Brand Manager Jaime Lawrence sits down for a chat with legendary game designer Martin Wallace.
How did you get into game design? What games and designers have influenced you over your career?
I started gaming at school, around the age of 13. There was a teacher who ran a games club and that introduced me to figure games and board wargames. Then I got into Dungeons and Dragons when it first reached the UK. One of my first jobs was with Games Workshop, so I picked up a lot of knowledge there. Francis Tresham and his designs have been an influence, in the sense that they are very clean designs – no luck, just inputs and outputs. I’ve also played a lot of wargames, which sometimes shows in my work. My aim has always been to combine the rich thematics of wargames with the elegance of German style games.
A number of your games - including my personal favourite, London - are seeing reprints this year. How has it felt to see some of your older work come back with tweaks and new art?
It’s nice to see some of the older games coming back. Long may it continue. I think Osprey have done a great job with London. Similar, Roxley have made excellent improvements to Brass. I do not have the skill set to produce games to modern standards, so its good that other companies are stepping in and bringing their talents to the table.
Your new game, AuZtralia, has been doing the rounds at Australian conventions and gaming events as a playtest - can you tell us a little about it?
‘AuZtralia’ is an alternative history game where you are a settler in Australia in the 1930s (as it was only discovered in the 1900s). The problem you have is that the Outback is teeming with Lovecraftian Old Ones who will attempt to destroy your farms and port if they can. The back story is more complicated than that and really follows on from an earlier game of mine, ‘A Study in Emerald’. I’m very please with the way ‘AuZtralia’ has turned out and I think players will enjoy the fact that it is really not like any other game on the market today, both in terms of subject and feel.
You're living in Australia now, but you've travelled extensively throughout your game design career - does your location have an effect on your designs, either thematically or in terms of the industry's availability to you?
There are certainly a number of games that owe their existence to me visiting a certain locale on numerous occasions, ‘Last Train to Wensleydale’ being an example. ‘AuZtralia’ was also born out of numerous visits to this country, being an attempt at dealing with the settlement of the land without having to upset anybody by representing the experiences of the Indigenous Peoples. ‘Moa’ was designed in a similar manner to deal with the history of New Zealand. Moving around has allowed me to make contacts that might not otherwise have occurred, such as getting to know Weta while in New Zealand. Now that I am settled in Brisbane I am making use of different contacts to create other projects. There is a lively board and video gaming community in Brisbane which offers many opportunities.
Do you have any other designs on the way that you can talk to us about?
Games that are coming out this year that are public knowledge are ‘Wildlands’ from Osprey, ‘Lincoln’ from PSC and ‘Moa’ from APE Games. I’m particular looking forward to ‘Wildlands’, which is a 2-4 player arena combat game, as it can be expanded on infinitely. Hopefully it will lead to a series of games and expansions using the base system.
If people want to find out more about your games, where can they find you on the web?
I don’t have a personal website so the best place to find out about my games is to check my page on Boardgamegeek.
AuZtralia, Moa and a number of the other games mentioned in this article will be available at your local Good Games store later this year.