Battle Merchants, designed by Gil Hova, is a game where players take on the unscrupulous role of war profiteers in a fantastical conflict between the orcs, hobgoblins, elves, and dwarves. Players craft weapons to sell to either (or both) sides of a specific conflict in an effort to have the most money by winter's end. The game is an economic Euro-style game despite its fantasy setting. Players buy cards to increase their crafting abilities, which allows them to sell stronger weapons that may last longer on the battlefield. The game offers a wide range of strategies from spamming the battlefield with cheap weapons to focusing on two weapon types to outlast their competitors. Last time we played, I choose the latter strategy and still came within 8 bucks of winning the game. No one can defeat my axes.
Gil provided an incredible amount of content that would be difficult to summarize here. Our discussion ran the gamut from general design to specifics about Battle Merchants. We learned about how Gil approached designing the engine of this game as well as why he chose to set it in a fantasy world.
If you wish to learn more about Gil Hova visit him on the web at GilHova.com. Gil can also be found on social media @gilhova. If you want to purchase a copy of Battle Merchants, visit Minion Games or your local gaming store.
The Battle at Kemble's Cascade designed by Olle and Anders Tyrland is a throwback to the old arcade shoot 'em ups from the 80s and 90s. Anyone around the ages of 25-35 will remember spending quarter after quarter on these games where everything on screen wanted to make that quarter a waste, and the player had only his or her reflexes and 3 bombs to deal with the onslaught. Kemble's Cascade recreates this feeling with an innovative threat system that calculates how many things at one time are trying to kill the players. On their turn, players decide whether to battle or power down. Battling means the player moves and shoots at either the enemies on the virtual screen or the other players at the table. Powering down allows the players to shop for upgrades to their ships. Another one of the unique elements of this game is its virtual scrolling screen. Cards are laid in plastic trays to create the board, and the trays can be moved to create the effect of the screen pushing players closer and closer to the big bad boss.
Our discussion focused on Olle and Anders design process, and how they share the design work. We explored the unique mechanics that feature in this game. We learn about the kind of pieces that were left out of the game but may return in the form of expansions.
This episode was recorded before Christmas. During the recording, Olle and Anders shared images with us most of which can be found on their designer diary. I am sharing one here that doesn't appear on their designer diary. It is early cover art that I kind of wish ended up the final cover art.
If you wish to learn more about this game's design process, please visit this link to the designer diary on BoardGameGeek.com. If you wish to buy this game (and you should), visit Z-Man or your local gaming store to find a copy.
Venus Needs Men is an action selection game where players take the roles of one of five aliens races invading Earth to abduct or destroy the human population. One player has the option to play as the Earthlings defending its population. Players may build new ships, move through space, attack other players, abduct or transport population, or research new technologies in their quest to win the game. Each race has its own unique advantages and disadvantages. For example, the Venutians (from Venus) gain abduct population at a rate of +1 per action. These elements are highly thematic. Players also have a hand of Zap cards that can be played on others or themselves, or discarded to boost an action by one. This hand is limited and once discaded these cards are gone. Venus Needs Men sports some incredible 50s-styled sci-fi artwork from artist Jeff Durham. We played two versions of this game prior to the interview: the game as it was originally designed, and a variant that included a hand of action cards that have to be refreshed before refilling the hand.
Our discussion focused on John's science fiction influences for the game as well as the differences between the original and variant. We talked about how John approached a variant that adds depth and spices up the original's take on action selection. Finally, at the end we decided to talk about our favorite science fiction media together.
To learn more about or purchase a copy of the game, please visit John's website at VenusNeedsMen.com.
Tower of Madess designed by Curt Covert from Smirk and Dagger Games is a mash-up of Kerplunk and Elder Sign. This game is a prototype that has not yet been produced but absolutely should be produced. It is light and silly chaotic fun set in the world of Cthuhlu. Each player takes on the role of an investigator trying to score the highest roll to win the location. Players roll 5 dice on their turns. Each die roll has 3 required results (a gate, a sanity, and a stamina) and 2 results that determine the winner of the location. If a player fails to roll the required results, he or she will have to draw a horror (tentacle stick) from the maddening tower of the elder ones. Marbles may drop from the tower. Blue marbles score victory points, clear marbles allow the player to draw spell cards, and red marbles may make a player lose his or her mind. The game continues until either all locations have been successfully investigated or if 3 doom marbles have dropped from the tower allowing Cthulhu to devour the world.
Our discussion focused on Curt's inspiration for this game as well as the production challenges he anticipates as he tries to move forward with it. The prototype is made from an altered WWE Kerplunk tower, so there are many practical considerations that a small publisher must factor into any decision to create a game like this.
If you wish to learn more about Smirk and Dagger games, please visit their website. This game is not available yet, but check the company's website or keep your eyes on Kickstarter because you might see this game one day.
