By Christopher O’Neill
The stone tower shakes as the impact from a large boulder hurled from a catapult reduces the heavy timber gates to splinters. The enemy has breached the outer wall.
The King! You must protect the King!
The unmistakable sound of battle rages ever closer, your forces are spread too thin! Your only hope lies in a wizard’s spell, powerful yet unpredictable.
The air around you crackles with energy as the wise one begins to chant. Having no choice, you roll the dice of fate, allowing her to decide the tide of battle.
This is Barrage Battle, a project on Kickstarter described as, “a tactical card and board game that blends strategy and dexterity requiring players to throw projectile dice at enemy targets.”
The brainchild is a labor of love by Rachael Mykytiuk and her co-creator and fiancee, Matthew Kuen.
Mykytiuk, a high honors DCCC business major, along with her partner Kuen, launched this Kickstarter project May 26, 2016.
“I have always loved games,” Mykytiuk said. “I grew up playing poker and other card games. I was a county chess champion back to back in junior high, and volunteered at an elementary school when I was a teenager teaching kids the game.”
After securing nearly $11,000 and more than 100 backers Mykytiuk and Kuen raised enough money to print 500 copies. Mykytiuk said this number exceeded their goal and they considered it a promising first step.
Mykytiuk recalled the humble beginnings of their creation taking place three years ago in Colorado. “Me and Matt are pretty big chess nerds,” Mykytiuk said. “We got into gaming together.” Mykytiuk explained that their tastes stretched from fantasy card games, such as Magic the Gathering, to tabletop strategy games like Risk.
One night they both agreed that they wished there were more games requiring dexterity.
“The first prototype was made in my studio apartment in Denver with a cardboard box, index cards, sharpies and some dice I bought at a Goodwill,” Mykytiuk said.
Because Kuen was still in school, they decided to put their idea on hold until they were more financially stable to invest in releasing their game to the public.
They moved to Pennsylvania, where Kuen completed his undergraduate studies at Penn State and got a job that allowed him to work from home.
After moving to Pennsylvania, Mykytiuk said she felt it was time to return to school and attributes her academic successes for giving her the confidence she needed to go through with Barrage Battle.
“I think it helped me realize that I could do something like this,” Mykytiuk said. “I can make my game and my dream come true.”
Once their project was launched Mykytiuk noted that it was tough at first to gain recognition.
“There’s a lot of reviewers that won’t review an unpublished game,” Mykytiuk said. “I was very aggressive with…trying to find established reviewers.”
Mykytiuk said that once they secured reviews from well known game reviewers, such as Undead Viking, people started taking notice.
“He has a very large following…that was really huge for us,” Mykytiuk said.
The next problem they faced was affordable shipping, according to Mykytiuk.
“We weren’t getting the backers for the game because shipping was too expensive,” Mykytiuk said. She explained that shipping costs, including the cost of the game, would sometimes be in excess of $50. “No one’s going to pay that kind of money for an unknown [game],” Mykytiuk said. “It’s just not gonna happen.”
By partnering with Amazon, Mykytiuk and Kuen were able to lower the cost to their customers considerably.
Another remarkable moment for Mykytiuk and Kuen was when Kickstarter recognized Barrage Battle on the site.
“When we became a ‘Project We Love’ for Kickstarter…I was like, ‘Oh my God, I’m so Happy!’” Mykytiuk said. “Afterwards, [we] started MK Games to launch [Barrage Battle] under.”
This enabled them to release Barrage Battle sooner then they anticipated, “We are actually ahead of schedule now,” Mykytiuk said.
The game was released to Amazon on Feb. 4.
Mykytiuk also revealed that a local venue would be selling Barrage Battle as well.
“There’s a wonderful game store in the West Chester borough called the Games Keep,” Mykytiuk said. “The owner Carl was an angel and I love him. He actually hosted our launch party for Kickstarter. He’s our first customer and he’s buying a dozen games for his store.”
Mykytiuk said that this will be the only store selling Barrage Battle although it will be available for purchase at the Games Keep by mid February as well.
Mykytiuk said she does not plan on stopping after one game though.
“I helped raise money to support Girl’s Game Shelf, an all-female game reviewing team based in L.A. and will be a guest on their show for Season 2,” Mykytiuk said. “I am actively involved in the female gamer’s support group, Board Game Broads, giving advice to budding designers and helping promote current publishing campaigns.”
When discussing the future of MK Games and Barrage Battle Mykytiuk added, “I hope to launch other original games by myself and other independent designers in the future. I have a whole list on my computer of card expansions. I want to put out deck expansions, new characters, and new spells and things like that. There’s actually a card Matt got designed in honor of me, ‘The Dame.’ That’s some real geek love right there.”
Contact Christopher O’Neill at firstname.lastname@example.org