When traveling you never know who you’ll end up meeting.
Recently, during a business trip to Saint Paul, MN, I sat next to an unassuming man on a shuttle bus en route to the airport, who quickly struck up a friendly conversation. Turns out the mellow fellow was none other than game wizard Kevin Wilson, designer of such highly successful board game titles as Arkham Horror, Descent, and Sid Meier’s Civilization. As we continued our brief chat (I was headed back to NYC, and Kevin was off to the 10-day by-invite-only ‘Gathering of Friends’ gaming convention in Buffalo, NY), I learned that he had been commissioned by IDW Publishing to create a board game based on Chris Carter‘s TV cult favorite The X-Files (my favorite TV series of all time)! According to Wilson, the strategy board game will draw heavily from the show’s first three seasons, universally regarded as the strongest. Art direction and box cover art is being provided by menton3 (above), whose previous work includes IDW’s X-Files “Season 10” comic book (executive produced by Chris Carter himself).
The big box board game, Wilson said, plays out in sessions of about 60-90 minutes, 1-4 players (non-Syndicate) go up against The Cigarette Smoking Man and his Syndicate ilk, while the other players team up to stop him, for a total of 2-5 players. Gamers have a chance to play FBI agents/paranormal investigators, Fox “Spooky” Mulder, sexy Dana Scully, and several others from the series.
W’s board game, set to hit in July 2014, is not to be confused with the 2-player ‘The X-Files Collectible Card Game’ produced by US Playing Card Company back in 1996. This version is stirring up quite a bit of dust among fans of the show and game aficionados alike.
“To me, there’s no more exciting title than The X-Files,” Jerry Bennington, IDW’s director of new business, said in a statement at the time of the announcement back in March. “Who wouldn’t want to play as the wise-cracking Fox Mulder or the incredibly intelligent Dana Scully? And what show created more classic villains than The X-Files? Now we’ll give fans the chance to lose sleep all over again!”
The rest of the information contained below is drawn from an exclusive follow-up interview we conducted with Kevin Wilson via phone this week.
In the game, succinctly called The X-Files, cases play out randomly. Players draw cards, and each card is an episode that contains a memorable call-back quote from the series. Draw the card from ‘The Host’ episode, for example (first airing on September 23, 1994, which featured the Fluke-like man, a product of the Chernobyl disaster let loose in the sewers of New Jersey), and you’ll find a quote by agent Mulder: “I don’t know, but it looks like I’m going to have to tell Skinner that his suspect is a giant, blood-sucking worm after all.”
The four main X-Files characters chosen to populate the game are: FBI Special Agents Fox William Mulder and Dana Scully, FBI Assistant Director Walter Sergei Skinner, and the double dealing Alex Krycek, who bats as both an FBI agent and member of the shadow government The Syndicate.
Here are two exclusive tidbits:
* The goal of the X-files agents is to accumulate evidence to build a nine-piece jigsaw puzzle that forms the iconic signature poster “I Want To Believe” that hung in agent Mulder’s office throughout most of the series.
* Cigarette Smoking Man has tokens he can drop in the evidence bag to slow down adversaries when they are getting too close. The tactic is symbolic of him having gotten there first, something he often did in the series, and often proved a great frustration for Mulder and Scully.
Wilson spent time jogging his memory, and trying to decide on the different skills useful for each episodic gameplay. Of course, given the drive for entertainment value, a few minor stretches were made. One of the more difficult aspects of Wilson’s task, he admits, was to rate the deadliness of each episode and assign it a number based on its gravity. During the period when he became reacquainted with the seasons that would make up the board game, Wilson noticed that there were twice as many episodes, regionally, that took place in the south. Virtually all states and countries where the show took place in the first three seasons are covered in the board game, except Alaska and Norway.
It’s hard to endorse a game without having dug my mitts into some actual gameplay. But given IDW’s success rate to date, as well as Kevin Wilson’s knack for producing tight and engaging games time and again, we have a strong gut feeling The X-Files board game will be another winner. In any case, I’m definitely pumped. After all, I WANT TO BELIEVE.
The X-Files board game will be released in July, with a suggested retail price of $59.99. Visit the The X-Files board game’s official website: http://idwgames.com