Not having anything better to do (such as sleeping, eating or drinking) BRENDON KAVANAGH decided to wander up to Cleveleys and pay Kevin Cropper’s KJC team a visit...
KJC Games was officially launched in September 1981 as a sideline developed by Kevin Cropper to the family business. In those busy days young Kevin had 40 players. Wow, you may say, but from little acorns large oak trees grow — as Kevin has proved. KJC has grown steadily with time. Now, in 1988, he has ten full-time staff (four male and six female) and boasts that 12,000 active accounts have operated over the last year.
Obviously, obtaining It’s A Crime! from the Americans was the company’s saving grace. KJC Games put that opportunity to use with great prowess. Over the last few years they have become the UK market leaders and are not far behind internationally. ‘We process more turns than anyone else in the world’ bragged Kevin, sitting in his second floor office overlooking the Cleveleys skyline. And why should he not be proud of his company? Everything is well organised, professional and almost tidy! KJC presently moderate Earthwood (and its popular variant, Sea Kings), Capitol, Crasimoff’s World and It’s A Crime!. Plans for the future are exciting — very exciting. Let us examine them...
Perhaps KJC’s biggest gamble of the year will be their launch of a gaming magazine called First Class Games. Edited by Nigel Mitchell and written by a variety of quality writers, First Class Games will start life as an in-house magazine. Previews and strategy-related articles on KJC’s games are to be a common feature. Nigel intends the articles to be honest (it seems that they do not wish to run unmarketable games). Failing that, I suspect that they will be almost White Dwarf in style.
So what else will this magazine include? KJC do not really want it to gain the reputation that White Dwarf has for being a method of selling house goods (although I doubt that they will be a serious competitor to Flagship even if they do manage to print at regular intervals). They therefore intend to include articles on ‘unbiased’ topics. A few pages on boardgaming and role-playing, a regular live role-playing page, games fair and pubmeet sections (including reports and a What’s On? style diary), a cartoon(!) and the ubiquitous letters page. At first, this will be bagged into about 40 pages on glossy paper with a two-colour cover.
Fairly priced, when you consider what you’re getting, at £1.50 per copy. First Class Games will either become the biggest newsletter ever or a very good PBM/RPG magazine. Mail order fantasy role-playing games will be available through the magazine and if this takes off, then you may well soon see First Class Games on the newsagent’s shelf. Meanwhile, of course, you can purchase it direct from KJC Games.
KJC have a game planned for launch every other month this year, conveniently fitting in with the publishing date for the magazine, so just what’s in store?
KJC Games seem to have decided that 1988 is the year to expand their supply of offerings. Numerous people have been introduced to the hobby since the launch of It’s A Crime!, a popular game albeit simple in comparison with other games on the market. In a possible attempt to wean new players into the world of real PBMing while keeping them under the KJC roof as much as possible they have a hectic line-up of new launches for the year.
Dawn Of The Ancients is a deadline game which was launched recently. The game is for 12 players and is computer moderated with an optimum ten day turn around. The idea is simple: take 12 ancient empires and nations from various eras (Egyptians, Romans, Trojans, Huns and so on) and throw them into the same age. Each player rules one of these positions with the aim of gaining the greatest empire of all time.
This is done by the usual approach to gaming: economics, strategy, combat and ‘people using’. Expand your empire by colonisation, keep its system running smoothly and repel enemies with armies. Simple? — perhaps. A little bit of mystery Is added by the 13th nation. This nation is ancient — more ancient than your own and even more ancient than the next player’s. Atlantis — need I say more?
Dawn Of The Ancients, run under European license from Game Systems Inc of Miami (USA), costs £1.50 for each turn. The game is for a limited number of players only; if you want to play you don’t have much time, so get in touch with them now!
State Of War. Another GSI game, this. Not only that, it’s also another limited numbers game. Launched this month and long-awaited in the UK, there are only 500 places up for grabs.
State Of War is set in America in the year 2000AD. The Federal Government and 20 states have had a major falling out, to put it bluntly. Each state governor wants the presidency; the only way to do that outside of democracy (oh yes, that’s been declared null and void) is through civil war — again? The aim of the game is to gain more victory points than any other player. The game continues for ten turns after the fall of the Federal Government. This is achieved by a number of methods, some economic, some military and one sociological. Another main victory condition is diplomacy (a single player could succeed, but I have my doubts!).
The USA is, for mapping reasons, split into 4,736 hexes. Each hex is a geographical area and has restrictions as to what can be done within it. Players govern states which are comprised of a number of areas. The game involves the strategic use of bribes, military units (armies, tanks, nukes etc), spies, factories and money — all at once! As well as controlling your military forces, you must operate within your state budget — bankruptcy is a killer.
There is a lot to State Of War; I should think that it would make a good game for the more demanding player. Reports state that after a few turns it becomes fast and furious, although further than that I cannot comment. Flagship liked it anyway.
KJC have high hopes for State Of War — it has done well in the US (not surprisingly) and I’m sure that many a Brit would quite like to have a go at paying havoc on the other side of the pond! Price? Not sure yet, but it may not be cheap...
Not wanting to do anything by halves, KJC intend to follow up these games with even more launches: a UK version of Empyreum Challenge set for July, a vastly revamped game of Casus Belli for August, the improved version of Trolls Bottom, which is out now (special offer next month), and a NEW fantasy game for the end of the year. Look out for details of these games next month, as well as an interesting insight into how KJC process all those It’s A Crime! turns, plus more chronicles of the Knights of Avalon. Something for everybody there...