Small woodland critters are bloody adorable. Scurrying and scampering around the underbrush to avoid us while hiding their acorns in tiny houses elicits endless squeals. In the end, rodents and small mammals have evolved to live around our civilization—feeding off our trash and hiding under our feet. Squarriors explores the vicious world of woodland creatures after we’ve kicked the bucket.
Drawn by Ashley Witter (Marvel, DC, Scorch) and written by Ash Maczko (Cigarettes & Carrot Juice, Cold War), Squarriors is set in a post-apocalyptic future. For as-of-yet unknown reasons, animals have gained human intelligence. The story is neither futuristic enough to warrant full TMNT treatment or fall into the style of radiation punk. Rather, it’s closer to the sixth mass extinction where humans are one of the species die off. Nature does a pretty fantastic job of recovering quickly and Ashley prominently features art that highlights our ruined civilizations. The meek may have inherited the earth, but that doesn’t mean it’s a gift.
Survival is a luxury for the wicked.
Whether its climate change or warfare, the animals have evolved into various tribes for their own survival. The Tin-Kin clan is a group of squirrels, foxes, and other creatures that have banded together to survive the winter. The first graphic novel (Squarriors #1: Spring) is violent, bloody, and sets up the woodland world that is more akin to Game of Thrones as they battle the Maw, a rival tribe.
The Summer story-arc comprises five issues and the fourth issue was just released in October. So far the second arc only enhances the political nature of the tribes with both internal and external conflict while dropping subtle hints of world-building. Each comic offers more hints about the history of humans by hiding details in the background (where they should be). Front-and-center is the journey to explore this new world together, a feature which is the cornerstone of science fiction worldbuilding. It goes without saying that artistic quality is jaw-dropping, but the world is also filled with endless story possibilities. Which is where Cold War Entertainment comes in…
The Card Game
Taking the open-world possibilities of the Squarriors setting, Cold War (Lady Death: Last Stand) designed their very own card game that funded within two days on Kickstarter. Turns out rabid fans of the comics wanted a chance to play in the world. With multiple characters, personalities, endless possibilities (and there was even a backer-tier to put your own cat in!) the appeal is obvious. The card game is a competitive CCG where you win by building the story of your own tribe. The story side of the gameplay focuses on exploring the world and recruiting warriors.
Defeating your opponents requires dominance over territory. Several paths to win (like causing your opponents’ predators to betray them) are based on the deck you build. Mechanically, the games’ main tactical focus comes from using your own discard pile to chain card reactions. This main mechanic shifts the focus on this game away from random draws and into cunning and tactical choices.
What is really needed now, is for Team Ash (the creators), to sign off on the creation of a Suikoden style JRPG. You can find more information about Squarriors on their website, your local comic shop, or behind the scenes art-tutorials at Ashley’s Patreon.
Have you read Squarriors? Let us know what you thought in the comments below!
Header Image: Ashley Witter