Launching this Wednesday on Kickstarter, can you save the world? Well, that’s the question, isn’t it?
Based on the hugely popular comic, our old chums at Mantic Games – who brought us IP classics Hellboy, Mars Attacks! and The Walking Dead, along with our all time-favourite sci-fi murderball games, Dreadball and Overdrive – have teamed up with IP-veterans River Horse Games (the team behind The Labyrinth, Dark Crystal and Pacific Rim games) to bring you The Umbrella Academy: The Board Game.
This new 1-5 player co-op game comes from the minds of Jack Caesar and Alessio Cavatore, who also created the original rules for Kings of War, Mantic’s massive fantasy battle game. River Horse are known for their gorgeously rendered, IP-faithful sculpts and unusual gameplay mechanics, so it’s going to be hard not to dive headlong into this… oh, go on then.
Now, as you know, we’re just a little bit biased, but we love the Mantic gang here – and the feeling’s pretty mutual, so once again we’re lucky enough to snag an exclusive interview with community manager Rob Burman, aka Crazy Bobby (@robzilla01).
Big Comic Page: Hey Rob, thanks once again for taking the time to talk to us once again.
Rob Burman: New phone, who dis? No, of course not! Always a pleasure to sit down (virtually) with the BCP crew.
BCP: Let’s dive right in: tell us a bit about the core mechanics of The Umbrella Academy!
RB: Sure. Umbrella Academy is a co-operative game for 1-5 players in which you’ve got to work together to defeat hazards that threaten to destroy the world. You know, just your typical Thursday afternoon for a hero.
However, not only do you have to deal with missile strikes and meteors, but a pesky villain – like the White Violin or Hazel and Cha Cha – will also be trying to ruin your day. Umbrella Academy is card-based and miniatures-based, with cards being used to represent the special abilities of the characters, while minis are moved around the board.
BCP: Obviously, you’ve got a strong relationship with Dark Horse Comics; tell us a bit about the genesis of the game.
RB: We’ve been speaking to Dark Horse for a while about an Umbrella Academy game – in fact, we first spoke about it before the Netflix series. We didn’t just want to make it a generic super hero game though, so we wanted to incorporate some element of the family feuds that are a central part of the graphic novels. This was an idea that Dark Horse really liked, so then we worked with them further on developing the idea. All the miniatures and gameplay have been approved by Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba too, so it’s got the creators’ stamp of approval.
BCP: Now as you know we’re huge fans of the Hellboy game(s), and family-friendly co-op apocalyptic (coapocalyptic?!) games generally. How does The Umbrella Academy differ from Hellboy as a gameplay experience?
RB: It’s extremely different. I would say that Hellboy is more of a dungeon crawler, whereas this is also like a puzzle game, where you have to work out how you’re going to defeat the hazards and villains with only a limited set of moves. The great thing is that it’s really quick to set up and play, so it’s perfect for a quick session on a game night, whereas Hellboy tends to be a longer experience.
BCP: If, say, you had to pick one of the 5 and one Enemy that you’re most excite to play and fight, which would it be (for me, it’s Dr Terminal)?
RB: Good question! I’ve played all the characters during playtesting and I think that Kraken is a tough but fun character to play as. Although he doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of someone like Rumor, he’s great at using special Advantage cards and sharing them around the team. In terms of villains… well, there’s one murderous chap I would like to fight.
BCP: How was it working with Alessio (and the River Horse Team) again?
RB: Alessio and Jack have been great to work with. It was quite unusual in terms of playtesting because a lot of the game was designed during lockdown, so we had to play over Tabletop Simulator. In some ways that actually helped because River Horse had to make the game super easy to understand because, not only were we learning how to play, we were also learning how to use Tabletop Simulator. It’s also great because River Horse really do their research on the source material and there are lots of little references to the comics spread throughout.
BCP: What are the highlights of the upcoming Kickstarter campaign for you, particularly in terms of stretch goals?
RB: I’m looking forward to adding some different ways to play. The game is already incredibly replayable because of the ever-changing hazard deck but we’re potentially going to add to that with even more villains and even more hazards!
BCP: Anything else particularly juicy (squishy, bloody…) you’d like to share with us?
RB: Stay tuned during the Kickstarter for details on how you can playtest the game yourself using Tabletopia! And, of course, hope to see all the BCP readers backing the project.
The Kickstarter goes live on Wednesday the 2nd of March CLICK HERE to be notified once it goes live.
So, there you have it! And remember, there’s still a week to enter our previous Geeking Out Giveaway, with the results – and of course another giveaway – next week!
Till then, gang!