We are as keen as you are to find out what’s going on with the impending tabletop adaptation of Hand of Fate, so we sent our communications manager, Lee, deep into enemy territory (or at least a hostile Slack channel) to get this interview with Rule & Make’s Michael “Barantas” McIntyre, designer of Hand of Fate: Ordeals!
Lee: SO! Who are you, exactly, Michael?
Michael: I'm 26, male, live in Brisbane with my lovely wife. I would describe myself physically as soft.
Accurate. How did you end up designing the Hand of Fate boardgame?
Well, the first time round or the second time? There is a fun story there. Well I think it's fun.
Tell me the story!
Well, sit back and let me spin you a tale like silk from chaff.
A year or so back, maybe more... through the grapevine we had heard word that Defiant were wanting to make a board game from their super great game Hand Of Fate.
At this point I had only played a little Hand Of Fate so I was intrigued. I was discussing the prospects of this with Brendan Evans, the designer behind Skyward. We were throwing around a few ideas but nothing really came of it aside from me playing a whole lot more Hand Of Fate. I got really into it.
Fast forward a few months I'm working in a computer store and in walk some members of staff from Defiant. I end up serving them somewhat purposefully. (My co-worker regained consciousness later on) and I pitched them a concept right then and there, dropped them my details and waited for a response.
I never heard back. Was I crushed, destroyed, heartbroken? Nope. This was a reasonable thing. I think I had come across as somewhat of a raving fan who wanted to show them how I had all the red string connecting pictures in my garage to explain who the Dealer really was.
But no loss here. I always think, take every opportunity.
But clearly, all that hard work and obsession eventually paid off.
35% hard work 60% obsession 5% desperation.
Moving further down the road, I'm working with Rule & Make. Doing conventions, spruiking merch and doing some design work when they mention Hand Of Fate. So I was like "Oh yeah they were looking for a boardgame right? I was working on my own thing for that at one point." For a couple of weeks I didn't hear anything about it until I get a call one night. "Hey, we would like you to work on the Hand Of Fate board game for us." I was so excited. But in a totally professional and reasonable way.
From there everything has been a massive blur as we have been hammering out iteration after iteration of Hand Of Fate: Ordeals.
Seriously, one day we will get to release photos of all the versions we have. It's crazy.
So let's talk Hand of Fate: Ordeals. There's a guy in the videogame, and he's clearly sitting down to play a boardgame. Why couldn't we just print that?
Short answer, the dealer really disagrees with being put away in a box every night. I have the scars to prove it.
Long answer, so much of Hand Of Fate comes from your interactions with the Dealer and we wanted to bring you something newer and a bit different. Since we wanted the game to be multiplayer and we didn't want the game to run itself, we needed to reimagine the Hand Of Fate experience for you and your friends on the tabletop.
Plus if you've already played Hand Of Fate you know the outcome, you know the story. So we're making something that builds on that and becomes its own beast.
Okay, next question! Videogame-to-boardgame adaptations are becoming increasingly popular, but a good videogame design doesn't necessarily translate cleanly into a physical game. What are the pitfalls you've had you avoid with the adaptation?
Combat and Literal Magic.
We are really fortunate that Hand Of Fate is such an awesome genre mash of action combat and card game that we have so much that we can draw on to build this board game.
That said, we can't have straight combat like HOF has. It just wouldn't translate right unless we strapped some sort of rockem sockem robots to the side of each game. So we have opted for something a little different. That's all under wraps at the moment, but our playtesters have given us some very positive feedback.
Our other issue is that in HOF the dealer is literally magic. While we have tried our hardest to add the ability to make cards fly around the table into perfect piles, using incantations to defy the laws of physics by drawing energy from alternate dimensions was not within our budget. So we have had to capture the same deck building and board setup in a smooth and easy to do manner but sans the flying ball of cards.
What have you done to capture the unique feel of HoF in the boardgame?
The feel of Hand Of Fate I think is two fold.
First is the genre mash that is deck construction + turn based dungeon crawler.
Hand Of Fate has an amazing and rich world that is told through the encounters you discover and the cards you earn. We wanted to bring out that emergent storytelling within the board game as well.
The meat and potatoes of Hand Of Fate is a punishing and gruelling trek against the odds in which the player is constantly tempted to push their luck in order to claim victory.
In Hand Of Fate: Ordeals you are still driven to push against the odds and take risks, but you also need to be doing this faster and better than your opponents.
Oh. And you will probably die.
Obviously, I've been tremendous to work with, but what has it been like running playtest sessions with some of the designers from Defiant?
It's been great. Stepping into the offices for the first time kinda made everything real for me. Everyone at Defiant has been really eager to play it and they give great feedback. Having Morgan play and watch the game had been pretty intimidating, but luckily he is a nice guy.
It is really interesting to see people so involved in the property get cards and be surprised and excited as they realise what they are or how we have tweaked things for Ordeals.
How has the game changed between playtests? Which battle plans failed to survive contact with the enemy?
How long do you want this interview to be? laughs The game has changed so many times. It never started with a board, we went through so many iterations of how to get cards. I would be very keen to show all the steps we went through once people have had a chance to see it.
Last one: what's your favourite thing about the HoF boardgame? What is it that you personally can't wait for the audience to experience?
I really like the bit where you get to draw cards. Drawing cards is just my favourite thing.
But really. The style of the game is what I like most. It's the combination of rogue-like and deckbuilder that I enjoy the most. Being able to change up, each game, what I will focus on building while trying out new card combinations.
Excellent. Is there anything else you think fans of Hand of Fate should know?
I think that people should know that this game isn't just Hand Of Fate the board game. It really is its own thing. You can play this to get the same kind of experience as Hand Of Fate but also something new and interesting.
Thanks so much, Michael. We'll have much more information on Hand of Fate: Ordeals soon!