PAX AUS Indie Showcase 2022 - Kingless
The PAX AUS Indie Showcase is a chance to see some of the best new and upcoming titles from the ANZ development scene with past winners including celebrated games such as Unpacking, Hollow Knight, The Gardens Between, Hacknet, Wayward Strand and many more. The 2022 Indie Showcase is bursting at the seams, with 2021 winners invited back for the in-person experience they missed out on. Furthermore, the inclusion of Tabletop gaming means there is an even larger variety of experiences on offer on the show floor. Player2 encourages anyone visiting PAX AUS to make their way to the PAX Rising area and check out the following title as well as the many other excellent indies on display.
Based in Hobart, Two19 Studios managed to score an Indie Showcase nod in 2021 with their first release, Kingless. Billed as a “fast-paced competitive card game”, it returns to the PAX AUS Indie Showcase in 2022 to celebrate this achievement in person. Player2 spoke to Sebastian, Nathan and Alex about Kingless and their future plans for Two19.
Player 2: Thanks for giving us some of your precious time in the lead up to the show Sebastian! How did you and the team react when you were announced as a winner of the Indie Showcase in 2021, and again when it was revealed you’d be brought back in person for 2022?
Sebastian: Finding out we were a winner of the Indie Showcase in 2021 was a really special moment for me, and I know Alex and Nathan shared that feeling too. At that time, we had not long moved into our full retail release of Kingless. We were deep in admin mode, handling stock and shipping Kingless to our customers around the world. Hearing about PAX was the icing on the cake!
Obviously, plans changed due to the pandemic. It was sad to know we wouldn’t get to meet fans in person, but being able to attend virtually was still a great experience for us.
With that being said, we were over the moon to be invited back to PAX this year as part of the 2022 Indie Showcase. This was not something we had expected at all and it was totally out of the blue. A real honour!
P2: What is the elevator pitch for Kingless?
Nathan: Kingless is a card game in which 2 to 6 players compete in quick 20-minute rounds to gain the most influence and become King.
Kingless is a great game to play with your friends or family with its fast and easy-to-learn rules. Make sure you don’t end the game with the least influence though, or you will be dubbed the Fool.
P2: Kingless is the first released design from Two19 Games, what was its development process like and what helped inspire its theme and mechanisms?
Alex: Some of us had development experience outside of the tabletop games industry, which we were able to apply to Kingless. This helped every step of the way and made it possible to keep iterating on Kingless until we had everything just right. Beyond the game itself, we needed to arrange manufacturing, art, graphic design, freight, and fulfilment which were mostly new challenges for us. I think we can attribute a large part of the success of Kingless to being able to listen to people we worked with along the way and using their expertise to plan the next step.
It may seem strange, but Kingless actually started as a theme when we had the idea of making a game about dwarfs. There was so much out there to inspire us, with dwarfs appearing in so many fantasy novels, films, and role-playing games. We also wanted to keep the game light and funny, so some of those ideas have been taken in a new direction or put in a new context. We were lucky that Kingless had so many characters, as it would have been hard to distil all that inspiration down into only a few dwarfs.
In the years leading up to the inception of Kingless, we were caught up in the surge of amazing fast-playing card games that all delivered different experiences. We would meet every week or two and share laughs, compete, and form great memories together. Working on Kingless, we knew we had to capture the same energy, so we chose take-that style mechanics with lots of interaction between players. We also created a novel mechanic to encourage the players to work hard to avoid last place as well as strive for first. This fostered a feeling of active competition where everything could change in a single turn and everyone stayed engaged.
P2: How integral was the crowdfunding campaign in bringing Kingless to fruition? Will you continue to use Kickstarter or similar platforms to help realise future designs?
Sebastian: Crowdfunding was core to bringing Kingless to life. We absolutely would not be where we are today without the support of each and every one of our backers and supporters throughout the crowdfunding campaign.
