Thursday, July 27, 2017

Who is the Rules Committee? Chris Morris

Welcome to another Rules Committee profile.  This time we talk to the man behind the curtain, Chris Morris.
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Please introduce yourself to my readers out there.

Well, I’m the easily forgettable homeless looking fellow on the RC.
his words, not mine!
 How long have you been involved in gaming (and wargaming) in general?

Gaming, as far back as I can remember. Though tabletop wargaming has been a relatively new development.

I’ve always been an avid PC gamer and it’s still my main pastime. The total war games are among my favourites, as are other strategy games, though I also have a love for RPGs (Neverwinter Nights was a masterpiece), though I’ve also competed at a high level in FPS games such as counter strike and team fortress 2 (where I competed on stage in the final in its first tournament.)

As for wargaming, I first dabbled in the hobby towards the end of primary school, where warhammer was all the rage (shortly after pokemen cards made their round), I had an assortment of models from all manner of armies, but never anything approaching an army. The models I practically destroyed by basically painting them with a shovel. These models were salvaged when I got back into the hobby later with some dettol, and after selling them on ebay the proceeds paid for my next few armies.

I only got back into, well properly into the hobby with the first Kings of War kickstarter, a few friends from university who were also studying game design were keen to try get back into wargaming (one was also an ex gw employee) so we all backed the kickstarter, obviously I had to pick goblins.

Straight after pledging I started testing rules and looking over army lists. By the time we had the models, neither of my friends were interested in carrying on, but I was already sold at this point, though I had somewhere around 300 goblins to paint!.

Not wanting to paint them green, I asked on the forum if anyone would complain if I painted my goblins blue, the general response was to go for it, but be prepared for comments on it being a smurf army. Knowing this, I had my forum account name changed and that’s how the LordOfSmurfs was created.
Blue Goblins
My first experience playing other players was at the first Clash of Kings, where I lost all my games, though I met some great people, such as Matt Gilbert, Nick Williams and Daniel King.

From there, I realised that I needed to learn the game properly, so with an absence of local players I found Universal Battle, Dan King was kind enough to mentor me, until it reached the point where practically every game we played resulted in a draw (Seriously, he could charge for Kings of War Lessons).

TLDR; 6 years.

Why would people know you in the Kings of War community?

Hopefully, they don’t. ;).

People may have seen me pop up in conversations regarding balance and rules development, though I don’t post nearly as much as Dan King and Nick Williams(RIP).

I’m also the idiot with the McDonalds toy smurf army.
Truly the Lord of Smurfs
The smurfiest chariots ever
I’ve also been quite a competitive player in the past and I’ve got a fair number of tournament wins under my belt. Though of late I’ve been less interested in going for the top table and I’ve been going into each event with a goal regarding future rules development and balance in mind, I’ve been switching to lists with perceived problems and getting a feel for myself of what is and what isn’t working. (RIP Wallet).

I was also a very early adopter of Universal Battle in the first edition of kings of war,  I created each and every army so people had a basis to use for their units (I’m pretty sure people are still using them today).

Is there anything specific you have worked on?

I’ve worked on everything to varying degrees since joining on the rules committee; I setup our master spreadsheet and damage calculator and I’m generally heavily involved in any  internal discussions we have going.

Before joining the RC I’d basically rewritten the entire rulebook before 2nd edition as a fan edition, it just so happened a lot of the changes I’d put in there matched up with the goals of 2nd.

I was also involved in a private project to repoint all units in the game near the end of 1st edition, with a lot of current / ex RC members (It was shortly after this project that mantic decided on pushing 2nd forward).

With Uncharted Empires I was mainly working on the Varangur, where I basically listened to Wardruna nonstop while working on the fluff (Which Matt Gibert helped immensely to make legible). I also worked on the League of Rhordia with Matt Gilbert.

Varangur
During the Beta’s I was also the one maintaining the army spreadsheets and changelogs, which kept me up into the early hours of each morning after every call we had.

I love that as a result of my work, I can open up the books and point to units / items which I can happily say, yup, I made that.

I also had a large hand with the development of Historicals, we basically had ~3 weeks to rewrite the entire book, in that time we settled on the way lists would be chosen (with the use of a Master List) and also with picking what themes we’d represent in the book, we had more listed than what made the cut, but my god, that was one hell of a lot of work and I dread to think how many hours I put into that.

None of the RC members have any formal education in history; I do however have a keen amateur interest in it (As a total war player who tends to gets lost in the depths of Wikipedia as well as other sources reading up about ancient battles and elite warriors, Shout outs to Lindybeige, Schola Gladiatoria, Skallagrim, Historia Civilis, ).

Each one of those lists required a ton of research and debate, as well as then drafting units in a way that would fit into the game, as well as working out how to represent new things to kings of war, such as slings, testudo etc.  I think it got to the point where it was a few days before print and Mantic asked for all the army intro fluff as well, Me and Jason basically just made a list of all the armies and went through them all one by one, tackling one each and highlighting it when done. I still don’t even know which ones I wrote and which Jason did heh.

Yeah, I've got nothin
Like the rest of the RC, We’ve just finished work on the summer campaign units, where we were given the fluff in advance and were tasked to come up with some unit profiles to fit them. Some were easier than others, but we were given the freedom to be a bit creative (hello, goblin jesus!), which has in turn changed fluff to better reflect the heroes. It was a really nice changeup to have a back and forth with Mantic as the book developed.

