Reknowned board game artist John Ariosa joins us to discuss how he creates the art many of us look at as we play our board games. You will know his art from Mice and Mystics, Bullfrogs, Hocus, and Floating Market among the many games he has put his creative stamp on. This interview is different from our standard episodes because we get to learn more about the behind-the-scenes of making board games but from a new kind of voice. We learn how John broke into the world of board game art and about his own artistic process.
If you wish to learn more about John Ariosa or just want to look at his awesome artwork, visit his site or follow him on Twitter @ariosa.
Mice and Mystics, designed by Jerry Hawthorne, is a campaign game that puts players in the roles of a prince and his friends after they are turned into mice. These mice must battle rats, spiders, and cockroaches to undo the plans of the evil sorceress Vanestra before she takes over the kingdom. To win the day, players will have work together using their strategy and cunning to outwit the evil sorceress. This game provides great depth for seasoned gamers, but is also so easily accessible by young gamers. Jerry thinks of this game as a father-son game, one that parents could enjoy playing with their kids. Mice and Mystics already has 2 expansions (a big one and a small one) that will allow players to dive into this fun story.
Our discussion focused on how Jerry designed simple mechanics and infused them with tons of theme to create a gaming experience. We discussed the ways the game forces players to have to work together to continue the story. We also learn about the term father-son gamer.
If you wish to learn more or purchase this game, please visit PlaidHatGames.com. Jerry also talks about his upcoming Tail Feathers game that exists within the Mice and Mystics world but brings a different kind of game play to the table.
Euphoria, designed by Jamey Stegmaier, is a dice-powered worker placement game set in a dystopian future. The goal of the game for each player is to place 10 of his or her stars before anyone else. Euphoria is unique because the dice represent a player's workers' collective intelligence, and the greater the cumulative value of the dice, the more likely a worker is to defect (lose 1 worker). Players need to balance between grabbing lots of workers and keeping their workers blissful and ignorant. The game offers some fun nods to all sorts of dystopian works like Farenheit 451 and the Handmaid's Tale.
Our discussion focused on Jamey's approach to designing the game, and the unique and thematic dice mechanic that drives some of the game's strategy. We talk about what makes the game enjoyable and what could be improved upon in the game (the board's UI, the incredible number of resources). Lastly, we learn a lot about the next title being released by Stonemaier: Scythe. This game looks stellar and sounds like another fantastic one from a great publisher.
If you wish to learn more about or purchase Euphoria or some of the resource upgrade boxes, please visit Stonemaier.com. Not only does Jamey offer great games, but he also shares all of the lessons he has learned on Kickstarter. Any gamer or game designer needs to make Stonemaier.com one of his or her regular sites to visit.
Lewis and Clark, designed by Cédrick Chaboussit, is resource and hand management game with an historical racing twist. The characters are real figures from history such as Meriweather Lewis, William Clark, and Seaman the dog. Each player is leading an expedition to map the Lousiana Purchase starting in St. Louis and ending in Fort Clatsop in what is now Oregon State. Players will have to carefully manage how they utilize their cards and resources because reckless overloading of either may result in losing ground in this race to be history's first explorers across the expanding American territory.
Our discussion focused on the process Cédrick took in trying to get this game to a publisher. We also discussed the main strategy that I called loss management. In this game players want to be as efficient as possible and finding that efficiency is not easy as the game offers so many different ways to spend and acquire resources. We also talked about the camping mechanic, which may force a player to lose ground. It's an interesting and thematic mechanic in a race game that can be both rewarding and frustrating. Finally, we learned a bit about what drew Cédrick to the theme.
If you wish to purchase a copy of this game or learn more about it, please follow this link to Ludonaute's website. While there take a peek at Cédrick's next game: Discoveries, which is a dice game in the same world as Lewis and Clark. It sounds very interesting. I want to thank Cédrick for taking the time to speak with us. I was excited to have our second French designer on the show. I'm looking forward to the next.
King's Forge, designed by Nick Sibicky, is a dice management game about becoming the best craftsman in the king's court. Play happens over the course of 3 phases: gather, craft, and clean-up. In the first phase, players use their dice on gather cards that will allow them to acquire more dice. During the crafting phase, players roll those dice they have collected in hopes of crafting beautiful items that they king has requested. These cards represent the items needed to win the game. In the final phase, dice are cleared from the cards or returned to players' stashes, and the game continues. The game ends when on player crafts 4 cards. While this game sounds simple, the strategy in the game revolves around the fact that players cannot use the dice they acquire during gathering on the same crafting phase. Players must weigh the acquisition of new dice with the potential acquisition of game end points.
Our discussion focused on the driving strategy of the game, which is, as I wrote above, the balance between instant gratification and patience for a better future. We also learned much about how Nick designs his games as well as the kinds of games that draw Nick as a player.
If you wish to learn more about King's Forge or wish to purchase a copy, please check out Game Salute's website. Also, Nick hosts a youtube video podcast about Go, which outlines so much about a game from centuries ago.
