Interview with Andy Chambers

Andy Chambers is a games developer who started writing his own rules for fantasy battle games at a very young age, inventing rules and gaming tactics for Airfix WWII models. A lot of his early inspiration came from the SELWG Middle Earth rules system, which also gave him a life-long habit of playing the forces of evil as Orcs and Goblins.

Andy’s youth was marked by an ever-diversifying interest in gaming, roleplaying games, sinking ever deeper into gaming in general and Games Workshop’s Adeptus Titanicus game (by the redoubtable Jervis Johnson) in particular.

In late ’89 Andy sent in a submission for White Dwarf that was initially turned down. Several rewrites later he was given temporary employment and due to a willingness to do any jobs required (including taking photos of the miniatures to the White Dwarf) he eventually got a permanent job as a games developer.

He properly started by producing expansions and supplements for the 2nd edition of the Adeptus Titanicus game, Space Marine. Over fourteen years Andy worked in the development of all of Games Workshop’s core game systems, culminating with 2nd, 3rd and 4th editions of Warhammer 40,000 game, several editions of the Epic game, Necromunda, Battlefleet Gothic, Gorkamorka and Codexes.

Andy was gradually over several years entrusted with running the Warhammer 40,000 games development team, starting after 40,000 2nd edition and solidified during 40,000 3rd edition, recruiting and training a new generation of games developers and adopting the suitably evil-overlord title of “40,0000 Overfirend”. As a result of all of this, his impact on Games Workshop is largely unquestionable.

Fourteen years later, Andy left Games Workshop to pursue other projects. He began Red Star Games in June 2004 for freelance writing and games designing, worked for Mongoose games on creating their Starship Troopers line, worked at Blizzard from 2005 to 2009, officially becoming Creative Director in 2006, and he also acted as lead writer on Starcraft 2. Furthermore, he was involved with 40,000 to some extent, working with Fantasy Flight Games on some books of Warhammer 40,000 Roleplaying. This was in 2010-11 when he went back to freelancing, also he wrote novels for Black library and did the Dust Warfare game in this time. After this he’s been working for Reforged Studios as a creative director, done IP and world development for various digital games, written the Dropfleet Commander game and Blood Red Skies, his WW2 fighter combat game on the tabletop front.

Andy is one the most important developers of the Warhammer 40,000 Universe.

Andy Chambers

Born in: Nottingham U.K.

Date of birth: 20th October 1966

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/theandychambers/

Favorite wargame and army: Varies over time, right now its Rommel by Sam Mustafa and my 1/200 scale WW2 Red Army

Favorite book: Eesh If you’re nailing me down to one I’ll say Lord of the Rings, but that’s an unfair question

Favorite role-playing game: My friend’s homebrew of Chivalry and Sorcery with Rolemaster. He’s been running for us for over twenty years every Friday night.

Favorite boardgame: Warlord/Apocalypse, not sure if it’s around anymore. Nuclear War for card games.

Juegos y Dados – Welcome Andy, first of all, thank you so much for your collaboration. It is a big pleasure that you are here with us.

Andy – Thanks for taking the time to put this all together.

Juegos y Dados – How did you begin in the world of wargames and what was the first wargame that you played?

Andy – I think the very first wargame I played was the old Airfix WW2 rules back in the 1970s. I’d started building the 1/72 and 1/32 scale plastic kits very young (my dad was into modelling) so it became a natural extension from there.

Juegos y Dados – I read that you designed your rules for games at a very young age, but what was the first professional wargame that you designed?

Andy – The first games I designed were at Games Workshop and they were all collaborations up until Battlefleet Gothic. I count that as the first game I designed from scratch. The first game where I had a design (development) credit would have been Warhammer 40,000 second edition, but I’d already cut my teeth on Space Marine, Warhammer and Rogue Trader supplements.

Juegos y Dados – What is the system or game designed that you are most proud of?

Andy – Blood Red Skies, my WW2 fighter combat which is being published by Warlord Games (shameless plug) because it’s a distillation of what I’ve learned applied to something I love. For my GW days it would have to be Battlefleet Gothic, there are things I would change now but the overall package was so nicely done I’m very proud of it.

Juegos y Dados – How does a designer know when a system, or codex book anyway, is completely finished?

Andy – There’s a doubtless fake quote I’ve heard attributed to Da Vinci that I like; ‘No creative endeavor is ever finished, only abandoned’. Another way to read the question is ‘finished’ as in can’t go on any longer – that depends on the tail of supplemental support, for a GW release schedule it’s about three years before you need to think about starting over.

Juegos y Dados – How did you start to work in Games Workshop?

Andy – I got a job in GW mail order because someone else I knew from the old Asgard wargames club was there. Christmas 1986 I think? I quit after three months, started up and then quit again then got mangled in a motorcycle accident that left me on crutches for a year. During that time I got into rules writing and gaming a lot and wrote up an article for Adeptus Titanicus that I submitted to White Dwarf. The strength of that got my toe in the door.

Juegos y Dados – How did you get involved in the most famous games of Games Workshop?

