James Tomblin created ThunderVaults to bring the world of Defection to life through board games and comic books. James began creating Defection in the summer of 2015, and you can learn more about his journey within the below chapters......  

Captains Log: The First Defector

Chapter 1 : The Origin Story

Summer 2015

Every story has a beginning, and this is mine. I remember the day I first thought about Defection, of course at this time it had no name and was a simple idea in the back of my skull. But that simple idea would eventually blow up into the game you see today. Much like the beginning of the universe, the eruption of possibilities, concepts, ideas, story lines and game mechanics exploded into life to form what became a very unique experience within a board game.
Let's go back to the start and learn more about the origins of Defection.

In 2015, I had been playing modern board games for a couple of years with my friends and some local game groups in Bristol. I remember coming home from a gaming day where we had just played a game called 'Spartacus: A game of blood and treachery'. This is where I made the connection between 

the art of story telling (Film/TV) and the board game world. 

I had been working on a film plot involving a misfit crew of would be heroes who had defected from a brutal war on their home-world to save the civilians caught in the crossfire of the conflict. The story centred on this crew, but in the background, I had built the world it took place in. I've always been a huge fan of titles that have extensive lore and back story (LotR, Star Wars.... even to an extent the TV show Lost) and this is something I wanted for Defection...... So I created it.
I scoped out an entire history for the planet Keleressa, the factions that inhabit it, the politics, the alliances, the rivalries and even the individual character back stories.

When I got home from that gaming day, I said to my girlfriend at the time 'I'm going to make this into a board game'. And so began the journey of Defection. 

My life was about to change drastically....


James Image.png

Chapter 2 : Paper and Bottle Caps

Dec 2015

So there I was, all bushy tailed and bright eyed, with a sparkle of creativity in my eyes, but... what to do about it?

I marched straight down to my local amazon store on the computer and ordered a printer, cardboard, paper, pens, a pritt stick and most importantly some new speakers for my game room... they were about to get some serious use. You could say I got a little ahead of myself, and you'd be right, but you can't fault my enthusiasm. I was soon going to realise that I was not ready for anything more than some paper and a pen at this stage.  

Armed with my ambition and new equipment, I cut up some card and started making the idea I had in my head come to life, all be it in a very basic way. I locked myself away in my games room, weekend after weekend, like a mad inventor, only taking breaks to go to work, I was obsessed with creation! 

Months go by, and I'm ready to show the world (my gaming friends) the fruits of my labour. Defection had its first test ride in the spring of 2016, birds were chirping, trees were beginning to blossom, and space ships were venturing out on their first ever missions.

It worked!! I mean, it wasn't very good, but it worked!

Aesthetically, the game was just a bunch of cut up card with bottle caps used as player tokens, so the feel of the world was noticeably absent. The game itself played....let's just say it played. At this point, there was no set 'map', the game expanded out in all directions, the upgrades were not balanced, there was no crew yet, and the ships didn't have any relevance to the objective. Scoring was messy and the terminals (player boards) didn't offer any real player progression. But... it worked, that was a huge step for me. I had created a game from nothing, just the thoughts in my head. However, this was not enough to quench my creative thirst, this was the beginning, and Defection and I had now embarked on a mission together that would be still going as I write this chapter 5 years later.

The next step was to tweak and play again (that's a sentence I am ready to copy and paste many times in the below chapters).


With milestone 1 complete, I stared out into the horizon, wind blowing in the trees and the sun setting in the distance, the next step I took would be the furthest I'd ever been from home...

Chapter 3 : The Convention

Jan 2017

Coming soon...