Two Alaska brothers are building a War Command, you can play too

Hundreds of years in the future, Earth is rendered uninhabitable. Brothers Raymond and Rusty Hayes are battling for survival. Their weapons? A board, a deck of cards, and some dice.

Raymond Hayes sits at his kitchen table. He’s dealing out a deck of cards with pictures of aliens, warships, and magical creatures.

Rusty and Raymond Hayes playing War Command – Photo by Shady Grove Oliver/KSTK News

Rusty and Raymond Hayes playing War Command – Photo by Shady Grove Oliver/KSTK News

Rusty stares intently into his hand. Rusty moves first, and I ask them how they came to be playing their own game this summer day.

These two brothers grew up in Wrangell. And as kids, they played a lot of board games.

Now, they’ve decided to create their own. Their game is called War Command. It started as a glimmer of an idea in Raymond’s head over a year ago. He came up with the idea for a game that mixes a number of different genres.

“Our game mixes fantasy-style characters with sci fi-style characters, which is much more challenging than I anticipated when we did it at first,” says Raymond.

They never planned to have War Command go in the direction it’s taken.

“We didn’t even think this game would go to tabletop. We thought that we would be releasing it as a little app on an iPhone,” said Rusty.

Rusty said he always like Raymond’s idea for the game, but never thought it would get off the ground.

“I’ve been programming games since I was in 9th grade or so. I think when Raymond first came to me with this game idea all I said was ‘That’s a really great idea Raymond but that’s just too big. You’ll never get that done.’ And then he came to me with the team more put together and a more serious game design document. And I thought, oh my god, we’ll we have to move on this now.”

The War Command team consists of the Hayes brothers, a PR person and graphic designer, an art director, and 17 illustrators from around the world—some from as far away as Malaysia.

The team took War Command to the Salt Lake City, Utah-based gamers convention, called SaltCon.

They presented it as a mobile app. But, they brought along a demo tabletop board game, so other gamers could test it out in person.

And, they said, they were amazed by the response. The feedback on the tabletop version was so positive, they decided to launch a physical form of the game first.

That’s what they’re trying to do now.

Last week, Rusty and Raymond launched their online Kickstarter campaign. They hope to get enough interest to fund the first making and distribution of War Command.

Rusty said if they don’t get enough money to make the tabletop game this summer, they’ll still be releasing the mobile app early next year.

“But if the Kickstarter succeeds, it will be nice because we’ll probably be able to preempt that a little bit and have the game board in stores around holiday season and then the app available right after,” said Rusty.

And he said, I should stop asking them questions so they can actually finish the game. It’s bad enough waiting for a normal game, but when the competition is between two brothers who are also the designers—well, let me tell you, the tension is high.

Rusty’s characters are cornered at the edge of the board. Raymond’s commander is making an advance. He picks up the dice, rolls, and…

Better luck next time, Rusty.

For more information about War Command, check out the game’s website, Facebook page, and Kickstarter campaign page.