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