For those of you just tuning in, I am having a lovely meal of New Zealand pies virtually with master game designer Shem Philips. The mad devouring of baked goods is slowing, and talk is flowing around game design and candy. Don’t worry, I also ate a fruit – it’s all healthy now.

DTD: So, what was…tell me again, what was the first game that you designed? I think you said the name briefly at the beginning and it went over my head. 

SP: So, it’s called Linwood. I think it’s got a four point something or five point something on BGG currently. So, it’s a fantastic game, that you should always play. 

Linwood (2009) is currently rated 5.431 with 89 ratings, and is ranked 1.6/5 for complexity. It appears in 142 people’s collections on BGG. Paladins of the West Kingdom, by comparison, has 8,547 ratings, and appears in 15,611 collections.

DTD: But it’s on BGG currently. 

SP: Well, yeah, because I actually made it, and someone told me “You should go on BGG.” So of course I put my game on there straight away. 


SP: But it’s yeah, 2-6 player. You…I’m trying to remember now. On your turn, you basically roll a die, a D6, and you move around these hexagon tiles that have the classic hexagon flower, for like points of movement on each tile. So, you’re moving around this kind of forest, on pathways. And if you get to the edge, you flip a new tile. So, there’s tons of randomness for one, and usually people just branch off in random directions. So, you make this big, sprawling weird looking mat when you play. And the idea is you’re trying to connect these four different element stones, which all have powers. Like rolling a second die, moving this forest band so you can block people, and moving over water, and stuff. Moving through tunnels. But the thing, was just the player…the first player to get to four and get back to the middle. So, it’s very simple concepts, but for whatever reason, families seem to enjoy it, with like sort of 5- to 8-year-old kids. 

DTD: Well, that’s awesome. 

SP: But that’s usually people who haven’t played modern board games, so they don’t know any better, for one. But you know…they still enjoy it.

It sounds like we have hit upon New Zealand’s Monopoly.

DTD: You’re probably being a little harsh on yourself there. But I’ve seen that a lot of first time designers seem to add things, like…special power, more randomness, special power. 

I thought at first this was a typo, but no, I really did say “special power” twice. And I have my integrity, so I am honor bound to report everything – even my dumb sentences.

SP: Yeah, yeah. 

DTD: You know, a “take that,” we’ll do something to that guy. 

SP: Yeah, totally, because that’s what you know from games. You know about, well the only kind of, form of interaction that you know, is to attack someone. From classic games. 

DTD: Punish them to promote yourselves. 

SP: Yeah, yeah. So, whereas now, we’re kind of… All the games that, we’ve now played through the hobby, it’s like “Oh well, there’s other ways to interact that aren’t negative.”

DTD: And then you start getting into direct interaction and indirect interaction and direct indirect interaction.  Everything that’s in all of Geoff Engelstein‘s books.

Geoff Engelstein has written several academic books on game design, including Building Blocks of Tabletop Game Design: An Encyclopedia of Mechanisms, Achievement Relocked: Loss Aversion and Game Design, and Game Production: Prototyping and Producing your Board Game. Geoff does enjoy his long titles. Someone should interview that guy.

SP: Yep. 

DTD: So, when you’re designing these games, it seems like one of the most difficult things would be trying to figure out when you’re done. So, is there a certain metric, or a certain rubric that you use to say, “Well, this is finished now?” And it seems like it would be ridiculously difficult to not fiddle with it more

SP: Yeah, I’m always the one to call it. I think Sam [Macdonald] would probably keep playing with the game forever, if he could. But usually, it’s when we realize that we’re not changing things every time. So, if we’re playing it and not changing any cards, or any kind of things on the board, or whatever. And we play it again and still don’t change anything, we are like, “It’s getting pretty close to final at this point.” And then we might play at a different player count, and realize something is wrong, and tweak something there or whatever, but it gets to a point where you just know that it’s done. You could keep playing with it. You could keep changing like a one to a two here and there. 

DTD: But it’s not making any progress. 

SP: Yeah, that’s it. Any changes we make are kind of in the last bit of the development process, is usually to make the…like if a change is made, it kinda has to be justified by what it adds to the game. It’s like “Oh, let’s just change these two cards”, then you’re like “Does that really make the game better?”  That’s probably not a good example, but there’s little things like that. Where I think for the South game, the first one, is pretty much done. But we are still tweaking cards here and there and stuff, but Sam was like, “Well, what about if we add this actual thing, extra scoring mechanism in the game, blah blah blah…” I’m just like “I don’t think those extra rules make the game any better.” If we added that thing, sure, it might give a bit more decision making, but I don’t think the experience would be any better. 

