The Icarus Project is a sci-fi miniatures skirmish game from Icarus Miniatures, currently raising funds for its starter sets in Kickstarter now.
I had chat with the man behind Icarus Miniatures, and my fellow Gog (North Walian) Anto Cerrato where we talk about the history behind the Icarus Project.
As way of introduction, tell us a little about what Icarus Miniatures is?
Icarus Miniatures is a wargames company based in Wales, UK. Over the last year we’ve been releasing high quality 35mm scale resin miniatures for our Sci-Fi skirmish game, The Icarus Project, and now we’re going to Kickstarter to allow us to fund a larger production run of our first two starter sets, the Nexus and the Alliance.
With Kickstarter awash with independent miniatures games, what makes The Icarus Project unique?
The Icarus Project is a sci-fi skirmish game, but unlike some games, you don’t need to read through hundreds of pages of rules to play the game. The core rules of the game are really simple and easy to learn. If you’re familiar with wargames, you should be able to read through the rules once or twice and then play a basic game.
I believe you should play the game, not the rules – the rules should tell you how to do something, then get out of the way so you can enjoy yourself, not spend every two minutes pouring over the rules to figure out how to do something.
Almost everything you need to know about a miniature is included in its stat profile – there are very few charts!
The flavour of the game comes from the more advance and special rules. You can do almost anything you might want to in The Icarus Project. You can leap over gaps between buildings, tackle an enemy off a cliff, fire a missile launcher into a building and watch it collapse around your enemy, or even steal an unoccupied enemy vehicle and use it for your own purposes.
The game has a strong narrative focus also, so a lot of the models have special rules that reflect how they act in the background. This means you can build a narrative, “themed” army list, and it will still be competitive as long as you play to the models’ strengths.
You have an emphasis on narrative and story, so what is the background of the universe of Icarus project?
The Icarus Project is set about 700 years into the future. The “present day” of the universe takes place a few years after a huge galactic war that nearly tore the galaxy apart.
The Nexus, resentful of how quickly humanity gained power on the galactic stage, declared war on mankind. This was the second time the Nexus had done this, but this time they were led by a brilliant and ruthless warrior, General Varakos. The Second Nexus War resulted in billions of deaths as the Nexus moved from world to world, targeting civilian populations.
They were eventually defeated, but the war resulted in the breaking of the Council, which was the like a space UN. Almost all the major races in the galaxy decided they would be better off alone.
So now you have a group of empires, with each faction claiming their own corner of the galaxy. Wars over territory lines are common, and the Nexus – who have been reduced to little more than space pirates – are a constant threat.
How big a game will the Icarus project be? What size of table will I need and how many models make up a 'standard' game? Why did you choose this scale and size?
A 4x4’ board with plenty of line of sight blocking terrain will be perfect for a game of The Icarus Project. If you’re just starting out and learning the rules, grabbing 2 or 3 models per side and playing the game on 2x2’ will also work fine.
The Icarus Project is designed to be played with 5-20 miniatures a side depending on how long you want to play for. Games with 5-10 miniatures per side can be played in an hour.
I chose this scale for 2 main reasons; I was tired of having to dedicate 4+ hours to play the other games I was playing at the time, and I wanted a game that was relatively cheap to get into. The models themselves might be more expensive than those from other companies, but you need far fewer to play full games, which makes the system much cheaper overall.
Are there any plans for Icarus project vehicles or scenery in the future?
Eventually, vehicles may eventually make their way into the game, but it will not be for some time. Adding a full cast of vehicles to the game now would fundamentally change how the game plays, and it would no longer be a focus on infantry combat.
Scenery is something we are very interested in however, and we have plans to start experimenting with scenery in 2017.
People may have seen imm0rtalreaper on various corners of the Internet (namely Talk Wargaming) - what made you want to start up your own game and miniatures company?
I’ve been in the hobby for about 15 years, and played a lot of games in that time. It got to the stage where no one system was ticking all the boxes for what I wanted out of my games.
The biggest thing that was missing for me was a “cinematic” element. I wanted to play a game filled with really cool moments that you might expect in your favourite action movie. None of the games I was playing at the time provided enough of that without introducing a lot house-rules, so I decided to write my own system.
I’d been writing stories about Gabriel Cross and the universe around him since 2009, and when I started writing a sci-fi skirmish game, I realized that this world that I had been creating for years was the perfect fit. And so The Icarus Project was born!
Since you have started from scratch, how do you go about designing and producing miniatures?
I did a LOT of research before the first piece of artwork was even done. I gathered together a lot of reference images of the sort of style that I wanted, then I put an open call-out to artists to do concept work for me. After a test stage I ended up with 2 artists who have produced almost all the pieces for the game so far.
For sculpting I did a lot of similar things; collected research images, made note of sculptors whose style I liked, and then started emailing and getting prices.
I could have done all of this for a lot cheaper by using other artists and studios, but there are so many companies on the market, I didn’t see the point in producing miniatures unless they were world class quality. And I am very proud of what everyone involved has managed to achieve – I really believe Icarus Miniatures models are equal to or better quality than any other miniature out there.
For the actual manufacture of the miniatures, did you do the work yourself or have you contracted out the manufacturing process? Was the process straightforward or were there a lot of designs regarding multi plant models and the type of resin to use?
The manufacture of our miniatures is handled by Zealot Miniatures here in the UK. They do incredible work and we’re able to give them the 3D prints or mater files and they will make sure the miniatures are moulded in the most efficient way possible.
There was a little bit of a learning curve at the start where we had a few problem models that needed to be altered to be cast more efficiently, but we’ve gotten better at sporting potential problems at the sculpting stage.
The resin is a high quality hand cast material – you don’t have to worry about that horrible hybrid resin plastic material that has been floating around the industry for the last couple of years. And because our miniatures are 3D printed at the highest quality, and cast using premium resins, you can be sure that the final miniature will look every bit as good as the render!
This isn't Icarus miniatures first foray into Kickstarter. What happened on the last project?
I think the biggest problem with our first attempt at a Kickstarter was that we just didn’t have enough to show people. We had a single physical model, a couple of 3D prints and sculpts, and a lot of artwork.
Kickstarter has changed a lot since it first came onto the scene. It’s often not enough to show a couple of proof of concept pieces and some art anymore. If you want to be successful, you really need to show a near-complete product; physical models of everything, painted examples, the whole nine yards.
The only way to get around this with some confidence is to be an existing company with a large following and previous Kickstarter under your belt.
Fortunately, this time we’ve already got all the miniatures made and painted so people will see exactly what they’ll be getting, and we’re also asking for a lot less than last time.
Providing the Icarus project is a success what are your future plans?
The focus for 2017 will be getting the next 2 starter sets; the Praesidians and the Ji’tar, produced. Once that’s done we can start working towards a full launch of the first edition of the game with a printed rulebook and all the trimmings.
We’ve got a few more games in the very early stages of design, but we want to make sure that The Icarus Project is in a great place before we really devote any resources to those other projects.
A big thank you to Anto for answering my questions and passing on the amazing images of his miniatures. If you want to know more about Icarus miniatures go check out http://icarusminiatures.com/ and give the Kickstarter a look