Image Copyright: Clance M. Morring
With the rise of Kickstarter, strategy, card and board game designers have been given access to a pool of potential customers and funding that spans the entire globe.
This shift in public awareness has fundamentally changed the way independent companies can bring their ideas to the market, allowing everyone from sole operators to experienced creators the chance to showcase their ideas at game design. But even with tools like Kickstarter at their fingertips, there are still some creators out there who are doing things the old-fashioned way- with boots on the ground, personal demos and play-testing.
This is the case for Clance M. Morring, whose board game is a unique take on Chess. His design fuses figurines and tactics from the world of war-gaming with one of the oldest games around to create a particularly engaging product he calls BATTLE THIS!
Promoted as a military version of Chess, the game pits two players against one-another on a traditional Chess board with three differing types of pieces: an infantry-man, a tank and an airplane. Set-up in the classic two column starting formation of Chess pieces, BATTLE THIS! proceeds in the same turn-based order with the modified pieces of this variation each having their own methods of defeating other pieces; planes fly diagonally, infantry ‘run’ forward and creep back and sideways, and tanks target diagonal squares while moving forward at a slow pace.
At first sight, the hand-painted miniatures, which are surplus plastic army-men, tank miniatures and planes mounted on clear-colored bases along with the sparsely designed board itself carries with it a rugged workshop feel that lacks the polish of a professionally made product typical of your average Kickstarter fare. However, what was surprising about the BATTLE THIS! was that after the about the fifth move the Gaming zone in my brain seemed to switch on and the tactical aspects of the Game jumped out at me.
The unique moves of the pieces, essentially a variation on Chess, infused the game with what I felt was a distinctive feel for the chaotic aspects of military campaigns; the fact that infantry and planes could move back and forth across the battle-field and conquer squares with lighting speed or through slow marches really gave the game individualistic flavor.
Mr. Morring demonstrated the game itself to me recently and during the session I had the chance to ask him a few questions and get some insights into its history, and the challenges he faced as an independent designer with his first game:
Mr. Morring, when did you begin production on your game?
“I start producing my games in the months of February through May of 2012 and then I released them to the public for sale in June of 2012. So far I have made 500 games, sold 434 and is now left with 66 games to sell.”
What’s the process for getting your game, BATTLE THIS! to your customers, do you use outside manufacturers or do you do everything by hand?
“I self-publish. The entire BATTLE THIS! Board Game is hand-made and I manufacture, package, shrink warp, box and ship them from my home. My buyers are receiving the original Inventor’s copy, that may one day become a classic collector’s edition. This is one of the many reason why I am able to market and sell my BATTLE THIS! Board Game so well.
Production time: It takes me at least two days to make one set, that’s because I have to hand paint all the Brown playing pieces brown and then touch them up the next day after it dries and I have to glue all the Soldiers and Airplanes onto their bases. So instead of just hand producing one game at a time, I try to average about 50 games a week; it’s much easier and quicker.”
Where did you get the idea for BATTLE THIS!?
“My BATTLE THIS! Board Game came to me in a dream I had 20 something years ago. It was a dream about two creature like entities pitting us humans against one another; to them it was just a game but to us it was real life war. The entire rules and concept and unique strategy was given to me in this dream, thus “BATTLE THIS!” was born. Till this very day there’s no other game like it on the market and I own all exclusive rights.”
What markets have you sold your game in, what type of web presence do you have?
“The market that my board game is selling in are: Toys and Games, Board Games and Strategy Abstract Board Games. Since I had 20 something years of researching the Toy Industries and savings, it was not difficult for me at all to get into the market, it became a matter of when to get into the market, not how. After gathering all my resources for the supplies I needed to produce my BATTLE THIS! Board Game, myself, the 1st thing I did was design my BATTLE THIS! Website and BATTLE THIS! Blog Site in 2012, then I started selling my board game on my job, in my neighborhood, on the streets, in the parks, at board games meet ups, on Amazon and now on eBay. Form June of 2012 till now, I have hand produced 500 games.”
What were some of the challenges you faced as an independent game designer?
“I didn’t experience any difficulties getting my board game to market because they are originals, the problem I did encounter was how to hand produce the games. After a few trials & errors and wasted materials at a costly expense, I did manage to work it all out. Nobody was willing to help me financially and physically take on this project; I had to do everything all by myself. I received no support what so ever from my family, certain neighbors and close friends that I use to hang out with. The woman I loved made me choose between her and my game, so she ended up leaving me as well in 2011. She made it very clear, she never wanted me to start this project. Those around me said that I am 24 years late and that no one plays board games anymore. They told me that I’ll be just wasting my time, money and effort, that I’m living in a fantasy world, selling people a dream. Those who I gave so much of myself to and thought was for me, were honestly, spiritually against me. A year later, my BATTLE THIS! Board Game sales and the contacts I have made, have proven them wrong.
This has been a very lonely journey for me, I was surrounded by negative thinking people who had been praying for me to fail. What keeps me going, is my love for my board game, my belief in myself and the BIG picture I’m chasing after. I’m a very focused and disciplined person who has learned to use the negative vibes as the match to light my fire and push me into my blessing.
The feedback I received, once my BATTLE THIS! Board Game has been released, are very positive. People are so impressed with the product, how it’s put together and packaged. They love the fact that the rule book is only two pages, the game is easy to learn and not complicated but challenging. For a home-made game, my customers are getting a really good quality, package fun play board game.”
What do you see as the next steps in promoting and distributing BATTLE THIS!?
“My goal for 2014 is to have BATTLE THIS! made as an app and into software, also to have the board game itself professionally manufactured by a Toy company. For more information about me, my journey and the Battle This Board Game, please visit my website http://battlethisboardgame.com
Given the hobby’s humble beginnings, its great to see that independent, self-made creators are still out there in the Gaming world, so when you get a chance, why not head over to the BATTLE THIS! website, support an indie designer by purchasing a copy of BATTLE THIS! and