TABLE TALKS II: Underhive Boogaloo

Discussion in 'Hive Lore and Background' started by Blood Donor, Aug 11, 2017.

  1. Blood Donor

    Blood Donor Executive Officer in Charge of the 2014 Bake Sale
    Staff Member Necromunda Custodian

    Things are poised to change. Less than two years ago, I was very much of the belief that Necromunda had found its rightful home among the community of players and hobbyists that seemed to hold it most dear. Shelved until further notice seems to be the more accurate declaration of its status, as the game is now having its core system reflected in Games Workshop's newly released Shadow Wars: Armageddon – with even further pending rumours of an actual Necromunda rerelease somewhere on the horizon. With this modernization of the company's previous approach to a tabletop skirmish game, Shadow Wars showcases the marriage of role playing and wargaming elements – a reflection of the roots of Warhammer 40,000's rules system during the run of its second edition - and highlights some of the company's highest achievements in game design from their offerings in the early 1990's. With mixed emotions being expressed on the repackaging of the classic Necromunda system into a game looking to serve the entire breadth of scope of the 40K universe, Necromunda is returning as a discussion topic with tabletop gamers for whom it was not likely much of a topic before. These gamers make up the majority of the tabletop hobby scene, but it would be outright criminal to suggest that it represented the entirety. A brash and redundant statement to be made here on YakTribe, I know, as the community activity surrounding the game system seems to be getting stronger and stronger. But being the meeting spot that it is, YakTribe in recent times has seen an influx in activity across all mediums of the hobby. A game that - at least until this recent launch of a reboot - has had so much of its formative identity rooted in nostalgia, the Necromunda community seems defined by a respect for the historied creation of the game while simultaneously emboldened by an energetic drive to have the game system mature and grow alongside its fanbase. The game's roots, centred around collecting small factions of miniatures and following them through flowing and often turbulent campaign arcs, puts the growth of the characters directly in the hands of the game's players. There is a sense of ownership to it all, where one can't help but lose themselves in the adventures of their characters as they gain experience and grow into completely different underhivers altogether. And in following the exploits of one's gangs, fighting in the industrial and urban decay of a societal underbelly experiencing a constant reclamation from the toxic refuse beneath it, it is ultimately the setting that becomes the the most central character of the whole story. And while Shadow Wars: Armageddon attempts to repackage the setting to reflect the wrought and derelict nature of underhives throughout the vast spans of the entire 40K universe, it is from the sumps of Necromunda that these settings are built.

    It is an absolutely commendable basis for a tabletop game system, that a miniatures collection can focus on populating the vast and abandoned landscape within which gangs of ten or twelve characters strive to make their own claims to glory. As a gang survives further into a campaign fought out across the densely covered catacombs of twisting platforms, towers, walkways, and derelict structures, the hobbying aspects of Necromunda are propelled in unison with the actual playing of games. And with the original support of the system including a great emphasis on having ones hand at building a whole host of structures and terrain pieces from cleverly disguised house hold items or bits of refuse, the entire package presents a hobby game that has a very lasting shelf life for repeat play with a never ending opportunity to continue the creative process of designing, making, and painting ones own terrain and even miniatures without becoming some financial runaway and unfeasible endeavour. The whole layout leads to some exceptionally creative interpretations of what the underhive would be, and it really exemplifies how the scope of the game's setting can be applied to such a variable imagining of such a dystopian world.

    And so in its present form, Necromunda has grown from formative ideas on how the setting and action that unravels upon it should look, to how possible individual takes on the canon could look. From the physical design and feel of our miniatures, to how they are used to play out games, and even how the game is shared throughout the hobby community, Necromunda will be headed into conversations alongside the new rerelease from Games Workshop on a modern surge of popularity. And while again it is uncertain what this new breed of the game might bring as far as lasting support and popularity, it can only fuel processes for the dedicated fan base. From finding terrain building ideas and new uses for common items, to making customized miniatures and bits to really individualize characters and gangs, and even to sharing the game with others and growing the community, the current culture surrounding Necromunda is certainly a juxtaposition of the wrought and decaying thematic setting that it exists within. These pillars of the hobby, captured so wonderfully in Necromunda's game design, have been exemplified by the game's player base since its introduction in the mid-90's, and are what truly stoke the passion and enthusiasm for the system.

    Having had the opportunity to speak with Rick Priestley, Andy Chambers, Dave Graham, Anthony Case, and YakTribe's founder David Knife in the first Loaded Dice Table Talks article about the inception, development, and perseverance of Necromunda through the years, I wanted to come back with an article that tapped into the creativity, support, and sharing power of the player base. Where the grit and decay of the setting crept out from the recycling and rubbish bins of inventive terrain builders; where modern miniatures sculptors gave an audience options for characters no longer manufactured by Games Workshop; where hobbyists could showcase the game with social media coverage, battle report videos, and an overall growth in accessibility to skirmish gaming; and where a well balanced blend of great game mechanics can be translated to include other settings within the spectrum of science fiction, it is through the creative interpretations of the fanbase that Necromunda's palpable importance within the genre is best defined. Where I had once jumped through absurd hoops and followed last ditch attempts through the rabbit holes of the internet to track down some iconic figures in the Necromunda hobby, it was almost by sheer luck that I was able to reach – pretty much all within the same time frame for that matter – Sean Patten of the Ironhands website, Steve Stodden of Mad Robot Miniatures, Ash Barker of Guerrilla Miniature Games, and Joseph McGuire of World's End Publishing, and when each of them happily agreed to be on board, I knew The Loaded Dice Table Talks would someday have a sequel. Admittedly clinging to the back burner for an unimpressive amount of time while the cosmic warp of real life swirled all around it, I'm genuinely happy to be able to bring some more Table Talk to the site for all of the 'Tribe to enjoy. Ladies and gentlemen, this is Table Talks II: Underhive Boogaloo. Shit yeah again, folks. Shit yeah again.
    #1 Blood Donor, Aug 11, 2017
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 30, 2017
    Malo, MedMos, Thorgor and 5 others like this.
  2. Blood Donor

    Blood Donor Executive Officer in Charge of the 2014 Bake Sale
    Staff Member Necromunda Custodian

    The online landscape of the Necromunda community was a lot different six years ago. Forum interaction was more along the lines of a post or two a week, whereas nowadays if you go a few days without internet you can miss more than a handful of full circle discussions. Back when the LRB was still available off the GW website and the company was still selling off the last runs of their Specialist Games stocks, most online information beyond the odd blog or photo album were almost specifically geared for Warhammer 40K. Most of the available inspiration was urban terrain based around squad sized units: bombed out shells of buildings that you could stack the rank and file units behind. For all intents and purposes, the larger game system utilized terrain that was mostly just aesthetically detailed line of sight cover. Impressive as they were, it took a lot of ingenuity to try and replicate the grim dark setting that these pieces helped shape into a congested underhive environment. I remember buying up entirely too many Cities of Death sets when I first got into the game, completely unsure on how to bring the setting to life. But, like a preserved secret to the veteran online forum users, there was a website out there that housed an absolute array of top tier home made gaming terrain that easily paralleled any of the works from old White Dwarf pictures. The website is, and Sean Patten – the man behind all the imaginative concoctions – keeps the site up and operating to this day. With albums showcasing works for Necromunda, Gorkamorka, Mordheim, 40K, Star Wars, Gundam, and even games that Sean himself has created, the images and write ups Sean has on Ironhands really beg for countless revisits to the site, with each of his projects overflowing with clever uses of familiar items.

