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Warhammer, Blood Bowl and DreadBall designer is going it alone with new indie studio Needy Cat Games

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A former Games Workshop and Mantic designer and writer has left the Warhammer firm after more than three years to start up his own independent tabletop studio.

James M Hewitt made his break into development at Mantic Games, working as a freelance designer on futuristic sports miniatures game DreadBall – which went onto raise more than £450,000 on Kickstarter, making it the UK’s biggest crowdfunded tabletop project at the time – before joining the Kings of War and The Walking Dead: All Out War outlet as a permanent member of staff.

Later, Hewitt moved to Games Workshop, writing rules for Citadel miniatures, including supplements and expansions for Warhammer 40,000 and Age of Sigmar, as well as overseeing the latest edition of Blood Bowl (which we liked quite a bit) and the upcoming reboot of ‘80s wargame Adeptus Titanicus, which introduced the Epic system.

He was also responsible for designing three board games set in the Age of Simar and Warhammer 40,000 universes: The Horus Heresy: Betrayal at Calth, Warhammer Quest: Silver Tower and last year’s Gorechosen.

Hewitt’s solo project is Needy Cat Games, a new Nottingham-based studio focused on developing board games – its founder adds that his long-term ambition is to turn the outlet into a fully-fledged publisher in the future.

“Basically, Needy Cat is a bit of a leap of faith,” Hewitt told Tabletop Gaming. “I've wanted to design games for a long time – we're talking decades here.

"I recently dug out a letter from Andy Chambers, who was one of the head honchos of the Games Workshop design studio, dated 1999 – a response to a letter I'd sent them pitching a game I'd designed. It was a very polite ‘no thank you’, but apparently I wasn't deterred!”

Hewitt says he is already working on one completely original tabletop game, with “around half a dozen” in the works, with two or three potentially ready to be published in the next year.

“When you're part of a big team, or even a fairly small one, you're quite compartmentalised – and I've always had a fairly broad approach to design,” he continued. “I love the whole thing, from the conception to the project management, getting the artwork right, marketing it, organising shows... so the dream, really, has always been to design games for myself.

"Following the recent sad loss of a colleague, I decided that life's too short to wait for the ideal moment to do something like this. And so, Needy Cat Games was born!”

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