A Podcast of Interviews With Designers of Board Games, Card Games, Role Playing Games & Video Games.
PLEASE VISIT OUR CURRENT WEBSITE ON TUMBLR: WhoWhatWhyCast.Tumblr.com

This episode is jammed pack with guests. We have Cédrick Chaboussit, designer of Discoveries along with Anne Cecile and her husband Cédric Lefebvre, owners of Ludonaute. Cédric Lefebvre is also known for Yggdrasil.

Our discussion focused on Ludonaute's process for publishing games, the relationship between designer and publisher, and French board gaming culture. We delve into Discoveries for a bit but spend more time talking in general about game design, publishing, and playing. This was a very interesting discussion because it gave me a view into the hobby from not an American mindset.

If you are interested in finding a copy of Discoveries or learning more about Ludonaute, please check out www.ludonaute.fr.

Direct download: 05_W3_S12_E04_Design_and_Publishing_with_Chaboussit_and_Ludonaute.mp3
Category:Season 12 -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Who, What, Why presents our tenth episode of Designing Games with Game Designers which features Alexander Argyropoulus, general manager of Mage Company. In this episode we use the themes, components, and mechanics found on the cards in Unpub, the card game from Doug Levandowski and J.R. Honeycut. Alex's three themes, components, and mechanics were dinosaurs, chainsaws, football, press-your-luck, pick-up-and-deliver, set collection.

In an effort to bring more content to our listeners, we have subtracted the game design segment from the end of our episodes and are releasing these segments on their own. We record a lot of interviews, so we will have a lot of these game design exercises. The purpose of the segment is to brainstorm about a game design with a published or soon-to-be published designer.

The rules of this segment have changed considering the switch to the Unpub card game. At this time, we provide some themes and mechanics and have to come up with a semi-plausible game.

Alex and I participate in the discussion, so it is a collaborative venture. I hope you enjoy!

Direct download: 10_W3_E10_Designing_Games_with_Alexander_Argyriopolis.mp3
Category:Designing Games -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Bruno Cathala is a French game designer responsible for such games as Abyss, Five Tribes, 7 Wonders Duels, and Shadows Over Camelot. He was kind enough to come on our show to discuss his thoughts on game design in relation to some of his games.

Our discussion focused on how Bruno approaches his game design and discussed some of how he implemented those ideas in his latest games Abyss and Five Tribes.

If you wish to learn more about Bruno's design thoughts, then visit his blog at BrunoCathala.com.

Direct download: 04_W3_S12_E04_Game_Design_with_Bruno_Cathala_1.mp3
Category:Season 12 -- posted at: 4:10pm EDT

Who, What, Why presents our ninth episode of Designing Games with Game Designers which features Jon Gilmour, co-designer of Dead of Winter. In this episode we use the themes, components, and mechanics found on the cards in Unpub, the card game from Doug Levandowski and J.R. Honeycut. Jon's three themes, components, and mechanics were pirates, mythology, Civil War, spinner, suction cups, coffee beans, role selection, player elimination, and yelling louder.

In an effort to bring more content to our listeners, we have subtracted the game design segment from the end of our episodes and are releasing these segments on their own. We record a lot of interviews, so we will have a lot of these game design exercises. The purpose of the segment is to brainstorm about a game design with a published or soon-to-be published designer.

The rules of this segment have changed considering the switch to the Unpub card game. At this time, we provide some themes and mechanics and have to come up with a semi-plausible game.

Alex and I participate in the discussion, so it is a collaborative venture. I hope you enjoy!

Direct download: 09_W3_E09_Designing_Games_with_Jon_Gilmour_1.mp3
Category:Designing Games -- posted at: 12:37am EDT

Dead of Winter, co-designed by Jon Gilmour and Isaac Vega, is a cooperative betrayer game like Battlestar Galactica but set in a zombie apocalypse. In Dead of Winter players work together to accomplish a particular goal while surviving the apocalypse. Each player controls a small group of survivors who must use their actions to best help the group. The twist to the game is that one player may be a betrayer working against the common goal. Each player is given a secret objective card, which encourages players to act in suspicious ways.

Our discussion focused on the crossroads card system, which presents challenges that players will have to decide on. Will the challenge benefit everyone or just one player? We also discussed the secret goals and betrayer cards. Finally, we discussed working with a co-designer.

