Leviathans, the ambitious steampunk airship miniatures game, is being relaunched more than 11 years after its initial debut. With a crowdfunding campaign set to go live on August 2, just before the Gen Con tabletop gaming convention in Indianapolis, Indiana, publisher Catalyst Game Labs (the tabletop home of BattleTech and the Shadowrun franchise) have cleared the decks, overcoming decades of obstacles to properly bring the epic game to market. Polygon spoke with co-creator and company founder Randall Bills about the project in late July.

Enthusiasts may know the Catalyst for its 2019 BattleTech: Clan Invasion A Kickstarter campaign, which raised over $2.5 million to relaunch an all-plastic line of miniatures based on a shared library of legacy BattleTech units (also part of games from Harebrained Schemes and Piranha Games). With millions of makes now in circulation, Randall says it’s time for the company to expand a bit. His son, Brian Bills, is Leviathans line developer.

Image: Catalyst Game Labs

“On COVID, to entertain ourselves, we probably played over 70 different miniatures games to try to give the industry a better feel and Leviathans After all this time, after all that, it’s still one of my favorites,” Brian Bills said. “I love the universe, I love the art style, the ships. There’s nothing I don’t enjoy from top to bottom.”

The departure point of the historical wargame came in 1878 with the discovery of a lighter-than-air substance known as an electrode. Sea-based warships are rapidly becoming obsolete as colonial European powers now vie for airspace. In this way, the franchise is reminiscent of the 1920+ universe, which is the basis of the hit strategy game. Scythe, but without the pastoral kitsch. This is total war. The game opens in 1910 with a full-scale engagement on the French-German border.

Clockwise from left, Tao-So Togo Takeshi, Camilla Romano, Anastasia Romanov and Amil Dhar. Image: Marco Penacchietti/Catalyst Game Labs

Leviathans, at its simplest, is an aerial transport of giant battleships flying through the sky, blowing each other up. Most steampunk centers with, you know, dirigible-type things flapping on the side of them. Leather stuff, which is really nice beauty. Leviathans Unique because you literally take World War I, World War II battleships and put some magic on them and throw them up in the air. And so these are huge machines where big pieces of metal fall off each other. It’s a completely different scale than what’s on this version of steampunk battleships.”

Contents of a proposed starter set for crowdfunding.  Shown here is an unpainted ship.

Four ships, an assortment of dice and dry-erase cards, plus maps.
Image: Catalyst Game Labs

Leviathans Remains largely unchanged from its 2011 debut. It uses a proprietary system of color-coded dice to streamline investments, which depend on concepts like armor stats and penetration. Battletech world). Like modern skirmish games Necromunda And Warkari, only a handful of thumbnails are needed to get started. The rules include basic and advanced levels, with systems for speed, elevation, bracketing fire and torpedoes, creating a unique and dynamic three-dimensional tableau on the table. The final product will consist of a $70 starter set with four ships, maps, dice, standees and gorgeous four-inch pre-painted miniatures. Manufacturing samples is still underway, but the goal is to have miniatures with the same level of off-the-shelf detail. Star Wars: X-Wing Miniature Game And Star Wars: Armada.

A game of leviathans is set to play.

An early pre-production model of the ships as they would appear with their final paint.
Photo: Catalyst Game Labs

“We decided to have a small starter box, which doesn’t have a full set on each side, to get people to understand and get into the game, you know, a $100 coffin box. […] The dice are easy, the cards, the whole thing – everything has to be made easy,” Brian said. “And so that was another goal of making this an entry-level product for people coming into the tabletop.”

The ships will vary in size and stats, starting with the slower and more heavily armed Leviathan-class battleships, followed by ship-of-the-line armored cruisers, along with their similarly sized fast cruisers, as well as agile destroyers. The game will also feature small attack aircraft — at least not as miniatures at first. They will use tokens for now.

Issues related to colonialism are being considered to help the game appeal to a wider audience. But while the newly announced revised version Puerto Rico From Ravensburger adjusting its timeline — among other things — to refocus gameplay on local farmers instead of colonial governors, Leviathans leaving its original timeline largely intact.

“The world [of Leviathans] It’s not a great world,” Brian Bills said. “We don’t necessarily want to avoid this, but it’s something we certainly want to deal with. […] Especially in Europe, white people were in power [at the start of WWI]; These were the men in charge of all the nations.” Other fictional departures will be included as the game’s narrative timeline tracks. For example, the British monarchy will not be exclusively one woman.

“Especially for the British, India is a big part of who they are and trying to make Indians a big part of the British Empire – not ignoring the fact that they shouldn’t be, but still giving them the power to do so. things The main character we have for the British is an Indian captain dealing with the fact that he can’t actually be a captain. But he’s good enough that they just kind of let it slide and dealt with the prejudices he has to overcome during this conflict. “

The final game will also ship with a points system for competitive matched and campaign play. The fiction collection was already released in 2021. It includes major works by alternate history writer Harry Turtledove — as well as the late Doug Chaffee.