Kickstarter Tabletop Alert and Interview: Jason Anarchy’s ‘Haiku Warrior’

HW-coverHaiku Warrior is a new RPG card game from Jason Anarchy that just went live on Kickstarter. Anarchy is the creator of Drinking Quest–a drinking game and RPG all in one! Haiku Warrior is quite a departure though. Instead of a rowdy, group game for adults, Haiku Warrior is a quiet, introspective game intended to be played solo or with up to four players. A pledge of just $20 will get you a shipped copy of the game.

New to Kickstarter? Check out our crowdfunding primer.

This is the prototype artwork, not the final design.
This is the prototype artwork, not the final design.

Haiku Warrior is an RPG card game told entirely through Haiku. This means that the story on the cards is very abstract and players are left to their own imaginations to fill in some of the story. Combine this imaginative storytelling mechanic with four pre-made characters and six randomized quests, and Haiku Warrior promises to have tons of re-playability while being simple to learn and play.

The following contents come in a custom two-piece box with fancy gloss:

  • 60 Unique Quest Cards
  • One four-sided die
  • One six-sided die
  • One eight-sided die
  • Six Hat Cards
  • Six Boot Cards
  • Four Hero Cards
  • Pad of 40 character sheets
  • One Oversized Shop/Monster Action Card
    Instructions

The stretch goals include a slew of guest Haikus written by folks like Jim Zub, Ali Spagnola, Perry Gripp, MC Lars, Robin Laws, and more that will go in to a seventh quest, adding even more re-playability to the game. There are reward levels for just a digital copy as well as higher reward levels for multiple copies of the game or copies of both Haiku Warrior and Drinking Quest.

Unfortunately, Anarchy doesn’t have a playable prototype ready yet, so I haven’t been able to try out the game, but I’m a big fan of his Drinking Quest series and can’t wait to try out this new endeavor. For only $20 for a delivered RPG card game, its hard to pass up! Head over to the Kickstarter for more details!

While I wait patiently for the game to be backed and shipped, Anarchy was great enough to let me ask him some questions about the game, being a game maker, and most importantly, being a geek dad.

GeekDad: Drinking Quest is a lot of fun and is a rowdy, group game. Haiku Warrior seems like quite a departure from that. What made you want to make such a different game?

Jason Anarchy: I love RPGs but especially fun ones that don’t take themselves too seriously. At the end of the day it’s just adding rules to a bunch of grown-ups playing pretend, so it’s never something that should be too serious.

I’ve just been making RPGs and different game engines for my group since I was a kid so I have over 20 years of unofficial private design experience. That gave me a good sense of what works and what doesn’t.

Drinking Quest, I think, was as simple as you could get while still remaining a Tabletop RPG. With the “Cards acting as the Game Master” mechanic it lends itself very well to one player; however, I didn’t want people drinking alone so I made it 2 – 4 players. Haiku Warrior was born out of wanting to take this casual RPG engine and make a one-player adventure.

From there, the rules to have up to 4 players came about pretty organically, and when I said the words “Haiku Warrior” to myself, I knew I had my theme. And I’m not trying to portray myself as super deep or anything but there’s definitely a Drinking Quest side to myself and a Haiku Warrior side to myself.

GD: As a fellow geek dad of a 2.5-year-old, it’s been challenging to find time to have game nights and get people together, especially since most of our friends also have small kids. I’ve been spending a lot of time looking into solo tabletop gaming, so I can still scratch that itch even when I just have a little bit of alone time. I’m really excited that your new game is for 1-4 players. What made you decide to make Haiku Warrior playable solo?

JA: I am coming from that exact place! As an adult, it’s a lot harder to get players together and especially players that are good friends. I really wish there were more solo tabletop games. They’re great for several reasons:

  1. You can learn a game before you play it with a group.
  2. You’re not as the mercy of other people’s schedules.
  3. It’s just really fun.