    Sean has had roots in science fiction and fantasy since a young age, and he has truly grown alongside a large number of gaming productions:“I was made aware of D&D back when it first came out, thanks, believe it or not, to my mom! She’s a writer, and was in tune with early fandom. Because D&D game mechanics were pretty complex, I mostly enjoyed poring over the dungeon maps, and made my own maps with some graph paper stolen from math class, and devised crude but simple combat mechanics using D6s. Being more into Sci-fi, the first tabletop game I bought for myself was second edition Gamma World. I loved the setting, it had everything- robots, mutants, a hint of Road Warrior, urban exploration… Even when playing Traveller with a friend, my favourite part was exploring alien ruins. Exploration is still a huge driving force in nearly every game I play or make”. From a start early on with fantasy and Sci-Fi settings in the art and writing from his mother's influences, what started as those first dungeon maps on stolen graph paper has prospered into a long term investment to the hobby for Sean. “I’ve always been interested in mechanics- steam trains, cars, tanks, most vehicles and weapons, so Sci-Fi was a better fit for my imagination than fantasy. It was empowering- anyone with the right know-how could go anywhere or do anything. I saw Star Wars as a kid in 1977, and it must have left an indelible impression on me. I had a copy of Spacecraft 2000 to 2100 AD that I lived in. My folks and I would watch Star Trek, Space 1999, and Battlestar Galactica, helping fill the void between Star Wars films. Later my friends and I discovered Japanese mecha shows and model kits (Gundam, Macross, etc)”. Those early fascinations with the genre helped drive gaming with his group of friends growing up.


    Once the Warhammer 40,000 universe was being released in the late 80's, Sean and his gaming buddies soon took up interest in the more collection based gaming system: “My friends were all geeks and nerds, so I had pretty cutting edge exposure to games as they came out. I picked up Rogue Trader at a game store shortly after it came out, and loved the setting. I was so poor I ran games with cardboard scenery and painted army men figures! But I made friends with the local shop owner and got discounts on miniatures like Jes Goodwin’s first round of Eldar Aspect Warriors. So yeah, I tend to be waiting for a game to finally come out, rather than late adopting... I picked up a copy of Heroquest when it released in the US, and it had advert inside for Space Crusade. A 40K game with friendly rules and team play? I must have this game! It never did release in the US, but my dad happened to be on business in England, and brought back the base game and BOTH expansions. Best birthday gift I’ve ever had! We expanded the rules further, and ran every kind of 40K campaign we could think of. It was a major breakthrough for gaming at our house, and the best excuse yet to make actual terrain for games. I heard rumors of Necromunda (old White Dwarf articles on Confrontation, sneak previews of minis, etc), and already made my own house rules for campaigns before the game came out”.

    With his gaming beginning to take on the terrain heavy tabletop fights, Sean first started with cardboard boxes cut into terrain pieces, but soon developed an absolute showcase for turning recycled materials and common items into elegantly detailed board game pieces for an overall astounding collection of themed setups.


    “Somehow I managed never to resort to Styrofoam. Too fragile, too melty (esp. under a spray can). My friend Mat and I scoured for scale terrain as a team, discovering O-scale model train kits together. K-line brand was the cheapest, we bought and converted a bunch of those kits. DPM made modular brick building panels, injection molded in styrene. We found them on sale (which meant going out of production, of course). I also kept an eye out for toy sets to convert, including an old Hot Wheels car crusher toy. The best was the Japanese Tomica sets- although meant for Matchbox sized vehicles, they worked well as terrain, especially their lovely sidewalks! I also salvaged computer and printer cases and dressed them with detail. Just drilling holes in them can add a lot of industrial style, if done neatly!". A staple fixture in some of his inspired designs, the surplus of VHS tapes Sean had available to him while playing Necromunda and his ability to so creatively repurpose their shapes right into the grimdark/gothic science fiction setting is more of his way at looking at all common items, not just VHS tapes, and his ability to incorporate them into such well crafted models. “I hoarded too much unique junk. In retrospect, it’s better to gather a bunch of one material- that way if you make something cool with it, you can crank out more! Some of my early staples were Electrical boxes, plastic clothespins, hotel shampoo bottles, plumbing solder, textured vinyl floor matting, and plastic cross stitch grid. Mat and I also met up with Tim DuPertuis, of Armorcast fame [and here on YakTribe as @timdp], and he had some cool tips as well, such as using half-round beads for rivets (they were initially intended to be used as doll eyes). Halloween was the perfect excuse to pick up plastic skull rings- combined with airline badges, they made great winged skulls! And of course, we found every means to acquire the Necromunda bulkheads before they went out of print. The new GW terrain has more than made up for those of course!”


    With the ingenious eye for reimagining such materials with such seamless fit in the 28mm scale science fiction setting, the pictures of Sean Patten's work show his take on a whole assortment of detailed and aesthetically suited terrain made from repurposed materials. Any modern change in available crafting stock doesn't seem to pronounce any challenges to Sean's modelling ability either, and even the obsolete state of VCRs doesn't seem to be posing any issue to him: “No danger there, I have boxes of [VHS tapes] in the garage. My family dropped their entire collection off: once folks understand your hobby, they start turning up with all manner of junk! I am running low on audio cassettes though... I also miss the Slater brand electrical boxes, you can only find the Carlon ones now. Other yet-to-be-found-again artifacts include finely perforated plastic rain gutter covers from Lowe’s, and a huge roll of corrugated plastic floor matting I got at a U-haul storage- haven’t seen the like since. At least I can find sound dampening board again, it makes excellent natural terrain material- it's how I get by without styrofoam ;)”. I did a career change to working as an electrician in the time after first using his site for hobby inspiration, and was always disappointed that the electrical boxes we used at my work were never as good as the ones Sean always had in terms of being such a valuably sculpted frame for model structures. Seemingly as a result, I am always swiping various thrown away bits or electrical odds and ends that are accumulating in my bits bin, so I can only imagine the joys of owning a VHS back catalogue. These sorts of stashes can become an unorganized nightmare in terms of bits collecting, and so it is always a challenge for knowing what to keep, what to not bother grabbing, when to make some purges, and when to blitz through some new terrain builds to bleed the stock. With such a tenured collection of 28mm miniatures and scenery, Sean has mastered some pretty great tricks for containing a collection and its accompaniment of stock materials: “I have installed shelving units in the garage, and the odd cabinet or bookshelf that neighbours give away free. Then I sort bits into boxes, and LABEL the boxes. Works great!... Super Handy Tip: label everything and store neatly, so you don’t end up buying more of something just because you can’t find what you already have in your garage somewhere.... [In terms of maintaining a collection's stock levels], I ask myself the following questions:
    • Have I used it, or something like it, before? That’s a good indicator it will justify it’s space.
    • How easy is it to obtain more? If it’s readily and reliably available, I try not to hoard.
    • What’s it made out of? Plastic is best, wood is good, metal is meddlesome, and Styrofoam is blah.
    • Do I have a lot of them? The more of something I have, the more useful it is. Repeated details look better than one-of-a-kind things, especially for small details. And if I find a good use for them, I can use them more often!
    • Is it taking up a lot of space? Space is money, so use it wisely. If it’s worth the space it is taking up, prove it to yourself by building something out of it!
    ... I purge only about once every 3-5 years. I wish I had time to blitz through stock! When I build a project, I try to make two or three at once, it’s more efficient (and fresh in my mind). When building, I try to buy just a bit more than what I need for the project at hand... recently we started a group at work to share project skills and ideas, and I was able to convince them to cart off a few bins of stuff. It was a great excuse to cull, knowing that at least somebody might benefit from my hoarding efforts!”

    With the Ironhands website hosting a plethora of custom rules, custom games, and even pictorial tutorials on making home made miniatures out of garage sale action figure accessories, Sean has a knack for being able to make table top gaming an accessible avenue to any age or dedicated interest level of gaming. Porting it into project logs, tutorials, commission purchased pieces, and ultimately the Ironhands website to encompass it all, Sean has turned his hobby collection into an internationally recognizable piece of gaming memorabilia within the shared network community of internet gamers. When I got into the hobby around 2010, it was already such a widespread bookmarkable page for inspiration; with so many of the 28mm scale Sci Fi systems that Games Workshop were making being showcased on the IronHands site, Sean's decided “scale of choice” for miniatures gaming was made in part to the restrictions of the spaces he was using. “I have so little space, I can't afford to collect in more than one or two scales. Wherever possible, I aim for 28mm so I can repurpose all my 40K terrain. For example, I grabbed a bunch of the cheap Star Wars minis for my Edge of Empire RPG, I used to have a ton of Epic minis, got 'em on clearance from GW stores in UK and Canada, but ended up selling them off at game conventions 'cos I didn't have room for two scales. Of course, later I did a Gundam tactical game, using the gorgeous 1/300 S.O.G. figures, and had to make terrain that scale anyway hah hah. So yeah, I reserve other scale work for subjects too big to tackle at 28mm- mobile suits, Capital starships, etc...”.

