And so, dear readers, we have come to the end of breakfast. The eggs are beaten, the jacks are flapped and the sausage has been made. Nothing left but some discussion of games… from the future…
SC: We have these shelves from IKEA, with sliding doors on the front.
DTD: I was thinking Kallax, but that’s different from the Kallax.
SC: They’re actually wardrobe boxes. We have like 4 of them.
DTD: That’s very cool. I have been collecting them for a long old time, but actually, being retired now, I have a lot of game groups, so I’ll play with 3 or 4 different game groups in a week. And I probably get about 1000 games played in a year. So I play a lot.
SC: That’s a lot.
DTD: I definitely own too many to play them all. So, first world problems.
I definitely need to get some help. Except I have no time. Because I play too many games.
SC: I get about 30 or 40 plays in a month, so I’m about 400 plays per year.
Now remember, Scott is a professional. This is his job. Whereas, I am just a child with impulse control issues. No excuses.
DTD: Its all cool. I think this weekend I’m actually heading to a gaming thing, and then I’m going to head up to Santa Rosa to a gaming thing next week, and then more gaming, and then Essen.
SC: [laughing] I am jealous.
DTD: Ah, retirement is very fun. The pay is terrible, but it is very fun. Well, thank you so much for interview time.
SC: Sure! Thank you for breakfast.
DTD: Oh, no worries. This is fun, I dig it. I don’t know, do we pay up front?
SC: Yes, up front.
DTD: Makes perfect sense. Is there anything else you want to talk about? Anything you want to pitch, or…maybe its too early. I tend to ramble at the mouth, but I’ve run out of things to talk about.
SC: One thing that people have said, that kind of happened by accident, was my niche has become “that tile-laying guy.”
SC: I mean, when I started doing Kachina, it was just a game I could finish. It was only 60 tiles, so it was a small thing. If you want to start designing, you start with a small game. I realized I really liked tile-laying games. I try to play all of them.
DTD: Were you a Carcassonne fan?
SC: Yeah, I really like Carcassonne. I don’t know if I play it as much as I used to, but when it came out I thought it was just fantastic.
DTD: Oh, it’s a great design. It’s a very cool game, but people get really cutthroat. Its amazing how clever you can be with that simple ruleset.
DTD: I’m with you. Glen More is one of my top five games. Did you back the second one, Glen More II?
SC: I didn’t. I’m actually still pretty happy with what I have. Someday I’ll probably look into that, but its hard to justify replacing a game that I already love.
DTD: I don’t see it as replacing it, but I’m excited about the second one. I would like to see what’s different.
SC: Definitely sounds cool, but you know in this industry, finding a niche that you can be in is not such a bad thing, so I kind of embraced it. Everything I’m working on is tiles.
DTD: Do you find that you are having companies and designers contact you? “Hey, you’re the tile guy…”
SC: Not yet…I mean, White Goblin, but otherwise not yet. We will see what happens. But it’s not really a niche, there’s Uwe Rosenberg who does a lot of tile-laying games. He does his farming games, then he does his tile games.
DTD: I actually wrote a little thing about Uwe and his 3 phases. He had his card games; still, his best selling game is Bohnanza. Then he had his feed-your-people phase, then his polyomino phase. Seems like he bounces a bit, but yeah. His tile-laying polyomino stuff is really cool.
SC: It’s really good.
DTD: But I think the industry is also moving towards more of those games. A couple people are doing those. City of Kings, Frank West, has Isle of Cats. Polyomino game, looks really cool. Polyominos on a ship with cats, come on!
Polyomino: Pieces made of connected squares. Like Patchwork. From the greek “poly-” meaning “many”, and well, “-omino” just sounds cool.
SC: The game Luke [Laurie] and I are doing is polyominos so we will see. Still different than anything out there.
DTD: There’s a lot of room for it. And odd shaped pieces – people dig it. Number 9 did really well for a simple polyomino game, but really clever with the level building.
