Interview with Nicolas Raoult from Don't Panic Games

Darkerys is a 32mm skirmish game from Don’t Panic Games about to hit Kickstarter. I got the chance to speak to Nicolas Raoult about the game.

 Up until today all I know about Drakerys is a cool little flier I picked up at Salute 2014. Apart from the cool dragon image, what is Drakerys?
Drakerys is a fantasy miniature game designed to satisfy beginners and seasoned players alike. The Don’t Panic Team uses three ways to achieve this goal:

(a) The universe. Drakerys’ universe holds most fantasy canons, like Dwarves, Elves, magic and the like. Everyone can recognize the actors at first glance. A wild orc is a wild orc. However, some actors have an unusual (and we hope, quite fresh) attire for their kind, like the dark Elf we previewed on the game’s Facebook page. On the other hand, the universe will quickly evolve from a classical setting to a new world to conquer. At first, all borders are set between empires, kingdoms and dark lands. As elemental power rises from the world itself after a long slumber, however, everything will change. Drakerys will be shaped again by magic forces and the heroes’ action. Players can quickly identify with heroes using their newfound elemental powers to shape their own destiny.

(b) Miniatures. The incoming Kickstarter will feature a Starter Box with two armies, the human paladins of Irosia and the wild Orcs of Ashral. All miniatures are made of hard plastic and will be assembled (but not painted) for an immediate jump into battle. All other boxes, like single army boxes, will contain unassembled miniatures using a new production method allowing for a real quick assembly, and various weapons for battle units. Our intent is to allow players to have fun when choosing their miniature poses and weapon configurations, of course, but also allowing everyone to get the best compromise between easy assembly and high-detailed miniatures.
Drakerys 32mm Skirmish Game interview elementals miniatures
Some of Drakerys' miniatures.
(c) Rules. Drakerys uses some classic game feature, albeit in different forms. Seasoned players will understand them immediately, and new players will get an introduction to miniature games by using its most successful systems. The most important rules, however, are linked to the universe.

For example, there is a “time path” board players have never seen before in a miniature game. It is not a turn-by-turn battle as we usually see, but a timely management of actions. Executing a very heroic action with an elite unit will cost you quite some time. In the meantime, your adversary could execute basic actions with several rank-and-file units, and gain a tactical advantage by conquering the battleground.

Then, Drakerys makes a broad use of heroes and elemental beings. They have quite some punch on their own, but they’re best used when supporting nearby troops with elemental bonuses and special orders. As we saw in point (a), the world is quickly torn apart by elemental forces: every battlefield displays elemental springs pouring magic. Magicians get a lot of power from them and they always serve as battle objectives. Controlling the elemental springs is exerting an influence over the world itself.
Drakerys 32mm Skirmish Game interview action wheel
Drakerys most intriguing concept is the action wheel.
Can you tell me more about the kind of miniature game Drakerys is? What is the typical model count; over what size table do you recommend playing and how much scenery and terrain will you need to play?
Drakerys is best played with three to seven units on each side, not counting the leading hero and the summoned elementals. Each unit has two to ten miniatures. We play on a 90cm x 90cm table (That is roughly 3’ x 3’ for those unfamiliar with the metric system), with six main terrain features and up to six elemental springs as basic battle objectives. As with most miniature games, scenery is optional (but recommended), but elemental springs are a real asset to the game. Without them, Drakerys is not really Drakerys anymore!
Tell me a little more about how the elemental springs work.
It’s quite simple, really. First, they act as battle objectives. Second, Elemental springs can be linked to a single element (Air, Earth, Fire or Water) or all at once. Being near one of them allows magician to call upon their elemental raw power to increase their own spells.
Drakerys 32mm Skirmish Game interview troops
Some Paladin troops from the upcoming 32mm game.
The proliferation of the internet and Kickstarter means there is a lot of competition in the miniature games market, what makes Drakerys different?
Apart of the previous game features, we do our best to give a new, modern vision of the classics, while introducing an interesting world and timeline. The paladins, orcs, elves and barbarians you used to know now have new weapons to fight with, new elemental friends to rally, and an evolving world to conquer.

On a more concrete manner, Drakerys has miniatures that are really easy to assemble. We hope it will bring many people (back) to miniature gaming.
You’ve assembled a bit of a tabletop dream team for Drakerys; tell us a little about the developers involved.
Mohamed Ait-Mehdi is Drakerys’ project manager. He entered the gaming industry at Rackham, and then became a painter and sculptor for many companies. His met success with projects of his own like Eden, the post-apocalyptic miniature game, and the Escape board game launched on Kickstarter in 2013.

Pierre Joanne is a game designer and a long-time friend of Mohamed Ait-Mehdi. They worked together on Eden and Escape, with pretty good results. Drakerys is their vision of a modern-day tabletop fantasy game.
I’ve been an author and game designer for quite some time now, and Mohamed used to be a customer of mine. He offered me to counsel him on Drakerys’ development, and I agreed. I write a few things, help talented people to meet and work together, and talk too much.
Drakerys 32mm Skirmish Game interview game in play
Drakerys in action
I was lucky to see some of Mohamed’s designs for Eden and Escape up close at Salute 2014, his sculpting, and painting, skills are amazing. Did Mohamed design all of the Drakerys miniatures independently or did he work with concept artists?
Mohamed sculpted some of them, and worked with other sculptors as well for the others.
You’re heading to Kickstarter to fund Drakerys; did you consider any other forms of funding or was this always going to be a Kickstarter?
In our opinion, Kickstarter is now a formal way to fund a project. Perhaps it won’t always be the case, we’ll see. One thing for sure: some investors have a hard time grasping the whereabouts of the gaming industry. Whatever the means, we want our partners to be fully aware of what they invest in.
Providing the Kickstarter is a success, do you have any long term goals for Drakerys?
Yes. We plan to make it an intellectual property and set several ranges in this world: games, of course, but also comics, for example. Let’s avoid getting cocky, however, first we have a project to fund!

A big thank you to Nicolas for taking the time to answer my questions. Drakerys is coming to Kickstarter in May and you can find out more at the Drakerys web page.
You can also see some of Mohamed's amazing miniature designs in Salute 2014: 6 Awesome Looking Miniatures Games You’ve Probably Never Heard Of
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  1. I like the sound of the time board as opposed to traditional turn based wargaming. I'll be looking out for the Kickstarter with interest :)

  2. Its a very intriguing concept and I really want to play the idea to see how it works.
    I'm really happy to see game designers move away from the I go - you go approach that many miniatures games use. There's nothing worse than losing half your army in the first turn just because your opponent rolled higher on a single die roll.