Interview with Mike from The Board Game Makeover

If you like board game mods, you need to know about Mike from The Board Game Makeover. We love his stuff so much we asked him for an interview and he kindly obliged.

How did you get into the tabletop game modding? Do you remember what your first mod was and do you still have it?

I first got into board game modding when I played Carcassonne. The theme was so boring and lack-luster. I’m a big fan of The Simpsons and there is so much artwork available on the internet that I decided to make a Carcassonne Simpsons variant. The Tiles took me a very long time to create using GIMP, which I had to learn at the same time. My first attempt was to make them on actual 2” square tiles. This took a long time and after the base set was complete, the box I carried them in was VERY heavy! Then after I searched the internet, I came across websites selling later-cut shapes. This turned out to be perfect for this so I orders and created Carcassonne – The Simpsons Edition using 4-inch square laser cut tiles. I replaced the meeples with the characters from the Simpson’s Clue game. This is the game which started me on my way to where I am today making theme, component, and artwork modifications to board games.

The Simpson Carcassonne edition by The Board Game Makeover - Interview with Gameapalooza AustraliaThe Simpsons meets Carcassonne BOOM!

The stuff you do looks so awesome, your Simpson Carcassonne – as only one example – is insanely good. Do you work in the graphic arts or another arty outlet, or is it purely a hobby for you?

I work on a data analytics team for a local hospital. So this is definitely my creative outlet for the board gaming hobby. I also see what I do as a type of entertainment for those who like to watch something different within the board gaming hobby. Everything I need to do for artwork or video/audio is learned. I hope to continue to get better. Learning takes time, but the investment is worth it.

What is your favourite makeover that you’ve finished thus far?

My favorite makeover by far is my Super-Sized Ticket to Ride. It took me quite a while to accomplish, but I was really looking forward to figure out a way to use Thomas the Tank Engine’s new line of mini trains. Once I figured out how to keep them attached to the huge game board which was hanging on the wall, the rest of the pieces just fell into place. I was very happy with how that turned out.

Are you working on anything at the moment that’s really got you excited?

Yes, I’m currently working on my second Super-Sized project and this one is Pandemic. I’ve learned so much from the first Ticket to Ride Super-Sized project that this one is coming together faster and with less problems. The other thing I’m really excited about is my new Makeover Mash-ups. This is where I take two board games and integrate various aspects of both games into a new game. My first Makeover Mash-Up was featured on a recent episode of Board Game Breakfast where I mashed Roll-for-It and Cosmic Encounter into a new version of Roll-for-it that uses 12 dice for each player, and the Cosmic Encounter aliens with their various powers. It brings a new perspective to the game.

Giant sized Ticket to Ride board game modification Interview with The Board Game MakeoverThomas the Tank Engine meets Ticket to Ride… vertically.

You did a very interesting video about copyright infringement with regards to print and play game variants. Have you had any thoughts on this since you made that video?

This was a very interesting topic, and the responses were excellent and thought-provoking. I believe the way I use images taken from the internet for my board game makeovers is only going to further the hobby and the board game industry as a whole.

If you had an unlimited budget and skilled artists / workmen / prop makers (whatever was needed), what game would you give a makeover and what would that makeover be?

One thing I like about board games is the endless possibilities of transforming something within the game into something more realistic. People love to play games because it allows them to experience a different ‘virtual reality’ in a sense. I specifically look for opportunities to make the board game theme more realistic to the person playing the board game. When I go to conventions, I am amazed at the 3D dungeons and terrain that are setup for various gaming adventures! I think that anytime a game can produce quality 3D components, then that game is taking the players to the next level of board game immersion and enjoyment. One such game that I would love to give a board game makeover to is Mad King Ludwig. That is a wonderful game to play, but I always think how much more fun that game would be if the rooms were pieces made into 3D rooms that connected together. Another game is 1901. If the buildings and skyscrapers were 3D, then each player, win or lose, would have achieved a wonderful sense of accomplishment. One such game that does this is Medina. I remember playing this game for the first time at the Dice Tower Con and when we finished, we were all taking pictures of the game board because it represented a 3D town that we created. Medina provided a gaming experience that included overall pride in what was accomplished. This is what I look for, and what I like to see in board games.

The Board Game Makeover Roll for It meets Cosmic Encounter interview with Gameapalooza AustraliaCosmic Encounter meets Roll For It!

Okay, time to get to possibly the easiest / hardest question. What are your personal top 5 tabletop games (modded or not) and why?

My personal top 5 board games that I enjoy playing the most are:
1. Five Tribes
2. Dice City
3. Roll For The Galaxy
4. Arcadia Quest
5. Roll for It-Cosmic Encounter Special Edition (My own Roll-For-It variant)

Yes, I realize I have one of my modded board games in this list, but that is because this list changes from week-to-week based on what I play and how much I enjoyed playing the game. It also has to do with what my family enjoys playing with me.

If you could get one major license made into a board game, what would it be and why? (Movie, TV, book, comic, video game).

Actually I have two. I think it would be great to see board games based on the TV series “The Flash” and “Stargate”. Both could have unlimited content and I find them both very entertaining.

We notice you have a lot of family style games in the background of many of your videos. What would be your favorite mass market family titles that you think maybe people overlook because they fall into that category?

Yes, I do have many family games, but many of them are silly games. I like games that are silly like Pie Face or Who Tooted. Something that makes people laugh. I also like games where tension and anticipation builds up. This can be simple games like Don’t Wake Daddy or Gassy Gus, or more complex games like Escape: The Curse of the Temple or similar games that use a sound-track as the timer.

What is the oldest board game you still own and why? What older game do you wish you owned?

The oldest board game I still own is probably Milton Bradley’s Fat Chance from 1978. It has some very funny components.

Giant Colt Express board game makeover mod Giant Colt Express… yes please!!

Last question, let’s end on a real downer… Of the new slew of boardgames of the last decade or so, what ones have made you want to throw pieces at the wall or do a table flip and why?

Then only games that can be considered “frustrating” are not typically the games themselves, but rather the luck involved in the game, and the lack of luck I am currently displaying. Most games that push my buttons are usually due to my own lack of planning or miscalculated decision-making. I have actually thrown away a board game that I found at a thrift store, but that is because it included artwork that I felt was visually inappropriate for my family. But for something more fun, here are a few things I have learned about myself playing board games.

    1. I would be a terrible leader because I would always let my people starve. – Agricola
    1. I can be easily influenced by smooth-talkers which cause me to take the wrong sides. – Cosmic Encounter, Nothing Personal
    1. I have greater dexterity in my mind than I show in the actual game. – Pitch Car, Tumblin’ Dice,
    1. There are no asterisks next to my name if I win since it is considered an act of God. – Any board game that I happen to win which is not very many.
    1. Any board game is better with The Simpson’s theme. – An obvious fact and future Mike’s Makeover Law.

We’d like to thank Mike from The Board Game Makeover for his time. We’re really impressed with the things he does and wish him well in all future projects. Hopefully if you hadn’t heard of him before you’ll take time to visit The Board Game Makeover YouTube Channel and check out all his awesome stuff.