Deadfellas – The Zombie Mobster Card Game

Deadfellas Zombie Mobster Card Game box cover with designersEver since picking up Deadfellas at Comic-Con back in 2012, I have brought the game with me to any sort of gaming or geeky event: Gen Con, Vegas Game Days, Wasteland Weekend, and various SCA Wars. It’s that good and is my backup go-to game for passing 10 or 15 minutes enjoyably. On a flight back from Gen Con I taught the guy next to me to play in under two minutes and soon enough horrible Italian-American accents were trading back and forth as we talked about whacking this mook or that one with cries of “Hey, I Know a Guy” and “Fuhgeddaboutit!Exile Game Studio has a real winner with the Kickstarter-funded Dead Fellas and at only $19.99 MSRP, it’s a pretty good value. For its solid game play, fast pace, simple mechanics, and cool style I give it a 9 out of 10 on .

Ease of Play

Cheerleader Uniform card art from Exile Game Studio's Deadfellas Zombie Mobster Card Game

Cheerleader Uniform: +2 to a Mook’s Strength

When game artist Brian Snoddy explained the game to me on video at Comic-Con 2012 in about three minutes, he really covered 95% of the game. You get three random undead mobsters called Mooks. Each has a point value represented by a bullet icon, ranging from one to three. Collect 10 points of Mooks by whacking them and you win. In order to whack your opponent’s Mook, you need to equip one of your own with a blue Vehicle card, a red Weapon card, and a yellow Disguise card. Each of these pieces of equipment has its own strength (from 1-3) at the top. Add those together with your Mook’s strength and if you equal or exceed your target’s strength you win, successfully Whacking him. As a small price, you have to Ditch a piece of evidence, one of the three Equipment cards.

Gameplay comes down to Mook and Equipment management. At the beginning of every turn you draw a card from the Equipment deck, which also contains Special cards. You can play as many of your cards as you are able to and then you need to decide whether you 1.) draw another Equipment card 2.) do a Whack action on an opponent or 3.) recruit a new Mook. Special cards like Fuhgeddaboutit! allow a player to cancel a Whack action or another Special card, like an opponent’s Boost card, which could potentially allow the opponent to steal a piece of your Equipment. Another Special card called Dying Wish allows a player to keep his Mook’s Equipment cards if his Mook gets whacked

With three or four players, the game gets even better with more targets to whack. Just make sure to play up the bravado, add a little antagonism, and a lot of accents, and you’ll be in for a good time. I strongly suggest narrating every Whack and attempted Whack, to create an atmosphere of vendetta after vendetta. Let ’em know that “Big Dump don’t like seeing Joey “Coco Pops” Cotroni in his Boosted Monster Truck, so Big Dump’s gonna Whack ‘im wit’ da Rolling Pin…”

Dead Fella’s Theme: Zombies, Mafia, and… Tutus

Tiny Bug-Eyed Zombie Bug Eyes from Deadfellas Card GameI’m an unlikely advocate for Dead Fellas because apparently unlike the majority of Western males, I’m not a fan of the mafia or Tony Soprano. You could say that I’m Team Elliot Ness even. I’m also not particularly fond of zombies, but Brian Snoddy blends the two themes humorously well in his art for the Mook cards. My favorite Mook has to be the diminutive Bobby “Bug Eyes” Deluca who barely clears three feet on the lineup chart which serves as each Mook’s background. Most of Deluca’s criminal peers have eyes falling out or missing, cuts, gashes, and the occasional squid or mutation. Because Dead Fellas is such a good game, I can say without any reservations that both organized crime fans and zombie fans will get a kick out of this game, though what they’ll make of the other half of the game’s theme is beyond me.

Card art illustration of Sock Monkey for Deadfellas Zombie Mobster Card Game

The Humble Sock Monkey

What I enjoy the most about Deadfellas’ theme though is the absurdity of the Equipment cards. I still get a chuckle when I announce that Pauly “Bed Head” Bonasera disguised in his Tutu and riding his Unicycle is going to whack “Bug Eyes” with the Egg Beater. I have even foregone a more powerful piece of Equipment just for the delight of using the less powerful Biplane, Maid Uniform Disguise, or Sock Monkey. Again, without any narration, the humorous imagery of these cards is lost.

