ghostbusters board game

When you play test a game like this, do you focus on hardcore gamers, Ghostbusters fans, or casual gamers? Do you mix and match personalities to make sure everyone is enjoying it?

For Ghostbusters, it was really important that we pick good groups. We have a good amount of people that come in on a weekly basis just to play all of our games, but for Ghostbusters, I was specifically looking for super-fans who had seen the movies a lot of times and were familiar with the cartoons and comic books, board gamers, who could rules-lawyer and break the game, and people who weren’t familiar with the movies and didn’t play board games. We try to mix those people up. If we had too many of one type, we would get really different reactions and the game would take very different directions from week to week. If we had the Ghostbusters thematic people and they said “I like how that felt, I felt like I was a Ghostbuster,” we could say we hit that cylinder. If the board gamer said it was deeply layered enough but not so complex that they couldn’t teach their children, we’d be like cool, we got that one. For the introductory board game people, if they said that people could teach them what it was and they figured it out in a couple minutes, we felt like we landed in the right spot. There were weeks where we’d get nothing but hardcore gamers or movie fans and we’d have to take their opinions with a grain of salt. They sometimes want to push it in a certain direction and we need to find a sweet spot where retail and [fandom] meets.

The character and ghost sculpts in the game in the game are gorgeous. Is that the kind of extravagance that you can get away with on Kickstarter that you couldn’t do if you published it normally?

Some of it. We had to get our artist to do 2D sketches, which were done by Dan Schoening, who is the IDW Ghostbusters comic artist. We never had to think “Does this look like Ghostbusters or have that Ghostbusters feel?” because we knew it was coming from one of the major creators. When we created sculpts for the 3D version, we were able to pass those around as well. Sometimes, you only get a forward facing 2D image and you have to use your imagination for what the back of that looks like. Luckily, the movie spells that out. You see them walking around and you see them doing a lot of things. The video games already had a lot of 3D imagery that we could rotate and look at anything we wanted to. When it came to the ghosts for instance, the toys were like 3D plastic molds. They were just pressed out. Then we looked to Dan Schoening’s DeviantArt page, where we got a lot of our inspiration for which ghosts to use. He would show them in his style…this is what they would look like. He would design them in a different pose so it would be balanced and wouldn’t fall over as a [miniature] or it could fit on a base. We would then pass that off to the 3D artist, who was usually right on.

Like with any kind of art, there were passes back and forth where we make tiny critiques and tiny suggestions. Once it falls into that spot where we don’t notice anything wrong or the artist has taken some liberties and added some things that really help out the character, we know we’re good and ready to move on. I’m a miniatures fan and collector, so I’ll admit it, when I look at a Kickstarter, the first thing I look at is the quality of the figs. Then I’ll look at the quality of the gameplay. A game may be amazing, but if you’re constantly squinting your eyes at it, it’s harder to be fully immersed into the amply itself. It’s a lot harder to sell the moment you’re in. We were looking at all of the figs coming back and not only did they look similar to the toys, but they just had a good presence on the board. That’s what we’re trying to hit the ground running with on this next one. Kickstarter allowed us to incrementally increase our budget, so we were able to go back to our 3D artist and say “Remember all of those pieces we front-loaded and didn’t have the budget to ask you to do? Now we have the budget to ask you to do it. Go ahead and churn those out.” We would do updates to show new 3D art as it came through. Even during that process, players could say something like “I don’t like the way that guy’s waving his arm” of “That character shouldn’t have teeth that jagged,” we had the opportunity to go back and make those little changes.

What’s new in the box for Ghostbusters: The Board Game II? What can gamers look forward to seeing?

There were many elements from the first game that we thought would be too heavy or complex for an introductory board game, so we had to hold some things back. This time, we actually got to spend a lot more time balancing those things out. The more time we can have working on something, the better. This time around, we introduced the equipment cards. So now when people ask about the Ecto Goggles, we now have the Ecto Goggles in there. We have a lot of fun items. The equipment is broken down into four categories: weapons, traps, utilities, and tomes. Tomes will let you do impossible things like teleport around or remove slime from across the board. Utility helps you do a thing or buffs you for a round to help you do that thing. Traps help you trap ghosts right away or give you a benefit when you do trap a ghost. Weapons are combat-based. They give you a free attack or bonuses to your attacks.

A lot of things people would ask for, like how they could get a plus to attack…in the first game, it’s all dice-based and there are no modifiers. Modifiers can often unbalance a game if you don’t have the monsters and characters leveling up at the same time. In the first version of the game, we didn’t have the ability to level up a ghost because of tracking issues. If you say that one blue ghost is level one but the exact same ghost next to it is level two, it was too hard to tell the difference. We couldn’t figure out a way to do that. This time around we have bases that can be snapped on to the bottom of ghosts. That lets us add new abilities to them. In the first game, we did Impossible Mode ghosts, where we printed out the characters in red instead of blue and we added new stats to them and gave them a whole new character card. While that was fun for collectors, the people who didn’t get it or purchased the retail version never got the opportunity to do that.


With the new base game, for Ghostbusters II, we have this plastic bases of many colors that when you snap them on a ghost, it gives them a brand new ability that makes them tougher to trap or track down or they can move faster. A lot of the things that we had tracking issues with could be resolved with bases. Besides equipment cards, we now have an event card. In a classic RPG, you would have random things happen to you while on the road. You’d be walking down the street and goblins would jump out at you or you’d be attacked by a necromancer.

So in Ghostbusters II, we were able to introduce these event cards. When you’re searching goo piles, which are these big piles of slime on the ground, you can find equipment, an event, or a key item that helps you solve the mission, defeat a boss, or get through a certain area. An event will trigger and give you a certain number of player actions or rounds to resolve it. Some of the more simple things it can do is release more ghosts or it can cover people in slime and you need x number of rounds to remove it. If you do the thing it’s asking of you, you get a group-wide bonus like more speed or remove some slime or get some free moves. Or something bad will happen, like a different kind of ghost will come out or you’ll get a curse of some kind or you’ll get moved around the map or you won’t be able to take certain actions for a certain amount of time. So while you’re doing the basic scenarios of just going through and finding the major objective, you’ll have these miniature objectives. Not much is random. You choose when you get to search the pile, but you don’t know if it will be an equipment card, which you can use for free at any time during your turn, or this event that everyone needs to participate in.

We were also able to include new slime types. In the first game, every slime was just minus one action. In the new game, we expanded on the idea of slime types. In addition to minus action, slime can now reduce your line of sight, reduce how far you can move, and reduce your maneuvers and minor actions. We are also introducing a new kind of slime for people who thought the game was too introductory or too easy, which is caustic slime. This black slime can’t be removed by any Ghostbuster and if you ever get three of these on your character, you just lose and the game is over. We wanted to make a hardcore mode built into the missions for when you were resting on your laurels and leveling up and using this new equipment. We can start to throw harder and harder things at you. In the first game, that was usually more ghosts and tougher gates. This time, we can modify the ghosts, modify equipment, and throw new types of slime at you.

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