Jack’s Friends Part I: Origin Story
March 15, 2017
Jack’s Friends is a game near and dear to my heart and its origin dates back to simpler times. As a kid games were still a collective delusion and propriety had not yet shackled wonder. The measure of a game was not its balance or even its fun but the depths of its immersion. From this wellspring of youth burst forth the precursor to what today is Jack’s Friends.
In the side yard my brothers and I would play a game we called Juggernaut. I would play as a sleeping giant who carried a large boulder, we used a large hop ball as the boulder. My job was to sleep for awhile and then awake at random and try to catch the humans gathering resources outside of their base. I could tag them or throw my boulder as they tried to scamper back to their base. Resources were varied such as fish from the pond or wood from the forest. The rate of collection or amount needed were never a fixed amount but then again that was not really the point.
As with all things, time passed and Juggernaut was put aside. Fast forward to 2015, by which time I had become serious about designing board games. I thought back to those younger years and fond memories of playing Juggernaut. To turn it into a board game I thought back to what were the fundamental components that made up the experience. First, it would have to be a one vs. many game because the giant was always harried by a team of humans. At the time I thought this idea was more unique than it actually was and believed it would be the major innovation of the board game version.
Juggernaut was also about gathering resources and avoiding the giant at the same time. How to translate that into game rules was an open question but I decided initially on simultaneous selection and it has stuck ever since. Early play testing session was very encouraging but game outcomes were too heavily tied to player count. I knew if I could balance the game, regardless of player count, it would be a solid game.