We are fortunate enough to share the same board game group as Chase Layman, one of the designers of Rivals: Masters of the Deep, a game now on Kickstarter. It’s a steampunk, nautical miniatures game that plays 2 to 4 players. You can find more about the Rivals Kickstarter here or watch the beautiful video they made below.
The miniatures are so gorgeous and the underwater world of Lurk is so unique that we had to grab an interview with Chase to get more behind the inspiration this nautical creation. Here it is for your gaming pleasure!
Dave: One thing that strikes me of Rivals: Masters of the Deep is the beauty of the miniatures and the creativity of this world you’ve brought to existence. Where was the inspiration of this mysterious world of the Lurk?
Chase: It definitely grew out of my love for steampunk and all things nautical. I would be lieing if I told you that Jules Verne didn’t affect any of my decisions for this. If you really look through and read about characters and locations and such you will find a ton of Verne references.
Dave: When a world this gorgeous and unique comes into a creator’s mind, there is a need to express it in some form. Were you thinking of a miniature collection or game from the beginning? Walk us through you ended up with this game.
Chase: At the beginning we definitely had a huge desire to make toys. Deep down I’ve always wanted to create a game of my own specifically in the miniatures realm. When I was younger, I created huge campaigns for my siblings to play through D&D and a number of self-made home-brew games. I’ve always had a desire to create worlds and cultures from those experiences
Dave: What experience did you have in making miniatures or games?
Chase: All of my experience in manufacturing and miniatures comes from the past few years of making toys. Before that I was known to splice up many a conversion for Warhammer 40K. As for creating games, I’ve always created them, but until starting this game two years ago, I haven’t sat down and really immersed myself in the process.
Dave: I’ve heard making miniatures is one of the most difficult things to produce at a consistently high quality. How do you make them so gorgeous?
Chase: We hire people who can do it better than we can. I have been practicing 3D sculpting for about five years now, but I knew I needed someone more talented than I to pull off the pieces we have in Rivals. We hired Norman, Oklahoma local Alain Viesca to plow through the huge list of miniatures needed for the game. Alain has worked for tons of other miniatures companies out there including Wyrd, Soda Pop, Ninja Division and so forth.
Dave: So why publish Rivals through Kickstarter? Was it a last resort or was it for some specific advantages.
Chase: I don’t have $40 thousand to drop on a game, so that was definitely a factor. We also already have a line of toys and wanted to continue to development, produce and distribute our own product ourselves.
Dave: Kickstarter opens the development of the game to a lot of feedback, especially from backers. When you started this project how much feedback did you expect and how willing were you to respond?
Chase: In the last Kickstarter we ran we didn’t really know what to expect as far as feedback. I wish we had been as prepared as we thought we were when it cam to that aspect because the feedback came flooding in. We knew we needed to respond.
Dave: Well, respond you did by cancelling a successfully funded project and adding two more factions! How difficult was it to add two more factions to game in terms of balance and experience?
Chase: We decided to cancel the last game because we wanted to give the backers a game they wanted and make a game that we were proud of. We were already impressed with what we had done, but now that the new factions are complete we realized how much better of a game we have. Balancing is a very difficult piece when it comes to the game creation. It takes a ton of time and sometimes ruins some friendships by continually asking friends to play your game.
Dave: Were those two factions already in mind?
Chase: Yes, we already had the two factions in mind that we wanted to create because we had planned on releasing them later as expansions. The backers just thought otherwise.
Dave: Of the four factions I just love the Cog Nation miniatures the most. I’m a lover of history and to see them in their suits of iron evokes some of that historic, daring expoloration I like to read about. Where did you come up with these factions and how did you develop them to where they’re at now?
Chase: A vivid imagination. Ha. But seriously each started off in a pretty different direction. All but the Low Clans. The Low Clans were always imagined this way from the start. My brother and I have always worked really well with bouncing ideas back and forth until the idea is completely thought out and in stone. He loves working through a lot of the foundational aspects of the factions while I take the more creative approach with naming each creature and character, creating culture, art and maneurisms etc.
Dave:If you were to describe each of the four factions in one word what would that word be?
Chase: Cog—precision. Nautilus—speed. Ancients—control. Low Clans—mass.
Dave: What is your favorite faction?
Chase: I’m like you and have always favored the Cog. Can’t get enough Automatons.
Dave: So what kind of experience, as far as the game goes, are you hoping to give players?
Chase: I always want players to just get a glimpse of this world and have them live out and create stories through gameplay.
Dave: How did you go about play testing your game?
Chase: Like I said we have been working on this for about two years. Throughout that time my brother has been a Resident Director at Oklahoma Christian. We had a ton of playtesting and blind playtesting done with the students for months. Outside of those mass plays, we did a ton of playtesting with friends and some of our local game groups.
Dave: I think your minis are so well done they can easily draw new players into this board game genre. What part of this game will really appeal to someone who has never played a miniature game before?
Chase: It’s very rules light. We wanted miniatures for this game, but we weren’t out looking towards how to become the next Warhammer or Infinity. We just wanted to create something fun and immersive without having to study a 60 page manual. Our rulebook is 16 pages.
Dave: What excites you the most about this project?
Chase: The most exciting piece for me is seeing my characters and stories come to life.