If you have any interest in Dead of Winter, check out PlaidHatGames.com for more information. While this appears to be a zombie game, it is nothing like the zombie games so many people complain about.

Direct download: 03_W3_S12_E03_Dead_of_Winter_with_Jon_Gilmour.mp3
Category:Season 12 -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

You're Fired, designed by Doug Levandowski, is a 2-player small box game like Love Letter where each player is trying to fire the other player's boss. The two decks in the game are exactly the same except for 2 consultant cards added at the beginning to throw a little uncertainty into the decks. Most cards consist of ways to look at the other player's hand or eliminate things from it. The game ends when one player cannot save his or her boss from the chopping the block.

Our discussion focused on how Doug created this game and how it changed from a game about knocking off mafia members. We learned a lot from Doug on the card actions necessary to create a successful Love Letter-style game. We also may have inadvertently designed the next great legacy game connected to one of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns ever (Exploding Kittens). Our humor can be dark sometimes.

If you are interested in a low-priced and fun tactical card game that actually may play up to 4 players, You're Fired is currently on Kickstarter right now from Button Shy Games.

 

Fun fact: If you watch the Kickstarter video, you will see 1 Gil Hova (frequent guest on this show) eating grapes and 1 Alex Erde (co-host) with his bushy red beard.

Direct download: 02_W3_S12_E02_Youre_Fired_with_Doug_Levandowski_1.mp3
Category:Season 12 -- posted at: 5:43pm EDT

Who, What, Why presents our eighth episode of Designing Games with Game Designers which features Ben Rosset, designer of Brewcrafters and the Brewcrafters Card Game. In this episode we use the themes and mechanics found on the cards in Unpub, the card game from Doug Levandowski and J.R. Honeycut. Geoff's three themes and mechanics were spies, great depression, school, modular board, co-op play, and bag building.

In an effort to bring more content to our listeners, we have subtracted the game design segment from the end of our episodes and are releasing these segments on their own. We record a lot of interviews, so we will have a lot of these game design exercises. The purpose of the segment is to brainstorm about a game design with a published or soon-to-be published designer.

The rules of this segment have changed considering the switch to the Unpub card game. At this time, we provide some themes and mechanics and have to come up with a semi-plausible game.

Alex and I participate in the discussion, so it is a collaborative venture. I hope you enjoy!

Direct download: 08_W3_E08_Designing_Games_with_Ben_Rosset_1.mp3
Category:Designing Games -- posted at: 3:29pm EDT

Space Cadets, designed by Geoff Engelstein and his kids, is a series of games set in a cartoon Star Trek-inspired universe. The series consists of two games with expansions: Space Cadets & Space Cadets Dice Duel. Space Cadets is a coop game where players must work together to solve small dexterity puzzles in an effort to complete an overarching mission objective. Each station on the ship is given its own dexterity task like flicking a disc, playing Memory, or finding small Tetris shapes in a bag. There are more than this list. Players have to be cautious of a core break that might wreck their plans. In Dice Duel, players compete in teams to destroy each other by rolling dice (assigned to a station) and spending those dice. One player is the captain who barks orders at the others. Both games are frenetic and wild and will leave your table laughing all night.

Our discussion focused on both Space Cadets and Space Cadets Dice Duel. We talked about what it takes to make a good dexterity game and discovered what types of games didn't make the cut in Space Cadets. For Dice Duel we discussed what elements Geoff thought most necessary to bring over from the base game, and how he distinguished Dice Duel from its predecessor.

If you are interested in either of the Space Cadets games, check out Stronghold Games website. If you wish to learn more about game design from Geoff Engelstein, check out the Ludology podcast and Game Tech segment on the Dice Tower.

Direct download: 01_W3_S12_E01_Space_Cadets_with_Geoff_Engelstein_1.mp3
Category:Season 12 -- posted at: 7:35pm EDT

Who, What, Why presents our seventh episode of Designing Games with Game Designers which features Geoff Engelstein, designer of Space Cadets, Space Cadets: Dice Duels, and the forthcoming Survive: Space Attack! In this episode we use the themes and mechanics found on the cards in Unpub, the card game from Doug Levandowski and J.R. Honeycut. Geoff's three themes and mechanics were world wars, time travel, holiday, role playing, trading, and auctioning/bidding.

