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Introducing the game (part I)

Updated: Oct 27, 2020

Since the very first time we shared with you one of our miniatures, I've heard the same recurring question: is there a game to play these miniatures with?

Indeed, I was (and still I am) really happy to answer this question, despite I feel guilty because the answer is, still, "not yet".

Creating a game is such a challenge that, despite I've started to work on it 5 years ago, only now I can say I have something in my hands.

So, what better moment to share with you this embryonic, raw, foundations of the game that we will soon start to seriously playtest?

Before going, on, however, let me talk a bit about the bumpy ride that brought my initial ideas of the game, to the actual, dare to say the definitive, version of it.

Beware: in this post, I will be as sincere and honest as possible, without filters, so don't be too hard on me, after reading all my naivety!

It's incredibly easy to design a miniature, or better, it's not that difficult: it's just a matter of imagining a cool character and try to bring it to life. We all have eyes and, hopefully, enough imagination to take some references and mix them to create something worthy to be called "miniature".

Regarding the game design, however, things are way more difficult, especially nowadays, the "boardgame age": designing a game, 15/20 years ago, was difficult too, but at least there weren't so many competitors to overcome, and people, in my opinion, were less demanding!

So you may imagine my doubts and fears when I started to imagine a game based on my miniatures and lore, knowing that it should be worthy to compete with tons of fierce, expert and awesome rivals. Because I'm a bloody competitive person, furthermore, I couldn't accept to design just an average game: I wanted to make something unique.

As you may imagine, putting too much pressure on something, especially when it's the first time you try to deal with it, it's not a smart move, and in fact, I quickly fell in the quicksand: my first rough ideas of gaming design were not so fresh, nor interesting, I have to be honest.

I was too attached to my personal gaming experience, so I suddenly realized that I was just trying to imitate GW and Rackham rules: no good.

Moreover, at that time I had in mind a kind of mass-skirmish game (like Wrath of Kings), but for some reasons, I wasn't totally sure that it would have been the best direction for Into the Quest, both commercially and ideal speaking: we love to produce unique miniatures, this is our strong suit, so the idea to make regiments of clones didn't sound totally cool to me.

Frustrated, but not overcome, I decided (well, I was obliged!) to focus on the Iron Crows KS campaign, postponing my gaming troubles for a better moment.

As often happens in life, the solutions come unexpectedly when you stop to overthink to find them, and concerning my game, they decided to unveil themselves when I started to play to Switch videogame MarioXRabbids Kingdom battle.

For those who haven't already played this game (including Valerio, shame on you Valerio!), MarioXRabbids is a kind of X-com style game designed by Ubisoft Italy, a strategic game that I enjoyed so much (and appreciated for its typical Italian humour and self-irony).

Italians are world masters, concerning jokes about Italians

After hours and hours spent on it, I had a kind of illumination: what if I make a game like that?

Obviously, I was aware that it would be almost impossible and unfair (and not interesting, too!) to just make a board game version of a videogame, but at that moment I felt like I finally realized the kind of gaming experience that I wanted for my game: a board game with simple mechanics, rapid pace, a few characters that run all over the board battling with no quarters!

Since that moment, with clearer ideas in mind, I really started to give shape to Into the Quest: the game.

the game foundations

First of all, I had to say goodbye to the original idea of a classic skirmish idea, to welcome the board game side of the Force.

I know, many of you would be probably annoyed by this decision, I don't blame you but I hope that you would understand my point (and, at least, there are plenty of amazing skirmish games to play with, like Malifaux -my favourite one!-).

Being a long-time Warhammer player, I've been a tabletop game player since forever, and I always thought about miniatures games in those terms: build your own, huge, custom gaming table, create your own scenic elements, etc.

However, I wanted something different: I wanted a kind of boardgame arena, a claustrophobic space made of cells, where you and your opponent might stage brutal fights with your amazing (XD) DPF miniatures.

So, before going on in gaming details, let's clarify the basic shape of this game: a 48x60cm board, divided by 3cm per side cells.

I like the idea of you being able to easily carry around the gaming "table" and play wherever you want, I think that behind the latest huge success of board games, practicality is a critical factor (also tons and tons of free PVC miniatures, but this is another story!).

Decided the shape of the game, I've deeply thought about one of my biggest fear, about the game: how to manage the "armies" (well, guilds) composition.

I've tried several systems, but I thought that I wanted something more..dangerously free.

People are used to have a classic points system that rules your army composition, but I think that it would be incredibly painful to balance, especially considering my idea of highly customizable guilds of travellers (I'll talk about it later).

So, after days and days of doubts, I came with an idea that is both scary and exciting, at least in my opinion: each player has 6 character slots and may choose (almost) any playable character.