The Supershow is a high-intensity, unpredictable card game like the exciting world of the wrestling that it draws its theme and mechanics from. The game bills itself as the world's first UCG (unpredictable card game). Players choose to compete as wrestlers from the Legendary Fighting Federation in the SRG Universe or as real life wrestlers from the independent circuit to see who is the best in the ring. The base game comes with 2 wrestlers and 2 base decks, but each wrestler has his own special gimmick power and 3 finishing moves to inflict on his opponent. At the beginning of each turn players roll dice and check the symbol against their stats. The winner draws a card and may play a grapple, submission, or strike. Be careful, these cards can be countered, which might give the opponent the upper hand. Once a player has a lead and follow-up move on the table, he or she can attempt to pin the opponent. The match is still not over as the opponent has 3 die rolls to match whatever the is rolled by the player who applies the finish. The unpredictability of the game keeps all players invested in the action much like a live wrestling match.
This game has been a blast to play both as a fan of games and a huge fan of wrestling.
Our discussion focused on the origin of the idea for this game and the process behind its creation. We learn that this game has a connection to the Tops Trading Card Company. And finally, we discuss how the world of professional wrestling has responded positively to the idea of a game like this.
This episode features myself, Alex, John (designer of Venus Needs Men), and Alec of the Westchester Gaming Group and organizer of our local WGG Con playing Alien Frontiers at 4 a.m. after nearly everyone has left the con. As we play the game we discuss things that happened at the con. I hope you enjoy us playing a game and talking about games.
Editor's Note: all of the die rolling sounds are fake.
New Editor's Post-note: the previous editor has been sacked for his poorly executed joke. Please accept this knock-knock joke in recompense.
Knock-knock? ... brown worker tokens from Puerto Rico ...
New New Editor's Post-post-note: we at Who, What, Why? apologize for this even less funny second editor. He has been sacked and replaced by 142 whooping llamas.
I say 'nerd' as a term of endearment because I've been enjoying listening to Alex's trip to GenCon. Now everyone gets to listen to the group's trip home on the long drive from Indianapolis, IN to Westchester, NY. Alex and co. recap their experiences at GenCon and generally enjoy themselves on their long trip home.
Note from the editing room: both car cast 1 and 2 have been edited into one episode. There is a bit of music that marks the break between recordings. I'm sure you won't notice the break at all since I'm such a smooth editor (that's a joke).
Finally, if you wish to donate to encourage me to play board games for 24 hours straight October 25, Who, What, Why? has joined Flip the Table's team Bance at Extra-Life.org. Please click this link to my profile if you wish to donate and if not, please join us in spirit and play some games on Octboer 25. Thank you for listening.
Quantum brings the 4x experience to the tabletop without engulfing other games in its wake of space exploration and expansion. The game pairs down the experience in every way possible without losing the essence of the 4x game. Players take on the roles of fleet commanders bent on controlling the cosmos by placing their quantum cubes on planets. Instead of plastic miniatures, the game uses dice to represent the ships at the players' disposal. Each ship has a special power that can be activated on top of the 3 actions each turn providing a rich strategic experience to the game. The first player to place all of his or her cubes on the planets below will win and be crowned the emperor of space and time itself (I may have exaggerated the emperor part).
Our discussion focused on the key elements of Quantum and how Eric was able to bring these together to create a rich, abstracted 4x experience. We discuss his role as the arts professor at the NYU Gamecenter, which now offers both an MFA and BFA in game design, and what that means for the future of board game design.
Finally, if you wish to donate to encourage me to play board games for 24 hours straight, Who, What, Why? has joined Flip the Table's team Bance at Extra-Life.org. Please click this link to my profile if you wish to donate and if not, please join us in spirit and play some games on Octboer 25. Thank you for listening.
Ladies and Gentlemen is a lighthearted game designed by Loic Lamy. Players play in pairs with one side playing the lady while the other plays the gentleman. The gentlemen are tasked with earning the money that the ladies need to buy pretty outfits and accessories. This may seem like an odd pair of tasks, but the strategy of the game runs much deeper than the surface. The ladies drive the strategy needed to win the game while the gentlemen provide the resources necessary to put that strategy into motion.
Our discussion focused on the mechanics of the game, and how Loic approached creating a paired game. Loic talks about his surprise at the game's reception here in North America. We inquire about the gaming landscape in Loic's home in France.
If you wish to learn more about this game or Loic Lamy, please visit this link.
Pack the Pack is a spatial organization game currently on Kickstarter from Games by Play Date about fitting all of that beautiful loot you've collected from the dungeon into your backpack to bring home. Based somewhat on the inventory screen from Diablo (an excellent game), Pack the Pack feeds that itch to organize requiring speed and efficiency. The game utilizes domino tiles to represent the loot and a player to represent the pack to draw on the kinestetic and tactile feel of actually packing for a return trip home. The game is played quickly, so players can play more than one game in a short amount of time. The game also offers some advanced rules to bring more strategy into the game.
Our discussion with Meg focused on what she wanted to bring to gaming community with her game. Being the first female game designer interviewed on this show, Meg discussed her experiences as a woman in the gaming community. The hobby does a lot of good things to bring people together, but that is no reason to stop improving how we treat each other.
If you want to back Pack the Pack, the Kickstarter has less than 40 hours remaining as of this posting (46 on the show). The game is already funded so this last push is not to fund it but to add more. This game would appeal to young kids, casual gamers, new gamers, or anyone who needed a fun, active filler between longer games. You can follow Meg on Twitter by clicking here, and to learn more about her company, click here.
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.