A brand new The Phantom board game has suddenly become a very real and imminent possibility!
This will not be news to regular listeners to X:Band - The Phantom Podcast as it has come up in each of the last two episodes, but it's certainly big enough news to warrant its own blog post...
The prospect of a new Phantom board game first broke with us as a little detail that Frew Publications Director Glenn Ford announced deep into his recent interview with the ChronicleChamber team in podcast Episode 85: Into the Frewniverse (listen from 1hr 42:40 minutes in).
As Glenn told us, "[Frew] are going to take out a license to do a Phantom board game next year. It won't be your simple Snakes & Ladders or Monopoly type board game ... It's a well thought out game. It's based on the Pirates of the Red Dragon [story]... For each of the players in the game there'll be a little figure that goes with it. ... I'm looking forward to it because it's going to be a whole other world for us if it works, and I think it will, because these guys know what they're doing."
"These guys" are a pair of Australian creators, board game designer Alex Wynnter (Ninjitsu, The Brigade) and comic book author Dale Maccanti (Ink Tales, The Misadventures of Peter Pumpkinhead, After the Snow).
Phans were then lucky enough to find out much more about the board game in an in-depth interview with Alex in Episode 86: Comics and VERY BIG News (from the 14:15 minute mark). This is something that you really need to listen to if you haven't already, but some of the key takeaways are:
Alex and Dale have been working on this concept for over 18 months already
Glenn has played the prototype game with the designers
The game play and overall design is still being tweaked with every trail game, particularly being mindful of the comic book market rather than the board game market
There are elements of both player choice and random chance (dice roll) in the game play
The game players' experience is foremost in the creators' minds - they want us to feel like we're creating the story as we're playing
There are currently 80 cards as part of the game
It's planned as a 6 player game - no age guide at this stage
It also turns out there have been some fairly explicit hints about this game out there for a couple of months now - we just listen to the wrong podcasts!
Speaking to Garth from The Dice Men Cometh podcast (from the 23:30 minute mark) all the way back on 28 October strictly on the proviso that everything was 'Subject To Approval', Dale announced that he and Alex had "joined up with Frew Publications to make the official Phantom board game. Growing up I was actually a big fan of The Phantom. I just noticed [recently] from the comics side that they were doing different things, releasing brand new content by Australian artists and writers. I make my own content and I thought it was a good opportunity to hit them up for a game."
When asked about the game play, Alex explains, "it's a very fast paced sort of smash and grab sort of game. There's an arch-nemesis in this story line and she has come and stolen a bunch of treasure and as the Phantom it's your job to run into the temple, avoid all the traps that she's set for you, grab the treasure and try and get out with as much as you can just to save yourself as the temple comes crashing down upon you."
As for game pieces? "It's got a lot of really cool action cards, and all the cards, the artwork will be done by one of the original Phantom cover artists, one of the most well renowned cover artists in The Phantom - Glenn Ford."
There is even a sly hint at a Skull Ring! When Garth asks "Who gets to wear the ring?", Alex replies "The first player - subject to approval!"
Now, obviously none of this game play or these pieces are set in stone - this is a product that is still in the planning stages, albeit well advanced. However, it is wonderful news to hear that there is a fully functional and playable prototype in existence, that the artwork is planned, that licensing arrangements are being sought ... that all the wheels are in motion. With the backing of a highly reputable company such as Frew, we have extremely high expectations that this will all come to a very successful fruition.
What's the catch? Nothing really - except we're all going to have to become a little more familiar with the idea of Kickstarter!
For those who have come in late to Kickstarter, Alex explains it brilliantly in his podcast chat with us (from 29:05).
A quick summary? It's a way for creators to raise enough funds to get their creation into the production stage. Creators nominate the dollar target that is required for them to mass produce their product. Individuals can pledge an amount towards that goal, which they only have to pay if the total is reached. Typically, there are rewards levels involved - you get something back for what you pay. In the instance of the Phantom board game, phans might pledge enough to actually buy a copy of the game, which is then shipped to them as soon as it is produced - and before the broader manufacture takes place and they appear in stores (or on Frew's website).
Retailers can also make pledges however, promising to buy 5, 10 or even more copies of the game if funded, so they can be the first to start selling it to the public. This could be something to casually mention to your Local Comic Store owner ;)
There will likely also be extra Kickstarter levels meaning extra rewards for supporters. Suggestions on this front from the men involved have been:
Alex:"We're hoping to release the trilogy of comics that this game has been born from [Pirates of the Red Dragon] as part of the Kickstarter campaign ... Maybe a Collector's level, so you get two copies of the game ... We also plan to sell the original [Glenn Ford artwork] as part of the Kickstarter campaign, where one of the tiers would be: buy the game and get an original piece of the artwork done especially for this game ... roughly 46 or 48 pieces."
Glenn:"What we'll probably do, to sweeten the pot, is do a trade paperback of the three stories ... and maybe even a new story, like a sequel to the trilogy, and make it an even sweeter deal."
Dale and Alex are very experienced and effective with Kickstarter. Both Alex's board game The Brigade and Dale's comic book series After the Snow were successfully launched in this way. We'd highly recommend you click on each of those last two links to: a) get a feel for how the crowd-funding platform works; b) see what sort of quality product the team are creating (spoilers - it's really really high).
Unfortunately, we are still a way off seeing this all come together. As you've heard in his interview, Alex suggested that the Kickstarter will run for the month of November 2018. Assuming the campaign is successful and the game is fully funded, earliest delivery of the final product is not expected until early-mid 2019.
When quizzed about this timeline by an impatient ChronicleChamber team, Dale told us "No images have been created for the game as yet. All the illustrations we've used [as examples in the prototype] are under copyright that we don't own. We won't be using any [previously existing] material for the game. Everything will be original and created specifically for our game."
Alex adds, "We want to get it to people ASAP, so starting a campaign then making backers wait for artwork would be devastating. We want to be prepared."
And obviously Glenn needs time to draw that new material!
All this is obviously EXTREMELY exciting for Phantom phans. Other than the extremely limited edition and highly artistic Phantom Game of Life and Death game associated with The Phantom Art Show, there has been no Phantom-themed board games ever produced in Australia, and none in the world for over 20 years.
Phun as they are to collect, one suspects that these are all about to be declared 100% obsolete as far as playable Phantom games are concerned.
Indeed, we might even have to update our YouTube review of "all" the Phantom board games in existence - and this can only be a very good thing for all Phantom phans and collectors.