When was the last time you played a game that didn’t involve the use of a television, computer, controller, or the letters MMORPG? Well, for Drew Bancroft, the answer is probably “yesterday.” Bancroft is, as he puts it, “an internet guy” (he does project management and design), a father of three, and can now add “game creator” to his resume. He is the brain behind the new card game “Mad Science,” and recently he launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund its production.
“I’ve been playing a lot of card games and comic store games with my kids, and we were talking about building our own complicated deck building game, like “Magic, the Gathering” … I took a bunch of business card blanks and made a bunch of non-art cards. We tested a lot of concepts for a while before I started attaching art to them.” Bancroft actually worked with his kids to create the game, incorporating some of their wacky ideas into its 72-card deck, including three cards actually drawn by his kids. The result was a complex (though not complicated) card game in three phases.
In the first phase of the game, players follow a few simple rules to combine monster body parts and create a unique creature. In the second phase, these creatures roll a six-sided die in combat against a randomly selected “Horrible Experiment” that threatens the city. In the final phase, creatures now battle each other, ultimately taking each other apart.
– Mad Science The Card Game (Kickstarter)
While elements of gameplay resemble, and are inspired by, games like “Magic, the Gathering,” it doesn’t require the same time and monetary commitment to build your own deck. While they will be offering an expansion pack, according to Bancroft, “the core set is all you need to play with 2-3 players. The expansion basically adds parts, so you can add up to 6 players without it taking forever, or getting frustrating, because you run out of parts.” This expansion is only the first of two planned packs, and is available as part of the Kickstarter campaign. The second will include the ability to add an extra part to your monsters; an accessory like an umbrella, bouncy ball, jetpack, etc.
Speaking of Kickstarter, the “Mad Science” campaign is currently about 65% funded, with two weeks left, and offers great perks like presale, and Ultra-Pro, decks, expansion packs, signed cards, and even t-shirts. When I asked Bancroft why he decided to use the crowdfunding platform to finance the launch, he said, “I have so many projects I want to work on, and I don’t have a manager. It’s all done in the free time, and it’s hard to push something, and push something, when you have other things you want to explore. With Kickstarter, it’s kind of a presale, so we can put a bunch of games in people’s hands and have a bunch left over to get to reviewers, and get the buzz out there. This mechanism, it helps me stay excited.”
As for what he plans to do with the game once the Kickstarter campaign is over, well, in addition to getting them out the to game reviewers, he plans to sell them on their website (www.popestreet.com), as well as taking them to a few dozen comic book and card stores in the New York area. He hopes to “leave them a deck, as a demo, and then maybe sell them in the stores on consignment.” Bancroft says that, as well as being a great game for families, it’s also seen a lot of positive feedback from serious players of those traditional deck building games. “They like a game they can pick up and play with their friends for like 15-20 minutes, or something. They appreciate that it’s a kind of easy game.”
While he admits that he’s mostly in this for the fun of creating something that others enjoy, and that he can enjoy with his kids, Bancroft does hope to see a positive impact from not only “Mad Science,” but other games like it. “My kids, they go from the computer, to the Wii, to the iPhone, because it’s easy … Now we’re playing a lot more games. It’s actually fun. We definitely would benefit from all that stuff; turning off the American Idol, and making a monster”