In a previous post I unveiled a really cool Kickstarter called The Carniverse. In today’s post, I dive a little deeper into that game with an interview with its author. If you have not heard of the game, it is a 28mm miniatures skirmish game where you try to survive in a modern land of dinosaurs.
In the text below, I posted my questions in bold and Nick Wilkins’ (the designer of Carniverse) responses in italics. You can read the first half here.
The rules to the game seemed pretty simple, yet fun. Could you talk to what you feel would be highlights of your battle system?
Much like every other game out there, The Carniverse was built upon the games that came before it. To any long time wargamer there will be a lot of things that feel familiar, but there are a couple new things to wrap your head around as well. You’re very right in saying that it’s a simple system, everything can be resolved by using 2 six-sided dice. The one section of the game that turned way more strategic than I had ever imagined at conception was the melee phase. Melee is played out with the fastest weapon speeds attacking first, if tied then the character with the highest dexterity goes first, if still tied it goes to the highest melee, then ultimately rolling off. It sounds confusing but its super easy, and creates some really interesting moments. Along with the bonuses and penalties affecting your melee rolls, combat positioning and turn order can become its own mini game within the game itself, especially when taking some of the special dinosaur skills into account. That’s the other area where I feel the game sets itself apart, each dinosaur has different special rules governing it, and there is literally no way for either player to know what species is going to hit the battlefield next.
Carniverse vs. Last Days
What sets you apart from other games like “Last Days: Zombie Apocalypse?”
I’m glad you mentioned it, Last Days was a big influence. Anyone who’s played it should be instantly comfortable with the overall turn structure, and damage resolution mechanics that I employ in The Carniverse. There’s some blending with a lot of wargames when it comes right down to it, as soon as you are into measurements and dice it’s difficult to differentiate yourself 100%. But what I believe sets it apart is that the game itself is as much (if not more) of a threat than your opponent. Because of how the action economy works itself out its very difficult to outrun a dinosaur, and in close combat most of them have the ability to remove a character with one well placed hit. So while in other games where game controlled models are a threat and nuisance, the dinosaurs in the Carniverse are truly your greatest enemy on the battlefield. This will lead to some scenarios that end up almost feeling co-operative, as both players are just focusing on fighting off the game instead of each other.
I see that there are six scenarios going into the core rulebook. Can you give us some exciting tidbits about those missions?
Six in the core book, and another four in ToS (Tales of Survival). The core book scenarios include your basic snatch and grab learning scenario, an ambush style scenario where one team is at a large disadvantage to begin, there’s one where you hunt a T-Rex (yikes!), one where you’re assaulting a dinosaur nesting ground with a random species starting on the table, another where the stench of decay draws dinosaurs in quicker which ramps up the Scent of Meat rules that are in play for each game, and a final one where you’re hunting for access codes to a bunker while every dinosaur in the area comes down on top of you (which is my favourite so far). The four in ToS are still in the final stages of development so I won’t speak to them yet, but there are also rules for randomized weather and time of day in ToS that when applied to all 10 scenarios gives you 150 different potential battlefields to fight on.
What determines how the dinosaurs move during the battles? Can you tell us a bit about what you find to be the most exciting dinosaur scripting in the book?
All the dinosaurs work on the same premise for movement. They spend all their available action points moving in the most direct line possible to the closest human model they can see. During this movement they ignore any obstacle 1″ or lower which gives them much greater battlefield manoeuvrability. If they can’t see a human model, or cannot physically get to that model, then they move towards the largest stack of detection tokens currently on the battlefield. If a human model comes into sight at any point in that movement towards tokens, then they change direction towards that model. It’s a predictability that you can play off of to sometimes drive them towards your opponents. Each of the five species has some really fun scripting to them which I’ll try and break down. The compy’s all move as a pack, so they enter the battlefield closest to another compy, then they all follow the one who activated closest to a human model. When they get into base contact they begin to swarm, meaning that the more of them that are in contact, the stronger they become and the harder it is to escape them. Very weak on their own, but scary in a group. The dilophosaurus has a spit attack that activates if it ends movement within 6″ of a human model, they roll a ranged attack applying light damage on a hit but also push tokens which decrease the amount of action points available to that model on its next activation, allowing the dilo to run them down. Pachycephalosaurs cause a charge attack if they move 2″ or more before entering base contact. This makes them a real handful on the battlefield as they can potentially attack a human model twice in one turn. Raptors are just nasty, they’re faster than the other four species, fast in combat, stronger than most humans, and cause ranged attack penalties at a distance as they make use of available cover. Last but not least is the Rex, which ignore terrain when moving around the battlefield, even shoving it out of the way sometimes. Rex’s are slow but beyond strong. The standard human model is removed from play from even the lightest of hits from a Tyrannosaurus. There’s two more species in ToS, but I’ll keep those as a surprise.
I noticed a lot of news about new stretch goals over the past week. Can you tell use about those?
I believe you’re referring to the add-on’s as the campaign itself has zero stretch goals. I felt that I would have to make concessions in multiple areas to offer stretch goals so opted to do without them. As for the add-on’s, I’ve partnered up with Six Squared Studios, who are a local producer of many different gaming related items. Most people would likely know them for their MDF bases which are the best deal out there in my opinion. But they’ve been gracious enough to offer some really good discounts on some of their terrain items during this Kickstarter, along with some custom Carniverse tokens sets they’re producing. They’ve also started sculpting some new terrain items to compliment the Carniverse game world like dinosaur nests and a triceratops carcass. I believe there are 8 or 9 different add-on options at this point, all of which can add to multiple game systems. There may be some more add-on’s coming down the pipeline from another source, so I’m hopeful there will be more before the campaign ends.
Your book is well past goal already. I am guessing you have expansion products already in the works. Can you allude to what we might see in The Carniverse later in the future after the game has more time to develop?
The story of the Carniverse is meant to be a trilogy. This core book follows the fall of society and the beginning of the new world. So yes, there are definitely expansions in the works. I’m currently writing the 2nd and 3rd full book releases and hope to get those under play-testing in the new year. There’s also the ToS PDF series that I plan on putting out between book releases, with the current plan being one or two between each book, the current one will be about 40 pages of add on content. As for what that content will be, there will be a lot of new options as far as team construction and base building, including entirely new unit types and rule sets. There will be loads of new gear, plans to include roughly twenty new dinosaurs, dozens of new scenarios that are under development, and entirely new campaign systems and tweaks. There’s some crazy stuff down the road. I’m also working with a local sculptor to bring a series of Carniverse themed miniatures to life in 2020.
Closing up the Carniverse Interview
Is there anything that we missed that you would like to tell us about The Carniverse?
Just that if anyone needs more information or wants to get involved with the Carniverse community, they should head over to the Cardboard Dungeon Games Facebook page and join the Carniverse group there. It’s been growing constantly with people posting the dinosaurs they’re painting, and terrain they’re building all in anticipation of the game coming out. Oh! And speaking on that, since the core book is basically ready to go, anyone thinking about backing for a PDF will be able to get that quite soon, I expect to be sending those links out to backers in October at the latest. So you can get this on your tabletop in a couple months!
Thank you very much for taking the time for this interview.
Anytime, it’s been my pleasure.
Wrapping it up…
I have to thank Nick Wilkins again for the time that he took to answer my questions about The Carniverse. This game looks really cool and I plan to take a look at a copy of the game for when it comes out. If this game interests you, be sure to check out The Carniverse Kickstarter before it finishes on August 29, 2019.
Thanks for reading and until next time, Happy Gaming Everyone!!!
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