In an effort to bring more content to our listeners, we have subtracted the game design segment from the end of our episodes and are releasing these segments on their own. We record a lot of interviews, so we will have a lot of these game design exercises. The purpose of the segment is to brainstorm about a game design with a published or soon-to-be published designer.

The rules of this segment have changed considering the switch to the Unpub card game. At this time, we provide some themes and mechanics and have to come up with a semi-plausible game.

Alex and I participate in the discussion, so it is a collaborative venture. I hope you enjoy!

Direct download: 07_W3_E07_Designing_Games_with_Geoff_Engelstein.mp3
Category:Designing Games -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

MAGE Company, managed by Alexander Argyropoulos, is a board game publisher that has brought the community games such as Raid & Trade, 12 Realms, Hoyuk, and Res Publica: 2230 A.D. MAGE Company is located in Europe and primarily uses Kickstarter to fund most of its games. The company has been at conventions such as UK Games Expo and Essen Spiel but is looking to make a splash in the US convention market.

My discussion with Alexander focused on how his company decides what games to produce and how much control they take over the final product. We discussed conventions and Kickstarter and all the other parts of game companies that should interest listeners, especially those who are not yet published.

MAGE Company currently has an expansion for Raid & Trade: War on the Streets on Kickstarter until Nov. 8th. If MAGE is a company that interests you, check out their Kickstarter. If you have interest in learning more about the company itself, please click this link.

Direct download: 10_W3_S11_E10_MAGE_Company_with_Alexander_Argyropoulos_1.mp3
Category:Season 11 -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Kill Shakespeare is a comic series created by Anthony Del Col and Conor McCreery. In 2014 IDW published a game of the same name based on the comic series. The comic story follows the adventures of some of the bard's most famous characters as they search for the bard himself. Some characters have only good intentions (Juliet, Hamlet, Othello, etc) while others have evil ones (Richard III and Lady MacBeth). The game puts the players in the world of the comic. The game is semi-cooperative. The players must work together to defeat Richard and Lady MacBeth, but they don't want each to get the most glory.

Our discussion focused on Anthony as one of the license holders of an intellectual property that became a game. We discussed where the idea for the game came from, how much involvement Anthony and Conor had, and what expectations Anthony had for the game. Since this episode focused on a Shakespearean topic, we geeked out over the bard for a little bit.

If you wish to learn more about the comic, please visit KillShakespeare.com. If you would like to learn more about the game, please visit IDW's website.

Alex was unable to join us for the podcast.

Direct download: 09_W3_S11_E09_Kill_Shakespeare_comic_with_Anthony_Del_Col_1.mp3
Category:Season 11 -- posted at: 10:35pm EDT

Who, What, Why presents our sixth episode of Designing Games with Game Designers which features David Miller, designer of the handmade Mint Tin series of games. In this episode we used the themes and mechanics found on boardgamizer.com. David's three themes and mechanics were cathedral, illuminati, tournament, word game, action programming, and dexterity.

In an effort to bring more content to our listeners, we have subtracted the game design segment from the end of our episodes and are releasing these segments on their own. We record a lot of interviews, so we will have a lot of these game design exercises. The purpose of the segment is to brainstorm about a game design with a published or soon-to-be published designer.

The rules of this segment are to come up with a semi-plausible game using the themes and mechanics we provide.

Alex and I participate in the discussion, so it is a collaborative venture. I hope you enjoy this segment and future segments of this kind.

Direct download: 06_W3_E06_Designing_Games_with_David_Miller.mp3
Category:Designing Games -- posted at: 7:49pm EDT

Brewcrafters, designed by Ben Rosset, is a worker placement game about designing a brewery, brewing beer, and selling that delicious beer to win the game. Brewcrafters can be compared to Agricola in terms of style and complexity, and that is not a knock on the game. Players use their workers to, among some of the actions available, collect ingredients, upgrade their brewery, and buy more shift workers. After the public actions are completed, players use shift workers to brew beer or research better powers. At the end of every year (broken up into seasons) players must pay upkeep on their workers and machinery. After 4 years of brewing beers, players total their money and declare a winner.

Our discussion focused on what drew Ben to the beer theme and what inspired him for the mechanics. We openly compare the game to Agricola. Ben talks to us about what we can look forward to for the future of Brewcrafters.

