Rick Priestley alongside Jervis Johnson, Alessio Cavatore and Andy Chambers is perhaps one of the most well known game designers of our era.
Rick Priestley grew up in Lincoln and dtart d writing wargames as a teenager with his friend Richard Halliwell. In 1979 the pair wrote their first game Reaper while still in school. Tabletop Games (a small games publishing company with no sales output) printed their rules and they contacted Brian Ansell who worked for Asgard Miniatures at the time before his move to Citadel Miniatures. Brian Ansell put them in contact with Nottingham Toy Soldier Shop who agreed to sell the Reaper rules.
With one rulebook for sale, Halliwell and Priestley collaborated on a second effort, a science fiction miniatures wargame titled Combat 3000, also published by Tabletop, that used 15mm/25mm “space marine” miniatures from Asgard. Around this time Brian Ansell left Asgard Miniatures, and with backing from Games Workshop set up Citadel Miniatures.
Priestley joined Games Workshop in 1982 as part of their subsidiary company Citadel Miniatures. At that time Citadel produced the miniatures for use in Dungeons and Dragons. Brian Ansell the manager of Citadel asked Richard Halliwell to develop Games Workshops’ first in-house game, Warhammer Fantasy Battles and Rick Priestley and Tony Ackland developed the product. Warhammer Fantasy contained many of the core mechanics or Priestley and Halliwell’s earlier game Reaper. Warhammer Fantasy was released in 1983 and was a huge success.
It allowed them a vehicle through which they could sell their own Citadel Miniatures. Earlier miniature wargames were designed to be played using generic models that could be bought from any manufacturer, but Warhammer Fantasy’s setting featured original characters with distinctive visual designs, and their models were produced exclusively by Games Workshop. This paved the way for Games Workshop to become the company it is today – all thanks to the three men who developed that first game.
Since before his time at Games Workshop Priestley had been working on a set of rules of Spaceship Combat called Rogue Trader which mixed Science fiction and fantasy elements. Priestley incorporated many aspects of this setting such as the lore and space travel into Warhammer 40,000 and dropped the ship combat element due to not having enough room in the book.
Games Workshop planned to sell conversion kits for their fantasy line to make them useable in Rogue Trader but eventually decided to instead dedicate an entire production line to the game and in 1987 Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader was born.
During his years with Games Workshop he was involved in the design of virtually all of their top games such as Necromunda, Mordheim, Warmaster, Lord of the Rings, Gorkamorka, Mighty Empires and Warhammer Ancient Battles (affectionately known as WAB by those in Historical gaming circles).
Rick Priestley left Games Workshop in 2009 stating that the corporate culture had grown too focused on sales and no longer cared about innovation in Games Design. He expanded on his view of Games Workshop in an article with Bell of Lost Souls in March 2015. In that, his thoughts on where Games Workshop was heading, was as a manufacturer of collectible miniatures and not games design.
After Games Workshop, Priestley co-founded Warlord Games which after Games Workshop is arguably the next biggest games and miniature manufacturer in Europe.
With Warlord Games, Rick Priestley has continued to develop fantastic wargame rulesets and being no longer held back by Games Workshop, these have included historical as well as Fantasy and Sci-Fi. The biggest games at Warlord such as Bolt Action, Black Powder, Gates of Antares, Hail Caesar, Pike and Shotte and Warlords or Erehwon have all been designed with Priestley’s input.
In 2011 Rick Priestley was elected to the committee of the Society of Ancients. The Society of Ancients is a non-profit organisation that intends to promote interest in Ancient and Medieval history and wargaming.
This man is a true legend of Wargaming, is the father of Warhammer Fantasy and Warhammer 40,000 and has done a lot that Games Workshop fans and historical wargaming fans have to thank him for.
I have tried to give a flavour of the 115+ rules and add-on’s he’s developed below. But as with Jervis’ article, this really does not even scrape the surface as to the lore and depth of his many games. Rick, thank you! I can’t wait to see what you come up with next.
Solo Wargaming for your Favourite Games
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The Woeful Brush Painting Competition Sponsored by SCN Hobby World
Closing date for entries 30th November. £1 entry, win your choice of a Start Collecting or Combat Patrol box set!
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