Hellboy: Developing the Game (Part One)

Today we’re kicking off a series of blogs about our exciting new project – Hellboy: The Board Game. In today’s entry, we thought we’d give a little bit of background on development and a brief overview of the game before delving deeper into gameplay mechanics over the days to come.

So, how did this all come about? Well, after the huge success of Mars Attacks and The Walking Dead: All Out War, we knew that we would like to produce another licensed game. After all, it’s a great opportunity to work closely with the creators of some of the best-known and iconic characters around. And who wouldn’t want to do that? When we drew up a list of potential licenses, Mike Mignola’s incredible Hellboy series was top of the list.

Hellboy has become a household name – thanks to the live action movies, videogame appearances and animated films – but we always loved the original graphic novels. The combination of folklore, huge monsters and, of course, Hellboy battling enemies with that famous Right Hand of Doom, has always been appealing. As a result we began talking to Dark Horse in late 2016 and we eventually signed the deal in late 2017 (that’s right, it does take quite a while to sort these things out).

Originally we saw the Hellboy game as a dungeon crawler with Hellboy and the other members of the BPRD setting off to a suitably spooky location and then battling minions before facing off against a big creature. In this original pitch we thought that – like Dungeon Saga – one player would be in charge of the bad guys, while four other players would take control of the BPRD.

However, if you’ve read the comics you’ll know there’s never really one entity in charge of all the evil minions Hellboy faces and there are different antagonists, each with their own wicked plots. As a result the first decision was to make sure Hellboy was a fully co-operative experience as the members of the BPRD work together to overcome adversity, rather than having one player take on the role of the dungeon master.

The next question was – which storyline should we base it on? There are actually so many great stories to choose from that this was rather a difficult one. What’s more, the cast of BPRD characters changes throughout the original Hellboy graphic novels and the subsequent BPRD series. So instead of being based solely on one particular story arc, Hellboy: The Board Game takes inspiration from a number of fantastic storylines to create something spectacular.

This gives us a great opportunity to bring in some of Hellboy’s most notorious adversaries, while also mixing up the members of the BPRD who work with each other. In fact, it was Mike Mignola himself who suggested having Johann join the team for the core game.

From here the pieces really started coming together quickly and we could immediately see how all the four main protagonists – Hellboy, Liz, Abe and Johann – would work together. We also wanted to ensure that the inexplicable and seemingly random events of the comic were portrayed as gameplay elements too.


This led to the creation of the Deck of Doom! This is a deck of cards that triggers particular events as the BPRD agents explore the location. The event can be anything from a surprise attack by a monster to a spooky mist that rolls in to obscure line of sight. Due to the random nature of the Deck of Doom, you’ll never know what to expect when playing a mission and you can replay them for different experiences.


WORK IN PROGRESS. Artwork and text subject to approval.

Even better, as the game grows with new monsters or expansions, they’ll each come with their own set of cards so you can customise your deck for unique actions. This is something that’s expanded further in the exciting BPRD Archives (and we’ll cover that in a future blog).

With the basics down, it was time to call in a top games designer and that’s where James M. Hewitt from Needy Cat Games enters the action. In tomorrow’s blog we’ll discuss how James developed and shaped the game into what we have now.

Remember, Hellboy: The Board Game will be hitting Kickstarter on April 25th. We’ve got a very exciting opening pledge level planned, so make sure you don’t miss out. What’s more, next week will be Hellboy Week across the Mantic Blog and social media. Find out more about the game, see the miniatures and plenty more!


  1. If I were any more excited for this I would literally (and I do mean literally) explode!

  2. This should be great! And while you mention Mars Attacks, Rob, are you guys going to do anything more with that?

  3. Hi folks!
    Like many I’m really excited about this project. There are a lot of exciting and creative aspects coming together, James M. Hewitt’s experience in (as he puts it) “Rules, mechanics, systems, whatever”, Mantic’s passion for miniatures and great settings to put them in and, of course, Mike’s Hellboy, simply put the best damn fiction by our generation’s Lovecraft.

    I do have one concern though. As a professional game and graphic designer, I’m confident these fine folks will make the most of Kickstarter’s ravenous gaming community, but as a UX designer and storyteller I’m wondering if the rich tapestry of Hellboy mythos and powerful narrative will find its place within the game. If the miniatures and game mechanics dominate, leaving the storytelling aspect behind, I fear your efforts will result in a “set of rules with a commercial skin slapped on to it.” Let’s hope not!

    So, good luck, guys. I’ll be the first to back this awe-inspiring frog-slaying fire-starting KS campaign!

    • Hi Marcel – we’ve got a blog going up today that explains how the story-telling element will work. There’s a very unique way of telling the scenarios that we feel fits in with the Hellboy universe perfectly.

    • Thanks @Rob! I read (in the next blog entry) that the emphasis will be on mystery solving and not on combat, which by itself I guess already prevents it from becoming a “miniature battle game.” Yay! Tapping right into the heart of what Hellboy is about – love it!

  4. In my very personal opinion, the cards would look better if the frames of the comics were straight instead of tilted.
    They still would have the “graphic novel” look while avoiding unusable triangular spaces at the margins.

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