Interview, kickstarter

Designer Interview – Brent Critchfield

studiowoe-final_origToday, I am excited to introduce a new feature to the pages of The Chubby Meeple – designer interviews!  In this first installment, I talk with Brent Critchfield from Studio Woe.  We talk about the history of the company, as well as his current Kickstarter project, Gruff: Rage of the Trolls.  So, without any further ado or fanfare, let’s dive right in!

Q: So, Brent … what’s the story behind Studio Woe?

Brent: Studio Woe is a venture started by my wife Virginia Critchfield and myself with the mission statement of “Creating Catastrophic Levels of Amazement”. Our objective is to create things that are so cool that they will leave a swathe of devastation in their wake. We are primarily known for making a series of card games called “Gruff”, but we are also a contract art house that provides services for both board games and video games.

Q: When did you first start designing games? Was Gruff your first game?

Brent: Gruff was the first game I ever self-published, but I had been working in the games industry for 12 years on various video game projects, including League of Legends and Darksiders 2.  Gruff has been a labor of love for me going back almost a decade at this point. It has been really satisfying to make it publicly available and find that there is an audience of people that appreciate this crazy world.

8128200_origQ: Tell us about Gruff.

Brent: Gruff is about the aftermath of the events of the story “The 3 Billy-Goats Gruff”. After the goats defeated that troll, their shepherds realized the destructive potential of goats. They engaged in a weaponized goat arms-race that drove the trolls to the brink of extinction. It is a tactical card game where you get to build a custom herd of mutated monster goats and then try to crush your friends with them!

Q: I know there was a second installment of Gruff called Clash of the Battle Goats. What did this second installment change or add to the base game?

Brent: Clash of the Battle Goats was all about trying to make a more accessible version of Gruff. It is designed to be easy to learn with enough content for 2 players to play right out of the box, but without an overwhelming amount of options that might be a barrier to a first-time player. It also adds recommended starting cards that make deck building faster and easier.

logo-eye-rage_origQ: Gruff: Rage of the Trolls is on Kickstarter now. What does Rise of Trolls change or add to the base game?

Brent: In the newest Gruff game, the trolls have returned and their rage will shake the foundations of the Universe! “Gruff: Rage of the Trolls” augments the world of Gruff with new co-op and single-player boss battles! It also includes enough new goats and shepherds to play the core competitive game right out of the box!

Q: What would you say to someone looking at the Rage of the Trolls Kickstarter who was concerned about never having played a Gruff game before?

Brent: “Gruff: Rage of the Trolls” is a great place to get into the world of Gruff because the co-op and single-player modes mean that it is easier than ever to find someone to play with! If competitive 2 player games are more your speed, the game includes everything you need to start challenging your friends. It has 6 new goats and 5 new shepherds with new mechanics that unlock new and exciting decks!

rage-final_origQ: When does the Kickstarter end?

Brent: Tuesday June 28th at 11:59pm. We are down to our final hours!

Q: How has it gone so far for you?

Brent: The response from Gruff players has been tremendous! We hit our initial funding goal in just 8 hours, and immediately got “Staff Picked” by the awesome folks at Kickstarter. The thing that is even more exciting to me is the amount of engagement we have seen from players. A lot of fan fiction, fan art, and fan poetry has been created by gruff players. I love to see that type of involvement!

Q: Will there be future games in the Gruff universe? What’s next for Studio Woe?

Brent: Absolutely! Our next Gruff project is called “Gruff: Stuff of Nightmares” where we will introduce a new faction of plushy nightmare goats! Additionally, the next project that is coming down the line is a dexterity game called “Pirate Tanks of Skull Island”.

Q: Where can people find you online?

Brent: Everywhere! But our primary communication channel is our Facebook page.  But you can also find us on Twitter, our website, Reddit, and our wiki.

Q: Additional Thought/Comments (anything else you’d like people to know)?

Brent: Gruff is a tactical combat card game where players duel to the death with custom teams of mutated monster goats! Gruff features unique positional and timing mechanics that create a constant state of attack and counter-play.

Gruff: Rage of the Trolls adds a new dimension to the game, troll Boss-Fights. Each troll is a challenging puzzle that players will take on individually, or with a friend in a co-op mode!

Rage is a stand-alone Gruff-Compatible game which means that players can take on these trolls using just the contents of this box, or by adding cards from other Gruff games!

The Kickstarter campaign for “Gruff: Rage of the Trolls” ends in just a few days. Please support our project at



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