Originally posted on https://johnwombat.wordpress.com/ in 2020.
As a modelling and wargames enthusiast for many years, I was delighted when veteran writer and games designer Andy Chambers agreed to me writing a blog feature on him. Kindly offering me his time, Andy was only too happy to answer my questions and provide me with an insight into the mind of the self-confessed Overfiend!
With a career that spans three decades, many will know Andy best for his time at Games Workshop, where he worked from 1990 – 2004. Working for the Nottingham based games and miniatures company he was lead games designer for three editions of Warhammer 40,000 (2nd, 3rd and 4th editions). He also worked on the Games Workshop games Warhammer Fantasy Battles, Necromunda, Space Marine, Titan Legions, Epic 40,000, Gorkamorka and Battlefleet Gothic. Andy then moved onto Activision Blizzard and their strategy game Starcraft 2.
These days Andy is working as creative director for Reforged Studios and as a creative consultant for various digital titles, while also designing worlds and writing fiction for a variety of other publishers including Black Library, Fantasy Flight Games, Hawk Wargames, Warlord Games, Dust Studios, Playmotion and Sega Interactive.
The Overfiend! A Talk With Andy Chambers… Part 1.
Initially drawn to the worlds of fantasy and science fiction through TV shows such as Doctor Who and Captain Scarlet, a young Andy Chambers was soon hooked on the pulp fiction works of Robert E Howard and fantasy literature of Michael Moorcock. His book shelves would soon be straining under a growing mound of 2000AD comics and Tolkien novels. As his book collection grew, so did his enthusiasm for films, favourites including Conan The Barbarian, Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica.
- Noted as an original member of SAGA (Swordsmen and Sorcerers’ Guild of America), London born Michael Moorcock began writing while still attending school. An important influence on the worlds of fantasy since the 1960s, among his most famous works are his stories around Elric of Melnibone. In addition to a prolific writing career, Michael Moorcock has also embraced the world of music, projects include Michael Moorcock and the Deep Fix, Hawkwind, Robert Calvert and Blue Oyster Cult.
Andy Chambers: I was born and raised in Nottingham in the UK, heart of the so-called Nottingham lead-belt due to the number of toy soldier companies here. My first brushes with sci-fi and fantasy were probably Dr Who and Gerry Anderson’s ‘supermarionation’ creations on TV – Thunderbirds, Stringray and most of all Captain Scarlet, which both fascinated and terrified my young mind, check out this intro… Gerry Anderson’s Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons (1967) – HD Opening Titles
From an early age Andy was keen to take his games of toy soldiers up and level as he incorporated rules around ammunition levels, trench warfare and buildings. While his friend was focussed on winning at all costs, Andy was far more drawn to balanced games centred around fun.
Andy Chambers: I’m not really sure about age; seven or eight maybe? Possibly younger. Myself and a school friend would set up 1/32 plastic Airfix figures in the back garden as two opposing forces and then use little spring-loaded cannons to fire matchsticks at them. We started adding some rules about how many shots and men we were allowed, and building bases out bits of wood and rocks. I can clearly identify this as the first time ‘fairness’ and ‘having a good game on both sides’ came into my young mind because while I tried to recreate trenches, gun pits and the stuff I’d seen and read about, he just built a big wall in front of his guys so I couldn’t shoot at them at all, dull but effective.
Having himself been a model enthusiast when younger, it was Andy’s father that steered Andy towards the joys of models as he regularly bought his son copies of Military Modelling magazine. Upon spotting an advert in the magazine for a range of fantasy models and a subsequent trip to London, Andy’s collection of military miniatures were soon rubbing shoulders with Orcs and skeletons.
Andy Chambers: My dad had been a modeller when he was younger and he bought me copies of Military Modelling magazine, I saw fantasy figures advertised in there and on a family trip to London I went to one of the stores listed – The Orc’s Nest I think – and bought some Valley Of The Four winds skeletons and some Tolkien-inspired goblins, that was the start of my collection!
I started accumulating more miniatures for fantasy at first and painting those, gradually building up an Orc army. Converting things only really kicked in when I started getting into sci-fi but that was always pretty tricky until the advent of super glue becoming readily available.
