SeaGriffen Games Ltd
Since the idea for the board game was first born two years ago Cait Russell and Matt Tweed have endured many highs and lows.
Currently only two precious copies exist – but now enough supporters have pre-ordered a game during their online crowdfunding campaign, they can go ahead with manufacture and set those Penryn Pirates loose to conquer the world.
They have spent hundreds of hours creating the game of strategy and fun, from the near-lethal tasting notes on all the rum cards to a short back story for each of the 60 unique crew card characters, the game is a unique re-imagining of the Penryn River.
Graphic designer and mum of three Cait said: “Having always fancied making a board game, I thought maybe this would be a good, quick little project just to get my brain working again. However, it quickly spiralled.”
She took the idea of sailing and tides and winds influencing where on the board you can go as a concept she expanded it to pirates and rum. Matt, a published book illustrator, was brought on board three months later.
There are more than 60 characters in the game
“Not everyone gets to draw nearly a hundred pirates and an eccentric seamonster,” said Cait. “It quickly became clear that Matt and I share a very silly sense of humour and the bones of the game rapidly became clothed in all sorts of unnecessary piratical detail, and the fun began to flow.”
The pair play together with samba drummers Dakadoum. Matt is also bass and basouki player for folk superstar Martha Tilston. They have even made an album of original sea shanties written and performed by Matt, to support the project.
Cait said the lowest point in the process was realising they were not going to make the funding on the first Kickstarter last November.
“Not making our funding on the last campaign was a real low but after a little time in the doldrums we got the wind back in our sails and began to re-imagine various aspects of the game to give us a better chance during this second effort at getting it made,” she said.
“These sorts of changes make the game more cost effective to ship and reduce the funding target. We have to now admit that we are so pleased with these new elements of the game that we are in many ways relieved that our first kickstarter was unsuccessful.”
So how do you play?
Five galleons have dropped anchor off the Cornish Coast. The coffers are nearly empty and you play as competing captains seeking to grow your meagre fortunes.
The aim is to make florins by selling your rum, using small rumrunner boats to ferry the cargo to port. But the tides, winds, whirlpools and sea monsters can knock you off course.
Cait said the creative process itself was great fun though and they spent “longer than either of us care to admit” working on crew biographies and seeking out the very best of the bad puns.
“Board games are a really great way of bringing people together,” she said. “Everyone remembers an anecdote about playing Monopoly with their family at Christmas – well, board games aren’t just for Christmas anymore and they are so much more fun than Monopoly these days.”
The game has been tested on friends who were not afraid to offer constructive criticism and refine the rules, then took it to UK Games Expo (UKGE) and got it on the PlaytestUK tables in front of gamer strangers.
Cait and Mark got extra help from The Growth Hub with a free business review.
Christina, from the Growth Hub, met with the couple late last year and after talking through their business plans and finding out where they wanted to take the game, Christina put them in touch with free help from marketing to exporting their game internationally.
The day-to-day operations of running a business wasn’t a priority when they were planning their game but with the support they are on the right road.
Cait said: “We’ve been on a few courses. We know how to write a business plan now and a financial forecast. All these things that you don’t think about when you’re scribbling away trying to make a fun Pirate game.”
She added: “Neither of us has had much experience in business so meeting folks in workshops who are also just starting out has been really helpful.”
“Making something is fun but making it is only half the battle. Getting the business side of things working too has been such a challenge, and one we have been hugely lucky to have been supported in by The Growth Hub.”
Smashing their target and raising £11,365 the game can now set sail to production with a the new games smuggled into Cornwall in November.
Cait and Mark reacted on facebook over the weekend live from the Sea Shanty Festival in Falmouth giving a big thanks to all their backers saying it was an “emotional journey” and they were off to Chile with all of you money, never to be seen again!
Arrrrrrr these Pirates you can’t be trustin em!!!
In this video for the Growth & Skills Hub, Caitlin & Matt reveal their exciting new board game, detail how it evolved, and their journey to market.
How the Growth Hub helped SeaGriffen Games
PLANNING FOR BUSINESS GROWTH
Referral to Department for International Trade
SALES & MARKETING
A referral to the Manufacturing Advice Service
We referred Caitlin & Matt to our partners at Oxford Innovation.