If there’s a master of the modern cooperative game, it’s got to be Matt Leacock. He created the seminal Pandemic. Then Forbidden Island. And Forbidden Desert. And Pandemic: The Cure. And now he’s going retro, with a Kickstarter for a new cooperative game based on the classic Thunderbirds franchise from the ‘60s.
Matt, thanks for joining us. So tell us about Thunderbirds.
Thunderbirds (the show) featured International Rescue – a secret organization formed to offer aid when all other means have failed. It aired in the 1960s and featured a combination of marionette puppetry and scale-model special effects dubbed “Supermarionation.”
Thunderbirds (the Co-operative Board Game) lets you take on the role of a character in International Rescue. You can fly any of the vehicles around the world and in outer space in order to complete missions before time runs out.
Were you always a fan of the show, or is this a new experience for you?
When Chris Birch approached me at a conference about doing the project, the show was new to me. When I got home I watched a bunch of shows, saw the appeal (and great fit for a cooperative game) and signed on.
What’s your favorite mechanism in Thunderbirds?
I like the way the Hood’s Scheme (the track on top of the board) ties everything together. If you try too many missions at really long odds, there’s a good chance that The Hood will advance and trigger bad events and disasters. I like the way this forces you to make tradeoffs between short-term emergencies and long-term threats.
Why do you like cooperative games so much?
I enjoy playing them with my family and friends. Win or lose, everyone has a good time.
What are some of the exciting trends you see emerging in the world of board games right now?
Well, the overall quantity of games is staggering these days. I used to pride myself on being able to play “all the good games” of a given year. Sure, many of these aren’t worth playing, but given the larger field of games to choose from, I think there’s never been a better time to be a part of the hobby.
What are some of your favorite games?
I tend to favor classic Euro games that play in about 45-60 minutes, have lots of interaction, not much downtime, and are easy to play and teach. This year, Splendor stood out for me. As a kid I loved Avalon Hill’s Civilization but don’t have the time to play it anymore.
What’s coming up for you on the cooperative horizon?
This week, Pandemic: State of Emergency is coming out which adds some new challenges. Next October, Pandemic Legacy will be premiering at Spiel. I can’t wait for people to try that out.
Here’s the Lighting Round: 5 Quick questions, and 5 quick answers.
Favorite toy when you were a kid?
Favorite minor character from a TV show?
Elsbeth Tascioni on The Good Wife (played by Carrie Preston)
Star Trek or Star Wars?
Last good book you read?
I really enjoyed Shades of Gray by Jasper Fforde about a societal hierarchy strictly regulated by one’s limited color perception
Favorite game designer?
Based on the number of titles I own and regularly play (and his influences on me as a designer) I'd have to say Reiner Knizia.
Matt, thanks for talking with us today.
Make sure you check out the Thunderbirds Kickstarter campaign. And thanks for reading!