Ship Crew & Ship Quirk Cards

Been a good while since we’ve had an update for Leviathans. Things are still moving behind the scenes. For example we’ve been making progress with smaller, less complex miniatures, which I covered in the Spring in a lengthy update. We’ve started production on the first of the Shadowrun miniatures and we’ve got prototypes for Valiant Universe miniatures (as soon as I have photos to show off, I will).

Both of these are laying the ground work for us to move back towards Leviathans (we’ve also got a great company we’re now working with on the miniatures confident they can do the CADs in our budget, and we’re now waiting on a new manufacturer to get back to us with price quotes).

In the meantime, we sold these Ship Crew & Ship Quirk cards during cons last year and I thought it would be a nice, little release to increase the fun of any holiday gaming you might be doing. Here’s two from each type of card to show the variety of enhanced gaming that can unfold with these cards:

GC Crew Card Front.indd

GC Crew Card Front.indd

GC Crew Card Front.indd

GC Ship Card Front.indd

GC Ship Card Front.indd

GC Ship Card Front.indd

Hey, what about those cards for the Italians or Germans? Those haven’t been released yet, how can I use them? Well, as the rules for those cards state (you can also find the rules on the Downloads page, toward the bottom), while they are meant as faction flavor, ultimately players can mix and match however they want.

You can order the PDF or even a Print On Demand of those cards over at DriveThruRPG.

Enjoy!

Randall

Catalyst Game Labs Website Maintenance

All Catalyst Game Labs websites will be down for maintenance starting at 11PM EST, on July 13th, for two hours.

We appreciate your patience while we get some back-end work done!

Catalyst Team

Leviathans Update

Been a number of months since the last update as we’ve continued to investigate how to proceed with Leviathans. And the conclusions we’ve come to at this stage is there simply isn’t a short-term fix.

It’s a multi-faceted problem:

First, new CADs/renders of every ship are required. The company that previously produced the miniatures also generated the CAD/render work for us and they won’t turn those over. So not only is that a re-investment into the game again, but until very recently it was expertise we’d spent literally years trying to achieve with little to no luck.

Second, new molds are required. Once again, the company that produced the miniatures won’t give over the molds. So we have to invest into new molds. And molds like these can be $4k for a single ship.

Finally, the big box presentation simply didn’t work over-all. Yes, we sold through everything, which is fantastic! But it was a relatively small print run and the cost of the box to produce vs. how much we make leaves little on the table; not to mention how long it took to publish the first time around and it really only covered itself.

What’s more, the big box is intimidating in size and price, acting as a barrier to new players, while game stores have mentioned struggling to find a location to carry more than a single box. Hence why I previously mentioned we’re still heavily looking at a Star Wars: X-Wing and Wings of Glory model (though all the above still applies even in a new presentation).

All of those elements we’re trying to juggle and at the end of the day it comes down to two things:

1. We could print 5 to 8 boxed games of various type and size for the investment into trying to just re-launch Leviathans.

2. At the current time we still don’t have the expertise to render the miniatures ourselves and ensure the company we’re working with won’t hold molds (or even the game, as happened) hostage.

Where does that leave us? It leaves Catalyst still completely committed to Leviathans. We absolutely love this universe and the game and feel it can and will find an audience. But to solve the two primary issues above, we simply have to take longer to get it out then we wanted.

First, by getting out those 5 to 8 boxed games above we can broaden the company’s footprint and build up the necessary warchest to then move up to a “next level” commitment like what Leviathans requires.

Second, and by far most importantly, we’ve recently begun working with Green Brier Games to produce miniatures, with renders done in conjunction with Catalyst and totally under our control. As well as using their expertise to help us walk through the production process on miniatures from start to finish.

I just outlined this in a huge way in an update about Sprawl Gangers, our Shadowrun miniatures game. In there I talk about how we’re currently working on “Shadowrun RPG Miniatures”, releasing a pack of 5 miniatures at a time. A grand experiment to ensure that the quality vs. quantity vs. investment vs. experience/expertise all works out. This will lay the groundwork for us to being able to fully move into Sprawl Gangers.

However, it will also allow us to fully move on Leviathans as well. As for a time frame…I’ve got a tentative pencil of “summer 2015” for a new launch of Leviathans with new factions, the rulebook as a stand along book, and a whole bunch of other cool ideas. However, there’s a lot of work between now and then.

