Monday, 16 March 2015

Modiphius are F.A.B. for bringing us Thunderbirds the Boardgame

Modiphius is close to becoming a household name having produced roleplaying games relating to Cthulhu, Conan, Infinity, Paulo Parente's Dust world, and even Mutant Chronicles.  

And their latest project might just be the thing that 'elevates' them from gaming industry golden child to high street shelf brand name. 

Because incase the article heading didn't tell you they are bringing us Thunderbirds the board game........hold onto your hats because this is going to be F.A.B!


How did this come about Chris, talk us through the winding path that bring you, Matt Leacock and Thunderbirds together and have you been like a giddy schoolboy the entire time?

Chris: From drawing Thunderbirds in kindergarten to lying eyes closed listening to audio versions of the shows on our record player with a massive old headphones with thick black curling cables I was very much a child of the Andersons - Gerry & Sylvia spun a web of future action around their Supermarionation (a word they invented for their style of puppets and model action shows) adventure TV shows and I was in deep with the toys and what we called annuals in the UK - basically hardback books with comic pages that came out at christmas and other holidays. So when I got to meet ITV I proposed the idea of a game (having established Modiphius of course) and they loved the concept. Next up was the name that was going to help it cross-over in to tabletop games and that was Matt. If you're going to do it, aim high, so we pitched him at Essen and he went away and watched the shows and was soon hooked with his family. Thunderbirds does that to you, it makes grown up people act like kids. It's just so… cool.

As soon as you see it the concept of a co-operative Board Game for International Rescue just makes sense, but did the game concept come about quickly? What's the evolution of the idea and into play testing been like? How much coffee has been consumed? and how many sleepless nights and rumpled bits of paper have ended up in the bin to get to the game your presenting the world?

Matt: The core concepts of the game came quickly. From the very beginning, we all agreed the players should take on the role of the members of International Rescue, use their fabulous vehicles in order to complete missions and save people around the world. I sketched out a board, created some crude models out of clay, and went to work on the design. I had some early successes creating tension and interesting decisions with a simple map, some character cards, and a small deck of missions, but didn’t really know how the game ended. Gradually, the mechanisms for the Hood’s scheme unfolded as a way to structure the game. As The Hood progresses, he unlocks a narrative, triggering disasters and events that steal the players focus from their missions. He also provides the overall objective—if you foil his scheme, you win the game.

The whole process took a lot of iteration. I have about 10 pounds of cards and other prototyping bits from previous versions of the game.

It's been a long time since Thunderbirds raced across the Saturday morning TV screens, the more recent movie didn't cause the resurgence it hoped to inspire and though new Thunderbirds are on the way it still seems a risk to dabble in not only an old IP, but one very precious to many hearts. Did you have any fears approaching the project over the age of Thunderbirds or indeed ruffling the feathers of fandom? As a fan yourself, how confident are you that this is the game that really delivers on theme, flavour and spirit of Thunderbirds and International Rescue?

Chris: Often it's the retro version of the IP that's really the most popular and has the most love - which can certainly be seen by the outpouring of support for the kickstarter. Being a big fan was a help, but it's amazing how many details you misremember or believe are true only to discover that no, in episode X it was this way round. So we searched for an expert and got Sam Denham on board, who wrote the Haynes International Rescue Agents Manual and is a fantastic source of authentic information. Aside from everything having to be approved by ITV, we've been running info past Sam to make sure it's authentic and true to the show. Get that right. you keep the fans on board, but it has to be cool for us too. If I'm happy I'm pretty sure everyone else will be happy. Matt has done an amazing job of capturing the spirit of the show and those 'OH NO!' moments but when things fall apart.

Matt: I think we’re all very conscious of how important staying true to both the spirit of the show—and the details is. One of the benefits of Kickstarter is you can get the fans to look things over ahead of time. We did an experiment for this Kickstarter where I opened up the rules for live inspection, as I edited them, so that people could comment and give feedback. I've also really appreciated the fact that Sam has been putting his keen eye over everything.

We've blind tested the game with a large number of fans (more than I typically do for similar products that I've worked on) and they've happily reported that it captures the spirit of the show.

The game seems, form what we've seen to revisit the classic adventures of our childhood heroes, is this the case throughout or will players see new elements or challenges unique to the board game experience? The box art also looks to reflect the original style of the show, is this repeated with the board and other components that will finally grace my copy ? :-)

Chris: You can expect many of the classic episodes to appear, but to balance the game we've also created new 'Missions' that involve the characters across Land, Sea, Air and Sea. The box art features original art from a famous Japanese illustrator Shigeru Komatsuzaki who painted covers for an excellent line of Thunderbirds model kits in Japan. You can also expect another famous Thunderbirds artist to be involved in the map which we'll be unveiling later in the month.

Matt: The game includes a lively mix—you’ll recognize favorite episodes from you childhood, but there are also new adventures. Different missions, events, and disasters appear in each game (in a different order) so every time you bring out the game, you’ll have different surprises.

Normally I'd tease and seek some secret inside snippet about an upcoming game, but no, this time I want all the surprise for myself. So keeping it on subject and all serious, the game seems very action packed, three live missions at a time? Several ways to potentially fail and for IR to lose ( unthinkable ) a mountain of missions and what looks to be cool gadgets for the team to develop and use to aid them. So what can there possibly be to expand. What is already looking to be a fairly tightly packed game offering? And how will the suggested expansions build or change the core game?

Chris: You start with three live missions at a time, and there's a good chance you'll be adding another mission at the end of every players turn, OR the Hood's scheme will be advancing so the pressure is constantly on. The first expansion unlocks more characters so you get Tin Tin, Brains and Parker as playable characters, plus Tracy Island, The Ladybird Jet and FAB2 models, the second expansion adds in the some of the famous vehicles from the missions as small models, the third expansions lets you level up your characters so you can try truly epic disasters and the four expansion introduces a 5th player as the Hood playing against International Rescue. The pledgers at £65 get all of these included in their pledge so it's pretty good value.

We have a few more amazing reveals to come though and lots of bonus upgrades to the core box - which is simply £40 for those who want to try it out.

With that we will let you go to save the gaming world and hope that you will quickly be delivering many a table from the danger of boredom but hopefully you will keep us well updated on the project and we wish you the very best of luck.

Chris: We hope so, Thunderbirds the Co-operative Board Game promises to be a truly wonderful family friendly game of International Rescue, with an awesome show as inspiration which crosses so many age groups, and let's face it a box full of cool plastic vehicles! Over to you Matt to fill in the gaps!

Matt: You summed it up well, Chris. Thunderbirds Are Go!

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