It’s such a powerful way for creators, especially new ones like Two19, to be able to reach dedicated and passionate supporters. We learned a lot from our first Kickstarter campaign, both what we did well and what we would do differently next time.
I am excited to share that Two19 will be returning to Kickstarter with Kingless: Festival of Explosions, hopefully later this year!
P2: How does the expansion build upon the base game? And of course an important follow-up for tabletop gamers, will it fit in the base box?
Sebastian: Simply, yes, FoE will fit inside the base box for Kingless. This was really important for us when we were first designing the original box for Kingless. We knew we had expansions in the works and wanted to make sure that people would be able to use the same box to house these cards too.
We are currently in the process of designing the box for FoE, I can’t share much at this stage, but we are going to do something a little different with this one. We are really passionate about the environmental impact of physical products, so we are working hard to minimise this in as many ways as we can.
I’m going to let Nathan, our Game Design Lead, talk about The Festival of Explosions itself.
Nathan: Our first expansion to Kingless, The Festival of Explosions, adds heaps of fun new mechanics, improving on the base game (if I do say so myself), while keeping the lighthearted and humorous feel of Kingless.
We have added five brand new action texts for the expansion, all revolving around the carnival/festival theme. These actions will mimic you competing against your opponents in carnival games for a grand prize or just straight-up duelling your opponents to prove who is the stronger dwarf! To the victor go the spoils, and that’s just two of the new actions!
We’re not done there. Not only are there the five fun new actions, but we have also added a brand new card type to the game, Attachments!!
Attachments are played on to dwarfs and items already in play to cause maximum chaos. These powerful cards are true game changers and bring unique effects to Kingless. There’s even one that lets you swap your hand of cards with an opponent! It’s scary stuff if you have a full hand of cards, let me assure you!
P2: What are some of the Two19 teams favourite games? Are there particular designers or publishers that you look to emulate?
Nathan: There are so many good games out there, but as Two19’s game design lead, I won’t be sitting on the fence for this question. I’m a huge fan of Love Letter (the Batman version in particular) and Codenames. For a more in-depth boardgame, I love Pandemic Legacy.
I wouldn’t say there is a particular designer I would like to emulate. I focus more on particular games and their mechanics, what they do well and not so well. These observations and opinions have a huge influence on the design choices I make for Two19.
P2: What can PAX AUS attendees look forward to at the Kingless booth?
Kingless, Festival of Explosions, and our new companion app DecideOn!
The entire team will be there; Alex, Nathan, Bianca, and myself. At the booth we will have live games of Kingless. I’m hoping that someone will be able to knock Nathan down a couple of pegs as he’s too well practiced!
We will be sharing more on the upcoming expansion, Festival of Explosions, as well as the release of our new companion app, DecideOn.
Most importantly, we will be offering a PAX special on Kingless, 20% off for the duration of PAX. We will have plenty of stock on site, or if you don’t want to carry Kingless around with you, we will ship directly to your home for free.
P2: You have already teased Adventures of Overstone on your website – can you reveal any more info about future releases from Two19 Games?
Adventures of Overstone is our first tabletop role-playing game project and a great way to shed more light on the characters and locations from Kingless. We expect we will be able to share more in the coming year, but we are tremendously excited to be working on something that will allow players to get more immersed in Overstone and the world of Kingless.
We are always working on new ideas at Two19; some are much further along in development than others. DecideOn is an example of one of those projects that has been simmering away for a long time now, until we finally moved to the stage where we were happy to release it.
Every year we host a Two19 Game Jam, a free-for-all of ideas. This has proven to be a great way for us to trial new ideas and dedicate time towards creating a working prototype, often building something functional in just a day or two. I can’t share anything just yet on these projects, but we are in the process of launching Club Two19, an insiders club where we will be dropping all of our new content early including playtests of unreleased games.
P2: Thanks so much for your time, looking forward to checking Kingless out in person this Friday!
PAX AUS Attendees can find the Kingless booth in the Tabletop Indie Showcase section of PAX AUS from October 7-9.