Early playtest of the Night Falls Megagame at Weird Realms.

The moment I saw the Shut Up & Sit Down video where they played Watch the Skies, I yearned for the opportunity to play a Megagame. It looked so exciting! So different! So full of possibilities! Turns out, I was in luck. A local Cleveland theater group, the Theater Ninjas, had decided to explore Megagames as a genre and formed the Cleveland Megagame Council. I was blessed with the opportunity to participate in their two Megagame Projects: a cold-war era Megagame of global politics, A Good Understanding and a fantasy Megagame where vikings battled Lovecraftian beasts, Sundered Sea. Alas, all good things come to an end. The Theater Ninjas moved on to explore different forms of interactive theater, and the Cleveland Megagame Council was no more.

Promotional images for the Cleveland Megagame Council games.

I was disheartened to discover there weren’t any more upcoming Megagames near me. The Megagames I had attended were so much fun! I hungered for more. Instead of wallowing in despair, I decided to take matters into my own hands. As a published game designer (Bitten by Catdragon Games and Red Scare by Pandasaurus Games), I was confident I could design a game to fill that Megagaming void. The problem I ran into was scale. The Megagames I had played in were simply too big. I couldn’t find the space, recruit the controllers, or entice the same playerbase. My goal became simple: build a Megagame which could be run by one controller for a smaller group and still feel like a Megagame. Thus, I began designing Night Falls.

The first public Night Falls playtesting event held at the Malted Meeple in 2016.

It took a lot of work, time, and willing playtesters. Over the course of dozens of iterations, I reduced the number of controllers by replacing most control duties with boardgame mechanics. I lowered the barrier to entry for new players by reducing the game length from 5-6 hours down to 2-3. I limited the space requirements by designing to the number of people most boardgame cafes and libraries could accommodate within a single meeting room. I increased portability by honing the component list to materials that would fit in a single box. As Night Falls took form, my aspirations grew: I wanted to design the first Megagame-in-a-box so that anyone could purchase it from their local game store and run it for their friends.

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The game components for Night Falls.

I reached out to publishers and soon found an interested party in Everything Epic Games. It looked like my dream was going to become reality! Now I needed the Megagaming community to know what I had been working on. I needed them to know there’s going to be a Kickstarter for a Megagame-in-a-box! That’s when I discovered the folks of the Megagame Coalition. They were kind enough to invite me to run Night Falls at Gen Con where I had an absolute blast running Night Falls for a full group of 32 players. The players were moving units in the ‘cityscape’, ordering their troops in the ‘edict station’, scheming and backstabbing in the ‘council’, and bartering in the ‘marketplace’. Everything came together, and people had a great time! It’s been years in the making, but it’s all been worth it.

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The journey isn’t over. Night Falls needs to have a successful Kickstarter campaign in order to end up on store shelves. I’m hoping this ‘MegaBoardGame’ will pave the way for more Megagame groups to form and more Megagames to be run across the country. I want more people to experience the joy and possibilities of Megagames. Please join me!

My name is Benjamin Kanelos. You can follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram at BKGameDesign. If you want to contact me directly or join the Night Falls mailing list, please email me at BenKGameDesign@gmail.com

Thanks, and I hope to see you at a Megagame some day!