Tripods Board Game: Geoff Sims Interview

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There are a lot of big game publishers out there but here at Geek Syndicate we also support the independents. Tripods the Board Game  is one of those games and at Asylum, the Steampunk event in Lincoln a few weeks ago managed to sneak in a game  as well as talk to its designer Geoff Sims.

Fans of War of the Worlds will know this story all too well but we wanted to know the story behind the game which you can help fund.

It’s the last years of the 19th century and London is under attack from outer space.

The population panics.

Tidings of Martian war machines and devastation spread throughout the city.

Newspaper sellers cry their headlines even as they flee the oncoming carnage.

Carriages are fought over in a bid to escape the crush of the narrow streets and as railway workers valiantly strive to convey people to safety the helpless mass of humanity turn on each other in a frantic bid to avoid destruction…

Geek Syndicate talks to Geoff Sims about this passion project.

Geek Syndicate: Can you tell us what Tripods is about and who you are?

Geoff Sims: Tripods is set during a Martian invasion of Victorian London. It’s a strategy survival board game with players vying to save as many of their pieces as possible from the terrible alien weaponry. I’ve been playing board games since I was very small and although I’ve designed plenty this is the first I’ve tried to launch commercially. I’m part of a small community group in East Bristol and we’re working with those stuck outside of conventional structures of employment, trying to help them take control of their work and realise their visions. This is part of that learning process for me; finding out about working with printers, crowd funding, marketing etc. so I can pass the experience on to others.

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GEEK S: Where did the idea for Tripods come from and how long has been since that initial idea?

GS: The idea came to me over breakfast at the Asylum Steampunk Festival in Lincoln last year. Since we’ve just had another that’s almost a whole year from conception to print. The first two or three months were spent working out the basic mechanics, then we played and refined a lot. And a bit more! Once a couple of months had gone by without making any changes I reckoned it was ready to move to the next stage and had a set of prototypes produced, then played a whole lot more games with them!

GEEK S: Tell us how you funded this?

GS: Everything except the printing has been done in-house and so only cost time. The prototypes worked out pretty expensive, mainly due to shipping (they were done in America), the dreaded VAT and customs duty. Those three factors pretty much doubled the cost!

GEEK S: How did you go about designing the game and rules for Tripods?

GS: I started off with an idea. Not sure why H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds came into my head (except that we were at a Victorian Science Fiction convention!) but I started thinking about the games that had been based on the book before. They all seemed to be man-vs-alien and I thought; “That’s not the point of the book, the point of the book is that humanity is helpless against the Martians. All they can do is react. This is a story about tensions between people caught in an impossible situation, not a fight between two planets.” So I wanted players to all be the mass of humanity, with the Martians outside of player control. That shaped the basic mechanic of the game. I didn’t want it to be entirely a game of chance though, I don’t like games which feel like they could play themselves without any player input, so I introduced the ‘Character Cards’ which allow a degree of control over what happens due to the actions of particular individuals. It was important to me that the board shifted and changed over the course of the game to avoid players feeling they’d found somewhere ‘safe’, nowhere should seem safe from the Tripods!

GEEK S: Who did the artwork for Tripods?

GS: My partner, Solly Solomon, is a very talented portrait artist (available for commission!) and agreed to do a series of paintings for me. The characters are all friends of ours that I dressed up, most of them made up the key play testing team. Solly trained as a scenic artist and likes to use a lot of texture in her work which gives a nice, aged feel. The Tripod itself is painted from a small model Tripod I made and photographed. All the black and white artwork is my own handiwork; I drew it about six times larger and scaled it down to tighten up the drawing. The idea is that it looks like Victorian woodcuts.

ARTWORK BY SALLY SOLOMON

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GEEK S: Why not call it War of the Worlds?

GS: Not a very catchy title for a game! But seriously, “War of the Worlds” the board game already exists (albeit quite an old game) and I wanted this one to be distinct. Besides, purists will notice it isn’t exactly the events from the book, for one thing I shifted the invasion back to the 19th century (in the book it happens in the early 1900s) to use the Victorian aesthetic I prefer. In fact calling it “Tripods!” (always with the exclamation mark!) was one of the first decisions I made, even before designing the game mechanics. It just feels like a good title, and works nicely in B-movie type font!

GEEK S: Who is Tripods going to appeal to?

GS: If you like to work out mathematical formulae in your head and plan your strategy carefully you’ll enjoy trying to equation your way through this game. If you prefer games of chance where the game works differently every time and no amount of careful planning will guarantee success then this game will also be right up your street! If you’re super-competitive and enjoy a bit of alliance-forging, backstabbing and petty revenge you’ll find plenty of chances for that here! If you’re looking for a short, simple game to play between more involved games or just while away an hour then I’d heartily recommend Tripods!

GEEK S: Is Tripods a standalone game or if all goes well would there be any expansions?

GS: We have two expansions planned,both will feature new Character Cards, Military Units and Martians plus a major new game mechanic. The first, “The Steampunks”, will open up the game for more Martian-hunting, whilst making the Martians themselves a whole lot more scary. Acclaimed author Robert Rankin has given his permission for us to use characters from his books for this expansion which we’re looking forward to playing around with. The second, “The Collaborators”, picks up the idea that some people would side with the Martians to save their own skins. The Character Cards from this expansion will focus on sabotaging other players and, although I don’t want to reveal too much, the new game mechanic promises to be an explosive aspect for the uber-competitive!

GEEK S: Where can people order Tripods?

GS: The game is for sale from TheGameCrafter.com but anyone outside America is likely to find the shipping makes it quite expensive. German company Ludo Fact are on board and ready to roll with a European print run and we have an Indiegogo campaign running until the end of October to raise funds. You can pre-order your copy from indiegogo.com/projects/tripods-the-board-game for £35 and providing the campaign is successful you should have your copy early in the new year. We need to sell about 300 copies to fund production, so spread the word! You can follow game developments and find out where we’re playing the next demo games on our Facebook page.

As we mentioned Geek Syndicate managed to play a game of Tripods and below are some shots of the game in progress. Look out for a full review soon.

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Tripods! is a narrative strategy game, with the overriding story pre-determined but the timing of events so flexible that no two games are ever identical.

During the game 2-4 players compete to have the most Survival points by the time the Martians are overcome. Points are gained for escaping, surviving and killing Tripods with the help of Her Majesty’s Army, but as the game goes on and alien foliage spreads throughout the city external help begins to fade away, leaving players fighting each other for the last remaining spaces of refuge. Watch your friends betray and backstab each other as the Tripods gaze on!

To see how the game works, have a look at the game rules or this unboxing and play-through video. The fully-annotated play-through can be found on our facebook page.

In each game box you will receive:

London Game board

Rulebook

8 Headline Event cards

66 Tidings cards

20 Character cards

5 Tripod cards and card stands

5 Military Unit cards and card stands

40 Populace Counters

6 Chance Counters (4 Cylinders and 2 Carriages)

1 Train Counter

17 Discontinuance Counters

1 10-Sided Die

For other board game news see HERE

Source: Tripods the Game
Reporter: Montoya

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