The recently announced Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn board game from Space Goat Play blew away all expectations when its Kickstarter hit its goal in seemingly no time at all. As of this post going live, the page has right around 3,200 backers and over $240,000 committed to making it a reality, which allowed it to break five stretch goals and even necessitated a few more being added.
Personally, I’m really excited by the prospect of an official Evil Dead II board game. Hanging out with friends is great but if the same activities are done over and over, it can begin to feel a little stale and even potentially somewhat boring. Having different options keeps things fresh and entertaining for everyone and this board game is perfect for all my horror-loving pals!
Now, I know just how busy the Space Goat people must be with the explosive popularity of their Kickstarter, so color me amazed and very excited to get a chance to do an interview with media coordinator JD Boucher and game designer Taylor Smith!
The duo discuss their thoughts on the success of the Kickstarter, the future of the game, the challenges of making it a reality, and more below!
Lastly, they were kind enough to provide us with some exclusive images from the game. These include 2-D turnarounds of the upcoming Deadite player figures and the complete board! Enjoy!
First of all, congratulations on the already successful Kickstarter! It’s amazing and rather fantastic that for a board game based on ‘Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn’, you were funded within 24 hours! And as of now, you’re about to hit nearly a quarter of a million dollars! At this rate, you’re going to run out of stretch goals! Did you anticipate such a reaction?
JD: Actually, we were funded in just under 8 hours and we were not expecting just quickly we were funded! We were a little blindsided by just how popular it was. We knew Evil Dead fans were out there, but we had no idea how excited they’d be for the board game! We’re just thankful that so many people are as excited and passionate about the game as we are.
The movie is considered one of the great classics of horror. Was there any sort of concern or worry about doing the film justice with your board game adaptation?
TAYLOR: We’ve been making these Evil Dead 2 comics for about a year and a half and have really been digging through the lore for all our stories. There’s a lot of love for the movie here in the office. Events and items in the game are pulled straight from the movie. I’ve just been watching it on repeat with a notebook. Our artist on the game board, Dave Youkovich, is a huge fan too and kept the movie going while working, picking up every little detail for the cabin. There’s always a worry when working with such a beloved property, but we’re confident it’s something the fans will enjoy.
JD: Taylor has actually been playing the movie on repeat in order to get every possible item and scenario he could from it. I’m sure at this point he could recite most of it. Dave also deserves an honorary degree in Evil Dead 2 at this point as well. Our team is just super dedicated to bringing the Evil Dead 2 experience to life in a game. I think the only way we could be closer is if we could send out Bruce Campbell himself out with every box.
Talk to me about the gameplay itself and why you decided to go the route of “tile and miniatures”. What other game styles were considered, if any, before you settled on this one?
TAYLOR: My very first thought was to make a “cooperative until it’s not” game. I know I needed the cabin as the main board and players needed to work together, but occasionally get possessed and try to kill each other. My design philosophy was to make an accessible game that was easy to quickly get into. There are a ton of events that happen throughout the game that makes playing it like a procedurally generated Evil Dead movie. The backers have been wonderful in suggesting more game modes, so we’ll be adding variants in addition to our original plan.
I know that Space Goat has been doing the ‘Evil Dead II’ comics for a while. What was it like going from creating new stories for Ash to finding a way to faithfully recreate the ‘Evil Dead II’ film experience as a board game?
TAYLOR: The comics are great because we can explore the setting, characters, and world in a way the movies could never have the screentime to do. They’re all about building something fun and new on an existing foundation. The board game on the other hand is about returning to that source material and exploring the nooks and crannies as much as possible. We can benefit from the interactivity of board games by letting fans run through the cabin themselves, fight deadites, and dual wield a shotgun-chainsaw combo. It’s an exciting new direction: exploring inward instead of outward.
The film is a great representation of how one can mix horror and comedy with great effect. What kinds of challenges were there in trying to make sure that players would not only feel fear but also have a blast throughout the experience?
TAYLOR: Fear is particularly tough to generate in a board game experience; horror games have stiff competition in building the same atmosphere as horror movies. The board game is designed to escalate in intensity as it goes—more enemies spawn, more friends turn evil, and the stakes get higher. True to good survival horror, there’s a worry whether or not you’ll be able to make it out the other side. Of course, the comedy couldn’t be left out; I borrowed that right from the movie. Events are inspired by classic moments and lines from Evil Dead 2: fight against your own severed hand, get laughed at by a taxidermy head, all sorts of fun stuff!
From the images that are on the Kickstarter, it appears that the game takes place mainly in the cabin. However, the movie also went into the woods and even up to the mangled remains of the bridge. Will players be able to venture outside of the cabin? Hell, could there be expansions that allow players to back in time a lá ‘Army of Darkness’?
TAYLOR: You bet! Our core game takes place in the cabin and the surrounding woods, including the crashed Oldsmobile and the work shed. Players will need to keep scrambling in and out, to and from all these places as they try to fight off evil. Expansions are planned around the comic book series we have: Beyond Dead By Dawn takes place in hell, so you’ll get to go there; Cradle of the Damned takes place in the mirror dimension, so that’s another place to explore. For licensing reasons, we have to tiptoe around Army of Darkness itself, but definitely expect some portal-related mayhem.
Speaking of expansions, many board/card games remain relevant and even gain popularity because of various add-ons. Are there any plans in the works to keep breathing life into ‘Evil Dead 2: The Official Board Game’ after its release?
TAYLOR: In addition to the expansions mentioned above, I’m pretty excited about the mini-expansions we have planned around our “Revenge of” characters. For example, Revenge of the Martians (based on War of the Worlds) would come with a Martian tripod figure and extra tiles for inside the ship where characters get abducted to during play. These will hopefully all unlock during this campaign because I want to make them right away! The comic-based expansions will be much more intensive, with a bunch of new figures, cards, tiles, all that. They should totally change and refresh the whole game.
JD: At this point the “Revenge of Hitler” mini-expansion has already unlocked for all deluxe versions of the game. We know how fun it is to punch Nazis, and so now we have a game mode just centered around beating up Hitler! But all of these Revenge of expansions will be Kickstarter Exclusive, so you’ll have to back the campaign now so you don’t miss out.
Now that you know for a fact the game is officially Kickstarted, what’s next on your mind? Is this the main focus for the foreseeable future or do you have another game/idea that you think might be great to start working on?
TAYLOR: I’ve signed a few too many NDAs to talk about how excited I am coming back from the Licensing Expo a few weeks ago. Board games for our own properties and few carefully selected properties we’re really passionate about are in the future. Immediately after the campaign is over, I’m probably going to sleep. I have fond memories of what sleep was…
JD: I’m pretty sure sleep is that thing that people who don’t run Kickstarters do, but I’m not sure.