SC: It’s really hard.
DTD: It is really hard. If you play with someone who’s really good at it you just get trounced. I really enjoy it, though. It’s a really good game. The comparison I always come back to is deck builders. When they came out they were just mind blowing and amazing. Dominion was such a cool idea. But it has turned into a mechanism to use to drive other games. I think polyominoes are going through that same evolution. At first it was just, “Here’s some polyominos, play with them.” And now it’s a mechanism to drive other things. Which is a great way for it to go.
SC: Yeah, this game with Luke and I, you use these pieces, they have resources on them, and they also have blanks. As you are playing the board, you bring your airships out. Whatever resources it’s next to are what you get. So you are creating what possibilities are going to be, what people can collect. And then there are buildings you can build, which go on top of them.
DTD: On top of the polyominos.
SC: On top of the polyominos. The buildings are all shapes, squares, rectangles.
DTD: Can you place polyominos on top of other polyominos?
SC: No. You place polyominos, then buildings on top of those.
DTD: So you are creating the board out of polyominos, then doing things you normally do with a board.
Man I have typed “polyominos” a lot. My spell checker hates it.
SC: Yeah, and the buildings go on top of the polyominos and they’ll cover it, so now you have changed what people are going to get. Except the buildings will give you some other benefit. They range from resources, to very interesting effects, to total game changing effects. Things that make you go “What? THAT just got built? What are we going to do?” So that board is going to constantly change, and where you can place is going to change. It should be really interesting.
DTD: I like the idea of the polyomino aspect, building the board which you then use to play the game.
SC: And I mentioned where you had the people, trying to sail through the water. The blanks on the polyominos, that’s where you move the people onto. That’s actually really important too, because you want to have those blanks so you can move your people onto it. At a certain point, people don’t build enough and there’s no more blanks, so there’s nowhere to even put your people. So you really need to think about, “OK, I want to get the resources, I want to build the buildings, I want to save my people. How do I do all this?”
DTD: So you need to manage the empty space.
SC: There’s lots of layers of spatial thinking, which I really like. That with Luke’s really good euro sensibilities, to balance everything.
DTD: Oh yeah, his games of “This goes there, but then this goes with it, but then that matches up with it, but this one is coming.”
SC: I mean he was really good at, “Hey Scott, that’s overpowered. Oh that’s totally overpowered.” He’s really good at spotting that when I am saying “This will be really fun, that will be great!” He’ll say, “Well, that’s overpowered.”
DTD: That’s pretty cool.
SC: So I think over time, a lot of the games, they have tiles, but then you are putting pieces on top of the tiles. A little bit of that in One Hundred Torii.
DTD: But I can’t picture one that’s done that with polyominos yet. A lot of games have done it with hexes or with squares. You build your board, you move on your board.
SC: Yeah, you have your workers and your air ships, so you have two different things that you are placing on this board.
DTD: That’s awesome. I dig it.
SC: But whatever it is going to be called, whenever it is going to come out, I think it will be hopefully a good game.
DTD: “Unnamed Tile Game”. That’s the trend now, like Untitled Goose Game. That’s a video game that for some unknown reason has just swept through the board game circles.
SC: Which one?
DTD: “Untitled Goose Game”.
SC: Oh, never heard of that.
DTD: It’s a little indie video game, and every game personality person I’ve talked to is just engrossed by this little indie game. From what I can gather, you are a goose, and you just wander around annoying everybody.
SC: I have to look into that.
DTD: Yeah, it’s on everything from what I’ve seen. I haven’t played it yet, I just hear everybody talking about it. Untitled Goose Game.
SC: Thanks for the tip!
DTD: I am a fountain of useless knowledge.
And so, another interview has ended with nothing to show but dirty dishes, full stomachs and a general logey feeling. All my thanks to Scott Caputo, the true master of the tile game, for his company, his time, and fantastic gaming talk.