The Brigade: Red Genie Games Q&A

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This week I spoke with Alex and Ben from Red Genie Games about their upcoming Kickstarter board game The Brigade, which is set to launch on Wednesday August 2. Here's what they had to say about the firefighting game.

Hello thanks for taking the time out to talk to me, can you tell our readers a bit about The Brigade?

The Brigade is a 1-4 player game of fantasy firefighting in the town of Tinderbox, where a firestorm has magically appeared above the Pyromancers University and is raining fireballs down on the town.

Players control rival firehouses offering protection to the good citizens of Tinderbox. The aim of the game is to win the loyalty of the people with acts of heroic fire fighting and win election to the position of town Fire Chief.

For a first time publisher you seem to be very conscientious in terms of your approach, at least in terms of the looks and feel of the brigade. Why was this important to you?

Alex: Being a graphic designer I tend to be a bit of a perfectionist. I was told yesterday while reading a comic with a friend that they enjoy the story and find it interesting when I observe what's in the backdrops instead of just reading the thing. I wouldn’t sleep well knowing it could have been better.

Ben: Along the same lines as Alex, with a design background I really appreciate aesthetics in games. We were also really lucky with our artist, he came out of the gate with some great concept art and set the bar pretty high from the start.

It's clear that theming and theme are important to Red Genie Games. The firefighting theme is a little used one, but fantasy is arguably overused, what made you decide to combine them?

Alex: I think the main idea came to Ben, Sir Terry Pratchett inspired, and we built of that first concept. Fantasy is a genre enjoyed by millions of people, it's easy to make a fantasy themed game, but there are always unique aspects you can take.

Ben: Yeah a cornerstone of creativity has always been originality for me, the first question I ask is “what hasn’t been done before?" The theme was born of a 30-second scene in the movie Gangs of New York, where two rival fire crews meet at a house fire and start fighting instead of putting the fire out.

The humor and setting of the scene reminded me of the  “Guards, Guards!” series and it all grew from there. At least something good came out of that movie.

It's clear that theming and theme are important to Red Genie Games. The firefighting theme is a little used one, but fantasy is arguably overused, what made you decide to combine them?

Alex: I think the main idea came to Ben, Sir Terry Pratchett inspired, and we built of that first concept. Fantasy is a genre enjoyed by millions of people, it's easy to make a fantasy themed game, but there are always unique aspects you can take.

Ben: Yeah a cornerstone of creativity has always been originality for me, the first question I ask is “what hasn’t been done before?” The theme was born of a 30-second scene in the movie Gangs of New York, where two rival fire crews meet at a house fire and start fighting instead of putting the fire out.

The humor and setting of the scene reminded me of the  “Guards, Guards!” series and it all grew from there. At least something good came out of that movie.

You seem like a creatively strong team, how do creative meetings work at Red Genie Games look?

Alex: Hahaha, we used to be able to see each other in person, but now it's internationally. Ben is in Spain and myself in Australia. There is a little back and forth on chat programs, but we compliment each other quite well. If I'm having trouble I'll send a file and Ben will fix it up and vice versa.

Ben: Yeah they look like Facebook Messenger posts and Google Drive updates. We just worked off momentum for The Brigade, it’s worked out really well and we now have a better feel for each other's strengths.

Your campaign starts on August 2nd yet your website already looks like a slick Kickstarter page, displaying all sorts of information including number of play tests. Why did want to share this information and in this way?

Alex: Ben is a website genius, he built it all.

Ben: Genius is a strong word. There is a movement in the startup world towards full transparency and I was influenced a bit by that. By sharing as much of the journey as possible you allow people to get invested in your story and it helps in creating a fan base.

When you think of firefighting board games the obvious one is the co-op Flashpoint, have you deliberately tried to distance yourself from this with your theme and the competitive nature of the brigade?

Alex: To be honest I'm not a big fan of co-op games, so keeping that distance is easy. Flashpoint is a little too real for me as well, we wanted to have fun, it's a funny town with a funny name with funny characters.

Ben: Yeah I didn’t think it would draw many comparisons so there was no conscious thought towards making it different to Flashpoint.

When you think of firefighting board games the obvious one is the co-op Flashpoint, have you deliberately tried to distance yourself from this with your theme and the competitive nature of the brigade?

Alex: To be honest I'm not a big fan of co-op games, so keeping that distance is easy. Flashpoint is a little too real for me as well, we wanted to have fun, it's a funny town with a funny name with funny characters.

Ben: Yeah I didn’t think it would draw many comparisons so there was no conscious thought towards making it different to Flashpoint.

One of the early video reviews was fairly negative about the game. How do you deal with that? Have you made any changes in light of the review?

Alex: This review was a little early but there are a few more reviews coming. Being in Australia we needed to prepare early and we unfortunately sent out a bit of an immature version. Ben can probably explain better.

Ben: Yeah it was tough, especially after an overwhelmingly positive response locally, even in blind play-tests. The good thing was we improved the game with some key changes based on the feedback, and clarified some rules that may have been misinterpreted. One really good thing to come from that review was the suggestion that The Brigade would make a good computer game, so look out for that down the track!

Finally, as a group of board game reviewers Board Game Exposure are attempting to make the task of getting reviews easier and more efficient. We do this by having a collective of reviewers who deal with all the logistics, what do you think to this as a designer/publisher?

Ben: Anything that makes it easier to get reviews is a great idea! The industry around board game KS’s is growing rapidly but in multiple directions at once. I think I am now a member of 12 different Facebook groups to do with board game design or Kickstarter publishing.

There is so much to do when organizing a campaign, a single point of contact to manage something as important as reviews would be a godsend.

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