EPIC WARPATH: Design Basics for an Epic Scaled Wargame

22nd Nov 2023

Matt Gilbert



Welcome back everyone! This is the second in our series of EPIC WARPATH blogs heading into the Kickstarter – coming on February 14th 2024. In this article we look at the EPIC WARPATH design basics.

 

You can read the first in the series HERE.

DISCLAIMER: The game is still in development, and we are conducting playtesting both internally and externally, so some details might be different in the final version!

Today we’re looking at some of the key decisions that we made early on in the process.

 

A D8 With Destiny 

We wanted to make sure EPIC WARPATH felt right at home among the wider Mantic family of sci-fi games.

To that end, EPIC WARPATH uses 8-sided dice (D8s) and Command Dice, just like Firefight and Deadzone. D8s are used for things like shooting and combat, and a player’s Command Dice are a currency they can use during their turns to activate special orders and buy re-rolls.

We love D8’s: there’s something special about them. They just feel and roll differently to a D6 (if you know, you know!) – and crucially allow us a wider range of unit stat possibilities to play with. This means we can make units feel very different without needing extra layers of tests/characteristics to give that granularity.

 

Imperial Entanglements 

The next consideration was the unit of measurement. Sometimes in games at this small scale, it’s very tempting for us to follow our metric instincts and default to centimetres. However, inches are familiar to all wargamers, and we know that we have a big (and fast-growing) fanbase in the US – we want to make sure everyone feels right at home with this game!

 

A Scale Of A Tale

This is an important one. We played around with lots of different options, making a small-scale t-pose of an enforcer and printing it at different sizes. We were looking for the size that gave us the perfect mix of HUGE battles, but still gave well-defined details that were a realistic and cool painting project for real hobbyists (not just those with superhuman eyesight) and didn’t involve breaking out a microscope!

The scale that did this best was 12mm tall to the top of the head. Our existing Deadzone/Firefight Enforcer models are roughly 36mm to the top of the head, giving us a height reduction to 33% as our ballpark for sculptors to use. For the vehicles, we found that we could play with the scale a little and still have things ‘look right’ on the tabletop, which will let us pack some extra units onto your hard plastic frames!

Speaking of those, we have a very cool plan for our frames, which we’ll talk more about in future…

 

Get The Base-ics Right 

Another important decision! We felt from the very beginning that, as a sci-fi game, having round bases was a necessity. This lines up with the other games in the WARPATH Universe, and keeps the look and feel very distinct from fantasy rank-and-flank gaming.

With the size of the models established, we designed a special base that would take four Infantry models on one side (e.g. Enforcer Operatives) and two Heavy Infantry on the other (e.g. Plague 2a Leapers). We can’t wait to start sharing some of the models with you in the near future – but for now here are some teasing silhouettes…

We originally started our testing with vehicles on their own bases, but felt it wasn’t adding much. Players are free to base their vehicles if they wish of course, but we think it looks better without and isn’t really necessary. Unless of course your vehicle is a flier – yes, we’re going to have fliers in EPIC WARPATH!

 

Sizing Up The Situation 

Early on in development, we played around a lot with table size a lot to find out what felt right. We made-up test armies, deploying them out on the table in realistic unit ratios (infantry, bikes, walkers, tanks etc) to quickly get an idea of the space they had to operate on the table.

We were delighted to find in playtesting that the game is pretty flexible, and there’s no point having an awkward table size just for the sake of it! We’ve played demo games with smaller forces on 4’ x 4’ tables (120cm x 120cm) and typical games on the traditional 6’ x 4’ (180cm x 120m), with both giving a smooth and exciting game experience.

 

Let’s Have A Nice Clean Fight

What are we talking about? We’re talking about table clutter…all the stuff on your battlefield that isn’t miniatures or terrain!

While a few important markers may persist, it’s important that most markers used in play are regularly cleared down so that you can ‘read the battlefield’ well at the end of every round.

So what did we choose to keep in play? Only the important stuff that will inform your next turn’s decisions! We’re talking about uncleared Pin markers, and any larger units (think super-heavy tanks…!) that might have Resilience markers. These represent advanced shields or damage-absorbing abilities that haven’t been used or knocked out yet.

In a nutshell, if you need to know about it to avoid ‘gotcha’ moments, it’s marked at the end of the round. If you don’t, it’s gone. We think we got the balance right, and will keep testing to make sure!

 

Armed & Dangerous

To minimise book-keeping and avoid unnecessary tokens, EPIC WARPATH has no Wounds or Health Points on the unit profile. Yes, now you’re intrigued!

We’re dealing with lethal, large engagements in this game: if a unit is successfully damaged then it’s removed. This keeps things fast, clean – and emphasises the danger of the battlefield. Leave a unit exposed, out of cover, in enemy range, and/or unsupported and they’re at serious risk – just as it should be when massed firepower is being traded back and forth.

 

Coming Next

In the next article, I’ll run through the structure of the game. Don’t forget to sign up to the EPIC WARPATH campaign page just below to get your reminder when the campaign goes live!

 

 See you next time,

Matt & The Team