Lords of Hellas Kickstarter Interview

Lords of Hellas Kickstarter Interview

Anyone who has been on any form of board game social media may have noticed the new game from Awaken Realms involving loads of minis and some kind of cyber Greek mythology theme. I must admit that although the minis caught my eye the first thought was "here we go, another game packed to the gills with moulded plastic and not a whiff of gameplay" and then I found out that Lords of Hellas is being designed by Adam Kwapiński and I got very interested.

Me and Adam go way back (in that I spoke to him once at Essen and he didn't look scared, uncomfortable or ask me to leave) and so I thought I would give him a shout and get the inside scoop on Lords of Hellas

Adam, there is a good chance that not a lot of people have heard of you, which is a crime in itself, so tell us all about your gaming background

Now I'm blushing. I have played boardgames as long as I can remember. I was four or five when my older sister and my cousin gets Talisman and I always tried to play with them. Of course, I had to force them to let me play with them but the threat of bursting into tears usually worked. Next was Star Trader, I was six years old then and this was the game that showed me it's not only about randomness but my own choices that decide who wins. This is how I started playing. After that there was plenty of games. Historical war games, miniature games, CCG, RPG, computer games and classic games like chess or bridge. For me there was no difference, I just love playing.
Lords of Hellas Kickstarter strategy Board game

Onto the main event, Lords of Hellas, tell us about the game and why we should hand over our hard-earned cash to Kickstarter?

This is the type of question I never liked. You know I don't know how to sell games. I know how to design them. But let’s try. What can I say about Lords of Hellas - for me this was the game in which I tried to solve some of the typical problems of territory control games. Replayability, playing with different number of players (I love A Game of Thrones the Board Game, but it works only with 5 or 6 people if you haven't got the expansion) and building a big empire only by protecting your own borders. 
In Lords of Hellas the key was the theme. Idea of the game was to mix classic strategy game with myths, heroes and monsters which are kind of adventure stuff. With this dimension of Lords of Hellas, you can do lots of things that you can't do in classic territory control. You can hunt monsters, build your hero, usurp power in somebody else’s region even if you don't have any soldiers in it (you need only Glory token to that specific region). All this perfectly fits to the theme which is very important to me when I design games. If somebody can take my game about myths of ancient Greece and, without any problems and changes in mechanics, make from it a game about ants or space travels this means, for me, that my game wasn't embedded into the theme enough.
All the things I can tell you about Lords of Hellas are from my perspective and, in my opinion, are not very interesting if you are not a game designer. Fortunately, this is the place where Awaken Realms can show off their miniatures, and they are awesome. I say this not as the designer of the game but as a guy who can play any good game with simple black and white prototype and normally miniatures don't impress me (last time when miniatures caused a "wow" effect on me was Confrontation from Rackham). Oh, and the last thing about the miniatures - we have monuments that players build during the game and they are an important part of the game mechanics. I'm very happy that they not only beautiful - they are part of game design. This is the place where aesthetic meets design like in Tzolkin for example.   

Lords of Hellas Kickstarter zeus monument

You say that theme is very important to your games, what was the most difficult aspect of the Greek mythology theme to marry to the board game mechanics?

The most important thing was to answer the question what story does the game tell? What is it about? Because you know we can make thousands of board games with an ancient Greek theme. From beginning, the aim with Lords of Hellas was to create a strategic game with some adventure aspects, and in my opinion games like this should be immersive on some level. We have plenty of great strategic games like Game of Thrones, Chaos in the Old World, Eclipse or Blood Rage, but in all of them you take control of some undefined power; race, evil god, clan or house. So you are not playing a particular person but some artificial construct. I want it different in Lords of Hellas. I want people to feel that they control the Hero (but still Lords of Hellas is a territory control game). I hope players will see this little difference.

What is the one aspect of Lords of Hellas’ design are you most proud of?

There are couple of things. When you create a game, there are lots of problem you must solve to make everything work right. You are staring on your game and you know that this or that must be solved to make a good game. It’s like a puzzle. You know what effect you want and you are looking for the best way to create that effect.  
I always have some problems with fighting mechanisms in game like that. In Lords of Hellas I created 6 or 7 different mechanisms to settle battles of units but they weren't great. They were too countable, or too long (I never want to make them random) and then I found a way to make something very similar to mechanisms we know from other games like A Game of Thrones. So I changed only one little thing, the reason why your soldier dies. In Lords of Hellas when you play cards during the battle (the cards give you additional strength) you have symbols with casualties on them and this defines how many of your own soldiers will die in the battle. So it's always your decision - you can fight more carefully and save your troops or you can make some powerful manoeuvre, like charge, but you know that it will kill some of your guys.

But if I must choose only one thing I'm really proud of in Lords of Hellas it will be Glory tokens mechanism. It's because this concept is very important to the game and changes it from classic territory control to a game with heroes, monsters and adventure. In Lords of Hellas it's not enough to make a big empire and protect your borders. You also should fight monsters in your territory because if somebody else does this this it lets them take control of the region that could be in the middle of your empire. And they don't need an army to do that! This is why I like this mechanism and I also think it makes a difference.

Lords of hellas cyber greek mythology

Lords of Hellas is being published by awaken Realms but you usually work with Historical Games Factory, why the change in publisher?

More specific I'm the owner of Historical Games Factory (earlier I was one of co-owners). There are couple of reasons why I publish my games with other companies. First of all, some games just don't fit well with the Historical Games Factory brand.  But the main reason is that I want to design games, not be a businessman who spend lots of time signing contracts, preparing production and other paper work. I'm a designer - this is what I want to do and I know how to do it. Also, I have no delusions that other people, like the guys from Awaken Realms, are much better publishers than me.

As the designer of the game, how much input have you had with the running of the Kickstarter?

Not so much. Mostly I enter only if something is important from designer perspective. Of course, we talk a lot about the campaign but Awaken Realms know how to run a Kickstarter campaign so I just try don't disturb them.

We know you're a busy man, so is true anything you can tell us about your future projects? We're already excited to hear more about Nemesis.

This year is the first year when I can focus nearly 100% on designing, so there will be couple of games from me. The biggest one is Nemesis – I have worked on this project for about 4 years. It will be released by Rebel in Essen 2017 if everything goes well. The game is Sci-Fi survival horror. You are part of the crew on a space ship and something has gone wrong. You can't trust the other crew members but you must cooperate because you are not alone on this ship.

Besides Nemesis, at Essen 2017 there will be also my game published by Board and Dice. This will be a fast, asymmetrical 2 players game – the guys from Board and Dice are currently working on the theme but in a couple of weeks they will release some more information.

There are a few more projects; a miniature skirmish game (this will be on Kickstarter – probably the last quarter of the year), one game I do with Michał Sieńko because of 700 years of Lublin - our home city, and of course there are some projects I can't tell you about yet ;p

I would like to thank Adam for spending the time answering our questions. Lords of Hellas is on Kickstarter now

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