- The Valley Of The Four Winds model range was initially manufactured by Minifigs, while Games Workshop released the game itself in 1980… “Combing the best elements of wargaming and Swords & Sorcery novels in the tradition of Robert E. Howard and Michael Moorcock, VALLEY OF THE FOUR WINDS is a board wargame based on adventures first printed in White Dwarf magazine, and now reprinted and included with this game. The game is full of the very stuff of legends – wizards, dragns, evil mages, heroes, armies of undead skeletons, and loathsome swamp creatures. Players take the roles of Good and Evil with the King of Farrondil trying to hold back forced of evil whilst sending his champion knight on a ques to find the magical Swan Bons to help turn the tide of the battle. The rules are easy to learn despite the wide range of units, and play is fast because VALLEY OF THE FOUR WINDS does not use a combersome and time-consuming set of combat charts but has all the necessary information on the counters, allowing players to concentrate on the climactic battle rather than long rules.” Charles Vasey. Games Personality of the Year 1979. Editor, Perfidious Albion. Contributing Editor and Columnist: Fire & Movement, The General, Moves and Military Modelling.
Upon leaving school, Andy would go on to forge a highly impressive career as a leading games designer with Games Workshop. I was keen to know if, as a youngster, Andy had a preference between painting and gaming.
Andy Chambers: I enjoyed both but gaming was always the motivator for painting for me. A lot of my early gaming was with Airfix models as they were readily available and vehicles required assembly, once they were assembled they really needed painting (plus camo schemes looked cool) and once painted and assembled it begged the question; what do we do with these?
Receptive to the school lessons that interested him, while slightly more dismissive of those that did not, through Andy’s own admission he was a student that could have done better. However, with English and Art being his main passions it was these areas that he focussed his energies, going on to pursue a diploma in Graphic Design.
Andy Chambers: I was one of those kids with perennial “could try harder” school reports, but I did well in English and Art in particular. Basically, if I could get interested in the subject it came easily, if I couldn’t it didn’t. As I advanced through school I specialised in these for my A levels, and despite scoring better at English than Art I went on to do a diploma in Graphic Design.
- Just some of the games that Andy has worked on…
I was interested to ask if Andy felt his diploma in Graphic Design shaped his career that followed. Andy was open in his response.
Andy Chambers: I think I can honestly say not at all, I did do some basic paste up and photography for White Dwarf and some early GW books but none of it really related to what I’d been taught about at school. Within about five years digital desktop publishing completely changed the face of graphic design anyway.
Initially working in the mail order department, Andy described his entry into the Games Workshop design and writing team following the submittal of a written piece for White Dwarf magazine.
Andy Chambers: I did some seasonal work at GW mail order in 1986 and 1987, prior to that the only early job I had was helping my dad out with his credit trade business. The mail order job was pretty key because some of the friends I worked with then went on to work at the GW studio, so I already had a foot in the door when I submitted a White Dwarf article. They liked enough to bring me in ‘for a couple of weeks’ to finish off (completely rewrite as it turned out). That 14 days turned into 14 years.
The Overfiend! A Talk With Andy Chambers… Part 2.
I asked Andy to detail the transition from GW Mail Order worker to his White Dwarf article submission, through to his entry into GW writing and games design. As he described, the journey was not a direct one.
Andy Chambers: I quit Mail Order in ’87 when they introduced compulsory weekend overtime. Early in ’88 I got into a nasty motorcycle accident and almost lost a leg, the rest of that year was spent recovering with massive metal external pins in my leg and on crutches. I mostly spent the time painting miniatures, writing rules and rpg campaigns. In ’89 I applied for a place at university in London to do ‘War Studies,’ but when I went down to look for a place to live in London I hated it so much that I fled back to Nottingham and never started Uni. I wrote the ‘Knights’ (his first WD) article right at the end of ’89 and sent it in in early 1990, I got called in for my couple of weeks tryout in March 1990.
As it turned out my first work to be published was in WD124, Epic vehicle stats for Stormhammers and some other stuff I can’t remember now (Gobsmashas and Bowelburnas I think). The ‘Knights’ article was in WD126 and that was my first proper thing to get published.
- An Epic history…
- Adeptus Titanicus: Epic Battles Between Gigantic Robots was released in 1988.
- Space Marine: Epic Battles In The Age Of Heresy was released in 1989.
- (2nd edition) Space Marine: Epic Conflict In The War Torn Universe Of The 41st Millennium was released in 1991.
- Titan Legions: Gigantic War Machines Clash In Epic Conflict was released in 1994.
- Epic 40,000: Massive Armies Clash In The 41st Millennium was released in 1997.
