January 31, 2022

Making Radlands Rad: An Interview with Gavan Brown

Making Radlands Rad: An Interview with Gavan Brown

Paul Saxberg - Community Manager, Roxley Games

To celebrate the release of Radlands, we caught up with our Director, Gavan Brown, to give you a peek behind the curtain into the signing, development, and publication of the game that everyone's taking through the apocalypse!

What was it about Radlands that caught your attention and made you want to publish it?

When designer Daniel Piechnick first explained Radlands to me, it was called Delta-Six and had a sci-fi theme and it sounded like yet another card battler.
original Delta Six prototype cards
But when we started actually playing, I could immediately see it was very special. The way the cards synergized in such interesting and unique ways had my brain buzzing with joy and intrigue. The junking mechanism was a unique way to make cards dual-use, without making their second use complex. The back and forth swings in power that the elegant event system brought let me feel like I could always come back, which as a strategy gamer who strongly dislikes a slippery slope experience, is of paramount importance to me.

Most of all, I just loved how much game was packed into such an insanely elegant system!

What are the biggest qualities you wanted to add to the game via development?

One of the major requirements I wanted Daniel and our team to achieve with Radlands was ensuring that the game had the right amount of volatility (randomness), so that new players didn’t feel completely demoralized when being introduced to the game by a skilled player. In the end Daniel really struck the right balance here.

Another thing we wanted was a reasonably consistent game length. In the original, new players would often focus on amassing piles of people instead of eliminating their opponent’s camps. This would sometimes draw out the game. This was solved with the introduction of the Raider cards, as well as by rebalancing the card deck. Daniel also defined a specific list of camps that we strongly recommend using during your first play.
The final thing I wanted was more Camp designs. The Camps in Radlands are a lot like the character powers in Santorini, in that they inform or drive a player’s strategy and make every game feel and play out differently. Daniel and the team did an amazing job of leaving no stone unturned when exploring camp ideas.

What made you decide on the visual aesthetic?

When I played Delta Six, I felt the sci-fi theme worked, but it was too generic. So I let it stew in my brain for many many months, until realizing a post-apocalyptic setting would work. I absolutely love everything about Mad Max: Fury Road. In fact, I introduced it to my kids the other night. When watching the war parties endlessly chasing down Furiosa, my kids said “Hey, those vehicles are like the Raiders!” Thematically, Gas Town, the Citadel, and The Bullet Farm in this world were all “camps” that these tribes were protecting. The Citadel even produced water which was pumped up from way underneath the ground. These warlords of the wasteland protecting their camps fit the game’s mechanisms perfectly, and was definitely the main inspiration behind changing the theme.

I also loved the animation, colorfulness, and background image style of the cult classic Heavy Metal (1981), which I noted to Damien Mammoliti as a main creative inspiration for the camp cards. And finally, I love Manny Trembley’s amazing character designs. 

Radlands Visual Aesthetic Recipe:


Other publishers might have made Radlands collectible, or much larger, to sell more cards. How important was it to keep Radlands the size it is, and why?

Roxley doesn’t make games to make money, we make money to make games. 
We always make decisions for a game based on what is best for the game. So while it might be that the most profitable direction would be to release endless expansions for Radlands, the game doesn’t need it.

Does that mean we'll never see an expansion in the future?

We are undecided. There were a lot of great Camps that didn’t actually make it into the game. If we ever do an expansion, it will likely be a Camp expansion. I have one requirement for an expansion if we do make one: whatever we introduce must fit into the existing game box.

Out of the hundreds of times you’ve played this game, do you remember any epic moments or plays that stand out as favorites?

It is so hard to put my finger on just one, as every single game tells a very unique story, and generally has my heart pounding. One that does come to mind though is when I synergized a Rescue Team and a Doomsayer to prevent 2 incoming Bombardment attacks and stayed alive just long enough to finish my opponent.

If you could challenge any one person out there to a game of Radlands, who would it be?

The yet-to-be-discovered best Radlands player on earth.

Radlands has a high skill ceiling and is an ideal tournament game. As the game becomes more popular and we see more tournaments, we will likely see really really good players float to the top. I absolutely love a challenge, so getting my butt handed to me by a Radlands Grandmaster would be a huge honor.

(If you missed the Radlands campaign, check out this video for an overview of the game, which is still available in the Roxley store. If you own the Deluxe or the retail version of the game and would like the Hazmats to use with it, these are available at Roxley.com.)