    In terms of starting up the webpage, Sean comments that, “Somehow I just knew I needed to post pics of all my work, and after sharing on several short-lived friends sites, I went ahead and did my own. Of course, I haven't learned much in the way of web skills since then, which is why my site still looks like a 2005 website. Sorry about that everyone, I'd rather put the time into more models ;). Peers at the time included Terragenesis, and a few nutters doing fun blogs for Necromunda and the like... I did a blog stint on The Waaagh during a Gorka Morka campaign and it was a blast. Not much online activity since then, but I am starting up a Rogue Trader RPG blog on dakka-dakka, hopefully good things to come there...


    Sean's works have been featured in White Dwarf , and he has had further major representations of his work in industry publications: “My first big break outside the site was a few articles in Citadel Journal and Necromunda Magazine (which were mainly pulls from my site, made my job easy but I should have grabbed higher res photos. Still should in fact). Then after a few attempts, I finally hit the big time, getting a couple articles into White Dwarf. It was fun trying to come up with terrain that anyone could build, given a few common household objects and GW sprues. This led, of course, to my how-to articles on the site”. The work displayed on the website gives good insight to the modular design of many of Sean's pieces and the playability options that come with it – with pieces that manage to fit well across the different settings of Necromunda, GorkaMorka, and Mordheim (attesting to an eye for making interchangeable terrain with fitting use in the different aesthetics of multiple game systems) – and equally around the collection of a 6'x4' table's worth of a few specific thematic settings such as those that lend themselves well to showcasing larger armies or collections within a single range. Reflecting the latter, the website offers pictures of commission like pieces or sets specific to a single campaign.

    “I did two contract Terrain tables for WizKids. No idea what happened to 'em, short of appearing at cons briefly...I also built my first Dauntless wrecked cruiser for a local GW shop, after doing some terrain seminars for them in trade for plastic. Ended up making a second Dauntless for a great fellow up in Canada. At this point, I've built two of the things and still don't have one for myself!


    Short of the tables for WizKids, I've always built terrain one building at a time. I have large pieces like centrepiece buildings and foundations, then smaller buildings that usually stack, and finally small cover and debris piles to fill in the gaps. Modular terrain is easier to store and more flexible for setup. Usually a campaign will focus my efforts in one theme for a while (alien, Ork, Necro, Star Wars, etc). But a lot of pieces can sneak between themes, especially natural terrain (rocks, jungles, etc)”. With Sean's ability to maximize the practicality of a terrain collection, and with pieces equally as detailed as they are impressive, one would be hard to resist getting in lots of games to really get to play with the boundless options of board arrangements. Within the scope of his collection, by focusing around the 28mm scale of miniatures Sean is able to assemble an appropriate aesthetic quite strikingly for a variety of settings: bombarded old world cities under magical ruin in Fantasy, the combined thematic undertones for an immigration into derelict infrastructure for an overpopulous, vehicular wars between scrap wreckage outposts in the infinite loss of endless desert, frontline battlescapes across a war theatre the scope of the entirety of the perceivable universe, and the naval interactions within the furthest depths of the intersystem are all exemplified at a mastery level in Sean's works. The latter mention, culminating in Star Crashers, offers naval battle gameplay with miniatures made up of old GI Joe bits and various garage sale treasures from the piles of discarded children's toys, and goes very well in play with his Road Wolf creation, where the antics of Road Warrior and any sort of exploits among highway car gangs within the Mad Max post apocalypse style of Sci Fi are duked out on the table top using dollar bin Hot Wheels and Micromachines scaled toy cars decked out to decay. These sorts of games combine all the hobby elements in Sean's repertoire to deliver such an epitomal offering of what makes table top gaming such a fantastic hobby.

    Sean expressed that one of his more current projects is playing through a narrative campaign within the Rogue Trader thesis of the Warhammer 40,000 universe, sprawling across points within the campaign arc that dabble with gameplay from a whole host of Games Workshops rules systems. From onboard battleships to commanding them through naval skirmishes, planet side exploits and mini missions akin to Necromunda/Inquisimunda scale, and all the way to the front end of the Imperium's war torn navigation of the warp laden universe, Sean's personal style and aesthetic for terrain and miniature builds is matched with his game mechanics knack and knowledge to purvey what is ultimately zenith to the whole application of tabletop gaming within the 40K universe. His terrain portfolio boasts some amazing builds, White Dwarf features, and an ongoing personal collection of epically proportioned coolness, not to mention all the stuff that has parted from his ownership over the years. “I used to display the odd piece at D&J hobbies in Santa Clara, CA way back in the day- I believe they finally closed, which saddened me even though I hadn't been there in like 20 years. Some of my terrain is at local Games Workshop stores. But yeah, most is still here with me, with a few production and contract pieces in private collections all over the world. I'll occasionally purge really old or large pieces, usually giving them to friends. These days I try to make two of anything I'm on contract for, so I get to keep one for myself!”. His spread of works sport his personal touch of craftiness, and they have played as a beacon on the internet for the DIY side of the hobby for well over a decade. Having well harvested roots within the tabletop hobby culture from such an early age, Sean Patten has helped define the look and feel of a miniatures gaming experience much greater than just his own for what has been the better part of 30 years.
    #2 Blood Donor, Aug 11, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2017
  3. Blood Donor

    Blood Donor Executive Officer in Charge of the 2014 Bake Sale
    Staff Member Necromunda Custodian

    A Goliath gang with the jump on Mad Donna wisely brings a Bounty Hunter for support... no matter... she's faced worse
    Photo credit @cardyfreak

    An Orlock gang accompanied by a Ratskin Scout get into close quarters with a Delaque gang
    Photo credit: @Llewy


    An unsuspected Bounty Hunter appears from the shadows above and sends a group of Cawdor Juves fleeing frantically
    Photo credit: @cardyfreak
    #3 Blood Donor, Aug 11, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2017
    MedMos, spafe and Ned Noodle like this.
  4. Blood Donor

    Blood Donor Executive Officer in Charge of the 2014 Bake Sale
    Staff Member Necromunda Custodian

    The creative ingenuity of Sean Patten's works have really headlined the whole calibre and breadth of optional settings within a unique aesthetic that the creations coming from the fanbase of the Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 universes were coming to define themselves as exuding. With many of the highly detailed GW terrain kits being spread across a crafter's entire collection, options for great interactive table sets of terrain become huge with considerations for modularity and layout diversity by design. These sorts of modelling options have been the longtime backbone of terrain building, maximized in such a terrain dense setting as the underhive of Necromunda, but the modern hobby industry – benefiting from all the computer magic of the internet – has many options that showcase these sorts of kitbashing options for not just terrain builds but the very miniatures themselves. As exemplified in the Alternative Miniatures Sources threads on YakTribe (which has individual offerings for Necromunda, Gorkamorka, and Mordheim), there are now an excellent spread of miniatures manufacturers who sell conversion compatible bits from webstores that really let hobbyists expand the detail and character of their skirmish factions, warbands, gangs, and mobs to a degree that has never before been so easily achieved. Of all these companies, never has there been such a grassroots support and customer interaction experience as that brought by Steve Stodden of Mad Robot Miniatures. Originally hailing from the Chicago area (a place that is a veritable hot bed for the miniatures hobby industry and even acts as host city for Adepticon) but now residing in sunny Arizona, Steve's sculpting work reflects his tenured experience within the hobby and his unprecedented community involvement have meant that the miniatures range from Mad Robot has been built off the input of the hobby community, with many fellow Yaks having helped define the offered scope of the company's product range.

