We speak to John Lash from Geektopia Games. John and the team have introduced a fresh look at the beast that is MMA (Mixed Martial Arts). In their project, you'll be going head-to-head with your opponent with entirely asymmetric fighting styles.
Will you go for the knockout? Or will you ground and pound your rival, leaving them begging for mercy from your submission move?
The bell is about to ring for Cage Match!
Cage Match! is the first MMA board game I've heard of. How did you end up designing it?
It was the first MMA board game I had heard of when I started the project. However, I've sinced learned that there are other MMA games such as MMA Extreme Fight and Uncaged: World Fighters. Neither really made much of a mark, though. I hope this is the first one that does.
I was actually working on another game idea and came up with a "rock-paper-scissors-with-options-to-add-power" combat system that I thought worked pretty well. That game was for a licensed property that we weren't likely to get. So, I started to wonder, could I do anything else with this dynamic combat system that I've created? Then the idea for MMA hit me.
One of my best gaming buddies is a big MMA fan, and he got my wife and me into the sport a few years ago. It was a perfect theme for the game mechanisms I was working on.
What's your favourite part of playing Cage Match!?
It's really fun when you can pull off your special move. Not only are you demolishing your opponent, but you're doing it in an interesting way. For example, the other night I had fun with Warunee Dangda, pulling off a Muay Thai Plum that did massive damage to Monica Alvarado, my opponent. Despite that, Monica rallied to win the fight. I like that part about the game too, you're never out of it until it's over, just like a real MMA fight.
Are there any games that inspired you along the way?
Although my head is a catalogue of board game mechanisms, I didn't really look to other board games for this particular design. The concept of "focus," as something you build with small moves and spend on big moves, actually comes from PC games The World of Warcraft and Star Wars the Old Republic, where you build up "rage" and "focus," respectively.
This is the first game that you’ve designed and produced. What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned about game design through Cage Match!?
Only one lesson? I'll go with two! First, if you want to be a board game designer, you have to always be designing. As I mentioned, I was working on another game, one that was unlikely to ever go anywhere, but I still put time into it and did my best to make it good. Then, it ended up becoming something good in another envelope, so without that "always be designing" mentality, this game wouldn't be a reality.
Along the way, another key lesson I learned about game design was that less is more. A past iteration of the game - one I was fairly attached to - was much more involved. It took 15-30 minutes to play and had over twice as much content as the current version of the game. I miss some things about the old version, but the ability to play matches in five minutes is worth the trade off and will hopefully appeal to a wider group of gamers than a two-player MMA-themed game that can take 30 minutes to play.
What are the most interesting match-ups of fighting styles in Cage Match!? Do you have a favourite?
I think the best fights in Cage Match! are also the best fights in MMA: A boxing specialist versus a ground specialist. The boxer or kickboxer wants to stay on his or her feet throughout the fight. The wrestler or Jiu-Jitsu artist wants to take you to the ground and submit you, or rain ground strikes down on you.
As the boxer, you know what your opponent wants to accomplish. However, that doesn't automatically mean you can stop it from happening. Sometimes, the boxer type is so afraid of the take down that he leaves himself open to big punches and kicks, and a ground specialist has to be able to exploit that, as opposed to just focusing on getting the opponent to the ground.
Who would win in a fight between Ryan Reynolds (ju jitsu) and Hugh Jackman (boxing)?
Well, Reynolds and Jackman are both ripped, and have an extraordinary healing factor, but Jackman has the Adamantium. On the other hand, I'd generally go with the Jiu-Jitsu guy over the boxing guy, especially when both guys should be able to take a punch. Since I can't decide, I'll have to make Cage Match! fighter profiles for each and have them fight it out.