I completely understand if some of you decide that enough is enough and you don’t want to stick around any more. Regardless of our failure to further support the line, we put out a fantastically fun game and a cool universe and we’re incredibly proud of the game you can still play as often as you like.

For those willing to be patience still, I hope very much to see additional factions and their cool ships and abilities reaching gaming tables at some point in the future.

Thanks for your continued support and enthusiasm! We Freed Taiwan once…I expect to do it again….

Randall

Open Beta Test: Fog of War Initiative PDF

First, thanks to everyone that voted…got the tallies below. Really fascinating to see what the community is eager to try and what ranks lower on the list.

Rate of Fire: 13
Faction Abilities: 7
Steering Rolls: 6
Commanders: 5
Fog of War Initiative: 4
Mountains: 4
Range (Expanded): 4
Ship Repairs (Expanded): 4
Breaking the Keel Roll (Expanded): 3
Ramming (Expanded): 1
Cargo Ships: 1
Recoil: 1

So if those are the tallies and Fog of War Initiative is the fifth, why is it first? Easy, it’s ready to go now. I’d pinged Matt a while back to generate that PDF. Then after the fact I thought it would be far cooler to ask you guys what you wanted to see, but in the meantime Matt generated this PDF. So…this one comes first…and then we’ll start flowing into the order above in future weeks.

Leviathans: Captain's Manual Excerpt - Fog of War Open Beta Test
Though, as I as mentioned, Open Beta Test: Fog of War Initiative is one of my favorite things from the Captain’s Manual and the thing I use the most (well, outside of the expanded Ship Repair…once you use that one you’ll never go back to the standard….). So hopefully you won’t mind this coming first.

As usual, visit the forums at www.monstersinthesky.com. A “Open Beta Test: Fog of War Initiative” thread has been created. Post your feedback, comments and especially your suggestions for tweaks to the rules that you feel will improve them.

See ya next duty shift!

Randall

Which Captain’s Manual Rule To Open Beta Next?

Hey all,

So we’ve released a fair number of rules from the Captain’s Manual; either just to use in your games or to open beta test: Clouds, Elevation, Ship Repairs & SI, and Critical Hits.

I’d like to release some more rules for you guys to enjoy and ultimately kick around, and I’d love to get your votes on what you’d like to see next.

Below is a list of additional rules. Please list your favorite 1, 2 and 3 and I’ll compile that list and start releasing some additional rules.

Fog of War Initiative
Steering Rolls
Ramming (Expanded)
Breaking the Keel Roll (Expanded)
Range (Expanded)
Rate of Fire
Cargo Ships
Commanders
Faction Abilities
Mountains
Ship Repairs (Expanded)
Recoil

Look forward to your comments!

See ya next duty shift.

Randall

Stoking The Coals

Hey all,

While we’re still in a holding pattern surrounding the Kickstarter due to production (still in negotiations but they’re dragging on, as usual), we’ve got a number of other items we’re working on that I wanted to share.

First, we’ve got a new James Fighting Leviathans PDF in the works; find one of the excerpts we’re looking at below, along with the game stats excerpted from our master spreadsheet:

    Dupetit-Thoaurs (Grenouille-class Type I)

    Dimensions: 185 ft. x 30 ft. x 40 ft. (excluding funnels & masts)
    Complement: 72
    Weight: 728 tons
    Engines: Turbines, producing 16,700 shaft hp (max. speed 46 knots)
    Fuel (oil): 120 tons
    Armament: 3-75mm, 3-65mm

    Sky Destroyers are built around speed and maneuverability. The Grenouille-class ships are also well known for the multiple different armaments they have been seen to carry. Within the class, however, there is clear evidence of a major split between “fast Grenouilles” (reaching speeds of up to 60 knots) and “slow Grenouilles” (limited to a more sedate 40-44 knots). The reason for these differences is not known, although it is noteworthy that to date none of the “fast Grenouilles” carry guns larger than 75mm-100mm.

    The Dupetit-Thouars is named after the younger French admiral of that name, Abel-Nicholas, who famously participated in the Japanese Boshin war of 1868. The vessel accordingly serves in French Indochina, and has been adapted to alleviate the effects of tropical heat on its crew. Most notably, the forward guns have been replaced by a trio of small quick-firers. Given the lightly armoured foes it is likely to face, such a volume of fire obviously has its advantages, but the ability of the Dupetit-Thouars to handle a head-on engagement with a modern British vessel of similar size has to be questioned.

