In this series of articles, members of the team here at MCG look back at products we’ve released over the past decade and talk about their personal experiences in their creation, and the influence the titles have had on them as gamers, professionals, and just, well, people. It’s part of our celebration of Monte Cook Games’s first ten years. In this post, General Manager Tammie Webb Ryan talks about one of her favorites so far: No Thank You, Evil!.
In 2005, Charles and I lived in Kent, Washington. Charles had been working for Wizards of the Coast (WOTC) for a couple of years, and many of our friends were former or then-current WOTC employees.
One evening in 2005, we were having supper with friends at a favored Mexican restaurant. Charles had just told a wonderful tale (which is his to share someday) about how our daughter, Olivia, shouted, “No thank you, evil!” at the top of her little 20-month-old lungs at a television set in the middle of a Fred Meyer (a west coast department and grocery store, much like a Super Target). As the chuckles at the table died down, Monte said, “That’s a great name for a kids’ game.” We laughed and talked some more and then I said, “It’s yours—the name. If you ever make a game for kids, feel free to call it No Thank You, Evil!” And though I was serious, I never expected anything to come of it, nor did I know how impactful it would be for our family.
Jump forward to 2014, and we find ourselves working together at a publishing company owned by Monte, Shanna, and Charles. One day, Monte and Shanna ask to meet with Charles and me, so we jump on a conference call. Monte and Shanna describe a kids’ game called (drum roll, please) No Thank You, Evil!. The pitch is very cool, and Charles and I think they’ve come up with a fantastic idea for a game—and of course, we love the name.
And so, MCG holds a successful crowdfunding campaign to make the game, and then it goes into production. Bear, MCG’s art director, conceives an amazing aesthetic for it, and chooses two lead artists, Cathy Wilkins and Michael Startzman, for the project. Cathy and Michael create loads of fun, engaging illustrations, but Cathy creates my two favorite images—those of my kids, Olivia and Wren, as characters in the world of Storia.
Olivia and Wren grew up demoing No Thank You, Evil! at trade shows and conventions, and have moved on to run games for MCG’s other brands both in a professional capacity at events and for fun with their friends.
I’m a bit biased, but I think they are great GMs, which is due in no small part to learning how to be a Guide (GM) for No Thank You, Evil!. They learned that saying, “Yes, and…” or “Yes, but…” to questions and suggestions from players is a great way for everyone at the table to have fun.
“If a player wants to try something, the Guide should say yes as often as possible, as long as it makes sense in the game world. Logic and fun are more important than having specific rules in this instance.”–No Thank You, Evil! Rulebook
Wren excelled at demoing No Thank You, Evil! (and eventually other MCG games)—just watch this video of a livestream of No Thank You, Evil! that Wren did on May 23, 2018, at the age of 12. Wren’s easy-going nature coupled with loads of previous practice shines through as you watch them coach the younger players through a few tense moments. Wren had to vary their communication style from player to player, based on maturity. They had to gauge when was the right time to give more clues to the mystery, and when it was best to let the players explore more of the world. They had to be creative and quick-witted to deal with the twists and turns thrown at them by the players. It was a joy to watch from the sidelines as this game was played and filmed—a very proud-parent moment for me.
Another very proud parent moment has been watching Olivia transition from helping me pack boxes at the warehouse to running the operation herself. For the last 3 years, Olivia more and more has become the primary force behind ensuring that your goodies from MCG reach you unscathed and in a timely manner. Through the process of becoming the warehouse manager, Olivia has had to make and communicate the weekly schedules for the other warehouse workers, taking into account many different schedules, and the needs of MCG for fulfillment. She’s had to troubleshoot computer problems, track inventory, and of course, fulfill orders. Olivia tackled it all with gusto. And now she is off to university, where she is thriving.
All of Wren’s and Olivia’s experiences help make them the awesome people they are now. Learning what it takes to be a good GM at a young age has helped them in their other endeavors, such as public speaking in high school, and taking on positions of responsibility in Scouting. They have both grown into empathetic young people with good problem-solving, communication, and collaboration skills.
The art of No Thank You, Evil! is whimsical, accessible, and fun—for all ages!
If you have kids in your life, teach them how to be a good GM. It has far-reaching, positive effects for everyone.
No Thank You, Evil!, by Shanna Germain and Monte Cook, was funded on Kickstarter in 2015 and released in 2016. It remains an extremely popular family game, and has since had two reprints and four major supplements (two of which have also seen reprints).