DTD: But it didn’t really change it. 

SP: Yeah, so that’s that kind of, that’s when you start to realize, “I think it’s done.”

DTD: And I’ve heard people talking about mechanisms and actions in the game that are essential, that are “load-bearing mechanisms” versus mechanisms and things that you add on. Yeah, they’re there, but they don’t really change the core essence of what the game is, so they don’t make anything better, they don’t make anything worse. 

SP: Yeah, because the fluff that you want to cut out of the game. It’s funny because I’m very much a streamliner. I love just stripping out as much as I can. Whereas Sam loves adding stuff, then. So we kind of find this middle ground. 

DTD: That’s probably a good pair to have. 

That’s the Odd Couple, by the way. For the benefit of people under 40 years old.

SP: Yeah, I think so.

DTD: We can do both of those things. Someone said a long time ago that early board game developers add and add more stuff to their game, and then seasoned board game developers will take away almost everything out of their game.

SP: Yeah, yeah, I agree with that for sure. 

DTD: I’ve seen it too. I think in almost every artistic medium, if you find the first movie a director did, or the first book that somebody wrote, or the first game designed by somebody, they’re…they’re crazy. They’re all over the place, because they don’t know the rules, and they haven’t reined themselves in, and they’re just nuts. And sometimes they work, and sometimes they don’t. 

I love established author’s earliest books. Check out Treason by Orson Scott Card sometime.

SP: Yeah, yeah, that’s true. 

DTD: But they’re always an adventure. They’re always a roller coaster. So, do you still play your own games, or are you kind of done with them once they’re out there in the world? 

SP: We’re always like constantly testing our games, but once they actually out, it’s interesting… Like with the West Kingdom, it’s good because we’re testing the expansions, so we are still playing them a lot. But like I haven’t played Explorers [of the North Sea] in probably like a year or something. I guess maybe even more, who knows? I think I did a little mini-expansion for it, maybe it was…I think I released it this time last year. So that was like, it was kind of fun going back to that one a little bit and just trying something new. Unless someone asked me to play one of my games specifically, I wouldn’t usually just play the game for the sake of it. Because there’s so many new games to play, and I’ve played that 100 times already, so let’s try something new. 

Explorers of the North Sea: The Crew mini-expansion released March 24, 2020.

DTD: Probably played it more than almost anybody else. 

SP: I don’t know, it’s quite funny seeing, like, some of the comments that come from BGG. Like even today I saw someone for Circadians [First Light]. They said they play it solo at least twice a week. Wow, OK, that game’s been out for two years now. Yeah, OK, interesting. And then you see that some of the people logging their plays on there. They’ve played this game more than I have at this point. So, it’s really crazy. 

DTD: Wow. 

SP: We have actually got a close family friend, Sam, that he knows. They just, they play Architects [of the West Kingdom] like non-stop. They just love it. They probably play it every night; It’s like a family of six or something, always playing it. So, they have actually played Architects more than Sam or I. To the point that they have created like new methods of how to play the game. And broken, not broken, but like found new strategies that we never anticipated would be strategies. It’s really interesting. 

DTD: That’s what I was wondering about is, it must be strange people taking these things that you’ve worked hard at, and they become better at it than you. They get the nuances in strange ways that you haven’t thought about. 

SP: Yeah, we have this weird thing, where we were like, when we are first making the game, Sam and I start off scoring quite low, and get better and better and better. And then, by the end of the development, we’re scoring huge scores that seem way too big for most people to score. And then we get worse and worse and worse after that. So, like we play tested…I think was Architects with both expansions, I think it was five or six player, and the two lowest scores were me and Sam. Because we get so bad at our own games once we stop making them. So much for development!

I know personally, I distinctly do not improve my game playing with practice.

DTD: Well, I mean. You start playing, you start doing it by rote. You start playing, you know, the standard way through. 

SP: Yeah, yeah. 

DTD: So, if you go, if you go back to one of your older games, do you find yourself making “house rules,” or deciding “Why did I do this?” or “Why did I do that?” or “Can I change this?” Or is the game kind of set in stone for you at that point? 

SP: Some of the older ones, definitely I would want to change. Well, that’s why I kind of did Raiders of Scythia. I was like, Raiders of the North Sea was five years old for me. I wanted to go back and tweak it to how I would do it now. So, add more depth but it’s still streamlined. 

DTD: Is that really how Scythia came about?