    “I very much fell backwards into doing this miniatures thing as a business. I like to think that allows me an unconventional approach to how I make them. Most of my gaming experience was when I was much younger... [with] D&D, Vampire the Masquerade, Champions, plus a host of other RPGs are where most of my gaming time was spent. We played these games with books and dice only, no real minis to speak of. I think that forced me to rely on my own imagination to provide the visuals and that still plays a huge part in how I approach conceptualizing projects to this day, Creatively, I was a musician through most of my high school years and ended up with a degree in Sound Engineering from Columbia College in Chicago”. As with most musicians I have ever met, the gigs of the rock and roll lifestyle doesn't seem to pay all the bills and so Steve found work outside of music – in his case retail management – and when stumbling back into the hobby he would wind up with other forms of employment within the industry before tapping into his inner rockstar with the launch of Mad Robot Miniatures: “After "growing up" and getting a job, I happened to walk by a Games Workshop in the mall and a seed was sown. The 3rd edition IG codex pretty much serves as the single reason I became interested in all of this again. I jumped in and bought paints and lots of figures, from Citadel and other companies as well. Early on I realized that the hobby portion of miniature gaming was all I was interested in; building and painting little guys and all their supporting gear. I have played only a handful of actual games since then and the first day I started designing and selling parts was the last day I ever painted anything...

    “After leaving the day to day crap of retail management, I tried my hand at selling bits with a company I called Battlefront Games. To be blunt, I sucked at it and I soon had to make a decision about what to do next. I decided that instead of selling bits from another company, I would try and make my own. It was a long, self-taught learning process and I stumbled more than a few times but each setback served to feed my determination. I eventually came out on the other side much wiser for all the time and money that was spent. Converting minis was always something I enjoyed doing. I took pride in that any squad I built never had 100% "vanilla" parts; kit bashing was the only way to go. Since then, my sole focus has been creating parts and figures for people who want a little more”


    From that desire to provide more in depth customization to hobbyists collecting within the Warhammer 40,000 and 28mm miniatures range, Steve began bringing conversion bits from Mad Robot to expand on the diversity of the forces of humanity within the futuristic 40K setting, with everything from unique sculpts for head swaps, to full on multi part customizable forces that allowed players to transport the styles of other quintessential science fiction fighters and armies to the larger vogue of the 40K universe. “At that point I was literally with no other option but to throw everything into Mad Robot so that's what I did; the strategy was to build the catalogue quickly and then slowly increase sales over the long term. I have always gone back and forth between making things spur-of-the-moment and adhering to a set release schedule. There are advantages to both but I much prefer the off-the-cuff way of doing things. It allows me to stay more creative and stay more in touch with what my customers want to see next.... [As far as figuring out what sort of product to bring to the market], there were some good kits from the fantasy side of things that always seemed to have good head swaps, pistoliers for example; a number of the empire kits if I remember correctly. I did buy some of the old Warzone metals, also there were a few companies that had head swaps for sale, Pig Iron and some of the stuff from Westwind. Initially, I wasn't all that keen on making my version of an existing part, it was more a case of saying to myself "damn, I wish someone made heads wearing berets, or wearing some sci-fi helmets." I just picked berets and those were the very product in the 28mm catalogue... the biggest jump for Mad Robot came with the initial release of our Colonial Defence Forces(CDF). Since that line first came out, it has consistently been the most viewed out of the entire catalogue. I mean, after all, who doesn't like a good bug hunt?”. While the company's initial landmark offering gifted hobbyists with the more pop culturally classic science fiction way of squishing xenos, the alternative choices for custom miniatures brought by Mad Robot was far from game over, man...

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    With options to bring variance and accentuation to the forces of the Imperium, a setting like Necromunda and the game surrounding it's lowest caste of denizens duking it out across derelict wastes was matched by Steve's own hard fought grassroots approach to bringing something fresh to the industry. A member of YakTribe since early 2015 under the handle @Mad Robot, Steve has been able to maximize the marketability of an independent miniatures production company by addressing the heart of the Necromunda gaming scene in the most personal of manners. Tapping into the YakTribe community's experience of what bits and kit bashing options would flesh out a no longer supported miniatures range (where proxied miniatures has almost become the standard by requirement), Steve was able to push production runs of some exceptionally underhive flavoured modelling parts with direct turnaround within discussions on the forum: “I was aware of [Necromunda] on the surface but I never really understood it's appeal until I discovered the online community known as YakTribe. I came across them as part of my research into possibly producing some post apoc skirmish rules. I realized that there was this thriving community for a game that was long out of print. Upon further inspection, I also found a community of gamers and hobbyists who are as passionate about creating cool shit as I am. There was a ton of converting going on and as soon as I saw that, I knew I had to try and somehow be a part of it. I look at Necromunda primarily as a post apoc setting and I find that allows for a huge swath of concepts to all exist at the same time. My own contribution [to the setting] had been rather limited up until then but that would change quickly, and a large part of Mad Robot's focus will ultimately be shifting to post apoc parts...

    “[As far as the grassroots approach], reaching out in small ways to hobby communities seems to be most effective for me. Direct input from people is such a huge help in how I do things. Apart from Facebook, I have no real plans to do convention booths or crowd-funding projects. Those are useful for bigger companies that can afford it; booths can be expensive and the required extra work needed to bring a bunch of stuff to sell just isn't feasible for me. Mad Robot is a one-man company and will probably stay that way for a while. I would like to find other ways to connect with more customers but for right now, forums, Facebook, and emails will have to do. I have done a few custom t-shirts that I wear while casting, you may just see something like that become available soon ;). With a shirt-off-his-back take on rubbing shoulders with the very people he helps bring a heightened modelling experience to, Mad Robot Miniatures brings a refreshing take to customer service in an industry that has before dipped to a widely regarded unsavoury disconnect by some of the more major companies in the business.


    The interaction between manufacturer and the customer base has not always been something worthy of praise within the wargaming industry, and the modern surge of a more customer oriented business practice for Games Workshop comes in the wake of many years where hobbyists who played games made by the company were seemingly swept aside in lieu of profiteering and shareholder interests. Coinciding with the approximate time frame of the Living Rulebook's release, Games Workshop began pulling much of their customer interactions from their business plan. From a company wide standpoint, the web forum that was utilized for staying rooted and in touch with the hobby base was shut down leaving a communication void that reflected the abandonment of the Necromunda game system as a focal project for GW. With intent for the LRB to be the culmination of rules amendments, supplementary rules articles from White Dwarf, and the learnings of playtest experience from in store campaigns, the end product reflects a mid-stroke pivoting to fiscal cuts and monetary redirection to focus on the two flagship games. Where dabblings in social media presence didn't last long and were mired by disabled comment sections and a lack of response turnaround, the company's business approach has began turning heads and spotlighting discussions amongst many veteran gamers as becoming a far more interactive and approachable platform than what had previously been policy. Where store management was informed in practice one week prior to releases of upcoming products, the rumour mills of online forums very often preceded the in store knowledge that GW employees possessed, which acted in defining the disconnect between the pulse of the hobby community and the supply source. For a business approach to be so directed at this hobby core so used to being in a pseudo excommunication status, Mad Robot Miniatures quickly found likeability with its refreshing approach.

