It is today one year ago since I started developing the World Dumbination game. I had the idea for the theme and story of the game when I was trying to go to bed early to get some sleep. I had to wake up 4 in the night to traveling all the way to Ecuador, where I was going to compete in the Paragliding World Cup. Instead of sleeping I started thinking of world politics and leaders that acted like small children. This was when Donald and Kim argued of which one that had the biggest nuclear button, and many more things was happening. I thought someone should make a fun board game about this situation. I quickly understood that this should be me when the title World Dumbination suddenly appeared in my head. I also got the idea to how these leaders could be the only leaders left on earth, making up a story where aliens travel to earth to “rescue” the smart people from the unavoidable future of our planet…
Back in my office 3 weeks later I checked out the geographical placement of what i believe was the worse leaders in the world. I knew I had a game going on when the leaders were perfectly spread around the world. Unfortunate for me, Mugabe (that was supposed to sit and play with his golden Rolls Royce toy car on the cover) was stepping down as president of Zimbabwe. So I had to replace him with Erdogan that just had stepped into the spotlight tearing the evolution theory from the schoolbooks in Turkey.
I had the idea of the cover with the leaders represented as children spread around the world, and the nuclear explosion on the North Pole (ref. global warming). But I hadn’t the logo so clear in my head. I wanted a graphic symbol in the logo. In the first version this was a nuclear bomb, but I wanted a less serious feel than that. So I came up with a brain locked behind a forbidden sign as in prison. The forbidden sign is also the letter “Ø” that we use here in Norway and “World” is pronounced as it is written with this letter. I also felt I should use some metal in the logo, since it actually is a war game, just a very weird one. So I used a font with a more war feel on the “Dumbination” text. The flipped B was also natural to put in since we are talking of some serious dumbness in the game 😉
I had no idea of the mechanics I wanted to use in the game. But I knew the ones I didn’t want to use to get the right feel in the game, so it was decided quite quickly that I wouldn’t use any dice in the game. In the beginning I tested the game myself until I had developed something I could test in a group. I got some people together to play test the first version 2 months after I started. At this stage I hadn’t put in victory points, so of course the game took forever to finish. But when 4 hours went very fast and no one actually noticed it took such long time, I knew I was onto something that would work.
The game had to have a world map, and I knew hexagon shapes would be a good way to go. Too actually match a world map to hexagon shapes was not that easy that I though. But with some small adjustments to the map it worked out. Since I didn’t want to use dice, I had to figure out a smart way to move the pieces on the board. So I made some base tokens that gives strength to the pieces that I called units. When a unit moves away from the base it loses strength. I had some complex rules in the beginning where a unit cost the same as the strongest base, and a base cost the strength of the base and the amount of units you had on the board. When I started to simplify the game that was the first thing I removed.
I quickly found out that I would need player boards, naming those Leaderboards seemed like a good idea. I figure out that some tracks for ego and popularity could be fun. I started testing different methods to have tracks on the board, and soon had the tracks into the cards spaces. I have never seen that before, and felt it was quite logical that those cubes should do more than just mark how much ego or popularity you have. I had cube spaces on cards at one time, but that was too weird, but I ended up with a cube space on the targets, making it possible to lock the target by getting to much ego. I figured out that if you get too much ego, you are more or less crazy and should lose the opportunity to decide what your target should be 😀
I decided that I wanted different piles of cards to have a natural build up in the game. So I made some fun political cards like “Fake news” and “Propaganda” in the level 1 pile, and put more expensive military cards into the level 2 pile. To go from level 1 to level 2 the players needed to have finished their main goal card. These were very easy for USA with “Building a wall” and North Korea with “Become a feared nuclear power”. Putin was not satisfied as a leader of “only” Russia, so to “Be back in U.S.S.R” seemed like a good goal for Russia. I just put “Remain in power” for Venezuela since Maduro is really unpopular and needed to win an election. Lucky for me he did win the election in May, I really don’t know how, but maybe a “Corruption card” had something to do with it 😉 Erdogan has worked hard against the democracy in Turkey, so “Become a dictator” seemed natural for Turkey. I really like my visualization of dictatorship with the uniform in the closet, just waiting to be used 😀 I will add additional main goal cards for every nation, so it will be a secret which ones the players have on their board.
When working with the cards I wanted to have something weird going on from time to time. So I got the idea to the Dumbness cards that is just shuffled into the card piles. They could show up whenever, and the players would knew something stupid could take place when placing their cards. I struggled a bit in the start making up funny enough things to put on those cards, but when I got the first funny ideas, I filled up 15 cards quite quickly. So now everything can happen. Another great thing with these cards is that you can play the game without them, if you want to have a more serious feel and less luck in the game. They add a very funny feel to the game so it is a lot more fun to play with them, for example when I player wins the Nobel Peace Prize, and then get enough ego to be crazy enough to fire the nuclear bomb in the next round!
I didn’t want to use normal turns in the game so in the beginning I actually had the game with simultaneous actions. Everyone did their thing at the same time. I didn’t want the players to sit and wait for their turn, but it become too complex to make everything work out that way. So the solution was to put numbers on the cards. The lowest number goes first. This way I could program the order of the actions. You could sabotage a missile defends system before fire a nuclear bomb on opponent. The order of the players also follows the card numbers. It is still possible to do things simultaneous when units are far from each other on the board.
The combat mode is a combination of action from cards, and moving the units on the board. The card actions are the most powerful, and with the nuclear bomb you can just wipe out a whole space on the board. But it is not always this would make you win the game. It is also possible to win by being a good guy without enemies. When the other players start a nuclear war against each other, you can just sit peacefully and try to maximize your popularity level to win the game. You may still have to invest a bit in the military to get enough victory points, but you don’t need to use it.
The game is also inspired by The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons that won the Nobel Peace Prize some weeks before I got the idea for the game. I was at a moment thinking of making the most meaningful legacy board game ever, by making the players rip apart the nuclear bomb cards after playing the game some rounds. But I decided instead to make the first game ever where it is possible to start a nuclear bomb disarmament treaty! Of course inspired by Trump and Kim Jong-un becoming best friends 😉
I had ambitions to get the game out quite quickly. But I knew I had to work a lot more with the marketing when I made the most viewed April fools joke on Board Game Geek, in addition to some other forums. With around 5000 views and 500 likes in total (that I knew of) I only got 4 more that added the game on their wish list on BGG, and 3 more subscribers on my mailing list. I began to comment in different forums to get some more fuzz about the game. This took quite some time, and I did that in addition to the 14 hours a day I worked with the game. It didn’t take to long before my body said that was to much. So later in April my eyes hurt so much when I was trying to sleep at night, that I just had to take a break from sitting on front of the computer screen. At that time I had started to run out of money as well, so when the paragliding season began in may I had to use most of my time doing my normal job (that is to design board games for others) to earn some money. I also needed to train for the Paragliding European Championship that took place in July. So it was mostly just the rule book I have been working on during the summer. Rule book work is very time consuming, so I haven’t been slacking either 😉
Now the game is in the final phase. The last game testing has gone well, and I have only got positive feedback on the game of those who has played it. Maybe the most important thing for me is that no one has mentioned that my game reminds them of any other. So it seems I have made something new also in the way the game is played.
I will continue improving the game, so it wouldn’t be complete before the files goes to print. I still need to have a successful Kickstarter for that to happen. The Kickstarter are planned early in 2019. I hope you will like to stay updated for the launch, so sign up for the newsletter or like Muzak Games on Facebook!