A Podcast of Interviews With Designers of Board Games, Card Games, Role Playing Games & Video Games.
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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.

Direct download: 03_W3_S9_E03_The_Tower_of_Madness_with_Curt_Covert.mp3
Category:Season 9 -- posted at: 2:01am EST

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.

If you would like to learn more about this game or buy a copy, please visit the SRG Universe or its Facebook page. If you are local to the Queens area, the Supershow is putting on an event before a wrestling show in Jamaica, NY. Please visit the links for more information.

Direct download: 02_W3_S9_E02_The_Supershow_with_Steve_Resk_1.mp3
Category:Season 9 -- posted at: 12:30am EST

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.

Enjoy!

 

Direct download: 01_W3_Bonus04_WGGCon_4_AM.mp3
Category:Local Conventions -- posted at: 12:36am EST

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.

Direct download: 03_W3_Bonus03_GenCon_Car_Casts_1.mp3
Category:GenCon2014 -- posted at: 7:00am EST

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.

If you wish to learn more about Eric, please visit this link. You can engage with Professor Zimmerman on twitter and learn more about the NYU game design program if you click on the links provided.

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.

Direct download: 01_W3_S9_E01_Quantum_with_Eric_Zimmerman_1.mp3
Category:Season 9 -- posted at: 11:55pm EST

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.

Direct download: 10_W3_S8_E10_Ladies_and_Gentlemen_with_Loic_Lamy_2_1.mp3
Category:Season 8 -- posted at: 7:48pm EST

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

*Who, What, Why? has joined Flip the Table's Team Bance for ExtraLife this year. If you wish to donate to the team, please click here. Thank you for listening.

**The lack of music in this episode is due to some glitches in my editing software. Hopefully, that issue will not exist in our next episode.

Direct download: 09_W3_S8_E09_Pack_the_Pack_with_Meghan_McGinley_2.mp3
Category:Season 8 -- posted at: 12:23am EST

Alex sits down with Herb and Jen from Game and a Curry to breakdown Saturday at the con. They talk about games they have played, meeting people from different podcasts and game publishers, and some of the scheduling strategies they used while at the con. I do not need to sit and weep tonight as I post this because GenCon is over. We are all back here on the East Coast, but I'll never have those memories... weep, weep. 

Lastly, Alex points out that Tom Vasel is tall. I can confirm this after seeing Alex's photo with him.

We have two more GenCon episodes that will be released in September when I have more space on my Libsyn account.

 

Postscript: I have joined Flip The Table's Team Bance for October 25th's Extra Life game-a-thon. My venue of choice will most likely be the game store right near my house. My plan is to play games for the entire 24 hours. If you wish to make a donation, please click on the link. Extra Life is a group of gamers who play games to raise money for the Children's Miracle Network, a network of children's hospitals that help children in need of life-saving medical treatments and such. I am playing for Maria Fareri's Children Hospital at Westchester Medical Center. Currently, I have raised 0 dollars, but that will change soon.

Direct download: 03_W3_B03_GenCon_Lobby_Cast_Saturday.mp3
Category:GenCon2014 -- posted at: 10:12pm EST

Boss Monster is a retro-style video game inspired card game where players take on the role of bosses in a dungeon building rooms to attract heroes to vanquish. The art takes its inspiration from the 16-bit games of our (25-30 year olds') childhood. If any of our listeners enjoyed playing SNES or Genesis, then this game has an art style for you. Players play dungeon rooms that have varying effects on the heroes (some deal damage, some enhance the damage dealt by other rooms, etc.). The expansion adds items and more room cards. Items are equipped to heroes and can help bosses deal with pesky heroes who demand not to die.

Our discussion focuses on the game play of Boss Monster, the game's surge in popularity, and Johnny's design approach for this game and others. We learn that Boss Monster will expand some more with a digital version, a sequel, and a board game sometime in the future.

If you wish to learn more about Boss Monster, visit Brotherwise's website at Brotherwisegames.com. As mentioned by Johnny in the podcast, they have launched a Kickstarter campaign for a digital version of Boss Monster on IOS and Android. As of this posting, there are 25 days remaining on the campaign.