    While the catered experience on YakTribe has led to some great post apocalyptic style head sprues, weapons, accessories, torso and leg options (which can certainly be mixed amongst themselves to create unique options), it is that they had been crafted and produced in the niche void within available bits ranges to satisfy what many sought after but were unable to find which makes the offerings of Mad Robot Miniatures so unique. Bits that were made specifically because they were what people asked for. And Steve Stodden knows this because he actually went out and asked people what they wanted him to make. It is certainly a pretty cool feeling to think that YakTribe has had a direct influence on the industry market for creating Necromunda appropriate parts. But the work at Mad Robot Miniatures isn't all glorious underhive filth; the full science fiction spectrum can be achieved from parts made by the company with a wide range of infantry squads stylized to allow for some great alternative Guardsmen, as well as tanks, motorcycles, and even lots of planned new goodies: “I have a new regiment coming soon that will address a slightly different crowd than I normally would. It's part of an attempt to reach out to different genres and see what's possible. Folks can expect lots of additional parts for their gangers, including some very interesting takes on classic concepts. I am also planning some new post apoc things that involve powered suits of armour :). And while Steve wasn't able to directly comment on how awesome all the weapons offerings from the company are, I can only imagine some childish glee towards the veritable arsenal along the lines of what his Colonial Defence Force Troopers can get their hands on: “Check it out! Independently targeting particle beam phalanx. Vwap! Fry half a city with this puppy. We got tactical smart missiles, phased plasma pulse rifles, RPGs, we got sonic electronic ball breakers! We got nukes, we got knives, sharp sticks...”
    #4 Blood Donor, Aug 11, 2017
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 30, 2017
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  5. Blood Donor

    Blood Donor Executive Officer in Charge of the 2014 Bake Sale
    Staff Member Necromunda Custodian

    A Tribal Renegade of Ratskins springs an ambush on some unsuspecting Delaque gangers
    Photo credit: @cardyfreak


    An Escher gang springs down into combat against some rival Goliaths
    Photo credit: @Blood Donor
    #5 Blood Donor, Aug 11, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2017
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  6. Blood Donor

    Blood Donor Executive Officer in Charge of the 2014 Bake Sale
    Staff Member Necromunda Custodian

    Where the diverse offerings from Mad Robot speak well beyond Necromunda specific interests, the much wider platform of the science fiction genre as a whole within the hobby serves as a veritable cornucopia of inspiration, and the discussions on the YakTribe forum only act as proof. Conversations really gain an extra degree of levity when well versed members of the site are able to weigh in on Necromunda's game system with reference to the wealth of other game options that share likeness to the futuristic backdrop, a reflection of the hobby community's ability to respect the diversity of the industry. Ever promoting this wealth of available games across the largest social media platform, no member of the 'Tribe has been able to promote and provide exposure for the games supported by the site more so than @Achilles, known better as Ash Barker of Guerrilla Miniature Gaming. With his Youtube channel and the gaming Co-op he operates in the Niagara Falls area of Southern Ontario, Canada, Ash has managed to provide quite possibly the very best social media coverage of skirmish sized tabletop miniatures gaming currently available. With videos that are unbelievably easy to watch, the Guerrilla Miniature Gaming channel sports daily uploads across a wide berth of gaming systems formatted with individual upload categories for each day of the week. With many a look back at the content from the Specialist Games lineup of the 1990's and early 2000's, the Throwback Thursday videos host all sorts of Necromunda goodness.

    As no spring chicken to the hobby industry either, Ash had worked for both Games Workshop and Miniwargaming before venturing independently with Guerrilla Miniature Gaming. While the international market for tabletop miniatures games is often eclipsed by the popularity of the hobby in the UK, Ash marks the hotbed of Toronto and the surrounding Southern Ontario area as being a very defining factor in how he has grown alongside an involvement in tabletop miniatures: “I'd say Southern Ontario and the Greater Toronto Area has one of the most thriving gaming communities in the world. A big part of this is how long there have been gaming stores here. One of the first North American Games Workshop locations opened here in the Eighties (Games Workshop Queen Street). So long ago that, as no one thought the company would grow as much as it did, that is still the name of the Business as registered in the country (Games Workshop Queen Street Limited). Over the last thirty years there have been as many as 15 stores in the Greater Toronto area, dozens and dozens of independents and lots of organized events (Tournaments, conventions such as FanExpo, etc). Canadians love any excuse to get together and gaming I think fit really naturally with this in Ontario.

    “I worked for GW from 2001 to 2014 and during the eras of several 'incarnations' of the Specialist Games. They weren't actually called that when I started there, they were just additional games being sold. Mordheim and Warmaster, Epic 40k and a few others were still on the shelves. I joined up right during the height of the Mordheim presence in shops and as Inquisitor was coming and going. There was also the resurgence of the games in 2003 when the 'Fanatic' studio was launched and briefly made models for all of those games... I think being at GW during that time was a great experience because there was (like now) such a variety of things being tried and released for people to check out”. During his tenure with Games Workshop, Ash was even able to travel out of country while honing the modelling, painting, and game demoing skills that showcase in each of the episodes on his Youtube channel. This period also saw him get his feet wet with playing Infinity, the science fiction skirmish game produced by Spanish games maker Corvus Belli. From these developed hobby skills, depth of familiarity with numerous game systems from multiple design styles, and his ability to provide excellent and easy to follow walkthrough tutelage of tabletop gaming mechanics, Ash then added video production and online media coverage of tabletop gaming with employment at Miniwargaming. “Honestly the whole period at MWG happened almost by accident. When I returned to Canada in 2014 from my time with Games Workshop, I did a Facebook search for Infinity players to see if there were any locally in Niagara (what I was painting at the time) and a post by Matthew from MWG came up that he was looking for players. I went in and played a game and a few weeks later was working there. It was more something to do while my family settled in the region than it was a career choice, but it certainly opened up a whole world of digital media in gaming I had never been exposed to”.

    And so with the framework of how to produce battle reports and miniatures gaming media coverage beginning there, Ash was able to bring a unique coverage of ideas and gaming styles within the industry that helped define both his own individuality and that of GMG with the company's startup. There has always been a focus in Ash's videos - even back to some Miniwargaming produced ones that he hosted - towards the smaller sized and independent games. While this helped shape GMG as having a unique media coverage within a very small market nonetheless saturated by coverage of the larger, more popular, and higher selling game systems, Ash's personal drive to showcase what these types of games can highlight within the hobby have really projected some game systems into the collective knowledge of the tabletop gaming community:“I've always really enjoyed discovering games almost as much as I do playing them. Soaking them in and comparing them, seeing the love letters some games write to others and having a reason to expand an esoteric miniature collection into weird and different places. That's probably the simplest answer into why I like independent and smaller games... I like focusing on small games because they're the ones I love learning to play. For the most part GMG's content is guided by my excitement for learning games and my friends excitement to do the same”. Ash's developed collection of Infinity has led GMG to have one of the most extensive media representations for the system, and the channel even gets exclusive coverage with content release videos, which has allowed the Guerrilla Miniature Games channel to have the dynamic of very successfully showcasing the Corvus Belli product: “[With] relationships like the one I've had with Corvus Belli, I haven't really sought them out, they've just kind of happened. Corvus Belli has been really great with using social media to expand their game and I think Carlos [Llauger, the game's chief designer] has been really proactive in that regard. While some sites are obvious (like buying Beast of War coverage) he's done a lot of work collecting fans and using them as a distribution method for the company's promotions as well. That's no formal relationship, it's more he'll drop me a note every now and again”.

    The Tabletop Media Co-Op, located in St Catherine's, Ontario, Canada, hosts not only Ash's painting workstation, video editing/social media computer office, and the physical gaming space of the studio, but is also shared by other regional hobby media Youtube personalities. Ash is joined by Owen, providing both tabletop and video game coverage with the Gaming with the Cooler channel, and Mike, bringing painting tutorial videos in The Epic Hobby series from Epic Duck Studios and its respective channel. The diverse use of such limited space, showcased quite extensively with a video tour of the Co-Op in the GMG one year anniversary video, really exemplifies Ash's unsung ability to bring such an organized manner to such an encompassing miniatures collection in such tight space confinements. As Sean Patten highlighted the benefits of having a well laid out and organized storage of one's collection of miniatures, terrain, and building materials, Ash manages to do so in a shared space with a very diverse range of different games, each with their own unique looks and settings. One strength that Ash brings to his hosted collection is knowing how to manipulate the terrain pieces he already stocks at the Co-Op to accommodate for multiple game settings: “I tend to build terrain as needed. If it crosses over and has multiple functions then all the better, but showcasing a game on the right table is 9/10ths of making a good video, so whether or not I recruit help in making the terrain, I try to be pretty specific with the outcome. Terrain is THE biggest barrier to really new projects sometimes so it can be very useful to having a flexible collection where you can just 'paint models and go' when you want to try to film something new”. With coverage provided by the channel for games of 40K, Necromunda, Shadow War: Armageddon, This is Not a Test, and Dark Age, Ash is able to blend many of the terrain pieces into videos covering games of each system, while still maintaining some key pieces that help define the unique aesthetic of each on individually. Given the storage restraints, simply hosting this diverse of a terrain collection to service various avenues within the grim dark gothic and decayed post apocalyptic look and style would be impressive of its own right, yet Ash is able to pack the studio of the Tabletop Media Co-Op with even more science fiction terrain unique to a host of other gaming systems such as Last Days, Marvel/DC Miniature Games, and most notably Infinity. Yet his eye for multipurposing terrain does not stop there! Ash provides battle reports for fantasy setting games such as Age of Sigmar, Mordheim, Relic Blade, Wrath of Kings, Warmachine, Malifaux, and Frostgrave. If I ever dared to host such an elaborate range of games and the miniatures and terrain for them in any space, let alone the defined constraints of such a studio, there would surely be audible creaks and visible shifting of precarious stacks of poorly stored terrain pieces and boxes of miniatures in haphazard order. Ash's ability to house so much in so little genuinely speaks volumes to the successes of the Guerrilla Miniature Games channel, and it certainly puts the mind at ease to know his organizational skills mean there is no risk of either Owen or Mike finding him lifeless under a mountain of gaming pieces that tumbled from some whimsical perch.