Deadfellas’ Few Choices Are Another Hit

Deadfellas also goes to show just how powerful using only a few gameplay mechanics can be when combined with quality artwork and a fun theme. While Deadfellas can play with anyone young or old, the tactical choices in it are so limited that it’s a good game for gauging how strong a grasp other players’ have of the game itself and board gaming in general with the following in particular standing out:

1. Equipment Dispersal and Disposal
The first choice any player will have in Deadfellas is which of their Mooks to Equip. There is the temptation to possibly bolster weaker Mooks with Equipment to make them less susceptible to weak Whack attempts, but it’s hard to argue with stacking 3-Bullet Weapons, Vehicles, and Disguises on your most powerful Mook to try to get as close to 12 as possible. This doesn’t reveal much about the player, but what they choose to Ditch does.

A player can have a Disguise in his hand already and choose to Ditch the existing Disguise from the Mook who just capped someone. If that Mook survives the round, it’s a simple matter of equipping the new Disguise from hand and repeating the beatdown. This is an effective tactic, but one which I have seen a number of opponents neglect.

The Special card Fugazzi poses its own choices, both in how to pronounce it (Brian Snoddy insists that it’s Foo-gay-zee, while many English speakers go for Foo-gah-zee) and how to best utilize it. The card takes the place of a piece of Equipment, but is a fake, having zero strength. After successfully Whacking an opponent’s Mook do you ditch the zero-strength Fugazzi because it adds no strength to resist opponents’ Mooks or do you ditch something more powerful because the Fugazzi is versatile and allows you to possibly meet the three-Equipment variety condition for a Whack action more readily?

Zombie Mobster Hugo The Hat Nitti playing card missing brain

No Brainer: “The Hat”

2. Target Selection and Elimination – One of the few other choices in the game is which Mooks to target. Most of the time, this is a no brainer (which is fortunate for Mooks like Hugo “The Hat” Nitti): always try to get as many points from each Whack as you can. The exception is targeting a weaker Mook who has Equipment cards on him just to kill him preemptively and waste your opponent’s Equipment cards.

3. End of Turn While there’s nothing tactical about ending a turn, it’s another good clue to just how attuned a player is to the game’s rules. As soon as your opponent’s drawn a second Equipment card or a new Mook or performed a Whack action, he or she’s done. That’s it. Because of this the game’s designers were being quite generous when they list game length at 30 minutes. Cut throat zombie mafiosa can get it down to 10-20 minutes easy.

All card images are copyright Exile Game Studios and used without permission for review purposes.

Vegas Game Day December 8

The final Vegas Game Day of 2012 drew a slightly smaller crowd than normal to the Emergency Arts Building near Fremont Street Experience on December 8. Starting in the new year, Vegas Game Day will be moving to the third Saturday of every month and will also be starting earlier, running from 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM. As a morning person, I welcome the change. The area isn’t the best either, so it will make for a safer walk to my car.

Savage Worlds: Flight of the Living Dead

Back in November, Jerrod Gunning ran a session of Savage Worlds: Jem that saw the iconic cartoon band from the 1980s bringing a defector in from the cold using their deep cover as a rock band to perform the CIA’s dirty work. Or so I gathered, because I was playing Hellas at the time. Since playing in his My Little Pony and Scooby Doo Savage Worlds games, Gunning has started his own website, where he provides other Savage Worlds fans insights into his own devious mash-ups, adventures, and rules concoctions.

Gunning promised to kill us all in Flight of the Living Dead, his zombie apocalypse adventure set high in the skies on Savage Air Flight 69 from Chicago to Las Vegas. Once we had run through his six prepared PCs we could take on the roles of the flight crew and experience their dismemberment. As usual Jerrod Gunning does insane prep for his adventures and I browsed through Sly Stallone’s picture and Morgan Freeman’s, before choosing the character of Anthony White, Chicago Metropolitan PD. White had the Disadvantage of being Arrogant which suited me just fine. His illustration is actor Anthony Anderson from Law and Order. Fortunately I have been slowly making my way through the police procedural series and am stuck somewhere in 2002 and so hadn’t encountered Anderson yet. Playing Morgan Freeman would have been like playing God, but playing the heavy Anderson seemed within my reach, especially since I have no idea of how he sounds or what he acts like.

