They say if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. But what if you’re an axe-wielding, murderous maniac? Tracking your happiness could get a little hairy, especially with benevolent “heroes” barging in and spoiling all your fun!
Mixtape Massacre from Bright Light Media is giving 2-6 players the chance to take on the role of one of the aforementioned maniacs (axe-wielding or otherwise) and see who can rack up the most kills in what sounds healthy (but, let’s face it- the, damn unlucky) town of Tall Oaks. Players visit locations around town and go for kills when they stumble upon some poor wretch. The “Killer Scenes, Dude” cards describe the number of knives to throw on the attack dice to dispatch your victim and the number of trophies (the macabre ones!) to win. If you succeed, the frenzy continues. Victims are like potato chips to murderous maniacs…one is never enough! Roll the dice to track the scent and continue your harvest with gusto.
Easy pickin, right? Well, up to a point. All that whipping, chopping, punching, and slashing can be loud. Rake too much and the hero appears, fresh from Central Casting and ready to spoil your fun. The base game comes with two goodnicks for players to deal with: there’s ‘Linda’, who looks like a familiar badass who fights the machines, and ‘Kirk’, a gritty, blind moneylender from a future. dystopian that you thought was either “dead” or “greater”, depending on which coast you prefer your city-wide prisons on.
Mixtape Massacre began as the brainstorming of Freddie Carlini, one of three partners, along with Matt Corrado and Merrijoy Vicente, at Bright Light Media, a client-focused art and design studio in Kensington, Maryland. The idea came to him after attending a board game night at a friend’s house.
“There was one night in 2014, I guess it was,” Carlini says, “I was at a game night. Everyone brought tons of games and no one could choose one. Lots of people were mentioning that it takes three hours to learn how to play this, blah, blah, blah… and I understand that there is an entry level… so that’s what got me to start thinking: is there a fun little game we could do, and there are no games for slashers and things like that, it would be really cool to do something along those lines.
Carlini left the idea in the making for two or three months, then he pitched the idea to his partners at Bright Light Media. He remembers Corrado’s reaction: “At first he thought I was a little crazy, like, ‘Why are we talking about board games these days?’ then he did some research on his own and thought, “Actually, that might be pretty cool.”
Corrado adds: “I wouldn’t say I’m that much of a player. I played games casually I suppose, but probably no more than the average person, so for me I was obviously more driven by the art and design elements.
Uncertain at first but drawn to elements that drew on his artistic background, Corrado began to see the potential of the project based on shared interests with Carlini, whom he had been friends with since age 14. books and we talked about different projects and movies and stuff…we kind of checked the market, and there was a bunch of zombie games, like Zombicide was around then. In fact, there were a lot of zombie-inspired games. Walking Dead was popular so that makes sense but there was nothing more slasher oriented and more 80s golden age horror stuff, you know, the classic characters that we we grew up.
Mixtape Massacre is undoubtedly a love letter not only to slasher films, but also to 80s genre cinema, music and pop culture in general. The whole production is imbued with nostalgia. It’s in theme, illustration and humor. As mentioned earlier, the kills deck, called “Killer Scenes, Dude” cards, features a VHS tape on the back, which is sure to melt the hearts of any horror fan of a certain age. Another deck of cards, aptly called “Bonus Tracks”, that players can earn around Tall Oaks that (mostly) grants special perks through temporary healing, movement bonuses, knocking back that tenacious hero, and other stuff features an old fashioned audio cassette on the back (pencil not included). A quick search through the “Supplies” deck will bring up tons of familiar weapons like a power drill, meat hook, rusty knife, bear trap, chainsaw, and other tools of your horrid trade.
The Bright Light gang was acutely aware of their audience. The theme, art choices, and design all lean heavily on nostalgia. Some of the game’s mechanics, like rolling and moving, are decidedly “old school” and that’s on purpose. Carlini notes that they “were trying to do something that wasn’t too extreme…it’s more of a casual game than a six-hour campaign, Dungeons & Dragons type of game. We wanted to make something that if you looked at the board would give you an idea of how it worked and if you ever played an old Milton Bradley game you’d get some of the concepts and then we’d point you to some more modern mechanics.
