PLAINVILLE — Battles were fought in Plainville on Saturday, the likes of which never had been seen here before.
On one side, the monsters: a unipug playing a banjo. A llama with a kitty belly who wears terrific boots. A grizzly pregnant with dolphin babies on a peg leg. All fighting against armies of babies — big ol’ diaper baby, baby torpedo, scary hair baby and more.
The monsters and babies weren’t real, of course, but part of a card game called “Bears vs. Babies” that will be released this summer.
The game is from the same team that produced “Exploding Kittens” — creator of the online comic “The Oatmeal,” Matthew Inman and Xbox game designers Elan Lee and Shane Small. “Exploding Kittens” is the most-backed Kickstarter campaign in the crowd-funding site’s history.
Nathan Grebowiec of Plainville and his family won the chance to host a test play of “Bears vs. Babies” after a video he and his daughters made was selected in a contest by the game’s creators.
The game’s cards feature the cartoonish, absurd illustrations seen in “The Oatmeal.” Players use the cards to build their monsters, mixing and matching heads, torsos, arms and weapons such as chainsaws, with each card worth a certain number of points. If a baby army is provoked, either by a draw of a card or a player using their turn, the winner is determined by who has the most points — a player’s monster or the baby army. The player whose monsters have eaten the most babies at the end of the game is the winner.
Even with the concepts of monsters eating baby armies, the game is described as being appropriate for children as young as 10.
“The cards are goofy and a little over the edge, but nothing too over the top,” Grebowiec said. “Anybody who is a fan of ‘The Oatmeal’ is going to be a fan of the artwork.”
Grebowiec received four pre-production sets of the game, and all four were being used throughout the afternoon.
“It’s gone great. We’ve had four games running constantly the entire time,” he said. “I couldn’t ask for a better turnout that way.”
All those who played the game Saturday were asked to fill out a feedback form on the game’s website.
Participants in the play test — many from Hays, but also from Phillipsburg and Plainville — said the game’s humor was a big draw.
“I like the humor of matching the various parts,” said Brian Bergdall, Hays. “It’s a pretty fun, quick game.”
Jaycelyn and Jordan Barten agreed the game was more complicated than “Exploding Kittens,” but thought there was less strategy involved.
Jaycelyn, a friend of Grebowiec’s, had kept up with some of the progress of the game’s development through him.
“I haven’t been able to watch the process of making a game. It’s interesting to see how they’ve changed some of the rules as they’ve gotten feedback,” she said.
Jeff Baier, Hays, did see some strategy involved in the game.
“I like the fact you can sabotage other players,” Baier said. “I actually lost because of that.”
He brought his son, Liam, but at age 4, he didn’t play the game. The board game “Hi Ho Cherry-O” and puzzles are more to his liking.
All of the players said they likely would buy a copy of the game when it is released this summer.
Grebowiec spent much of the afternoon going from table to table explaining rules, some of which had changed in the week since he received the game and his family tried it. Daughters Kadence, 11, and Avery, 8, played the game with others, helping with clarifying rules and offering tips.
“Games of some type have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember,” Grebowiec said. “My daughters have been brought up in that as well.”