Last weekend I was visiting LnL Publishing (formerly Locked n’ Loaded Publishing) out in Pueblo, Co for a three-day game tour and conference. LnL Publishing is primarily known for the history in war gaming but they are so much more than that and from what I saw, much more to come. The facility was extremely nice as you walk through the front doors with covers of their “Line of Fire” magazine lining one wall and their logo on the other. After a brief tour of offices that are all labeled with popular sci-fi/fantasy themes and art, I was taken straight into a business meeting in a conference room with a gaming table to die for where Chief Operations Officers David Heath fed us breakfast and then led us through a 4 hour presentation on where LnL Publishing was heading and how they were getting there.
What I took away from this was the intense focus on shedding the past and being completely different, trendsetting and leading the charge into new areas of gaming and social transparency with their customer base. LnL Publishing had been plagued by inconsistency and wasn’t exactly know for being timely not only with their games coming out on time as promised but also their lack of communication skills with their customer base and extremely poor marketing. Mr. Heath laid out his plans to address all these issues and so many more.
Before my trip out to LnL Publishing, I spent a lot of time digging into the history of the company and the complaints from many of its customers were certainly valid. Although, LnL Publishing had put out some very quality games over the years and yes I have played a few, the lack of quality in counters ranging from misprinting to color shades never being the same from game to game in the same series was developing some serious issues and reliability with the customer base. Obviously, this is never a good thing and it seems that Mr. Heath and company have corralled the issues and found ways to step-up the quality control to a whole new level.
LnL Publishing has now purchased their own printing equipment to make their games in-house and oh my what a sight it was. I was drooling with all sorts of business ideas and wishing I had the equipment for my own selfish gain for publishing games. The fact that they have taken the bull by the horns to take as much responsibility for their quality of product as possible says very positive things and is a major step in the right direction for LnL Publishing.
After that meeting we treated to a few demos of some games one being “Heroes Of The Colosseum” by Ed Teixiera of Two Hour WarGames and some upcoming video games that looked extremely good. One was a Space Opera called “Empires of the Dark Galaxy” and a video game based on the popular war game “World at War: Eisenbach Gap.” All of these demos were very impressive and seemingly a strong push to new markets and much better visibility, crossover and gameplay. Honestly, the entry into the video game market with their war games could open up a whole new audience of gamers to their products and war games in general.
Heroes Of The Colosseum – Heroes of the Colosseum is a 2-4 player game in which players can create their own gladiators with specialized stats based 3 different attributes, armor and weapons. Players role dice based on their stats for combat on a grid style map and can also create campaigns for their Ludis to compete over a series of games for let’s say a season. Multiple Colosseum maps will be included in this campaign as different sized maps will vary the combat styles greatly. More to come on this very exciting game so stay tuned in with LnL Publishing (links are below) to hear more about it.
The evening was closed off by a superbly cooked dinner by Mrs. Heath and her crew of home-made Italian food followed with great discussion and a break out session of some the participants playing Galaxy Trucker till 2 am.
The next morning was met with a host of bagels, danish and coffee to keep our eyes open. We started with a new demo of the “Tank on Tank” video game which is a great entry into the war games genre. The quality of games being developed is quite impressive and extremely exciting for everyone involved. The air was thick with electricity for what is to come from LnL publishing. Following that was a break out session of interviews (soon to come) with the designers and developers before diving back into the demo of the massive space opera miniatures game “Falling Stars.” This game was streamlined, high quality and intensely fun. This foray into the miniatures market is a strong step and one I am looking to purchase as soon as it is available. “Falling Stars” was definitely a surprise hit for me as I haven’t gotten into miniatures as much.
Falling Stars – Falling stars as you can see in the pictures below is a miniatures space opera game with a large hex map to move their ships upon. Each player or players take a team of ships into combat. Multiple players can play on the same team against each controlling a ship or ships. Combat is card driven base on line-of-site and then dice are rolled for results in attack and defense. Players can scan anomalies in space for black holes, asteroid belts (which give a – to hit or shoot but offer great protection). This game was a lot of fun and produced a ton of table talk in a great way. This is one of my most anticipated releases.
Then we broke for a private tour of the local aviation museum and dinner. We spent about 3 hours at the museum looking at all the amazing aircraft and memorabilia and mumbling about the exciting things to come and the game industry in general. It was at this event that I got to meet a designer for an role-playing game being developed by LnL Publishing further proving the push into other types of gaming and expansion of the vision of LnL Publishing. After the dinner, we went back to the building where another demo of “Falling Stars” happened and Ed Teixeira led some of us in a demo of the original version of “All Things Zombie” based on the “Origins” award-winning miniatures game. We at Club Fantasci had already reviewed this game but not as it was explained to us this time. This was the originally pitched version that was changed before production of the last edition. I must say, this version was a bit more fun although both are good games and even though it looks like a “wargame” with chits and hex maps, it is definitely a board game worth playing by anyone and the energy in which Ed brought to the table just explaining it was infectious which was much-needed as we were all starting to get tired.
All Things Zombie – Even though we did review this and lined it above, I thought I would add a blurb real quick. All Things Zombie is a campaign based game in which the players choose characters to play which are kind of super star so to speak with slightly better states. Each scenario has an objective to complete before moving on in the campaign. Be careful as zombies are attracted by line-of-sight and loud noises. Random NPC characters are added to the mix which could be good or bad for the players. There is no a turn counter players use based on each scenario and either you survive and complete your objective or you die. This game is looks like a chit based war game, but it plays much simpler and is a great amount of fun as players compete and sometimes do what it takes to survive, even to each other.
The last morning we met early, I did an interview with a developer about an upcoming game that is yet to be named publicly and then I met with Mr. Heath and Jim Zabeck of Grogheads.com as we discussed more about the direction of LnL Publishing for a couple of hours. I finished the day with a pitch of my own for a friend and his game before being whisked off to the airport for the return trip home with plenty to think about and still overwhelmed with all the excitement of the weekend.
What does all this mean for the future of LnL Publishing? Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised by how much improvement I saw in not only the seriousness about better business practice, quality control and communication with its audience, but also in the direction and focus in which Mr. Heath is leading LnL Publishing to the future. A strong vision was laid out before us that will target a much bigger market and it will take a strong leader to achieve it, but I have faith that behind David Heath and the crew of LnL Publishing, this vision will be achieved sooner rather than later. For those of you familiar with LnL Publishing, I hope you stay with them and continue to support them and share the news, games and achievements. For those not familiar, well, I hope you become a member of the LnL family, open your pervue to new games, genres and support them like you do your other favorite publishers. The sky is the limit for LnL Publishing and there is no sign of them falling anytime soon.
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