Last Saga Interview with Nicolás Díaz from Rocket Games

 Last Saga 32mm skirmish game kickstarter interview
Last Saga is a 32mm sci-fi skirmish game currently raising fund on Kickstarter. Promising a blend of straightforward rules and objtive based games Last Saga has already reached its funding goal, an impressive achievement for a first time studio. I got the chance to speak with Nicolás Díaz from Rocket Games about the project and gained insight into the miniature making process.

You’ve just kicked off the Last Saga Kickstarter project and you’re already funded, tell me a little bit about the game?

Last Saga has been conceived as a skirmish wargame, in a sci-fi environment placed in the future, where humanity fights against alien races with different motivations. Humanity, dispersed through the galaxy on independent colonies, teamed up as The Council in order to survive, after the destruction of the Earth by an alien empire who tried to enslave humanity. Also, the Uruhvel, a slender humanoid alien race, also jumps into scene, but their motivations are not very clear, they seem to be protecting some ancient knowledge.

In the game, small groups of units for the control of tactical objectives.  The game mechanics are easy to learn, and are focused on not bothering the players with constant stops, making the game smooth and agile. This allows a fast paced game, and helps not to lose sight of the mission, core of Last Saga.

The system itself is available in beta version. There you can have a very good idea of how we want the game to flow. The next steps until the final version pass through a constant feedback with our backers and followers, hearing their thoughts and concerns throughout the process.
Last Saga 32mm skirmish game kickstarter interview aliens

You mention that last Saga is a skirmish game but how big is it? Are we looking at a few models played over a small area, or is the game going to expand into larger army type game? Is it played on an open battlefield or a densely packed city scape?

Last Saga is meant to be played in a 120cm (47”) square table and typical games uses from 6 to 15 miniatures per player. The “Force selection” is point based, and goes from 100 points for a basic, leaning game, to 200-250 for advanced games.

We have no plans to expand to a larger army type. We do not think that concept fits in a world like that. Why clash my big army against your big army, when I could simply detect the position of your troops from orbit and obliterate them with the cannons of my starship? We are seeing this happen in warfare nowadays, so in a future setting, skirmishes are the most probable scenario.

Because of that, the environment for Last Saga should be a dense scape, anywhere from alien forests with rocks and trees, where forces must recover equipment from a fallen cargo ship, to a city building, with a VIP hostage to escort.

With the wider visibility of games given to us by the internet and the proliferation of Kickstarter there are now a huge number of miniature skirmish games available. What makes Last Saga unique?
We think the main aspect that makes Last Saga unique is his fast and agile game system, easy and straightforward, offering tactical action in order to accomplish the mission. 
Last Saga is a turn based action game, alternating between players. We included mechanics to compensate having more or less miniatures on your Combat Force, in a way that the actions you can use each turn are fixed by the amount of points of the game.  
Units receive those actions, being limited by the amount they can receive each turn. Example actions are “Fire and movement”, “Rapid Fire”, “Race”, etc. 
The rules have been conceived so as not to bother the player with multiple dice rolls, lots of statistics and endless equipment lists. For this reason, every situation in the game is resolved with a 2D6 roll, units have an adjusted amount of different stats and equipment options are clear for each unit. 
A game should be fast; this way you will not lose sight of the “meaning” of the game, which must be the mission. We plan to add a very detailed mission section on the manual, now only a brief part, because we want this to be the core of our game.
Last Saga 32mm skirmish game kickstarter interview human faction

The main thrust of your project page has been the concept art for your miniatures as well as digital renders and the odd 3D print. I’m interested to hear about the process you are going through in designing, prototyping and manufacturing the miniatures. How does the design process start?

The design process starts by thinking about the miniature type and how it will be used by the faction, that is: a fast soldier, a heavy armoured one, one with support abilities, etc.

After this, the brainstorming starts: it should fit the general aspect and leitmotif of the faction, and should of course have a look that matches his type. With all of this, a description of the unit is written and sent to the conceptual artist along sketches and images, to make his work easier and more accurate.

The final steps involve going back and forth between the design team and the conceptual artist, with constant feedback of information.

So once you’ve got a concept together how do you proceed with the actual modelling of the miniature? Do you use traditional sculpting techniques or are your designs created in virtual systems?

For the first factions we decided to use 3D modelling techniques. We thought the precise lines obtained with the 3D printing would give a more sci-fi look to our miniatures.

From the final art of the unit, we start a similar process of back and forth, but this time with the 3D sculpting studio. We add information on details of equipment, clothes, proportions, etc. as some details we wanted may not appear on the art, or some proportions are not suitable for a miniature. After a few looks at the work and maybe some corrections, the 3D model is finished and can be printed by a 3D printing company.

This process also allows for easier “pose switching”, giving a preview before printing of how the miniature will look, and making the later versions of the miniature also easier to obtain.

Nevertheless, we have the collaboration with Matthias Zander, also known as Mati or Badsmile, a great friend who wanted to help us. He is sculpting an entire faction for Last Saga, in a short term we will share his work in progress on the project page and our Facebook page.
Last Saga 32mm skirmish game kickstarter interview miniature design

I’m interested to know how you manufacture miniatures. I understand there’s a range of materials available from metals to resins and plastics. How do you select your materials and what is the manufacturing process?

The material selection process comprises of a series of steps. For a miniatures wargame, this results in two factors to consider: environment and usage of the miniature, detail level and cost.

For our game, we want our miniatures to be resilient; they are meant to be used when playing Last Saga and transported from home to the place you usually play with your friends. This “rough” treatment discards resin, because is the most fragile of the options. Is a good material for expositions miniatures though, but not suitable for a skirmish wargame.
Last Saga 32mm skirmish game kickstarter interview concept development
 This leaves metal, plastic and plastic-resins. Plastic-resins are discarded because of the high cost of moulds; there are problems with high temperatures, excessive and irregular contraction, etc. Maybe in the future this will be the material of choice, but for now, its high cost is only means it’s only suitable for big companies.

Of the final two, we chose metal. This is because it offers a high level of detail, and because our models slim and stylized, we can offer a very good price, even with plastic being the cheapest option of all. This is our choice for miniatures up to 80 gram in weight, the upper limit where the cost is too high for metal to be competitive versus plastic.

After the material selection, the master copy (via 3D print or traditional sculpt) is prepared and sent to a company specialised in manufacturing appropriate moulds. Preparation includes “detaching” parts of the miniature for the later appropriate distribution of the metal, and configuration and distribution of miniatures on the “wheel”, the spinning mould containing not only the “information” to copy one miniature, but many more of them. When the wheel is created, the process of creating copies can start.

My thanks to Nicolás for taking the time to answer my questions. If Last Saga looks like your kind of game then check out the Kickstarter project.

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