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A Very Special Village Square (Part 1)

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To close out the year I’m taking a short break from the news to introduce some of my favorite writers from the board game community. It turns out there are too many fantastic writers to visit in one week so this will be a two part series. Look for part 2 next week!

Portrait - Andrew
Welcome visitors, thank you for spending part of your busy holiday schedule with us! Today the whole town has gathered together for a Very Special Village Square Spectacular! First up we have our brave band of local adventurers. They’re taking a well deserved break from exploring the Dragon’s Peak to mingle with our wonderful cardboard community.
Villager 3
♫ ♪ We wish you a Merry Christmas
and a Happy New Year! ♪ ♫
Villager 2
Portrait - Andrew
Bravo, now let’s go meet some of the townsfolk. Oh wait, they’re not done.
Villager 1
♫ ♪ Good tidings we bring for you and your kin,
Good tidings for Christmas and a Happy New Year! ♪ ♫
Villager 4

Portrait - Andrew
It looks like I’m on my own for now. Here’s someone that’s not too busy singing.

Jamey Stegmaier (Stonemaier GamesCommunity (Avatar) - Stonemaier Games

Hi, I’m Jamey Stegmaier, the president and lead designer for Stonemaier Games
Community (Avatar) - Jamey Stegmaier
Portrait - Andrew
What do you do around town?
I’ve run a few successful Kickstarter campaigns (Viticulture, Euphoria, Tuscany, and the Treasure Chest), and I write about my mistakes, insights, and lessons learned on our company blog.
Community (Avatar) - Jamey Stegmaier
Portrait - Andrew
What about visitors that don’t care so much for Kickstarter? Do you have anything interesting to share with them?
Over the last few months I’ve also been filming a weekly video series called “My Favorite Game Mechanism in…,” which is basically a 5-minute video about the best design choice in each of the games I own and love.
Community (Avatar) - Jamey Stegmaier
Portrait - Andrew
Always a pleasure chatting with you Jamey, best of luck in the new year! Now, I wonder if those adventurers are done with their song yet.
Villager 3

Villager 1

♫ ♪ O bring us some figgy pudding
and bring it right here!
And we won’t go until we’ve got some
so bring some out here! ♪ ♫
Villager 2

Villager 4

Portrait - Andrew
Can someone please bring them some pudding? Are there any chefs in town?

Greg (3DTotal Games)

I’m a psychology researcher who decided he’d rather be a games designer and has been cooking up a couple of things with 3DTotal over the past year.
Community (Avatar) - 3DTotal Games
Portrait - Andrew
Cooking up some pudding?
Not exactly. My blog talks about my experiences in game design, various aspects of game design theory and only occasionally devolves into rants about culture, mathematics, politics or whatever else is on my mind that day.
Community (Avatar) - 3DTotal Games
Dragon Avatar
Did someone say pudding?
Portrait - Andrew
Oh brother, now’s not a good time Kenith. I’d really rather not have anything set on fire today. Can’t you just go buy some with your hoards of treasure?
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I spent all my money on goats, I need job.
Portrait - Andrew
I know just the person to help…

Dr Wictz

Community (Avatar) - Dr Wictz 2
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Do I get a job?
Our education is about molding better board game designers.
Community (Avatar) - Dr Wictz 2
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So do I get job when I’m done?
We teach a liberal arts education in game design with majors in economics, engineering, and philosophy.
Community (Avatar) - Dr Wictz 2
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How much is tuition?
About 30 goats.
Community (Avatar) - Dr Wictz 2
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I ate the goats.
Sounds like you need to attend our lecture on barter, too bad you can’t pay for it.
Community (Avatar) - Dr Wictz 2
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You teach me, I won’t eat you.
Sounds like you will be an A student, I will see you in class.
Community (Avatar) - Dr Wictz 2
Portrait - Andrew
Thanks Dr. Wictz, hopefully that will keep his mind off of pudding for a little while. Time to check in with our caroling adventurers.
Villager 1
You’ve got to try some of Greg’s pudding.
Portrait - Andrew
I didn’t think he was a chef.
Villager 1
Apparently a lot of folks around here have many talents. Take my buddy Matt for instance.

Matt Casey (Clever Move)

I’ve been a professional journalist for a decade, with credits ranging from WGBH Radio to GEEK Magazine. I’ve been a gamer since I was 12 when I discovered Magic: The Gathering. I update CleverMoveGames.com daily with board game-related content.
Community (Avatar) - Clever Move
Villager 1
Most impressive but that sounds pretty normal around here. What kinds of things do you do besides writing?
We’ve done photo collections, lists, reviews, videos, comics and articles — but there’s something new every day.
Community (Avatar) - Clever Move
Villager 1
That seems like a lot of work!
I don’t do this alone. My partner, Brian Serr, handles all the technical stuff.
Community (Avatar) - Clever Move
Villager 1
Truly a team of many talents.