- Epic: Armageddon was released in 2003.
Beginning with Adeptus Titanicus, written by Jervis Johnson, the Epic game system goes back to the late-1980’s. Adeptus Titanicus was quickly followed by Space Marine, which in turn preceded Titan Legions in the mid-1990’s. I was interested to know more about the Space Marine and Titan Legions games, also the backstory leading up to the releases and what were they like to work on. I wondered how Andy compared these games these to Epic 40,000, the game released three years after Titan Legions.
Andy Chambers: I worked on various other articles for Adeptus Titanicus over the following months and then 2nd edition Space Marine came along, from my perspective, out of nowhere as Rick Priestley had been developing it outside the studio. I was sharing an office with Jervis Johnson by this time so I thought my tenure at GW would shortly be over. There was plenty of work to be done on White Dwarf however so I kept chiselling at that. I was asked to take over taking pictures for WD (so some of my learning at college came in to play) as the photographer they had at the time wasn’t much of a gamer.
In ’91 I graduated onto doing supplemental material for the main games starting with Warhammer Battle Magic I think, shortly after that I was given the Space Marine expansions to work on after Armies of the Imperium came out so I wrote Ork and Squat Warlords, Rengades (Eldar and Chaos) and Hive War (Tyranids) in fairly quick succession. I wrote Titan Legions at the tail end of that, which was really just drawing together the development for all the previous supplements and trying to re-orient the game more around Titans again. The game felt very bloated by that time, though, and hence we got too carried away with the idea of streamlining it for the Epic 40,000 relaunch. While Epic 40,000 is a fine game in its own right it wasn’t well received by Space Marine/Titan Legions players so we fundamentally dropped the ball on that one, Jervis retrieved it pretty well with Epic Armageddon, but by that time it was ‘proof’ enough for the suits to pull support for non-28mm game systems so that’s one of my big career regrets.
Much has been said about this subject already, however I couldn’t resist asking the man himself directly about his Skaven army of the early-1990’s. His infamous Skaven horde is a delight of an army to look at, I wondered how they were to play.
Andy Chambers: Honestly they were a little sketchy at first as the meta for Warhammer at the time tended to be around war machines, cavalry and big monsters (all singularly lacking in Skaven armies) doing all the damage while big blocks of infantry just sat around and looked pretty. I tried to address some of this when I wrote Warhammer Armies: Skaven by introducing some new units like Jezzails and the Screaming Bell, giving a morale boost for big Skaven units based on their number of ranks and perhaps most of all giving them their own spells with stuff like Death Frenzy and Skitterleap to help close the distance more effectively. With an effective army list and decent miniatures, which kinda went downhill when Jes stopped making them, Skaven thrived like the rat they are and became one of GWs most instantly recognisable fantasy races. I’m proud of the fact they keep reappearing in games and video games to this day.
- Andy: So then. The Skaven army. Collected and painted back in 1990-91, this is undoubtedly the most (in)famous army I’ve ever painted. It appeared in WD137 in 1991 and a surprising number of people still ask me about it almost thirty years later. I basically spent the 90-91 winter months painting a Skaven army and learning not to do blocks of forty at a time. I wrote an article about it and the choices I’d made for the army. The studio cheated a bit by getting the ‘Eavy metal team to put nicer banners on some of the models before photographing them and the beast was published, and to my enduring pleasure has encouraged many others to collect Skaven armies, hail to you my rat-brothers. …Under the cold light of digital photography, years of wear and tear including three intercontinental moves and three decades of developing theory and practice in painting and modelling… Please don’t judge it too harshly.
I was interested to know the last time Andy played Warhammer or Warhammer 40,000 and how he felt these games had developed over the time he was involved and also since.
Andy Chambers: After co-writing Warhammer 40,000 2nd edition with Rick I had very little time available to play Warhammer so that pretty much petered out for me, plus we were working on games like Blood Bowl and Necromunda that were frankly quicker and more fun to play. I did play in a Warhammer tournament, Necronomicon, I was invited to in 2003 with a Chaos army I’d built but that was the last time for Warhammer.
