Post PAX AUS 2023 – Wartide Card Game Interview
While traversing the show floor of PAX AUS 2023, I came across an intriguing booth in the tabletop section for a card game called Wartide. As an absolute sucker for card games in general, and having already demoed and subsequently purchased the new started set for Netrunner, I was fortunate enough to pop my head in at the right time – designer Lachlan Petersen was able to spare some time to teach me the game and chat a bit about Wartide’s design and development. Managing to squeak out a win (he was very self-effacing, admitting that many of his playtesters trounce him regularly), so focused was I on the game at hand that I didn’t recall a lot of the details in our conversation. Lachlan agreed to an interview with Player2 to discuss once again the design and development of Wartide alongside its current KickStarter campaign.
To set the scene, Wartide is a two player competitive deck construction game that uses an expansion model similar to that of genre heavyweights like Marvel Champions and Arkham Horror: The Card Game – players buy preset decks of Faction specific cards and non-specific expansions, so there is no chasing particular cards across booster packs and everything is far more accessible.
Player 2: Thanks so much for taking the time to teach the game at PAX AUS 2023, and for this follow-up interview! First I wanted to know, when did gaming become an important part of your life?
Lachlan Petersen: I’ve been gaming pretty much for as long as I remember. When I was a kid, I always loved board games, and we used to have regular board game nights. We would often play the classics like Monopoly or Cluedo, but my parents also had a small collection of strange novelty board games they liked too, with more complex themes and rules. As I grew older, I got more into video games and tabletop war gaming, and began experimenting with making my own games too. I even won a kid’s board game design competition when I was about 12 years old. I think I may still have the old prototype I made somewhere.
As I hit university, I found my local tabletop gaming store, which very quickly became my hang out spot between classes. It was there that I was introduced to Magic: The Gathering and tabletop role playing, and when I couldn’t afford all the cards I wanted, I began going back to my old design ideas with all the new knowledge I’d now gained.
Player2: What’s your elevator pitch for Wartide?
LP: Wartide is a territory control based expandable card game where you take control of the militaristic Empira trying to defend their homeland with their guns and tanks, the hypercapitalist animal folk of Kegawa in their giant fighting robots, or the Great One of the Null, who just wants to burn the free will from his followers so that they can live happily in his guidance. Build your deck and dive in to fight over the collapsing multiverse.
Player2: You’ve mentioned that Wartide went through an extensive development process, can you talk about the journey from that initial prototype to launching on KickStarter?
LP: Definitely. Wartide started originally as an entirely different game. The very first concept I was designing was a game about managing the logistics and supplies getting to your front lines of a WW1 style Battlefield. And the game didn’t have a win condition. There are a few hold outs from back then, such as some of the original themes around the Empira faction, but those hand drawn cards and original concept fell away pretty quickly as the few friends I convinced to play gave me feedback around how it overall… kinda sucked, but the combat was fun if you ignored the other mechanics.
From there the game was streamlined and simplified, other factions and game play styles were slowly brought in and tested. The game spent quite a few years in a shoe box under the bed when I would get distracted. But I would keep coming back, tweaking a few pieces here and there, convincing friends to try it again. After quite a few years, it got to the point where some of my friends were actually coming to me and asking to play the game, and then bringing their other friends, and we evolved into regular game nights at the local game store.
Once that momentum got behind me there wasn’t any stopping, I built out more cards, balancing, trialling organised play formats. We’ve been having game nights twice a week for over a year now getting ready for KickStarter. And then our huge time at PAX AUS has got us off to a great start, and we will see where we go from here!
Player2: What are some of your biggest influences as a designer and how did this factor into Wartide?
LP: I’ve pulled inspirations from all over the place. Early days of playing tabletop war games were and early influence, as well as the Aborsen book trilogy by Garth Nix for early themes around Null and Empira. Video games like Fire Emblem and Advanced Wars played a part too. And then the Legend of Five Rings Card Game gave me ideas around incorporating organised play into a story line. And the fantastic indie film The Gamers: Hands of Fate, that’s on YouTube, has inspired me to keep designing too, it’s well worth a watch.
Player2: The Wartide booth at PAX seemed to be a popular destination, what was the general reception like and what are the highs and lows of demoing for three days solid?
LP: We got consistently fantastic feedback from our players at PAX AUS, and sales were so much higher than I had ever hoped for. It was a really amazing experience. We completely sold out of our playmats and nearly sold out of our pre-release decks too. The amount of support from complete strangers who decided to give it a chance and loved the game was unbelievable. The lowest point was definitely trying to get out of bed again the next day. And my voice has nearly come back to me now a week later, thankfully!
Wartide is currently running a KickStarter campaign which finishes at 9:55AM AEST on the 20th of November. Those interested can also join the Discord community and try the game on Tabletop Simulator.