Dystopian Wars Developer Interview

Published: November 25, 2020 10:30 AM /


Dystopian Wars

The 3rd Edition of Dystopian Wars was initially planned for this year after Warcradle acquired the property. But the current global situation has delayed it. We chatted to Stuart Mackaness, Warcradle's Studio Manager about the upcoming nautical wargame, their plans for it, and crossovers with their other games.

This article forms part of our Nautical Tabletop Month that's running across all of November. We're going to look at different nautical wargames and board games, as well as interview developers about capturing the sea feel on the tabletop. We'll also look at nautical factions in popular wargames along with tabletop accessories that are available to keep your hobby ship-shape. You can see all the articles here on the hub. So come aboard as we set sail and celebrate all games nautical in nature.

Firestorm Games

You can buy all the Nautical Tabletop Month products from our tabletop sponsor, Firestorm Games.

Dystopian Wars.
Dystopian Wars artwork (Source: Warcradle).

TechRaptor: Stuart, welcome to TechRaptor, and thank you for joining us. For those that don’t know about Dystopian Wars, can you give a quick summary of the background and rules mechanics?

Stuart Mackaness: Dystopian Wars is a tabletop wargame of naval battles using highly detailed miniatures to represent huge engines of destruction on, above, and below the high-seas. Set in an alternate late-Nineteenth Century called the Dystopian Age, super-science fuelled nations clash over resources and power. This tactical game requires skill to maneuver your fleet, lining up targets to bring your mighty guns to bear as quickly as possible. Players choose a faction and fight for dominance over the seas and skies with incredible machines of war fuelled by extraordinary technology, dread marvels of this Dystopian Age. 

TR: You now own the Dystopian Wars IP following the closure of Spartan Games. What was important for you to keep with the upcoming Third Edition of the rules?

SM: We wanted to ensure that players with existing models could still use them in the game. As with any new edition, it was an opportunity to overhaul the rules from the keel up to make them more appealing and intuitive to new and existing players. That said, it's important that it still pays respect to earlier editions. We’ve tried very hard to keep that Dystopian Wars feel with the core dice rolling mechanisms and exploding results being much the same as before. 

Dystopian Wars 2-Player Starter Set Contents.
The planned contents of the Dystopian Wars 3rd Edition 2-Player Starter Set (Source: Warcradle).

TR: The steampunk genre fits in perfectly with your existing IP, Wild West Exodus. Are we going to see some crossover with the system or existing characters?

SM: Both Wild West Exodus (WWX) and Dystopian Wars are set in the same Dystopian Age. Because of the nature of each game, they focus on very different aspects and levels of that setting. Being a 35mm skirmish type game, WWX is a more stylized slice of life on the untamed American Frontier. It’s big on super-science-fuelled cowboys, weird monstrosities, and shadowy extra-terrestrial cults. 

Dystopian Wars is a grander scale naval game, so individuals have less of an impact, but they are still there, operating both publicly and behind the scenes. Director Abe Lincoln and his Secret Service have a number of missions that a Union Commodore might find her fleet entrusted with, while the sinister Dark Council has seneschals in the court of Queen Victoria, causing Crown battlegroups to be deployed in opposition to achieve some hidden purpose.  

TR: The pandemic has had a huge impact on tabletop this year. What effect has it had on Dystopian Wars and what is the new schedule for its launch?

SM: It caused significant delays to the game as originally it was scheduled for early this year. We made the decision to use the time to our advantage and we increased the development of our own in-house plastic injection design and manufacture. It means that when Dystopian Wars finally launches early next year, it will be with a range of customizable multi-part plastic kits, designed and manufactured right here in England.

Dystopian Wars Plastic Sprues.
Upcoming Warcradle Dystopian Wars plastic sprues (Source: Warcradle).

TR: You’ve had a public beta available for Dystopian Wars, available from before the pandemic. How has the public beta process worked for you in terms of feedback and has the additional time during the pandemic been useful?

SM: It was a great opportunity for the community to have a say and a hand in shaping the future of the game. The fans of the game were able to push things so that the final form will truly feel like a worthy successor to the classic. 

TR: Were you a fan of nautical wargames prior to Warcradle Studios owning the Dystopian Wars IP? If so, what did you play?

SM: A lot of the team were big fans of the classic Dystopian Wars a few years ago. Some of us are old enough to have played Man ‘o War and later dabbled in a bit of Uncharted Seas too. There is definitely something satisfying about laying out a fleet of ships in battle formation and spending the evening blasting each other and watching the burning hulks sink to the bottom of the ocean. 

Dystopian Wars.
A completed Warcradle Dystopian Wars plastic ship (Source: Warcradle).

TR: The initial release is still a little way off, but what’s the future for Dystopian Wars? Are there plans to expand beyond the units already detailed in the unit cards in the Third Edition beta?

SM: Absolutely, we have a packed release schedule with all eight factions receiving a wide array of plastic multi-part kits as well as larger resin vessels. Mechanical monstrosities, incredible airships, and armored dreadnoughts are all inbound.

TR: Thank you very much Stuart. As a fan of ship wargames, I'm particularly hyped for the new edition of Dystopian Wars and I look forward to it hitting stores soon.

While you wait for the release of Dystopian Wars 3rd Edition, you can check out the Beta Rules here.


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A Potts TechRaptor
| Senior Tabletop Writer

Adam is a Tabletop Specialist for TechRaptor. He started writing for TechRaptor in 2017 and took over as Tabletop Editor in 2019 and has since stood down… More about Adam