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A game of superheroes & robots for parents & kids, from the creator of Vast & the illustrator of Everdell // A proud part of MAKE 100
A game of superheroes & robots for parents & kids, from the creator of Vast & the illustrator of Everdell // A proud part of MAKE 100
550 backers pledged $5,550 to help bring this project to life.

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Lightning & Bolt — an asymmetric co-op superhero adventure!

$5,550

550

LIGHTNING & BOLT is an asymmetric, co-operative game built for parents and kids—or anyone who wants to mix together a lighter and heavier game for a great time. 

It's a tile-matching game, but with superheroes, robots, and extreme asymmetry. In LIGHTNING & BOLT, one player takes on the role of Lightning, the fast-flying, power-punching superhero, while the other takes on the role of Bolt, her towering robotic companion. The city of Midtown is being terrorized by the Evil Doctor, and it's up to Lightning & Bolt to swoop in and save the day!

Lightning's mechanics are fast, simple, light on rules, and high on fun. Bolt's mechanics are more complex, and take more finesse—but once you get Bolt's engine running and software upgrade, the Evil Doctor had better watch out!

 

Also available: Our exclusive 16x20" POSTER, for sale through the rest of the campaign as a $25 add-on!

 

We're excited to announce new stretch goals for LIGHTNING & BOLT! All stretch goals will be equally valid for both physical and digital copies of the game, and will be announced as the previous one is unlocked. There's lots to come, so spread the word about LIGHTNING & BOLT, and let's make this game even more amazing! 

 

LIGHTNING & BOLT is a dice-rolling, tile-flipping, bot-destroying search-and-rescue mission. To win, you need to rescue all 9 neighborhoods, fighting off the evil bots that are terrorizing them, reuniting friends and family, and cornering the Evil Doctor in his secret lab!

SETUP
Setting up LIGHTNING & BOLT is fast and easy. Just deal the 9 neighborhood tiles facedown, and give each player their pieces. 

  • Lightning gets a player mat and standee, 1 purple cube, and 1 purple die.
  • Bolt gets a player mat and standee, 2 black cubes, 3 black dice, and a deck of upgrade cards (shuffled and placed facedown).

Now Lightning decides where to touch down. She flies onto any tile she chooses, carrying Bolt with her super-strength. This is the tile that both players start on. Roll the green Doctor die, and place the resulting number of DocBot tokens on the tile. These are the bad guys you have to fight first thing!

LIGHTNING'S TURN
Lightning always plays first. On her turn, she can move, smash DocBots on her location by rolling her die, and rescue neighborhoods she's cleared of bots. Lightning ALWAYS defeats all DocBots on her space, even if she rolls below the number of bots surrounding her. But, when she rolls low the extra DocBots make her trouble meter tick upward—one for each extra bot. Once her trouble meter is full, Lightning is trapped, and can't move until Bolt comes to rescue her!

Lightning rescues neighborhoods by flipping over tiles that have been cleared of DocBots. Once she flips over a neighborhood tile, it stays face-up until the next neighborhood is rescued. If the tiles match, they're safe, and remain up and clear of bots for the rest of the game! If they don't match, they both flip back facedown, and moving back to facedown tiles you've visited before brings a new batch of DocBots to fight.

BOLT'S TURN
On Bolt's turn, the giant robot rolls three dice, and assigns them to the actions described on its player mat. Some actions (like moving and searching a neighborhood) require 1 die assigned, regardless of value. Others (like attacking DocBots or rescuing Lightning from trouble) depend on the value rolled. If Bolt needs to increase the value of its roll, it can increase its heat by 1 per die re-rolled. But if Bolt's heat meter gets full, it overheats, and must spend all three dice on the following turn to cool down. Still, sometimes overheating is preferable to taking too much damage from being swarmed by DocBots in neighborhoods Bolt enters—bots Bolt doesn't defeat remain on its tile turn after turn, dealing continual damage and preventing it from moving or taking any actions until Lightning swoops in, destroys the bots, and spends a turn repairing her robotic friend.

If Bolt rolls a 6 on any of its dice, it can choose to assign that die to downloading an upgrade, drawing a card from its upgrade deck. On the following turn, dice can be assigned to that upgrade to activate it. This means that every game, Bolt's abilities and strategy vary, depending on the upgrades it downloads and installs.