    The coverage of small, independently made or decommissioned skirmish games in a size restricted studio really carries home the whole grassroots and DIY theme of this piece, but it is the continued drive and vision that has really set Ash and the other gentlemen I've been privileged with the chance to interview apart as being worthy of mention within the industry. What I really enjoy most of tabletop gaming is that it provides just enough structure to give hobbyists a sufficient foundation, and then allows for a complete creative approach towards telling stories and spending time with gaming peers and friends through making, painting, and playing out games. From these base attributes of the hobby, the vision and drive of gamers like Ash takes that which all of us hobbyists have access to and extends it towards helping to shape and grow the tabletop hobby community itself. And so where Guerrilla Miniature Games has risen from existing as a small in house video blog production to its move up to a busy shared space studio, things are going quite well for the channel and Ash does not show signs of letting off: “The biggest thing I'd like to expand going forward at the studio is space. We've pretty much packed what we have as full as can be. The two year anniversary will be about [facility expansions] I think, as well as including a dedicated sit and chat space where we could also record things like board games, etc.”. With sights set on the stars and a vision as seemingly clear as an astropath, GMG has become a stronghold of Youtube content for the tabletop scene, and manages to cover a significant breadth of video subject matter beyond the status quo. Where many developed channels have crafted their content focus around specific aspects of the hobby such as reviews and previews of new releases, full game battle report coverage, critical analysis of industry trends and hobby aspects, or painting tutorials and shared hobby tips, Ash has managed to shape GMG as providing coverage of all these aspects and more, all while never focusing on any specific game system within the industry. While he certainly does not limit the channel's coverage to skirmish games, a focus on the smaller gaming systems allows Ash to use variety to the advantage of GMG and create relevance of material to more of the hobby base. This approach has netted a positive response from independent game makers as well, as the Let's Play series of videos offers great insight and full play throughs of some of the more cottage industry productions. It is this sort of aspect that ultimately defines Ash's work as being so supportive of growing the industry. By giving an outlet for other makers in tabletop gaming to get exposure of their creations, Guerrilla Miniature Games is not only defining its own presence within the grassroots of the gaming scene, but even ensuring other offerings get their own chance at seeing exposure.
    #6 Blood Donor, Aug 11, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2017
  7. Blood Donor

    Blood Donor Executive Officer in Charge of the 2014 Bake Sale
    Staff Member Necromunda Custodian

    A large Orlock gang moves strategically through enemy territory within the catacombs of the underhive, poised to confront their opponents with the advantage of surprise
    Photo credit: @cardyfreak

    Delaque fire support perches high on a tower with a commanding line of site over a battle raging below
    Photo credit: @Llewy


    A Redemptor Priest and his fanatical clergy spring forth with wrathful cleanse of the heretical wyrds and mutant creatures in their presence
    Photo credit: @cardyfreak
    #7 Blood Donor, Aug 11, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2017
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  8. Blood Donor

    Blood Donor Executive Officer in Charge of the 2014 Bake Sale
    Staff Member Necromunda Custodian

    The underhive setting of Necromunda acts as shared tenure to the terrain making, miniatures sculpting, and social media coverage provided by Sean, Steve, and Ash, respectively, forming an exposé on how creative interpretations really aren't limited to any specific medium of the hobby. As Necromunda and its campaign basis allow gaming groups to forge and tell their own stories within the setting of the underhive and its surrounding ash wastes, the game holds significant virtue well beyond this as the creative outlet that it is for building, painting, and playing games together in such a shared social setting. With the abilities of social media to showcase these attributes and bring Necromunda into new spotlights and popular awareness among gamers, these creative interpretations become unbounded with the continual growth of the game's community, where every hobbyist possesses an opportunity to build personal renditions of what the aesthetic of the underhive would be. However, the game's ability to showcase diverse imaginative renditions of the setting aren't actually limited to the setting, as exploring the crunch mechanics of this well thought out game system allow for works influenced by Necromunda to be transplanted into any setting. The physical rules, setting, and canonized lore of the game are also aspects that can be manipulated and explored to churn out creative interpretations, and it was with an appreciation of the frame mechanics of Necromunda that Joseph McGuire was able to make ties from the grim dark franchise to cut out his own slice of the Capital Wastelands and share tabletop gaming with an entirely new science fiction fanbase dwelling outside the Warhammer and 40K universe. Engaging in conversations here on the YakTribe forum under the handle @deathwing, and with his game receiving excellent initial walkthrough coverage and campaign battle report videos on the Guerrilla Miniature Games channel, This Is Not A Test boasts some great alternative play for anyone with an already existing collection of Necromunda appropriate miniatures.

    My start with the hobby began like many others, through Games Workshop. I walked into a gaming store in Frostburg, MD and while browsing came across the 1997 GW Catalogue. There on the cover was Chaplain Asmodai in all his grimdark glory. In my teenage mind something shifted and my world would be forever changed. I had owned some miniatures before that, but nothing that would compare to the level I was drawn in by this. I became a GW Fanboy and embraced the hobby hardcore. Of course I was part of the nascent internet generation and spent many hours on the old school websites like Portent and Matthew Sprange's Colossal 40K Website, among others. Dakkadakka came along and I joined there, [where] I've been Deathwing for going on multiple decades now probably... My local scene during those early years was at first at the local game store before it closed, but then we moved to a friend's basement. It was me, my best friend, occasionally my brother, and two brothers we hung with. We were pretty hardcore at that time with multiple armies and playing every weekend. Some of the best times of my life to be honest. But when you really geek out on something, you need to get your fix everyday. So that's why I was online a lot too. Chasing down GW rumors, checking out folk's models, and trying to find that secret tip that would raise my game (both as a painter or player). Sadly the latter never materialized :)”. With the classic introduction to gaming through Warhammer 40K, Joey began collecting a few armies and eventually got into some of the skirmish offerings that GW was making in their Specialist Games department: “not including the big two games I also have my never been painted Eschers and about 8 painted Mordheim warbands. The former were never painted due to me not being able to do the original Jess Goodwin sculpts justice. Still on the lookout for the right painter to handle those”.


