Moonstone really ticks all the boxes, using between 3 and 6 models a side for an average game, amazingly detailed models, a great objective drop and poker style mechanics and bucket loads of internal synergy (More on these later!).
Earlier in the year the guys ran a small kickstarter to fund production of their first model, the Goblin Firespitter. The campaign was very successful and also enabled production of a second model with Baron Von Fancyhat:
These are now being sent out to backers (And late backers like myself!), so expect a painting article up soon after they arrive! They have also just announced that a kickstarter to bring the full game into production is planned for October 17th, the game having been in testing for a substantial amount of time now and is ready to be unleashed on the world proper!
I messaged Tom and Richi from Goblin King Games to get some more info on the game, the setting and the campaign which they were kind enough to answer:
As i said in the intro, Moonstone is a fantasy skirmish game using 3-6 models a side, how did you guys start on the development of your game? What prompted you decide to produce a new system in the first place?
Moonstone is about the 7th or 8th game we've created and played for our own enjoyment over the years, each one becoming progressively better as we learn from our mistakes. Game design seems to be an irresistible attractor for us so it wasn't much about why we decided to develope a game but more about the specific factors that lead into this game and why we decided to go public with it.
We play a lot of different types of games and wanted to experiment with some fresh mechanics that we have enjoyed in CCG or board games and see how they would work in a skirmish game setting. In particular, Moonstone's lead designer Tom practices historical European martial arts and had ideas brewing for a game that uses cards to represent different types of attack or defence, played simultaneously.
There is only a certain amount of complexity you can (or should!) put into a game so rather than trying to cram this into one of our existing games it felt like a new game should be born, with a fantasy theme. With the idea of using card mechanics in a fantasy setting the rest followed on naturally from there including the arcane mechanic which was inspired by Poker and Cheat.
This social element of the game was really important to us as not every game enjoys purely crunching statistics - sometimes you want to play the other players! This is also the reason we wanted to make a game that could just as easily support 2, 3 or 4 players as some of our most enjoyable gaming evenings involve multiplayer games.
Can you give us a rundown on your protagonists, The Commonwealth and the Dominion, apart from harvesting the all important Moonstones, what are their overriding goals in the fluff and stories?
Unlike many games, Tauber (the land that Moonstone is set in) is not at war, and there are no major boundaries or "countries". Instead there is an uneasy alliance of cohabiting races governed by two rival political entities - Commonwealth and Dominion. Supporters of each faction tend to split along racial lines (Humans and Gnomes for Commonwealth, Faeries and Goblins supporting the Dominion) bu this is not always the case.
The ruling elite govern from the capital city (Including the Wizards Guild - who remain unaffiliated from the casual party divides but are non-the-less an extremely influential group), enforcing laws and raising taxes while the common folk live their lives in the many towns and hamlets dotted all over the picturesque storybook land.
The game setup and scenario from the beta rules has the awesome mechanic of dropping 7 D4's onto the centre of the board for moon stone locations, is this going to be a feature of any other scenarios you have in the works? I have to say im a big fan of this and will certainly be getting a batch of custom dice made up for this... unless you guys are planning on your own hehe?
We are indeed hoping to offer special (very pretty) Moonstone Dice at some point, possibly during the upcoming kickstarter (17th October!). Although we haven't yet worked out anymore scenarios beyond the basic 'Collect stones to win' you can be assured the dice drop mechanic is here to stay - its just too much fun, and we love the moment when every player pears over the table like crones reading the rune of fate, trying to imagine how the game is going to play out based on their positions and numbers (The number on the die showing the depth at which you will have to harvest the stone from).
We have seen the art for the starter forces of the Humans, Gnomes, Goblins and Faeries, along with a few renders so far... All of which i have to say look wicked - in most games you might have a faction, possibly two that grab you from the get go but this is going to be really tough! The Faeries have it just over the rest for me, with the Goblins a very close second haha
Yeah i'm extremely happy to see how well the faeries have been received. There is really nothing out there quite like them at the moment and it was hard to tell at first if that was because no one wanted them ;-) Anyway, glad to see we were right to go with our gut and include them as i think they are going to end up as our best sellers!
Currently when picking a force you only have to decide on Commonwealth or Dominion, will this be the case with the full game so i could freely mix Faeries and Goblins vs Humans and Gnomes? Or will you be making it a bit more rigid?
Yes all the character cards either have a Commonwealth or Dominion symbol on the top right. You must choose one of the two factions and then only choose characters with the appropriate symbol (there will also be split symbol cards that can be chosen by anyone). This means you can mix your goblins and your faeries, and your humans with your gnomes, but you wont usually be able to mix humans and goblins for example (Unless its a rogue character that doesnt belong to its usual faction alliance).
All of the characters are designed with open ended synergies and there are a lot of combos you can build into your troupes - this is a large chunk of the fun in CCG's and we wanted a bit of that here too! Synergies do tend to be a lot stronger within races than between them however, so i expect to see all Goblin or all Faerie troupes more frequently than split race troupes.
To be honest we're very excited to see what players do and what troupe builds they come up with! We expect it to be an evolving meta-game as we have designed all characters with weaknesses that can be exploited by an opponent who chooses the right characters to face you so if one character rises in poularity the counter character will start to be seen more often, and then its counter will be seen more often etc...
The difficult one, cost... how much will we be looking at to invest in the kickstarter to get going with? Say a rulebook, any tokens and dice and two faction starters to get a mate playing?
We are still finalising costings, so don't hold us to this, but we are looking at about 60 pounds for a starter set that includes two troupes of 4 characters each, the rules pamphlet, dice, tokens, measuring devices and the custom card decks needed for two players to play a complete game straight out of the box. Obviously if people want to invest more there will be a whole load of additional characters up for garbs as well!
Thanks for all the great info guys cheers, readers can check out the game development via www.moonstonethegame.com or via www.facebook/moonstonethegame.
As is kind of customary with a spotlight, any chance of a cheeky preview hehe?
How about Baron Von Fancyhat's newest (Autumn/Winter collection!) alternate hat (WIP)
Boom! there we go, Moonstone! Check it out soon!