Few teams are as beloved or as popular as the heroes in a half-shell the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and that isn't changing anytime soon. Luckily between movies, comics, animation, and games, there's a multitude of avenues to enjoy the adventures of Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello, and Raphael, but one of the coolest is easily IDW Games' newest title, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Change is Constant. The new board game is one of two new entries in IDW's Turtle series, and we had a chance to chat with Change is Constant designers Pete Walsh and Daniel Lansdown all about it, including what makes it unique, taking on the world of the hit comics, if other characters will make their way into the game, and more!
You can actually watch us play the game in the video below, but first, we wanted to know about one of the game's biggest additions to the series, and that was cooperative play.
"Before Change is Constant was Shadows of the Past, and this was the first TMNT miniatures game by IDW to feature the popular Adventures dice sharing system," Walsh said. "The game was well-received but had one big shortcoming and demanded feature, people wanted cooperative play. Our main mission was to take the same amazing dice sharing system and combine it with AI-controlled villains allowing cooperative gameplay while still keeping the preexisting 4v1 system."
"Beyond that, we wanted to make sure that there were some exciting new experiences to be had while following the rich lore of IDW's TMNT Universe," Lansdown said. "Staying true to the comics narrative was a major part of that, and introducing more of the amazing cast of characters, especially villains. Enter Baxter Stockman and his terrifying swarms of mousers!"
One of the most innovative parts of the TMNT games is how they let players truly work together as the heroes in a half shell through sharing action dice, and the team definitely went through a few iterations of it for this new entry in the franchise.
"The shared dice mechanic is actually the incredible design of Kevin Wilson," Lansdown said. "He created it specifically for Shadows of the Past. We were tasked with taking this already unique and exciting mechanic and helping to create a universal game system with multiple play modes and styles. What we absolutely went through various versions of was the mechanics surrounding cooperative mode."
"We knew that we wanted creative and challenging abilities and combined with the difficulty of overwhelming swarms of enemies, recreating the feeling you experienced when playing the old arcade games," Walsh said. "What really made it stick though, was the initiative system, it was the secret ingredient that made the mode pop. It added mystery, suspense, and challenge of needing to be prepared. You no longer could overthink your next move, as you never know who would be activating next.
The game also utilizes quite a bit of terrain, and while there are several different types you'll need to learn to deal with, having that as part of the gameplay experience was important to making it feel like New York City.
"I don't think the thought of removing terrain ever crossed our minds, having the city of New York as the game's setting," Lansdown said. "From sewers to rooftops, we knew terrain was needed for immersion. What it adds in terms of strategy and challenge always outweighed any thoughts of it being too complex to manage."
"To help mitigate this we wanted to make sure the tile art and setting was on point, we wanted it to look and feel like you were on the top of a building or wading through the water of the sewer so it makes sense that you would take fall damage when you jump off a building or your movement is slowed when wading through water," Walsh said.
"We also added a comprehensive single sheet guide and glossary for quick reference during gameplay to save players time and the need to dig through a rulebook or a set of cards," Lansdown said.
Change is Constant is based on the current hit IDW comics, as is the game's sister set City Fall. Adapting the comics to a board game has been a blast for both Walsh and Lansdown, but it also comes with its challenges.
"Wow, the biggest challenge…it's probably got to be the limitations of having to fit it all in a box," Lansdown said. "There is just so much content in the IDW Turtleverse, choosing what characters and events to leave out is always tough. But generally, these limitations allowed us to focus on what mechanically fit the game best and allowed for a variety of playstyles and experiences."
"The most enjoyable part was definitely doing the deep dive through the books, we already knew the story well but it was the digging in and getting that attention to detail to make sure it was just right," Walsh said. "We wanted to keep a focus on the visuals of the game, making sure the game did the comics justice aesthetically as well littering the game with easter eggs for turtle fans from all walks of life."
Now we all have our favorite Turtles characters, and while the game did manage to get characters like Casey Jones and Slash (City Fall) in, there are others that fans would love to see, like Ace Duck for instance (I know, I'm biased). Turns out Dan is also a big fan of the character, and he can't wait to get him in the game at some point, though a few other characters also didn't quite make the cut.
"Haha, someone must have leaked my secret," Lansdown said. "Well Ace Duck is one that I certainly can't wait to introduce. But with Change is Constant and City Fall it just wasn't the right time."
"We already have all the birds we need in the Adventures System, don't encourage him! But on a serious note, there was one set of villains I wanted to add as stretch goals to the first campaign (preliminary character designs were done too!) but unfortunately, they weren't on the cards," Walsh said. "It was a super deep cut into the TMNT lore, some folks may recognize them more as beavers, it's the Terror Bears! They would be built to live up to their name, if you thought Bebop and Rocksteady were hard, imagine them as a team of 4."
Before we wrapped things up we had to ask which turtle was their favorite and while I'll leave you to deduce which is which, one answer was correct (hint, he does machines).
"Donatello has always been my favorite, since growing up with the original toon and comics," Lansdown said. "In all honesty, it probably was originally just because he was purple. But as an adult, I still connect heavily with him as a character. Something about being a compassionate, anxiety-filled tinkerer just resonates with me pretty well."
"While most think of him as just the party dude and comic relief, my guy has always been Mike, the soul of Clan Hamato," Walsh said. "As a family man myself, Mike embodies everything I believe in... family, heart and pizza."0comments
Okay, so we can't argue with that logic either, so he's right too.
You can throw down in some Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Change is Constant right now, as the game is currently available in stores. Let us know what you think of the game in the comments or hit me up on Twitter @MattAguilarCB for all things tabletop!