This time Robert Couch is my guest. Rob is the designer of Saloon Tycoon from VanRyder Games and a co-host on one of my favorite gaming podcasts, Building The Game. Rob’s new game, Epic Monster Tea Party is coming from Playco and is on Kickstarter right now.
Hey Rob. What is Epic Monster Tea Party about?
Epic Monster Tea Party is a twist on typical fantasy tropes. In most fantasy games, the players act as heroes on an adventure – in this case, exploring an ancient and mysterious labyrinth – looking to defeat monsters and find glory. But in this one, the players are the monsters who live in the labyrinth. The idea is that they built the labyrinth to lure the brave heroes in, and are capturing them to make delicious tea!
How is EMTP played? Give us an idea of the game play.
You play the game by drawing a character piece out of a bag. Then you choose to either drop the character into your teacup, hoping to drink them later for points, or squish them to use some kind of special ability. Any characters that you’re able to swallow and put into your stomach bag are scored at the end of the game for points. It’s got a lot of back and forth between players, is extremely silly, and plays really quickly. Kids especially love it.
How did you come up with theme?
My original thematic inspiration was the old Nintendo game Rampage. My favorite part of that game was when one of the monsters would snatch a person from the window of a skyscraper and gobble them up. It always felt so crazy to me as a kid. In the initial versions of this game, I imagined the monsters as creatures from classic 50’s monster movies. An alien, a dinosaur, a robot, etc. To them, smashing the city was as normal as going out to pick tea leaves. Because who doesn’t love tea? After Playco picked it up, they suggested the idea of the labyrinth as being built by the monsters as a trap, and it evolved from there. That changed it from just a loose theme to something you could really see a story being built around, which was cool.
How long since you started working on it?
I started working on the idea back in late 2013. But it really game together the next year after a lot of playtesting.
I remember you pitching it on the show. I’ve followed it as it developed. How did Playco get it?
I brought EMTP with me to UnPub 2015 in Baltimore, and Playco was there scouting for new designs. We struck up a conversation, and worked on it together from there. Mike and Deanna have really embraced the game, which is so exciting for a designer to experience.
Readers, you should head on over to the EMTP Kickstarter page. Here is the info: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/playco-games/epic-monster-tea-party?ref=user_menu
Welcome back. Now, Rob let’s talk about Saloon Tycoon. How is it going?
Saloon Tycoon is great! I’ve gotten a lot of great feedback from players, and have met a lot of them at conventions that I’ve been to since its release. VanRyder Games really knocked it out of the park.
It looks fantastic. I’m hearing only good things about it. Expansions?
The Ranch Expansion to Saloon Tycoon was on Kickstarter earlier this year and did really well. It’s in production at the factory right now and should be shipping out to backers in a few months. That was a really cool thing to work on. But it wouldn’t have been successful without the support and guidance that AJ and Evan gave me during the development. We played it a bunch with folks at GenCon earlier this year, and everyone really had a great time!
What’s in the queue?
I recently signed my game, 8 Arms to Hold You with CardLords. That’s a fun mash-up of trick taking and press-your-luck where the players are octopuses finding cool toys and stuff on the ocean floor. Another goofy theme that I really love (thought the name might change in the final release). The art is so good too, by Matt Ramsey. He’s been a partner on that one since the prototyping phase.
I’ve also got a few other things that I’m not allowed to talk about yet. 🙂
That is good to hear. I love Building The Game. It and State of Games are the two podcasts I listen to regularly. How’s the show going?
Building the Game: A Documentary Podcast is probably the best podcast you’ll ever listen to. Seriously. I wouldn’t joke about this kind of thing. And it’s going great! When we started doing it in 2013 I never imagined we’d still be going more than 4 years later. We’re going to hit episode 300 early in 2018, which is also pretty crazy to think about. For any of your readers that don’t know about it, My co-host Jason Slingerland and I started the podcast at the same time that we decided to try to break into this game design industry. We knew that we had a lot to learn, figured we might as well learn it together, and decided to record it to share with other people along the way. We try really hard to be as open and honest about our experiences as we can, both positive and negative, hence the “documentary” label. But in addition to that, it’s a way to hold ourselves accountable. By committing to our weekly schedule, we force ourselves to constantly be thinking about designs, and trying to solve problems. On every episode, one of us pitches a new game idea. A lot of them are bad, and that’s ok. The goal is to keep ourselves thinking creatively all the time, and to share those thoughts with our listeners.
The podcast is unique and fun. I recommend it to everyone especially game designers. It is inspiring and I’ve gotten a couple of ideas for my games while listening. So thanks!
Rob, it is fantastic to talk to you about Epic Monster Tea Party. I’m happy for you having another fun design published.
Readers, you should check out the Epic Monster Tea Party Kickstarter at the link above. And you seriously need to listen to Building The Game. It’s available on iTunes and right here.
Please leave a comment below or on Twitter @tomgurg. Thanks for reading!!