I think there’s a stigma (or maybe it’s just in my brain) that it’s really nerdy to play a solo tabletop game. Video games are OK but not tabletop games. So with Haiku Warrior a part of me was like “No, this is awesome! I like this, and I’m not going to let a silly thought like that stop me!” There are hardly any solo tabletop RPGs out there so this is me just making the type of game I’d like to play.

GD: There seem to be two types of solo games out there–games that are designed for just a single player and those that have a modified single player version of what is really a multiplayer game. Why did you go the opposite route–building a solo game with variant rules for multiplayer?

JA: It was a happy coincidence of me wanting more solo RPGs out there and believing that I’m not alone.

GD: Do you have any plans to release a Print N Play version on Kickstarter or to backers before the end of the campaign to get any feedback before finalizing the game?

JA: Not on a large scale… I have some core people who are just fantastic with playtesting (i.e., they try to do everything backwards and break the game).

This is a linear story-based game that has a closed system, so I’m not looking at the type of variable options that say a Euro-style strategy game would have; however, if any hardcore gamers are interested, I could definitely send it out to some extra playtesters before I put the final stamp on the game and send it to the printer.

GD: Since a lot of our readers are parents, what do you think is the right age range for Haiku Warrior?

JA: It isn’t on the box yet but I’m going to say 13+. I think at that age you could start picking up on the subtleties of haiku and how the game is kind of clever. It could also work as a great Introductory RPG kit before they get the D&D beginner’s box.

GD: Will you use Drinking Quest to introduce yours kids to gaming or do you think you might start with something else?

JA: Haha, I would probably introduce them to RPGs before they’re legal drinking age, so no. That’s not my ideal game. (However if they were of age and were going to play a drinking game anyway, DQ is paced and has limits.)

Haiku Warrior might be a good game for this but honestly my favorite game of all time is Milton Bradley’s Hero Quest. I’m going to start there with them I think.

HW-games

GD: That is so funny you mention Hero Quest. Check out this pic. I just dug these out of a closet that I haven’t been in for about 7 years. These are the only games I still have from when I was a kid. The next time you’re in Seattle for a con or something we should meet up and play Hero Quest!

JA: Dude, yes! I love Seattle, and it’s in my rotation for conventions, so this might actually be doable. Fun Fact: You can sell these on Ebay now for over $100. (But talk to me first if you ever plan to sell it!)

GD: I don’t think I want to let it go, but if I do, I’ll call you first! When and how did you first get into gaming?

JA: I’ve been into games my whole life. As a three- or four-year-old I remember playing Snakes & Ladders, then Monopoly, Scrabble, Payday, Clue. Then when I was eight I started just making board games all the time. I made a Legend of Zelda-themed game, a Maniac Mansion-themed game and even board game versions of the first six Star Trek movies. And then I got a copy of Hero Quest for my 11th birthday that changed everything. All of my game design became rooted in casual RPG gameplay.

Then four or five years ago I had a friend say to me, “You’re always drinking and playing these RPG systems you’ve made, why don’t you combine them?” and I guess I took it to heart!

GD: Do you play a lot of solo games? Do you have any favorite games (solo or otherwise) that you play or that inspire you?

JA: Mostly it’s video games because there just aren’t that many solo tabletop games available. My all time favorite video games are Final Fantasy 3 (6), Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, and Final Fantasy Tactics.

GD: Do you have any favorite video games that you are playing/have played lately? I’m pretty much an Xbox or PC guy – what’s your preferred gaming platform?

JA: I always buy the Nintendo system first in any generation of consoles, and Wii U has been fantastic. Nintendo sets really high quality standards for themselves when it comes to game design but they also know what NOT to do. Their games tend to be focused on what’s fun with very little filler.

So for Wii U over the last two years I’ve been playing Shovel Night, Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara, Mario Kart 8 and HD Windwaker. And recently Target went out of business in Canada so I picked up a PS4 on the cheap… chipping away at Dragon Age: Inquisition slowly but surely. 🙂

GD: A lot of us gaming geeks dream of creating our own games. I know I have several ideas bouncing around in my head at any given moment that I’d love to see in the real world. How did you get into creating games, and do you have any tips on where people can get started?

