(Copyright: Greeneyegames)Wer sich schon mal mit dem lovecraft’schen Cthulhu Mythos beschäftigt hat und zu Rollenspielen einen Bezug hat, wird an dem Namen Sandy Petersen kaum vorbei gekommen sein. Er begründete vor 23 Jahren das Rollenspiel „Call of Cthulhu“ mit und prägte dadurch eine Vielzahl an verschiedensten Umsetzungen des Mythos für den Spieltisch. Nach Ausflügen in andere Bereiche widmete sich Sandy erneut seinem Hausthema und präsentierte über Kickstarter.com das Brettspiel „Cthulhu Wars“ (CW). Ursprünglich sollte es bei Erreichen der magischen Marke von 40.000 $ produziert werden. Es schloss mit 1.403.981 $ und ist damit auf der Top-Ten-Liste der erfolgreichsten Kickstarts bislang. Eine kleine Vorstellung der Regeln und des Spiels sowie aller aktuellen Informationen findet Ihr HIER.
(Copyright: Greeneyegames)Auf Boardgamegeek ist das Spiel die Nummer Zwei der am sehnlichst erwarteten Brettspiele in 2014. Nach einigen Verzögerungen soll das Spiel Anfang des neuen Jahres ausgeliefert werden. Zudem wird CW derzeit auf Französisch und Spanisch als neueste Kickstart-Projekte ins Rennen um Unterstützung geworfen (Zur Veröffentlichung des Interviews wurde gerade die Deutsche Kampagne abgebrochen. Mehr dazu lest Ihr unten). Ein guter Zeitpunkt, um dem Ideengeber, dem Produzenten und dem Gesicht dieses Projektes ein paar Fragen zu stellen:
Q – It is a pleasure to have you in this interview. You have answered a lot of questions in the past, but never this one: Did you always want to become a cultist?
Sandy: I think I must have graduated to high priest by now. I have wanted to be a cultist since the age of 8, when I first encountered the works of H. P. Lovecraft.
Q – What are three things our readers should know about you?
Sandy: I have a large oil painting of Cthulhu in my living room, I have been married to the same woman for over 35 years, and my favorite movie director is Mario Bava.
Q – I‘ve read in another interview that you like German food. What do you like most and why?
Sandy: The many varieties of schnitzel
Q – Other things that you like about Germany?
Sandy: I have many close German friends. I like them. I also like the fact that Germany is extremely clean, and everything works properly.
Q – We are a Roleplay Community. You started one of the best known roleplaying games in 1981: Call of Cthulhu. Do you still have the time and the interest to play RPG?
Sandy: I host a game night at my house every Saturday night. Often it is a roleplaying campaign I run, but when not enough people show up, then we do boardgames.
Q: Which system do you play?
Sandy: Usually Runequest, occasionally Call of Cthulhu, and periodically Risus.
Q – Where could our readers meet you at a playing table?
Sandy: The most likely place is at a game convention – I always run a game or two at a convention.
Q – Which character or archetype do you prefer to play?
Sandy: Sadly, because of my notoriety as a designer, I almost never get to play a character in an RPG – I am always the game master.
Q – Any tips for game masters?
Sandy: I have many. Here’s just one – to make a place’s atmosphere seem real, appeal to three of your player’s senses. First Example: “the sewer is dark. It feels cold and clammy. The filthy water stinks.” Second Example: “You hear voodoo drums drumming in the hills. You see the stars flickering unnaturally overhead. Your hair prickles on the back of your neck.”
The more senses you appeal to, the more three dimensional the place seems to be.
Q – How big is your team for CW and how did you bring it together?
Sandy: The team was really just 2 of us. I did all the design, ran all the playtests, figured all the expansions, assigned all the art. Then Richard Luong actually physically DID all the art. Rob Atkins created the kickstarter and handled other business arrangements, but he didn’t work on the actual game itself.
Q – What brought you and your team the most pleasure in the last two years?
Sandy: The fact that Cthulhu Wars was so successful that I was able to found a successful game company out of the leavings.
Q – CW has been one of the most anticipated games in 2014. In the name of Azathoth, it rocked the house at kickstarter.com! Without using any marketing phrases, but with your own words: What makes CW so special?
Sandy: I think it was twofold. First, I think that my previous reputation meant people trusted in my game. Second, the figures were a new and dynamic style not seen before for Lovecraft’s monsters. Instead of static poses, they are writhing, leaping, and pouncing – they are active.
Q – The town DREIEICH made it on the game board. It is a small village in the Rhein-Main-Area near Frankfurt in Germany. Is it a noteworthy place of the mythos?
Sandy: My best German friend, Fabian Kuechler, is from Dreieich, and I have visited it many times. It is quite clear to me that the town is a hotbed of Yellow Sign cultists, and so I put it on the map.
Q – You have a lot of contacts to publishers and important persons in the gaming industry, I would assume. When did you decide to bring out CW on your own? And what have been the reasons for that?
Sandy: I do have a lot of contacts, but Cthulhu Wars is a very eccentric project – it is huge, with giant figures, and, frankly, a high cost. Most game companies are not able to comprehend it, and I was forced to appeal to the fandom directly.
Q – What do you need most in order to realize such a great project on your own?
Sandy: The faith and understanding of my fellow Lovecraft fans.
Q – How did you find the manufactorer for the miniatures in china? Yellow Pages?
