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Lightning Strikes in an Adorable New Asymmetric Game from David Somerville

Jen Graham-Macht February 15, 2018

In 2017, Kickstarter established a creative initiative called Make 100. Between January 1st and January 31st, creators are able to post a project with a limited edition backer level capped at 100 people. In their first year, they had over 470 participants. This year’s Make 100 series had over 750 participants, including the two-player cooperative game, Lightning & Bolt.

Lightning & Bolt is an asymmetric game about a young girl superhero, Lightning, and her faithful robot companion, Bolt, who are working together, albeit in their own unique way, to rid their neighborhood of the Evil Doctor and his Docbots. Artist Andrew Bosley, illustrator of recently Kickstarted game, Everdell, does a great job of capturing what our young superhero and sidekick might look like – adorable but with just the right amount of grit that we’re sure not going to get on their bad side any time soon.

Designer David Somerville recalled that when he first started designing games he imagined a video game, “an RPG where one player would be a hero of fate (with lots of crunchy RPG mechanics) and the other would play the hero’s pixie companion. Basically Link and Navi, as a two-player co-op.” Video games being prohibitively expensive to produce, however, pushed him down the path exploring board game design instead, bringing us the popular asymmetric game Vast: The Crystal Caverns. This latest game is “circling back to asymmetry built to bring players of different styles and skill levels together.”

Lightning & Bolt is designed so that players of different skill levels or ages can enjoy the same game. Finding a single play style that can fulfill both adults and children gamers at the same time is no easy task. “Playing with much younger gamers is an inherently asymmetric experience” David explains. “You’re anticipating things, guessing odds, counting the number of face cards left in the deck, where a child is having an edge-of-their-seat, imaginative experience.”

The characters in this game are designed to give a voice to younger players, empowering them to make thoughtful collaborative decisions through the mode of play they crave. More importantly, the game also seems to encourage their adult counterparts to listen. In Lightning’s character, we find a fast paced roll and smash character, while Bolt is more tempoed, with abilities that allow players to think a couple of turns out. Lightning’s character will always have rewarding turns getting rid of bad guys and Bolt will always have to be ready to save her from sticky situations. Each character is powerful in its own right, but neither will be successful without teamwork.

Each of the 100 backers will receive a copy of the game printed through U.S. manufacturer, The Game Crafter, and assembled by hand by Andrew himself. All of these projects require the creators to be hands on in some way. So it’s no surprise that you won’t find too many games on the list. There are several awesome accessory projects for tabletop gaming like the Giant Meeple Project and custom dice boxes, dinosaur enamel pins, but almost no games. The cost of game manufacturing is very high, especially in the United States, and with such a low quantity of printing happen, you can expect these David and Andrew received little to no return on the units sold.

Despite the low return, the Make 100 initiative may have just proven to be a great resource for more game designers to gauge interest in a product before sending a product out for multi-thousand count print runs. If you missed the Kickstarter limited backing option for a physical copy of the game because they were gone in 80 minutes, or live outside the United States where this game could not be shipped, you’re not alone. “We’ve had lots of messages from folks who said they would have bought the game immediately if they’d known about it in time,” notes Somerville. Given all this positive response to the campaign, he and Andrew are currently solidifying what the next steps for a larger print run of LIghtning & Bolt might look like.

As for Vast expansions and sequels, David tells us, “According to Patrick Leder, lead designer and publisher of the Vast series, you can expect to see a new Vast Kickstarter campaign very soon—within the next couple of months!” You can be sure we’ll be keeping our eyes peeled for both Vast: The Mysterious Manor on Kickstarter, and a larger campaign for this adorable new addition to the asymmetric game community.


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