Magical locations in Shropshire are to be captured in a new board game invented during lockdown by a Shrewsbury table-top gaming fan.
Shrewsbury Acro Yoga teacher Damian Senior, 35, came up with the idea for Heroes of the Shire, an adventure-based board game, to keep himself busy after his classes dried up, and is launching his new game through a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign this month.
Given the staggering popularity of board games currently, it is an invention that could put our county on the map! There has been a global surge in game sales during the Covid lockdowns with families seeking home based entertainments.
Damian is a regular at the dedicated board game cafe Nerdy Coffee Co. on Mardol and has chosen to launch Heroes of the Shire there this November 4.
His new, turn-based combat, adventure role playing game includes 'subtle mentions of key locations in Shropshire such as Weston Rhyn Stone Circle, Ashes Hollow at Church Stretton, Grinshill, Shrewsbury Library, Haughmond Hill, the Flaxmill and lots more.'
Heroes of the Shire Battle Map
Damian describes his game as having an 'unique combat system'. spread over two game modes with four themed scenarios and twenty playable heroes.
It has already had positive feedback already from the gaming community, praised for its blend of different styles by WhatBoardGame.com which said the different styles combine to make a 'highly satisfying game experience”.
Characters include the likes of the 'Shieldmaiden' who can swap weapons during combat, 'Volcanic Breath' and 'Dragon Swipe' among others.
Devising Heroes of the Shire provided Damian with an important distraction during the Covid lockdowns. He drew upon skills gained during his degree in 3D Computer Animation, which he completed in 2008 but hasn't had a chance to use - as by then, he had a young child and didn't wish to relocate.
He adds: "It felt like a wasted skill set, but during the lockdown I lost my teaching job and I decided to turn an idea I'd had into a game, starting with pencil sketches on the back of cardboard boxes.
"The gameplay was far better than I had anticipated and everyone I demo'd it to agreed. So I decided to continue on with the project by hiring a professional illustrator. Aside from the artwork and illustrations, I've done the rest of the work myself.
"The design stage was easy as I've played lots of games and had this idea for a while, but the business side of things has been a monstrous task. Getting quotes from factories in China, finding fulfillment companies to pick up the cargo and freight ship it to their hubs. International taxes and vat is also a minefield!"
After speaking to local artists and finding fantasy characters weren't something they specialised in, Damian then found an Indonesian artist Edwin Hieo online: "He turned out to be someone in a similar boat just at the other end of the world, who had just gone self-employed that month as an artist and was worried about how he would cope with the Covid situation as most of his family had too lost their jobs like me. His family were looking to him for financial support. So unfortunately the artist wasn't in the local area, of which would have been ideal, but I still felt really happy helping and supporting this guy as he seemed really genuine and was great to work with."
Pre-Covid, Damian had an excellent group of friends who would all play table-top games regularly: "It was was my only social night of the week and the thrill of defeating monsters with dice was, in truth, just a way to be around my friends, have a laugh, talk, and enjoy it all.
"Then lockdowns and social distancing came, which unexpectedly really caused a decline in my business but also like others, my mental health. I decided to focus my energy on a project I had never previously had the time for, and quickly saw its potential. I slaved over the mechanics of the game, wanting to make it fun with also a nod to the Heroes within the place I live.
"I wanted it to be the kind of game people could sit around with their friends and experience the social norms we've all missed. Success, for me, is just getting it funded and getting the game out into people's homes. There is hardly any profit left in each game after expenses."
He is, however, intending to release several expansion packs after release.
Damian is set to launch the game on the 9th of November through a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign and will also celebrate the launch with a preview at the Nerdy Coffee’s Social Night on Thursday, 4 th November, and 18 th November from 6pm - Those attending on the night will also have a chance to win a copy of the game, subject to the project being funded.
He adds: "Kickstarter will allow me to raise the funds to get the game manufactured and dispatched to everyone who backs the project. It is crowdfunding in the truest sense.
"My goal is to share my creation and if people like it go on to do this as my purpose and to show that you can do what you love at any age, even during a global pandemic."
Owner of Nerdy Coffee Co, Tom Matthews, said: "Damian is a great member of our community, finally sharing something with the whole world that he has put his heart and soul into. We can't wait to see it on the table at our Social Board Games night and we're really proud to have such an awesome game coming out of our county!"
You can pre-order Heroes of the Shire by pledging various amounts using the Kickstarter website. To find out more visit the Heroes of the Shire Facebook Page and for more information of the Social Games Night at Nerdy Coffee. Co visit their Facebook Page.