Jefferson County-based Wyco Games has launched a new board game dubbed “Fossil Find” that company President and CEO Trey Wyatt said came about after he dabbled with several different ideas over the past couple of years.
Fossil Find is a domino-based board game that places players in the mind of a paleontologist as they make their way around the game board collecting, trading or ditching the numerous artifacts they come in contact with during the game.
Wyatt grew up on Highway 421 about two miles outside of Pine Bluff but claims the city as his stomping grounds. After graduating from Watson Chapel in 1994, Wyatt started working at Simmons Bank a year later.
Ultimately, he ended up at the University of Arkansas at Monticello and graduated in 2001 with a history of social studies degree and returning to Simmons Bank one year following his graduation.
“I wanted to do something with dominos,” Wyatt said. “I couldn’t really find anything that used dominos in a board game … It took about three weeks to figure out how to put the dominos on the board. It was about a two-month process.”
Each game includes one game board, 91 domino tiles, six colored pawns, two dice and a copy of the game’s rules which explain the set-up, alternate ways to play the game, and the meaning of the different squares making up the board’s design.
To begin playing, a team of anywhere from one to six players must assemble and decide who will make the first move by rolling the two dice. After selecting the first player, the game will begin moving in a clockwise direction using colored pawns with the ending goal being to gain the most points.
According to the instructions, each square has its own meaning with associated player rules that must be followed if a player lands on it.
Scattered across the game board are 15 squares with pictures of bones on each one, accompanied by a face-down domino. Upon landing on these “bones”, the player must decide if keeping the domino will help or harm their hand. In the case that it will help the player’s hand, they can choose to swap the domino with one of their own. If not, they can simply replace the domino and the game moves on.
Thirteen squares numbered zero to 12, if landed on, mean the player can replace one number on a domino in their hand with a “wild” one.
For example, a player is striving to get a full house with the following numbers: 3, 3, 8, 7, 8. If that player were to land on any numbered or “wild” square, he or she could turn their seven into an eight to get a full house and score 30 points.
Wyatt describes the scoring rules as being similar to Yahtzee, or Poker for those who aren’t familiar with Yahtzee.
“You score with poker hands,” Wyatt said.
Players can also lose their artifacts, or dominos, if they land on any one of the two “lose artifacts” squares.
The game comes with a few game-changing rules, or house rules, that can turn the game in any direction for each player.
Players have a chance to “auction” off their artifacts in the game by choosing any dominos from the appropriate section on the board and trading them with their own undesirable dominos. If the players choose to play by the house rules, they can auction off their artifacts “Go Fish” style by asking other players for the desired number.
There are also two other playing options that players can experience during the course of the game. One that forces players to replace their entire hand with the dominos from a section on the board referred to as the “Grave Site”. This is described in the rules as “grave robbing”. The other option can either reverse the direction of the game or cause all players to swap hands with the person directly next to them.
The game rules encourage players to keep track of their scores using a scratch pad and pen or pencil. Scores are calculated by adding the five numbers in your hand that make up a full house, two of one kind plus three of another, straight, five consecutive numbers, or five of a kind. Once a player achieves one of these during the game, they must discard their existing hand and replace it five new dominos before making their next move.
Fossil Find gives players a fair amount of freedom when deciding how the game will unfold, including different options for ending the game. The group may decide to set a timer for around 30 to 40 minutes and seeing who scores the most points before the timer runs out, see who scores the set amount of points first, or stop once the last domino has been pulled.
Part of this freedom is due to the fact that it is still a work-in-progress, according to Wyatt. The introduction of house rules was his way of giving customers a way to send him feedback and ideas that he plans to use when revising the rules for the next production of the game.
Hitting the market just four months ago, Wyco Games has sold around 33 of their Fossil Find domino-based board games despite the preferred buying season for board games being in November, December, and the beginning of January.
“I had friends who told me I couldn’t do it,” revealed Wyatt. “And I wanted to find a way to prove that I could do it. It wasn’t about my friends being wrong, it was just a way to show I could.”
Fossil Find is sold through different sources, such as eBay, Country Kitchen on Dollarway Road, Carrie Scott’s Antiques on Bay Street, Déjà vu Upscale Consignment Shop on Camden Road, Uptown Salon and Boutique on South Main Street, Treasures Emporium on Dollarway Road, Erin Bower’s at The Hair Company on Dollarway Road, and their website, www.wycogames.com.
In the near future, Wyatt said he hopes to get picked up by a major toy company and get his games on shelves around the country.
Wyatt’s company caught the attention of three to four toy companies during a recent trip to a toy fair in Chicago, where Hasbro took an interest in Fossil Find. At the time, Wyatt was unable to speak on the amount of money it would take to put in the manpower needed to produce the game with the company, but said he is prepared to discuss further deals as he has accumulated more knowledge during the past months.
Wyatt answers questions via telephone or Facebook Messenger from people interested in purchasing the board game or those who have already purchased it. The company also included a detailed video on their website showing players how to set the game board up along with how to play the game.
If purchased online through their website, each game retails for $39.99 plus tax with free shipping.