RPG character card for PC Anthony White for Savage Worlds zombie game

Gunning Provides Players with Airline Ticket Character Sheet, Plastic Bullet Bennies, Dice, & More

Joining me on SA69 were Air Marshal John Brickman (Sylvester Stallone) and the cowardly architect Timothy Treymore (Jason Statham playing against type). Brickman, who had the advantage of being armed with a Glock, almost immediately got himself into some Mile High Club shenanigans with a stewardess with a very high Aced Flirt or Seduction roll. In Savage Worlds, if you max a die roll you keep rolling until you stopped and Brickman rolled very well. For those of us keeping our body parts to ourselves (for the time being), things got complicated during our in-flight viewing of The Dark Knight Rises. An old lady started to have a seizure or fit and soon was biting into another passenger. While the architect booked it because of his Yellow disadvantage, I asserted some command presence, or at least tried to. I also tried to work in a Snakes on a Plane reference, but for the life of me, couldn’t manage it.

Three gamers playing Savage Worlds at Vegas Game Day with signs

Flight of the Living Dead: Gunning Entertains Perry Snow and Casey Spicer

The old lady and I tussled. Brickman showed up and I returned to my seat. Then things got chaotic as others started to turn. The architect knew that they were zombies, but Brickman and I played it dumb at first. He ended that when he pistol whipped one to death. I was like “Whoa, whoa! Not me, that wasn’t me! That was the Air Marshal,” before whispering to him “Haven’t you ever heard of a civil suit?” Introductions were made and the situation continued to deteriorate until it was hard to disbelieve the evidence before my eyes. I wasted a couple zombies, starting with the one who clawed me.

R.I.P. Anthony White

My weapon of choice was a fire extinguisher. I never sprayed it at the zombies, instead caving their heads and torsos in with it. I must have killed two or three as I made Vigor roll after Vigor roll. We didn’t talk about it at the table, but we all knew it was only a matter of time before Anthony White turned. Perry Snow as Brickman began referring to me as “Chicago” as we did battle with the undead. A zombie’s head exploded, in Gunning’s words, “like a bag of salsa in a microwave.” As I became Fatigued I started feeling it in real life, letting my role play grow more and more exhausted, trying to find a drink in the upstairs lounge to cool off as the fever wracked my body while Brickman conferred with our pilot. We hit turbulence and somehow White clung to life and a seat. Brickman shot more. I found some inner strength and took another two out. There were references to Diamond Shaft and Tango and Cash as we fought on. I spoke my last words to Brickman as he took aim at a zombie with his Glock, “Make every one count.” Then I succumbed, dying.

Two PCs and GM for Savage Worlds playing role-playing game at Vegas Game Day

Jerrod Gunning Throttles a Phantom Zombie

In undeath, Anthony White truly was a monster. The architect Treymore came out of the cargo hold, where he’d been hiding and fighting off a zombie by himself for most of the game. Somehow there was a pitchfork aboard the plane and the architect wielded it against White as Brickman shot at his former short term partner, having abandoned his first method of execution. Originally Brickman was trying to go for the “ironic mercy killing” by clubbing me with my own fire extinguisher saying, “White, you were a good man. I wouldn’t want you coming back.” Instead, the other PCs fought against my character, now an NPC, round after round, but still White refused to go down. Brickman was missing easy shots. Plastic bullets used as Bennies were flying off the table. Eventually it happened and there was possibly another bag of salsa description as White fell.

Carrying On in White’s Footsteps

With Morgan Freeman still out for me as a possible PC choice, I had to select from between the Scarlett Johansson bail bondswoman and the social media happy blogger Jason Vaughn played by Ashton Kutcher. Since I like to play assholes the choice was pretty easy.

Ashton Kutcher as Jason Vaughn in Savage Worlds

Replacement PC, Coward, and All Around Douche: Jason Vaughn

Vaughn spent most of the flight cowering in the bathroom tweeting to his followers about the unfolding drama and getting the scoop on the architect by posting his Nikon Coolpix footage while the architect’s smart phone content was still uploading. Treymore tweeted at me. I tweeted @treymore. I cowered. I failed Fear checks to get out of there. I decided my SIM card was getting full and dashed for it. Just then, with tears in his eyes, a flight attendant rushed to the emergency exit and opened it. WHOOSH! We all made a series of checks to avoid getting sucked out as zombies and hapless passengers flew past and joined the despondent attendant in his plummet. Then unbelievably we were landing at McCarran. We had survived! Well, most of us anyways.

