In both video game and tabletop development, there is a segment of the population of creators that work on their games in their free time. One of these people is Chris Pinyan of Crispy Games Co., a man whose love for the latter days of the Age of Sail gave birth to the board game Clear The Decks!.
Clear The Decks! is, in essence, a co-operative PVE game where you and your friends are fighting against an enemy ship. Each player is responsible for a battery of three cannons, but you're all working together to defeat the enemy ship before you. Hopefully, you can blast them to splinters before they manage to board your ship and destroy all of your cannons.
Part of the appeal of Clear The Decks! is in its versatility. The enemy ship board pieces are modular, permitting you to set the difficulty level by changing the composition of the enemy ship. In total, there are eight different types of ship available, each of which represents a different difficulty level. This allows players to learn the game fighting an easier opponent and really ramp things up as they get more experienced.
Throughout the game, you'll fire cannons at the enemy ship in the hopes of inflicting serious damage to its hull. You, too, will run the risk of taking hits from enemy fire, represented by damage or boarder tokens on each of your three cannons. Stack a total of three tokens between the two types on any one cannon and it's gone.
Clear The Decks! Holds FastThe Kickstarter campaign for Clear The Decks! was awfully close. When we covered it for Crowdfunding Spotlight, it was just shy of its $8,000 goal. In the time afterward, it successfully completed and hit the somewhat special number of $9,001. Yes, that's right—it was quite literally over nine thousand. It was soon followed with a successor campaign for special playmats, which was also successful.
Despite the success of the Kickstarter campaign, the time afterward has been somewhat tough for sales. This game represented his company's first and second Kickstarter campaigns and they certainly succeeded, but they were far and away from the runaway success that we see with a handful of tabletop games.
There is also the issue of the theme of the game. Pinyan is undeniably passionate about the Age of Sail, talking fondly of the time he spent with the Aubrey-Maturin series of novels (one of these books was later turned into the Russel Crowe film Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World). Passion aside, sailing ships of the 18th and 19th century aren't particularly popular these days. In short: The game itself is plenty fun, but people might not be exactly sold on the theme.
Pinyan will nonetheless carry on, selling his game Clear The Decks! at conventions and on his website. He isn't quite sure what the future holds, but he is nonetheless quite proud of what he created (and rightly so). If this seems like the sort of game you'd like to play, you can buy it right now at a price of $45.00 or your regional equivalent at the Crispy Games. Co. website.
Check out what else we saw at Play NYC by going to our Play NYC 2019 Coverage Hub.