A Conversation with Michael Coe, the designer of Dungeon Heroes and founder of Crash Games

It is my pleasure to have Michael Coe, the founder of Crash Games and designer of Dungeon Heroes, as my guest this time on Go Forth And Game.

Tom: Welcome Michael. Remind us about yourself and Crash Games.
Michael: Well Tom, let me start by saying I am a proud husband and father to be (a girl!). And, in the words of the late great, Dicky Fox “I love the mornings! I clap my hands every morning and say, ‘This is gonna be a great day!” I work hard, earn an honest living and spend a lot of my time pondering whether I should play a board game or a video game right now. Who am I kidding? I make games, and those who share this privilege know there’s not a lot of time to play them. Patrick and I, along with our wives Jessica and Brittany founded Crash Games in Oct. 2011. Since then, my first published game design Rise! has hit game tables worldwide. We are soon to release our second game, a design by Patrick Nickell, The Lost Dutchman. Now, we prepare ourselves for another epic journey, as each game is, with Dungeon Heroes!
Tom: Man, there’s a lot of that birth stuff going around.  I just interviewed Jason Kotarski, designer of The Great Heartland Hauling Company, and they’re having a baby like now.  Actually by the time this is posted it will have arrived. Congrats Jason!!  It’s cool that your wives are so involved with the company. We all know that outside of a few ‘game rock stars’, everyone else has a day job.  What do you do to fuel your gaming habit?

Michael: Tom, I bartend and manage an Outback Steakhouse. That’s right! Would you like mushrooms with that?
Tom: I don’t care for mushrooms. I’ll have sour cream, butter, and chives on that baked potato though. I like Outback btw.
What was the catalyst game for you?  What game got all this started?
Michael: Life!? No, not the board game, the experience. We are all pawns in a roleplay adventure game. Pawns confused as Kings. Alright, all philosophy aside? Candy Land. The art of that game took my imagination on a grand adventure as a child. Nah, maybe it was the Legend of Zelda on the NES. I don’t know. I later grew into games like Heroes’ Quest and Dungeon and Dragons and fell deeply in love with the medieval fantasy. In my recent adulthood I’ve played a lot of World of Warcraft. But, when I break it all down, it wasn’t any specific game that got this all started. It was my passion for games in general, my love for fantastic escapes, and my desire to share that with others.
Tom: It was Uncle Wiggly game for me.  I love that art and the crazy characters.  D&D was the true gateway into the ‘hobby’ game community  for many of us. Escape. That’s what did it for me. Running off to a world of monsters and heroes. That’s good fun right there.
Now for Dungeon Heroes. Tell us all about it, what is it about, how do you play?
Michael: Dungeon Heroes is an opportunity for people who don’t have a lot of time to leave the mundane world behind and emerge themselves into a rich dungeon experience. It’s a 2 player, turn by turn, competition of strategy and tactics that plays under 30 minutes. The elements explored in Dungeon Heroes vary depending on what side of the board you sit. As the Dungeon Lord you must incorporate memory and the ability to bluff with tile placement and timing. As the Hero Party you get to enjoy deduction and risk vs. reward.

Michael’s brain.

Tom: Where did the idea for Dungeon Heroes come from?
Michael: My brain Tom, my brain…  😉

Tom: Did anything change from initial concept to final product?
Michael: The final product is still pending a successful Kickstarter campaign, but regards to gameplay, changes have definitely been made. Small tweaks here and there have been made to balance the two sides while still maintaining their spirit and diversity. My goal as a game designer and the unanimous goal of Crash Games is to provide quality entertainment. We believe this comes from the refinement of play testing and constructive feedback combined with the willingness to adapt a game based on a breakdown of those results. The Kickstarter campaign started Oct. 16.  You can find it at the link below.

