Interview with Chris Rossetti of Rampage Games, about his mint tin game, Brace for Impact.
Chris, it’s great to be able to talk to you. We are going to “dive” right in and talk about Brace For Impact!. What can you tell us about the game and how it’s played?
Chris: Thanks for the invite! Brace for Impact! is a lightning-quick, 2-player real-time dice battler that fits in a mint tin! Your goal as a distinguished submarine commander is to either destroy your enemy or gather enough vital intelligence to win the day! Players roll 2 6-sided dice in real-time hoping for 7’s or doubles. Manage to roll either, and you have options. Surface and dive, gather intel, load and fire torpedoes and re-energize your crew to become victorious. The typical submarine showdown takes between 3-5 minutes. You’ll want to play again!
What is the story behind the creation of the game?
Chris: I was inspired to make a mint tin game while out to dinner with three awesome game designers, David & Kate Miller, and Dan Letzring. We hung out for hours in the corner of a Portsmouth, NH Margaritas and swapped countless stories. I discovered David and Kate had already created 3 hugely successful mint tin games. Their most recent, Mint Tin Mini Apocalypse, was a real-time dice game. I had never played a real-time dice game before, gave it a try and was hooked! David and Kate were huge inspirations (they still are)! I started messing around with a few mechanics in my head for my own real-time game and after about a year of development, I came up with Brace for Impact!
You mentioned David Miller of Subquark, earlier who has had several successful mint tin games. DId he give you any good advice or guidance when it came to making a mint tin game?
Chris: David Miller is a great guy. Although he did not provide specific advice regarding the development of mint tin game mechanics, his passion for quality and community interaction really resonated with me during the development of Brace for Impact! For example, David sourced all of his game components domestically. I thought this was a fantastic aspect of his campaign and I made sure to source all of my game components for Brace for Impact! from US manufacturers. I think the greatest takeaway I got from that night at dinner was that David loves games, gamers, and the gaming community and wants to provide the very best of himself to that crowd. I can only wish to be as genuine and successful as him!
What challenges did you face making a game that fits in a tiny tin?
Chris: I’d say the greatest challenge was trying to create a game with a lot of tension, choices, and replayability with so few components. Obviously, I was constrained by how many parts I could fit in the tin, but I think once I got the mechanics in order (7’s and doubles actions), figuring out the pieces to use and the number of those pieces was much less difficult. Another pressing issue was how the rules would be included in the game, as well as writing them in such a way that the game would be understood in the fewest words possible. Luckily The Game Crafter provides business card templates with rounded corners that fit perfectly within the desired tin, and I was somehow able to fit concise rules on the front and back of one card!
Let’s talk those doubles and 7s. I get why you choose seven outside of doubles, as it’s the most common number to come up when adding two dice together. But why did you decide to have only doubles and 7 do actions and not other results?
Chris: Great question! In grad school, I was required to take a probability class and we learned a lot about dice. You are correct when rolling 2 D6, a roll equal to 7 is most likely. You have a 1/6 chance of rolling it. Doubles are just as likely, and also have a 1/6 chance of being rolled, and with no overlap between 7’s and doubles, the chance you will have a usable action when you roll is 1/3, which turns out to be just right for a real-time game. Also, Doubles are easy to identify without much effort. For 7’s, you only have to memorize 1-6, 2-5 and 3-4. After hours of playtesting (which is a lot for a 3-minute game) the balance of rolls to actions felt pretty reasonable. Trying to include other dice rolls seemed more complicated than necessary and would have required more memorization. I think doubles and 7’s worked out nicely!
In Brace for Impact, players have the same goal and same abilities when they roll those doubles or sevens, did you ever toy with the idea either for Brace for Impact! or upcoming mint tin games, making the gameplay asymmetric?
Chris: Another great question. During development, there was a thought to have a submarine versus a destroyer with each player having different actions. The trouble was adequately balancing the different actions and not overcomplicating the rules with a variety of interactions. We actually have real-time game in the works that is asymmetrical, but it has a long, long way to go for the above reasons!
I think a real-time asymmetric game with your engine could be cool. Imagine stone-age hunters versus a herd of mammoths or an army against vs a kaiju Godzilla like creature, but I digress. You do, however, have another game coming this year in the mint tin series, though it’s not asymmetric. Could you tell us about it?
Chris: I do have another real-time dice game in the works! It’s called “11:59”. 11:59 (1159game.com)is a 2-Player doomsday micro dice game. It uses similar real-time mechanics as Brace for Impact!. As a decorated General with minutes left on the doomsday clock, your mission is to either succeed through diplomacy or destroy your enemy’s bunker and VIPs before your enemy beats you to it. Each General controls two dice and a missile silo full of nuclear warheads. Launch nukes, employ propaganda and fortify your bunker to become victorious.
We took everything we liked about Brace for Impact! and everything we thought we could improve and incorporated it into 11:59. The result is a faster, more intense and streamlined experience. We were also able to get the Kickstarter price down to $9 US shipping included! We go live on April 9th, 2019!
You publish these mint tin games (and other non-mint tin games) via your publishing company Rampage Games. Besides 11:59 are there any other games coming from you guys in 2019?
Chris: When we began using Kickstarter as a funding platform for our games, we had a few rules for ourselves. One of them was to only launch one campaign at a time. We said to ourselves that we would not launch a new game until the prior game had been completely fulfilled. Last year we fulfilled Zombie Road in a few months and decided to launch an expansion campaign. This was the first time we had launched two campaigns in one calendar year. Our team had mixed feelings about it. I think going forward we are going to stick to one Kickstarter campaign per year, so that means 11:59 will be our only Kickstarted game in 2019. However, we do have another game lined up for 2020, and it was a finalist in one of The Game Crafter’s contests.
As we wrap this up, what advice do you have for any designers out there that want to make a microgame that could say…well, could fit in a mint tin?
Chris: My advice to game designers would be to simply try to design a mint tin game. It is a great design constraint! You have limited space for components, and with fewer components, it is more difficult to create a replayable game that feels big. The task will really test your design chops. Using dice can help a lot! One last bit of advice – keep in mind your rules. There isn’t a lot of space in the mint tin so don’t make them too complicated! Other than that, just try to have some fun, and don’t forget to playtest!
Thanks, Chris, once again for taking the time out to do this interview.
If you like to talk with Chris you can find him at Twitter @RampageGamesLLC and you if you like to order a copy of Brace For Impact! you can find it at Rampage Games website: http://www.rampagegamesllc.com/