“This is officer Marcellus Hammer 2806-911. We got a full squad on this one. What’s the situation?”
“Odd behavior recorded. We may be seeing an instance of mass hysteria or drug overdose. Maybe riots. I’m sending air support, Blue One is on the way.”
“Blue One Here. It’s not riots! It’s a mutant invasion!”
Hard City takes everything people loved about police dramas and monster movies from the 80s and uses it as a background for a board game. This, mixed with neon-like art and “All VS One” gameplay mechanics, makes for an unique experience, that will make you nostalgic for A-Team, Miami Vice and B-Class mutant flicks.
The game is coming to Kickstarter on May 10th. Today we’ve prepared a quick look and a bonus interview with the creators.
This Week in Hard City
Doctor Zero used to lead one of the biggest corporations in Hard City. At some point he had a change of heart and became the most feared villain of the metropolis. Zero leads an army of absolutely obedient mutants and owns the technology to create hundreds more using innocent civilians. The evil doctor spends each day (or more often – night) on making (and executing) plans to overtake the city.
To face him, a special squad of brave policemen was established. Donathan – a seasoned cop nearing retirement, Jenny – a young police medic with knowledge of ninjutsu, Marcellus – a strong ex-wrestler working in HCPD and Miranda – a bandana-wearing leader of the group. Each of them will do everything in their power to maintain peace in Hard City. And with the ongoing mutant invasion, it’s not an easy task.
Figurines Versus Cards
The game is based around “All VS One” style of gameplay, where all players team up against a villain controlled by another player. You may know it from games like Descent and Conan. Everything takes place on a board representing a part of the city. Both characters and mutants are portrayed by miniatures. Characters from forces of law and the mutant army make their moves in turn. The creators assure, that the game works great in 1 vs 1 mode.
Police gameplay is focused on figurines and skills printed on character cards. Each party member has a pool of action points represented by pink donuts. Every action ranging from moving, shooting to close combat has a cost in points, and they regenerate after each round. Characters can cooperate, exchange items and some can even heal others.
Player controlling Doctor Zero’s mutants has a completely different playstyle. His or her actions are based on picking options from cards, randomly drawn from the Chaos Deck. These are divided into Instant cards, Action Cards and Reaction Cards. Cards also have alternative uses, that can be activated instead of the main effect.
The game has a campaign made of scenarios, which can be played in order to tell the entire story. Each scenario has different goals and special mechanics for all players. For example: you may have to escort civilians or prevent mutants from stealing mutagen filled barrels.
A system of “Movie Scenes” used by the police seems intriguing. Each scenario will have its own set of “scenes” that will allow the players to perform unique operations. Thanks to that, cops will be able to arrive at the crime scene in a police car, and use it to drive through mutants. Other example: picking up barrels and throwing them, only to make them explode with a single pistol shot.
The game was created by a four man team: Marek Raczynski – co-creator of mechanics, responsible for creating miniatures at Hexy Miniatures. Adam Kwapinski – a designer with a decade of game making experience, who delivered many amazing projects like Nemesis and Lord of Hellas. Lukasz Witusinski – responsible for the visual side of the game (you may know him from the Star Scrappers: Cave-In). Tomasz Bar – animator and cinematographer, creating animations used in board game campaigns at www.hexy-studio.com.
We have managed to contact the authors and ask some questions about the upcoming game. Enjoy!
Marek Raczynski – one of the creators of game’s mechanics
Piotr Zuchowski – community manager responsible for promotion
Kick Agency: The game was inspired by TV shows and movies from the 80s. Do you have any favourites from that era?
MR: Exactly, that’s where we got our inspiration from. Truly a golden era of cinematography in my opinion. Just like most people born in that period, I have my favourites. And the list is lengthy. It’s topped with titles like Aliens, Predator, Back to the Future, Neverending Story, Commando and of course Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, but it’s really hard to put them in some sort of ranking. I love them all.
PZ: My list is similar, but I’d also add some low budget productions from Troma Entertainment, especially The Toxic Avenger and Surf Nazis Must Die as well as many, more or less successful, zombie flicks. They’re all a whole goldmine of inspiration, especially for a less serious game armed with tons of pop culture references.
K.A: How was the idea for Hard City born?
