Board games are one of the most popular means of amusement that can be enjoyed by a range of ages using several different play tactics and themes. In April of 2017, a popular and award-winning indie game publisher known as Breaking Games announced that will be releasing five games to 650 Barnes & Noble stores in April of 2017. The games are titled Boomtown Bandits, Game of 49, Keep Calm, Game of Phones and MoonQuake Escape and they are intended for a wide range of ages and players.
Boomtown Bandits is recommended for people aged thirteen and older and can be played by up to five people. A fast-paced dice game, Boomtown Bandits, has a western theme that focuses on stealing loot. Boomtown Bandits was created by Isaac Epp who was inspired by the depictions of shootouts in the old west. “I was struck by the thought that classic revolvers have six bullets, and six-sided die obviously have six sides… where could I go with that?” Isaac explained. “The locations and loot idea came after that as I tried to flesh it out into more of a compelling experience to play through. Then for the look, I wanted something that would feel like a fresh take on the Old West without getting too gritty or dark.” Isaac enlisted the help of an artistic partner named Erwin Heya, and together they came up with the visuals of the game that they both approved. After prototyping with several groups, Isaac met Peter Vaughn at the Protospiel in San Jose in 2014 which subsequently lead to Breaking Games publishing the game.
Game of 49 is recommended by Mensa and is intended for two to five players ages 10 and older. The game requires players to bid and battle their way to victory on a small board and with a tight budget. Mark Corsey developed The Game of 49 after constantly wondering “what if” while he played other games and he was delighted that the game was so well-received. “I’ve always gotten a kick out of the fact that America’s genius organization devotes one entire gathering every year to just playing games,” Mark proclaimed. “That tells me they’re even smarter than I realized! I was delighted when Mensa recommended The Game of 49 because it tells me my game succeeds both as a diversion and as a challenge. That’s a dream combination for a game inventor.”
Keep Calm is a party game that places players in hilarious and ridiculous situations. It is recommended for people who are 18 and older, and three or more can play at once. Keep Calm is the product of the imaginations of Neil Hoffman and Ivan Turner, who also created the popular card game ApocalypZe which started with a Kickstarter campaign in 2013 and went on to be produced by Breaking Games. “We love party games, especially the saucy ones, and we wanted to create something that would have broad appeal.” Ivan stated. “The Keep Calm theme occurred to us as just a great response to any kind of situation you might find yourself in. We’ve gotten all kinds of reactions from players, ranging from uncontrollable laughter to shock. And people really love the Panic! cards which let players not only react to situations, but take actions that affect the game.”
Game of Phones is for people thirteen and older and only needs three players. The game asks participants to find the coolest—or weirdest—things on the other players’ phones. To do this, there are more than one-hundred cards that include phrases like “Best Selfie” or “Most Unread Emails” and so on. Co-creator Luke Stern for the idea thanks to a class assignment at his graduate school. “We had to dream up a service or product and launch it before the semester was over,” Luke stated. “One theme that continued to surface in our conversations was the presence of technology in social interactions. We saw that people had come up with ways to combat the distraction of technology while hanging out with friends.” From there, the idea was born and fostered via a Kickstarter. “We found out about Breaking Games because Ad Magic had printed Cards Against Humanity among other awesome games,” Luke explained. “One of the most exciting things for us is seeing people get creative with their phones, which has led us to create more cards encouraging this kind of play … We’ve also found the game to be a great ice breaker among strangers. Some of the cards involve texting the judge, so you end up with people’s phone numbers. We like to think we’ve kicked off some friendships and maybe even romantic relationships. We also love that people wake up the next day with all kinds of random texts, photos, and webpages on their phones. That the game leaves this digital trail is always amusing to us!”
MoonQuake Escape is a science-fiction themed game that takes place on Zartaclaton, a prison planet that experiences an earthquake and subsequently enables many prisoners to escape. However, there is only one rocket off the planet and up to six players of ten years of age or older must compete to see who can get to the rocket first. Designer Jeff Johnston got the idea for the game as a result of working on a family game about playing flashlight freeze tag using whimsical firefly-powered flashlights called Flashlights & Fireflies which was published by Gamewright. “I wondered what would happen to that game if the board moved to bring players together in interesting ways, and what if players could find special equipment to help them in a dangerous world,” Jeff explained. “The round board shouted a distant planet, and escaped prisoners racing to the last rocket seemed a perfect setting. And a moon orbiting around the board? Well, that’s because I couldn’t remember who’s turn it was, and if you have a moon, why not use it as a spinner instead of a simple die?!” Jeff met Breaking Games president, Shari Spiro, at a game convention in 2014 and she decided to publish MoonQuake Escape as soon as she saw it. “I knew right then I’d found a partner that was just crazy enough to make this unique game board,” Jeff declared. “It’s been a wonderful experience working with Shari’s team and watching MoonQuake Escape become real.”
Breaking Games president Shari Spiro certainly has an eye for games, and she is not afraid to give designers advice for how to improve their creations; whether that means changing a fundamental aspect of the gameplay or simply using more appealing colors for the boards. “We seek games that intrigue casual players and even non-gamers and get them into playing games with their friends and families,” Shari explained. “We like games that are easy to learn — but have the ability to go deeper and more strategic once everyone is familiar with the rules. I like to say we prefer strategic family games that are extraordinarily clever and attract people to them right away.”
Breaking Games is constantly on the lookout for new game ideas and they openly invite designers to submit ideas via their website. “The development team in LA and our team in NJ both review games and decide which we have a further interest in,” Shari said before adding, “and YES – I still test games – that’s the most fun part of the job!
[Featured Image by Shari Spiro]