Sandy: We looked online at first, and then we started talking to them directly via e-mail. The Chinese manufacturers were actually very keen on doing Cthulhu Wars.
Q – Initially the release was planned for December 2013 according to the kickstarter homepage. Now it will be released in 2015 with an obvious delay. What have been the biggest obstacles in production?
Sandy: Part was due to our naivete in how Chinese manufacturing works. Part was due to our being exploited by those same Chinese manufacturers. Now we understand how it works, and we are able to control the process much better. But it was a learning process.
Q - Can you tell me examples for this points?
Sandy: For three months, we discussed the contract with them. During this time, we believed that they were tooling up for the game, in good faith. They did absolutely nothing, which cost us 3 months of time. Afterwards, they said they didn’t tool, because in case they lost the contract they would be out the money for tooling. But this was not true, because the contract stated that we would own the molds, so we would have to pay for the work anyway. That’s just one example, but now we know to check on them more frequently, and in person.
Q – I have seen the game and the miniatures on the SPIEL 2014 in Essen. The size and the material are very impressive. But with 150 $ for the core game at the actual kickstarter.com project ( 199 $ in the shop on your homepage greeneyegames.com) it is very pricy, too. What have been your considerations to produce a game of this cost structure compared to “ordinary” board games?
Sandy: We feel strongly that people are willing to pay what a game is actually worth, in order to get a higher quality product.
Q – Wouldn`t a cheaper version with smaller miniatures be much more attractive for a wide mass, which would supposably lead to a higher turnover?
Sandy: Possibly. But we want to do the best game we can, not sell the most copies. One of the factors that makes the game great is that the figures are 28mm scale, so they can be used with other games, such as Arkham Horror, Call of Cthulhu, Warhammer, etc. I guess we could argue that the figures are multi-use, which theoretically increases their value even more.
Q – Beside the core game there are a lot of expansions and add-ons finally planned. Will there be other enhancements available in the future that have not yet been announced?
Sandy: We have 13 expansions and 4 add-ons for the game already. We feel that is enough for now. We do have a few other ideas in the back room that may see the light of day if the game is successful enough to fund it.
Q – At the SPIEL I became aware of the trend called „Smartplay“. Interaction on the game board, combined with mobile device. In your past you have worked on both, computer games and board games. Do you think this trend continues? And will it be an option for one of your future projects?
Sandy: I have been watching this trend with interest, but I am not yet convinced that I need to jump onto it as a trend.
Q – Will you be at the SPIEL in Essen in 2015?
Sandy: Our current plan is yes, absolutely. We should have a bunch of new games by then!
Q – What are your next steps - before even death may die?
Sandy: In January, we are launching the crowdfunding campaign for the English version of Theomachy, a card game of warring gods – it is a sort of cross between a deckbuilding game (like Dominion), and Texas Hold ‘em poker.
In March and May we have two other secret projects coming up – we can’t announce them yet, but they are partnerships with other companies (as is Theomachy).
In July or August, after Cthulhu Wars is completely fulfilled, we are launching our campaign for Glorantha: the Gods War, my next game. It will be a giant game like Cthulhu Wars, but in a mythic environment, with phoenixes, trolls, sky bulls, gods, and so forth.
Then in December, we gather in the south Pacific for Cthulhu’s final rising. I hope to see you there!
Dieses Interview fand vor dem sardonischen Datum des 19.12.2014 statt, als der deutsche Kickstart gecancelt wurde. Dennoch war abzusehen, dass es für die Deutsche Version eine knappe Kiste werden würde. Die Antworten von Sandy zu seiner Zeit und insbesondere seines letzten Satzes möchte ich Euch jedoch nicht vorenthalten:
Q – There are currently more projects running on kickstarter.com: The French, Spanish and the German version of CW. What can you tell us about it?
Sandy: We are hoping to be able to fund all three languages, but the kickstarters are certainly working under very different models. It is a real eye-opener.
Q – The French version has reached the magic mark of $ 40 K within 9 days. The German project is still away from that goal. Why do you think are the German speaking Backers slower?
Sandy: Part of it might be that German backers are likelier to speak English than the French, and so they don’t care as much about a localized game. It is also possible that we have bungled the marketing and advertising for the German crowdfunding effort. Certainly logically there are more German speakers than French, so we expected it to be more successful.
Q – Do you generally notice any major differences between the roleplay / board game players in different countries?
Sandy: Yes. For one thing, German players (not all, but as a trend) seem to be much more serious than American players, who are more light-hearted.
Q – When can we get a German version of the game in our hands?
Sandy: If the current kickstarter campaign fails, who knows? Perhaps we will turn to more conventional methods of funding and distribution but that will take longer of course. We are a tiny company which is unable to fund our projects in advance, and must wait until we earn money to invest in new projects.
Q – Will there ever be a German Distributor for the game?
Sandy: This is wholly dependent upon the German distributors themselves! We are open to the idea, and have spoken with them the last two SPIELs in a row.
Nach dem Ende der Deutschen Kickstart Kampagne schrieb mir Sandy:
"We are still planning to release a German version of the game - just not by Kickstarter."
(Logo der Deutschen Kickstart Kampagne; Copyright: Greeneyegames)
Sandy, Thank you very much for this interview and your stirring, sincere and interesting answers!
(Dieses Interview wird in Kürze auch auf Deutsch übersetzt!)