Today we’re joined by Mike and Kelsey Domeny, the couple behind Two Penny Games and the currently Kickstarting Amberden Affair.
Mike, Kelsey, thanks for joining us, let’s jump right in!
First, can you tell us a little about yourselves?
Mike: I am Mike.
Kelsey: And I am Kelsey.
Mike: Oh, you were expecting more? OK, we are a team in marital life, parenting and board game design. We live in Alabama, though we grew up Northerners. We have the most adorable baby girl ever created. And…
Kelsey: And we like to eat cookies.
What flavor cookie?
Kelsey: Please - chocolate chip. Is there another flavor? I submit that there is not.
So what is this affair known as the Amberden Affair?
Kelsey: The Amberden Affair is a murder-mystery intrigue board game in which you play as footmen serving a party in an old English manor house. While trying to complete as many orders as possible for as many points as possible, each player must also strive to uncover the Miscreant Impostor. This impostor, an identity secretly assigned at the beginning of the game, is trying to kill off three dignitaries at the party without getting caught.
Mike: Instead of a “whodunit” it’s more like “Who is DOING it?”
How does the Amberden Affair play as a board game?
Mike: Players have objective cards with orders to pick up items around the room and deliver them to locations. Everyone takes their turns simultaneously. There's definitely a bit of mental work on the part of the players. That will always be part of the game, though the more you play, the more you can focus on what others are doing, and less on making sure you're correctly doing everything you need to do. The potential for “getting good” at this game is high, and the strategy deep, all the while allowing new players to score competitively.
What made you decide to create a board game of your own?
Mike: The first two years of our marriage we worked a job together that had us traveling 100% of the time. We got bored on the road with basic card games, and so started designing board games as a creative outlet.
What are some of your favorite board games?
Kelsey: Small World, Ticket to Ride--really anything Days of Wonder makes.
Mike: We love co-op games--Forbidden Desert, Castle Panic, and the like. We're the “alpha gamers” of our group of friends, and a lot of what we play (and design) ends up being the relatively easy-to-learn, play-under-an-hour, non-elimination style games.
What does “The devil’s beating his wife” mean?
Kelsey: Oh Alabama and your weird phrases. We’ve only lived in the South for three years and just came across this lovely euphemism within this past year. I think it’s when it’s raining while the sun is out?
Mike: We prefer to say, “It’s raining. And the sun is out.”
We’re big fans of hidden-identity/social-deduction-type games; what sets The Amberden Affair apart from all of the other games in the genre?
Kelsey: So, the classics are mafia or werewolf and the new popular ones of Resistance and Betrayal at House on the Hill. In all of those, however, it’s the innocent group versus the traitor and either the innocents win or the traitor. The Amberden Affair differs in that every man is out for himself. You’re playing for points, so you want to get as much information as you can to make a correct accusation while keeping that information from other players.
Mike: Yeah, there’s not this group effort to rid the world of the traitor. In a way, each person feels a little bit the miscreant because you want to mislead the others away from information. You want to keep everyone guessing whether or not anyone is telling the truth.
Kelsey: Also, the game is played in three rounds. So there will be three Impostors throughout one complete game. Which helps against the feel in some other traitor games where if you don’t draw the mafia card you’re super bummed.
You guys will be at Gen Con to introduce the world to The Amberden Affair; what can you tell us about the live event you’ve got planned?
Kelsey: We’re super excited about it! The Amberden Affair LIVE at Gen Con 2014 is a live-action, fully immersive playing of The Amberden Affair. Guests will get food, drinks, and gifts including a copy of the board game. The live event will be the game played out on the life-size scale. We’ve got a hotel event room that we’ll transform into the Amberden Manor, and play the game by walking around the room, fulfilling objectives, spreading rumors in real time, and accusing one another of murder. One could participate by joining our Kickstarter campaign right now--active til June 30th. After that, tickets can be bought through the Gen Con registration system, but at that point you’ll have missed out on Kickstarter prices and exclusives.
Tell us a little bit about Two Penny Games, and how you landed on that name for your gaming company?
Mike: Yeah! Two Penny Games comes from the story in the Bible of the widow’s mite. That’s where a widow gives two small copper coins, literally all that she has, as her sacrifice at the temple. We chose to use that as the basis for our company name to serve as a reminder for us that whatever we have, be it making games or otherwise, no matter how insignificant, can all be used to glorify God.
Kelsey: In light of that, we've committed that a portion of all of our games sold will go to financially support organizations that are caring for widows and orphans around the world. You can learn more about our partner organizations on the “Our Mission” section of our Web site: twopennygames.com
So did you two meet at church?
Mike: No, actually. We met at college. We were involved in the theatre department together and met on a production of Moliere’s Imaginary Invalid. Kelsey played my wife who wanted me dead so she could take my money.
Kelsey: Basically from then and through The Amberden Affair, murder is as the basis of our relationship. It’s very healthy.
Mike: Keeps us heavenly minded to be surrounded by death.
Kelsey: This is getting weird.
What can we expect in the future from Two Penny Games, and The Amberden Affair?
Mike: The Amberden Affair, as you said, is releasing at Gen Con 2014. It is then going into distribution and hopefully from hobby stores to tables across the country. Two Penny Games will continue making games, and probably focusing more on pitching to publishers rather than the self-publishing that we’re doing with Amberden. We’ve got a fun family game, a party game, and a time travel game all on the brink of going public.
Ok, it’s our lightning round! Five quick questions--you answer with one word (or a short phrase). Go!
Sherlock Holmes or Father Brown?
Kelsey: Sherlock--smart is the new sexy
Favorite movie soundtrack?
Kelsey: I Am Sam
Mike: “Not my circus, not my monkeys.”
Movie you’re ashamed to admit you love?
Mike: He’s Just Not That Into You
Kelsey: The Notebook...
Bucket list vacation spot?
Mike: The Hobbit’s Shire in New Zealand.
Kelsey: To see all seven continents. (Mike: There’s no way she’s going to Antarctica. She hates cold.)
We want to thank Mike and Kelsey for spending a few minutes with us, you can still get in on The Amberden Affair over on Kickstarter until June 30. And you can find out more at TwoPennyGames.com or follow them on Twitter @TwoPennyGames and of course they're on Facebook right here!