Several weeks ago, I came across a new follower of our Twitter account and noticed that they are working on an interesting looking line of miniatures called Stars Reach. I reached out to Travis Melton and he agreed to give us an advanced look at their new line.
Grant: Tell us a little about your company Twilight Game Designs. When did you start? What other projects have you completed?
Travis: Twilight Game Designs started out as many small gaming companies have, a company by gamers for gamers. We wanted to produce products that we would enjoy playing and hope others will also. The gaming group I have been in has had conversations about what game they would make sense I started in the hobby during the mid 80’s. I have now gotten to a place that I can work with a select few to take this labor of love to the next level and give something back to the hobby I have gotten so much joy out of over the decades. I officially started work on this project in 2010. I have done several historical rule sets for my personal use at conventions over the years. The miniatures and another project will mark my first professional effort. I have benefited from several successful people in this business that have helped me by sharing their experience, knowledge and advice and I listen to all of it.
We are also working on a customizable card game called Big City Builder. This game is in the alpha test and production stage and is still a ways off. This card game centers around players taking a small, modern town and growing it into a large thriving city faster than the other players. Each player uses different themed categories of cards to tailor their deck to their own playing style and give their city its own flavor, while at the same time playing cards that will hinder and slow down the progress of the other players. A unique game mechanic I have not seen in any other card game gives players an extra level of resource management to work with every turn. We are also working with another company to develop an American Civil War game that will use some fresh approaches to represent the flavor of that period but in a smooth, seamless style that lets players spend most of their time moving armies, fighting battles and trying to out think and out maneuver their opponent.
Grant: Tell us about your upcoming Stars Reach line of miniatures? What is the setting and what universe do they exist in? How long have you been working on this line?
Travis: The goal of the Stars Reach miniatures line is to give players a large variety of high quality miniatures to choose from. We plan to not only offer a large number of factions but to provide a full line of various ships within each faction to give gamers lots of choices. We have partnered up with several companies that already have well known and successful rule sets to include information about our miniatures and universe in their system. Some other companies plan to use our miniatures to represent factions that already exist in their universe. There is an old saying in marketing that there are no truly original ideas, only ones that have not been used for a while. The Stars Reach universe and its factions are, like most others, guilty of that to an extent. That being said we have put a lot of thought into giving each faction a unique flavor. The Stars Reach universe takes place roughly 300 years in the future and is focused on the area of space humanity has claimed and all its neighboring empires, some friendly, some hostile. We started work on the line and factions in 2010.
“There is an old saying in marketing that there are no truly original ideas, only ones that have not been used for a while. The Stars Reach universe and its factions are, like most others, guilty of that to an extent.”
Grant: What are the various factions and what motivates them? Please provide pictures for each group/faction and explain the factions a little bit.
Travis: The factions were inspired by different play styles and the look of the miniatures was to reinforce a particular style or “attitude”. Each faction requires different tactics to win with. Much thought has been put into giving each faction its own look, feel and challenge. Although the faction background is meant to support the spaceship combat that the miniatures are for, we have fleshed out the factions enough that they could be used for RPG settings as well. Feedback from customers will help determine to what level we put focus on this avenue.
To give a very brief overview, the three factions include Humans, a much larger and more powerful Imperium that has conquered several other species and an obscure, very hostile insect species called the Trazari that often migrates like Locusts and raids its neighbors as needed.
The Humans have had several official names for their government but are most often referred to as “The Human Commonwealth” or just “The Commonwealth”, which is descriptive of its current form of government that was the result of a civil war between humanities outer colonies and Earth. The “CW” is 95% human although most races not openly hostile are allowed to freely travel within Human controlled space. The CW ships sacrifice speed and maneuverability in return for heavy armor and durability. They use rapid firing weapons that don’t cause the most damage but have extremely long ranges. Carriers and large numbers are also employed alongside traditional capital ships. Despite being a young race to the stars, the CW has a robust industry, strong economy and very aggressive and successful trade markets. In recent conflicts, Humans have proven to be quick learners and highly adaptive. This, along with their openness about allowing free trade within their space, has puzzled some of the other factions. In game terms, the race is ideal for players that enjoy ships that are tough and hard to destroy above all else.