    Years of gaming and forum membership can really define a player's eye for crunch stability within a game system's mechanics, and this has certainly been the case with YakTribe's formative discussions surrounding the Community Edition rules. A large part of the hobby comes from the tomes of rules, artwork, and photographs of painted miniatures that so many of us have lost countless hours to peering through with excitement – a careful study of the well crafted hard work that has gone into making such engaging games. And like many of us, for Joey McGuire it became an opportunity to try his own hand at finding ways to incorporate rules that let his games play out a more personalized style of their own. “I suppose most gamers have a feeling for this, but its just a matter of refining the ability from complaining about game imbalances to seeing things from a game design perspective... My own efforts started around playing around with unit abilities and modifying existing works, something that I am way more comfortable with than completely designing something from scratch. But that is the best way to learn. So in a way I went to the GW school of game design and my tuition was a shelf full of dusty codexes!”. McGuire began becoming more conscious about what he thought should be accomplished within a game system's mechanics, and the applied critical thinking towards 40K rules has helped him find his preferred stance on the right balance and blend of crunch within a game. “For game strength, GW has a mixed record. I hate the melee rules for 2nd edition, but these were much improved in later editions... [the iterations of the last few editions] have rules that seem fine to me, though I refuse to play them. Not because of a mechanic issue, but because of formations that allow you to bring free stuff to the table. Like there are space marine formations that give you free razorbacks. For a game design perspective, I think that's kind of crappy to do to your opponent. I have hope for 8th Edition though and GW really has seem to shake off the crappy attitude that was so pervasive during the 2000's”.

    L3wkEQ2.jpg 6mdBLM2.jpg

    While the crafted shift in mindset that has ultimately culminated in This is Not a Test has placed a proverbial Photo-Visor on how he sees game systems, the fundamental successes of TNT come from the fact that Joey McGuire is a gamer at heart and that keeps him invested in his love of playing tabletop games. With the allure of Asmodai set in place from a young age, Joey's first collected army was the Dark Angels – which shouldn't come as a surprise with a forum handle like @deathwing – and he has had a colourful gaming career with his First Legion Astartes for multiple decades now: “one of my favourite memories was a 2nd Edition game back when the Ravenwing landspeeder was tough to beat. I was teamed up with a friend's Imperial Guard fighting a large Tyranid army. The 'nids got to a back line and some Genestealers were running through our guardsman. There was a melee upon which I opened fire with my Assault Cannon speeder and managed to kill all of the 'stealers without hitting a single guardsman, keeping in mind the results of who was hit was completely randomized. I was running that section of the board for a minute and when my buddy returned to resolve that particular melee he was surprised to find his dudes still there, but no 'stealers. He was less than pleased with my rather indiscriminate fire :)”. Rooted in the enjoyment of the hobby, This is Not a Test became the formidable passion project of the game that Joey always wanted to see played – one that could take the tabletop fun of the 40K universe and explore the post apocalyptic setting of science fiction in a new and imaginative way that was not really available in the industry. In his creation of World's End Publishing, Joey was able to pay homage to his hometown of Maryland, Viginia and its iconic role as the setting of the video game Fallout 3. As the monumental achievement that it is in popular science fiction, the Fallout series has a devoted fanbase and This is Not a Test acts as a great bridge between the video game and tabletop mediums of the genre to share the miniatures gaming experience with other similarly interested science fiction fans that otherwise might not have direct cause to start out on their own creative collections within the hobby. “This is Not a Test was born of my love for all things post-apocalyptic, but especially the Fallout series. I really wanted to recreate the Fallout 3 experience on the tabletop, mind you with a lot more post-apocalyptic tropes than the video game contained, but I was ultimately unhappy with the post-apocalypse rulesets out there. I ran Mutants and Death Ray games at conventions for a little bit and it is a really good system, but I wanted more crunch in there. Other games I tried were just not the right fit for me, not that that means they are bad games, far from it. So really it was that simple. I just had the mental switch to decide to take my decades of reading and playing games to make one”.

    The development process was an accumulation of everything that Joey wanted to see in a game, and initially even his working title was a tongue in cheek poke at this fact: “I pulled from many different rules and mashed things together until I was mostly happy. Before settling on a name for the game, it was originally called Kitchen Sink. I was heavily inspired by Necromunda and Mordheim for warband creations and campaigning and I loved the element of random activation from Ganesha Games, which is one of the best gaming innovations of the last decade. The rest is massaging mechanics until I was happy with the way things worked”. The end result steps away from the “I go, you go” turn based structure but maintains a great deal of influence from GW made games. While going through the beta process of launching TNT, Joey was a frequent poster on YakTribe and held engaging conversations on what many Necromunda fans would really like to see accommodated in a game that gave many honours to the classic GW skirmish title. While his interactions as @deathwing on this forum were TNT focused, Joey stated an admiration of the continued support and development work on the Community Edition of Necromunda that the discussions on YakTribe help keep up. “I appreciate the group that maintained with keeping things alive. I mean it really shows how great a game can be when a community keeps it going long after the creators stop working on it. Games can always be played mind you, but they can die on the vine without regular support and offerings. While such games will never be huge profit earners they are a steady profit stream and as GW abandoned the specialist market, we have seen over the last decade or so smaller companies filling the vacuum... [GW] will never regain the full market share they once held. This is a good thing for gamers as its a much more diverse setting to play in”.


    Reaching somewhat zenith proportions of what home made fan rules can be, This is Not a Test is certainly inspirational for any homebrew rules-smith within the hobby as the game has become its own franchise under the World's End Publishing banner. With the supplements Mutant Cannibals and Kickstart the Wasteland, as well as scenario packs and official miniatures, This is Not a Test has quickly risen to the upper echelon of post-apocalyptic tabletop gaming offerings available on the market. Much of this lends itself so well to Joey's stance that gaming should be a completely fun experience with friends and fellow gamers, matched with his laid back demeanour altogether – he is the self titled President/Head Janitor over at World's End :D.“TNT is a game that highlights the best of the post-apocalyptic genre. I have included my favorite parts and omitted other tropes. As such, I highly encourage you to use what you want and discard what you don’t. If you prefer a low-tech world simply ignore the rules for relics. If you don’t like mutants just don’t use that warband. So please make these rules your own – bend and break them as you like, as long as you (and the other players!) are having fun”. The game really has something special in the rules with characters and monsters designed around offerings from miniatures producers, and even gives direct reference to model availability from these companies. Joey stated his list of kudos for TNT was far too lengthy to list off, but had specific mention of the people from miniatures production companies being extremely helpful and easy to work with when allowing him to incorporate many of their creations fairly literally into the rules of the TNT, which lends to a sense that the game has been created with the whole industry in mind.“Patrick Keith from Bombshell Minis, Lon Weiss from Brigade Games, and Matt and Anton from Wreck Age: those guys have been great for showing me the industry ropes and answering questions about how things should and should not work. I have also met little resistance in getting permission to use folks miniatures from small companies, at least once I explain what I am trying to do. People can be guarded with their babies. Keep in mind, that I did not bother asking GW, Privateer Press, or the bigger boys with legal departments :)”. In the same hue as the Guerrilla Miniature Games coverage of other cottage industry and microbrew style products, the work that Joey has put into World's End Publishing and This is Not a Test genuinely seems to have interests in developing alongside many of the other grassroots brands in the industry to strengthen the overall available hobby experience. This sort of ethos reflects Joey's numerous years spent on hobby forums, and the overall scope of the game's setting opts to expand the tabletop hobby scene to include like minded science fiction enthusiasts from other gaming backgrounds.

