Kirk it’s a pleasure having you on Behind The Mask, as not only have you made a total of six characters for the game, but you’re also known as being one of the best players in the game. At the time of this interview, you’re also the current L.F.F. Underworld Champion which is a hell of an accomplishment if I do say so myself. Tell me first of all, how you got into the game in the first place, and what keeps you around the community for this game we all enjoy so much?
Kirk: Thank you for having me on the show Justin. I’ve worked very hard to get to this point grinding out lots of games with my brothers and sisters at Comic Book World and the KSW. I got into the game because my friend AJ Murray (The Cyclone) and Marcus Ervin (Akira Takeda) told me about how awesome the game was. So myself and Matt Stevens got a few starters at Gen Con, took them home and started playing. The community overall keeps me around playing it is the best community in gaming by far.
Since you have a total of six characters created for the game, we can’t cover all of them in a single interview, however we will be talking today about your female characters that you’ve added to the game in Mila Mai, Lily Mai, and Lady BaaBaa. Let’s start with Mila Mai first and foremost. How did the idea for the character come about when it comes to the name, the look and overall aesthetic?
Kirk: Mila’s gimmick is very similar to a gimmick myself and Thomas Gordon made during a brainstorming session a year or so ago but we weren’t really sure how to get it to work correctly or worded properly at the time, so we moved on to other gimmicks. Gaining more experience with playing and designing other characters really helped this one as she is a more advanced deck build than most if you want to fully utilize her gimmick.
When it comes to Mila Mai’s stat breakdown, was there any certain reason that you chose the stats that you did? Is that the original stat breakdown you came up with, or did it change over time?
Kirk: Her stat line I had picked out before I started her design is exactly Chamomile T’s stat line. I was playing her a lot at the time. It’s actually kind of weird that every character I’ve made so far has 6 power though but lately I have found I like high strike and agility characters the best with the third stat being either technique or submission.
Let’s move onto the gimmick for the character, what sort of thought went into her gimmick, and the complexity of it? I can definitely say it’s not the easiest to pick up and play, but it can be very strong for someone who knows what they are doing.
Kirk: I wanted to do something unique that could reward people for decision making, using a resource previously not used in the game. Sometimes you can have three or four leads not doing anything after you play them now you can take advantage of a full board.
It’s time for Mila’s finishes. Each finish definitely has an interesting effect to it, so how did you come up with it all? I definitely hadn’t seen a finish like the submission “Chaos Waltz” before, and I’m not sure we’ll see something like that again anytime soon. It’s definitely outside the box too say the least.Kirk: Mila’s finish cards were designed to be very helpful to her overall game plan.
Genetic Stamping: Allows you to keep key leads in play after a breakout by your opponent or allows you to kick start your board state if you don’t have one with a static ability to put back into play.
Chain Reaction: Allows you to spin the wheel for some potentially really strong bonuses.
Chaos Waltz: Has a lot of interesting uses such as preventing an opponent from playing an unstoppable finish or trying to get a cheap DQ in a title match. The other part of the ability gets really interesting in multiplayer match types like birdcage, triple threats or even tag team (if your partner has the stop).
When playing a character like Mila Mai, what sort of cards do you feel should be in a deck to properly play her to the best of its ability?
Kirk: There are a lot of interesting card combinations you can use with her however I feel that leads with static bonuses can go a long way with her (Leap Frog, Making An Impact, or Lucky Shot). You also want some high powered cards to flip off of your grapple finish (718, Pump Kick, Flying Cutter or Lariat Knot).
Alright, let’s move right onto another of the Mai family with Lily Mai. What was the thought process when creating the look and feel of the character? I’ll also add that because of the mask that the character is holding and the fact that the character seems Asian it not only reminds me of Asuka, but also of BabyMetal, which is two things I’m a big fan of.
Kirk: Lily Mai definitely had some inspiration from Asuka since I won the character from the Royal Rumble raffle so I wanted to honor her along with my daughter with the character. The costume had inspiration from Lilith from borderlands.
When it comes to her stat breakdown, were you trying to base it off of anything in particular, or was there another reason why you chose the stats for this character the way you did? Also did you come up with the gimmick before the stats, or the stats before the gimmick?
Kirk: I choose 10 submission because the Asuka Lock is one of the most devastating submissions, and 9 Strike because she was going to be designed around kicks. I had the original gimmick idea then when I submitted it to Steve we decided it would be a cool addition to add the back kick text after we designed the finishes.
Speaking of gimmick, how did you come up with it? It seems like the type of gimmick that you have to play rather aggressively.
Kirk: When designing her I wanted a character who punished the opponent for stopping your cards. She can be played extremely aggressive with minimum stops or none at all which I’ve seen work surprisingly.