The biggest threat to the Humans as well as the other factions is the mighty Imperium. This empire is dominated by a race known as the Koreth. They are one of the oldest and most technologically advanced species in the known galaxies. They have conquered four lesser races and have become so large that they are now hard pressed to continue expanding. Distance of communication to the home world, the constant threat of uprisings from local governors along the frontier and possible civil war between the royal family add to this pressure. It was in fact the uprising of the governor along the border with the CW that led to the first Commonwealth-Imperium war. The reputation of the Imperium and their many military campaigns has made potential enemies along all their borders. Despite having more than enough military power to conquer any single other race it is the combined challenges of all these factors that have checked their expansion, at least for the time being.
Because of its size and aggressive nature, the Koreth Imperium is slow to adapt and
change, but with that being said the combat potential of their ships cannot be understated. Using powerful shields, rapid firing, hard hitting weapons, good speed and compliments of missile salvos give every Imperium captain many tactical options. This is by design since the Imperium faces many different military forces with different strategy and tactics, each presenting different challenges. For the gamer, this race is the perfect balance of speed, firepower and defense and is ideal for players that like to have many options and balanced ship designs.
The Trazari Colonies are for the most part a mystery. Little is known of their culture, social
structure or overall goals. Pieces of information combined with encounters with them in combat have led to some general assumptions. Many suspect that they operate under a hive like order with a ruling class or queen on the worlds of each of the major systems within their territory. Technologically speaking they are considered relatively low tech. Their ships have little defensive systems and are armed with short ranged heavy hitting weapons with slow re-arming times. Their ships are extremely fast and maneuverable but, possibly because of a hive mentality, their combat tactics are often predictable and uninspired. They are also known to use “boarding pods” at close range as their warriors are extremely effective and are even a match for other faction’s marines when in power armor. The one exception and perhaps the most interesting contradiction of the Trazari is despite using low technology they use one of the most advanced defensive systems of any of the factions, true stealth devices. There are countless speculation about how an otherwise low tech species is able to use such a hi-tech device.
Although different colonies act somewhat differently, as a whole the faction often raids neighboring systems for supplies or to expand when needed. What their ships lack in quality they make up for in numbers. For the gamer, the faction is perfect for the player that enjoys having large numbers of ships and doesn’t mind taking losses as long as they are the last ones standing at the end of the game.
Grant: Did you create the factions first and then design the ships? How have these factions helped you to design a unique line of ships for each?
Travis: The ships were designed first. The desire to design unique ships was a driver of the designs. The factions were then created with two driving factors in mind. The first was to create a faction that had the color and flavor to match the look and feel of the miniatures. The second focus was to create factions that would appeal to different play styles and thus have a wider appeal to the gamers that would most likely want to purchase and use them.
Grant: What is the scale of the minis and what are their dimensions? What are they cast from? Are they pre-painted?
Travis: The scale is roughly 1/7200. The actual size of the miniatures ranges from 1-2.5 inches long and is ideal for 1-2 inch movement spacing or hex maps. They will be made out of metal and are not pre-painted.
Grant: You have mentioned existing rules that these minis could be used in. What existing line of miniature rules could these minis fit into?
Travis: We are happy to say that several popular rule sets plan to use these miniatures by either providing ship stats for them as they would be in the Stars Reach universe or to use them to represent existing factions in their pre-existing universe. The names of the rule sets include Colonial Battle fleets, Two Hour Wargamings 5150 Star Navy, Squadron Strike and Starmada. We are also continuing to talk to several other companies as well. We have a separate rule set we are working on as well but we have not decided if we will complete it or not at this time.
Grant: What is your timeline for the Kickstarter? Do you have an idea about cost? Stretch Goals?