Direct download: 08_W3_S8_E08_Boss_Monster_with_Johnny_ONeal.mp3
Category:Season 8 -- posted at: 11:35am EST

Alex sits down with Herb and Jen from Game and a Curry to breakdown Friday at the con. They talk about games they have played, games they are excited for, and food they have enjoyed. I sit in NY weeping for all these amazing times I am missing. I hope you enjoy Alex's recap.

The English nerd in me is excited by Alex's reference to Godot, a play I am wildly fond of.

If you are participating in #GenCant2014, send me a comment via Twitter or Instagram. Let's GenCant together.

Direct download: W3_Bonus02_GenCon_Lobby_Cast_Friday.mp3
Category:GenCon2014 -- posted at: 1:38am EST

In this bonus episode we discussed Alex's impending trip to the mother of all conventions in America, GenCon. Alex talks about some of the games he is excited to preview. I talk about what games I hope he buys me when he is there (because I'm such a super guy), and we discuss some games we played the night of the recording. This episode was recorded on August 12th.

If you cannot attend GenCon this year, please parttake in #GenCant2014 on Twitter or Instagram. It is the convention for those who were left behind.

Direct download: W3_Bonus01_GenCon_Preview.mp3
Category:GenCon2014 -- posted at: 10:35am EST

Editor's note: we had some audio troubles during the recording, so keep that in mind while listening.

Going, Going, Gone is an auction game by designer and game professor Scott Nicholson. Players simultaneously bid on auctions by dropping cubes into cups to win cards that display items from various countries. Collecting sets of these items (either by item type or country) allow players to score points at the end of the game. This game is an experience. One player at a time plays the role of the auctioneer, which allows him or her to control the speed of the auction while players frantically try to bid higher than each other. The game simulates the tension and insanity of a auction--one where you might be launching piles of money at garbage cans.

The Syracuse Game Designer's Guild is Scott's way of giving back to the learning community. The Guild helps teachers, librarians, etc. design their own games that they may use to enhance education. Scott wants to expand the Guild's reach and allow others to create their own guilds where games can be used both for play and education.

Our discussion ranged from Scott's game to his thoughts on game design to his Syracuse Game Designer's Guild. We discussed his role as a professor and a gamer. We learned so much that I cannot contain it all in this paragraph.

If you are interested in more about Scott's work, please visit Because Play Matters to see the wonderful work that Scott does with the Guild, with libraries, in his classroom, and in the board game world. If you wish to engage with Scott, you can find him on Twitter @snicholson.

Direct download: 07_W3_s8_e07_Going_Going_Gone_with_Scott_Nicholson.mp3
Category:Season 8 -- posted at: 11:50pm EST

Editor's Note: this is the second part of our interview with Rob Daviau. Hope you enjoy it.

Our discussion in the second half of the interview continued to focus on Rob's approach to the Star Wars Epic Duels game. Rob is also gracious enough to whet our appetites a little more about his upcoming legacy games, Seafall and Pandemic Legacy. We debuted a new segment that I am calling "Pop Quiz" where I choose 5 questions from random trivia games. Rob was kind enough to be our guinea pig. He did well scoring 3/5. I hope this segment lasts.

Again, if you want to learn more about Star Wars Epic Duels, please visit the fine people over at Epic Duels Wiki at PB Works where you can find fan created decks for basic characters, house rules to spice up the game, and fan created expansion material to broaden your enjoyment of this excellent game. If you wish to learn more about Rob, please visit The Game Design Round Table where he discusses game design topics, or his homepage at RobDaviau.com. Finally, Rob can be found on Twitter at @robdaviaugamer.

Direct download: 06_W3_s8_06_Epic_Duels_with_Rob_Daviau_part_deux.mp3
Category:Season 8 -- posted at: 12:53am EST

Editor's Note: due to its length, this is the first part of a two-part interview with Rob Daviau. The second part will be released on the 26th of July.

