Kick The Box Interview with Robb Clark, The Creator of They’re Coming

Kick The Box

Interview with Robb Clark

Zombie Priest by Chris Martinez

We have another special interview this week. This time with the creator of They’re Coming zombie card game that is running a campaign on Kickstarter as we speak. Sit back and enjoy the show as I pick Robb’s brain for a few minutes.

KTB: How long have you been playing tabletop games? 

Robb Clark:I never really had many people to play tabletop with til the “Card Game Renaissance” as I call it. That would be the days after Revised Edition Magic:The Gathering and around the time the Star Trek CCG and a whole slew of others came out. I was in middle school and stayed inside with a group of friends and played through our “outdoor fun” period.

KTB: I think everybody has that ‘one’ game that opens the door to the hobby. How many people do you have working on this project?

Robb Clark: Counting myself, testers, artist, etc? Right around 15 people, mostly artists and layout/design folks with a couple of testers including myself and misc. volunteers. My wife has been absolutely wonderful in helping with PR. It’s definitely a friends & family affair!

KTB: That’s awesome! How long have you been working on this project? 

RC: The seeds of the idea have been rattling around for a few years but I didn’t seriously get into the project until about 2 years ago. Then I started playing on my iPad with ideas for a card game, gameplay mechanics, etc. The game as it is today was very nearly a Gladiator game but after my 8th re-reading of World War Z and my 6th reread of the Zombie Survival Guide (bless you Max Brooks) I decided that it had to be zombies.

KTB:  I need to read World War Z still. Have heard good things about it. Is the layout and icons of the cards finalized or are you still working on tweaks?

RC: The layout and everything is finalized. We wanted to wait until we had the visual feel and gameplay done before moving to Kickstarter. This means we can get the game out asap once funding is done. The only thing we’re actually tweaking at the moment is the instruction manual. It’s tough to teach a game you’ve been playing for months and months without being there to teach it.

KTB: Yeah, I bet. Some companies still can’t seem to get that correct. (I’m looking at you Fantasy Flight!) Can you only move one location per turn? 

RC:  Yes, sort of. There are cards that let you move in such a way that, in theory, you could “skip” a location. Leap of Faith is a powerful card, it allows you to sacrifice a Faithful survivor in order to skip past a location. Other options that make retreating more enticing and “Scouting” are in the works. If we exceed our funding goal then there will be an expansion and those will be in it.

KTB:  In your gameplay video, how does Maria end up killing the zombie? 

RC: We didn’t want combat to drag on for turn after turn, and sometimes with the cards there would just be a stalemate that couldn’t be avoided. We tried resolving it by adding more rules and special cards but in the end it felt clunky. We’ve made it so that Survivors get a “lucky shot” after two rounds of combat and kill the target zombie (assuming it hasn’t killed them, three injuries and they succumb to their wounds). The price they pay for their success is that now they’re infected, open wounds and zombie blood splattering about aren’t a great combination.

KTB: That works. Does she only gets to do 4 points of damage cause the pistol is only used in the first round, right?

RC: Correct, the pistol is a ranged weapon. There are some cards and abilities that can allow for enhanced damage or using ranged weapons in melee (second turn of combat) but typically you’ll want to equip your Survivors with ranged AND melee weapons. Shooting zombies with a rifle when their hands are on your throat isn’t easy. That’s where a big screwdriver or machete comes in.

KTB:  Is there a standard amount of survivors that a person normally starts with? And does having fewer or more of that number increase/decrease the difficulty of the game or does it upset the balance of the game? And same thing with the locations, Is there a standard number you start with?  And does having fewer or more of that number increase/decrease the difficulty or does it upset the balance of the game?

RC: I’ll answer these all together since they kind of tie in. Yes, typically you’ll start with 5 Survivors. This is something people are welcome to tweak based on their time for a game. If you wanted to play a quicker game you can reduce the number of Survivors/Locations. Though it’s suggested that you reduce on a 1:1 ratio. 3 Survivors? Then use 3 Locations.

The “Standard” game would be, 5 Survivors to 5 Locations. Survivor cards are what the Survivor player opens the game with, the Locations are what the Zombie player opens with against him/her. More of one than the other would throw things off, though you could definitely make marathon games with more Locations or tougher games with fewer Survivors.

KTB: Any ideas for a multiplayer aspect of this game?

RC: We toyed with some 4 player ideas while playtesting but it would require special cards and gameplay mechanics. It’s something we’d love to do, maybe even a crossing of paths with players sharing one big line and having instances of meeting each other and fighting or just passing each other by (like Shaun of the Dead). We left the game very “mod” friendly, lots of house rules options are in there. The Single Pack mode was something we did late in testing because we were mostly expecting that each player would buy a pack. I think of the Single Pack mode as the “travel edition” since it requires fewer cards and less space. I’m sure once people get it in their hands and a few friends get into it they’ll be emailing us with some great 4-player ideas. Right now though, we’re focused on getting the 2-player game out the door and the Kickstarter funded. I’d love to see us hit the stretch goals because there’s some great cards in there that people haven’t even seen yet!

Thanks again Robb for taking the time to answer a few questions! If anyone else has any questions, feel free to leave in the comments below and check out Robb’s They’re Coming Kickstarter campaign! And as always . . .

Spread The Addiction!


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