A Maltese Board Game developer and publisher has officially become award-winning. Mighty Boards won the prestigious People’s and Judge’s Award at the UK Gaming Expo. They won in the category of Best New Euro Board Game.
The expo is Europe’s second-largest board game event, with Mighty Boards winning for their game Excavation Earth.
Players take control of a group of aliens explorers in Excavation Earth. The goal is to excavate Earth for long-lost artefacts left behind by humans. It is an economic game, allowing players to understand market manipulation and what artefacts sell best.
The timing of Mighty Boards’ win comes as Excavation Earth launches its new expansion, Excavation Earth: It Belongs In A Museum on Kickstarter. The expansion reached its goal on the site in an hour. Previously, the base game was also successfully funded by almost 2000 backers.
Lovin Malta spoke to Director and CEO David Chircop and Director and Game Designer on Excavation Earth Gordon Calleja to find out more.
Returning to board game roots
Readers of Lovin Malta may be familiar with Chircop’s name as being part of CD Projekt Red’s Cyberpunk 2077 team, where he worked as part of the game’s Encounter Team.
While he has since left CDPR, he initially had joined the company for their digital online card game Gwent. Having had a background in board games, Chircop described that being part of Mighty Boards is “like a homecoming”.
“There’s a certain familiarity and knowhow that really shines and is kind of deeply ingrained in my being”, he explained.
“The design skills in Video Game making and Board Game making are similar” he explained.
“But there is a lot of culture and way of doing things that are a little bit different. That change of pace is nice for me.”
An award-winning game
When asked about how Mighty Boards became involved with the UK Gaming Expo’s awards, Calleja explained that the company had a small presence at the convention.
“Mighty Boards had a small presence at UKGE with a tiny, single-table stand run by one of our colleagues in the UK. New games that are published in the same year that is represented in the event are considered for the awards”.
Their win at the awards should not be underestimated either, considering that it is the second-largest expo for board games in Europe. Especially when Excavation Earth won two awards – voted by Judges and People respectively.
A rising star
Excavation Earth, designed by Dávid Turczi, Wai Yee, and Gordon Calleja, has experienced a wild ride in development.
“The first incarnation of the game was a fantasy unicorn race designed by Hungarian designer Dávid Turczi and Wai Yee”, Calleja explained.
Later on, the game was restructured to feature archaeologists digging for artefacts found around the world with Calleja having “the idea of setting the game far in a future where humanity ceased to exist, at least on Earth, and we had left our remains behind”.
“From there, the development of the game took off and came together quite quickly. So the first challenge was that: finding an appealing fiction that fit the system”, he continued. Overall, Calleja found that it was an “extremely satisfying process, especially because Dávid Turczi is an amazing designer”.
However, Excavation Earth’s reception was heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Just as the pandemic began, Mighty Boards launched a Kickstarter campaign for it.
Yet, interest from Kickstarter backers and large publishers like Asmodee and Matagot has seen the game pick up momentum since its initial release.
Asmodee distributed the game in Europe and North America, while their German division translated it to French. Matagot (a major French publisher) translated and is set to sell it in France while Two Tomatoes (a small Spanish publisher) translated it and sold it in Spain.
“Sale in North America and Germany have been great, with the first print run there being close to sold out in a few months”, Calleja continued. “We are currently running a second Kickstarter for [the game] that is doing very well”.
“All in all, it was a slow start, but it’s gaining momentum.”
Who are Mighty Boards?
Mighty Boards forms a diverse team of Maltese and international employees. The company boasts three directors: Chircop, Calleja and Mark Casha. All three have an academic background and thus, are able to be unique in the board gaming world.
Originally, Mighty Boards was split between Malta and Poland. Yet now, aside from some freelancers, the whole team is based in Malta.
“Our team is all in Malta and growing!” Chircop told Lovin Malta. “We have grown a lot in the last year and expect to hire more locally.”
He continued by highlighting that Mighty Boards strives to “really want to push the local creative market and meet local high-end creatives”.
Though still growing to their full potential, Mighty Boards offers an amazing chance for Malta’s gaming, creative and board gaming industry to continue to flourish.
It will offer untold amounts of recognition and opportunities for Maltese people going forwards.
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