Dupetit-Thoars_1

Dupetit-Thoars_2

We’re also continuing to work on the Minor Powers PDF, which will showcase the early leviathans. Here’s some great work that John Haward has done on adapting the “modern” art to be used for these “primitive” ships; the illustration below shows a comparison between the Liberte vessel and the Lavoisier-class (the “modern” Liberte were built off of the “primitive” Lavoisier-class).

Leviathans_LibertevsLavoisierclasses

Also, I’ll start up a series of blogs detailing the development of the aesthetics for the Italian fleet, as I did the Germans a while back. Below is the first concept sketch that Doug generated (as it appears in the Gazetteer), and below that is the first concept sketch based off of that original that J. Lonnee produced (in those future blogs we’ll walk through the whole process start to finish).

Italian Battleship Orignal Sketch

Italian Battleship New Sketch

Some other odds and ends we’re working on for rolling out in the coming months.

1. There’s been requests for some of the fiction that’s been posted in segments directly on the site to be compiled into a PDF; we can do that.

2. We’ve still got some files from the Core Box to release so players have full access to everything they need to play.

3. I’ll be posting additional rules from the Captain’s Manual for you guys to enjoy (and play test if you’ve got the feedback).

Wew…okay, I think that does it for now. It was a low-key autumn and start of winter, but we’re stoking the coals again to get new content up and going for you guys…and of course, if anything breaks forward on the physical production side, you’ll be the first to know after me.

See ya next duty shift!

Randall

Where Things Are At…And New Fiction!

Been a while since the last update…hope you all have been enjoying the elevation rules!

As for when the Kickstarter will happen, that’s still in a holding pattern at this time. As seems to be the case always with Leviathans, we are struggling to find a manufacturer that can produce the miniatures in the format that we need. We thought for sure we’d found the manufacturer that we could move forward with and that simply ended up not being the case, so we’re working with a new manufacturer on the details. All of that must be taken care of and signed off on before we can launch the Kickstarter; i.e. it would be incredibly reckless to launch the Kickstarter without having a manufacturer lined up and ready to go as soon as it ends. In hindsight we should’ve hand that lined up before we even announced we’d be running a Kickstarter but I never imagined it would take so long just to line up the details correctly with an appropriate manufacturer. As ever, when we have some firm movement on that end, I’m happy to share that.

In the meantime, for those that haven’t seen it yet, we released some fiction from Blaine Lee Pardoe in two issues of Ravage magazine.

Here’s a peak at the first page that appeared in Issue #10, which is available now! Issue #11, which contains the conclusion, will be available shortly. Hope you enjoy the good read!

Ravage Issue 10_Levs page 1

See ya next duty shift!

Randall

SteamCon V Battle Report

For the first time in over three years, I wasn’t able to attended SteamCon (a wonderful, Seattle-local convention that has embraced Leviathans from the moment I ran it with cardboard ships several years ago). While I was sad not to attend, luckily Alex and Andrew (part of our Demo Team) were able to not only run the game, but powered it up to a whole new level.

I’ll let them describe the game in their own words.

>>>>>>

We had the opportunity at Steamcon V in Seattle to run an 11 player, 37 ship battle, to test the viability of large scale fleet actions.

We believe that this is the biggest public demo game (by points) ever run on one table at a time, on the West coast. Randall has run a 40 ship battle, and Gen Con was a 38 ship (at one time) battle, although AFAIK our points were higher with a larger number of Battleships vs destroyers (still waiting to hear back for the exact details about Gencon).

We set up 2 battleship squadrons per side, with two mixed destroyer/light cruiser flotillas, and a pair of heavy cruisers.

BRITISH FLEET:

Leviathan class:
Leviathan
Vanguard
Victory

Leviathan class (Medusa class):
Cyclops
Gorgon
Medusa

Armoured Cruisers:
Defender
Defiant

Light Cruisers:
Charger
Courser
New Zealand
Hertfordshire
Essex

Destroyers:
Beagle
Anfield
Trafford
Raven
Crow

FRENCH FLEET:

Paris Class:
Bretagne
St Naziere
Provence

Jean Bart Class:
Jean Bart
Danton
Mirabeau

Heavy Cruisers:
Augustus
Conquerant

Light Cruisers:
Pontbriand
Ardent
Aigle
D. de Lome
Lave

Destroyers:
Montpelier
Pelletier
Genadier
Gloire
Montcalm x 2

We started out with 15 mapboards, but later expanded to 19 boards, 3 x 6, with a couple of half-boards set up at the end. The two fleets were set up in a line on each long side, facing at an angle in opposite directions.