Let’s move onto the finishers for Lily Mai, each one of them has “Kick” in the name, yet only two of them actually have text that does something with the word “Kick.” Were the names put in place to take advantage of the “Champion Of Kickstarter,” or was there another meaning for putting “Kick” into each name? Also what was the thought process on what each of the finishers did? With your gimmick in play, the submission finish “Just For Kicks” almost acts like a “Circle Of The Sun.”
Kirk: The finishes were designed to synergize with each other and shuffle back in with “Kickstart Mai Heart.” At the time she was made the champion of kickstarter wasn’t as common place as it is now, and I didn’t even own one. “Just For Kicks” was originally going to reduce breakout rolls instead of -3, the “White Lily Kick” punishes the opponent either way once it’s played.
Obviously it seems like a good idea to try to play the character aggressively, but what cards would you try to include into a Lily Mai deck that people may not expect? I’m sure “Back Kick” being in the deck multiple times would be important because of the gimmick.
Kirk: With Lily Mai I usually run the 1-3 to boost skills, if you boost your low skills a little bit you can make the back kicks and cards like beat down really strong to where you have almost all 10s on the roll. Full Nelson will almost always be stopped to trigger gimmick if it hits, it’s still good but cards like that make her really strong.
Alright, let’s move onto the third female character of your powerful trio in Lady BaaBaa, what was the thought process when creating the character’s image and the overall feel of her? I personally thought she looked kind of like a magician when I first saw her, was I right?
Kirk: I made the character for my wife and the image design she kind of had a ring master/magician kind of look but she is doing a card trick on the set.
I notice that each of your ladies has a pretty high submission skill, was there a certain reason for that, or was it just a coincidence? Also what was the thought process that went into the attribute breakdown for BaaBaa?
Kirk: When making her stat breakdown I wanted her to be a be an almost perfect match with Wooly Bully but needed to swap technique and strike so she could use enzigiri. The submission skill thing was a coincidence like how every one of my characters I’ve designed has 6 power.
Your gimmick for Lady BaaBaa can be difficult to deal with since it’s a bury gimmick, but it doesn’t seem too overpowered like Ariel Lipstick, unless you’re constantly winning turn rolls over your opponent. What was your thought process when creating the gimmick?
Kirk: I really liked how Ricochet played and wanted to do a similar type of gimmick, so we decided to just reverse his gimmick. She can also make cards like “Too Sheep!” or “Strangle Hold” that are already good, even better.
BaaBaa’s submission finisher can be quite brutal if there’s quite a few cards with “Knee” or “Leg” to shuffle into your deck from your discard pile, possibly leaving your opponent with no hand whatsoever. What were your thoughts while creating the finishers for Lady BaaBaa?
Kirk: Her submission will only get better when more cards come out. Her strike finish allows her to refresh her deck from all the flipping she does and her grapple was heavily inspired by Sage’s grapple finish.
When building a Lady BaaBaa deck, what cards are extra important to have in it? Is there any special cards that you’d put into the deck, that others may not normally think of?
Kirk: The new faction pack has the reprints of “European Uppercut” series, the ambush with the TLC, “Too Sheep!,” but overall you just want to run a lot of flip 2 cards.
When creating your characters, what was the process like working with the SRG Boss Steve Resk? Where there any issues with gimmicks or finishes that you came up with that the Boss felt needed to be changed?
Kirk: Working with the SRG Boss is a pretty smooth process. Lady Baabaa was changed from 1 card flipped to 2 for balance reasons as triggering of “Champion Of Kickstarter” or the “Lariat Knot” set. As mentioned before “Just For Kicks” got slightly changed but we can usually get things pretty close to where it needs to be pretty quick.
Considering how many competitors you’ve bought over your time playing the game, would you say that the price is well worth it? Do you plan on buying another character in the future?
Kirk: It is definitely worth it as it allows you to create something special in a card game. I will definitely be getting a few more but probably not many more singles competitors. I will probably be leaning more towards tag teams and trios.
What would be your advice to members of the community who plan to buy and create a character in the future?
Kirk: My advice would be to try your gimmick out a lot before you submit it and make sure it fits your deck building and play style.
We’ll definitely have you back in the near future for part two, so that you can talk about your male characters, but for now the floor is yours. If you’d like to give any shout outs, or talk about anything in particular, go ahead. We really appreciate that you were willing to give your insight to the community, as I’m sure we can all learn a lot about the game from you. Thanks again!
Kirk: I had a great time being on the show and I can’t wait to come back. I would like to give a shout out to all my friends at CBW and KSW. I hope I can see everyone at Marktoberfest and Plaid Saturday 2.