Interview by Maya Coleman.
The world of board games can be daunting to jump into. There are super light party games to play with friends, heavier economics games to play with your group of hard core gamers, and sometimes it’s hard to know where to start. Luckily for everyone, designer Brad Brooks worked hard to make Rise of Tribes a great game for all gamers of every level, intro, experienced, or otherwise. I spoke to him about his inspirations and aspirations for the game. Every game designer is different, and it’s always interesting to get a glimpse of their mind and see what they were thinking when making a game. Check out what Brad had to say about Rise of Tribes.
First, tell me a little about your background in game design! What got you to design games?
I’ve played games all my life. My Dad actually tinkered with game design since before I was born, so the notion of making your own games was always out there. I missed out on a decade or so of tabletop gaming starting around college as I was more focused on computer gaming, but came back to it in the early 2000s thanks to games like Carcassonne and Puerto Rico. Playing quickly lead to designing – although it took a while to get good enough at design to create something worth publishing. My first published game design, Letter Tycoon, was published in 2015.
What led you to make Rise of Tribes? What was the inspiration for it? Can you explain your goals for designing the game and were those goals reached?
Rise of Tribes started with the dice mechanic. I was thinking about how to have a player’s dice rolls influence other players without dictating what they could do. The system I came up with allowed players to influence the strength of the actions for their opponents, but the opponents were always free to choose the actions they wanted regardless.
Initially the theme of the game was robots competing to terraform a planet, but by the time of the first play-test it had switched to the prehistoric civilization theme it now has, which worked much better with the mechanics. Changes that came as the game developed (like moving from numbered dice to the moons and suns) really integrated with the prehistoric theme in a satisfying way.
What’s your favorite aspect of the game? What do you think are your favorite or most effective mechanics used in the game?
I’m really pleased with how the action selection/dice mechanic works. We made a couple of tweaks to it during development, but for the most part it survived as I had conceived it right through to the published game. One of the things we altered was that initially the dice you rolled were standard six-sided dice with pips, and you needed to figure out what the total of the three dice would be in each action you might take. This meant you might have to do eight quick 3 number addition problems in your head to figure out what each action would get you – something a significant fraction of the players didn’t enjoy. I was able to replace the numbers with a sun, moon or blank while keeping the outcome probability about the same and players were much happier.
Where do you hope to go from here? Can you give us any info about the upcoming expansion?
We’ve got a two-part expansion in the works for Rise of Tribes, Beasts & Bronze. The Beasts part is a set of new event tiles, with an animal theme while the Bronze part is a new win condition involving villages and moving your tribe forward to the bronze age. We’ve also been working on a solo play mode. Beyond Rise of Tribes there’s a long awaited expansion to Letter Tycoon that should release before long, Captains of Industry, that adds some new ways to play. And then there’s the half-dozen different game ideas and prototypes I’m tinkering on, some of which may make it to your table some day.
Brad is a fantastic designer, and it’s amazing to know how much thought and sincerity was put into the game. Rise of Tribes is a fantastic addition to your board game library. With the recent surge in board gaming as both friends and families, Rise of Tribes is a great fit for whatever you’re looking to achieve by gaming.
Rise of Tribes will be launched at the end of this summer at Walmart, and you can get the Mammoth Edition of the game, the regular game with the deluxe wooden meeples, at a friendly local game store near you. Be sure to follow Rise of Tribes on Facebook and Twitter (@riseoftribesbg) for updates.