There were positions on each side, the battleship squadrons were in the #1 and #3 position, (from left to right) with a mixed cruiser/destroyer flotilla or in the #2 & #4 positions. A heavy cruiser was placed at the end of each battleship line, initially to provide cover for the rear of the line.

>>>>>>

Thanks to Alex and Andrew for running such an awesome event and to all those that participated. Hope to you see you next year!

See ya next duty shift.

Randall

Clouds and Elevation Rules!

Been a while since the last update and so thought I’d make it well worth your while.

First, the Kickstarter. If you’re wondering why we haven’t mentioned anything else, it’s because we’re still waiting on our own data. I turned over 9 spec sheets and then an initial rough estimate on the first few months of a schedule to several manufacturers and that’s simply a pile of data they have to work over. Once they’ve worked it over to generate price quotes, then we have to work it over. Then plug that data into what we’ve been tossing around on the Kickstarter side so that it all meshes and what we say we can provide is what we can provide and at the best price for both you guys and us. Hopefully in the next few weeks we’ll really start to be able to provide additional details.

Second, and the “hopefully worth the wait”, we’ve had a lot of players for a long time asking for the elevation rules. And I’ve been hesitant for a long time, but ultimately I decided that my hesitation was likely a hold over of previous ways of doing things. And releasing materials for the players to enjoy and bash is absolutely what Leviathans is all about.

While we were at it, while we’d previously released the clouds, we thought it a good idea to simply roll them all in together. You can grab the free PDF here or saunter on over to the Downloads page and snag it there.

If, as you’re playing, you come across questions/comments/suggestions…by all means, drop into the forums and start discussing.

And I warn you…while it does take longer to play…it’s really hard to go back once you’ve started playing with elevation…. Enjoy!

See ya next duty shift!

Randall

Leviathans: Taking To The Skies Via Kickstarter This Fall

Brace yourselves. As usual with these blogs, I may meander a bit, but hopefully by the end you’ll know where we’ve come from, where we’re going, and how you’ll get forthcoming details in the future.

For those that have followed the travails of Leviathans over the last few years, you know how much production issues have dogged this game. And a huge part of that is simply the learning curve it takes to make a game like this.

As many of you may know, Catalyst Game Labs has a tendency to go large. And while we’ve pulled off some very cool things due to our passion for always going big, it also means we’ve stumbled now and then.

We know how to make books. I like to joke that we can fall out of a bed and stand up with a book in our hands. However, with Leviathans we tackled a slew of new manufacturing items we’d never dealt with before. It would have been bad enough to have even one of those additional elements on the table, but we went ahead and tried to tackle a dozen at a time.

Where does that leave us since Leviathans published late last year? Well, it pretty much sold right out when it published. Which is fantastic! However, the way in which we packaged the game makes it unsustainable (again, that learning curve). As such, we need to find a new way to repackage the line so it can sustain itself.

We are currently looking at reshaping the entire line into something similar to how Sails of Glory/Wings of Glory (as well as Star Wars: X-Wing or Star Trek: Attack Wing) package and release their games and miniatures. This would in effect be a re-launch for the game.

“You had so many problems producing Leviathans before. What’s changed that makes you feel you can publish it now?” I can hear the questions ringing as I type this, and for good reason (those issues touched upon above). While there hasn’t been any release for Leviathans over the last year, we’ve done a ton of research, talked with numerous manufacturers, and listened to game companies that have been wonderful in their willingness to share information. We feel confident that this in-depth research and our new relationships with manufacturers that are tried and tested with these exact types of games/miniatures will make all the difference.

At this point, a few things to be clear about right up front: The game and rules are not changing one bit. We are exceedingly happy with the rules as they are and we’ve no intention of changing anything. If you buy future items for Leviathans, they will fit in perfectly game-wise next to anything you might already own.

Additionally, there will be an “Intro” or “Starter” box for the game, though the contents and overall size will be far more streamlined than the original Core Box Set. Since we’re in the process of finalizing pricing via the manufacturer, we can’t get into specifics. But there will be a box with rules, miniatures and dice…basically everything you’ll need to jump into a game.