Travis: We plan to launch the Kickstarter during the first part of April but don’t have an exact date yet. When we do we will be announcing it of course. The target price is going to be $55 USA for each factions’ “fleet box” that will include ten ships, enough for a squadron size battle. We hope to also have a special pricing system that will allow customers to order their own custom mixed fleet box. At this time, we plan to have two stretch goals that will give customers extra capital ships with each fleet box they order! We also plan to offer free shipping in the continental US for orders over a certain amount! We are still waiting on pricing from one of our venders for a particular item before we can confirm for certain were we will be on pricing but we don’t expect any surprises at this point as what we are waiting on are minor costs. We plan to have both the funded goal and the stretch goals kept as low as possible for the benefit of the project as well as our customers.
Grant: When do you expect the minis will be on the market and delivered to backers?
Travis: We do have an advantage over some Kickstarters in this area. We have our master and production molds already done and have run some samples to check quality so we are ready to go! With this in mind we plan to be able to start filling orders very soon after the Kickstarter and hope to start shipping orders out within a month of the ending date, if not sooner!
Grant: What is the target audience for the Stars Reach line of miniatures?
Travis: Well, anyone that likes the look of them and would like to have some we hope orders some. That being said our main target audience is gamers that probably already have spaceship miniatures and rule sets they have been playing with, possibly for a long time. I myself for example still have a collection of old Star Fleet miniatures from the mid 80s! We also hope that any gamers that have been considering getting into spaceship miniature gaming will see these miniatures as a good reason to jump in and add another genre to the list of games they like to play.
Grant: Can you tell us a little more about your other project in progress?
Travis: We are also working on a customizable card game that has a theme of building modern cities. Each player will try to build their own city, bigger, faster and better than their opponents, achieve a certain victory point level and win. The game features a fresh and unique resource management mechanic that will help it not to be “just another CCG”. A large variety of cards and categories of cards will allow players to build many different styles of cities and try out many different deck themes or styles of play. The game will allow for casual friendly play as well as tough “cutthroat” play for those that like tough competition. The decks will be sold so that players know what cards they are getting and won’t have to spend lots of money just to get certain cards they really like. I don’t want to give away too much info at this stage for obvious reasons but we think the subject matter and variety of play will have a large appeal and be fun for any gamer! We are in the early production phase and have begun our second round so to speak of play testing. We have the game play like we want so now we are working on game balance and to make sure we don’t have any cards that “break the game”. We also have two other projects we will be looking at in the future but those are a ways off.
Grant: What got you into miniature design? What systems do you currently like to play? How have those lines affected your design?
Travis: I have always been a big fan of spaceships and space battles going back to seeing Star Wars, Star Trek and other movies and TV shows like Buck Rogers, Battlestar Galactic as a kid growing up in the late 70s & 80s. Like countless others, these products stirred my imagination.
As far as gaming systems, as I got older I really enjoyed Star Fleet Battles and its level of detail. I also played some of FASA’s products and I have played a number of other systems through the years. Some have faded away, some are still going strong. I was originally an art major so designing ships was a natural creative outlet for me and came naturally. From watching what has been done before me, I learned that a ships design can certainly be used to give a certain “feel or attitude” for the crew inside it and their intentions. It can also help give an impression of the capabilities and how advanced the technology of the ship is. I am also a really big historical naval fan and this has also had an influence on what I have done as it has on other games as well.
From decades of playing I have noticed that there are certainly gamers that like particular styles of play and factions that allow them to play that style. I kept this in mind and what “look” would show that as I worked with different designs and ideas. All these factors helped combined to create the results I have, only the first three of which we are presenting at this time! This started as a labor of love and my primary goal is to not only produce a product I would enjoy playing but hopefully others will as well. If I can give something back to the hobby I love and some others can enjoy what I bring that is the main goal above all else.
Thanks for your time in sharing with us Travis. I can definitely feel your passion for your work and truly believe that you will be successful. I also appreciate your thorough description of the various factions in your world as well as the great looking miniatures. This level of detail will add depth to the miniatures and add the narrative element for the players, which is very important in my book. Look for this Kickstarter sometime in April. Fore more details on the Stars Reach Miniatures, follow Twilight Game Designs on Twitter at @TwilightGameDes