MR: The idea was born on a certain sunday. Me and my wife Ania kept playing with miniature models made by Hexy Miniatures from a series with a workname… Hard City. They were made in post-apocalyptic and modern styles portraying regular items like trash cans, sewer entrances, police cars etc. At some point I got the idea of a group of policeman miniatures entering the board in a car to protect civilians from… well, from who exactly? My wife already had an answer: “From mutants!”. Then everything sped up. Next day I already had a cardboard prototype equipped with stand-in models from other games found in my drawers. A bit later, along with Tomasz Bar, the owner of Hexy Studio, we presented the project to Adam Kwapinski, who fell in love with the idea at a first glance. He felt it was refreshing and light, something different after all heavy projects he worked on lately. Adam joined us instantly with plenty of motivation, which resulted in many interesting solutions. But that’s a whole different story.
K.A: How was your team assembled? You knew each other before or met for the sake of the project?
PZ: We’ve known each other from board game conventions and expos, as we all work in various fields of the games industry. Hard City is the first (and hopefully not the last) project we tackle with this group. The core of the team is made from Hexy Studio people (whom I joined myself recently), and game’s second author Adam – my friend from elementary school times. He’s a freelancing game designer working on publishing games with various companies. Just like Marek said, Adam fell in love with the game at first sight and decided to commit to it.
K.A: Hard City is based on “all vs 1” mechanics, while the Kickstarter creators seem to be obsessed with co-op games. What made you pick that model?
MR: I guess we should mention, that the game started as a “full co-op” title, where a horde of mutants was being controlled by the “game system”. That said, after some time passed and we ran some tests, many people started saying that the game would be even better if a player was controlling the mutant horde. You can say, that we created this game against the trends, and decided to go with the version with the so called “overlord”. This move turned out to be right, as no matter how good a mechanic is in a co-op game, it will never replace a thinking human that you have to play against. That’s how Doctor Zero was conceived – a personification of evil and a mutant leader. That said: we love the idea of cooperative gameplay and who knows, we could add this variant in the future. A proper base is already there.
K.A: Do you plan on releasing the game in other languages?
MR: We would love to publish Hard City in Polish. Board games got really popular in our country, and we’d like to take part in promoting this fantastic hobby. At the moment we’re looking for a partner that would help us release the game on the local market.
PZ: Not just Polish language, as we’re in talks with few potential co-publishers from other countries. English language has an advantage thanks to its universality and the amount of people that speak it, but Hard City will without doubt show up in other language versions.
K.A: Many of you work in Hexy Studio known from many board game trailers. Are you planning on making some oldschool VHS inspired ads? 🙂
MR: Of course! You can check the first teaser on Youtube here:
K.A: The prototype version of Hard City has already visited some places around the world. How did the players like it?
MR: Few people would say something negative about their game after hearing this type of question, but we luckily don’t have to, as the prototype was really well received! Every person, that we show Hard City to, feels enamored with its atmosphere. They start remembering shows and movies from their childhood, and make us feel that this setting is as dear to them as it is to us. When it comes to the mechanics, these also get well received. Players, who had the chance to test our game, praise the speed and the asymmetricity of the conflict. Doctor Zero and the Officers use different mechanics to make each other’s lives more miserable. People who played the prototype were positively surprised by the depth of the cooperative elements. The officers have to plan their actions together if they want to pose any threat to the minions of the crazy scientist. These comments are very motivating for us, and we still have many ideas that will make the game better, more action and emotion packed.
PZ: Recently I had the pleasure of presenting Hard City on the Arena Gier convention in Poland. One of the sessions had a very seasoned boardgamer, who doesn’t really like these type of games and despite that, he loved it. That sounds like the best recommendation. Of course, this is still a prototype, so some things may change. We’re still testing solutions and keep thinking about introducing new mechanics. Perfect games don’t exist and even published titles have things that could be improved, but we’re really happy that people enjoy the game so much, even at this stage.
K.A: How’s your mood before the campaign? When are you launching?
MR: The launch is planned for May 10th, so it’s pretty soon. Our mood? Positive, just like always. We’re trying to avoid being over optimistic and we know, that there are heaps of work ahead, but we hope that players will enjoy what we created so far and support Hard City to make the game as great as it can be! If you’re curious about things we’ve prepared for our first backers, please sign in at www.hardcitygame.com, and get notified the very day we launch. Thank you!
The campaign is now live. Support it here.