WINNING THE GAME
To win, Lightning & Bolt must match all four pairs of neighborhood tiles. But if at any point they reveal the Evil Doctor's lair, all unmatched tiles are shuffled, setting back our heroes badly! However, if all four matches are made, and the last tile flips up to reveal the Evil Doctor's lair, Lightning & Bolt have cornered him, and take him off to jail, saving Midtown once again!

LIGHTNING & BOLT is built to bring together players of very different skill levels. By giving one player a much simpler ruleset, it lets a serious game player have fun with someone used to only mass-market, luck-driven games. The use of dice in the game keeps the Bolt's player on their toes and unable to predict what will work best for Lightning. It encourages experimentation and risk-taking, and empowers both players to work together.

There's a kind of magic that happens when both players work together, throwing themselves into the game to capture the evil supervillain, cheering and helping each other when they get stuck in a jam. 

At the end of the day, it's good to enjoy time with people you love. LIGHTNING & BOLT is built around that idea. (And, on a personal note, those of us behind the game just want to keep playing it.)

DAVID SOMERVILLE, DESIGNER is the creator of Vast: The Crystal Caverns, the runaway hit game that introduced total asymmetry to the tabletop world. By day, he's the creative director of The Atlantic, but by night he's either hanging out with his wife and three children or throwing dice and scribbling furiously about oddball mechanics in various notebooks scattered around the house.

ANDREW BOSLEY, ILLUSTRATOR is the artist behind Everdell, Mission: Red Planet, and Citadels. He is freelance concept artist and illustrator, working primarily in the video game industry. When he’s not daydreaming or drawing, Andrew is playing games with his wife and five kids. He is pretty good at ping pong, possum wrangling, and he’s the best ukulele player in his family.  For examples of his non-possum related work go here.

BEATRICE SOMERVILLE is David's daughter, and the reason this game exists in the first place. She is four years old, and enjoys singing, fighting evil robots, and making her own PB&Js.

LIGHTNING & BOLT was never supposed to be released to the public. After David Somerville created Vast: The Crystal Caverns, he designed two more as-yet-unreleased games. Vast was dedicated to his first daughter, and the next two games were dedicated to his wife and son. His three-year-old daughter, Beatrice, asked him to design a game for her. After a few questions ("Pirates or superheroes?" and "What would your superhero name be?") and a few late nights designing, David Somerville had drafted a new game just for Beatrice. 

As David was designing, the challenge was to make a game that tiny little Beatrice could understand and really play, while keeping her dad engaged, too. Having cracked open fully asymmetrical game design in Vast, David started playing with the idea of a team game where a pair of heroes could play totally different games at entirely different skill levels. Beatrice would zoom around the board as a nimble, almost-unstoppable force of nature, while her dad would have to balance limited resources, tactics vs. strategic decisions, and character-enhancing options that would vary from game to game. 

The resulting game, LIGHTNING & BOLT, is a fast, fun game that (while still light), engages a hobby gamer with interesting mechanics and meaningful choices, and allows a casual player to get in on the fun. David and his daughter played it endlessly (even cooking up a third-player option for his other daughter to play too!), and they thought it would always stay a hand-drawn game just for their kitchen table. 

...and then along came Andrew Bosley. David and Andrew had wanted to collaborate for years, but never quite found the right project. When Andrew found out about the game, and started sketching it, the game's potential quickly caught fire in his imagination, and soon Andrew was pouring out the amazing art that you see in the finished game, as well as taking on the role of producer, researching printing options, logistics, and making it possible to bring LIGHTNING & BOLT to Kickstarter.

LIGHTNING & BOLT has a Kickstarter campaign that's a little different than most board games. Since this game is a labor of love—and also fairly unusual—we decided to launch the game as part of Kickstarter's Make 100 initiative. By doing this, we can test out how interesting this idea is to you, the board game enthusiast, and not overcommit to mass manufacturing for a novel idea.

If the response is good, we'd be happy to explore launching a larger campaign down the road. But we think creating a hundred hand-crafted copies for those who are excited about the idea of the game seems like a great start. Hopefully you agree!

No matter what happens with this campaign, we believe that games are a powerful way to bring people together. We encourage you to back this game, and come together at your table over LIGHTNING & BOLT. 

 

Risks and challenges

We're going to be creating these games through on-demand printing in the USA, so the risks are relatively small. The biggest risks are, as usual for tabletop games, production delays. Yet, because we're working with a printer we've used before, we think it's unlikely that we'll run into any truly shocking setbacks. The game itself is already made and ready to go, so it seems safe to say that, as far as risks go, this project is fairly secure!

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