The Making of “Pack of Heroes” – A Vintage Comic Card Game

Phil Harding writes;

Ah, the golden age of comic books…

Back when superheroes had sidekicks, wore primary-coloured costumes and cracked one-liners. Back when things were a little simpler, and a lot more light-hearted. Back when reading comics was fun!

Those were the days… But what if things were a little different?

What if, instead of growing up with Superman, Spider-Man, Plastic Man, Batman, and Robin… there was Judge Justice, Scarlet Macaw, Herr Pretzel, Admiral Rhino and Bazooka Girl?

And what if all these fun and different superheroes somehow made it into our world? What if they were here, for us to discover with all the child-like glee of when we bought our first comic book? Well they are here! And the way they’ve broken into our world is… in a card game! (A strange way to cross dimensions, I know.)

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Pack of Heroes, the superhero card game set in an alternate universe of vintage comics!

POHBox

Pack of Heroes is a labour of love created by myself (board game designer, Phil Walker-Harding) and Sydney illustrator, John-DC. Our goal was clear. We wanted to put all our memories of reading comics as kids into a fun yet strategic tabletop game of battling superheroes. But once we started work, the ideas for characters, powers, enemies, settings and back-stories came thick and fast. We found all this extra detail and flavour so fun that In the end we decided to put it right into the game! We tried to infuse Pack of Heroes with all the rich detail of a fully-imagined alternate comic history.

We worked really hard on the game design, of course. But also on character design and product design. For example, the hero characters in the game come on cards modelled after vintage trading cards. On the front is the hero’s picture and all the gameplay information, and on the back is their catchphrase, fun statistics and an origin story! Unfortunately, you’ll have to provide your own stick of gum though.

POHCards

We ended up creating thirty unique heroes, and we tried our best to make each one really feel like their own character, with their own personality. Herr Pretzel’s arms can stretch right across the play area to slap you in the face. The Magnificent Mancini can read your opponent’s mind by turning their hand of cards face-up. A robot named Flux can travel back in time and undo your opponent’s last turn. Zombie Lad is weak but if he gets a hold of you, he just might nibble you to death.

We decided early on to have each hero be in a team, and this provided another space for story-tellng. The Freak Show Five are a weird group of circus freaks turned good. The Data Brigade is a team of robots, each based on a different decade’s archetype of the perfect robot. The Guild of Ghouls are stereotypical villains and horror B-movie characters, each with a fun twist.

POHCharacters

A game of Pack of Heroes begins with each player choosing their team of five heroes. You can either use one of the actual teams in the game, or create your own by first playing a mini-game of drafting. This allows for all sorts of crazy combinations of heroes and powers. In fact, a big part of the development process has been seeing how all the different characters work together, and what synergies and combos can be created.

When the game was finally designed, illustrated and ready to go, we realised that we had no money to actually produce it! I have had a few games published, but this was a project that so clearly needed to be kept in-house. So we decided to try and raise the money on Kickstarter.

Thinking of ways to advertise the game created a whole new space for our imaginations to go crazy. We made a TV-style commercial for the game, as if it had actually been on the market in the 1980s. John, who also does action figure customising, made a set of Pack of Heroes action figures. Then I made a video to advertise them based on 1970s action figure commercials. We were on a roll!

POHFigures

John also designed a line of Pack of Heroes t-shirts and made a bunch more fake merchandise just for fun, like a lunch box and even a couple of actual comic books! Thankfully, there was a great opportunity to show of all of this work. John currently has an exhibition at a local art gallery, displaying all of his art for the game, as well as everything else he has made.

POHMerch

And so, Pack of Heroes, and the whole world that goes with it, is finally ready to share with everyone. If you’d like to check it out, head on over to our campaign page and see what we’ve created.

Designing this game has been a great experience. At times of course, it became tiring and even exhausting. But It also reminded us how important it is to not take things so seriously. Games and comics, after all, are meant to be fun.

‘Nuff said!