“But what does all of this have to do with Kickstarter?” you may well ask (again, I can hear them as I’m typing). We believe it is important to be clear up front with those who have already invested in the game so that you will know what the new roll out of the game will look like. With that knowledge, the details of the Leviathans Kickstarter will be more easily understood.

Our desire to move to Kickstarter is not just about raising funds. We are still 100 percent committed to Leviathans and want to give it every chance to succeed and find a community waiting to embrace the game and universe. We have three primary goals for the Kickstarter:

    1. Regardless of whether the Kickstarter is successful or not, Catalyst will invest in repackaging the core line of the rules, as well as the already-available British and French ships, to make them available once more. Funds raised via the Kickstarter will help us more quickly flesh out additional ships (such as the Type IIIs) for those British and French fleets, while ensuring we can publish the additional faction fleets (such as the Germans and Italians) much quicker than we normally might. And depending upon the amount of funds raised, we may also be able to speed up the process on everything, allowing us to move the entire re-launch at a faster pace.

    2. Kickstarter offers priceless marketing. The campaign is about raising awareness of Leviathans to a much larger crowd of people that might be very interested in tackling the game but have yet to see it or play it. Since the game has been out almost a year without any supporting books or ships, that marketing will be vital in the re-launch.

    3. We published Leviathans under Creative Commons with the idea of allowing fans to embrace the universe and game in any way they choose. Kickstarter offers many ways for the community to become directly involved with the game. For example, some pledges might allow players to name future ships released in the line, while stretch goals might unlock new unique ships and help us determine different campaigns around the Leviathans’ 1910 world to pursue, and more. All of this is possible via Kickstarter.

I know there have been a lot of questions about how we intend to fix some of the issues that have plagued us from the past. While this is not an inclusive list, here are some answers to the most often asked questions surrounding Leviathans, Kickstarter, and Catalyst.

Q: During your The Duke Kickstarter, and especially afterwards, communication was not as frequent as it should’ve been. How will this be solved?
A: One of the biggest things we learned from our The Duke Kickstarter is that Loren and I can’t simply try to squeeze a Kickstarter campaign into our schedules. So instead of stretching ourselves too thin, we’ve hired Julie Haehn to run this Kickstarter directly. Here’s a short bio of her experience and why we felt she’d be a perfect fit for Catalyst.

Julie Haehn has been working in the tabletop game industry for the past 12 years with companies such as Cheapass Games and WizKids. She has been involved with three fully funded campaigns with Kickstarter, including the incredibly successful campaign for Girl Genius, Volume 12; raising over $389,000! She is excited to work with Catalyst Game Labs to bring Leviathans to new success.

Q: What about Leviathans Online? Its Kickstarter failed. Why do you feel yours will be a success?
A: While I still would’ve loved to see Leviathans Online succeed, unfortunately it fell when it was not able to really show anything to those that might have been interested. The board game campaign, however, is quite different. We have a game that has already been released and is loved by those playing it. What’s more, we have all the assets required for additional British and French ships, the German and Italian fleets, as well as the rules for the Captain’s Manual, and more. All of that can be shared directly in the Kickstarter, showing that we have a great, viable game with assets ready to march.

Q: How much will the new releases cost, and when will they be available?
A: We are still working on the comprehensive plan for the Kickstarter, which includes the overall pricing and structure of the entire new line. We won’t be able to share those specifics until the Kickstarter launches.

Q: When will the Kickstarter launch?
A: We do not have a set date yet beyond “in the fall”. We’ll provide additional details on this website in the coming weeks to remind people of the approach of this Kickstarter, and when we do have a specific date, we’ll be yelling it loud and proud everywhere.

Q: I’m not always following the website…can I get on an email list for those updates?
A: Sure…just email kickstarter@catalystgamelabs.com with the subject line: Leviathans Kickstarter Email List

For those that haven’t followed me all these years…Leviathans is absolutely a labor of love. I’m incredibly proud of the game and its wonderfully immersive universe and I (and Catalyst with me) still believe it has a place on gamer shelves. Via our new repackaging and the Kickstarter campaign, we believe we can get this game onto those shelves for years to come.

For those that have followed along during all this time, I hope you’ll continue this great, fun journey. For those just joining us, welcome!

See ya next duty shift!

Randall Bills

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