Reel Me In!

A fishing board game? Why not?

If I asked you whether a real-estate board game would be a good idea, what would you say? “You’re crazy, Phil. Only real-estate agents would wanna play that.” All right then, tell that to the creators of Monopoly, one of the most well-known board-games on the market.

If I told you I was working on a word-making game using individual letters worth different values, you might tell me that only word-smiths and the bookish type would be interested in it. Enter Scrabble, now in its 82nd year of production and still going strong.

What about Risk? Is it only soldiers and heads of state that find enjoyment in its myriad forms of conquest? I think not.

So, in relation to my last post, “Can Gaming Change the World?,” perhaps it’s the ability of these games to imagine for us new scenarios and new identities that makes them successful. In the same way that a well-written bit of fiction offers us a new world to explore, so too can a game give us this opportunity.

You may not be an artist (Pictionary), trivia expert (Trivial Pursuit), surgeon (Operation) or nation-builder (Settlers of Catan), but you probably enjoy many of these games nonetheless.

That being said, why not a fishing board game?

Some of you might consider yourselves fishers. Some might not. Maybe you’ve only been fishing once in your life — that one time with Grandpa, on a lake you can’t remember the name of. If you are into fishing, consider that a bonus. If not, no problem.

Why Fishing? Why now?

The game is Reel Me In! and it began (like all games begin) as an idea.

It was a lazy summer day, a few years back, when my daughter asked me to play a game, and, being tired of playing Fairy Time Adventure Land (or whatever it was called) for the hundredth time, I wished instead that I could take her fishing. At the time, she was a bit young for actual fishing. And so, it dawned on me: “wouldn’t it be nice if there was a board game that simulated real fishing, a game we’d both enjoy.”

Reel Me In! playtesting 3-2017b

It would have to be engaging for non-fisher-people. It would have to simulate the real fishing experience. It would have to be educational for the initiated and uninitiated. It would need to have chance, luck, and strategy, just like actual fishing. It would have to be humorous at times. It would also have to promote conservation, sustainability and compassion for the environment.

Did a game like this already exist? The answer was no. And so began our foray into designing our first board game.

Fish-ful Thinking

At first, my partners and I came up with a multitude of gameplay styles. Early on, the main idea was that the game would be — unlike the other very limited fishing themed games on the market — a drift-fishing board game. Players would float, in various watercraft, down a river path, fishing along the way. How points would be scored, or how a winner would arise, wouldn’t come till later. Then came the three decks of cards: fish cards, tackle cards, and actions cards. These would align closely with live fishing for a more realistic experience. We wanted you to feel like you were fishing, even if you were in the comfort of your own home.

Reel Me In! playtesting 3-2017c

Yet, upon first playing the game, it became clear that many kinks needed to be worked out. All our rules and pieces and players collided like a traffic jam on the board. And still, it was fun. The players liked it, were excited about its potential, and gave us good feedback, which we brought to our next trial run. Anyone in the game development field will tell you that a game needs to be exhaustively play-tested before release. It was no different with our game.


Floating On

After a year or so in development, the question “Does a game like this already exist?” has changed to “Why doesn’t a game like this already exist?”

Well, it will now.

*Until next time, “Play, laugh, and be merry!”


2 thoughts on “Reel Me In!

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