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WORMS: Designer Q&A

12th Sep 2023

Dan Mapleston

Hi everyone, as we draw towards the close of an amazing Kickstarter campaign for Worms: The Board Game, we wanted to share an interview with Jack Caesar, the game’s designer!

Hi Jack! Tell us, what’s your background in board game design?

I’ve been professionally designing games for about eight years now, and a lot of that work has been licensed games. So that’s a game where you have a known property and are trying to evoke the feel of that world or setting in the medium of board games or RPGs. It’s interesting work, and no two jobs are ever quite the same! I’ve worked on My Little Pony, Jim Henson’s Labyrinth, and the Terminator series, all of which are wildly different settings that require different approaches in terms of game design.

When did you first start playing the Worms video games?

Worms: Armageddon on the N64. My brother got it for Christmas, and it consumed the entirety of the holiday. We had this little CRT television that was on the floor of his bedroom, and we would just sit on a hard wooden floor for hours, smashing each other to pieces with sheep!

What are the mechanics that you feel most closely matched the original game series?

When talking about translating a mechanic from one medium to another, I think it’s most useful to focus on the resultant feeling and place in the game than just the mechanic itself. So for example, one of the most unique aspects of the board game that mirrors the feeling of the video game is wind and its effects on weapons. In Worms: The Board Game, we replace the skill of picking power and angle with the skill of managing the probabilities of dice. It means that you get to keep that ‘Yeah!’ feeling when you aim something perfectly and roll the result you need to land a direct hit. There are a few changes to how weapons interact with wind to make them work well on tabletop, such as grenades, and we were really happy with how it all translated.

This leads us to the obvious follow-up question: what’s the biggest change?

So, the biggest change from computer to tabletop is obvious: the game is top-down rather than side-on. This was in the original design pitch that Team17 sent. Even so, we messed around with versions of the side-on view and even threw around a connect-four style standing board, but none of them felt right. A TV screen is vertical, and players are sat facing one direction when playing the computer game, whereas a table is horizontal, and players are sat around it. There wasn’t a way to implement the side-on view without sacrificing something more important. In the end, we went with the top-down view as Team17 had originally pitched, and everything went swimmingly from there!

How did you balance luck and skill within the game design?

Worms (the video game) is a capricious game at a casual level, one that rewards increases in skill while still throwing curveballs your way. Even the best players at Worms must pray to the RNG gods when picking up a supply crate! In the board game, a lot of the skill comes from ‘vibing’ out the probabilities of actions and how they might play out. A piece of advice I’d give new players is to aim upwind of your target since there are four results on the scatter dice that will land where you want and only three that have a direct hit on them. Balancing luck and skill is part of the fun when dice are involved.

How should players think about their position on the map during play?

At the most basic level, there are obviously good and bad bits of the map: hexes with supply crates are ‘good’, and hexes with mines are ‘bad’. However, there are also less obvious things to keep in mind. A hex that is surrounded by water is precarious, whereas one surrounded by land means you are more likely to land somewhere safe when you are inevitably blasted off it! You must balance the risks of being anywhere on the board against how well it positions you to punish other players and grab crates.

Finally, what part of Worms are you most looking forward to seeing on the tabletop?

The minis! I haven’t gotten to play with the little worms yet, and I really want to get my hands on them. They are looking fantastic!

Thanks Jack for all your work on Worms: The Board Game!

With the campaign ending at 3pm (UK time) on Friday 15th September, there’s still time to grab a copy of the Kickstarter edition.

Check it out here!