Who is the author of the most important Italian hit ever? We meet Marco Montanaro, the mastermind behind Black Rose Wars
In 2018, on the popular crowdfunding platform Kickstarter, a board game came to light in which a mysterious lodge of wizards, located in Turin, must elect the new great magister. What better way than with an Italian-style tournament? All against all, wizards aiming for the title will have to prove that their school of magic is the most effective; from brute strength to cunning, there is something for everyone and thanks to smooth game mechanics and to one breathtaking components, Black Rose Wars has conquered thousands of people from all over the world.
Today we know the author of this all-Italian project: Marco Montanaro.
Black Rose Wars: interview with Marco Montanaro
D. Hello and well found! After a sensationally successful Kickstarter campaign, expeditions are being completed in recent months: Black Rose Wars has risen to the headlines and together with the game the spotlight is also on the author. Then who is Marco Montanaro in everyday life?
R. We are finally delivering the Sator and I have finally received my copy! Marco is an engineer in everyday life (obviously someone will be saying -_-) that he works as a designer in Amazon Europe. I juggle between making games and setting up establishments.
D. Basically, you like to design new structures! Where did Marco’s passion for the game come from, before Black Rose Wars?
R. The passion for the game is born since I was a street urchin (as they say in the sudde) and in fact they played a lot of Prisons & Dragons (Dungeon & Dragons, ed) and the numerous board games that appeared in those strange years (ie Puerto Rico). He got a lot of nerve to computers, PlayStation, Xboxes and Nintendo. In short, strong stuff and a bit of everything!
D. In short, a rich and respectable nerd curriculum. Black Rose Wars, also to give substance to the idea of history, mixes many types of mechanics (action selection, hand management, dudes on a map, etc.); is there any game that has particularly inspired you? And for what reason?
R. Black Rose Wars was born from the need to make a game that incorporated extreme ignorance and boundless beatings… between wizards… in an arena… with very arrogant characters. At the time, dice were relegated to role playing only, so banned from table games. Then Black Rose Wars was supposed to be a card game, a deck building to be exact, which I and my clique of friends liked very much. Miniatures were very important because shooting a fireball into an opponent’s face is much more effective if they have a miniature rather than a meeple (sorry, aficionados). Black Rose Wars has a lot of influences, in fact, it has nothing innovative, but a complex and functioning amalgam of mechanics with the aim of making a highly competitive game frustration-free. Games that inspired the making of Black Rose Wars are: Old World Mayhem, Unreal Tournament, Dungeon & Dragons, Dominion, and more that don’t occur to me now.
D. Well, it was time for someone to say the way things are to the Germanists. Black Rose Wars has found some well-deserved success and is quite convoluted; what (if any) “changes in the race” did you feel like making during the KS?
R. We have touched on many aspects of Black Rose Wars to increase the packages to be released. Fortunately, I had a lot of schools of magic over the four years of development and a good mechanism to create more and make sure they were balanced. Among the changes to include in the Kickstarter campaign there is the single player (honestly the biggest design challenge) and the asymmetrical wizards. These are because they are insistently requested by the backers we wanted to please.
D. Which is commendable, because personally I also find it a feature that adds a lot of flavor. Did you expect such a response? According to the numbers, we are facing the greatest Italian success ever on Kickstarter.
R. Obviously not! At the time in the Ludus studio we dreamed about 500k. And I repeat, he dreamed … It was one of the most exciting experiences of my life, in short, we worked during the day and at night we answered the forums and discussed with the Ludus team about the next steps. An average of 2 hours a night, despite everything without suffering from lack of sleep.
D. You can imagine the adrenaline! Specifically, which school of magic did you have the most fun designing? Which do you think is the most successful and original?
R. Difficult to say, I love them all a little … The school of divination and conspiracy are the ones that have given me the most satisfaction because the most difficult. Also because to make a conspiracy I had to invent the mechanics of traps, which I think is extremely funny. Of the stretch goal schools, the blood school is definitely one of my favorites.
D. In conclusion, a curiosity. The character of Marco looks like some kind of your cameo in your own creation, à la Stan Lee: is it a coincidence that the illusionist of Black Rose Wars is really a Molise magician?
R. More than a Cameo I would say an easter egg! Those jokers of the Ludus boys they inserted me by betrayal exploiting the national gag that Molise does not exist … Basically an illusion! In short, this also touches us as Molisans!
You have all my understanding, I too come from a very snubbed region and I understand you well.
I really thank you for sharing these interesting backstories and most of all for making such a great game.
Black Rose Wars: a success to discover
We remind everyone that, wanting to stay in touch with other players, both the Italian and the international group exist on Facebook.
At this point, if you haven’t done so yet, you can hurry up and grab a copy of the game here and have fun.