Comic Book Crisis: who it is and how it came to be! An infant board game was placed in a rocket and launched from a doomed planet before it exploded!!
I'm very excited about Comic Book Crisis but the game began as a different (but not too dissimilar) creation. As a big comic book fan, I have always wanted to make a superhero game. I've played around with making games of different genres: a skirmish game, a card game, a dungeon crawl; but none of the game concepts seemed very unique or exciting to me.
Not long after I sold Pantone the Game to Cryptozoic Entertainment, they released Mighty Meeples: pawns themed to the heroes and villains of the DC Universe. They were great looking pieces, but they had one problem... there was no game to go with them!
I decided that I would create a prototype to pitch to Cryptozoic Entertainment. One of the early challenges was which characters to use? The meeples were sold as sets but also blind-bagged. I wanted to include all of the characters, but there was no guarantee that a player would have them all. A core set of characters would have to be included with the game. I chose the classic DCU characters and their arch-villains: Batman, Robin, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Aquaman and the Flash against Joker, Catwoman, Lex Luthor, The Cheetah, Sinestro, Deathstroke, Black Manta and Professor Zoom.
As they were meeples, I determined that an euro-style game would be the most appropriate. I was (and still am) fascinated with worker placement games, so that was my starting place. I love the idea of an "Ameritrash" theme such as superheroes applied to a very "Euro" style game play such as worker placement. I particularly was excited about the visual of the meeples being placed on a comic book. I put together a prototype pretty quickly.
In the game, players would recruit a team of heroes and place their meeple onto a comic book panel to collect resources and rescue citizens.
Some of these resources should look familiar to you...
The resources would be used to level-up the heroes powers so when they were placed again on the comic, they would have better abilities.
The villains would be placed on the board to complicate the hero's actions, place traps and capture citizen before they could be rescued. If a villain was defeated they would go to jail or they could escape and go back to the Hall of Doom. ("defeated" heroes would go back to the Hall of Justice for a turn.)
I initially wanted the players to "move" the heroes and villains on the comic book like how the player moves across the comic in the classic Sega game: Comix Zone.
My first attempt at a comic book board ended up looking more like storyboards than a comic book to me. (The yellow "sunburst" panels were wild card panels where any type of resource could be collected.) I didn't want players to be playing on a map, I wanted it to feel like a comic book page! (although at one point, I did consider using a city map - but I felt it distracted too much from the "play on a comic book" concept.)
Next, I considered the comic to be composed of randomly drawn "panel" cards that would create the comic book board, but I didn't like that it just ended up making an incoherence and random jumble of a story. It felt more like a puzzle. Determining which panels to play where took up too much of the player's bandwidth. I wanted the player's concentration to be on worker placement.
I playtested this version a few times. In the game, heroes would race through the city, collecting resources to complete famous story lines from DC comic books. It was overly complicated with too many boards and cards to keep track of.
It was about this time that I pitched the game to Cryptozoic. Unfortunately, due the conditions of their contract with DC, I learned that they couldn't use the Mighty Meeples in a game. (which I still feel is a shame) But I was captivated by the core concept of a "worker placement game on a comic book". How could I make this game work? Without the DC comic characters, what was I to do?!
Then inspiration struck again...
To be continued... at https://www.patreon.com/ScottRogersDesigner