If you are interested in this game, a second printing is coming soon from Dice Hate Me Games. Please visit DiceHateMeGames.com. If you are interested in communicating with Ben Rosset or wish to learn more about his games, follow Ben on Twitter @benrosset

Direct download: 08_W3_S11_E08_Brewcrafters_with_Ben_Rosset_1.mp3
Category:Season 11 -- posted at: 9:16pm EDT

Who, What, Why presents our fifth episode of Designing Games with Game Designers which features Christophe Raimbault, designer of the 2015 Spiel des Jahres winner Colt Express. In this episode we use the themes and mechanics found on the cards in Unpub, the card game from Doug Levandowski and J.R. Honeycut. Chris' three themes and mechanics were food, commerce, cinema, push your luck, card throwing, and tile rotation.

In an effort to bring more content to our listeners, we have subtracted the game design segment from the end of our episodes and are releasing these segments on their own. We record a lot of interviews, so we will have a lot of these game design exercises. The purpose of the segment is to brainstorm about a game design with a published or soon-to-be published designer.

The rules of this segment have changed considering the switch to the Unpub card game. At this time, we provide some themes and mechanics and have to come up with a semi-plausible game.

Alex and I participate in the discussion, so it is a collaborative venture. I hope you enjoy this segment and future segments of this kind.

Direct download: 05_W3_E05_Designing_Games_with_Christophe_Raimbault.mp3
Category:Designing Games -- posted at: 10:52pm EDT

Mint Tin games, designed by David Miller, is a series of (currently) 3 games that fit entirely in small Altoid-sized tin. The 3 games are Pirates, Aliens, and Mini Apocalypse. These are games that you can play anywhere whether waiting for dinner at a restaurant or on line at the DMV. The charm of these games is that they are component-lite yet provide enjoyable game experiences. The added bonus is that they fit in your pocket. In Pirates, each player wants to use pairs of mini cards and dice to destroy each other's ship. The game feels like a sea-worthy battle of tug of war. In Aliens, players compete using the Ticket to Ride card acquisition mechanic to complete badges related to becoming better abductors of humans and Earth fauna. In Mini Apocalypse, players frantically roll dice to try to escape a monster by getting 4 of their people into the fallout shelter. Be careful because if the monster die reaches zero, the game ends with both players losing.

Our discussion focused on the inspiration for the Mint Tin series and what kind of places David could take the series in the future. We also explored each game and its mechanics. Finally, an important topic of conversation was the amount of work David puts into packaging his games, which he does by hand. Impressive work.

If you are interested in learning more about the Mint Tin series or ordering a copy (I'd recommend Aliens or Mini Apocalypse), please visit David's website: Subquark.com.

Direct download: 07_W3_S11_E07_Mint_Tin_with_David_Miller.mp3
Category:Season 11 -- posted at: 11:52pm EDT

The Networks, designed by Gil Hova, is a game about running a t.v. station, developing shows, and scoring the most viewers after 5 full seasons. The game has a unique setup that helps to simplify all of the action. Players take one action on their turns either developing a new show, adding a star or ad to another show, drawing a network card (action card), or ending their season. Shows degrade from season to season, so those initial shows one develops will have to be replaced. The game offers a lot of strategy and humorous show names for players. The game is on Kickstarter until September 30th.

Our discussion covered a lot of interesting topics from how Gil finally created The Networks to design theory. We covered such topics as agential vs. experiential, input vs. output randomness, and interesting decisions vs. optimal decisions. While I had a list of questions that focused more closely on the game, Gil is always a fountain of game design knowledge, so we let the discussion flow organically.

If you are interested in The Networks, please go to the Kickstarter page and consider backing the game. You won't be disappointed when this one comes out. It boasts a player count of 1-5 where the solo and 2-player game plays very differently from the 3-5 player one. You have until September 30th to back.

Addendum: Gil Hova, Ian Zang, and Tony Miller are launching a brand new podcast about the board games industry called Breaking Into Boardgames. For any young designers out there, check out this podcast for some fantastic insight into what it is like to be new in boardgaming.

