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[PAX East] EGM Interview:
Haywire Group’s Johnny Divertimento

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Posted on April 9, 2012 AT 05:01pm

Here at EGM, our focus is video games. We know them, we love them, and you do too. During my journey to PAX East 2012, however, I wanted to stray off of the beaten path a little. I wanted to see something different, something outside of my comfort zone.

For you and I, we may think of PAX first and foremost as a video gaming event. However, in reality, PAX is about all kinds of gaming—and a large part of that happens to be a genre that many of us may not be very familiar with.

So, I took a trip over to the table top gaming section of PAX East, and had a chance to speak to Johnny Divertimento from one of the exhibitors showing off their wares at the show, the Haywire Group. The company is gearing up to release a brand new product to gamers everywhere this summer—the dice-based Chupacabra: Survive The Night—and PAX East was the first look many fans would be getting at the game.

EGM: First of all, how’s your PAX East going so far?

Divertimento: PAX East is amazing. There’s so much energy here that it’s unbelievable. I mean, everybody is so happy to be here and play games, without a doubt.

EGM: That’s the interesting thing about an event like this versus an E3. For E3, it’s so much for the media, or the press, and it’s all about what games you’re showing off to them, where as this is all about the fans.

Divertimento: Absolutely. The vendors want to talk to the fans, and the fans want to talk to the vendors. It’s a perfect marriage, and you don’t get that at E3, right?

EGM: Something that’s interesting to me is, in coming to PAX, I always first and foremost think of the video game side—partially because that’s just what I do for a living. But as much as people may think about PAX for its video games, there’s this whole world of—well, I was going to say board games, but you might hit me for that. [laughs] I guess I should say table top games.

Divertimento: Yup, it’s table top games, it’s RPG games, it’s strategy games, and it’s actually a huge part of the show. The main trade show portion of PAX East closes at 6pm, but this area stays open until 2am. People are here playing strategy games, or RPG games, or table top games until two in the morning. So, there’s a huge percentage of people who are definitely here for those types of games.

EGM: I think when some people hear about table top games, they think of something like Monopoly or Life or something similar to that.

Divertimento: No, no—they’re more gamer-style games, like the Steve Jackson Munchkin series, or even Dungeons & Dragon-type things. Maybe not always that exactly, but that kind of stuff.

EGM: I think, too, it’s because sometimes video games have such a prominent place in the media, so people are often talking about them and not these types of games as much. So, some people may think that D&D died off years ago, or that Magic: The Gathering isn’t around anymore, or whatever. But this is still a huge market.

Divertimento: Absolutely. As big as the PAX East area for table top games is, if you’ve ever been to something like Gen Con, it’s 10x this size. It’s definitely still a huge market.

EGM: You have a new game coming out from your company.

Divertimento: Yes.

EGM: Before we get into that, though, who are you guys?

DivertimentoSo, we’re the Haywire Group. We’re probably better known for the Dicecapades! games, and Flickin’ Chicken—those are two very mainstream games. This is a new game for us called Chupacabra: Survive the Night, and it’s more of a gamer’s game. It’s got awesome subject manner—do you know the whole chupacabra thing?

EGM: I know the strange, mythical creature, yes. Eats children or something. [laughs]

John: It’s Latin American folklore—and it’s livestock, by the way. [laughs] Farmers would wake up, and all of their livestock is dead, drained of their blood, and they would blame this mythical creature the chupacabra—which in English means “goat sucker”. So we created a dice game based around that. All of the dice glow in the dark, and it’s a 2-4 player game where you’re trying to kill the other players’ livestock with chupacabras.

EGM: Now, when I play board games, I use dice in order to know how many spaces I’m supposed to move. So, how do I use dice just by themselves for a game? That idea is strange and unusual to me. [laughs]

Divertimento: Well, so everyone starts the game with six dice. Each die is the same, and each has a chicken, a goat, an ox, and a chupacabra. So you roll all six of your dice, and if you have chupacabras you can then attack the other players—so basically one chupacabra can kill up to two chickens, one goat, and you need two chupacabras to kill an ox. The object of the game is to get everyone’s dice, and the player who does it at the end wins. Make sense? [laughs]

EGM: Sure! So, this will be the hardest question that I’m going to ask you today so far.

Divertimento: Uh-oh.

EGM: Is this game fun?

Divertimento: The game is awesome. Honestly, people have been lining up to play Chupacabra, and the reception has been amazing. And we’re taking pre-orders for the game right now on our website, haywiregroup.com. It’s $20.

EGM: $20, and when does it come out?

Divertimento: We’ll be shipping in July, and if you pre-order now, you’ll have it before stores do.

Eric L. Patterson, Executive Editor
Eric L. Patterson got his start via self-publishing game-related fanzines in junior high, and now has one goal in life: making sure EGM has as much coverage of niche Japanese games as he can convince them to fit in. Eric’s also active in the gaming community on a personal level, being an outspoken voice on topics such as equality in gaming and consumer rights. Stalk him on Twitter: @pikoeri. Meet the rest of the crew.

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