By Kevin Redding
After grabbing the attention of Hasbro last year, a Miller Place artist is unleashing his very own board game to the masses.
With Plank & Rank, a two-player tabletop game that combines the fun of a board game with the strategy of a card game, professional graphic artist Paul Partlow was one of five finalists in Hasbro’s 2016 Next Great Family Game Challenge — a worldwide competition that aims to discover and develop the next Monopoly or Clue.
Partlow, 36, didn’t win that challenge but was soon contacted by a multimedia company called Golden Bell Studios, whose Long Island-based owners saw the board game through an Indiegogo campaign online. The company told him it was interested in helping with distribution on a national level.
“We immediately saw Plank & Rank and thought, ‘This could be something really awesome,’” the company’s founder Marc Goldner said.
Goldner and his team have since set up a successful Kickstarter campaign and made the game available for purchase online, all in close collaboration with its creator. The plan now is to get the name out there and explore wider manufacturing options, from Amazon to big-box retailers to niche hobby stores.
“We hope the game is going to be even better than when we first started looking at it,” Goldner said. “[Partlow] is one of the most accommodating and passionate creators. He really takes the time to go above and beyond what’s asked for.”
In Plank & Rank — inspired by Partlow’s interest in history, specifically the Roman conquest of Gaul “with a whimsical slant” — two players, as Roman Red and Barbarian Blue, must build a bridge plank-by-plank across the mighty Rhine River while also moving their armies rank-by-rank to the opposite side. However, as the game’s warning reads, snags and surprises await the players along the way.
The vibrantly designed family game, sprinkled with Partlow’s cartoon-style illustrations and humor, was originally developed as a final project for a class while he was a student at Rhode Island School of Design, from which he graduated in 2016.
The assignment was straightforward: Create a board game to tell a story without words.
While his professor told students they could take an existing game and slap a new story over it, Partlow preferred a challenge.
“If just one person sees it and says, ‘That’s cool,’ then that’s good enough for me.”
— Paul Partlow
“I always tend to go a little above and beyond, so I said, ‘I’d rather create my own game,’” he said.
That professor informed Partlow of the Hasbro competition, encouraging him to blow the dust off his game.
“I’m most proud of the fact that it’s something of mine that’s out there,” Partlow said. “I love the idea that I’ve got something that people can look at, and if just one person sees it and says, ‘That’s cool,’ then that’s good enough for me.”
Partlow said he first discovered his knack for drawing as a fourth-grader in the Longwood school district, greatly inspired by what was regarded as the Disney Renaissance in the early 1990s, and his interest in it only grew stronger in high school.
“I took every art class possible,” he said. “They had all different levels from sequential art to painting and all the teachers there always pushed me forward.”
He and the Golden Bell staff are currently designing an expansion to make Plank & Rank a four-player game, with the add-on revolving around a concept of Hannibal’s crossing of the Alps.
“He’s just so creative and artistic and always has a thousand ideas,” Partlow’s wife Helen said. “He puts everything into what he’s working on. When I first played it, while he was developing it for Hasbro, I actually beat him at his own game.”
To see Paul Partlow’s Kickstarter campaign, visit www.kickstarter.com/projects/287606634/plank-and-rank.