Pathfinder Society Silken Caravan No Go

For the evening session I was scheduled on Warhorn to play PSS 00-03 Murder on the Silken Caravan. While waiting for the afternoon Pathfinder Society session to end and get our third and fourth players, I started to pick Venture Captain Chris Clay’s brain on what sort of equipment I might buy and how to otherwise improve my fighter Asir. I ended up getting a Wayfinder and a good deal of advice from Clay and the other player. The Wayfinder provides magical light, serves as a non-magical compass, and can also house ioun stone, provided I live long enough to acquire one. I learned that my skills were off by a good deal (much to my benefit) and went back through and reconfigured them. After an hour of this and BSing, Clay apologized and called the game off because Murder on the Silken Caravan is a long and involved adventure and we wouldn’t be able to finish it in the remaining three hours before the hard deadline of midnight at the Emergency Arts Building.

Nonstop Flights from Chicago to Las Vegas

Meanwhile Jerrod Gunning had been running the second session of Flight of the Living Dead with the same basic structure and events. Brickman was taken as a PC again and blasting away at zombies as well as hitting the Morgan Freeman character, a retired Vietnam vet and airline pilot with a prosthetic leg. The passengers seemed to be just as dangerous as the zombies as I sat in on the session and listened as Gunning described their stampede. I left with a feeling of hope that Las Vegas would be protected from the brainless zombie menace thanks to the PCs’ heroics and made my way safely home through the drunk tourists on Fremont Street.

Todd Breitenstein on Zombies!!! and The Current Number of the Beast

Todd A. Breitenstein is the designer of Zombies!!! and one half of Twilight Creations. He and his wife Kerry were manning their booth at Comic-Con 2012 and he took the time to answer some questions about the Zombies!!! line of games and The Current Number of the Beast which Kerry Breitenstein designed.

New Products for Comic-Con and Twilight Creations’ Sales

Clad in a Slayer shirt, game designer Todd Breitenstein holds up The Current Number of the Beast at Comic-Con booth

Breitenstein at Comic-Con

CG: So, Todd Breitenstein, creator of Zombies!!!, what are your new products here?
TB:: New for Comic-Con this year since last year we have Little Dead Riding Hood. That came out last October at Spiel and Zombie Survival 2 came out at the beginning of the year. It’s obviously an expansion for our game Zombie Survival. It adds outside obstacles and that sort of thing to the inside obstacles that go along with the game. Humans 3 just came out about a month ago. It’s very cool because it’s actually set in a gaming convention loosely based on Gen Con. It has elements of all the conventions that we do. It’s a lot of fun and increases the Personality cards so when you run into a Human in the game, you have to draw one of these cards and it tells you what kind of human it is and they’re all based on gamer stereotypes, so it’s rather humorous. Also we have Go Goblin Go! which came out the same time as Humans 3. It’s a goblin racing game, it’s kind of a racing/gambling game.
CG: It’s kind of a lighter tone for you.
TB:: Yeah, a little bit. See, the cool thing about it is, is that it actually won a Design a Game with Twilight Creations contest that we held at a convention called Marcon in Columbus, Ohio a couple years ago. We brought all of the bits and everybody had three hours to come up with a game. Actually this is the game he came up with in three hours and it was just-, we were floored by it. Just said, “Look, we’d happy to publish this. Tweak it a little bit.” So that’s where that came from, so that’s why it’s slightly different than all of our other stuff. Although Little Dead Riding Hood is also a racing game and it’s a little bit lighter as well.
CG: Did I just hear that someone from Mattel possibly-
TB:: Apparently Mattel wanted to come out with a game called “Little Dead Riding Hood” and they can’t because we did it first.
CG: Awesome. Before we go back to your products, there’s been a whole ton of new zombie games either coming out or that have come out recently. I’m not really aware of older ones that are in the board game format other than yours, but how concerned are you or what do you do about that?
TB:: Nothing. You really can’t do anything other than keep on keeping on.
CG: You’re distributed in mass market shops like Hot Topic-
TB:: Are we in Hot Topic still?
CG: I’ve seen your stuff in Hot Topic.
TB:: Well, that’s news to me then. But once we sell to distributors I don’t know where they sell it, but I do know that we are in Barnes & Noble. That’s the biggest mass market [for us].
CG: Does that beat out sales through Alliance?
TB:: Oh, goodness no!
CG: So gaming shops are where you make your sales.
TB:: Oh, absolutely. They’re our bread and butter.
CG: What’s your biggest show in terms of sales? Gen Con?
TB:: Probably Gen Con… definitely Gen Con. But actually Dragon*Con in Atlanta is actually a close second.

