Friday, May 30, 2014

An Interview with Two Hour Wargames

 The latest in the series of interviews is with Ed Teixeira of Two Hour Wargames. If you have not yet played one of his fine products, then you are truly missing out. THW happens to offer an excellent series of games which also cater to the solo wargamer, allowing hobbyists in remote locales to still "push lead." However, the same game mechanisms also cover the more traditional two-player, and even multi-player combats, making the games well-rounded in approach. If you have not yet had a chance to communicate with Ed, I can assure you that he has gained a clear following of friends, supporters, and customers who think very highly of him, myself included.

 Click image to go to the download page for this free game.

Ed, thank you for agreeing to the interview. It is truly a pleasure to have this opportunity to "see behind the curtain," so-to-speak.

JP: How did you get your start as a wargame hobbyist? We all have some point in our lives or a certain age that our imaginations take off, so what did it for you and when?

ET: It happened in ’74 when I walked into a shop called the Soldier Factory while on vacation. It was owned by Jack Scruby and it opened up a whole new world for me.

JP: Why did you take the great leap from being a wargamer to becoming an author of wargame rules? How would you describe this journey?

ET: All gamers tend to tweak or make house rules for the rules they play so it was natural. I wrote a couple sets for fun and they were well received by fellow gamers so started THW as a sideline. Just for the heck of it.

JP: THW has a wide range of genres covered in the published rules, how much of this body of product is solely your personal efforts and how much (or little) do you rely on others to contribute to the products you release?

ET: We have about 50+ published sets with 18 or so from 14 different authors. We encourage people to write what they know and are passionate about. Then we make sure that they stay true to the basic mechanics.

JP: All of your rules have the same basic "engine" which drives play, especially for solo gaming, but which appears to handle the different genres with great ease. Can you please explain how you came up with the core rules, as found in Chain Reaction, and have them work so well in multiple genres?

ET: Back in 2001 I wrote a set of gang warfare rules and sent it to a large miniatures company for their specific figure range. They said thanks but it wouldn’t work. I kept getting play test reports from my four play testers for everything except gang warfare. They convinced me that it would work for more than one period. So “Guns and Girls” was published but there was so much whining about the cover that I did a second cover called “Chain Reaction”.

Over the years I’ve received lots of feedback from gamers on what they liked and didn’t so the rules slowly evolved into the current, Final Version mechanics. One of the best things about the mechanics is that you can play multiple periods and not have to learn a whole new set of mechanics. Mechanics are tweaked to give flavor to the period but the basics remain the same.

JP: What motivates you to write? Do you have a list of products you want to get done, in your head or does each product kind of write itself as you are struck or otherwise influence by something else in the industry?

ET: I enjoy writing and gaming and that’s the motivation. I’m blessed that I can actually do it as an occupation.

The products drive themselves. It’s kind of odd but something triggers inside my head when it’s time to write a certain set. For example, I had an idea for years on a pirate game but never put it to paper until last year when the right mechanics were developed.

JP: How would you describe yourself as a hobbyist? Collector, gamer, painter, or just a guy who likes to write and write often?

ET: Before it was hobby; a distraction from my normal job. Now it’s become my real job so I don’t get to game as often as I’d like. Not really a collector and I gave up painting early on as I really wasn’t any good at it.

JP: Do you play games from other publishers? If so, would you share which one(s) and how recently did you play it (them)? If not, which of your products do you play (not playtest) most often?

ET: I stopped playing games from competitors about ten years ago. Just want to concentrate on THW. As for playing most often, that would be 5150: Urban Renewal (Sci Fi RPG), By Savvy & Steel (Swashbuckling), and All Things Zombie. They allow me to create characters that can be used in a campaign setting.

JP: Machinas is a departure from your usual method of product development and release. Can you explain what caused you to go the crowd-funding route? You already have another product in the same track, so is this something we're going to see a lot more of or is this due to product specific considerations?

ET: Crowd-funding is a great way to see if there’s interest in a game. Being a small company I don’t want to put effort and money into a game that there’s no interest in. But it’s also a good way to get smaller, odd games, into the hands of the people that want them, in limited numbers.

JP: Although many of us who have read your postings in the THW forums, the Yahoo group, or private communication have a decent grasp of the answer, can you please share your design philosophy and why you feel it is important enough to take the financial risks that owning a gaming company generates?

ET: I want to design entertaining games playable in two hours or less. People tend to have less time to devote to their hobby, that’s why we shoot for the two hours. I want them to use their own figures if they want and to be able to tie their games into an easy to use campaign system if they like.

The last two things I shoot for are; be designed for exceptional solo play where the game mechanics control the enemy in a way that is realistic and can provide surprises during play. The last thing is using similar, not identical, game mechanics so you can play multiple periods without having to learn a whole new set of rules.

JP: You've mentioned, by various means, that THW has other products currently in the works. Would you mind sharing what those are and could you give us some bits and bobs of details that you haven't shared elsewhere? (Egads, I went for the exclusive!)

ET: The next one is NUTS – Final Version. Almost all the rules are now using the last evolution of the Reaction System – the Final Version. Then an update for Larger Than Life (Pulps) and Montjoie, our medieval set. Once they are finished all of the rules will use the Final Version mechanics.

JP: Thank you, again, Ed for joining in the celebration of the milestone for my own small contribution to the wargaming hobby. I have gained a greater appreciation of the hobby, as a whole, over the past few years, as have my sons, in no small part due to you and Two Hour Wargames. May you and your efforts achieve ever greater success.

ET: Thank you for the opportunity Justin.

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