131 – The Champion of the Wild – The Family Gamers Podcast
This week, we’re talking to Tom Clare, founder of Big Imagination Games, and designer of the game The Champion of the Wild.
The Champion of the Wild happens in a world where some people can communicate with animals. If we could talk to animals, we’d probably choreograph animals for live shows or become interpreters.
The idea behind the game is that someone discovered that many animals wanted to compete in elite sports leagues. Kind of like the Olympics… but including such events as “Zoolovision” (singing/dancing), Supermarket Sweep, and Egg-and-Spoon race.
You, the players, are the coaches, trying to maximize your animal(s) performance in the selected events.
Choose 3 events, each from a different category (Speed, Power, Team, Endurance, Technical). Then each player picks a single animal from their hand to try to be competitive in all events. Reveal your animal, and start negotiating! Convince the other players why your animal has a shot at first place in each event.
We relate our stories of choosing a hummingbird and a bald eagle.
Once all players have had their say, everyone ranks the other players for 1st, 2nd, 3rd, (etc) place. After all 3 events, you tally up your votes for all events and determine the overall winner.
Andrew asks, “Is cheese rolling a real thing?” Yes! It’s one of the most dangerous “sports” in the UK, and fits the theme of the game well – ridiculous and hilarious.
The Champion of the Wild was originally Kickstarted in September 2017 and released to backers in October 2018. It’s going back on Kickstarter now for a second edition.
The second edition has lots of new cards; 8 new animals, event randomizer cards (pick your events for you).
If you have the first edition, there is a low pledge level to upgrade your existing copy to match the new one.
There are 4 new variants on how to play (2 pentathalons, another triathalon, and a decathalon), all of which use drafting to create a hand of animals before events are chosen.
We want to highlight the new “Junior Pentathalon” – for younger children who have more difficulty in reading & in predictive skills. Draft 5 animal cards, and end up with 1 animal for each event. Tom resisted this version at first, because it takes away the cleverness from the original idea. But it is much easier this way.
Check out this live play of the junior pentathalon from Shut Up and Sit Down at PAX Unplugged.
In the end, there are 2 distinct experiences of The Champion of the Wild: as an adult party game (very serious discussions but ignore fallacies completely), or as a family game (pick different animals for each event).
Much credit to Kevin Chapman, the artist for The Champion of the Wild. We love the realism, bringing you to the world of the game, and bringing the tongue-in-cheek ridiculousness to life. A big credit to the feel of the game.
This is NOT a serious gamer’s convention-worthy game; it’s not a great game to play with a group of strangers. But the distorted, comic-book-esque logic makes for a great party-style game.
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