81 – The Family Gamers Podcast – The Mansky Caper

Characters from The Mansky Caper

This week, we are talking to Chris Leder (Director of Fun at Calliope Games) and Ken Franklin (designer of The Mansky Caper). Listen in on our discussion of their new game The Mansky Caper as well as what both of their families do for fun.

They’re going to make you an offer you can’t defuse.

The Mansky Caper is set in 1925: All the other criminals are wanting to get back at Big Al Mansky, the biggest gangster in the country. We are working together to ransack his house and steal all his treasures… but he has rigged his safes with TNT! Players call in favors to use other players’ special abilities. Although everyone is working together, they are also all trying to get a little more treasure than everyone else.

The meat of the game is the interaction between the players, due to the “favor tokens”. In fact, two players may decide to work together when it’s not even their turn, in order to mess up the active player.

In Episode 80, we talked about what makes a game fun. A major component was keeping all the players engaged on every turn, and it sounds like The Mansky Caper does that.

Calliope Games has long believed that people want to be able to open the game box and play right away. So the 3-D safe boxes, tokens, etc. are already pre-assembled and placed into their final locations in the game box. If you are the type who loves assembling components, you can add an extra $15 in the Kickstarter for lovely wooden safes from The Broken Token that you can assemble yourself.

Rather than starting the Kickstarter with the game priced out as cheaply as possible and adding stretch goals for better components, Calliope wanted to make the best game they could that could still sell at retail for $40 or less.

The Kickstarter for The Mansky Caper ends soon (February 10), and if you buy it through the campaign, you’ll get it at a discounted price of $32 instead! That price even includes shipping to the United States. We are certainly going to jump on that deal.

Ken has been designing games since he was in first or second grade. The Mansky Caper is a labor of love , and it’s also a family affair – Ken’s son Matt did all the artwork for the game. Ken’s first wife, Terry, encouraged both her husband and her son in their artistic endeavors. Ken’s second wife, Debi, first came up with the idea of the favor tokens.

Since Chris is the “Director of Fun”, we asked him what games he thinks are really fun (other than Calliope games, of course). His family’s favorites include Rhino Hero Super Battle, Kingdomino, and the deck-building race game The Quest for El Dorado. All of these are very accessible games (Chris plays them with his six-year-old) and get people telling stories about the game afterward.

Ken tries hard to pick just three games: Lords of Waterdeep (also Andrew’s favorite), Terraforming Mars (which he loves because of the communal feel – you are all working toward a common objective, even though the players compete against each other), and Roll for It! – “Yahtzee with bayonets”.

We decide to mention a really fun Calliope game as well – we are absolutely loving Ancestree.


Find Chris on Twitter: @leder88 and @calliopegames. You can also find Calliope Games on Facebook.

Ken is @drkenfp107, and Big Al Mansky himself tweets at @manskycaper.


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