Direct download: 06_W3_S11_E06_The_Networks_with_GIl_Hova_1.mp3
Category:Season 11 -- posted at: 6:35pm EDT

Who, What, Why presents our fourth episode of Designing Games with Game Designers featuring Eduardo Baraf, designer of GemPacked Cards, Lift Off, and Murder of Crows. In this episode we forego the Channel A premise cards for our inspiration and instead use the themes and mechanics found on the cards in Unpub the card game from Doug Levandowski and J.R. Honeycut. Ed's three themes and mechanics were Victorian, Kaiju, food, press your luck, pvp, and traitors.

GemPacked Cards is still on Kickstarter for another 90 minutes if you catch this right as it posts.

In an effort to bring more content to our listeners, we have subtracted the game design segment from the end of our episodes and are releasing these segments on their own. We record a lot of interviews, so we will have a lot of these game design exercises. The purpose of the segment is to brainstorm about a game design with a published or soon-to-be published designer.

The rules of this segment have changed considering the switch to the Unpub card game. At this time, we provide some themes and mechanics and have to come up with a semi-plausible game.

Alex and I participate in the discussion, so it is a collaborative venture. I hope you enjoy this segment and future segments of this kind.

Direct download: 04_W3_E04_Designing_Games_with_Eduardo_Baraf_1.mp3
Category:Designing Games -- posted at: 10:30pm EDT

Colt Express, designed by Christophe Raimbault, is a programmed movement game where the coolest feature is not the fun artwork or awesome cowboy meeples. The game comes with a 3-dimensional train where cowboys get to punch, shoot, and steal from each while avoiding the marshall. In the game, players will play action cards either face-up or face-down depending on the round card. Players gather the cards together and resolve the action one card at a time. Players can try to plan carefully, but those face-down cards provide enough chaos to waylay the best of plans.

Our discussion focused on Christophe's inspiration for the a game about the American West and his feelings about winning the Spiel des Jahres this year. We also had to ask all about the amazing 3-dimensional train. Christophe enlightened us as to what players can expect in future expansions of the game (stagecoaches, whiskey, the marshall, etc).

If you are interested in this game, check out Ludonaute.fr for more. This game is immensely fun.

Direct download: 05_W3_S11_E05_Colt_Express_with_Christophe_Raimbault_1.mp3
Category:Season 11 -- posted at: 7:20pm EDT

Who, What, Why presents our third episode featuring Ewen Cluney, designer of Channel A and blogger at Yaruki Zero Games. His four premises were pirates, England, grotesque aliens, and alien babes.

In an effort to bring more content to our listeners, we have subtracted the game design segment from the end of our episodes and are releasing these segments on their own. We record a lot of interviews, so we will have a lot of these game design exercises. The purpose of the segment is to brainstorm about a game design with a published or soon-to-be published designer.

The rules of this segment are as follows

  • We give the designer 4 premises taken from the game Channel A.
  • He or she has to design a game idea answering these 3 questions
    • What is the theme?
    • What is the main mechanic?
    • What is the victory condition

Alex and I participate in the discussion, so it is a collaborative venture. I hope you enjoy this segment and future segments of this kind.

Direct download: 03_W3_E03_Designing_Games_with_Ewen_Cluney.mp3
Category:Designing Games -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

GemPacked Cards, designed by Eduardo Baraf, is a game that brings swipe-three-style app games to the tabletop. In this game players use the primary and secondary color spectrum to try to change geminos into gems and gems into diamonds in an effort to walk away with the most points once the gemino supply is exhausted. Players have a variety of ways that they can spend their tokens and cards on their turn. Each player has complete control over the board. Geminos can be exchanged in pairs either with matching colors (2 red for a red gem) or primary colors that mix together to form a secondary gem (1 red and 1 yellow for 1 orange gem). What is interesting about this game is that this exchange is not only one way. Players can deconstruct gems diamonds into the geminos that make it up and use those geminos to then collect other cards worth more points. The game will satisfy seasoned gamers and new gamers. The game works well with new and old gamers because other players cannot mess with the active player on his or her turn.

Our discussion focused on the origin of this simple game and how it connects with an iPhone app that plays similarly but is not an app version of the game. We discuss the game play, which encourages players to use color to create new types of cards and break up those cards. The game offers a player a lot of freedom to consider the puzzle as he or she wishes without interruption from other players. Finally, we learned that Ed approached this Kickstarter differently from how he approached his last one (Lift Off!).

