Interview with the Project Lead of HEXplore It, Jonathan Mariucci

HEXplore It and HEXploreIt: The Forests of Adrimon

Publisher: Marucci J. Designs LLC

Designers: Jonathan Mariucci, Kat Kimoundi, Nathan Loos

Art: N/A

Player Count: 1-7 players

Age: 12+

Play Time: 60-180 min

HEXplore It is a hero building cooperative adventure board game. The gameplay and open world concepts are similar to video games, such as Skyrim, Zelda, and the Witcher series. If you’re looking for a board game reference, the quest elements feel Runebound-ish. No two games are alike and the amount of replay ability is off the charts. The sheer amount of encounters, bosses, races and classes available make the HEXplore It experience feel fresh each time you play. I had to reach out to Jonathan Marucci, because he is a fellow Wisconsinite and I wanted to squeeze some more information about the HEXplore It series. He was kind enough to respond to some of my questions by email.

Jambalaya: You had a very successful first campaign for HEXplore It. How are you dealing with the huge success of your first game?

Jonathan: To be honest, it’s quite tiring, but in a truly amazing way! I am a dad of 3 and have a full time job managing a team of 6 on the side of HEX. I’ve spent the last year not only fulfilling our first campaign promises, but also coordinating the effort to build our next volume in the series. I’m pretty much just along for the ride! It feels a little like a tidal wave moving me around, and I absolutely love that we’re moving! I can scarcely believe how well the game has been received. My family and I are so incredibly grateful for the support and kindness our community has shown. We’re hoping that in the coming years, HEX can become more than a second job for me.

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Take a look at where it allllllllll started!

Jambalaya: After playing Hexplore It a couple times I can see the amount of work that went into the game. Where did the idea originate from?

Jonathan: So this one is a fun one to answer. About 5 years ago I was an active member of the Cartographer’s Guild. This is a forum devoted to making maps, if you or your readers enjoy that sort of thing, you should totally check them out! Being an avid role-player (and a DM for our group), I was always interested in crafting maps and loved drawing them. I think I drew close to 200 of them before HEXploreIt came around. So each month, the Guild has a special contest to draw some kind of map. Well I had spotted the contest early one month and really took to the idea: Draw a map that could be used in a game. So I began drawing a map for a role playing board game. I ended up winning the contest that month along with another guildmate and people were so smitten, they all kept saying “this could be a real game!”. And so I kept looking at it and the thought donned on me to make it into just that. 4 years passed and we now have HEXplore It.

Jambalaya: Are there specific games you could compare Hexplore It to? Maybe a games that inspired the game?

Jonathan: Ironically, when I developed HEX I was not all that big into playing board games. My passion was role playing, being able to sit down for 4-8 hours at a time and collectively tell an awesome story with friends. I’ve been told HEX is a little like Runebound, but I had no idea what that was when I created it. Before we launched the Kickstarter for Valley, I had people asking me what the similarities were between the two, and I had to look up game play videos on YouTube to spot them. As for inspiration, it all comes from the great stories we’ve all heard. I’m a big LotR fan, and love the fantasy genre. All of the mechanics that appear in Valley of the Dead King were built by me from the ground up, without much knowledge of other games from the outside.

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There are so many classes and races to choose from. Replayability is off the charts.

Jambalaya: Everyone has an origin story, a moment when they fell in love with hobby. When did you become a gamer?

Jonathan: That is an easy one. In high school it took me a bit to find a great niche of friends. It was a hard transition for me from middle school. So this one day, I met a great friend of mine, Guy, who invited me to try out role playing with his group. So I was like- what the heck is that?? We ended up riding our bikes down to one of the local book stores and I bought my first set of TSR dice, anyone remember that multi-color dice set with the orange d20? Oh man, it was amazing to me, the whole concept. So then I rolled up a character and we played D&D like bosses. For me, the rest all stemmed from that.

Jambalaya: You’re launching a new campaign launch for Volume II of Hexplore It. Can you tell us a little bit about the game.

Jonathan: Sure thing, we’re all very excited for our second title. The Forests of Adrimon is a dark and mysterious elven forest that has recently grown awfully quiet. The elves departed some time ago, and the people who now live there have succumb to an evil sorceress. All who enter her domain slowly begin to lose their mind. The cities have all fallen and are now filled with the mind-wiped. Her subjects now work tirelessly for her, building sentinels, which will help her expand her domain. Though her presence can be felt far and wide, there are a few places left who fight her. Our heroes will find themselves fleeing an enthralled city at the beginning of the game. They’ll follow in the footsteps of other heroes who came before them, who attempted to bring Adrimon’s power to an end. They’ll work towards building powerful relics by piecing together their shattered fragments, which the magi scattered across the land. We’re excited to show off a ton of new game mechanics and a huge amount of new content as well!

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Jambalaya: I assume people who make games try to play as many games as possible. What games are you playing recently? What games are you excited to play?

Jonathan: I’ve really been digging the story-based theme of “Darkness Comes Rattling”, and enjoy “Lords of Waterdeep”. My son and I really love playing “Forbidden Island” and “Forbidden Desert” as well. Unfortunately I don’t get a great deal of time to play these days!

Jambalaya: I know it’s early in the game, but can you give us a little details about the future of HEXplore It for the super fans you already have?

Jonathan: Absolutely, I’d be thrilled to! So we have SO MUCH in store for the HEXplore It universe. We already have ideas for 5 additional games (some of the code names: Sands, Domain, Waves), and have begun in earnest working on two of them. Our next campaign after Forests of Adrimon will be a desert survival-themed variation called the Sands of Shurax (SoS for short!). Think of a Dune/Dark Sun/Gladiator hybrid type of setting. We’re planning to offer new ways to augment your heroes, one of which will appear in our upcoming Kickstarter. Those are called Traits, and act as a passive ability. We’ll also be showing off a similar system Companions and Familiars in upcoming releases. We’re excited to reveal our Two-Board game play style in our Forests of Adrimon campaign, which means you can play with two games (VotDK + FoA) all at once. We have a data base of about 40 new heroes in the works, actually I should say Roles in the works, and of course an equal amount of Races as well. So we’re extremely pumped about the future, and hope the community enjoys the game enough to help us continue building it!

Jambalaya: Are their any other projects on the horizon outside of the Hexplore It universe that you may want to tease?

Jonathan: Actually yes, in fact. We’ve been working on a game we’re code-naming “Brain”. This is a party game for both adults and kids, and it promotes healthy communication by understanding how our brains work. The game features a deduction system whereby players must figure out which type of person each player is, and try to select healthy communication in order to help them get into a healthy state of mind. It is a laughter-heavy game that my kids just love to play.

I hope you’re excited by Hexplore It! as much as I am! I will share more thoughs about the game in the near future. What do you think about HEXplore It?

Here is a link to the Kickstarter campaign and thank you for your time:

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