Obviously, some characters might "cost" 2 slots instead of 1 (for example, those characters that ride a mount), or you can deploy 2 characters for a single slot (for example, those small characters like goblins, zombies etc), but in general, the rules are quite simple and clear: just pick your best 6 choices and fight.

As I mentioned before, this system is both scary and exciting: it is scary because it breaks the classic point system, and maybe people could be a bit "shy" to embrace it, but it's also exciting in my opinion because it is quite simple and let you focus only on imagining the best combos between a solid amount of characters.

"Freedom of choices" is my first goal, with this game, and I want to encourage you to create your "guilds" as freely as possible, a thing that, with a classic points system, would be almost impossible to do: imagine establishing a fair points cost for an Iron Crow Sentinel, considering however that a player might play it side by side with a Redcoat Admiral, an Iron Titan, or (!!) an Elf character.

That Sentinel might be extremely performing in a pure Dwarf list, but it might suck inserted in a mixed guild.

A system point, in my opinion, is perfect and efficient in a game with a close composition (think about the old Warhammer fantasy), where the game designer gives you determined factions, each designed and balanced to work on its own: in that case, it's easy (or easier...) to give a specific value of points to each playable character because you (the game designer) already know the context they will be played in.

I wanted, however, something different.

I wanted to give you an open recruiting system, and give you as much as possible the chance to create a personalized "army".

Don't get me wrong, but I wanted something more similar to the "Pokémon" system: you have a wide amount of characters, and you just may pick your favourite ones, build them in the most efficient way (depending on your strategy and, why not, the lore of your guild) and play them to claim the final victory!

Obviously, this system has some limitations, mostly for narrative reasons: so you will learn that, for example, you won't be able to put an Iron Crow character, in a same guild that contains an Orc character.

I think that this helps to better contextualize the game inside the lore which it belongs to.

Moreover, you will learn that it's not obvious that playing a "pure" guild (for example, a full Elf guild) would be worse because there will be special rules that will improve your characters, in determined circumstances.

So, how to balance this crazily open system?!

My idea is quite simple: if I design all the characters worthy to be chosen by players, then some kind of balance would happen spontaneously.

I know, it may sound a bit naive, but after all, the next year will be totally dedicated to find out if this theory is right!

build your character

So, we have a game where you choose 6 characters (almost) at your choice, but where is the real customization?

to explain this idea in-game, I thought about the Customization Triarchy: each character has a basic profile stats and special rules, like in any other game (for the principle that "you don't have to fix the things that are already functioning"), and the players can customize it by choosing Actions, Abilities, and Equips.

For each character, you can choice 4 specific Actions, 1 Ability, and 1 Equip.

Obviously, each type of character has access to specific Actions/Ability/Equip, that reflect its nature (and miniature design...): Disciples of Vidarr, as you may imagine, have specific melee-oriented abilities and actions, while Inventors can choose from more shooting-oriented ones.

Again, as the recruiting system, here too there are no points involved: simply build your character in the most performing/cool way, your opponent will do the same!

In my opinion, this is the most important and crucial side of the game: here, I must be extremely good at creating an endless list of useful, interesting and possibly exciting Actions/Abilities/Equips, because not only they will influence a lot the balancing of the game itself, but also they will bring on your table the true essence of Into the Quest.

In this way, you will be able to deploy on the battlefield, not generic characters that act like generic characters, but real Into the Quest adventurers that will transport you directly in Inneath!

Well, at least this is my main goal and I will do all my best to achieve it.

easy to learn, hard to master

You surely have read this sentence many and many times, and indeed I think that any game claims to be "easy to learn, hard to master", whether it's true or not.

I don't want to sound too arrogant, but at least ideally speaking, Into the Quest might be that kind of game.

I will talk (well, write) about the generic mechanics of the game in the next blog posts, but as you may have guessed, I'm trying to create a game that has a few rules to remind, but a lot of ways to translate them in-game.

I want a game that you are able to play buying only a few miniatures, and you can drastically change your gaming experience replacing even just a bunch of them. I want a game where any new release might be interesting for almost any players (as a Warhammer Dwarf player, I really know the struggle of waiting years and years, before seeing new miniatures for my army...).

I want a game that you can prepare in a few minutes, and play in an hour or two.

As we say in Italy, "between to say something and to do something, there is the whole sea", so I'm aware that there is a mountain to climb before being able to give you a game worthy of its name, my ambitions and your expectations.

But I'm quite excited to start to furiously playtest it and I'm thinking about involving you all in this next phase of our game: I thought it would be interesting to film the most interesting parts of the playtesting phase and share it with you!

In this way, you will see our game grow step-by-step, and with a bit of luck, when you will play the first game with our miniatures, you will be one of the braves that might say "I was there!".

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