I think my last 40K game was in 2006 just after I’d started working Blizzard. In terms of development 40K went through a pretty big transition from 2nd to 3rd edition, but it honestly was much needed by that time as the whole system was groaning under the weight of additions, and I’m proud of the way we managed to develop 3rd from a fresh start and add some genuinely new races and material, although I mourned the loss of some of 2nd’s quirkiness, 4th ed was a straightforward summary of 3rd ed development and my last hurrah at GW, from what I can gather 5th, 6th and 7th didn’t vary much from there even though they probably should have. From what I can see for 8th edition it’s made some decent strides but still clings to some very old rules concepts – it could probably use an AoS style year zero approach – not for background, obviously, that remains probably one of the worst decisions made by a gaming company ever, sheer hubris in my opinion.
- Andy: We’re in lockdown right now but we have a roleplay group that meets every Friday and has been doing so for almost thirty years. I try and get a tabletop game in every month with my friend Pete Haines (Big Pete) and most lately we’ve been playing 1/200 WW2 using Sam Mustafa’s Rommel rule set – which is excellent by the way and a real inspiration even to an old war horse like me. Right now I have Algoryn troopers on my desk for Gates of Antares. I’m not as active (wargaming) as I was, video games eats a LOT of my time these days.
The Overfiend! A Talk With Andy Chambers… Part 3.
One of the games that I wanted to ask Andy about was Necromunda. Confrontation, the game typically viewed as the precursor to Necromunda, was never released in earnest, instead rules were published in Games Workshop’s White Dwarf magazine in 1990. I wondered if Andy had been involved in Confrontation in any way. Then, moving on directly to the 1995 release of Necromunda itself, I asked how Andy’s involvement came about and what the game was like to work on. Some twenty-five years later, though now with a new version, the game still has a sizable cult following.
Andy Chambers: My only real contact with Confrontation was helping Jervis Johnson to run a participation game of it at my first Games Day at Derby Assembly Rooms in 1990. It might even have been a Golden Demon day but I’m not sure we’d started doing them then. Confrontation was… not easy to run, Jervis had come up with a nifty slide-rule like device for calculating the percentiles more easily – but the fact we needed one should tell you all you need to know. I recall asking him in the van on the way back whether he thought it might make a decent 40K skirmish and he opined that it would be too complex and just result in a set of dice rolls against armour. That was the last of that for several years. When Necromunda kicked off there was really no connection at all to Confrontation in my mind except that we played initial games on some enormous urban/tunnel terrain boards Nigel Stillman had originally made for Confrontation. Rick drew some inspiration from the old art and background I think but Necromunda was very much its own thing. Necromunda itself was great and a real treat to work on, 40K 2nd ed worked well with a small number of figures and a few tweaks like pinning and bottle tests rounded it off nicely. It was extremely popular around the Studio, so we ran a series of campaigns that gave us solid feedback for the campaign rules too. Great fun.
Holding with the original version of Necromunda, I asked Andy about Outlanders, the supplement that brought forward new gangs such as Scavvies, Ratskins and Redemptionists, amongst others. I wondered what the inspirations behind the new gangs and characters was, also if there were any favourites he had.
Andy Chambers: While Necromunda had been run with Rick and Jervis as leads I was more or less turned loose to do what I wanted with Outlanders. Many of the new gangs were ideas that had been suggested in the campaign like Ratskins and Scavvies so we had some great advocates for them when doing Outlanders. The whole idea was to take things more to the extremes than the House-based main gangs in Necromunda (hence ‘Outlanders’), Spyrers for the top end predator-like Nobility, Scavvies and Ratskins for the absolute bottom, plus Redemptionists for some insane, fiery zealotry with a nod back to the old Lazerburn game (which had bled into Confronation) and the Lone Sloane graphic novels by Druillet they were inspired by in the first place. The Redemptionists were always a personal favourite of mine and the comic version of The Redeemer is one of my favourite characters ever.
As I mention above Redemptionists brought me joy, although I’d run Goliaths forever in the campaigns prior to Outlanders – the infamous Dog Soldiers being the Goliath gang, who were mostly infamous because I called them infamous, although they did get pretty numerous by the end.
Moving from Necroumda to Gorkamorka, another game that still attracts a sizeable cult following, I was interested in gaining some background information on the game system and its subsequent add-on, Digganob.
Andy Chambers: Gorkamorka came as something of a surprise if I’m honest, it was clear Necromunda was popular and we’d half expected to do an Ash Wastes Mad Max type game to build off it. The decision came down as Orks instead and it came down pretty late as I recall so it represented a frantic eight-week period of building a campaign, gang lists, armouries and scenarios around the background and core vehicle rules Rick wrote. I don’t remember it too fondly as it was a strong contrast to Necromunda where we had plenty of time to finesse. I’m glad people like it, and it does have a fun premise but like I say it was a tough bite of a publishing reality sandwich for me. When it came to Digganob I was happy to pass the reigns along to Gav Thorpe so he could take the lead much as I had with Outlanders, I think it was his first big box supplement and they were a good learning experience.
