I had some time at Boston Comic Con to sit down with the wildly talented creator of Zpocalypse, Jeff Gracia, to talk about his enormously successful foray into post-apocalyptic zombie survival, and what it takes to create a board game from the ground up.
Comichype: We’re talking to Jeff Gracia, creator of the board game sensation Zpocalypse here today at Boston Comic Con. Jeff, thanks for taking the time to talk to us about Zpocalypse. What are you most excited about here at Boston Comic Con and being here with the crowd and everything?
Jeff: This is my first time coming to Boston Comic Con, so that right there is the most exciting part.
Comichype: What inspired you to create such a well received, tactically based board game that has been a huge success on Kickstarter. Can you tell us a little about your company, Green Brier Games.
Jeff: Green Brier Games started way back when I was searching for a zombie board game that had all of these elements in it such as scavenging, fortifying a base, RPG elements of getting better with weapons, and I couldn’t find it. I was a little bit frustrated in the beginning, searching, trying to buy all these zombie board games and nothing had what I was looking for. So one day, I sat down and started creating my own zombie board game. Little did I know this small little part-time project/hobby of mine would turn into such a success.
Comichype: Can you tell us about the process and the ideas behind the game? How do you take the concepts you just mentioned and translate them into the gameplay?
Jeff: (laughing) A lot of trial and error! Way back in the beginning, it started like this RPG-type game and it transpired into this full-fledged board game that you can sit down and play with thirty minutes per player. A lot of people were there in the beginning, and helped, in fact you were there in the very, very beginning and played a very early rendition of the game to help make it what it is today (laughs).
Comichype: Can you tell us a bit about the game and some of its mechanics. What can players expect when they step into the shoes of a survivor in Zpocalypse?
Jeff: One of the main things about Zpocalypse is you’re not playing as a single survivor, your playing as a squad of survivors. I kind of like to think of it as you are Professor X controlling the X-Men, or you’re all in a Shaun of the Dead group of survivors out there in the world of Zpocalypse. It puts you up in a day in the world of Zpocalypse, coming out of the safety of the bunker, and trying to go out and scavenge for supplies, find more survivors, fortify your base, and the map expands in a modular fashion, keeping the game unique every time you play. And there is this combat sequence where it’s actually a tactical board game, and you go out there, and you go up against all these zombies whether it be with a jack hammer or a shotgun. It’s a lot collection of different types of weapons.
Comichype: Can you tell us briefly what’s included in the set, and currently, what is the availability of the game?
Jeff: Currently, the game comes with over thirty-nine different miniatures, and the modular tiles that expand the map with a bunch of different survivor cards, weapon cards, item cards, food cards, radioactive foods, creme brulee, assault bacon, a lot of flavor text as well. Also, scavenger cards that talk about different locations that you travel out to, whether it be a diner, or a city. All different flavor text is embedded into Zpocalypse.
Comichype: Tell us a bit about the art style, and its creation in the game. Were you going for a particular look in your post apocalyptic world?
Jeff: That’s an interesting question, because in the beginning we started out with this one guy, Zach Parks, and he created some basic maps, but we needed an artist, so we hired on Ricky Casdorph to do the art. Now, I could draw stick figures of what I wanted, but Ricky had this real imaginative vision, and his art speaks for itself. It’s kind of amazing.
Comichype: Can you tell us what’s coming up in the Zpocalypse world? I know you just finished up your second successful Kickstarter campaign, so what can players expect, who already have the game, going forward?
Jeff: Zpocalypse is out there right now on Amazon and on our website, and we just went through another Kickstarter called “Aftermath” which is a new expansion that introduces fortifications in a miniature fashion from walls, lookout tower, sandbags, new survivors called the Alpha Team and Beta Team, with new scenarios including a half ton truck and even a tank you can use to plow over zombies. It’s new and exciting content that adds to the game and adds more flavor and replayability.
Comichype: Would care to address some of the controversy surrounding the rules of the game and what some would consider a huge Kickstarter success, prompting accusations that you are “in it for the money”. What if anything would you like to say to any detractors of this game.
Jeff: Well, I can’t say that I’m “in it for the money” because our first print run, still to this day, is sort like, marginally successful. Our first Kickstarter we had over $100,000 in production fees and over $60,000 in shipping fees. If you do the math, that doesn’t even equate to the total number we spent on our first Kickstarter. We had to put in some of our own personal funds to make this game happen. So I’m definitely not in it for the money, I have a full-time job nine to five, this is my hobby, to make a board game. Board games don’t make wildly successful money.
Comichype: Is there a website people can check out if they want more info on the game?
Jeff: I just want to mention the team that helped make Zpocalypse possible, from Zach Parks, to Ricky Casdorph on the art, Theresa Gracia, my wife, she was inspiration in helping make this game possible, as well as helping design some of the maps, Julie Hurston, she did a lot of the storyline content. You can check out more of Zpocalypse online at www.greenbriergames.com.
Comichype: Jeff, thanks a lot for joining us today, it’s been a pleasure to interview you.
Jeff: Thank you.
(An there you have it folks, a successful, impressive entry into the board game realm of entertainment. You can check out Zpocalypse now on Amazon or at www.greenbriergames.com. Comichype would like to take the time to thank Jeff and the Zpoc Crew for taking time from their busy convention schedule to take part in this interview. Check out some of the photos from the convention, and be sure to check out Zpocalypse.)
An amateur poet, gamer, comic, film, animation, beer, toy and memorabilia aficionado, Mike has been reading and collecting comics and playing games for the better part of his life. He enjoys critiquing and reviewing pop culture, as much as he enjoys classical literature, while towing the line between professionalism and hedonism. His attempts to correct the views on all things people consider childish and foolish bear fruit, even if it is one branch at a time, one person at a time.