We were also able to draft all of the accompanying Living Legend units to the Heroes as well as a brief synopsis of their fluff which Mantic expanded on.

I’ve also just completed a small side project for the ground work on some new maps for the sourcebook, which involved going through basically everything mantic has ever published on kings of war and putting every single place on the map as well as having the freedom to put in new places as well as brief amounts of fluff to go along with them (I think including all the location text pulled from other publications it was up to ~8000 words in the places fluff doc), the map itself is also bigger than ever!. Mantic should be sending all that off to a proper artist to get the map made beautiful, so stay tuned for that!.

What army/armies do you play, and why?

Well, in order.
  • Goblins (Now Sold)
  •  Abyssal Dwarf(less) (It’s all golems/halfbreeds/gargoyles really)
An evil dwarf after my own heart
  • Kingdoms of Men
  • Ogres (Now Sold)
  • Twilight Kin
  • Forces of Nature
  • Abyssals
  • Undead (Now Sold)
  • New Goblins!, It’s a mess of glowing green squigs and albino goblins
  • Varangur
  • Dwarfs
  • Trident Realms (In Progress)
  • Ogres (Smurfs)
  • Ratkin (In Progress)
  • High Elves (In Progress)
  • Salamanders (in Progress)

So yeah, basically everything. I never play the same list twice, and I’m happy to bring a different army to each tournament. Though I’m not nearly as competitive as I used to be.

Albino Goblins
Huge glowy green squigs (giants)
Glowy Green Squigs

As for why. well, I like trying new things and also trying new techniques as well as learning new skills to expand into the hobby, I try to make each of my armies visually distinct and unique.
I would like to have every army at some point, though I think I’ll have to rethink my storage situation J.

Where do you play, in case I wanted to come and get beaten by you?

There aren’t many local players for me, so I’m used to travelling to tournaments, I used to play one hell of a lot on Universal Battle, but recently I’ve been playing mostly in Bristol at BIG, Matthew James organises great tourneys there and there’s a very competitive and capable group of regulars attending events there.

I’ve also attended a lot of great tournaments at Big Orbit Games in Evesham, put on by Chris Nicholls and Jason Flint.

I also won the Cardiff regional at Firestorm games 3 years running J (I even beat Dan King at one of them, though admittedly, the key to beating him is to not play him).

What hobby projects are you currently working on?

Far too many,
Simple, effective paint job
Awesome Well of Souls conversion
 I’ve just cleared my desk of Smurf Ogres and I’m assembling a ton of Ratkin as well as Trident Realms. Though I’ve just had some lovely 54mm Dwarfs arrive from Russia which will make some excellent earth elementals for my Dwarfs.

I try and get most of models off eBay, salvaging models is just part of the hobby for me. Also, you have to love great bargains, such as 52 Lizardmen models for £1.7. Or 200+ Goblins + extras from Skull pass for £40, I then resold the spider riders and trolls which came with them for more than £40, basically giving 200 goblins for free J.

now to just figure out how much that is in real money ($$ :-) )

I always have way too many projects on the go at the same time, though I’m slowly making my way through them.

What other games do you play, Mantic or otherwise?

I think I’m an oddity in wargaming. I love the lore and setting for warhammer, but I’ve never played it. I haven’t played any other wargame apart from Kings of War.

I guess this helps in a way though, as I’m coming into rules development with no hang-ups from other systems.

PC gaming wise, I’m currently playing Stellaris, H1Z1: King of the Kill and Warhammer Total War (Can’t wait for the second one).

Unfortunately, gaming (in general) doesn't pay the bills.  What do you do when you aren't involved with gaming?

I work and in property management, site management and IT support, though I’ve also been doing some apprentice electrical work on the side.

Not related to income, but I do also enjoy making mead ;). Though my last batch sadly exploded and died a very sticky death.

If you could be Ronnie Renton for a day, what would you do?

Make models for all the units we submitted for the sourcebook, because they’re cool as fuck, also I’d push forward V3 by a year. (Seriously, I have no idea when it’s out, I’m just impatient).

I’d also look at changing the rules distribution model and bring it into the internet age. Whereby buying a rulebook would also give you a code that would entitle you could receive free updates for that editions “Living” rulebook online, that way we (The RC) could push forward more balance updates (~biannually) and fine tune the game to as close to perfect as possible.

As a PC gamer, having editions last 5 years without a “Patch” is insane :p.

Seriously, I pride myself on how well balanced Kings of War is, especially after hearing horror stories of other gaming systems, but there is always room for improvement.

Oh and I’d make a miniature of each member of the RC, past and present.

Nick would make an excellent hobbit bard, I’d be a homeless looking scruffy wizard, Dan would make a great Jolly Necromaner, Matt Gilbert would make an excellent fairy princess etc etc.

Any final words?

I’d like to thank Nick Williams as well as Sami Mahmoud for all the work they did while they were on the Rules Committee, the near immeasurable amount of time they (as well as everyone on the RC) has put into the game behind the scenes has made Kings of War the success that it is today and we couldn’t have done it without everyone involved.

It won’t be the same without them.

Also, thanks for Mike carter for putting together this interview! J.

Oh, and go buy the Edge of the Abyss! It’s surprisingly good! And it’s definitely a step in the right direction! (Great job Rob!).

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Because it is all fun and games . . .

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