Thunderbirds: Interview with Chris Birch and Matt Leacock

By Phillip Canada on


We here at Geekly Inc. have previously written about the Kickstarter for Thunderbirds Co-operative Board Game . Now several of the stretch goals have been funded allowing for four expansions and a role playing aspect! Recently, I had the opportunity to speak to Chris Birch from publisher Modiphius Entertainment and designer Matt Leacock about Thunderbirds and some of the other upcoming releases from Modiphius Entertainment.

Phil: How did this project come about?

Matt: Chris approached me at Spiel in 2013 and pitched the idea to me. I’d never heard of Thunderbirds, but he was so enthusiastic about the idea that I told him I’d check it out. After watching just a few episodes I saw the appeal and the fit for a cooperative game and signed on.

Phil: Did you feel that there were any restrictions in working on a licensed game?

Matt: Sure, you need to come up with a game that fits the theme and the world you’re trying to model. That said, those constraints are great for creativity. I got all sorts of ideas, and went in a lot of different directions than I might have had I created the game from scratch. The design was a fun challenge.d261c3f83f842c11ab937a66d7cc8727_original

Thunderbirds holds a special place in the hearts of many people, does taking on a cult classic scare you?

Matt: Well, I knew that Thunderbirds has a dedicated fan base, so the task then was to find the best people to work with. Chris has done a great job of getting the fans involved—asking them which characters and vehicles they’d like to see, for example, and I’ve opened up the rules for inspection and comment so fans can have a look before the paint dries. We’ve also been working with Sam Denham to make sure we’re true to the world of International Rescue in 2065.

There are 5 Tracy brothers in Thunderbirds the show. How was the decision made to not make this a 5 player game (without The Hood expansion)?

Matt: The base game comes with the five Tracy brothers and Lady Penelope, so there are six characters to choose from each time. Part of the fun of the game is it’s variability—every time you play, so you’ll have a different cast of player characters, and as a result, you’ll need to adapt each time you play. The expansions open up and even wider cast with Parker, Tin-Tin, and Brains joining the fun. The game is balanced with two to four player characters. If more players are added (beyond 4) it becomes harder to resolve certain disasters due to the way the game is structured.

In terms of gameplay, did  you (Matt Leacock) have an idea in your head already for how this game would work or were there multiple attempts to capture the Thunderbirds feel?

Matt: The game naturally evolved out of the show over about 12 to 18 months. I tried some mechanisms out that were later abandoned, but on the whole, it was a process of gradual experimentation and refinement. From the start, we knew the game would be about players taking on the role of International Rescue, traveling around the world (and in outer space) averting disasters using their vehicles and equipment.

I love the idea of a roleplaying game functioning with the board and pieces. Could you provide additional details about this expansion?

Chris: The idea was to create a really fun introductory level RPG that would build on Matt’s work on the board game, using the components within gameplay and letting you explore each of the missions in more detail to create some great story telling adventures around International Rescue. We’re unveiling more information in the next two weeks.

Do you have a favorite expansion?

Chris: Personally I’m looking forward to playing the Hood!

Were there any aspects of this game you wanted to keep, but got left on the cutting room floor?

Matt: We had one element from the base game that I enjoyed (that didn’t make the cut) that we’re now considering for The Hood expansion. Other than that, no, given the rapid success of the Kickstarter and the levels we unlocked, we’ve been able to integrate everything I had hoped for.


Just a few questions not specifically related to the Thunderbirds game.

Modiphius Games has had great success funding games via Kickstarter, greatly exceeding the necessary pledge goal. Will we see future releases without the backing of Kickstarter?

Chris: Yes in fact we’ve already released Mutant Year Zero, and DUST Adventures which was to have a kickstarter is now being released normally to retail in May. We’re doing a big pre-order for the Infinity RPG, but (it will be) followed on later by a Kickstarter to fund a wider range of supplements. So yes we aren’t always using Kickstarter now.

Finally, I have to ask, is there any info you can give us on Achtung! Cthulu:Secret War?

Chris: Kevin Wilson is currently working on the design. The inspiration came from games like Axis & Allies and co-op games like Defenders of the Realm. I love the co-operative battling and adventure and who wouldn’t want a box full of plastic tanks and Cthulhu creatures?

Back and find out more information about Thunderbirds  here

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