Q: What do robots, polar bears, lobsters, tigers, a giant monster abomination, and vocabulary have in common?
A: The new card game Stiches, now in its final days on Kickstarter.
Three years ago on a trip to Dublin for his wife’s job, Doug Brinbury was looking for something to fill his time. A long-time gamer, he decided to spend the rainy Ireland days creating his own board game. Upon his return to the Seattle area he teamed up with Jason Rankin to develop Conduct, a massive cooperative adventure game based on the historic British ocean liner the RMS Lusitania.
Conduct received favorable showings at GeekGirlCon and PAX South, but after industry veterans advised Brinbury and Rankin to “start small,” the pair of self-described “dads with beards” shelved Conduct and poured their efforts into a simpler game that eventually became Stiches.
I had a chance to play Stiches with Rankin and Brinbury at PAX West in September. The gameplay is easy to learn and plays quickly. Each player begins with a character that resembles Frankenstein’s monster, which they upgrade during the game with body parts like robot arms, lobster claws, or polar bear legs. When you attack other players, you each learn new words. When you think your monster is strong enough, you can attack the central “abomination” monster, by yourself or in a team with other monsters that know the same words as you.
Combat in Stiches is based on rock-paper-scissors. Each monster body part displays some combination of the symbols, which must be used to attach other monsters or the “abomination” piece-by-piece.
While Stiches was designed for adults, the game’s theme and simple combat mechanic make it equally appealing to kids. “Putting different parts on different monsters is hilarious to kids,” said Rankin. “I’ve got a four and a seven-year-old, and they can’t get enough of it.”
Once Rankin and Brinbury complete the campaign for Stiches and get the game to backers, they plan to go back to Conduct, but they won’t rule out working on another small game or two before officially launching Conduct.
There is another card game currently on Kickstarter that bears a number of surface level similarites to Stitches, and launched less than a week later. Bears vs. Babies is the second game from another pair of Seattle locals, Elan Lee and Matthew Inman (of Oatmeal fame).
While having a similar competitor running their campaign at the same time obviously doesn’t thrill him, Rankin suspects there’s not much overlap in the potential audiences for the two games. “My impression is that the people who are buying Bears vs. Babies are really ‘Oatmeal’ fans, not necessarily gaming fans,” explains Rankin. “I feel like our game has a lot more depth to it.”
Stiches has already exceeded its goal on Kickstarter, and is scheduled to be delivered in the third quarter of 2017. There are just two days left in the campaign for backers who want to get the game for the Kickstarter price of $20.