Portrait - Andrew
That for sure, but Clever Move aren’t the only collaborators around here. There are many teams jam-packed full of great writers. Why here comes one of them right now. Hey guys!

Nicole Jekich (Across The Board GamesCommunity (Avatar) - Across The Board Games

Hi Andrew and adventuring friends.
Community (Avatar) - Nicole Jekich
Villager 4
I’ll take it from here, she clearly wants to talk to a real adventurer.
I am Nicole Jekich from Across the Board Games. As one of the original founders of AtBG, I wanted to create a website that featured articles related to tabletop games. For my articles, I wanted to share my journey into more complex board games, talk about my favorite games and designers and share my perspective as an new generation of female gamers.
Community (Avatar) - Nicole Jekich
Villager 2
Actually it sounds like she’d prefer a real lady adventurer. Please share some of your journey with us!
Lately, I’ve grown fond of supporting games by local and independent designers especially through Kickstarter, Seattle conventions and local game events (like our Unpub Mini event in July 2014).
Community (Avatar) - Nicole Jekich
Villager 2
I’ve never heard of Seattle. I’ll have to travel that way soon.
As adventurers, I’m sure you all know that you should never go alone on such any epic journey.
Community (Avatar) - Nicole Jekich
Villager 2
Yeah, or else you might get your eyebrows singed by in a dungeon’s fire trap!
Exactly! So for the past two years of AtBG, I’ve been happy to share the XP and spoils with another of our co-founders and authors: Luke Turpeinen.
Community (Avatar) - Nicole Jekich

Villager 4
Sounds like I better take over again. What do you bring to the table Luke?

Luke Turpeinen (Across The Board GamesCommunity (Avatar) - Across The Board Games

For me, AtBG is a way to reach out to people who are new to the gaming hobby and induct them into ever higher levels of geekery. I guess you could call it nerd proselytizing or geek conversion (geek-version?). I also like to examine and critique the community from different angles, which I hope inspires geeks to be empathetic towards each other.
Community (Avatar) - Luke Turpeinen
Villager 4
What kind of gaming adventurers have you been on?
I was born the year the NES came out, so video games were huge for me. I got into Warhammer (fantasy and 40k) as a teen, at the same time I started playing Vampire the Masquerade. I went down the rabbit hole with board games starting in 2010.
Community (Avatar) - Luke Turpeinen
Villager 4
Are there any wise elders that have inspired you across the years? Or perhaps you’ve uncovered some board game treasures?
I dislike the idea of having “favorite” designers, to be honest. My favorite games right now are Krosmaster Arena and Viticulture. They might seem very different, but I like bright colors and tactical combat as well as complex worker placement games. I’m just waiting for someone to mix those things together.
Community (Avatar) - Luke Turpeinen
Villager 4
I’m sure a hardened adventurer and scholar like yourself has plenty of battle scars. But the real questions is would you ever get a gaming tattoo?
I have many tattoos already, but I don’t think I’ll get a board game tattoo any time soon. Board game designers just haven’t come up with a setting, symbol or element that resonates enough with me that I’d want to get it put on my body forever. This is something I’d love to change, as I feel like that level of dedication is important for the long term growth of the hobby. And no, I’d never get a Meeple. I don’t care that it’s our site’s logo, haha.
Community (Avatar) - Luke Turpeinen
Portrait - Andrew
Alright, I think it’s about time we give them a break! Before you go though, what are your plans for the future?
We are looking forward to 2015 to bring more focus to indie designers and work on creating a game of our own!
Community (Avatar) - Nicole Jekich

Community (Avatar) - Luke Turpeinen

Villager 3
Teams are great and all but a real adventurer know how to go it alone. That’s right, I’m talking about Batman.

Batman

I made a promise on the grave of my parents that I would rid this city of the evil that took their lives.
Village Square (Avatar) - Batman
Portrait - Andrew
I think you might be talking about a different city.