Chip Beauvais is writing a series of articles on board game player psychographic profiles for the website Whose Turn Is It Anyway. The purpose of these articles is as a resource for game designers who wish to understand the types of players who play their games. Chip is the designer of the game Chroma Cubes.
Our discussion focused on his motivation behind writing this series and where the series started off. We explored the ideas behind the second article, which analyzes two specific gamer types he titles Erin and Ingrid (competitive players and optimizing players). Both of these profiles, according to Chip, are driven by the goal of the game.
If you wish to learn more about these player profiles or read the other articles in the series, please visit Whose Turn Is It Anyway and look for the articles titled Player Psychographic Profiles. Chip has more articles coming out in the future.
Specter Ops, designed by Emerson Matsuuchi, is a deduction and hidden movement game pitting two groups of players against each other: the agent and the hunter(s). One player takes on the role of the agent whose goal is to sabotage 3 of the 4 potential sites on the board while evading the other players who play as hunters. This sounds easy for the agent except that the agent has to successfully escape the board after completing his or her mission. Each turn the agent moves secretly (marking down his or her movement on a sheet of paper), and the hunters have to try to locate the agent using line of sight. Not only is this deduction game challenging and fun, it has high quality components.
Our discussion with Emerson focused on his inspirations for the game and how the game evolved from a police chase to a dystopian future. We also talk about the physical components of the game and how they help lend to the secrecy aspect of the game. Emerson shares a memory from one of his demos that includes a risky but ingenious move taken by an agent player.
Bad Medicine, a party game designed by Gil Hova, recently funded via Kickstarter and is looking forward to a Fall release. The game is simple: players take on the roles of drug reps pitching new drugs to deal with outrageous maladies like "Teeth fall out and replaced by little tongues". After everyone pitches, players will vote for which drug is funniest (or maybe most effective). Points are handed out and play continues until 4 people have been the surgeon general (start player).
Our discussion focused on what Bad Medicine brings to a well-worn party game style. We spent some time marveling at the game's multi-use cards as well, which allow the game to include so much content without amassing an outrageous number of cards.
If you are interested in learning more about this game or purchasing an advanced copy, visit Formal Ferret Games.
Hocus Poker designed by Josh Buergel and Grant Rodiek is a riff on the game of Texas Hold 'Em style poker. Players are mages sitting around a table of fellow mages using spells to manipulate their hands, communties, pots, and pockets. The typical French suited cards have been ditched for four new suits, one including a magical suit with its own spells to activate. Players play cards into the shared communties or pots as well as their own personal pockets. When each community has four cards, players play one more round and then use their pockets to try to win the communities through poker hands. The player who wins 25 gems first is the ultimate mage at the table. The game provides some intriguing ways to approach the game of poker, and for non-poker players like myself, offers an ability to play the game in a way that suits me better than the normal game can.
Our discussion focused on Grant and Josh's process of collaboration (Grant as the idea man and Josh as the developer). We learn about how they fine tuned their version of poker to become an enjoyable alternative to the popular game. While this game is not yet out for purchse, Hocus Poker will be on Kickstarter over the summer (July). Josh and Grant also let us in on what the future holds for Hocus Poker. This game has a lot of potential to become a sleeper hit in the future.
Editor's Note: At one point while recording, I had to step out for a few minutes to walk the dog. I tried to gracefully edit the podcast so that no one could tell that there was a lapse in the recording. That last line was a joke. I never meant for the transition to be graceful. I enjoyed yelling "natural segue."
Burgle Bros designed by Tim Fowers is a cooperative heist game where players must work together to find 3 safes, crack the codes, and escape through the roof before the guards can find them. If one player is caught, the game is over. Each player takes on a unique role that has its own power that benefits the group. Players must uncover rooms and attempt die rolls when trying to crack the safes. The guards move rather randomly around the floors of the building unless an alarm is triggered. What is truly cool about the guards' movement is that the only guard who moves on a specific player's turn is the one on the floor where that player ended his or her turn. A key component to this game is learning how to manipulate the guards to best help complete the mission.
Our discussion with Tim focused on the relative ease with which this game came to life. Unlike many other games designed in this world, elements of Burgle Bros seemed to come together relatively quickly to form a cohesive and coherent game. We also talked about variants to the game both created by the designer and those yet to be created by the players. Tim is excited to see what kind of ideas people come up with that encourage more explorative play with his game.
If you wish to purchase this game, it is currently on Kickstarter from now until April 4th. I think this might be a must-have for any collection because of how much fun the game brings to the table. The game encourages teamwork and provides the kind of tension that gamers will find in popular classics like Pandemic. And the best part of this Kickstarter campaign is that this awesome game can be nabbed for only $29 USD. It's an absolute steal for an awesome game. Tim is also the designer of Wok Star and Paperback. To learn more about Tim's games, please visit Fowers.net.
On Who, What, Why? we discuss game design with game designers and try to learn more about the game design process from the people who design games. Each episode we interview a designer of card games, board games, role playing games, or video games. We have both mainstream and independent developers as guests.