While Andy has not played Warhammer or Warhammer 40,000 for a number of years, I wondered if this the case for Necromunda and Gorkamorka too.
Andy Chambers: Yep, Necromunda still tempts me occasionally because the scenery is so nice for that – going vertical was such a smart move it really makes the game come alive, but ultimately I’ve played that game a lot already so I never get around to it.
Terrain features heavily in Necromunda and (to a lesser degree) Gorkamorka, this led me to my next question. Be it creating a futuristic chapel or medieval looking tavern, one of the most fun and enjoyable parts of the modelling and wargaming hobby, I find, is terrain building. While this was something actively encouraged and supported by model companies back in the day, increasingly such terrain pieces are now factory produced. While these manufactured pieces can often be works of art in their own right, in my opinion they are a little soulless. I asked Andy his thoughts on this and the development of terrain pieces.
Andy Chambers: I’m with you to a certain extent, I spent a good deal of time carving up polystyrene and re-painting drinks cans or toy cars and so on. It does give a personal touch, but the bar is raised so much by the terrain you can buy these days I can’t find it in my heart to really criticise, I think the middle road is to convert, kitbash, distress and mess with it to make it your own, seeing stuff assembled and painted exactly like it is on the box does feel like a missed opportunity.
The Overfiend! A Talk With Andy Chambers… Part 4.
In my recent communications with John Stallard, the Warlord Games CEO described Andy Chambers as a World War II aircraft aficionado. It is therefore unsurprising that Andy should have created a World War II aeroplane wargame, Blood Red Skies. With an emphasis on recreating the dogfights of the sky, nicely detailed within the Blood Red Skies rules are aspects such as ‘tailing’ and the ‘wingman effect’. The game also uses three simple but effective states for each plane, Neutral, Advantaged, Disadvantaged; Advantaged planes go first, then Neutral, followed by Disadvantaged. Also, it is only possible to shoot at a plane that is at an advantage level lower than your own plane, whilst a plane can only be shot down if Disadvantaged already. I was interested to know more about the background story, lead up and development of Blood Red Skies and its subsequent release with Warlord Games.
Andy Chambers: Ha! I used to think I knew something about WW2 aircraft until I found some true enthusiasts on the internet, now I think of myself as knowing ‘a bit’. Blood Red Skies is a rare bird in my works because it was a game I originally just designed just for myself at the urging of my friend and fellow designer Ryan Miller. This was after we’d gone to lunch one day and he floated the question ‘what would you design for yourself?’ See, I’d got into virtual flying in 2004 playing WW2Online and that drew me into reading about the tactics and physics of flying because they are closely related. When I looked around at the table top air fighting games they all revolved around using a few planes and pre-plotting moves (a pet hate of mine), rather than the kind of sprawling, fast paced experiences I’d had online and read about in pilot biographies. BRS was my scratch to that itch, and it’s one of the games where the first time we played it all the mechanics clicked into place really, really well. I spent about eight years with the design in my back pocket, fiddling and refining it, before finally working with Warlord Games to get it published. It’s taken off really well, pun intended, so it’s something I’m now constantly engaged with expanding and working on it with new planes coming out all the time.
Within the ability to play a game with just six planes a side, which you can then build upon, coupled with wonderfully detailed historical references, since its release in 2018 Blood Red Skies has built up a large and enthusiastic following within the wargaming community. I asked Andy if he was able to divulge any future plans for Blood Red Skies.
Andy Chambers: The pandemic has caused some delays but we’re still on course to launch a new starter set based on the Battle of Midway later this year. The first starter was Battle of Britain with Luftwaffe 109s vs RAF Spitfires, Midway will feature IJN Zeroes versus USN F4F Wildcats. That means a throng of supporting new squadron boxes for dive and torpedo bombers and a general expansion on the Pacific Theatre after the Europe-centric Battle of Britain releases. We did an expansion for the Korean War in the Air Strike rules compendium and that has proved popular so some more early jets are on the way, plus we’re planning for some Vietnam era jets as well. Rest assured that WW2 remains the focus, but its been interesting to adapt the game into different eras.