Star Wars Epic Duels is a miniatures released by Milton Bradley/Hasbro back in 2002 during the disappointing Star Wars prequels. This game is originally meant for kids but brought my friends and I hours of entertainment because of its simplicity and short play time. In this game, you choose a main and minor character miniature pairing (these pairings are preset), along with a deck of cards for that pairing. Have your friends do the same, and you are ready to rock the universe. This game allows you to have any duel you can imagine within the Star Wars Universe. Do you want to watch Mace Windu fight Luke Skywalker? Go ahead. Have you ever wondered who would win between Darth Maul and Jango Fett? It would be Darth Maul because Jango is terrible. I think you get my point.

Our discussion in this half of the interview with Rob focused on how he came to work for Parker Brothers (who eventually morphed into Hasbro) and how he spent his time there. After Rob's years of experience, his insight into the mass market gaming world is a treat to hear. We also discuss what he has been playing lately while my internet decided to skip out for a spell (don't fret, I return), and we begin our talk about Rob's work on Epic Duels. Rob cites Craig Van Ness as a key creator for the game that I fondly gush over. Listen to the second half when it comes out for more about Epic Duels.

If you want to learn more about Star Wars Epic Duels, please visit the fine people over at Epic Duels Wiki at PB Works where you can find fan created decks for basic characters, house rules to spice up the game, and fan created expansion material to broaden your enjoyment of this excellent game. If you wish to learn more about Rob, please visit The Game Design Round Table where he discusses game design topics, or his homepage at RobDaviau.com. Finally, Rob can be found on Twitter at @robdaviaugamer.

Direct download: 05_W3_s8_05_Epic_Duels_with_Rob_Daviau_part_one.mp3
Category:Season 8 -- posted at: 12:28am EST

Forbidden Desert is the sequel to the cooperative game Forbidden Island (listen to our interview here), which follows the group of survivors after their harrowing escape from the sinking island. Having crash landed in a desert with a terrible storm, the group must uncover parts to a new flying machine while staving off thirst and sand. Forbidden Desert introduces a new mechanic: the eye of the storm. The storm covers the playing field with sand that players must keep in check as they attempt to excavate the ruins of a downed flying machine.

Our discussion focuses on the mechanics that make this game different from its predecesssor as well as whether there is anything in store for the future of the Forbidden games. We discuss the delight in how punishing Matt's games can be. We discuss Matt's future projects (Thunderbirds, Pandemic: the Cure, Pandemic Legacy), and while Matt doesn't give us too many details, he gives us enough to whet our appetites.

If you wish to learn more about or purchase Forbidden Desert, click this link. If you wish to learn more about Matt Leacock, then this link is your friend.

Direct download: 04_W3_s8_e04_Forbidden_Desert_with_Matt_Leacock.mp3
Category:Season 8 -- posted at: 12:08am EST

If Ticket to Ride is a game about building train routes from coast to coast, then Snowdonia is a game that focuses on building only one of those routes. In Snowdonia players clear rubble, lay track, and build pieces of stations with the goal of earning the most victory points. The most innovative aspect of Snowdonia is the use of the station and track cards that are placed around the outside edges of the board giving players that visual of building a track that climbs a mountain. Players must use their workers to collect resources, convert resources, acquire contract cards, etc.

Our discussion focused on how Snowdonia approaches worker placement from a different angle and attempts to slightly alter behaviors that may have become commonplace in the genre. Tony gives us insight into how he utilizes expansions to bring a new feel to the game rather than simply adding more options. We even get a sneak preview of an upcoming Tony Boydell design (Guilds of London). We also learn that Alex and Tony have a short history together. You have to listen to find out more about all this wonderful stuff I am typing here. 

If you enjoy listening to Tony Boydell, please consider reading his blog, Every Man Needs a Shed, on Board Game Geek. And if you like Snowdonia, check out Surprised Stare Games for information on where to grab a copy. 

*Note: at one point my dog decides to join the podcast for a few seconds. I considered removing the audio, but felt it would be wrong to diminish her contribution. Enjoy Bailey the big black lab on this episode of Who, What, Why?