This game is on Kickstarter right now if you wish to support Ed and back his game. The Kickstarter ends on September 23rd. Check it out!

Direct download: 04_W3_S11_E04_GemPacked_Cards_with_Eduardo_Baraf_1.mp3
Category:Season 11 -- posted at: 8:10pm EDT

Pay Dirt, designed by Tory Niemann, is an auction and engine building game about mining for gold in Alaska. Players must bid on new equipment, workers, and land claims to turn those claims into profitable gold. Every round starts with an auction and ends with a worker assignment phase. At the end of the round, players draft hardship cards hoping to draw the least punishing one. The head miner's card also forces players to drop the temperature by a preset number of degrees. When the temperature reaches 0 celcius, the game is over. The player with the most gold wins.

Our discussion focused on Tory's inspiration for the game, which was the television show Gold Rush. We talked about how the hardship cards throw a wrench into a player's plan and learned about the elements Tory added to give the game a very thematic feel. During the Kickstarter, he received a comment from a thematically relevant backer who praised the game for its strong theme.

If you wish to learn more about the game or pick up a copy, please visit CrashGamesAZ.com for more information.

Direct download: 03_W3_S11_E03_Pay_Dirt_with_Tory_Niemann_1.mp3
Category:Season 11 -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Our second episode features John Ariosa, well-known board game artist. Some of his games include Mice and Mystics, Floating Market, and Bullfrogs. His four premises were cute school girlsdollsblood sport, and heartwarming.

In an effort to bring more content to our listeners, we have subtracted the game design segment from the end of our episodes and are releasing these segments on their own. We record a lot of interviews, so we will have a lot of these game design exercises. The purpose of the segment is to brainstorm about a game design with a published or soon-to-be published designer.

The rules of this segment are as follows

  • We give the designer 4 premises taken from the game Channel A.
  • He or she has to design a game idea answering these 3 questions
    • What is the theme?
    • What is the main mechanic?
    • What is the victory condition

Alex and I participate in the discussion, so it is a collaborative venture. I hope you enjoy this segment and future segments of this kind.

Direct download: 02_W3_E02_Designing_Games_with_John_Ariosa.mp3
Category:Designing Games -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Smoke & Mirrors, designed by Chip Beauvais, is a bluffing style micro-game on Kickstarter now. The game is being published by Jason Tagmire (Pretense, Pixel Lincoln) as part of his wallet game series. Each player is a magician who must create better and better tricks than his or her opponent. The game play is similar to games like Liar's Dice or B.S. The first player must use his or her limited hand to play cards that add up to '1' facedown. The next player places cards that add to '2'. Players keep this going unless they skip (once per round) or are called out as the lying magicians they truly are.

Our discussion with Jason focused on his role as the publisher. We explored the types of games he looks for and what kind of input he will have on Chip's game. While talking with Chip, we learned how this game came into being and how the various elements create an unique experience in the micro-game market.

To back this game and other awesome games in the Wallet Game Series, visit Kickstarter and look for Smoke & Mirrors now.

Direct download: 02_W3_S11_E02_Smoke_and_Mirrors_with_Chip_Beauvais_and_Jason_Tagmire.mp3
Category:Season 11 -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Our first episode featured Jamey Stegmaier of Stonemaier Games. His four premises were time travel, psychic powers, cafe, and street culture.

In an effort to bring more content to our listeners, we have subtracted the game design segment from the end of our episodes and are releasing these segments on their own. We record a lot of interviews, so we will have a lot of these game design exercises. The purpose of the segment is to brainstorm about a game design with a published or soon-to-be published designer.

The rules of this segment are as follows

  • We give the designer 4 premises taken from the game Channel A.
  • He or she has to design a game idea answering these 3 questions
    • What is the theme?
    • What is the main mechanic?
    • What is the victory condition

Alex and I participate in the discussion, so it is a collaborative venture. I hope you enjoy this segment and future segments of this kind.

Direct download: 01_W3_E01_Designing_Games_with_Jamey_Stegmaier.mp3
Category:Designing Games -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Channel A, designed by Ewen Cluney, is a party game about pitching anime television shows to a single producer. Each player is given 10 cards with words that can be used to make up the title. The producer chooses 2 of 5 premise cards and reads them aloud. These cards may say "robotic" and "hamsters" or "chinese fantasy" and "cooking". Players use up to 4 (according to the base game) title cards to pitch a show idea. The producer chooses which one he or she likes and awards that player with a point.