Dungeon Heroes

Tom: This is a dungeon crawl. You are actually promoting it as ‘The Lunch Time Dungeon Crawl’.  There are a ton of dungeon crawling games out there.  Why jump into a crowded pool?  What makes Dungeon Heroes different enough to set it apart?
Michael: The difference with Dungeon Heroes is in that tagline, it’s truly a dungeon adventure that can be brought to work and played on your lunch break. You are right; there are a lot of dungeon crawls on the market. It’s because it’s a theme enjoyed by so many and it’s a shame that for so long people had to a lot large chunks of time to really get a fulfilling dose. Dungeon Heroes is here to change that. It offers deep and riveting dungeon drama in a short span of time. The setup and pack up are an absolute minimal, the rules are simple to learn and teach and with contrasting sides every game is different.
Tom: I really have to agree.  I does play in under 45 minutes AND you get that rpg-ish, dungeon crawly feel from the game.  I have a review/pre-productions copy of the game. Thanks by the way. The art is pretty good. Tell me a little about the artist and how you joined forces.
Michael: Bill Bricker was referred to us by another Publisher. He has a wonderful reputation and work ethic and comes highly recommended. Patrick and I had an opportunity to meet with him and his wife at GenCon this year. We were both very impressed with him, not just his talent but his professionalism. Working with Bill has been a delight and he gets four Rhino Horns up from this Crash! People can contact him through his website http://www.kavoc.com/
Tom: What are the plans for Dungeon Heroes?
Michael: Why, global domination and mass takeover of every lunch hour of every job in existence, of course. Muah hah hah!

Tom: What are the aspects of a good Dungeon Heroes player?
Michael: One of the shining elements of Dungeon Heroes is that the aspects of a good player depend of the side you playing. Playing as the Dungeon Lord offers a very distinct and different experience than that of playing as the Hero Party. A good Dungeon Lord will construct a flexible dungeon that is defensive and protects its denizens and treasures during the passive phase of the game but flips over to be ruthless and cruel during the aggressive phase. A good Hero Party is swift and precise, taking calculated risks with minimal waste.

Tom: What is your favorite game mechanism?
Michael: I must say I love tile placement! I’m a Carcassonne junky and I already know the first step to recovery is admitting I have a problem so “spare me the routine Ventura.”

G. D. Falksen in full steampunk glory.

Tom: We’ve started playing more Carcassonne lately.  I had forgotten what a good game it is. We’ve had zombies, pirates, city building, deck building. What’s the next hot theme in board games?
Michael: Steam-punk Panda! Dammit Tom, you made me release our secret weapon too early!
Tom: Oddly enough, steampunk was mentioned by another of my guests.  So you heard it here first.  Steampunk is the next big game theme.
What is next for you?  What else is in the que?  What’s next for Crash Games?
Michael: My next level in this game of life is fatherhood. I’m told I must equip myself with a pillow that milks the most out of sleep time… that was an unintended pun. As for Crash Games, we have some very exciting things in the queue: Rancheros by Patrick Nickell, Paydirt by Tory Niemann, and another one of my designs, Lords, Ladies & Lizards! Bookmark and visit www.CrashGamesAZ.com often for more information on our upcoming titles.
Tom: I’m very interested in Paydirt in particular.  LLL sounds fun.  But I don’t know anything about Rancheros.  Want to expound on each a bit?  Any chance of getting review copies? Is there anything else you would like to talk about?
Michael: Tom, I will take this time to thank you what you do for the board game community. Your blog is offers wonderful insight to the industry trends and professionals. Always a neat and rewarding read.
Tom: That’s very kind of you.  I’m glad Go Forth is providing something back to the gaming community. How can people contact you?  Are there any links you would like folks to visit?
Michael: At this time we would love to direct everyone’s attention to our Kickstarter page for Dungeon Heroes. You can also learn a lot about Dungeon Heroes and see some of Bill’s wonderful art at http://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/127981/dungeon-heroes and of course our company website www.CrashGamesAZ.com

Thanks for the super fun interview Michael!

Readers, there are 9 days left in the Dungeon Heroes Kickstarter campaign.  Please follow the links above and give some support for a really fun, quick game.  You can learn more about it from my recent review.  And look for Crash Games titles at your favorite game store and buy lots.

Thanks again for reading.

Tom G