Chickapigs marching

By Josh Glicksman
October 12, 2017 at 11:00 AM EDT

Though Grammy winner Dave Matthews draws most of his headlines for his work as a musician, his partnership on a new board game is putting a spotlight on his entrepreneurial work.

Chickapig, coming from the mind of Rockbridge Guitars co-founder Brian Calhoun, is a chess-like strategy board game, except it features chicken-pig hybrids, an increased focus on accompanying social activity, and poop. Lots of poop. After all, wasn’t chess always missing a defecating cow to block your opponent’s desired moves?

The humble beginnings of Chickapig began when Calhoun was playing a board game so boring that he doesn’t even remember its name. Jokingly, he suggested that he could make a better game himself. Turns out, he was right. Calhoun and Matthews made the decision to take the game public at a tiny pub in Dublin during a Europe tour in 2015. While small-talking with an “energetic, entertaining” bartender, Matthews gave his friend a little encouragement — and Matthews admits now he may have needed a little push himself.

“Maybe the liberal consumption of Guinness may have caused me to become impatient as far as moving forward and getting more people involved,” laughs Matthews. “As far as the game is concerned, I kind of have to shove him down the stairs because he tends toward reluctance when it comes to spending any capital, which is a good partner to have in business.”

In the years since, the board game has taken leaps and bounds: Originally intended as a game to be played at bars, wineries, and festivals, one staffer set out on a tour last summer to promote the game and introduce it to different environments. Over time, Calhoun and Matthews realized the widespread attraction of the concept. Calhoun embraced that kids aren’t impervious to the often hilarity of poop, and started creating school programs for his game, providing discounts to educators. The Virginia Institute of Autism notably picked up the game as a useful learning tool.

“I think that it proves to be quite a social game, which is why a lot of kids have gotten into it and I think it’s for that reason. There’s an element of playground involved as well, which also is good if you’re drinking beer. So that works for any age group — the social quality of it,” says Matthews.

Rodrigo Simas

The 50-year-old musician has taken such a liking to the game that he requested Calhoun make him a customized magnetic table for his tour bus. Matthews says that the large unique board doubles as a new table to replace an old one that kept catching him in the hip. He also noted that he is yet to face off with the game’s creator on the special game set. “It’s convenient because, driving down the road, board games are not always the easiest thing to keep, especially in the northeast. Board games can be frustrating, but this works out quite nicely.”

And it’s interesting to note that, ironically, neither Matthews nor Calhoun deem themselves to be “board game people” — but that obviously didn’t stop them from crafting a hit: Chickapig debuted as the No. 1 new board game on Amazon. The future looks bright for this farm-to-table age-versatile game. That is, until you slip in the poop and have to pick up a poop card.