(watch video below)
Introduction and Welcome!
Welcome to Overhale, and thank you for supporting this project by purchasing the Overhale game book! In order to keep the game as inexpensive as possible, almost everything you need to play Overhale is incorporated into the book, including the game boards, the character pieces, the cards, and of course the game rules. The only extras you will need are a pair of scissors and many, many six-sided dice. You will use the scissors to cut out the game boards, characters, and cards. Just cut along the lines. Some other recommended items: a pencil and paper to keep track of your points.
But let’s back up and begin with the backstory for how Overhale came to be...
As a kid I was obsessed with all things “game.” I loved board games and video games. I loved them so much that I would often make my own adventure board games, and also these weird things I called “paper video games” where you’d push a cut-out cardboard character along a piece of lined paper (which acted as the video game environment) while jumping and avoiding static, hand-drawn enemies on the page. (Ah, the days before home computers were ubiquitous.) I must have created at least a dozen board games between the ages of 8 and 15, but of those games, only two survived into adulthood. One of them was the concept behind Overhale.
Defender: Can cast healing and nullification spells. Cost: 30 points. Level 3.
Queen Wizard: A well-rounded character with strong basic attack who can cast attack, dark, and healing magic. Cost: 40 points. Level 4.
As a child I had completed about 60 character drawings (some of them demonstrating my adolescent obsession with the female form) and a few storyboards laying out the gist of the game. It had the typical fantasy motifs inspired by RPGs of the day—some form of evil takes over, good needs to fight evil, magic is wielded along with swords and werewolves and vampires—but the crux of the game was to build a team, become all-powerful, and waste your opponents with few limitations. I even had a rule guide I devised that was growing very chunky. If I remember correctly, I had about a hundred pages of rules and stats housed in a cheap three-ring binder, and the page count never stopped growing, mostly because I had so many (perhaps too many) characters in the game! I even had the board concept mocked up (in pencil crayon, of course) on three large sheets of Bristol board. The boards were glued onto three rectangles of plywood connected by hinges to provide stability and more of a “board game” feel. (I think I had repurposed the display for an old science fair project.) Anyway, what I’m presenting here is a resuscitation of that concept, albeit 25 years later. ...
And why, pray tell, has it taken over 25 years to finish this thing if I had so much of it—a hundred pages of rules alone—completed? Well, suffice it to say that the rules to the game were lost. Allow me to speculate. I was very obsessed with creating this game, so obsessed that I would often take the binders containing the game concept and drawings wherever I went—to school, to church, to a friend’s house, camping—and I would often pull the rule binder out to scribble a note if I thought of a new idea. Many a class would I work on drawing a new (and very endowed) female warrior character, or a depraved storyboard featuring some poor grunt being divaricated by an evil wizard, rather than learn what was actually being taught in the classroom. I didn’t pay too much attention to school in those days, but it all worked out in the end. Now I work at a school. At any rate, somewhere in my adolescent haze, the rule binder was misplaced, or dropped, or swept up when my dad got ambitious and decided to clean the house. In the latter case, it would have met the burn barrel on our family farm.
A female warrior rides topless on a dragon, as was the style at the time. One of my adolescent concept drawings for what would become Overhale.
With the rules lost, I stagnated. It had taken years to compose them, and in an instant they had vanished forever. Every time I would try to retrace my steps and recreate what I had lost, I just sat wincing at the blank page. There was no way I could recall all of it. The character drawings and storyboards survived, but without the rules, I couldn’t move forward.
So to heck with those rules! The reason I finally revived this game is because I like to finish what I start, even if it takes 25 years. And who doesn’t like to revisit their childhood dreams once in a while? This was a project I spent a lot of time with as a child, and completing it is a gift to the ghost of my 13-year-old self, may he rest in peace. What I have done is boiled down that thirteen-year-old ghost’s concept to its essence: a strategy game where you can get insanely overpowered and wreck your opponent. But I bit off what I could chew this time around: instead of having a roster of 60 characters, we’re starting with 7 characters. (Honestly, it was probably a blessing in disguise that the game was given an unceremonious Viking funeral. It had gotten out of control.)
About the Name...
The working title of Overhale was “Overpowered.” The reason for this is simple: I wanted to make a game that had few limitations on how insanely powerful you could become. Perhaps you’ve faced the frustration of playing a board or video game only to encounter some arbitrary rule that kept you from advancing and crushing your opponent. Or maybe you have enjoyed using cheat codes to remove barriers in a video game to see what it would be like to become a god. Or maybe you like using the “broken” character in a game to snuff out your adversaries without mercy. Well, I wanted to capture the spirit of a “broken” game in Overhale. Sort of. Really, I wanted to get as close to the feeling of “barrierlessness” as possible in a combat-style strategy game. As juvenile as it might seem, I wanted to create a board game where you are not beholden to arbitrary rules about how many characters can be in a team, how many steps you can advance on the board, or how much overkilling damage you can do to your opponent. If you’ve got the power, use it.
Example game board for the red team.
Example action card. These cards enhance you team's power.
Therefore, the concepts of “overkill” and being “overpowered” were the running motifs for this game. But “overkill” and “overpowered” are common words—and besides, there are already games by those names. So I used my literary background to find a Middle-English word that remained true to the concept:
Overhale (v.): From Middle English overhalen, equivalent to over-+hale. Cognate with Dutch overhalen, Danish overhale, Swedish överhala.
1. (transitive) To draw or haul over; overhaul.
2. (transitive) To overcome.
Overhauling and overcoming is exactly what you will be doing in Overhale as you upgrade your characters and strategize victory, all while being restricted by as few rules as possible. (Also, the .com for “overhale” was available, so that sweetened the deal.) That said, there are rules to the game, but none to restrict how big and powerful your party can become. Be prepared to smite your enemies with a 50-die roll as they marvel at how you’re able to roll 50 dice and keep them all on the table.
In summary, if you’re interested in contributing feedback to the game, feel free to purchase a copy of the prototype book on Amazon (see "BUY" button below)). Those who purchase a prototype book and contribute feedback will be mentioned in the acknowledgments of the game book when a definitive version is published some time in the spring. (This could also be a wonderful gift for anyone who’s into board games!) The prototype book will be available for sale from December through February.
Thanks for your support with this childhood passion project!
—Dr. Jeffrey Douglas
The blue team initiates a battle with the dark (grey) team to capture a star monument. In this battle, the dark team has an attack power of 11 six-sided dice. The blue team, although it has fewer characters, has an attack power of 12 six-sided dice. The silver team’s combined hit points are 85 (25 + 20 + 40). The blue team’s combined hit points are 90 (30 + 60).