Interview with Tom Butler | Patriots & Redcoats
Hey readers! Ten days ago I highlighted an interesting looking game based around the American Revolution called Patriots & Redcoats. I recently got to interview the designer of that game Tom Butler.
Chris Michelotti: My first questions is more about the gameplay itself, isn't this like the "mafia" game I played when I was at day camp?
Tom Butler: It definitely gains inspiration from other games but that is part of game design-- taking concepts you have encountered before and combining them in new and innovative ways. You'll also find some mechanics that make it unique as well. The “Winter is Coming” card changes allegiances and keeps everyone on their toes as well as investigating or sheltering other players' allegiances with a Spycraft deck of cards. Lastly, spies can actually stop a player's action by publically declaring they are a spy and assassinating the other player, thereby canceling the players' effects but also, eliminating themselves from the game.
CM: I know that one of your goals is to develop an appreciation for history, do you think Patriots and Redcoats will build an appreciation for American History?
TB: As the saying goes, "tell me something - I forget, show me something - I remember, involve me - I understand." All of us possess a desire for adventure, dangers, thrills, and a little exploration. Games bring out this human emotion...they involve us whether we like it or not. There are so many effects from playing games... and learning about history is part of the immersion process for this game...but second to the earlier desires. The bottom line is most Americans don't even appreciate their own history and part of that is because we need to make themed games more compelling and fun.
CM: Don't you think that this game would appeal more to people who already have an appreciation of American History?
TB: That's an interesting thought because I don't think being a board game enthusiast and a history buff are mutually exclusive.
CM: There could be something said about that, as many games have historical perspectives. What is your favorite takeaway that you have heard after someone has played your game?
TB: During playtesting, someone introduced the game to their parents and grandparents and they thought it was the best game ever played. The grandparents wanted immediate copies for their family and friends. People pledging for games on Kickstarter, unlike the retail market, are mainly buying for themselves.
I feel this game has appealed significantly well to gift givers, it's a bit of catch 22. You see, people that play immediately not only want a copy but they want to give it to their friends and family, that, in my view, is very unique. So we offered a pledge option (Yankee Doodle Dandy) that meets those needs.
Also, some of our UK backers really wanted the name changed to traitors versus redcoats, perhaps there is still a bit of sting in the Patriots victory so many years ago.
CM: I mean, it is interesting that you bring up those in the UK and history, how do you tell stories about American History, without deifying the participants?
TB: My first board game was about pirates. Some would argue pirates are already deified, and that is the appeal. People back these games to take on those personas: symbols of freedom, symbols of adventure, and challenging the social norms of the day . Our forefathers were no different, in regards to challenging the norms of the day. So while playing the game here's your chance to rewrite history or let it play out as we all know it today.
Thanks to Tom for taking the time to answer a few questions with us, and if you are interested in backing this fully funded project on Kickstarter you can find the page HERE. So readers, what do you think? Do you think that thematic games that delve into parts of our history will increase people's appreciation of their history? Are there other games that you feel do this well? Let us know in the comments!