 

Direct download: 03_W3_s8_e03_Snowdonia.mp3
Category:Season 8 -- posted at: 11:00am EST

In this episode we feature Tory Niemann and his game, Alien Frontiers, a massively popular game that made its big splash on Kickstarter years ago. Alien Frontiers is a worker placement game that uses dice instead of pawns as workers. Players roll these workers and place them at Orbital Facilities in an attempt to land colonies on the planet below. The most interesting feature of this game, in this podcaster's opinion, is the variety it affords players in utilizing workers (building ships to gain more resournces, destroying ships to land colonies, and rebuilding those ships to do it again) and placing colonies on the planet (Colonist Hub, Terraforming Station, Colony Constructor). Alien Frontiers gives you multiple paths to victory, it depends on which strategy you decide to employ.

Our discussion focused on Tory's the process from initial design to the completed product, the hard limits the game forces the players to work around, and the plentitude of options that players have in the game. We touched on Tory's forthcoming game, Pay Dirt (Kickstarter, BGG), and how his approach to worker placement changed in that game. We only delve deep enough to keep our Casio watches from wearing out (3m or so) because we hope to have Tory back once Pay Dirt is in gamers' hands.

If you wish to purchase Alien Frontiers, check out Game Salute for more information (or your friendly local game store). Finally, Alien Frontiers is adding the Outer Belt expansion in November 2014. You can pre-order the expansion (I know I will) by June 30th to get an exclusive bonus promo pack by clicking this link. During the recording we presume that the pre-order (sans bonus promo pack) will last until shortly before the expansions release.

Direct download: 02_W3_s8_e02_Alien_Frontiers_with_Tony_Niemann.mp3
Category:Season 8 -- posted at: 12:48am EST

Dear listeners, we bring you the first episode of the season for our re-vamped show: Dungeon Dice with designer Sam Coates (also head of Potluck Games). Dungeon Dice is a cube filled romp through a dangerous dungeon in a race to earn the most fame. The dice are some of the highest quality products I have seen in any game. Nearly each die is unique with awesome little images on its faces. The game is packaged in a large draw-string bag with smaller bags inside to help facilitate the randomness that is the dungeon you will explore.

In this episode, we discuss Sam's inspiration for the game, the mechanics of rolling dice to explore a dungeon, Sam's experience with Kickstarter, and what is in store for the future of this fantastic, light-hearted game.

Dungeon Dice has a Kickstarter campaign running right now for its first expansion, Guilds. Check it out if you like what you hear and want to back this project or if you wish to add more dice to your incredibly heavy base game. If you are interested in learning more about Sam and Potluck Games, check them out on the web.

Direct download: W3_s8_e01_Dungeon_Dice_with_Sam_Coates.mp3
Category:Season 8 -- posted at: 11:00am EST

This episode is my official re-launch of the Ninja vs Pirates Podcast although now under a new name (Who, What, Why? A Game Design Podcast) with a new co-host. Please welcome Alex Erde to the podcast. In this episode we discuss some of the changes as we transition into the next incarnation of the podcast. Please check back here or on iTunes for upcoming interviews with your favorite board game designers and some designers who may be new to you. Thanks for listening! 

Direct download: W3_s8_e00_The_Introduction.mp3
Category:Season 8 -- posted at: 11:15pm EST

Dear Listeners,

 

I realize our absence was unexpected and long, but we have retooled the show, and will be returning to the world of game design podcasts! Some changes have been made. Mitch has left the show to raise his family. My friend Alex (board game enthusiast) has joined me at the helm. We have tweaked the name from Ninja vs Pirates to Who, What, Why? A Game Design Podcast. On the new podcast we plan to incorporate more fun ending questions, more insight into the games you love, and even delve into getting to know the designers and their backgrounds.

Stay tuned here, or find our posts at BoardGameGeek.com. You can look for me (mikenvp) as we post new episodes. You can continue downloading the podcast from iTunes.

 

Sincerely,

Mike (co-host)

Category:Season 8 -- posted at: 11:14pm EST



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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.

Season 10 releases between March 16 and July 26

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