This genre is well-worn territory, but Channel A brings a new theme and an extra dose of creativity. Our discussion focused on what Channel A does different than many other games of its type. We talked about how the premise cards allow the players to play to a standard as opposed to the whim of the individual judge. Finally, we explored Ewen's love of anime and the ways this game can both celebrate or rib the popular Japanese style.

If you wish to learn more about this game or purchase a copy, visit Yaruki Zero Games or Asmadi Games

Direct download: 01_W3_S11_E01_Channel_A_with_Ewen_Cluney.mp3
Category:Season 11 -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

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.

Direct download: 10_W3_S10_E10_Game_Art_with_John_Ariosa_1.mp3
Category:Season 10 -- posted at: 9:38pm EDT

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.

Direct download: 09_W3_S10_E09_Mice_Mystics_with_Jerry_Hawthorne.mp3
Category:Season 10 -- posted at: 6:04pm EDT

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. 

Direct download: 08_W3_S10_E08_Euphoria_with_Jamey_Stegmaier_1.mp3
Category:Season 10 -- posted at: 10:15pm EDT

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.

Direct download: 07_W3_S10_E07_Lewis_and_Clark_with_Cedrick_Chaboussit.mp3
Category:Season 10 -- posted at: 10:08am EDT

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.

Direct download: 06_W3_S10_E06_Kings_Forge_with_Nick_Sibicky_1.mp3
Category:Season 10 -- posted at: 11:39pm EDT

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. 

Direct download: 05_W3_S10_E05_Psychographic_Profiles_with_Chip_Beauvais.mp3
Category:Season 10 -- posted at: 11:30am EDT

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.

If you are interested in learning more about Specter Ops, please visit the Plaid Hat Games website, Nazca Games, or find Emerson on Twitter. This podcast is being released a day before the street date of the game: May 27th! Go buy it.

Direct download: 04_W3_S10_E04_Specter_Ops_with_Emerson_Matsuuchi_1.mp3
Category:Season 10 -- posted at: 11:45pm EDT

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.

Direct download: 03_W3_S10_E03_Bad_Medicine_with_Gil_Hova.mp3
Category:Season 10 -- posted at: 8:00am EDT

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.

If you wish to learn more about Hocus Poker or the thoughts of Josh and Grant, please check out Hyperbolegames.com. Josh and Grant can also be found on Twitter at @JoshuaBuergel and @HyperboleGrant.

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."

Direct download: 02_W3_S10_E02_Hocus_Poker_with_Grant_and_Josh_1.mp3
Category:Season 10 -- posted at: 11:26pm EDT

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.  

Direct download: 01_W3_S10_E01_Burgle_Bros_with_Tim_Fowers.mp3
Category:Season 10 -- posted at: 1:22am EDT

Pixel Tactics designed by D. Brad Talton Jr. is a tactical card game based in the world of Indines. What makes this different from other games based in this world is that players take the role of a leader attempting to recruit the best heroes in order to defeat the other leader(s). Players create a 3x3 grid of heroes with the leader in the middle. The game uses an interesting mechanic where players activate each row before moving onto the next row, which provides a lot of depth and variety as each hero has different effects depending on where he or she is placed in the battle grid.

Our discussion focused on the creation of the grid mechanic as well as the evolution of the effects that each hero is equiped with. We asked Brad about how he designs new mechanics to keep adding variety to the game through its expansions. Finally, we learned about a league-play system that Brad hopes will give Pixel Tactics players more ways to enjoy their favorite game as well as bring in new gamers.

If you are interested in learning more about Pixel Tactics or Level 99 games, please click on the links provided. If you wish to buy the game, your FLGS or OLFGS should be able to help out. Finally, if you wish to follow Level 99 or Brad on twitter, please click on the links provided.

Editor's Note: this episode was fraught with technical difficulties and our opening to show is a clip from the cutting room floor that I thought was amusing to share with you, the listeners. Brad was a gracious guest who put up with so many weird issues. Thanks, Brad!