Among his roles, Andy is a creative director for Reforged Studios, a company which sees him collaborate with his old Games Workshop colleague Tuomas Pirinen. I asked Andy to tell me what this role comprises of, also a little more about the company itself and any future plans.
Andy Chambers: Reforged is a studio in Finland put together by my old GW colleague Tuomas Pirinen, I’ve been working with them doing writing, IP development and world building (AKA the creative director’s lot in life) for various jobs over the past five years. We’ve been trying to nail that elusive big score in the digital world in that time, but there’s a lot of moving parts in video game development so nothing substantive to report back on yet, we live and work in hope.
Andy worked on StarCraft 2 along with fellow writers Chris Metzen and Brian Kindregan. I asked him what the project was like to work on and how he become involved?
Andy Chambers: I was still at GW when the original Starcraft 1 and Brood War came out. I joined Blizzard in 2005 and I did much of the early work mapping out what would become the Starcraft 2 trilogy under the guiding hand of Chris Metzen, before acting as lead writer for the first instalment, the Wings of Liberty. Brian took over the Starcraft reins after I left Blizzard in 2009. I’d applied to Blizzard looking for an opportunity to move over to the US and try my hand at something new there. Chris in particular was incredibly welcoming and supportive of the move and the experience of working there was a real eye-opener for me after fourteen years at GW. Digital games titles are incredibly multi-faceted compared to the old words-pictures-models tripod I was used to in the tabletop world; sound, animation, voice acting, UI and FX to name but a few all come into the equation. Honestly, I struggled adapting to the pace and complexity at Blizzard, but it did give me a fine appreciation of the dedication and organisational chops it takes to make a video game before I went sloping off back to more familiar grounds. I still write scripts and do world building for digital titles and it’s a lot of fun, but I’m glad not to be in the white heat of the crucible for it any more.
With a career that dates back to the mid-1980’s, aside from the plethora of projects with Games Workshop (Warhammer Fantasy Battles, Necromunda, Space Marine, Titan Legions, Epic 40,000, Gorkamorka and Battlefleet Gothic), Andy has written a vast number of books, novels and rules for several other publishers, such as Fantasy Flight Games, Hawk Wargames and Warlord Games. I asked Andy if he could list the titles worked on.
Andy Chambers: Oh Christ, you want a list? Let’s see what I can remember;
Mongoose Publishing: Starship Troopers miniatures game
Black Library novels: Survival Instinct, Path of the Renegade, Path of the Incubus, Path of the Archon (collected as the Dark Eldar Path), Masque of Vyle (novella), The Gothic and the Eldritch (Jes Goodwin art book), plus assorted short stories.
Warlord Games: Blood Red Skies air combat game, BRS Air Strike, Armies of the Soviet Union, Empires in Flames, Ostfront, Judge Dredd miniatures game, Strontium Dog miniatures game.
Fantasy Flight Games: Dust Warfare miniatures game, contributed pieces for Only War and Rogue Trader (I think, Ross Watson would remember this one better than me)
Hawk Wargames: Dropfleet Commander space combat game
Paolo Parente’s Dust 1947: Zverograd novel
Games N Gears: Dark Deeds card game
That’s the published/table top stuff, there’s a load of digital stuff over the years as well, like Phoenix Labs’ Dauntless and Rogue Factor’s upcoming Necromunda game. I always think of myself as lazy but I do a good appearance of keeping busy.
Being so good at appearing to be busy, I asked Andy if there are any new projects that he was able to talk about, be it wargames, computer games, books or otherwise.
Andy Chambers: Much is under NDA as ever, but things I think I can mention safely are; a Slaine miniatures game for Warlord based on 2000ADs eponymous mythic hero that I’ve been working on with Gav Thorpe, various Blood Red Skies expansions including a 1:72 scale version of the game we’re provisionally calling Big Red Skies. I was working on a dungeon crawler board game but that’s on hiatus for now, there’s some interesting digital stuff too but that gets NDA’d to the eyeballs before they even start talking so watch this space on that front. I’ve not written a novel for a while so that may be something to shoot for, I don’t know. I’m kind of slow at novels.
