We had the honor of talking to Brandon Rollins, the creator of the War Co. Expandable Card Game, about his current Kickstarter for the game:
What’s your game, War Co., about?
War Co. is a dystopian sci-fi game set in the year 2796. A terrible war, called the War of 2620, broke out between the two multinational governments of the world. After the prior three hundred years of peace, most weapon manufacturing corporations had been restructured or dissolved. Only one global weapon producer had survived the Era of Peace – the War Machines Company. They were the sole provider of weapons to the governments. The governments became dependent on the Company and the Company became dependent on the governments. The war went on for decades and never really ended. Historical records of what truly happened are nowhere to be found.
Several decades later, small and isolated groups of people must survive at any cost, using the remaining artifacts from the distant past to fight a war they didn’t start.
The way that translates into gameplay is that the game is all about scarcity and making hard choices. Every card has its ups and downs. You’re always going to be tight on some critical resource – energy, number of cards, raw strength, etc. You want to learn to play the field and figure out what resource you can afford to skimp on based on your opponent’s tactics.
Where did you get inspiration for it?
The theme of this game is borne out of a mish-mash of sci-fi movies like Brazil (1985), novels like 1984, TV like Star Trek and Doctor Who, doomsday prepper sites, dry Wikipedia articles, and personal experiences in dull office jobs.
The gameplay itself comes from a game I made when I was 11 years old. There were some kids in my neighborhood who weren’t allowed to play Yu-Gi-Oh! because of some silly moral panic. I made my own game based on the TV show and called it Dodgeball Cards, which was a natural title because the game had nothing to do with dodgeball. I’ve played around with the idea off and on as I grew up, then I spent the last 16 or 17 months making the best grown-up version of a very old game.
War Co. looks like it plays somewhat similar to Magic: the Gathering and Pokemon. Is this what you were going for?
When you consider that I got the idea from a TV show that was made in the TCG boom of the late 90s and early 00s, it makes complete sense. To some extent, that is what I was going for. War Co. will feel pretty familiar in a lot of ways to folks who are into Pokemon and Magic. I’d say an even better comparison is Netrunner.
One thing that makes it significantly different than Magic, other than just theme alone, is that cards aren’t sold in random packs. There’s 300 cards in the game split between 6 decks. Buy all 6 decks and you’ve got every card in the game. For this reason, I call it an expandable card game (XCG) and not a trading or collectible card game (TCG/CCG).
The art looks crisp, clean, and professional. Who did the art and why did you pick them?
All art is done by one guy: James Masino. I found him by sheer chance – friend of a friend. I played a lot of Minecraft when I was 19 and it was an underground college trend with a guy named Alex Nuttle. We kept in touch. Alex introduced me to James, an old friend from back when they were kids playing Club Penguin. I know a guy through Minecraft who knows a guy through Club Penguin.
James is a student at Savannah College of Art & Design and he’s just begun his freelance art career. War Co. was his first major project. He’s gained a ton of exposure through my Twitter and Instagram. Polyversal, a successful Kickstarter, picked him up to do some of the art for their game. I couldn’t recommend anyone better suited for the job if I tried.
You have six different decks to use to fight against one another. What’s the strengths and weaknesses of each?
The game consists of six starter decks: Bruiser, Conspirator, Guerilla, Militant, Trickster, and Wildcard. You can mix and match cards from the six decks to make your own personal deck. While there’s no overwhelmingly good cards, this may give you a strategic advantage because your cards have better chemistry.
That said, let’s assume you play War Co. right out of the box, like most people do. These are the strengths and weaknesses you would notice in each deck.
Bruiser: Just like the name suggests, it’s heavily geared toward attacking hard and fast. It’s got a lot of really powerful machines and it’s a fast-paced deck that wants to end the game quickly, preferably without anybody else getting a move. Yet it’s hard to play more than a few Bruiser cards at once. Not to mention, its strategy is almost painfully transparent. It’s very vulnerable to energy and elimination technologies.
Conspirator: This deck is unpredictable and full of secrets and nuances that keep your opponents on their toes. It’s my personal favorite for that reason. But despite my favoritism toward it, I acknowledge its multiple weaknesses: its machines are not very strong, its cards are highly situational, and it’s hard to learn.
Guerilla: Energy use is very rarely a problem with this deck, as it is for most other decks. It has lots of stackable machines and cards that let you draw from your scrapyard (discard pile). There’s lots of little traps to control your enemies, too. Yet it doesn’t have very many strong machines and there’s no cards that really stand out as being crucial.
Militant: This is the hardest deck to play and it’s so full of situational cards. If you master the art of managing your hand after a few games of War Co., you can create synergies with this deck that can break your opponents. It’s a wild horse to be tamed.
Trickster: This deck has a lot of really good defensive cards and it’s catered toward playing a long, slow game. Some people think it has too many shields and a lot of people don’t like the slowness of its pace. When people dislike Trickster, it’s usually a matter of personal preference.
Wildcard: It has so many powerful, bizarre cards that you can play as soon as you get them. It plays fast, it’s great to learn on, and it changes on a dime. However, it uses up tons of energy and there’s not much chemistry to the cards. There’s not much of a cohesive strategy behind Wildcard – it’s primarily tactical.
Why did you want to get this game published besides just having a game out there?
That’s was my primary motivation to start. I wanted to see a major project through to completion. There have been times when I’ve wondered, “does the world really need this? Do people want this? Should I express my creativity in a different way?”
There’s another element of my motivation these days: reviewers like the game [select links from my website], people I Twitch stream with really like it [link to https://www.twitch.tv/retsyreiver], too. Not only do I want it to be real, but a lot of others do as well.
What are the pledge levels and what will people get for those?
$1 – A special “thank you” on the War Co. website
$10 – I write your name into the War Co. website, plus the $1 reward
$25 – Two decks of cards, your choice of any two, plus the $1 and $10 rewards
$60 – All six decks of cards, plus the $1 and $10 rewards. Best choice for the value-minded backer!
$100 – We will draw your name as an Easter egg on a card, plus the $1, $10, and $60 rewards.
$250 – Exclusive signed art poster, you get to take over my 19,000+ follower Instagram for a day, plus the $1, $10, $60, and $100 rewards.
$500 – Exclusive, one-of-a-kind War Co. art for you. You decide how we give it to you. Plus the rewards for $1, $10, $60, $100, and $250.
Thanks to Brandon for talking to us about the War Co. Expandable Card Game! What a hauntingly beautiful war game with a fun mechanic! Go to https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1357102631/war-co-expandable-card-game-0 and fund this great game now!