And as the sun, that had been too afraid to show its face in this city, started to turn the black into grey, I smiled. Not out of happiness. But because I knew… that one day, I wouldn’t have to do this anymore. One day, I could stop fighting and play board games.
Village Square (Avatar) - Batman
Portrait - Andrew
Wait, did you say board games?
Today is that day.
Village Square (Avatar) - Batman
Portrait - Andrew
So… do you want to play some DC Deckbuilding Game?
Yes.
Village Square (Avatar) - Batman
Portrait - Andrew
Sweet! You guys can take it from here.
Villager 3
Hmmm, I wasn’t really expecting Batman to show up. We’ll have to go with my plan B, Isaac-man.

Isaac Childres (Cephalofair Games)

I’m an independent board game designer/publisher currently working on fulfilling my first Kickstarter project.
Community (Avatar) - Cephalofair Games
Villager 3
I heard you are a fellow scholar too.
I love writing as much as I love designing games, though, so I also spend time blogging about board games I like or mechanics that catch my interest – pretty much whatever I’m thinking about.
Community (Avatar) - Cephalofair Games
Villager 3
Apparently Batman plays board games, what kind of game do you like?
I love heavy, brutal Euro games, but I’m open to trying anything once.
Community (Avatar) - Cephalofair Games
Villager 3
I once heard an ancient story about a designer who became so obsessed with his creation that he started living out his game. It was hard to tell whether his life inspired the mechanic or the rules now controlled his very life.
I wear a mask. And that mask, it’s not to hide who I am, but to create what I am.
Village Square (Avatar) - Batman
Villager 3
Aaah!
Portrait - Andrew
It’s your turn Batman.
Gotta go.
Village Square (Avatar) - Batman
Villager 3
That guy really scares me. And speaking of someone who could be a Batman villain…

Ryan Sanders (The Inquisitive Meeple)

My name is Ryan, lover of “gateway games” and the guy behind The Inquisitive Meeple.
Community (Avatar) - Inquisitive Meeple
Villager 3
What is this Inquisitive Meeple?
How inquisitive of you!
Community (Avatar) - Inquisitive Meeple
Villager 3
Why thank you, I ask the hard questions. Tell me more.
It’s a blog that can be found on Board Game Geek, that is dedicated to interviewing board game designers. Learning the stories behind the creation of games. It was established this year in February and we already have close to 90 interviews. It seems while curiosity may have killed the cat, inquisitiveness is good for the meeple!
Community (Avatar) - Inquisitive Meeple
Villager 3
How long have you been the man behind the meeple?
It was established this year in February and we already have close to 90 interviews. It seems while curiosity may have killed the cat, inquisitiveness is good for the meeple!
Community (Avatar) - Inquisitive Meeple
Dragon Avatar
That reminds me, I want to inquire about that amazing pudding that I’ve been hearing so much about.
Villager 4
Sorry we ate it all.
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RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAWWWWWWWWRRRR!!!!!

Villager 4
Oh no, time to call in our local fire breather!

Drew (Giant Fire Breathing Robot)

Hey! I’m Drew and I’m the head board game contributor over at the Giant Fire Breathing Robot where I post as GeekInsight.
Community (Avatar) - Giant Fire Breathing Robot
Villager 4
What firey topics do you cover?
I do news, reviews, board game thoughts, and recaps of board games over there.
Community (Avatar) - Giant Fire Breathing Robot
Villager 4
Surely a Fire Breathing Robot is capable of so much more!
The site also touches on comics, movies, TV, conventions, and video games. All things geek related.
Community (Avatar) - Giant Fire Breathing Robot
Villager 4
I was thinking battling dragons but I guess we’ll find someone else to take on Kenith.
Dragon Avatar
Where’s my pudding???
Villager 3
Perhaps a battle of wits is in order.
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I accept.
Villager 3
I summon Keith Burgun, the smartest man alive!

Keith Burgun

I’m a game designer and author from Westchester, NY. I’ve been designing games for most of my life, and in the past five years I’ve been extremely inspired by boardgames; particularly designer European boardgames.
Community (Avatar) - Keith Burgun
Villager 3
How have they influenced you?
They are a big part of what inspired me to come up with a whole paradigm for game design called Clockwork Game Design, which I wrote a book about, which will be out March 2015.
Community (Avatar) - Keith Burgun
Villager 3
Are you working on any ingenuous designs yourself?
Currently, I’ve only ever released commercial digital games (100 Rogues, Empire: The Deck Building Strategy Game, and Auro: A Monster Bumping Adventure), but I have several boardgames in the works at any given time, and hope to commercially release my first one in 2015.
Community (Avatar) - Keith Burgun
Villager 3
Impressive, what else do you do?
In addition to my game design articles at keithburgun.net and at Gamasutra, I also started a game design program on YouTube called “3 Minute Game Design” which has been pretty successful so far. I’m also the moderator for reddit’s /r/gamedesign subreddit, which has grown to nearly 15k subscribers in the last year alone.
Community (Avatar) - Keith Burgun
Dragon Avatar
Woah, that guy sounds smart. I change my mind, I’m going to go back to burning everything down.
Villager 4
Then our last choice is to unleash the Troll!