Direct download: 10_W3_S9_E10_Pixel_Tactics_with_D_Brad_Talton_Jr_1.mp3
Category:Season 9 -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Star Realms designed by Darwin Kastle is an easy to learn, quick to play deckbuilder with an incredible print point ($15 retail). Players build their decks with cards from a common card row and attack each other. Cards fall into 4 different factions with their advantages and disadvantages. The goal of the game is to knock one player down to 0 authority (health). What make Star Realms different from most Magic-inspired deckbuilders is that the cards can be linked together if multiple cards of one color are played on a single turn. These linked effects give the game an incredible amount of depth while also allowing games to finish very quickly.

Our discussion with Darwin focused on the design space that this card linking mechanics affords the printed game as well as future expansions to the game. We discussed the availability issues the game faced when it debuted. People wanted to buy it faster than they could print more copies. We learned how the combination of unique game play, and affordable buy-in for the base game and expansions helped to catapult the game to the heights that it has reached today (it was nominated for an award at SXSW and on BGG).

To learn more about the game and future games from White Wizard Games, please click this link. If you wish to buy Star Realms, you can! Check out White Wizard Games, your local FLGS or online retailer. If you don't wish to play the physical version of the game, you can download it on the Apple Store.

Darwin wanted to encourage people to vote for the game to win at SXSW, but the release date of this episode would be past the time when voting would close, so instead: thank you for voting for Star Realms (I have no idea if it won).

Direct download: 09_W3_S9_E09_Star_Realms_with_Darwin_Kastle.mp3
Category:Season 9 -- posted at: 5:44pm EDT

City Hall designed by Michael Keller is an role selection game about gaining political influence and building up New York City. Players have the choice of seven equally important roles in their quest for victory. The surveyor allows players to buy new plots of land. The public works commissioner allows the players to increase their population. These are only some of the roles available to players. Selecting the role isn't enough because it possible for other players to steal the action byspending influence cards, which the active player can choose to match or take. The game offers many paths to victory, and rewards players who know when to use their influence and when to hold on to it.

Our discussion with Michael focused on the importance of influence as a commodity as well as the bidding mechanic tied into the role selection. Michael also speaks with us a bit about another of his games (one he is particularly proud of): Captains of Industry.

As native New Yorkers, we also engage in a little good natured ribbing of Staten Island. We don't hate you, Staten Island.

If you would like to learn more about Michael and his games visit Visible Hand Games or Game Design Wannbe.

Direct download: 07_W3_S9_E07_City_Hall_with_Michael_Keller_1.mp3
Category:Season 9 -- posted at: 2:30am EDT

Pandemic The Cure designed by Matt Leacock is a dice version of the popular game about saving the world from disease. Players tackle familiar roles but in an unfamiliar setting (dice). Each role has specially crafted dice with different symbols that help the players derive their own stategies. Players can roll and re-roll any dice as long as it doesn't land on a biohazard symbol. The diseases have also taken on the form of dice that are rolled to determine which region suffers. The dice bring a chaotic element to the game without losing any of the tension of the original game. This game was an instant purchase for me.

Our discussion focused on how Matt was able to create a successful dice version of his massively popular Pandemic without losing any of its tension. We also discussed the growing reach of Pandemic through Z-Man's Pandemic Survival, the "Pandemic" Game Party, Pandemic Legacy, and future possibilities for the franchise.

This looks to be a big year for Matt Leacock. Be on the lookout for Pandemic Legacy, Thunderbirds, and Pandemic State of Emergency in 2015. To purchase a copy of Pandemic the Cure, you can visit Z-Man's website or your FLGS.

Direct download: 08_W3_S9_E08_Pandemic_the_Cure_with_Matt_Leacock_1.mp3
Category:Season 9 -- posted at: 1:19am EDT

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.

Direct download: 07_W3_S9_E06_Battle_Merchants_with_Gil_Hova_2.mp3
Category:Season 9 -- posted at: 1:00am EDT

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.

Old Cover Art for Battle at Kemble's Cascade

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.

Direct download: 05_W3_S9_E05_Battle_Kembles_Cascade_with_Tyrland_Brothers_1.mp3
Category:Season 9 -- posted at: 6:59pm EDT

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

Direct download: 04_W3_S9_E04_Venus_Needs_Men_with_John_Velonis.mp3
Category:Season 9 -- posted at: 6:35pm EDT



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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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