Overlords of Infamy: The Development of an Enthusiast’s Board Game

David Zuckman sits proudly behind his creation, a board game called Overloards of Infamy, in in the dining room of his Valencia home. Cory Rubin/The Signal
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In May of 2014, David Zuckman a board game enthusiast and resident of Valencia was asked by his friends “What kind of game would you make if you had the chance?”

The question kept him up all night brainstorming and designing until he had finally come up with the beginnings of what’s now called Overlords of Infamy.

“I got some poster boards the next day and within 24 hours, I had a prototype,” said Zuckman. “It was awful, and it looked nothing like ‘Overlords of Infamy’ does today, but it was a start.”

And the game has come a long way since. After Zuckman had tested it several times, he brought in his friends from work who shared the same love of board games and were part of the inspiration behind the game. The four of them began further developments and went on to create a company that they named Obscure Reference Games.

David Zuckman shows off his creation, a board game called Overloards of Infamy, in front of his board game collection at his Valencia home. Cory Rubin/The Signal

“We all love making obscure references,” said Zuckman. “That’s what we’d do at work all day, and when we formed our company it was a no-brainer what to call ourselves.”

From there, the group began to make professional prototypes for “Overlords of Infamy.” They brought it to conventions and continued to tinker with it until they had what is now the official game. In February 2016, the group went on Kickstarter. By August 2017, the game was printed and being shipped out.

“Overlords of Infamy” takes different aspects of many different styled games. It is a tile-laying, resource-management, area-control, quest-completion and worker-placement game all rolled into one. It also takes on the unique personality of Zuckman and his gaming friends to give it a special flare.

“I think the thing that makes us stand out is that we’ve infused our humor into every aspect of this game,” said Zuckman.

David Zuckman sets up his creation, A board game called Overloards of Infamy, in in the dining room of his Valencia home. Cory Rubin/The Signal

Gameplay consists of choosing from 11 different “overlords,” with which players spread misery across the game world of Planet Fred.
Players gather a set of materials to accomplish zany and nefarious plots. These plots consist of everything from “Throttle Internet Speeds to 56k” to “Make Everyone’s Socks Slightly Damp.” The actions you choose to commit cause world tension to build, which cause “World Events.” These events can either assist or prevent you and your opponents from achieving their goals. A hero also exists within the game whose goal is to thwart your plans. The winning player is the one who earns the most “Misery Points” by the end of the game.

“We take the entire trope of evil villains and flip it on its head,” said Zuckman. “You are playing as an evil villain and the worst thing in the world is the adventuring hero.”

Although the game is a success now, it took a lot of time and resources to get it to where it is today. The group went through many artists to get the ideal look of the game and had to spend a lot of their own money going to conventions, traveling around the country, and making the prototypes.

Overloards of Infamy, a board game created by David Zuckman is set up in the dining room of his Valencia home. Cory Rubin/The Signal

“There was a lot that we had to do at first and there was a big question mark as to whether or not we’d fund,” said Zuckman.

But fund they did. To their amazement, when the group put “Overlords of Infamy” on Kickstarter they received 184 percent of what they asked for. Their funding goal was met within the first four and a half days. Zuckman however, sees a much greater reward than this success.

Overloards of Infamy, a board game created by David Zuckman is set up in the dining room of his Valencia home. Cory Rubin/The Signal

“Overlords of Infamy” is currently back on Kickstarter because the group is doing a reprint of the game, which was sold out in 2017. Several upgrades to the game are being made, as well as an expansion pack.

“Our goal is to make a game that will allow someone to sit down for an hour or two and forget about their problems,” said Zuckman. “If we can do that we feel like we’ve made a difference in the world. We’ve done something good with our lives.”

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