Are you a fan of Stan Lee, and are you looking to create your own Marvel universe? Read along to learn about the upcoming game that could change the course of the Multiverse!
First things first, I will provide a bit of context! When I went to WonderCon earlier this year in March, I connected with the comic book company Rocketship Entertainment which houses several hit comics and creators you may be familiar with. If you want to read about how my WonderCon excursion went, click here! When I went to San Diego Comic-Con in July, I reconnected with the staff of Rocketship Entertainment. I was introduced to their upcoming tabletop game, Stan Lee’s Genesis, which will soon be available via the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter. If you want to read more about my time in San Diego, click here! In collaboration with POW! Entertainment Rocketship Entertainment will produce the first-ever tabletop game dedicated entirely to the late comics legend Stan Lee through their T-Minus 10 Games imprint.
When asked, they offered to interview on the spot! I was introduced to Stan Lee’s Genesis co-creators for the interview: Tom Akel and Ryan Benjamin. Tom Akel is the CEO & Publisher of Rocket Entertainment and co-writer of Stan Lee’s Backchannel. In contrast, Ryan Benjamin is the Creative Lead of Rocketship Entertainment and the visual artist behind the entire game. With their powers combined, an entirely new universe will be born and ready for you to explore!
What inspired this game to be entirely dedicated to comics legend Stan Lee?
Tom Akel: “It started as a conversation between me and Gill Champion (the CEO of POW! Entertainment). Rocketship was expanding into tabletop gaming, and we were looking at a couple of different properties. Gill eventually sent me on my way to come back with some proposals for tabletop games, and I came back with three different ideas. Two were based on properties that weren’t super established yet, and the other was this one, which was based on the concept of what it’s like to create comics and characters and how Stan Lee inspired millions. I liked all three concepts, but this last one was the one that made the most sense. It was the one that would resonate with a broader audience.
Would you describe this as a game for everyone, or is it strictly for Marvel fans? Could this game appeal to non-Marvel fans?
Tom Akel: One hundred percent, it’s a game for everyone who loves superheroes. For one, the game mechanics are fairly accessible. It was designed that way consciously, with a really high replayability factor. If you’re familiar with Catan or Carcassonne, there are a lot of similar mechanics to games considered broadly family-friendly. The included characters are not Marvel characters. Ryan and I created up to two-hundred characters for the game, reflecting the history of comic books, fantasy fiction, and mythology. Make no mistake. It’s a superhero game as long as you think superheroes are cool. It’s a two to six-player game. It’s not a hardcore game. It’s not a Marvel product, so no Marvel characters are in-game. Regardless, we think this will appeal to both Marvel and non-Marvel fans.
As a game to create your own Marvel universe, what kind of characters can we anticipate?
Tom Akel: These are brand new characters Ryan, and I developed over nine months. The game covers every era. We deconstructed where all modern superhero mythology comes from, going all the way back to ancient mythologies from different cultures and older characters from the Golden Age, Silver Age, and Modern Age. Characters from different types of fiction come to create a universe that feels like it’s been there all along, so when you dive into this game, some characters range from ancient mythology to heroes and villains that feel relatively modern.
Tom then describes how it is typically for game developers to test and play their games with handmade models to ensure everything within the game is balanced and ready to play—based on his enthusiastic description, him, Ryan, and the other test players enjoyed themselves immensely.
Hypothetically, what would Stan Lee say in response to his game?
Ryan Benjamin: Stan would likely go with one of his standard slogans. He would dig into his library of slogans and return with something like, “Fantastic!”
Would you say this game has the Stan Lee stamp of approval?
Tom Akel: Having known him well, Stan’s reaction to anything we have worked on would be great. It’s funny how he’s so famous for being a great showman and creator, but he’s also very self-effacing. He would likely look at the artwork, say, “Oh my god, I could never do anything like this. This is so incredible,” and gush over it because that was the kind of guy he was.
Ryan Benjamin: Every time I met him, [Stan] only had good things to say about my art.
What can players anticipate from this game?
Ryan Benjamin: On the visual side, I can answer that. We’re putting all our marbles into making this right and being a project representing Stan Lee. I must stay on point for anything I want to work on. It has to be polished. When stepping in for this project, I had to put my best step forward and make this into something Stan Lee would love. If I walk in with that energy, I’m confident the fans will also love it.
When would the game be available, and where can fans find it?
Tom Akel: The Kickstarter will launch within thirty to sixty days from now. Right now, all the character art is done. Ryan is working on some location art. We are getting prototypes finished. Once the Kickstarter goes up, the game will be pretty polished, with just a little tweaking left. We’ll be manufacturing hopefully this year for a spring/summer fulfillment and fall retail release. The core box will have a hundred characters, and three expansion sets will be available on Kickstarter that will not hit retail until much later. If the core box is successful at retail, it will be followed by the expansion sets, but if you want the expansion sets right away, you can get them through Kickstarter at a very reasonable price.
Initially announced in December 2021 and set for store shelves in 2022, Stan Lee’s Genesis co-creators took more time to carefully construct a game that perfectly represented Stan Lee’s creativity and ambition. I may be terrible at tabletop games, but it became clear that much love and energy was put into constructing this game.
From concept to creation, what has constructing this game meant to you?
Tom Akel: You never want to say stuff like this is easy because it is a lot of work, but there is nothing I would rather be doing than developing a game like this with Ryan. We’ve known each other for a long time and have had the chance to work on many projects together, but this is the big one. The process has been nothing but incredible. Any small piece of Stan’s legacy in our care is an honor.
Ryan Benjamin: Between Tom and I, this is just the start. There will be a lot more to come out, and depending on sales, we’ll see how things go, but it still won’t stop us from creating and coming out with anything new. We have many ideas and make magic when we put our heads together. We hope the audience can feel the energy, resonate, appreciate the amount of work we put into this game, and enjoy it. We want to make it fun.
Their joint hope is Stan Lee’s Genesis will hit every big box store in the country, but it is too soon to tell. There is, however, interest from comic and gaming shops. If you live local to any shops, keep your eyes peeled! I certainly will!
Interested in playing the game? Click here for the official link to their Kickstarter, get the best deals before this game hits store shelves, and tell us in the comments what you’re most excited about!