Andy – At the time I joined Games Workshop seemed like it had a lot of talented artists and miniature designers, but relatively few hardcore games developers or even gamers. Roleplaying and board gaming had kind of predominated in the old London-based studio while tabletop gaming in sci-fi or fantasy genres was all pretty new. I was really passionate about Adeptus Titanicus and tabletop gaming in general, so I could juggle writing White Dwarf articles, doing photography and helping out on box games or books at the same time. I did my utmost to be absolutely indispensable.

Juegos y Dados – What kind of articles did you write in White Dwarf?

Andy – Initially stats for newly released tanks and such for Adpetus Titanicus, my very first job was coming up with stats for the Shadowsword, my first full article was about Knights – or one-man Titans as I’d erroneously termed them in the article I’d submitted. That gave me an invaluable early lesson in ‘this is cool and all, but not what we’ve decided to go with; now re-write it’. Later it expanded into army collecting, running campaigns, battle reports because I was doing these things in my free time and it was fun to write about it.

Juegos y Dados – How did you get involved in the “40,000 Project”?

Andy – I worked with Jervis Johnson and pushed around various ideas for Warhammer 40,000 just for fun really. I got the job of writing up stuff for White Dwarf a lot and I knew the totality of the old Rogue Trader+ expanded rules probably better than anyone in the building. When it came time to bring all of those rules together into Warhammer 40,000 second edition I was the natural choice as rules-wrangler. It didn’t hurt that I could write half-decent colour text as well I guess.

Juegos y Dados – You was author or co-author in some of the best wargames of our times. What do you think about the fact that so many people have copies of the games you’ve written?

Andy – It makes me very proud to have brought enjoyment to so many and to have shared something I love doing. I’ve been supremely lucky to have the opportunity to work with all the talented creatives I’ve met over the years. I hope that sounds humble because I am genuinely humbled.

Juegos y Dados – I have heard that Warhammer began like miniatures for roleplaying at late 70s. Could tell us any details that you hear in the company?

Andy – Sort of true, you can find stuff on how the Games Workshop of today was actually the merging of two companies, the old Games Workshop and Citadel miniatures. The citadel miniatures end of things was more tabletop gaming and less rpgs orientated but that was the largest chunk of the market back then.

Juegos y Dados – I suppose that you met some of famous designers in the 90’s. Could you explain any funny story?

Andy – Most of them, really, and I’m still in touch because they’re good people. I’m trying to think of funny stories and coming up empty, there were some but you kinda had to be there at the time for them to be funny.

Juegos y Dados – What is your game or book that you are most proud of?

Andy – Right now it’s Blood Red Skies because it’s the latest thing I’ve done and a kind of culmination of learning how to design better games. For a ‘completed’ body of work (BRS is ongoing) I think Battlefleet Gothic was the best put-together package of art, minaitures and words I’ve had the pleasure to be a part of.

Juegos y Dados – Did you see Warhammer 40,000 8th? What do you think about?

Andy – I’ve only read commentary online and not the rules themselves. It sounds like it didn’t quite go far enough, radical but not radical enough etc. With time you really do need to do new editions and clear out the old in exchange for the new, I think 8th has made a big step in the right direction.

Juegos y Dados – The hype these weeks with the new Kill Team is being impressive. What do you think about?

Andy – Jervis Johnson has actually asked me to come and do a battlereport with him and we’ve decieed on playing Kill team – I’ll let you know what I think!

Juegos y Dados – What do you think of the success of Warhammer Total War? Do you think part of the success is the setting?

Andy – I absolutely love Total Warhammer and it’s one of my most played PC games according to Steam. I always loved Total War games even before they got into doing Warhammer and the collision of the two is just delicious. The setting definitely has a lot to do with the appeal, you can find a dozen more generic fantasy games out there without a scrap of the same appeal.

Juegos y Dados –Do you think that the universe of Warhammer Fantasy could have coexisted with that of Age of Sigmar?

Andy – Absolutely, just set AoS within the Realm of Chaos and nothing changes in the Old World. Destroying it all seemed very gratuitous to me, totally unnecessary – particularly as the success of Total Warhammer proves how appealing, vibrant and valuable that well-developed Old World was. Just rank stupidity in my opinion. Honestly I expect a rollback one day, it might take ten years but such a monumentally daft decision cannot stand.

Juegos y Dados – What do you think about the wargame industry nowadays?

Andy – I think it’s absolutely flourishing, increasing numbers of players and new technologies have led to a real golden age of wargames out there.

Juegos y Dados – How often do you play wargames? Which ones?

Andy – I play roleplaying weekly but that system and setting hasn’t changed in 20+ years, occasionally we foray into 5th edition D&D as well. I keep a monthly fixture to play something with Big Pete Haines, right now we’re doing Rommel and have been getting extra games in. I usually play test something weekly when I’m working on a new game but that’s less playing for fun and more baby’s first steps usually.

Juegos y Dados – Is there anything else you would like to tell fans?

Andy – For those of you who have followed my work down the years – thank you, from the bottom of my heart. From my perspective I’ve always just got my nose down carving out stuff I enjoy and I think others will like to. That anyone actually does enjoy it remains a source of constant wonder to me.

Juegos y Dados – Thank you so much for your time. We are very excited for your collaboration in this interview with Juegos y Dados.

Andy – My pleasure, I hope I’ve been able to help.

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