Card quest

The founder of the annual canoe adventure PaddleQuest has created a related card game


Matt Kirsch, founder of the annual canoe-through-a-fantasy event PaddleQuest, sets up his new game Quester Party, at Zest Coffee Shop in Stevens Point.

Anyone who knows of Stevens Point’s river game event PaddleQuest knows how creative Matt Kirsch is. He founded this “eco-friendly paddling adventure contest steeped in fantasy,” as Kirsch describes it. Approximately 200 players on teams canoe through the waters of Stevens Point, dressing up in fantasy costumes and encountering game characters as they complete quests and try making it to the end first. The event is so unique that Rolling Stone wrote a story on it a few years ago.

So it’s not a surprise that the mind behind that contest has come up with a card game, which is now available on Kickstarter. The game, Quester Party, shares a lot of commonalities with PaddleQuest, including some characters that cross between the different game worlds.

Kirsch says he got the idea for Quester Party after PaddleQuest 2014, and went to work. He built the rules, created all the artwork and graphic design, and the result is something like a cross between PaddleQuest and Dungeons and Dragons, in the form of a card game.

Quester Party has been through several prototypes, each one play-tested for hours by friends and family, Kirsch says. The prototypes were created by The Game Crafter, an on-demand board game maker in Madison. The company will produce the final version as well. The first version used dice, counters, and some complicated math. Kirsch says through various stages of the prototypes, he simplified it down so just about anyone can play. His seven year-old daughter can play easily, but the game is still complex enough that board game and role-playing aficionados will delight in it.

Questers work together to defeat enemies to win what Kirsch describes as a hybrid cooperative game, meaning you can win as a group or as an individual. Groups can win by defeating three “bosses” (higher-valued enemies), but if the group doesn’t defeat the bosses before the game ends, individuals can win with enough points. It’s similar to a game like Pandemic, where players work together to stop the spread of a disease.

Included in the game are a few nods to Stevens Point. World’s Edge Pub, for example, is meant to be a nod to Hilltop Pub in Stevens Point, where Kirsch once worked.

Kirsch, who calls his game company Tiger Ghost, has plans for two more games in the near future: another card game, and a more elaborate board game. “I really liked the creation,” Kirsch says, who plans to design all aspects of those future games. “It’s really fun.”

In his day job, Kirsch works as a video producer in the marketing department at Sentry Insurance — those skills helped when creating the video for the Kickstarter kickoff.

The game is available on Kickstarter now — $25 for a special Hero edition of the game, or two copies for $50 (his goal is to sell 100 games). After that, the regular edition will be available on The Game Crafter’s website. Check out or search for the game on Kickstarter.