Recently I learned that “James M Hewitt” is leaving Games Workshop. Who? Well, his name gets thrown about quite a bit with the 2016 release of Blood Bowl. He was also very active on the Blood Bowl Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Blood-Bowl-219720111727104/
James apparently left to form his own game company: https://www.needycatgames.com
On the Needy Cat Games site, James says “As lead designer for the Games Workshop Specialist Brands team, I was responsible for producing all written content for the 2016 relaunch of Blood Bowl. Although the vast majority of the text in the initial boxed release was reproduced from previous editions, the expansion books – especially Death Zone Season Two – were a chance to take real ownership of the project.”.
As he mentions, the 2016 edition of Blood Bowl changed very, very little from the established CRP rules. In many ways, that was a good thing. The game is 99.9% the same thing, that old fans have been keeping alive for years. I’m sure there are different rules here and there that different people would have liked to see changed, but it’s likely a good thing that they didn’t anger the existing fan base by overhauling the game completely.
James also says “This game (Blood Bowl) was produced by Games Workshop during my time as a writer / designer there. I was one cog in an impressive machine, sharing the workload with an incredibly talented group of artists, designers, writers, managers and many more.”.
If he was part of a larger machine, it’s hard to say exactly what he influenced and what he didn’t. I certainly think Death Zone Season Two was a step up from the main rulebook and Death Zone Season One.
While browsing James’s Needy Cat Games site, I also discovered that he worked on Dreadball. Funny, as that game is a competitor for Blood Bowl. As an aside, Cyanide/Focus made a computer game that was very similar to Blood Bowl, and then GW worked out a deal with them to make the official Blood Bowl computer game. See any similarities there? Anyways, I was one of the Kickstarter backers who jumped on the Dreadball bandwagon, partially because it was a new Fantasy Football game at the time and Blood Bowl was very stagnant. I’ll do a followup post at some point comparing the two, but (spoiler alert) I didn’t find Dreadball to be as fun as Blood Bowl.
I don’t know how much to attribute my like/dislike of Dreadball to James. I know that some people really disliked some of the (small) rules changes in the 2016 Blood Bowl release. There has been some good and bad during James tenure. Which is why I started this off as “Elvis has left the building…(or has he?)!”. As I really don’t know if he was the “superstar” behind the new release or something less than that. Only time will really tell. I wish him the best with his own startup. Seems like with his involvement with several successful games, he shouldn’t have any problems.