Spiel Essen

CG: For a game designer, when should they start looking at going to Spiel Essen? Or someone with their own game?
TB:: Wow. I don’t really have any idea. I really can’t honestly answer that. It is so daunting and expensive to go to Spiel that unless you’re fairly confident you’re going to move some units of something… it’s not an easy thing to do.
CG: How did you come to that decision yourself?
TB:: Oh, see, our situation was a little bit different. I worked at the United States Playing Card company when I designed Zombies!!!. So they actually owned the rights to it for a couple of years even after we started Twilight Creations, because the division that I was working in, they dissolved in order to sell US PC which was privately owned at the time so they were grooming it for sale. Anyway, they laid everybody off from my division and this had just come out [Zombies!!!] and they’d spent a stupid amount of money on promoting it. And so, it’s a great game, they spent a ton of money promoting it, so it actually took off. We actually had a bonafide hit by the time we started Twilight Creations, so then going over to Spiel was kind of a no-brainer at that point.
CG: How many times have you done that show?
TB:: This will be our ninth year, I think.
CG: Oh, you do it every year.
TB:: Oh, yeah. We’ve done it so many times that we actually have tables and chairs in Germany for the booth and everything. We have a whole cadre of friends in Germany who help us out, which is good because my German is very bad!

Some Particulars About Zombies and Other Products

Human wielding chainsaw besieged by undead zombies on cover of Zombies!!! box artCG: One of the things that sets Zombies!!! apart from a lot of other products is the low, low cost, its price point.
TB:: That’s actually one of our goals as a company is to keep prices very low.
CG: So you can walk in and just get a complete game, for what? $15? $20.
TB:: Yeah, Zombies!!! is $30 now, but yeah the newest games that are coming out next month, The Current Number of the Beast and Zombies!!! are all priced at $19.99 and I think even the Zombies!!! Card Game, we’re talking about lowering that price even a little bit. We’ll see what the final numbers work out to be. But yeah, games are too expensive. I mean I love Fantasy Flight and I love what they do, but we’re trying to be an alternative to that. They do what they do very well and they get $50, $75, $100 for a game, but especially things like Comic-Con and stuff, they wouldn’t fly here. It’s just too expensive. On the other hand, people will drop $20 on a game. That’s the market we’re trying to hit and quite honestly that’s why I think Zombies!!! has done so well.

CG: I read in Wargame Design by the now-defunct SPI that back in the 60s and 70s people were buying their games and Avalon Hill’s, not as collectors, but as something they wanted to play, but they never got around to actually playing. Are you aware of that happening with Zombies!!!, that you might have more sales just to zombie fans, but they never crack it open.
TB:: Oh yeah. It happens all the time, especially in situations like Comic-Con here where the people who are buying it aren’t neccesarily gamers. They like the artwork and the box and the concept of the game and whatnot. We’ll even have people come back the next year and say “I bought this last year and I haven’t played it yet, but I want to buy this, this, and this.” It doesn’t happen a lot, but it does happen.
CG: So yeah, with me, I’m not a fan of zombies myself, but I got it because it was so cheap. You’re in a situation where you can take advantage of that.
TB:: Right. Oh yeah, absolutely. That’s why we keep coming out with expansions too. Expansions sell phenomenally. There’s a large fanbase for that little box which is kind of humbling in my experience. It’s neat.

