I can't remember how it started, but I want to say it was Munchkin. One of the first tabletop games that we played at the apartment that Pete, Mingo, and Brit were living at, shortly after moving to Boise.
I met Pete working at the same travel agency that I would eventually meet Hailie at. He was in the training class that started a few weeks prior to mine, and we both liked all of the same nerdy things. had the same taste in music and the same lack of respect to the call center environment. What else do you need in making a new friend? He introduced me to his friends that had also recently moved to Boise by having us all get together at a pirate bar (that has been since lost to gentrification). Having never met Brittany, I stole her phone and had her believing that she lost it for a solid hour before she was drunk enough to get it away from me. Not too long after, I found out just how many Twin Falls orphans there were migrating to Boise and was then introduced to Russ and his girlfriend, Tess. One day, while Pete and I were still working as booking agents, Pete told me about "this really cute girl who worked at the comic shop that knows about all the obscure shit and points out good new comics for me to read." That's when Ty came into the picture.
These are some of the greatest people I know, Russ & Tess have gotten married, and Brit & Mingo, as well as Pete & Ty are now engaged. Throughout all of our life's celebrations, we always got together for game nights. Cards Against Humanity kept getting bigger as we got all of the expansions. I would later use CAH as the way I would propose to Hailie. The maps that came with HeroClix weren't big enough, nor could we customize them, so Pete painted his ping pong table with chalkboard paint, and game nights became even larger monstrosities that were played on a scale larger than what had been imagined by the game designers.
Drunk Quest is WAY easier to keep track of with chalk.
As fun as the epic 6-hour games are, I think some of the most fun came from quick pick-up-and-play style games like Cards Against Humanity or SuperFight! They were never games we would pay attention to for long as they would quickly devolve into nothing more than the catalyst for that evening's dialogue. But that's what makes games like that so much fun. It isn't about the game as much as it's about the players.
It was early 2015 when Pete told me about the idea for the game. We would be serious about it like a second job, get organized on Trello and Slack, and we could all be part of making a game together. If we sold a lot, cool. If we sold enough on Kickstarter to get a commercial copy of a game we made and a story to match, also cool. I was stoked on the idea because we really didn't have anything to lose. A few solid weeks of trying to figure out the mechanics and gameplay, as well as content for the individual cards, and we finally got to the place where we needed to bring our concept into the real world.
Pass-a-Fist was born. The simple pitch I find myself tossing at newcomers goes like this, "You're in an all-out brawl with your friends. You can attack someone on your turn, you can counter an incoming attack, and if you can't counter an attack you get an injury. Three injuries and you're out of the game. The last person standing is the winner." It wasn't called pass-a-fist this early on, but we were just stoked on creating something from nothing, and we now had a baseline to gauge progress from. The first game took almost 90 minutes to play between questions that came up and laughter from the random scenarios we found ourselves in. The goal was to be 15 minutes so you could play a few games at a party or a quick game while you're waiting around with strangers.
A few weeks in, one of the other members of the early development team had to take a step back in order to balance work and school. I was bummed, but it made sense for them, at least, it did in my head as a logical fact. It really didn't strike a chord in me until I found myself in the same situation a few weeks later. We created the first version of the deck on 3/1/15 and I started going to school on 4/21/15. I was now experiencing what it was to be a full-time student juggling a wedding engagement, a job I hated, a completely new career venture, and no free time whatsoever. I was tired all the time and never found my second wind. I talked to Pete and told him that I was making the decision to step back because I didn't want to half-ass the effort I put into the game or fall short on having people rely on me while I was in school. That night, I remember sitting down for the skype meeting where I told everyone I needed to back out. Still bums me out thinking about it, but I can't say I regret the opportunities that school gave me either, so life had a way of making sure I didn't miss out. It also means I have been given a different perspective to tell the story of the game. The tale of progress from what was a truly humble beginning.
There was the first version party, and we set up a booth at Pete and Ty's house to take pictures of us all beating each other up. Brit did my makeup, and I remember posting a picture of my black eye without the props on Instagram and all of a sudden getting text messages from friends asking me what the hell happened, it was the perfect way to tell them about the game. We wanted to get as excited as we could about the game because we alone were the ones with the foresight to see the game's future potential, so we had to be our own cheerleaders.
I knew leaving the team that the game would still take it far. Pete had been pouring every waking hour into researching podcasts for creating successful Kickstarter campaigns, playing new games for market research and mechanic ideas, saturating himself with the online tabletop gaming community (it's impossible to say that without sounding like you've been a DM on more than one occasion), so ultimately the creativity and drive they had would be enough to get them to what was always the group's goal. I was keeping the door to the group open and watching the progress with all of the slack notifications on my phone. I was watching the creative process on paper, and would be able to see the progress at some of the events. Each time they went out to promote the game, the gameplay had been tweaked from feedback and had tightened up quite a bit. I was watching a goliath be born, and go through puberty, so there were a lot of awkward games that lasted too long, but it was slowly getting refined. The 15-minute goal had been hit, but the game turned out to be so much fun that everyone wanted to sit in for a few rounds.
I had texted Pete at the beginning of this month about the McGregor/Diaz fight and he had some news to cheer me up. My phone starts loading pictures of a full color preview deck and he told me they was going to have the full 198 card version for the Gem State Gaming Convention. We met for coffee at Slow By Slow the next day, and that's when he gave it to me. I can't take any credit for what the game has turned into, as they have done a lot of hard work and lost a lot of sleep over the entire evolution and transformation process that this game went through. With that said, I take a ton of pride in the fact that this was something I took part of and I get to see it become reality, and that's all I ever wanted out of it from the beginning. This was cool in itself, but then paired with my favorite coffee and I kept my shit eating grin all day.
So I have been hyping this newest version of the game up all month, and I love how fast it plays. I love that some of the quirks that caused to drag on have been cut. I love that it went from being text only, to black and white, to one color as an accent, to a full-color deck with 100% unique cards and no duplicates. It was like hoping to get a game boy and someone gave me a portable Xbox One with how much better it turned out.
I'm mostly excited to see the reactions from new players that have no idea about the game. They love it, they're laughing, they want to play another round once we get going. Now the game will be on display at Gem State Gaming Convention this weekend, and I can't anticipate the momentum they are rolling with. There's already another few events in the next few months for the game, and I will be making my trip up to PAX Prime later this year, so I'm sure there will be more than a few games played while I'm up in Seattle. I anticipate 2016 to be an eventful year for the Pass-a-Fist team.
Now if you're reading this and thinking, "Well dammit, Chris. I can't make it to the convention because of *insert lame excuse here*" I still have a few solutions for you. Come find me at the shop to play the fancy pre-release copy that I always have on me, or be the smarter one in the group and go online to PassAFist.net to print out a free version of the game. I'll be hanging out at the convention Sunday, see you there!