The Dawn of a New Age

Hey there and welcome to the first Anthems of War blog post. If I have my way 2021 will be the year I release Anthems of War, my low model count fantasy skirmish wargame.

But what is Anthems of War? Why did I create it? Why did I just spend the last 3 years writing, and then throwing out whole sections of the game until I got to something I think will make a positive permanent mark on the tabletop community? In this, my inaugural blog post, I hope to talk about who I am, my history with tabletop gaming, what Anthems of War is and hopefully why you should be excited about it. I’ll also give a little insight into how far along in the process I am.

 

Image By abandonwaredos.com

My first experience with the tabletop gaming world was actually through a DOS game, Dark Sun: Shattered Lands, still one of my favorite games of all time and one of the only dungeons and dragons games I still play at least semi regularly. At that point I didn’t know what dungeons and dragons was and wouldn’t know until much later in my life. Prior to that, I had not played anything even remotely like it. You build and then play as four heroes. Against impossible odds you escape from the gladiator pits of Draj and then  slowly gain allies by completing tasks for small groups of free folk so you can eventually band together and resist the Sorcerer King’s army before it crushes the whole region. The turn based strategy elements combined with a story unlike anything I had experienced before drew me in and got me hooked on both the gameplay and how RPG stories can help influence the way you play a game.

 

Years later, after the death of the floppy drive, somewhere around the year 2000 I would get my first true tabletop experience. A family friend introduced my brother and I to Warhammer Fantasy and Warhammer 40k. At the age of 14 or 15 this was the coolest thing I had ever seen. You move highly detailed minis around a battlefield and try to wipe out your enemies. As a kid not even old enough to get a job I begged my parents to buy boxed sets, books, take me to model shops and generally fuel my addiction. I swear I only played a few games but I was obsessed with reading battle reports in magazines, watching tournaments in our friendly neighborhood gaming store and browsing the models whenever I saw them in their neat little blister packs. My time playing those particular games didn’t last more than a few years but it’s impact on my life can’t be disputed.

My cat, Link, attempting to play Dungeons and Dragons, June 2017

Fast forward to my mid to late 20s. I stated playing D&D every Sunday, I was addicted to final fantasy tactics, tactics ogre, and other similar turn based strategy games. The DNA from almost every tactics game I played formed an image in my head of what I think MY ideal game should be. In early 2018 my girlfriend, now fiancée, had her best friend and her husband over. We ended up playing the quick start rules for a game over and over again without branching into the main rules and putting our own spin on bits, adding new weapons and just generally having a good time. The next day I had a Google doc started with all of the stuff I wanted to do in my own game. I had just bought a ton of 15mm scifi minis to use in my games of Starfinder but shortly after my group fell apart and I had hundreds of minis with no purpose… Of course I had to remedy that too!

Between then and now I’ve had dozens and dozens of test play sessions, I’ve moved from the a sci-fi setting to a fantasy setting, settled on a name, had to change that name (long story) and then finally made it to where I am now. The text contents of the book are done. I’m constantly tweaking little things and I’m slowly commissioning art for all of the page break in the book. I just spent the last 4 days in my parents garage, the only area I have access to with enough light and space, taking photos for a few sections of the book.

So what is Anthems of War in the end? Take a few bits of Final Fantasy Tactics, some of the stuff I learned from Dark Sun, a few mechanics I loved and adapted from a handful of different games and then throw it in a blender with a generic tabletop RPG rulebook and a VHS copy of 8 Mile you forgot to return to Blockbuster before your local store closed. 

Anthems of War takes your typical tabletop game and allows you to use whatever cool minis you have on your shelf. Hell, use paper minis if you want. I just want you to have fun. On the surface it will be familiar to tabletop game players but subtlety different. Instead of your characters sitting next to each other and swinging until one player rolls bad your characters instead move around, dodge, block, reposition themselves and act more dynamically in hand to hand combat. Add to that solid ranged combat, reacting to your enemies on their turns and a magic system I am SO proud of. I should be proud of it… I spent 6 months of my life getting it to where it is. The thing I think sets it apart from other tabletop games is the narrative element. The lore of the game has your battle being told as a story by rival bards in a tavern. You are there to entertain the crowd with the story of a battle from the past. As a bard you are embellishing the story of your battle as it is told. You get a set amount of embellishments you can spend to do everything from change the weather to hamper your enemy all the way to small changes, like a character having a stroke of good or bad luck. 

Sample book print combined with a custom ruler and cone template

The first half of this year I am planning on having the contents of the book completely finished. It’s mostly art left now. I’m playtesting with a close group of friends and plan on expanding that group. I’m funding this game entirely out of my pocket with as much of my day job take home pay as possible. Printing costs, buying an ISBN number and miscellaneous costs are the next hurdle to cross. I had talked about Kickstarter in the past with some folks in the community but I still think I may try to push this thing to completion without having a crowdfunding company take their cut. It’s an investment and a risk on my part but I think the rewards will outweigh the few months extra delay for me to save the funds to pay for my first print run. I can funnel the money that I save this way back into the game making future expansions and upgrades possible.  I’ve got a singleplayer story campaign book in the works, I have a sci-fi expansion outlined and dozens and dozens of paragraphs, point form bit of game mechanics and short story ideas for me to expand the game beyond the core book release. By investing back into the game I can turn those ideas, outlines and concepts into the springboard that launches Anthems of War into a full fledged gaming system spanning multiple genres, themes and miniature scales.

This first blog post is my way of increasing the visibility of the game. I am SO proud of what I’ve accomplished so far and I know there are people out there who will get as much joy, maybe even more, out of it as I have. I even sent a copy to a print company so I could have my own physical book even if it doesn’t have all the art in it and has a few text errors. Those text errors are getting ironed out 

I’m going to try to keep this up weekly, sharing updates, my thoughts on the development and all that fun stuff. Until then I’m a message away. I’ve set up an Anthems of War discord to talk about the game and life, the universe and everything. I’ve also set up a Facebook page and will be sharing info on my Instagram as well. You can find links to all of these in the header and footer while on desktop and in the footer on phones and tablets.

Until next time!

Ryan

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