Steel Colosseum is now live on Kickstarter! Zatu Games' first publishing deal alongside Needy Cat Games, Steel Colosseum, is a competitive team combat arena game designed by a wonderful team of creatives. Here on the Zatu blog, we are going to introduce you to each member of the Steel Colosseum team and see if we can find out any sneaky details.
First up, we have the talented James M Hewitt. Half of Needy Cat Games, James is a true board game connoisseur who is most known for his work on the Hellboy and Devil May Cry board games. Listeners of Bush's Board Game Thing might even be familiar with James as he appeared on the Bedtime Gladiators episode of our podcast hosted by Andy Bush.
Name: James M Hewitt
Job Title: Game Designer / Head of Stuff, Needy Cat Games
Favourite Food: There are too many right answers here, but you can’t go wrong with a really well-cooked pizza.
Favourite Biscuit: The Jam Sandwich Cream, a.k.a. the Jammie Dodger’s far superior cousin. I’ll die on this hill.
Favourite Movie: Gremlins, maybe? Or Twelve Angry Men? Arrival? Magnolia? Fury Road? Argh, I have no idea.
Favourite Character: Our dog Rosie is the right character, so I’m including her here.
Favourite Band/Artist: The Decemberists, at the minute.
Hobbies: Board games, ttrpgs, cooking, long dog walks on muddy hills, LARPing, shoddy attempts at DIY.
Tell Us About Your Role Within Steel Colosseum
It’s all my fault! Well, mine and Sophie’s. We’ve spent the past few years designing games for bigger studios, but we always wanted to make something that was entirely our own. We decided we should just take the plunge and create a game that we could put on Kickstarter. We’d been talking about designing a fighting arena game for a little while (using a few unused ideas from past projects), and after a bit of discussion, we settled on a theme that felt right: fighting robots! We both grew up loving Robot Wars, and there had been loads of great movies and video games about robot fights – but we couldn’t think of any board games that quite did what we wanted to do. Over the following months, we designed, tested and developed the game in our spare time, and we're really happy with the result.
After scraping together enough funds for the bare minimum of artwork and layout, we launched Robot Fight Club on Kickstarter at the start of 2020. Our timing sucked: just as the campaign launched, COVID-19 sent the country went into lockdown. It felt wrong to excitedly market our game when our friends, family and followers were facing uncertain times and struggling to buy essentials, so we hit “cancel” and decided to come back to it once things had settled down.
And so, when we were approached by Zatu about potentially publishing one of our games, we knew just what to suggest! We took the opportunity to rework the game from the ground up, and with their help, we secured the help of three incredibly talented creatives. Tim’s sculpting, Chris’ artwork and Tom’s graphic design brought the game to life in a way we never could have imagined, and we suddenly found ourselves with a whole team of people to bounce ideas off. The setting was fleshed out, robot designs were honed and refined… by the time we were done, the game had developed so much that it deserved a new name. Steel Colosseum was born!
Erm, did that answer the question?
How Did You Get Into the Board Game Industry?
I’ve wanted to design board games for as long as I can remember. I ended up working in Games Workshop stores for almost a decade. I was selling Warhammer kits and games, designing extra rules for their games for in-store events and the like. When I left, one of my old managers reached out to ask if I was still interested in designing games. The company he was now working for was looking for a designer. I ended up working on a game called DreadBall, which raised a big chunk of money on Kickstarter back before most game companies had discovered the platform. Off the back of that, I started working as a community manager for Mantic Games, and eventually landed a job designing games for Games Workshop. I left in 2017 to set up Needy Cat Games, and it’s been an incredible rollercoaster so far.
What Was the First Game That You Backed on Kickstarter?
When I was working at Mantic, part of my job was helping to run Kickstarters. It felt right to explore the platform as a backer, so I took a look at what was currently funding and pledged for a fun game called Relic Expedition. It’s still on my shelf, although I’ve not played it for a few years! I really should get it out again…
In Three Words, How Would You Describe Steel Colosseum?
The first three that come to mind are “Riveting Robot Combat”. I’m already second-guessing myself, but I’m gonna stick with those.
Just Between Us, Tell Us Something That We Didn’t Already Know About Steel Colosseum
This might not sound very exciting, but I’m dead proud of it. The rulebook not only has a full numbered index, but it also has a full glossary of rules terms in the back. As well as an appendix full of card clarifications and FAQs that we’ve picked up during testing. I think that will be exciting to anyone who’s ever struggled to find a rule mid-game, and has spent ages flicking through a rulebook only to give up and flip a coin or something.
And Lastly, Tell Us About Your Favourite Character Within Steel Colosseum
I think my favourite Operator is Raul, because I very much identify with his scatty, seat-of-the-pants attitude to life. That might be clear just from reading this post, actually. And my favourite robot is Magnetron, because he’s a bit rickety, and sometimes he falls apart, but he’s got a lot of heart. Who can’t relate to that?
Meet the Team
Editors note: This blog was originally published on March 2nd, 2022. Updated on May 17th, 2022 to improve the information available.