It’s a good idea to remove barriers to entry, especially when trying to attract people who aren’t necessarily hardcore gamers (maybe not yet and maybe never, and both are okay). After all, the indecisiveness of game night with 35-page rulebooks and 45-minute rule explanations lit this fire in the first place.
“What I liked about our approach,” Carlini says, “is that…we get a lot of compliments when we go to the downsides and stuff, some from hardcore gamers who like, like, ‘ Yeah I can sit down with friends who have never played board games and they’ll play this game right away they love the theme they love that it’s really easy to get into it then at the as I add expansions and stuff, it gets harder, and they start to learn some of these more modern mechanics, and I feel like a lot of people that we brought in, who don’t wouldn’t normally play games, have also grown as gamers and are starting to reach out to other games, which is exactly what we wanted.
The play tent is big enough for everyone, in this writer’s opinion, and while I might enjoy a bone-dry economical “cube pusher”, I’m certainly not averse to rolling the dice and send my friends cursing into oblivion.
Did I mention you can also murder your friends? Oh yes! You’re not just a maniac by vocation, it’s who you are! You’re not the only lunatic in Tall Oaks, and there just aren’t enough unhappy teenagers to go around. Eventually you’ll run into one of your fellow boogeymen and, just like when Freddy met Jason, the sparks will fly.
Since it’s primarily a client-based service design studio, the gang decided to go the Kickstarter route to fund the effort. The popular crowdfunding platform was gaining momentum for board games around this time.
“We knew the marketing, we knew the design, we knew we could put it all together, so it was more about figuring out how to create something that will be fun for people to play,” says Cotrrado. “From a design standpoint, we knew we could definitely compete with some of the projects [on Kickstarter] in terms of the quality of the artwork, the look and feel of the whole product. »
The first campaign was successful and in 2016 the first edition of Mixtape Massacre was delivered to backers. As word of mouth spread, Bright Light went through four or five impressions of the game and just recently they launched a revised “Director’s Cut” edition of the game, refining the mechanics and streamlining the gameplay even more. .
“Basically everything was touched up during the process,” Carlini says of the redesign. “Much of the art has remained the same. Some characters got updated, some maps got changed, and things like that, but our big issue was that we were adding weapons and some mechanics, we wanted to make sure that we updated the stats and balanced things out. We made sure that whatever kind of finesse we wanted got that touch. So I think by the end, almost seventy percent of the content had been changed.
The enthusiasm of Mixtape Massacre fan community is evident. The Kickstarter campaign for Director’s Cut has garnered more than three times as many backers, and it comes just two years after the successful release of a separate “standalone expansion” game called Mixtape Massacre: Escape From Tall Oaks.
In Escape from the great oaks, the script is reversed. Players are heroes this time around, trying to perform rescues and complete tasks that will get them “Get to the Chopper!” and leave behind this city infested with killers. Of course, maniacs aren’t going to make this easy, and once the helicopter is ready, you’ll find that even your fellow “heroes” are ready to climb over your body, warm or not, to safety.
There’s content in both base games that can be swapped back and forth with a handful of game-changing themed expansion packs such as cryptid-oriented games. Mythalien terrors in Invasionand a pumpkin folk horror in Saint Sylvesteradding a variety of challenges.
“We’ve been trying to grow this thing organically over the last five years and keep pushing to see how close we can get to it, bit by bit,” Corrado says. “Now we have five expansions and two base games and all these booster packs and we’ve created all these characters and created a whole Mixtape universe, which has been really fun for us. That’s the fun part, coming up with all the creative stuff and tell the stories and draw on all of the tropes and all of those classic stories in movies and horror movies that we loved growing up.
Carlini and Corrado assure me that the story is not over for Tall Oaks. Running around in a blood frenzy must be exhausting, so everyone will take a break, sharpen their blades, claws, and meat hooks, and they’ll come back for more. After all, we know that after the last chapter there is always a fresh start.
Discover everything in the Mixtape Massacre universe on www.mixtapemassacre.com