Falling in Love with a Board Game you can’t have yet: Wardens the Road to Kickstarter
by Antoinette Mason
There are plenty of eye-catching projects we come across online, it’s an experience we are all familiar with. A few weeks ago I spotted this picture
and I was intrigued to find out more, normally something I wouldn’t be bothered with. This lead to my discovery of the up and coming board game Wardens and Kate Tessier board game designer of Raven Tales Entertainment. Of course, I had to interview Kate to discover more about it and share my excitement with you all!
Hi Kate! Firstly, what got you into board games?
My Aunt Caro introduced me to board games in my childhood. Growing up, the hobby grew into a passion. Every time I could I went to my favourite local game store, which was right next to my apartment, and spent all day trying new games, buying my favourite ones and growing a collection.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m a French Canadian from Quebec City. Board game lover since childhood, I’ve always been passionate about other cultures and mythologies. After many years of hard work and determination, I can finally make my dreams come true: Designing my very own board game while travelling.
That sounds like a huge feat for most people as if just making a board game wasn’t enough to be doing! What possessed you to try both at the same time?
I started travelling in my early twenties after dreaming about discovering the world for years. I fell in love with Asia and mostly with India. When I came back home and started creating Wardens with Sam, my boyfriend, one of our biggest desire was to travel together and show Wardens to the world.
Being a freelancer illustrator, Sam is able to work from anywhere which gives us a huge advantage. After working hard and saving money for many months, we could finally leave everything and fly to Asia. Here we continue working on Wardens, attending board game events, hosting many playtesting sessions while discovering new countries.
Many people talk about creating a board game but what made you actively pursue it?
Sam and I have both always been passionate about board games, playing together every time we could. For a long time, we’ve been talking “just for fun” about making our own game. We knew exactly what the gameplay, theme and mechanics would be. This was never really serious talk until one morning Sam woke up and decided to leave his career and actually create this game we’d been talking about for so long.
Can you talk us through the process you’ve gone through so far to get your game from an idea into actuality?
The first thing we did was write our ideas on a piece of paper. Draw sketches of maps and characters and started designing the gameplay and the mechanics. We played a thousand times before we actually had a game. Once we knew the gameplay, Sam started making our ideas into images, transforming the lined sheets drafts into illustrations. I bought a small 3D printer and we had so much fun creating the various miniatures. Then came our very first prototype which we showed to everybody, playtesting as much as we could while working on the writing of the storybook and the rulebook. While travelling, we are trying to organise events as much as we can in every city we visit to have the most comments and suggestions possible about the game.
We are now working on the solo and co-op variant before we really get into the release process which will be around the end of the summer
What made you choose the Kickstarter route instead of traditional methods?
Kickstarter is the best platform for an independent creator who does not have access to traditional advertising and selling platforms which big companies use. It allows us to engage with the community for minimal fees and be in a direct and privileged relationship with the backers.
Have there been any issues or problems so far? What has worked out better than expected?
The board game world is mostly driven by the community. Many times, I’ve been overwhelmed by their generosity and their kindness while asking for help or suggestions about Wardens. I’ve made many precious friends and I am thankful that this industry is filled with such amazing people.
The most issues we’ve had is because of our travels. It’s amazing to move all the time and visit incredible places but it also can be inconvenient, especially in Asia where the electricity is not trustful and the internet dawdling.
We’ve also had a lot of problems printing prototypes when we needed them. Even though the majority of the games are produced in China the prototypes are mostly printed in America. They are hard to get here in Asia and we’ve had to delay and cancel some events because of that issue.
Tell me what Wardens is about
Wardens is a post-apocalyptic adventure set in a Lovecraftian steampunk universe. The Warden’s team is cooperatively strategic against the player who has taken the role of Cthulhu, in an epic and chaotic battle for the survival of humankind.
Clearly, you’re inspired by H.P. Lovecraft but where did the idea for Wardens come from? Do you have any other influences?
We’ve always been fascinated by the post-apocalyptic and dystopian world, where all heroes can emerge from these broken places. The ancient mythologies and cults dedicated to ancient gods are also fascinating. The Backstory of Wardens includes a lot of elements from the ancient civilization of the Naacals and the lost continent of Mu. I’ve always been passionate about legendary and mythic stories, that’s why I was inspired by the fascinating research of J. Churchward while imagining the Story.
The artwork is phenomenal (if I may say so myself) how did you find an artist or a style you felt matched your vision?
My partner Sam has been, for many years, a freelance artist for several board game companies while working in a video game studio as a concept illustrator. He’s the one who did all the artwork of Wardens, this is why the art matches our vision perfectly, the designer is also the artist!
I feel that game mechanics are what can make or break a board game. How did you settle on that aspect?
The gameplay and mechanics of the game are the first things we put in place before starting anything else. We wanted a strategic game which includes almost no luck. For example, the battles are played with three different metal Tokens which defines your strategy and also includes a mini mind-reading game against your opponent. There’s a lot of interaction between the two factions and especially between the Warden’s team who needs to be cooperatively strategic against the enemy. Each character is totally different and has their own abilities and mechanics which offers a lot of replayability.
What’s in store for Wardens over the next few months?
We are now participating in local board game events and playtesting as much as we can. Before getting the game previewed and launching the campaign around the end of the summer we are working on a Solo and a Co-op variant. Our plan is to reach out to distributors and have the game available in stores for the post-campaign.
Is there any advice you’d give to someone who has a dream of making their own game?
One of the most amazing thing about creation is that anyone can do it, all the ideas are good especially in the board game industry. The market is growing, everyday there are more and more players and I don’t think there ever will be “too many games.” If you have this dream, the hardest thing is to actually bring your ideas to life. If you give enough time and energy, I truly believe any project can become a reality. Jump in. The worst thing that can happen is that you’ll have an amazing time creating something that you’re passionate about and you’ll just end up with a great prototype which will be your very own.
To keep a track of my journey and hoping to inspire those who have this dream and don’t know how and where to begin, I started writing a blog about how I became a board game designer and the steps of the creating process. Check it out here
And without a doubt, I have to ask what’s your favourite board game and why?
It’s really hard to choose a “favourite” one because there’s so many I love. Blood Rage is probably the game I’ve played the most, I love the Viking mythology theme, awesome minis, game depth with good mechanics and strategies. I also never say no to a good round of Scythe, Zombicide, Arkham Horror or Twilight Imperium.