    From touring conventions while demoing various games, gaining a sense of what part of the hobby community shared some flavours with his taste on game mechanics, to branching away from the mainstream GW game systems and examining what sort of aspects could benefit from a variant treatment, and finally to producing a publication that was not only an independent creation but also stood alongside other autarkical creations of the industry, it is hard to imagine what else Joey could have up his sleeves. However there does not seem to be any shortage of fuel in the tank for McGuire, and his list of ideas to complement the original rules set of this passion project seems long enough to last right into the post apocalyptic afterscape. “As to the future? Lost of stuff is planned, but as one man band, it takes time. Realistically I release a supplement about every 6-8 months. Long lead times, but its the best I can do as this is a passion project that is secondary to professional and personal duties. For what is actually coming, the next book is the Wasteland Companion, which doubles the amount of skills and mutations, introduces abilities that influence the entire warband, and some new scenarios and other small, but fun, stuff. After that I get to the most requested thing, vehicles. This will change the dynamic of the game, but not the feeling. Vehicles will support the warbands, not overtake them. I also have some neat resin models that are being worked on. Just wait til you seem them. If you like retro sci-fi cars, start saving your bottle caps. Further in the horizon is the robot/technology book, a mutant book (read Gamma World), a full campaign book with territories, and probably some smaller warband supplements. I am also working on a series of supplements for those that like their wastelands weird, so aliens and the like. So I have years of stuff is the hopper :)
    #8 Blood Donor, Aug 11, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2017
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  9. Blood Donor

    Blood Donor Executive Officer in Charge of the 2014 Bake Sale
    Staff Member Necromunda Custodian

    I hope “years of stuff in the hopper” is applicable to Necromunda as a whole. Maybe even that “shelved until further notice” statement was outright flawed. During its gestation and maturity period under the creative guidance of the entire dedicated fanbase, Necromunda has had the chance to become a sort of paradox. I say this in terms of it's scope and identity, in that given the microcosm setting compared to the larger 40K universe it exists within, it has grown to be unrestrained by any formal rigidity of structural canon. There are large holes in the context of the game's lore that are sheer wonders of their own to the game's loyal community. These plot holes drive the creative output of keen hobbyists, and allow for some completely individualistic takes on the underhive setting. YakTribe has thrived on these sorts of discussions well into the depths of many unanswered questions. Keen ponderings on the spacial logistics of a hive structure; on the socio-political arrangements and movements of a society based in a House-division format. And even on transplanting the entire universe into other settings, or working out how introducing outside lore from the larger 40K system into the game translates with balanced mechanics and unsquandered lore. Our community has emerged to define itself in these sorts of omitted details, and it has been a trial by fire basis in curating our own abilities in critical thought towards such an entertaining thesis of fiction. This requirement for hobbyists to step up and fill in the missing pieces has emerged from the game's orphanage, where the attempt for a Living Rulebook was scrapped mid-works, which could just have easily been the final shovel of dirt on a grave whose tombstone read Necromunda. But the tenacity of the fanbase to keep the game supported in some form speaks grand testament to the quality of the product: through the richness and detail of lore married to the balanced and well thought out core mechanics, the game lends itself so well to creative liberties and renditions from enamoured hobbyists willing to put in the work to keep it afloat, to keep it evolving and growing. And while Shadow Wars: Armageddon marks a stirring of the coals and a reignition of the kindling from the company that started the fire, the slow burning crackle of flames has been keeping gaming groups warm for over 20 years now. Because Necromunda possesses a duality of time, in that it doesn't take 3 hour sessions to complete a game but you can nonetheless be several months into a campaign arc with the same grizzled crew as the protagonists of the story you are building. And were the fire not still burning, it could just as easily been ignored completely.

    And so the the uncertainty of the game's future is something of incredible interest. Because for anyone returning to the game after an all too long hiatus, Necromunda as it currently stands might no longer fit into preconceived notions of what the game needs to be. Nor should it try, because the game ultimately doesn't need to be any one thing. It has expanded into countless individual aesthetic interpretations, and almost as many mechanically stylistic reimaginings. Like its own shelf of dusty codices, the online community has become its own direction of tutelage for a school of thought on game design and miniatures making. A supportive, constructive, and engaging community I share in the pride of belonging to, might I add. Because the Necromunda community really reflects the grassroots of the entire industry, all wrapped up in the microcosm of the underhive. Fortified by its mutual support and exemplified by the quality of work produced across its whole, the Necromunda community thrives on imaginative and creatively made miniatures pieces from ingenious and unorthodox materials. From no two gangs ever being the same and all the efforts and thought that go into detailed customization to produce one-of-a-kind creations that double as both game pieces and works of art. And from the impassioned efforts to share the game system within the hobby and encourage others of all the perks and merits that come from this little sidelined game within the hobby. Because the end result isn't even defined by a growth in the Necromunda playerbase. Its all the games, additional supplements, and even complete rules revisions that share influence and ideals to the Necromunda system. These are elements that the community firmly framed the product within, and these values resonate throughout every discussion on the forum. Because it always comes down to the people who are excited to share and encourage the works of themselves and others in this shared hobby interest. The terrain making mastery of Sean Patten has helped keep creative minds ticking while opening up huge possibilities for taking a second look at the aesthetic and reusefulness of common household items and thrown away rubbish. And the frontline interaction of Steve Stodden in fleshing out the array of customizable parts for making truly unique miniatures has been a stark contrast to the status quo interaction between manufacturer and fanbase, and the resultant product has meant that no collection could ever possibly be complete or a crowning achievement, adding only fuel to the creative drive of hobbyists. Hobbyists who belong to an ever growing community, with the work of Ash Barker only expanding the audience even further out to intrigued science fiction enthusiasts that very well might otherwise never known of tabletop hobby options. Certainly not likely to be beyond the larger flagship game systems requiring higher investments, where instead games of a more affordable and approachable size can lead to more games played and more time learning and making and improving the skills that make the hobby so great. Because Necromunda genuinely is great, and it is great enough to have this entire community behind it. Great enough that it doesn't have to be unique to its own setting or original rules, and can be the framing for any of us to become game designers of our own. Because there is possibility in having ones hand in this craft, and Joey McGuire's works and successes with This is Not a Test showcase how the influences can be enriched into something completely different altogether. It all results into a Necromunda community ultimately being about something more than just Necromunda. And the community became that way from the hard work, creative outlook, and ingenious attitude by the members that belong to it.

    @Blood Donor still goes by his real-life human name Riel Richard, is no longer in his late twenties, and has relocated to living beneath the beautiful mountain spires in Golden, British Columbia, Canada. My compulsion to refer to myself in the third person within the closing about the author blurb based on the expectations of the status quo seems to have fallen off right in the middle of this. Once again, this was an absolute blast to put together and I hope the unbelievable wait some of you have patiently endured has been met with an enjoyable read and a reaffirmed stoke in how cool our hobby is. Necromunda rocks!
    #9 Blood Donor, Aug 11, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2017
    chef0death, MedMos, Punktaku and 2 others like this.
  10. spafe

    spafe Executive Officer in charge of Hats
    Staff Member Necromunda Custodian Tribe Council Yak Comp 2nd Place

    Outstanding work @Blood Donor , a great Volume 2 entry.

    I forsee only one issue with this quality of work... we'll expect it as standard from now on! :p
    Blood Donor likes this.
  11. MedMos

    MedMos Gang Hero
    Yak Comp 3rd Place

    Another great read! Starting out with Patten struck a strong chord with me, as I've got the terrain bug at the moment. I was honestly a little worried that my interest would wane for the rest of the article, but a peek behind Mad Robot was interesting, and hearing from Ash, who has probably the best video reports of Necromunda around, also was a great read! And as I've recently been following videos of TNT, my attention was focused throughout. Well done, once again @Blood Donor!
    Stubram, Blood Donor and spafe like this.
  12. Blood Donor

    Blood Donor Executive Officer in Charge of the 2014 Bake Sale
    Staff Member Necromunda Custodian

    Thanks man! :) Super excited that you found it held you throughout. You crushed through both of the Table Talks articles pretty voraciously as well, honestly a pretty humbling log in to come online and see that you enjoyed them both :D
    MedMos, Stubram and spafe like this.
  13. ClockworkOrange

    ClockworkOrange Executive Officer in charge of Trolling
    Staff Member Tribe Council Yak Comp 1st Place

    Feel free to delete this thread necromancy, but how about another issue on the world wide yakmeets that have taken place recently?
    spafe likes this.
  14. Blood Donor

    Blood Donor Executive Officer in Charge of the 2014 Bake Sale
    Staff Member Necromunda Custodian

    Nostalgic thread appreciation is not a deletable offense under such circumstances ;):D

    I've toyed with The Loaded Dice Episode Three: Revenge of the Six Sider already on a few fronts, would be cool to hear back from some folks before pushing onwards on that, but dealing with the Yak Meets would be excellent topic. I would really really really love to entertain the idea of providing first hand coverage on that material though, so by the time such an idea would come into fruition I might have a half dozen Yak Meets to draw from for material :whistle::cool:
    MedMos and spafe like this.
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