Three zombies menace the viewer on the box art for Zombies!!! the Card GameCG: What’s been the most successful in your Bag O’ product line?
TB:: Probably the regular Bag O’ Zombies, simply because people use them to play D&D and they use them for canon fodder for all kinds of RPGs and that sort of thing.
CG: So you’ve seen tons of pictures of your little guys being used for different-
TB:: For everything, yeah! Actually Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, the guys that designed Dungeons & Dragons, before they died, we used to see them every Gen Con. They’d come up and buy a bag of zombies from us. It was very cool.
CG: I’m not familiar with Bag O’ Babes.
TB:: Oh, Bag O’ Babes. In the 2nd Edition of Zombies!!!, there’s 50 guy zombies and 50 girl zombies and the Bag O’ Babes is just 100 of the girl zombies.
CG: Now what about the Zombies!!! The Card Game? How did you decide, “I’m going to move away from miniatures to a card game”?
TB:: Because one of the things about Zombies!!! is that it can take a while to play. So we were looking for something that is an alternative to that that still kept the zombie theme and the feel of the Zombies!!! board game, but you could actually play in 20-30 minutes and it didn’t take up three dining room tables’ worth of space. It really came from that. Our goal was to cut down the playtime and cut down the play space, while still keeping the intent of the original board game and I think we did that.

Todd Breitenstein’s Start in Gaming

CG: How did you get started in gaming yourself?
TB:: We always played board games when I was growing up and then after that I started playing D&D when I was like maybe 12, I think. And then just a natural progression from that. Got out of it in college a little bit, then got back into it. We started playing Magic: The Gathering and the X-Files Card Game. When the first wave of CCGs hit we were big fans.
CG: How did you get into game design yourself?
TB:: Actually through the United States Playing Card company. My wife Kerry was a big X-Files CCG fan. That was originally made by the United States Playing Card company and we got to know the guys that were responsible for that, just became friends with them. They were starting a new division to develop newer games, card games that sort of thing and I hated the job that I was in, so I said “Please, please bring me aboard so I can get out of advertising!” So I did. Honestly, I don’t think I ever really-, I never set out to become a game designer. It was just something that I lucked into.
CG: They brought you on board to help with game design?
TB:: To help more with graphics actually. My background is in journalism and advertising. I was Word boy and graphic design boy.
CG: Then how did you make the decision to branch out on your own?
TB:: Well, I didn’t. That was forced on us. They dissolved the division that I was working for. It was called Journeyman Press, which was a division of the United States Playing Card company. The owners of the United States Playing Card company were grooming the company itself to sell it. And so they were cutting out the excess chaff and waste and unfortunately Journeyman Press was one of the more wasteful things. It was very poorly run.
CG: Did you have to buy back your own rights to Zombies?
TB:: Yes, yes. Yes we did. We did that two years after we left.
CG: Because as an employee you had made it under contract with them?
TB:: Yes, exactly. They owned it. They had every right to it, but they were very gracious and sold it to me after a couple of years. But it wasn’t free! Let’s just put it that way. [Laughs]

Zombies Smart Phone Game

CG: I’m not aware of this, but do you have any apps for Zombies online?
TB:: Yeah, actually it’s out on the Windows phone right now. There will be some announcements in the very near future as to other platforms that it might be on, but I can’t say any more than that right now.
CG: Do you play it yourself?
TB:: Oh yeah. Yeah. It’s on my phone right now.
CG: How well do you do at playing Zombies?
TB:: I die a lot! [Laughs]
CG: Is that part of the game design.
TB:: Oh yeah, it says that in the rules. That’s why you start over again. You don’t just die and that’s it, because that would be very short.

