After seeing a recent surge of interest in Epic Duels here and on the Wiki, I contacted Rob Daviau , the original creator of Star Wars Epic Duels, and requested an interview. He agreed, and we met in person at the NYC Toy Fair in February. This is the fourth part of our 10-minute conversation.
Roman: There was going to be a sequel at one point. I don’t know if you worked on that? There was actually, we saw a box of a Star Wars Epic Duels version with characters from some of the cartoons. Did you work on that?
Rob: What year was that, do you remember?
Roman: I would say probably, 2009, 2010, thereabouts.
Rob: I didn’t work on it. It was probably an idea, that was shown at a Toy Fair.
Roman: That’s exactly what it was.
Rob: And then it got dropped. I mean, there’s a lot of things where, Wal-mart and Target have a lot of influence in the industry.
If they don’t both buy into a game for Hasbro, Hasbro won’t make it. Because they just need such high volumes that go towards overhead, so if either one is like, “eh, I don’t want it…” and it happens all the time. Game’s done, game’s ready to go, and then the Wal-mart buyer is like, “I don’t think it will fit,“ and then it’s just done. And that’s that. And it never gets made. And I’m guessing that’s what happened in that case.
Roman: So you’re working with Restoration Games now. I mentioned DownForce, we were playing 8 player games at GenCon, having a great time with that. It’s hard to do better with 8 players than with that game. [I said that but I think it’s actually just for 6 players. Still a good game though].
Roman: I never actually played Fireball Island (1986), but I always wanted to.
Rob: I was too old for it. I was aware of it but I hadn’t played it. It was an impressive-sized game. Hopefully, it’s a new one that will be as impressive, physically.
Roman: Right. I remember it had a great table presence, that had me interested in playing it. You’ve got another new title, I think?
Rob: Dinosaur Tea Party!
Roman: Right, what is that one about?
Rob: There was a game in the early 70s called Whosit. Which is basically, for lack of a better term, multi-player Guess Who?
So this is very much our kids game. We think we’re going to have some larger retailers do it. This is really designed, if you have young kids, or people who don’t play games.
[You watch, he’ll be interviewed 15 years from now by a 30+ year-old about it]
I mean, you’re all dinosaurs at a tea party, and you’re asking questions like, “Per chance are you wearing a hat?” and you’re like “No, I’m not wearing a hat.” So you get to do bad British accents, like you’re having tea, but you’re a dinosaur, and the art is great. So it was re-themed. There was something about this old game, that we liked.
Rob: Whosit, which did not age well, because… we have dinosaurs, you can say, “Do you have stripes or do you have spots?” The original game had a lot of bad racial stereotypes.
[For bad racial stereotypes, try Slapshot]
So, you would ask all sorts of awkward racial profiling questions. So, they were like, ok so, we don’t want to it be people. And, I had the name “Dinosaur Tea Party” kicking around as a name in search of a game.
Rob: And so I said, “How about this idea?” Everyone’s like, “That works!” Then we got an artist to do that one sample card, and we were like, we gotta make this game, just because it’s very cute.
Check back for Part 5, the final part of the series. Rob gives some advice to new game inventors.
Too about the sequel, but the more I understand the process, the less I think it would be as good and as heavily play-tested as the 10-Year Anniversary Set, or the decks here at Geektopia. Did you ever play the original Fireball Island? How about Whozit?
FYI, it’s Whosit?, not Whoozit. https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/2406/whosit
Thanks Justin. Congrats on the earth-shattering Fireball Island Kickstarter. And, good luck with whatever your plans are for trademarking Epic Duels.