Greenbrier Games is a board game company created by a group friends. Due to the success and support of Kickstarter their dream became a reality and thus Greenbrier Games was born.
Once Upon a Time…
Jeff Gracia, engineer by day board game aficionado by weekend, bought a zombie board game in the hopes of adding a great game to his collection. To his great dismay this game left him as hungry for an amazing gaming experience as zombies are for brains. He felt there had to be something better out there, so he continued looking. There wasn’t. Propelled by his engineer brain, he set off on a mission to create the best zombie game in creation. The first leg of his journey began with internet forum discussion where he dialogued with an IT designer and techno shaman, one Zachary Parkes. Zach’s focus on game development thus far had focused on designing maps for game play. Together they formulated their first game. Many revisions later the idea had evolved into creating a board game with RPG elements to speak to a larger fan base and other play testers and developers were brought on board, including Julie Ahern, who quickly took over as editor and eventually writer. Somewhere during these revisions Theresa, Jeff’s wife, brought up the possibility of publishing the game…and down the rabbit hole they went.
The creative process consisted of many drafts, revisions, emails, and meetings. Each of the team members (including early contributors Ricky Casdorph, Nick Hurston, and David Tiernant), whether alone or in groups tweaked their work until the game actually resembled their vision. With every improvement there was also a new challenge of balancing mechanics. Zpocalypse was a collaborative effort throughout the journey from idea to end product and everyone was willing to go the extra mile to ensure the best results. In addition, the team brought the prototype to a number of New England conventions and game stores to playtest with other gamers. It was there they met AJ Paratore and Dan Auxier from the Hull Breach team, Ryan Lesser, and gamer and videographer Todd Goodman.
Meanwhile, Jeff had researched successful Kickstarter campaigns. Calling on his new colleagues, he coaxed Todd into creating stop-motion tutorial videos as a companion to Zpocalypse’s rulebook. Ryan Lesser became the first 3D artist they worked with to create the zombies, and through him they met Jed Wahl. With a game coming together, they launched their first Kickstarter campaign. On April 22, 2011, the dream became a reality. Zpocalypse was funded on Kickstarter at 1,401% the original amount. Due to the success of that first Kickstarter, Greenbrier Games was able to create Zpocalypse as well as expansions and add-ons.
What happened next?
From that first success, Greenbrier Games was able to launch a line of Zpocalypse products. Having a successful game was a giddy thing. It was great to see other gamers enjoying their inaugural brain child. A surprising benefit was that one of the Kickstarter backers, Shawn Hayden, proved to not only be a fan, but a talent in the video gaming industry. He joined Greenbrier to explore that avenue of gaming for the company while also working on project management. One of the most unexpected benefits was that other designers began to reach out to them. It was then that the team made a consequential decision to not only design games, but become publishers as well.
Todd met Rocco Privetera, developer of Ninja Dice, which became the second Greenbrier Game line published. From those first play sessions the team knew they wanted to partner with this talented designer on his pick-up dice game that had depth to it. Soon after, Scott Kimball brought them the design for a mech game. After play sessions and revisions to his futuristic design, he had worked with the team to create the steampunk-based, worker placement and miniatures game, Heavy Steam.
Meanwhile, another fledgling company, Artistic Justice, reached out to Greenbrier Games to have Jed help create a line of miniatures for their new product, Fairytale Games. The work Jed did was so successful that another artist Kieran Russel was brought on board. While exploring the possibilities of the gaming industry, they had found a niche that they enjoyed and so Greenbrier Games was beginning to be known for its miniature designs.
So when Tony Gullotti and Joshua Sprung showed them a design for a miniatures combat game where Jeff could help hammer out mechanics, Zach had oversight to maps and layout, and Julie would write lore for the world, it was kismet. Yashima came to life, and the team welcomed Tony into the fold as Shawn moved onto other ventures. To keep the growing company on track, Theresa had taken on the role of marketing and convention organization.
Back to the beginning:
With the development of other designers’ games, promoting their published works, and helping their growing fan base, it was a busy few years. However, Zpocalypse had begun as the team’s own design so Zach and Jeff kept coming home to the game that started the company. There was a point where they knew they would either have to move forward with another Zpocalypse game, or leave it to history. Not willing to let the world that was their playground go gentle into that good night, they looked at Zpoc 2.0 as a side project talking to Scott and Tony along the way for their take on how to make the game new.
Meanwhile, Jeff had a brand new find. A young group of designers, led by Breeze Grigas and Sarah Como, approached GBG to publish the game AEGIS. The robot combat game had a fun fast-paced play style. Moreover, Breeze and Sarah were amazing promoters and able to reach out to the gaming community. The pair accompanied the team to several conventions to promote AEGIS. At GenCon, a fellow designer caught Breeze’s attention with his pure enthusiasm alone. Walter Barber brought Champions of Hara to the GBG family, and it was with Walter the team found a missing piece of the puzzle. As Tony moved on to other opportunities, Walter came on board to work on game design while helping out in sales as well. It was with his work that the vision of a new zombie apocalypse was reanimated. Zpocalypse 2, Defend the ‘Burbs was well on its way.
Growing into their role:
Greenbrier Games was no longer the tiny startup of their humble beginnings. They had begun as enthusiastic gamers, and the love of board games remained, but their successes drew attention. Twinfire Games approached them to work on a joint publishing venture for Folklore the Affliction. This game had already created a buzz in the gaming community, and after playing this rpg board game, the team was in full agreement that they wanted to be a part of it. While working on their own game is their passion, they also are delving into the dark realms of a land tormented by evil. Folklore is highly anticipated, and the team is excited to see its release next year.
Another game that has created talk is Stephen Gibson’s Grimslinger. With gorgeous art, an amazing story driven universe, and fun interactive mechanics, this game slated to be out this summer. Look for it as your next go-to for game night.
What’s yet to come?
Greenbrier continues to work with other talented designers to help bring new games to life. Their ongoing desire is to find fun new mechanics that fit with the theme they’re designed for and make the best game they can. From that humble beginning of playing board games around Jeff and Theresa’s kitchen table, Greenbrier Games has evolved into a close group of friends who work tirelessly to keep the original mission alive – make games that they also love to play.