of the WW2 rules available (and I tried most of them), that led me to write my own. Like many people, I figured it was the only way to get the game I wanted to play.
DMC: Before Kampfgruppe Normandy I think it’s fair to say not many historical wargamers would have heard your name – can you give us an idea of how you got into writing gaming material professionally?
WK: Well of course not, if you work for GW for 15 years then that is bound to be the case. I was also a games writer, in my teens I wrote many role-playing games, boardgames and house rules for everything. In some ways I think I preferred it to actually playing. I was taken on by GW after I left university (you know, when you suddenly have to get a job), so I applied with some of my own material, got an interview, did it and got a job as a trainee. After that I worked for GW in all sorts of writing and book production related roles, on White Dwarf, for the Black Library, etc. In the end I was Forgeworld’s main writer for 10 years. I guess there something inside that just needs to get out, given free time I often start noting down ideas of new games, I have hundreds of them. Some may someday see the light of day.
DMC: Is there any aspect or mechanic that you find yourself returning to across different games? Is there a common thread running through Warwick Kinrade material?
WK: Despite writing for 15 years, I haven’t actually designed many game systems. GW doesn’t do many anymore, so the opportunities were rare, but I do have certain things which I always consider when designing a game. After 30 years’ experience my ideas of what
makes for a fun tabletop miniatures game don’t change much these days. One important element, often overlooked, is that priority has to go to a gamer’s miniatures collection. Playing games is just part of the hobby, collecting is another big one, and I want to write games that encourage collecting, and give a reason and direction to it. For example, noncombat units like ambulances or radio teams. I wanted one (not loads just one of each) in my WW2 armies, and I also want them to do something in the game too, other than just look pretty. It doesn’t have to be much, just a little something useful. I’m not interested in making stuff powerful on the tabletop which, in my experience, is usually a fairly cynical attempt to boost miniatures sales and shows no respect to the players. Believe me it happens a lot, and there is a lot of ‘sales’ pressure, especially in the corporate world. I believe in the end, if the game plays well and is fun, people will want to buy the models anyway, you won’t need to twist their arms (by twisting the game). But you need to design a game from the ground up with collecting in mind, not shoehorn it in afterwards. Another important aspect of wargames which I’ve come to love more and more is unpredictability and ‘chaos’ (not the spiky men). Games that roll ‘buckets of dice’ are quite predictable, because the more die you roll the closer you’ll get to the predictably average result. In my opinion, rolling 1 or 2 D6 is inherently more exciting than rolling 20, because the result is so much more random. There is nothing better than needing a 6 and getting it!
DMC: Looking at BGK, it’s clear that you’ve put a lot of thought into both points
systems and scenarios. There seems to be great dispute between those two camps in gaming – what’s your take on the debate?
WK: My take is that both are valuable and valid. I do both. For years I was a purist, no points, only historical scenarios, I wanted a backstory and unbalanced but ‘correct’ forces, but I think this was because the points systems were overly simplistic and in striving for balance made the games dull. BGK points system exists to facilitate quick, evening gaming (because that’s what many players can do – including me), and the game doesn’t balance solely on points. More important is the Battle Rating system which works alongside it, it’s this system on which the game really balances. I also think the introduction of better, more historical-based and characterful army lists helps a lot to improve points-based games. You can have it both ways!
DMC: If all new sets of rules fulfil a need, what will BattleGroup Kursk (BGK) provide that other rules do not?
WK: A tenser, more dramatic and ultimately more fun game, which retains a good feel for the theatre or period! Subjective opinion I know, but I really think it provides a better feel for WW2 battles, and the character of the fighting in that theatre (here Kursk), than generic rules which provide effectively the same battles but with different model tanks. Of course, you can play like that, but I strive to give the games a characterful edge, a feel for the theatre and period, so battles in 1943 at Kursk feel different to those, say, during the invasion of Germany in 1945. Not just the equipment has moved on, but the tactics, and the strategic situation too, I like to get a little of that
The Gazebo is a free, quarterly e-zine dedicated to gaming in the UK and Ireland.