Gunship: First Strike! is the flagship release from Escape Pod Games, due for Kickstarter launch on February 15th. This space combat game has been in development in designer Steve Wood’s laboratories for over 20 years and is a story of believing in an idea even when the odds are against you. After countless revisions and improvements, it is now ready to to ship to Kickstarter backers around the world. We spoke to Steve to find out about the games history.

First of all, thank you for taking the time to speak to us Steve, tell us how you first become interested in boardgames?

I was lucky enough to play lots of fun games as a kid and my gaming interest REALLY took off as a teenager with Car Wars. At a young age, building a custom vehicle and using it in explosive combat against your friends was just the coolest thing ever. After that came Blood Bowl (the original with the cardboard players) and Block Mania. We would design and build new maps and rules for all of these great games – from there, the drive to become a designer of my own games grew into my life’s ambition.

So tell us about Gunship: First Strike!, what makes this game special?

The unique ship customization and exciting theatrical elements really come into their own when you engineer your own Gunship to the way you want to fight. A defensive-minded player can combo Blaster and Ion Cannons to harass, and the offensive-minded guy (like myself) can load up on ship-busting Bombs. This heavy-weight attacking strategy might be a little less effective against Fighters and such, but when he gets to the enemy Carrier, he is going to do some damage! There is no right or wrong way to outfit your Gunship and fight your battle. Every battle is different and the good part is that you can land inside your Carrier and change your Weapons at any time!  Keep in mind that while you are busy doing this, the other guy is going to take full advantage!

We spent a LOT of time playtesting so that every weapon in the game has its own personality and effects.  Bombs act like bombs should act – Ion bolts move around your ship and disrupt your electrical systems like they should. Damage can be modified in different ways, for example you can play a “Bullseye” card to choose your target location when you hit an enemy Gunship. If this causes Heavy Damage, you may then play a “Slagged” card. This will ruin that component of the enemy Gunship so that it can NEVER be repaired during that battle. Imagine having to fight a space battle with a Slagged Power Generator – I have. It is NOT pleasant!  And of course you may feel free to mock your opponent in creative ways when you do this sort of thing…

Gunship has plenty of drama and tough decisions. You are going to face situations where your Carrier is almost gone, you have no Shields, and the only way you are going to win is to pull off one last daring all-or-nothing Attack Run. When he rolls those final 4 dice for his reactionary Defence Cannons, the tension can be unbeareable. But it’s such a great feeling when you speed through the enemy Fighter Squadron, evade the cannon fire that would have destroyed your crippled Gunship, and launch your last “one shot in a million” Torpedo to win the day!

Gunship: First Strike has been featured in a lot of forums in the online world, but I understand the game was born a long time ago indeed. It has had quite an interesting history?

An interesting and LONG history! I started out 21 years ago in 1991 with a tactical space combat game called Space Mania. The ships in that game were huge and there were hundreds of cardboard counters. Now keep in mind that this was before we had cheap computers or desktop printers, so everything had to be drawn out, one excruciating piece at a time. There were all kinds of setbacks as the years went by. No money, no technology, no CLUE how to start a business or contact any game companies. Just a drive to keep designing and working on it. As years passed, designs were scrapped and the game was improved and evolved greatly from where I started. I used the original pencil drawn version in my job-application portfolio, and landed a job at a sign company where I trained to use graphics software. As my knowledge refined, the game really benefited. You’d be amazed how many things get left out of a game simply because you do not yet have the skill to create it. In the end, things came together very quickly. I met my artist, Luca. I discovered Kickstarter. We have made so much progress in the last year; having the right team and resources makes such a great difference. We are in a great era to work on games.

With all of this history, why have you chosen to release the game via Kickstarter and what are you hoping Kickstarter will bring?

Well, we have roughly half or so of what we need to properly market and produce the game. We want that shot to secure the rest of the funding. What am I hoping KS will bring? Enough funding to get started and maybe a little left over to add a couple of cool extras for the backers in humble thanks for their support. But I am also hoping that I will meet those one or two people who either end up working with me in the future or become new gaming friends. The relationships that I have made to this point are very special to me and I’m so thankful for everything so far.

The past has been a 21-year long road to get here, the present is taking place on Kickstarter, what is the future for Gunship?

My vision for Gunship is to color a new gaming universe. I want to see factions with different powers arise. I want to create new ships, weapons, upgrades and other components to allow for all kinds of different battles. Let’s take the Gunships and Fighters down into the planet’s atmosphere to strafe tanks and ground troops. Let’s design gigantic Battleships that take up a whole table (already working on it!) Let’s have a gigantic space battle with 8-10 guys fighting it out on three DIFFERENT game tables, and let them call in reinforcements from the table next to them. It all starts with Kickstarter and we truly appreciate your support. I’ve waited my whole life for this time to come and I am truly thankful for my opportunity to see where this goes.

Thank you so much Sam and Purple Pawn for your time to spread the word of Gunship: First Strike!