JA: It’s a lot easier if you’re creating things for fun already because then you have some finished work before you attempt to release anything commercially. Have an idea that is both good and commercially viable before you attempt to release anything into the market otherwise it’s just a vanity project.

Also save up a budget ahead of time. Kickstarter is a great tool, but in most cases it’s only really effective if you have a fan base already. So have a successful game or two THEN do crowdfunding. Saving up an initial budget is the step that everyone wants to skip, but it’s essential.

GD: Do you make games full-time or do you have another job as well?

JA: I’m doing this full-time. Game creation is a smaller part of the publishing company I run to release my own games. It’s a 60-80 hour a week gig, but I don’t regret it for a second.

GD: As I mentioned, I have a hard time finding time to play games. How do you balance creating and playing games with having a 2.5-year-old? And how will your new arrival change that? (Anarchy and his wife are expecting in the next couple weeks.)

JA: Haha. Playing games is what has to suffer. If I can fit in one actual night of playing tabletop games a month then I’m happy. My wife doesn’t play games, which has the incredible benefit of her not getting jealous and wanting to come out when I do. After the kids go to sleep then I can go off to game night.

Also, there are no marathon video game sessions in my life anymore, but I gave those up before being a father. They were dropped when I had to start committing so much time to Drinking Quest and getting known as a designer.

GD: Something along the lines of “Being a geek isn’t about what you love but how you love it,” is sort of the new geek mantra. Do you have anything, besides gaming, that you consider yourself a geek about?

JA: Punk rock! I love punk rock so much. It’s the soundtrack to all my designing, writing and road trips to conventions. For the Haiku Warrior Kickstarter, I was fortunate enough to have Masked Intruder, Parry Gripp of Nerf Herder, Ali Spagnola, and MC LARS all agree to do stretch goal haikus. They’re all funny artists and all connected to the punk scene. Also, I’m listening to the new album from The Gallows as I type this.

GD: I’ll have to go check out The Gallows. My favorite band of all time is easily Jawbreaker who were sort of punk but then not really. Do you have a favorite band or one that’s inspired you the most?

JA: Jawbreaker is totally punk! They inspired Alkaline Trio who are probably tied with Bad Religion for my favorite bands of all time. In general, just having a good playlist of songs can be very motivational. Especially punk rock because it’s loud and fast and kicks your a** a little bit.

GD: You mentioned you were a fan of GeekDad. Do you remember how you first found us and started following us?

JA: The first time I was on the site I remember just thinking about what a great name it is. It tells you everything you need to know in two words. From there I checked out the site, and it definitely delivered on the promise!

GD: This is probably a bit premature since you’re right in the thick of it with Haiku Warrior, but do you have any other game ideas or Kickstarter projects in the works you can talk about?

JA: In about two weeks I’m launching a web comic! I’m doing the writing, and I teamed up with an artist, Aaron Plants, who has just been doing an amazing job at giving it a unique style and making sure the humor comes through. All of my games have been funny so comedy is definitely my comfort zone.

GD: Is it going to be a free webcomic? Can I share the title or link with our readers or are you keeping it under wraps until it goes live?

JA: I guess I don’t need to be as protective about it at this point. It’s called Anarchy Plants, and it’s about houseplants that have human problems. It will be absolutely free.

You can see a five comic preview at AnarchyPlants.com but it hasn’t officially launched yet. In a few weeks we’ll start doing thrice-weekly updates.

GD: Thanks for your time, Jason. It’s been great talking with you.

JA: That was a lot of fun, cheers!

If you like lighthearted RPGs and want something you can play alone or with friends, check out the Haiku Warrior Kickstarter. If you also like drinking and playing RPGs, pick up Drinking Quest while you’re at it.

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