Andy expanded on the Slaine project…
Andy Chambers: Slaine is the latest 2000AD game I’ve done for Warlord, this time teaming up with Gav Thorpe again as we did for Strontium Dog a couple of years back. Both Strontium Dog and Judge Dredd have been skirmish gun fight style games using the same core rules and we had to do a certain amount of re-tooling the rules to get the right amount of ‘Kiss My Axe’ going on since Sliane is resolutely heroic barbarian fantasy with barely any shooting at all! We ended up working on Slaine for far longer than we should have, but in the end I’m quite pleased with the results. The Slaine game is still true to the core rules but it has a good feel of the subject in terms of heroic mayhem and I must say Gav did a kickass job coming up with scenarios and a campaign setting for it that pits the followers of the gods against one another.
- “This fast-paced tabletop miniatures game allows two or more players to fight out scenes from the Strontium Dog universe defined by legendary comic creators John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra. Players take control of a small team of bounty hunters or the outlaws, criminals and renegades they hunt in gun battles…” Warlord Games. Strontium Dog: The Good, The Bad & The Mutie available HERE.
With such an extensive career, I wondered if Andy had any personal highlights so far.
Andy Chambers: That’s a surprisingly difficult question to answer: Battlefleet Gothic and Blood Red Skies releases are both up there because they came out so nicely, you get to see individual components, print proofs and all sort of things on the way to publication but actually having the completed box/book in your hands is entirely different, that’s when it all comes together at last. Warhammer 40,000 2nd edition was like that too, a sublime moment. Beyond that it has to be travelling and meeting players in different parts of the world that have been the highlights for me – to be clear I hate travelling, and persona-wise I’m kinda shy by nature, but meeting people so far apart all unified by passion for a common hobby has always been marvellous and very humbling.
Being such a prolifically creative individual, I wondered how best Andy relaxes and asked him too about some of his favourite records, films, books and video games.
Andy Chambers: Video games and a nice cup of tea, actually any sort of games really it’s just that video games are most commonly available, especially right now in the plague times. Painting can be very zen too, if you’re in the right mood for it.
Record: I’m not sure I really have one, I tend to like individual tracks more. If you want to delve back it’s probably Hawkwind’s Warrior on the Edge of Time (1975), in current times it’s a toss up between the 2016 Doom OST and Farcry 5 OST (yes really, shout out to Dan Romer for being awesomely talented). The power of music to evoke a setting and a feeling always delights me.
Film: Mad Max 2, there’s a ton of better films out there and Mel Gibson is a loon, but for spratling Andy watching Mad Max 2 on bootleg VHS tape round his mate’s house after school was a revelation, it opened up a whole vista of world building and a whole genre post-apocalypicta that’s often copied and rarely equalled (except stunningly by Miller himself with Fury Road). Nothing about it is by-the-numbers, it doubles down hard on show don’t tell, and I loved it.
Book: It’s gotta be Lord of the Rings if you only pick one, it’s the big daddy on fantasy introductions ever, honourable mentions to Karl Edward Wagner’s Kane series, Robert E Howard’s Conan and Gene Wolf’s books. They all probably did more than Tolkien to shape my writing tastes, but Tolkien remains the big daddy.
Video game: Really hard to pick a favourite there, I’m so often blown away by something and then the next thing comes along and tops it. I’m going to chicken out and cite the Yakuza series for the endless entertainment they’ve supplied to me (currently on Yakuza 5!). So many other worthy mentions in the last few years like Witcher 3, Horizon Zero Dawn, God of War, Control that I hesitate to try and list them.
For my final question, I asked Andy if he has a favourite wargame/ RPG, both from a players point of view and also of the ones he has worked on.
Andy Chambers: It’s hard to pick a favourite wargame in good conscience, there have been too many over the years and often they don’t all age well. In the last few years I’ve been greatly impressed by Sam Mustafa’s design, Blucher and Rommel specifically. When it comes to RPG’s D&D wins top billing for me, again there are many better RPG’s out there but D&D remains the benchmark and the most approachable game of them all. In terms of games I’ve worked on, Battlefleet Gothic, Blood Red Skies and Dropfleet Commander stand out as some of my favourites, but I keep a warm spot in my heart for Bloodbowl and Necromunda even if I haven’t played them in forever.
This is the fourth and final part of my blog feature on Andy Chambers and I would like to thank him for his generous time and contributions towards the blog, in addition to the swathe of fantastic wargame and literary offerings he has provided over the decades. Personally, Andy has been a big influence on my wargaming and modelling hobby and it has been a huge honour to have written up this blog. Thank you!
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Official website for Reforged Studios HERE.
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