Villager 2
The one that we keep in the corner?

Villager 4
Yeah, that one.

Ben (Troll in the CornerCommunity (Avatar) - Troll In The Corner

Hi there! Troll in the Corner started off back in 2008 as a personal blog mostly about role playing games. Over time I’ve had a number of editors and authors come and go and the focus has changed more towards board and card games, both the love of playing them and the art of creating them.
Community (Avatar) - Ben ~Troll in the Corner
Villager 2
What qualifications do you have to bring down a rampaging dragon?
We review games, I talk there about my game development process and we do several charity events too.
Community (Avatar) - Ben ~Troll in the Corner
Villager 2
I’m not sure that’s going to be very helpful in this situation.
In addition to the site, I occasionally host the podcast Indie Talks and I run the 12k strong Board Games community on Google Plus.
Community (Avatar) - Ben ~Troll in the Corner
Villager 2
Now 12,000 trolls might do the trick.
Dragon Avatar
I’m hungry!
Enough! I have been to too many funerals. You can have my pudding.
Village Square (Avatar) - Batman
Dragon Avatar
Thanks, you’re the best Batman!
I am.
Village Square (Avatar) - Batman
Villager 2
Did he just pull that pudding out of his utility belt?
Yes he did.
Community (Avatar) - The Political Gamer
Villager 2
Hey, who are you?

The Political Gamer

I guess that image says that I’m the political gamer, and we all know that avatars on the internet are nothing but precise representations of reality.
Community (Avatar) - The Political Gamer
Villager 2
Political? That sounds awful. Games are so fun and politics is so yuck. Do you not love games?
I do love games. In fact, I am fairly obsessed with games: not just with playing them but also with collecting them, analyzing them, ranking them, arguing about them and so forth. In short, I’m like most people in the board gaming community.
Community (Avatar) - The Political Gamer
Villager 2
You got me there. But you still haven’t said why you have to bring politics into all of this.
I guess I’m a little obsessed with politics as well, and the blog seemed like the natural way to bring these two obsessions. But more to the point, it’s just a space that not many people who write about games enter into. If games are – as I see them – serious artistic creations and meaningful cultural artifacts, surely they have content with political significance. And on the other hand, if you apply the tools of political analysis to games – you learn some interesting things. So when I talk about political analysis, I’m not as interested in either the theme or the mechanics, but rather how these two come together to form the relationships between players, and specifically about power relations. It’s about how people treat each other in the course of the game.
Community (Avatar) - The Political Gamer
Villager 2
I guess… Well, I guess I’ll have to read what you write. Because if  you ruin my favorite game with your political stuff… well, then it won’t be my favorite game anymore.
Then maybe it shouldn’t?
Community (Avatar) - The Political Gamer
Villager 2
Don’t push it.
You’re right, I’m sorry.
Community (Avatar) - The Political Gamer

Portrait - Andrew
After all this excitement maybe I should try to find someone a little more normal. Hey Artem, you’re not secretly Batman are you? What’s your origin story?

Artem Safarov (Altema GamesCommunity (Avatar) - Altema Games

I always loved games of all sorts but managed to safely suppress that love until I was in my thirties.
Community (Avatar) - Artem Safarov
Portrait - Andrew
Then what happened?
Recently it broke through and manifested itself in a board game I designed – it’s called Cauldron – a game of competitive potion brewing.
Community (Avatar) - Artem Safarov
Portrait - Andrew
What are your plans for Cauldron?
Preparing it for Kickstarter has been quite a journey – one of the most rewarding aspects was getting to know the board game community and meeting all the great people who share my hobby.
Community (Avatar) - Artem Safarov

Portrait - Andrew
That’s what we’re all gathered here for! But it seems like we’ve run out of time. Make sure to check back next week to meet more of the folks around town.

— Continued next week in Part 2! —

 

Dragon Slayer Roundup

Portrait - Wolfie
Twilight Imperium 3rd Edition - Thumb Session Report: Twilight Imperium
Portrait - Meghan
Portrait - Jason

I love optimization and engine games with tableau builders and card driven ones being my favorite. This usually means medium-heavy euros and medium-light card games.

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