Behind the Scenes of Altar of the Dead Gods: An Exclusive Interview with the Authors and Publisher, Pwork Wargames

Altar of the Dead Gods is the first game from Pwork Wargames to see the light. Conceived and created by Paolo Boracchi and Michele Finelli, after careful amateur playtesting, it was acquired by the Italian company for a complete upgrade and distribution in Italy and internationally. Paolo Bertoncini, as the creative director of Pwork Wargames, personally oversaw the graphic design and layout of the manual to make the reading of the rules, setting, and especially the visual of the different warbands even more impactful and immersive.

But let's not waste any more time and move on to the questions!

Altar is Pwork Wargames' first game. How did this come about?

Pwork: Many think we only make game mats, while we have many projects in the pipeline, including several games. Altar is a game we've had our eye on for a while. What made us decide that it was ready was Mattia, one of our employees who also has a Youtube channel, Wargames per Passione. We tried Altar, tried it again, read and reread the manual. It was love at first sight. When we met the authors, we immediately liked each other. They needed us, and we needed them. We are confident that great projects and satisfactions will arise from this union.

Paolo and Michele: Altar of the Dead Gods was born as a self-produced skirmish game with a Cosmic Horror theme. At first, we had very modest ambitions, but Altar had an excellent reception in the wargame community, attracting the attention of Pwork Wargames. The fortuitous compatibility between the rules, game components, and the technical capabilities of Pwork Wargames immediately gave rise to an explosive mix! The collaboration came about absolutely naturally, bringing together passions and memories. The days at Lucca gave us many satisfactions: the dark gods seem to be watching us with interest, whether this is good or bad, we will find out soon...

Will Altar be distributed in Italy and abroad?

Pwork: The game was previewed at Lucca Comics & Games 2023 a few days ago (early November), with the manual in Italian. It is a fast and dynamic game that can be easily appreciated by a wide audience. The official launch is scheduled for December, both in Italy (in Italian) and abroad (initially in English); the manual will be accompanied by the game mat, scenic elements, and tokens.

Altar of the Dead Gods (AotDG). What do we mean exactly by a Lovecraftian and grimdark-inspired setting?

Paolo and Michele: AotDG is strongly influenced by the literature of H.P. Lovecraft, with its ancient and alien deities and the terror they generate. Lovecraft is one of our favorite authors, and it was almost natural for us to create a setting inspired by his work! The atmosphere we wanted to convey explicitly originates from Lovecraft's story "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward." For us, the grimdark aspect of AotDG lies in the player-controlled characters, rarely powerful and fearless heroes, but humans full of flaws and raw emotions. Madness pervades every moment, the unknown is frightening but also attractive because treasures are hidden in it... And terrible monsters. This, however, doesn't stop anyone from entering...
This proximity to the human dimension makes the cyclopean and mysterious Buried Temple, where the game takes place, even more terrifying!

How many and which warbands can be played?

Paolo and Michele: At the moment, there are 6 factions to choose from: Hunters, Cultists, Blood Witches, Vampires, Church Pilgrims, and Decadent Waltz. Each has its own rules and a unique playstyle, from the lighter and more lethal warband to the more armored and relentless one! Already with the six presented in the manual, you will certainly have plenty of material to work with to prepare for your first mission in the Buried Temple

AotDG is a skirmish game. Tell us more about how a typical game works, how many play, and what the goal of the game is.

Pwork: Two players face off on a board divided into squares (about 80x55 cm) to conquer lost relics and control ancient altars. The two contenders each create a band composed of 7 models and alternate deploying their pieces on the game board, then face each other by activating one model at a time. During activation, a model can move, fight by rolling dice, collect treasures, and perform unique actions of their faction to score more points than the opponent before the end of the fourth turn (end of the game).

How many scenarios will be in the manual? Are they replayable? Can it be played solo?

Pwork: There are currently 5 scenarios, varying in the placement of elements on the field and mission variants that make the game always different. Currently, a solo play mode is not available: you have to vie for control of the Buried Temple with an opponent!

From playtests, they say the games are tight and fast. How long does a game last, and how long does the setup take?

Paolo and Michele: The setup is quick, no more than 5 minutes since the mission map helps position all elements precisely. A game lasts between 45 minutes and 1 hour, table setup is very fast, each player has only 7 models, and the grid (in squares) can be set up in an instant! We wanted to make sure you could get to the action right away without investing too much time in unnecessary preparations. Oh, if it goes wrong (or even right), a game could end much sooner!

Is it an accessible game system even for those not experienced in these types of games?

Pwork: This was the first impression once the game was tried, fast and accessible are the words that immediately come to mind. The rules are simple and become clear in a few actions, even for those not used to moving a model on a game board. Moreover, each faction is equipped with an example list for those who want to start playing immediately without wasting time studying the different characters.

At this point, I ask for veterans if the tactical and challenging aspect is interesting.

Paolo and Michele: I think this is the component that will surprise you the most. The rules are designed to be immediately understandable, and for those who are used to playing, they will be immediately understood. The tactical and challenging part comes from the fact that each faction has advantages and weaknesses, and it's up to the player who decides to use it to take advantage of both. The distribution of relics, control of the altar, in addition to any special mission rules, each of these aspects will add depth to the game. The rules, although easy to learn, show a lot of depth in practice and will reward attentive and clever players!

Will there be other warbands or expansions in the future?

Pwork: We like to think that 2024 is the year of Altar of the Dead Gods. Paolo and Michele are volcanic, and indeed, we have many projects related to this game. Has anyone talked about campaigns, new warbands, or new scenarios?

Is the game simply composed of the manual? What do I need to play? Can I use my miniatures, or do I have to buy specific ones?

Pwork: The only material that needs to be purchased to play is the manual. Obviously, the game needs to be played with physical materials that allow players to face each other in a game. Anyone intending to play AotDG will also need: a game mat, game walls, objectives, six-sided dice, and (of course) models. Soon it will be possible to buy a game mat and modular MDF elements on our store to play, but it is worth specifying that the manual includes a section to make these elements yourself with guidelines for dimensions so you are not forced to buy anything unless for game convenience.
The game is "miniatures agnostic," players can use any type of miniature they prefer or deem suitable for their warband.

Why should I try Altar?

Paolo and Michele: Because it is a fast, light but extremely tactical game that allows you to breathe new life into models you already have in your collection or create the warband you have always dreamed of in no time, suitable for everyone, both novices and veterans!


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