Thursday, May 5, 2011

[Interview] Big Jim, Creator of Killzone 40k

Welcome to the first of many high profile interviews with some of the best modelers, painters, and designers. What better place to start then with the main creator of Killzone 40k. A very sweet small scale skirmish version of 40k that was played and well accepted at Adepticon this year. So without further ado, Big Jim!

MWC: How did you get the idea for Killzone 40k?
Big Jim: I had a desire to play some skirmish games when the Battle Missions book came out with Killteam in it. The problem was that the rules just did not do justice to skirmish gaming.

MWC: While creating Killzone 40k, did you have any revelations that changed the original design ideas? 
Big Jim: Nothing major on the design front I have been tinkering and designing games for decades. What changed some of my design philosophy was the reaction of the 40k community. It seems that the more I innovated with the rules the more complaints I had. So it was like a balancing act on the edge of a knife, because there were certain things in the design that I was not going to compromise on.

MWC: Was there anything in your youth that helped you come up with the idea for Killzone 40k? 
Big Jim: Well I have been gaming for 35 years and my father wrote a few sets of wargaming rules in the 80’s. So I am no stranger to rules design and play testing. I have also been playing 40k since Rouge Trader was released in 87. I knew all the ins and outs of the system.

MWC: Was there anything that was challenging when creating Killzone 40k? 
Big Jim: Yes, convincing players that the system is not meant for tourney play. While the stripped down version that is out now can facilitate one day events the system was not created to build beat face armies and crush all before you. I did not tighten it up to make the game tourney worthy; I was trying to create an atmosphere for campaign and narrative gaming.

MWC: What types of gamers do you work most productive with, or do you prefer working alone? 
Big Jim: I can work with almost anyone as long as they have an open creative mind. I can and do work alone on projects like Killzone often, but I prefer to have gamers to bounce ideas off of during the initial design process.

MWC: If you had to start from scratch again (this isn't a threat,) how would you do things differently the second time around? 
Big Jim: Two words “more innovative.” There were a lot of ideas that I liked that never made it into Killzone due to the dislike of my design team. Which is fine and I wanted the input of the guys that volunteered. A lot of the things that didn’t make it in the first time are gaining a second chance with the new lean design team.

MWC: What are the future plans for Killzone? 
Big Jim: More updates, Killzone is a living set of rules and must be updated a few times of year just to take into account the new codices that GW releases. We have an update that will be ready to drop by the end of May.
MWC: Are you making a new edition once 6th Edition comes out?? 
Big Jim: Heck yeah, like I said it is a living set of rules.

MWC: Overall, how many man-hours do you think you put into the project? 
Big Jim: Good golly I would not even venture a guess.

MWC: What kind of responses did you get from Adepticon? How did the Adepticon experience guide your process in tweaks etc (if at all)? 
Big Jim: We had a great response to Killzone at Adepticon, they only problem came from some gamers believing that it was a tournament not a linked series of “Themed” games. The Adepticon experience has been extremely eye opening, pointing out a few insane loopholes that are currently being filled.
MWC: Did anything come out in play at Adepticon that you didn't expect? 

Big Jim: Yes, we need to go over the FAQ’s and close some serious exploits. As well we are reevaluating how the Killzone specific Wargear and Skills are used.

MWC: What changes or differences should a gamer expect between versions of Killzone? 
Big Jim: This next update is going to have a few major changes. I’ll drop one hint: expect more Overwatch.

MWC: What are all of the blogs you're associated with and how do you participate?
Big Jim: I really only post on my blog, but Brian from A Gentleman’s Ones is my partner in Killzone development. I also get a lot of mentions on my buddy Magilla Gurilla’s blog Tabletop War.

MWC: What's next? Touring the podcasts, blogs and so forth? A Today show visit? 
Big Jim: Well first off there is, where we have created a hub for fan made 40k content. Our hope is to usher in an era of well made balanced fan made 40k material that may one day be more openly accepted by the larger gaming community.

Next up I recently joint the cast of the podcast Deepstrike Radio. It’s been a blast so far. It gives an extra voice to all the projects I am and will be working on.

Finally as always more Killzone action! This rule set will never be completely done.


  1. It's a great set of rules and I know we appreciate the hard work done by Jim and the team (We play every week, 3 games of Killzone as part of the 'Recon' phase of our campaign).

    I've kind of broken it though with Resilient (T5) TH/SS Assault Terminators who possess Lightning Reflexes (4+ dodge save first), 2+/3++ and have FNP.

    It's funny as hell to have so many saves, the boys never stop giving me a hard time about it, haha. I've actually had to stop using them because they are a bit too Hollywood.

  2. I am most certainly looking forward to what is coming out with this. We recently got heavily into this at my FLGS after all the Adepticon coverage, and it's amazing just how many players we are getting back into the hobby that left for other games, or just quit wargaming all together. It is proving especially popular with all the guys who work long hours, since they can come into the store at night and knock out a game or two before the store closes.