Kickstarter Blind Wizard Brawl a ‘Micro-Deckbuilder’ with an integrated app component as the concept intrigued me. Brady and Nik from the group where good enough to answer some questions as the game goes out to backers.

Your first game Blind Wizard Brawl funded successfully last year and is close to being fulfilled. Was it always your intention to use Kickstarter to make the game a reality or did you consider other avenues?

We never originally intended to use Kickstarter, or to even really take it this far at first. It was created as part of a University dissertation and expected to stay within that bubble for some time, but we enjoyed the game and wanted to develop it a bit more. While we were at conventions playtesting Skulls & Gold (another game of ours which was slated to go to Kickstarter first), we realised that Blind Wizard Brawl was getting pretty positive reception and considered taking it further. It was a smaller game and closer to being completed, so we felt that taking it through Kickstarter would both be a useful way to give us experience in crowdfunding as well as get our name out there with our first product, in a way that was more achievable for us to fulfill than our other game. We believe we’ve learnt a lot from this adventure and are excited to take our experiences forward into future games.

-Brady

During Development we did realise, due to how were developing the app portion of the game, we could apply for the Unreal grant. This would’ve been able to give us extra funding if successful, which unfortunately we weren’t. However, I feel that overall the Kickstarter campaign was a better experience for us. It taught us far more than just how to develop a game on a budget. We are definitely a much better team because of it.

-Nik

 

 

The inclusion of apps in boardgames is a contentious issue for many in the hobby. At what point in the development of the game did you decide to include an app and how fundamental do you now consider it to be to the game?

The app has been a part of Blind Wizard Brawl since its inception; it was originally designed with the specific intention of being a phygital (hybrid) game, as part of a University dissertation. At the start, it was fundamental to maintain the app as it was part of the core research, but with further development we are confident that the app has a place in the game and is an exciting feature that makes the game unique, rather than just a novelty.

We’ve listened to feedback during the development to ensure that the app never overpowered the tabletop experience, nor did it atrophy into a gimmick, and feel that the game uses both physical and digital mediums in a fun and symbiotic way.

-Brady

Really, if it wasn’t for the app, what was developed to be a small, quick portable game, would’ve spiraled very quickly into a large deck builder. It’s the app that really makes Blind Wizard Brawl special to us, and it’s what makes it stand out from other card games. It really is key to making Blind Wizard Brawl a fun phygital micro-deck builder.

-Nik

 

What was the hardest part about bringing the game to Kickstarter and then finally to the backers?

The Kickstarter page itself was quite a challenge for us actually. We were all freshly graduated from University with a lot happening in all of our lives, and no experience with Kickstarter. We also had no funding to hire professional consultants or videographers and had to create everything ourselves. While this might seem like a trivial problem for many veteran crowdfunders, it was a lot for us to learn on the go, while at the same time trying to create a market for ourselves.

We’ve had some similar growing pains with the post-campaign by handling manufacturing and shipping, but we’ve had some great advice from others in the industry and a lot of support from excited and patient backers. We’re confident that going forward to future campaigns we’ll have a much smoother time.

-Brady

Are there any particular resources you used to get going on kickstarter, ones that you would recommend to teams like yourself?

Facebook groups were massively helpful. There’s so many groups with such active, engaged and interested communities who are genuinely interested in sharing advice and helping improve everyone’s work. Tabletop Kickstarter Advice, Boardgame Group, UK Tabletop Kickstarters (and many more) are filled with people who want to see you succeed and take so much time out to help you do it.

The advice, suggestions and feedback from both the community and the experts (James Mathes, Daniel Zayas et al) has been helpful beyond words.

Conventions have been indispensable as well, as meeting other designers and enthusiastic gamers willing to test, demo and support the games can do wonders for the development of games and building a community.

Also honourable mention for the sheer depth of the articles on the Stonemaier blog!

-Brady

Will Blind Wizard Brawl be getting a retail release and if not how can people get their hands on the game after launch?

Currently we don’t have an official wide scale release in retail, but we do have some retailers who will be stocking the game when it launches, and we’re hoping to have more retailers stocking the game once we’ve launched.

Outside of retailers though, we will have an option on our website to buy both the game deck, as well as the playmats which range from a game board design to wizard art.

-Brady

It says on your facebook page that you are a multidisciplinary team, do you plan to stick to Tabletop games or are you venturing into computer game development as well?

We’ve actually done a lot more digital game development than tabletop so far. We’ve created digital games as part of University projects, we take part in game jams and we all get a lot of other work done personally. After Blind Wizard Brawl launches we plan to continue development of Skulls & Gold (which was on hold to assure we could give our full attention to the Kickstarter campaign), but after that who knows! We have no plans to restrict ourselves to one medium yet, and are excited to work with both types of game.

-Brady

What plans do Wrench Games have for the future?

As above, we have plans to continue develop of Skulls & Gold, with a new art overhaul we’ll begin in the next couple of months. We also have a few updates planned for Blind Wizard Brawl which will hopefully allow the game to get even more exciting and really start showing off what a phygital game can do. We have been discussing plans of digital games as well, but they’re too early in the process to get into right now.

-Brady

What games from other UK designers are you most excited for in 2018?

I’m looking forward to “A game, wherein you Blether”, (Stuff by Bez) but I’m not sure if that’s actually slated for funding this year or not. It’s definitely the tabletop game I’m looking forward to the most though, as I couldn’t have had more fun playing it at the play parties.

I’m also excited to see “Dice Hospital” from Alley Cat Games, as I’ve been watching its development for about the past year now, during which we got given great advice by Caezar in regards to our campaign page, so I’ve always felt a bit close to that game.

-Brady

It’s been really interesting to see the development of ElemenZ by friend of Wrench Games, BadCat Games. It’s looking like it’s going to be a super fun and interesting game with just stunning art.

And like Brady said above, anything that Stuff By Bez is going to put out will be super interesting and fun. Personally, I have my eye on Kitty Cataclysm. It’s looking like it’s shaping up to be just stupid fun, not to mention it will have some great cat based art.

-Nik

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