The Current Number of the Beast

Satanic devil playing with dice on cover of Twilight Creations Current Number of the BeastCG: What’s the genesis of The Current Number of the Beast?
TB:: Honestly? We were playing a game in the driveway at home listening to the radio. Actually the hardcore heavy metal station on Sirius satellite radio and they do a countdown and it’s called “The Current Number of the Beast” and we thought that was hilarious. So we wrote it down kind of thing. We went “We should design a game called the Current Number of the Beast”. Long story short, when we sobered up it was still hilarious. And so Kerry actually got to work on it and she came up with a dynamite little game.
CG: So your wife’s the designer?
TB:: Yeah. Actually she’s a better designer than I am by far. I’m a better tweaker. I’m better at taking what she comes up with and making it better, but as far as initial design, she’s way better than I am.
CG: What caught my eye about it is that I can’t imagine this product in the 80s, the controversey it would have caused.
TB:: Oh yeah. That’s kind of what we were going for.
CG: Now it doesn’t seem tame, but it’s-
TB:: It’s almost inane now. The world has definitely changed hasn’t it?
CG: So is this something that you yourself would play now? How much game playing do you actually do now?
TB:: Actually we do more now than we have in the past few years. I’ve been doing this personally with Journeyman Press and on our own and everything for 13 years now. There was like maybe a three or four year stretch a few years ago where it was like, “OK, if I never see another game, it’ll be OK with me.” And then about a year ago or so we started actually playing more stuff again. Actually a lot of Fantasy Flight, Mayfair, and Z-Man Games stuff. Like Wiz-War, I love Wiz-War. And my wife and I we always play a lot of Scrabble. Scrabble’s our favorite game. We can play Scrabble sitting here at the booth. We have DSs, so we play on them.
CG: Who usually wins at that?
TB:: That’s usually about 50/50. She’s a better player, but I have a better vocabulary. Yeah, it’s about 50/50, although I won two out of three games yesterday.
CG: What was your reaction to The Current Number of the Beast? Did you majorly react or did you just say, “Ok, this is a good idea, let’s see what we can do with it.”?
TB:: That was one of the few times where I went “Wow, that is very very cool.” I’ll put it to you this way. Usually when we design a game and get it playtested, playtested, playtested, and get it out to the manufacturer, it becomes “OK, I don’t want to see this again for 6 months or so”. This one we sent to the manufacturer and we continued to play it. We’ve played it a couple of dozen times already this weekend back at the hotel. It’s that much fun. It’s that solid of a game. It’s quick, it’s down, it’s dirty. The cards are fun. It’s just an awesome game. But yeah, that one was one where I went “Wow. I can’t wait to show this to people.”

Twilight Creations and Organized Play

CG: Is the company pretty much you two?
TB:: It is Kerry and I, yes.
CG: Do you have demo guys?
TB:: Oh, yeah. Like at Gen Con and stuff we have a group of people who help us out.
CG: Fans?
TB:: Yeah. They’ve turned into friends over the years. Even at Spiel we have half a dozen guys that live in Essen and Dusseldorf and stuff that help us out.
CG: But it could be you at other shows demoing the games?
TB:: Yeah, if it’s a small show, it’s just her and I. Like Dragon*Con, it’s just her and I, not that Dragon*Con’s a small show.
CG: Have you ever realized something about a game while demoing or do you try to have the game so figured out by that point-
TB:: It happens. That happens every once in a great while. I can’t think of any examples off-hand. Generally it’s seeing uses for things that we didn’t. For example, the promo card for this year, What The Hell? Ten Years, I was reading it earlier today and went, “Wow, this is a lot more powerful than I thought it was.” Because I thought of a new use for it.
CG: Powerful?
TB:: Yeah, exceedingly so.
[Some conversation about the absence of organized play from Twilight Creations.]
CG: Why have you chosen not to do organized play?
TB:: It’s not even a choice. Organizing organized play is, it’s like herding cats. We’ve tried so many things over the years to get people to go out to game stores in their area and demo for us and stuff. Everybody just always wants “Send me every one of the games you make and I’ll be happy to do that” and that’s just giving stuff away at that point.
CG: So it’s not cost effective?
TB:: We haven’t found a cost effective way of doing it, no. If you can figure out how to do it, I’d be happy [to know].
CG: How do you feel about the concept of organized play?
TB:: Oh, I think it’s great, but to actually get people to go out and do it is the problem. We have a couple people throughout the country that’ve actually been with us pretty much from the beginning who still go out and show people the games and demo at game shops and stuff…
CG: So it’s not that you don’t see Zombies!!! as something to play competitvely…?
TB:: It’s more of a beer and pretzels game anyway. It’s not so competitive. People do run it in tournament format, but it’s not something that we actively promote or anything. It’s more of a social sort of game. Toss in a movie, open a beer, and kill some zombies.

CG: Wrapping up, any exciting new stuff coming up? You’ve got the phone announcements forthcoming.
TB:: There’s some big news in the next month or so on the video game front for Zombies!!!. We’re doing a Zombies!!! scenario book this fall, maybe the beginning of next year. We’re going to keep on chugging along.