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Mind Bottling Games Steals the Throne of Casually Competitive Gaming with Dice Throne

Jen Graham-Macht August 19, 2018
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The cards are printed. The dice are stamped. Production for Dice Throne Season 2 is well under way and we are already getting a peak at the future of Dice Throne with a teaser for Season 3. Nate Chatellier and Manny Trembley, the founders of Mind Bottling Games (MBG) and creators of Dice Throne are on a roll now. With the help of Roxley Games Laboratory, they had a successful Season 2 Kickstarter and they are working hard to keep their 10,000+ fans, engaged as they continue to grow the product.

The making of Dice Throne is a “fortuitous” tale. That’s what Nate calls it. One that involves the crossing of like-minded souls, joblessness, loving and patient families, and a little bit of luck. This is also a tale of passion and a reminder that passion breeds some of the most invigorating creativity in this industry. As you talk with Nate and Manny the recipe for creating a game seems simple; it needs to be fun, easy to play, desirable to replay, and durable so it can withstand a beating from it’s replayability.

Nate was already living in Spokane, Washington when Manny, artist behind Dice Throne, moved to town. Despite all their similar interests, namely their love of games, they met at church. The way Nate tells it, they didn’t even initially start talking with each other or hanging out because of games. They were two guys of similar age, with similarly aged children, ending up at kids’ birthday parties together. When a position opened up at Seven2, the studio Nate was working at, he encouraged Manny to apply. They went from church friends to work friends making mobile apps for Disney and Nickelodeon. When Seven2 made some cuts in staffing, they ended up with that in common too.

The Dice Throne we know now and the game they started designing are very different. Their first instinct was to look into making their own mobile app game. If you think getting your game noticed in the board game world is challenging, mobile gaming is three times more difficult. “It started out as a video game, a mobile game. That’s what we know. I had success being a part of several top 10 mobile games, but those were Disney…” Nate describes the initial design process. When you no longer have access to those names that garner immediate interest, the whole process becomes that much harder. In fact, he had an industry friend say, “you can do what you want with your life, but I do not recommend going down this path.” So they shifted gears and looked at making a board game instead.

In our conversation, Manny reflects on the idea of the mechanic. “The idea of using Yahtzee mechanic was prevalent in the app and that was a ‘Nate-ism’. He wanted to use Yahtzee as a combat mechanic. So when we had the discussion about the board game, we were like, well, let’s just do that.” The result is a yahtzee style combat game where you take on the role of various heroes who have all shown up to claim the late emperor’s powerful throne. Each character has its own unique play style to battle with, and their own backstory to help you get into character for each game. Manny describes each game he plays as “a mini RPG, where I level up my hero over the course of 30 minutes while I’m battling and then the games over and I go level up another hero.”

“Our primary goal is to grow our family of gamers.”

Manny Trembley

After a successful kickstarter early in 2017, Dice Throne quickly became a highly anticipated game for the year. Nate and Manny worked hard to maintain a visible presence for fans to participate, whether playing online on Tabletop Simulator, or getting involved with design ideas to help the brand grow. They delivered Dice Throne to backers starting at PAX Unplugged, and held a Dice Throne convention in their hometown, that might have overwhelmed their small town.

In November of 2017, MBG announced their partnership with Gavan Brown and Roxley Games Laboratory. This partnership solidifies an enormous amount of potential for the future of this casually competitive gaming system. Nate and Manny have so many ideas and dreams for what their product will look like, not just with the Season 2 release, but Season 3 and beyond. Joining Roxley has given them access to a full design team, with graphic designers, and a marketing team to help grow Dice Throne as a brand. In fact, a conversation between MBG and Roxley about Dice Thrones future resulted in rebranding the game to reflect yearly seasonal releases. The effects of this posturing are visible and positive. Season 2 includes a comic book to delve deeper into the lore behind the characters and the game and Season 3 will introduce a new game mode: Co-operative campaigning.

“Our primary goal is to grow our family of gamers,” says Manny. They’ve made great strides with their most recent Kickstarter too, reaching more than 7,500 backers not including additional orders after the Kickstarter closed. This isn’t the largest number of backers Kickstarter has seen for a single gaming project but it is a huge leap over their first campaign; proof of the growing love for the product. They want Dice Throne to be a sandbox game, a place where players can bring whichever characters they want to the table and they can play however they want to play the game. With this design concept, their audience will continue to grow as they provide new ways for players to enjoy the game.

The new package treatment of Season 2 follows the sandbox idea the designers desire. In the first game, each character received its own box tray insert with compartments designed to hold dice, cards, and tokens neatly (so long as the box didn’t get turned sideways or upside down). Cards were linen finished, dice were swirled instead of opaque and the life counters were upgraded to high end dials, despite cost fairly drastic cost increases to the original design.

The partnership with Gavan and Roxley brings some business acumen to the Dice Throne team, allowing them to deliver on the quality they want to bring to fans but making the Dice Throne brand a sustainable one. While Dice Throne, Season 1 made $181,000 on Kickstarter in 2017, Season 2 raised over $700,000 just one year later. Roxley ran a campaign with a ground breaking funding quest system and while it had its kinks, it is a new model for the stretch goal system creators are looking to now. This campaign allowed them to upgrade the size of player boards that highlight Manny’s wonderful artwork, and an impressively efficient and organized storage system the nerdiest of nerds will appreciate. Working with Game Trayz, the creators of inserts in games like Wasteland Express Delivery Service and The Reckoners, each Dice Throne character has its own carrying case, where pieces won’t crush each other, they won’t shift around, and they are easy to pop out and set up on the table.

By all accounts, Manny and Nate are small town guys with a passion for gaming. They have made this passion their life’s work. Dice Throne is an accessible game that many can pick up, play and love. It is instinctual and the rich characters keep players invested in their favorite heroes and returning for games week after week. Manny, Nate and Gavan working hard to keep fans engaged with social media and are transparent about game development and the future of Dice Throne. They have developed fan loyalty and love this way and are humbled by it. They’ve got some tricks up their sleeve they aren’t telling us everything just yet, but you can bet we’ll be there every step of the way to find out.

Images provided by Mind Bottling Games and Roxley Game Laboratory

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