Designers' Roundtable
October 2001
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D&D Chainmail
Designers' Roundtable
By Jesse Decker

Brand Manager Bryan Kinsella

Bryan Kinsella began working at Wizards of the Coast in December of 1999. Throughout the last change-filled year and a half, Bryan has served as a project manager, business analyst, and most recently as brand manager for Wizards of the Coast's miniatures department. Like everyone involved in the miniatures team at Wizards, Bryan is totally focused on D&D Chainmail. This month, Bryan took some time out of his busy Gen Con preparations to talk with us about some of the goals he has for the upcoming skirmish game.

Wizards of the Coast: Fans who've been around the website have seen the title "brand manager" before, but most don't really know what it means. What's your role on the miniatures team?

Bryan Kinsella: I love what I do day-to-day, but most fans just want to hear about the game, so I'll keep it short. At Wizards of the Coast, brand managers are in charge of monitoring and ensuring that a brand is meeting its goals. That often means making sure that a line is profitable, of course, but there are other goals, too. It's my job to make sure that each product the miniatures group puts out fills a need and has a clearly targeted audience. Those familiar with marketing terminology will understand what I mean when I say that brand managers are responsible for the "4 P's." Simply put, that's Product, Price, Placement, and Promotions. In short, I work with nearly everyone involved with the miniatures line.

Wizards: I know the miniatures group is focused on D&D Chainmail, but what about other projects?

Bryan: Right now, it's all D&D Chainmail. All of the figures we make for Chainmail work for roleplaying too, so we don't feel the need to have separate offerings at this time.

Wizards: The Chainmail figures I've seen all have round bases. Does this make them harder to use on a gridded battlemat?

Bryan: Do those round bases fit inside the squares?

Wizards: Yes.

Wizards: I see.

Wizards: Folks who have read earlier interviews know that D&D Chainmail is a skirmish game. Why go with a skirmish game instead of a larger format?

Bryan: We want to fill an unmet need, not try to reinvent the wheel. We wanted, above all to have a fast, balanced game that felt like D&D.

Wizards: The game releases in October; what's the miniatures team doing right now?

Bryan: Most of us are about to take a short break from our day-to-day stuff to demonstrate the game at Gen Con. I'm looking at opportunities for terrain, special boxed sets, and other cool stuff to flush out the 2002 production schedule. R&D is way ahead, of course; they've already got the design work done for the first part of next year. Key teams within the company are working on our organized play program and promotions for the releases for the last part of this year.

Wizards: What does the release schedule like?

Bryan: The game hits store shelves in October, as you already mentioned. The box set includes figures from two of the game's six factions, the rules, some terrain, and stat cards for each of the figures in the set. It will include eight metal figures in all.

One of the key elements will be the statistics cards. Each figure we sell will include a cardstock stat card with the figure's picture and stats on it for easy reference -- less time spent flipping through the rulebook.

From there, we plan to release at least one figure from each faction every month. We've got special products in the works, too. I'm really excited about the potential to expand the game with supplements and special boxed sets.

Wizards: What kind of organized play programs will there be for D&D Chainmail players?

Bryan: I'm not the organized play expert - that's Kierin Chase. Here's what he has to say:

"We are very excited about the new league for D&D Chainmail because it gives players an opportunity to compete on the world stage. Games played in local stores will allow players to earn worldwide ratings that can earn them invitations to Chainmail championships. The league is also exciting, with its combination of league and tournament play that take place in different scenarios, giving a challenge to even the most expert players. Players will have to build armies balanced enough to handle not only their opponent but the scenario itself.

"Also, a great league needs great prizes, and the D&D Chainmail league delivers with Alternate Pose models for some of the hottest minis as well as new exclusive champion bases. You'll know if you're playing a tough opponent if you look at his bases and see Chainmail League, Regional, and World Championship bases. The league launches in November at hobby and game shops everywhere; look for Championship events next year."

Wizards: Do you have a specific kind of gamer in mind as Chainmail's audience?

Bryan: Well, we really have three. The first is the customer who already plays miniatures games and d20 roleplaying games. This one's a slam dunk for us, because our game's concepts are familiar and its play is really smooth. An experienced miniatures player can jump right into exploring the game's advanced tactics without being slowed down by complex new mechanics -- if you can play D&D, you're 90% done learning how to play D&D Chainmail. Customers interested in both aspects of the hobby will have little trouble introducing Chainmail into an existing D&D campaign for supplemental battles and will experience similar ease using the game's miniatures for roleplaying.

The second group of customers are those roleplayers who don't play miniatures games. Tactics and the precise movement that miniatures gaming requires is already built into the feel of the new edition of D&D. Our only challenge with these players is getting the game into their hands. If a gamer enjoys combat during a roleplaying session, he or she is almost guaranteed to enjoy D&D Chainmail.

The third is the miniatures gamer who doesn't play roleplaying games. Like the other two types of customers, these folks get a game with ease of play and fast, tactical combats. Just because Chainmail is easy to integrate with a roleplaying campaign doesn't mean that it's mandatory to do so.

Wizards: You've been a roleplayer for years. What makes a good gaming session in your eyes?

Bryan: Lots of laughs. If every player hasn't had at least one good gut laugh in the session, I'm a little disappointed.

Go to the D&D Chainmail main news page for more articles and news about the new D&D Chainmail Skirmish Game, coming in October 2001! Or check out the D&D Chainmail message boards for a lively discussion of the D&D Chainmail game.

 





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