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Sherwood-based Stone Sword Games Raised £90,000 in Two Days to Create a Hogs of War Minatures Game

9 October 20 interview: LeftLion

There’s an element of risk in launching any crowdfunding campaign. If you don’t reach an audience, the failure can hang around the neck of a project like an albatross. But get it right, and the rewards can be limitless. The latter situation is one that Sherwood-based Stone Sword Games found themselves in recently, when their Kickstarter campaign for a miniatures version of classic PS1 game Hogs of War smashed through £90,000 in just two days. We caught up with co-owner Paul Allen to find out more...

For the uninitiated, tell us a bit about Hogs of War
Hogs Of War is very much a cult classic Playstation 1 video game, released in 2000, which sticks in a lot of people’s minds due to the late, great Rik Mayall adding his talent to the voice work. 

I have recently tried to sell it to a friend as ‘Imagine Worms but in 3D mixed with some PGA Golf and a big sprinkle of Blackadder Goes Forth and that classic British tongue-in-cheek-humour’.

What was it about the original PS1 game that made you want to continue the legacy with a tabletop miniatures adaptation?
I remember renting it from Blockbuster Video twenty years ago. My friend and I picked up Silent Hill and found Hogs of War next to it and thought, ‘this will do for his little sister’. We got back and tried to smash Silent Hill in one night (we succeeded), but I remember getting up in the morning and my friend’s kid sister was still playing Hogs of War. I asked to play the next mission and by the same afternoon I had bought myself a copy.  

There is something very special about the game, it has a large mix of elements; there’s a RPG aspect of levelling up and naming your hogs, turn-based and real-time action, a large inventory of goofy weapons and a narrative set over a campaign map that looked like a pig.

What was behind the decision to launch a Kickstarter campaign?
The concept came about in March last year; my girlfriend and I were having a sneaky drink before going to my brother’s birthday. We randomly spoke about our love of Hogs of War, and I managed to scribble down some ideas and concepts on a receipt. Just under eight months later I had tracked down the owner of the license and with my business partner, James Faulkner, we had launched our first Kickstarter, Hogs of War: The Card Game. This was in November 2019, and it raised over £19,500. James and I had always thought it could be a bigger game so we decided to grow it and develop a tabletop miniatures game with more flavours and much closer to the incredible PS1 title.

You must be pretty happy with the success of the new Kickstarter so far…
It’s been fantastic! Watching the number of backers increasing and the funding goal smashed in under ninety minutes was ridiculous. We didn’t expect to reach this number in our 23 day campaign, never mind making £90,000 in just the first two days – it has truly blown us away with the love and support for this game.  

What sort of perks can backers get?
We really want to reward our loyal backers; so we filled Hogs with tons of gorgeous ‘hoggified’ miniatures (big tanks, planes and those hogs!) and of course we have our Rik Mayall tribute ‘Lord Flashhog’ miniature, a glorious mix of Lord Flashheart (Rik Mayall’s amazing Blackadder character) and a Hog. We have smashed through ten stretch goals in our first three days, and are releasing more amazing miniatures, including the Aqua-Tank from the original PS1 game.

What sort of audience is the game aimed at?
I have been playing tabletop and video games for over 35 years and lecture Games Design at Confetti and NTU, and James is an incredible war-gaming fanatic, who has played in tournaments for years and has a house full of Games Workshop miniatures.   

We have designed a game that is simple but has a huge depth of strategy, blending a ‘war-game’ – think Warhammer – with a more stripped down board game Risk-level of complexity. 

Do you think there has been a surge in popularity in tabletop gaming recently?
It has been steadily increasing for several years, and Kickstarter has added an incredible element to purchasing unique games with a huge focus on community. Games like Exploding Kittens and Cards Against Humanity certainly made games a little cooler, and you regularly see them being played in bars. Since this year’s lockdown, searches for “board game” rocketed by 300%, I think the social aspect of tabletop games has really played a part in this.

Can you tell us a bit about Stone Sword Games?
We are a very young company. Myself and my business partner James met a little over two years ago and found out we work really well together with an engine and rudder approach that very much complement each other’s strengths.  

Nottingham is home to some great board game cafes and venues – what is the community here like?
It’s incredible, there is such an amazing and beautiful gaming community here. James and I have made a lot of great friends through the local gaming cafe and escape room industry. 

Games Workshop/Warhammer World has centralised tabletop gaming within Notts. The amount of gaming companies attached, or previously attached, to that £3,000,000,000 juggernaut means we have more board game cafés in Nottingham than the whole of New York.

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