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Mad scientists take over in Cleveland-made ‘Gamma Grunts’ board game

August 14, 2018 GMT

Mad scientists take over in Cleveland-made ‘Gamma Grunts’ board game

CLEVELAND, Ohio – A year ago, two friends decided they wanted to make a board game. Now, after countless hours of development and testing, they are preparing to launch a Kickstarter for “Gamma Grunts,” a new deck building game about mad scientists.

Kyle Boehnlein and Josh Hipsher decided to create “Gamma Grunts” before Origins Game Fair 2017 in Columbus. Boehnlein, a self-professed board game geek, teamed up with Hipsher and quickly decided on a theme for the game.

“What’s funny is we didn’t even think about the currently existing pop culture stuff,” said Boehnlein. “I hadn’t even seen ‘Rick And Morty’ until long after we’d seen this game.”

“Rick And Morty,” the popular comedy TV show about a mad scientist and his grandson’s adventures through space, has some features in common with “Gamma Grunts.” Evil scientists facing off against one another, world domination and humorous space creatures.

But “Gamma Grunts” is more than simple pop-culture references. It’s a game that takes strategy.

Each player in “Gamma Grunts” plays as a mad scientist character, fighting for ultimate domination of the universe. Players can defend themselves by creating grunts, aliens that create a shield for the player. Grunts can also attack other players, causing damage.

“We call this a deck smash game,” said Boehnlein. “If you did two damage to me, I’d have to smash two or more value in cards.”

“Gamma Grunts” can be played in two ways. The first is to have one scientist reach level 20 in “infamy” points. The second way, which Boehnlein calls “hardcore mode,” is to play until only one mad scientist is left standing.

Boehnlein and Hipsher decided to self-publish “Gamma Grunts,” designing the game play to work for different kinds of players. This meant that the development work was done during their spare time — and ate up hundreds of hours.

“We have play tested the living heck out of it,” said Boehnlein. “Just getting the game designed has been a challenge, making sure things are relatively well-balanced, and making sure there’s a little bit of inbalance in some places. If everything’s balanced, then it’s boring.”

Boehnlein and Hipsher researched copyrights for their game, and also worked on the business side of funding “Gamma Grunts.” They hired freelance illustrator James Koenig to create the cartoons for cards and the box design.

Now, Boehnlein and Hipsher are raising funds for the creation of “Gamma Grunts” on Kickstarter. The funds will be used to pay Koenig to finish the artwork for the game, and also to create physical copies.

“Funding is nearly impossible to attain for small businesses,” said Boehnlein. “It’s going to act as a preorder for actually producing the game. If we know there’s a certain level of demand for our game, we’ll be able to measure that using Kickstarter.”

Currently, “Gamma Grunts” is asking for $10,000 on a Kickstarter campaign that continues until Sept. 13.