You start out as a dung beetle, but if you play your cards right you could end up as a transcendent being. That’s the concept behind Karmaka, a tactical board game created by Nelson developer Eddie Boxerman, and it’s one that earned him $220,000 in a Kickstarter campaign earlier this year.
“I like to think of it as a sort of karmic judo,” Boxerman told the Star. “It’s based on the theme of karmic justice— what goes around, comes around — so if I do something nasty to someone, they’re going to be able to do that to me during my next life. But if I do something nice, then ultimately I’ll benefit.”
Your pile of cards counts as a life, and as you watch them dwindle you can also watch your future life begin to pile up face-down. Part of the strategy involves funnelling as many positive cards in that direction as possible, but often other priorities get in the way — just like in real life.
“It’s pretty tactical. It can sound a bit Zen, the whole idea of trying to become a transcendent being, but at the end of the day you’re still trying to win a game. It’s a competitive, not co-operative game.”
This was an idea Boxerman has been kicking around for years, since before releasing his first game, Osmos, about seven years ago. That’s when he started collaborating with Toronto’s Dave Burke, the game’s co-creator. And though they’d spent years on the project, they didn’t anticipate the success their Kickstarter campaign would enjoy.
“We were trying to raise $20,000, because that’s what we figured was the minimum to do a production run with the manufacturer,” said Boxerman. “If we hadn’t made 20 I would’ve been disappointed, 20 to 50 would’ve been pretty good but 220? We couldn’t believe it.”
That means they can produce a premium quality game, as opposed to the smaller scale version they envisioned. They also need to deliver the game to 7,500 customers worldwide by November, something Boxerman has been busily preparing for from his co-working space above Oso Negro.
“We’re going to push the button on manufacturing in two to three months. They take two to three months to manufacture, then we get them on boats and send them everywhere in the world.”
Their first run will be 10,000 copies, and they’re also trying to find their way into retail stores. The illustrations were done by Marco Bucci, an artist with experience working on the Star Wars franchise and with Mattel.
The game is intended for two to four players, with a two-player game lasting 30 minutes and a four-player one often taking an hour.
Boxerman said he feels supported by the artistic community of Nelson, and appreciates the growing tech community. His wife Angela Schade grew up here and they have a young daughter. He’s thrilled he can do his work from such a picturesque locale.
“The city has been doing a lot to attract tech people and support them, and I really appreciate that,” he said.