Interview #5 with Chris Handy in our Pack O Interview Series. This time we look at the fourth game in the Pack O Game series, FLY. In this fly swatting 2-4 player game, players will " take turns dropping the fly swatter card on the table to swat flies with like colors and symbols. You'll need at least 3 of the same color or symbol in order for a fly to count."
Note by The Inquisitive Meeple:Unlike most our interviews, in this one we will jump straight in to talking about about the game. This is something we plan to do with all the Pack O Interview series outside of the first interview. The first interview in this series, was the introduction interview (found here) with designer, Chris Handy, where we not only talked about the overall Pack O Game series, but got to know Chris a little as well.
Chris: 27 of the cards are laid out in a 3 x 9 grid to create the “picnic table.” Each card (except 2) has a single fly on it, with a symbol and color on its back. Each turn, a player drops the fly swatter card from a certain height, and tries to completely cover as many flies as they can with the card. Any flies that get completely covered with the card are removed from the board and collected by that player. That is, the card that the fly is on gets collected. The tuck box is placed near the board with the “sky” card tucked in the top to create the “minimum drop height.” When all but the 2 blank picnic table cards have been collected, players generate their end game scores as follows. A fly counts for 1 point, ONLY if a player has at 3 total of that same symbol, or 3 total of that same color. The player with the most points wins.
What is the story behind the creation of the game?
Chris: I have been working on a firefighting game with this drop mechanic, and ported it over to this series. This game came together very quickly once I figured out how many flies, symbols, and picnic cards needed to be in the game for balance.
Swatting flies on a picnic table is a unique theme – why did you choose this theme?
Chris: It seemed like a good fit with the mechanic of dropping/covering objects. It's also a theme that has a broad appeal.
Did any games inspire you where you were creating FLY, in particular did FlowerFall influence you at all?
Chris: I was aware of the name “FlowerFall,” but didn’t know what it was. It was influenced by a carnival game I used to play at the fair in which you dropped these metal disks on to a surface and won the game if you completely covered a specific area.
What makes FLY unique from other games out there that use the same type of drop the card mechanic?
Chris: I don’t know of any games in which you try to complete cover other objects with the card you drop. I think the set collecting mechanic is this game is unique as well.
One thing that sets FLY a part from many of the other Pack O Games announced so far is that you use the majority of the cards to make a board on the table, before you play. Did the idea of doing this spark the idea of doing a dexterity game, or did you already decide ahead of time I want to do a dexterity game?
Chris: No, it was the “drop and cover” mechanic that was first, then I figured out how to use the cards as a board and create balance among the symbols and colors on the backs of the flies.
In FLY you are set collecting – but there is a twist, you need 3 to make a scoring set. What made you decide to go this route for scoring.?
I was using a different scoring method for a while. One in which all flies were worth 1 point, and bonus points were rewarded if you got 4 or 5 of the same color or symbol. I found that this caused a little confusion (though it may have just been my rule sheet at the time). Also, that scoring led to runaway leader and wider score range problems. I put the new scoring in place to to keep make it more fun, exciting until the end, and less obvious which player is going to win. It also forces players to choose wisely which flies to attempt to swat, since flies have no value until you have 3 or more of the same color, or 3 or more of the same symbol.
Speaking of set-collection, do you have any favorite set-collection games in your gaming library?
Chris: It was great the first time I played when I realized that the size of the flies and the "minimum drop height" were just right on the first design.
Sample of the colors/symbols found on fly cards
What was the most challenging part of designing it?
Chris: I'd say there were two challenges. Finding the right colors and symbols to use on the tiny spaces of the flies' back required some tweaking. Finding a way to score that was unique and exciting until the end was difficult to work out as well.
As we start to wrap up, let me ask you – what is the highest score you have ever gotten in FLY?
Chris: I think my best is 13.
When you step back and look at the finished product, what makes you the most proud that you designed this game?
Chris: To put this much of a fun, appealing dexterity/set-collecting game into such an insanely small package is very satisfying. The think the use of the "Sky card" and tuck box to show the "Minimum Drop Height" is also pretty neat.
I know this isn't a question you can answer is great detail, but do you think we will see more dexterity games in the future of the Pack O Game lineup, or are you content with just having one in the series?
Chris: I have other game ideas that use a dexterity mechanic, but I'm not sure if they work just yet so who knows if we'll see them.
A slight follow up to that question, as the series designer of the Pack O Game games – what in your mind, does FLY bring to the overall series?
Chris: I think the theme and mass appeal bring value to the Pack O Game line. Also, the scoring mechanic is unique. The fact that it's such a crowd pleaser and is the size of a pack of gum doesn't hurt either.
Finish this sentence in 12 words or less. FLY is ________.
Chris: .... a fly swatting game for 2-4 players using dexterity and set-collecting.
Thanks Chris. Stay tuned for our next game (and first stretch goal game) in the Pack O Interview series (TAJ) coming soon.
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