SP: Yeah, so I was looking at all the boxes of Pandemic on my shelf, like various versions of Pandemic. And I was thinking, “Well, maybe I should do something new for Raiders. You know, give it a new spin, new artwork. And take that five years of experience I’ve had and make the game better.” So that was kind of the challenge behind it. When I started working on it, I was like, “Maybe I should do an expansion for Shipwrights.” You know, like just out of the blue, make expansion. But everything I did to try and make the game better basically would involve completely changing it. Like a whole new deck of cards. Probably new player boards. Probably a new round structure. And at that point it’s just a new game. 

DTD: I don’t think you’re allowed to make an expansion that, you know, has “Step one, throw away all the cards.” 

SP: Yeah, yeah, just use the tokens, and that’s it. 

DTD: I think that’s cheating a bit.

SP: Yeah, I kind of stopped on that one. 

DTD: Are there plans to have more Scythia games? 

SP: Not in that universe as such, but there will be more games like that, like aesthetically. So, we’ve got Raiders of Scythia. The next one’s Hadrian’s Wall, which is like a 1-6 player flip-and-fill style game, but it’s not in any way tied to Scythia. It’s just the same kind of look. And then, I’m working on a game for next year, probably. Which is going to be a solo only, kind of campaign-style game, with the same kind of style of artwork as well. But they’re not going to be trilogies, or like, you don’t need all the games.

DTD: Just linked by the artwork. 

Both Hadrian’s Wall and Raiders of Scythia feature artwork by Sam Phillips. You know, Shem’s brother.

SP: Yeah, just to give it a different vibe. So when you see them, you’re like, “Oh, that’s a Garphill game.” Just from the look of it. Yeah. That’s that’s the idea of it.

DTD: That’s very cool. Moving away from you know, The Mico

The Mico, Mihajlo Dimitrievski, is is the artist for both the North Sea and West Kingdom trilogies, as well as numerous other board games. Not Shem’s brother.

SP: Yeah, and just not restricting ourselves to like, you know, like 90-minute midweight Euro games. So, you might see some co-op games, or solo games, or whatever else. 

DTD: Well, that’s very cool. What about doing re-dos, re-imaginings? Like [Raiders of] Scythia, was a redo of Raiders [of the North Sea]. Have you thought about some of your other games in your library, taking them to another level? 

SP: Yeah, potentially. So, for like Scythia, that was like five years on. But even that was quite close, I think for some people, still. Some people out there are still discovering North Sea, so you probably want to wait more than five years for a re-imagining, I think. Maybe. Who knows?

DTD: It’s hard to say. It seems like it’s the age of Deluxe editions, and re-imaginings and new… 

SP: Yeah, it is, yeah. 

DTD: There’s so many of those coming out right now. Fast and furious. They’re doing anniversary editions for anniversaries I didn’t know existed. 

My favorite was the 19 and one half year anniversary edition of Kill Doctor Lucky.

SP: [laughing] It’s so true. Playing Carcassonne, is it a 20th anniversary or something? Or is it something that’s odd…?

The Carcassonne 20th anniversary edition comes out in May 2021.

DTD: Well, Carcassone forever has done their big boxes. How many big box editions of Carcassonne have come out? 

Officially, six.

SP: Oh yeah. 

DTD: There’s been four or five of those re-do, deluxe versions. 

SP: And Ticket to Ride: Europe just got one as well. 

DTD: Yes, that seemed odd. I mean, Ticket to Ride, yes. But Ticket to Ride: Europe? If you’re doing anniversary editions of some of the offshoot variants, it just seems strange. 

SP: Yeah. 

DTD: But it’s a beautiful deluxe edition. It has these painted plastic pieces, and little storage tins. Doing a lot of bizarre things with that one, so Bravo. 

SP: Yeah, yeah. But it is that kind of idea of maybe, in the future, once all the trilogies are done, maybe we revisit and go, “Let’s just take the best game of each trilogy, and like do a re-imagining.” Whatever the best game of the West is, we’ll do that one again, but with different theme, different art. But that’s not like something we’ll definitely do, but it’s something we could probably look at doing, once were burned out on all the ideas, you know, we just recycle them. [laughs] 

DTD: Well, and please don’t take it the wrong way, in the first trilogy in the North Sea, I think it was kind of universally agreed that Raiders was the best of the three. And they were very different games. 

SP: Oh yeah, by far, yeah.

DTD: And then in the West trilogy, I mean, I’ve seen people get into fights over which one is the best one. And the opinion is so varied across them, and I think that only says, you know, how good each of the three games are in that trilogy. That it’s, you cannot definitively say there is a best one. 

SP: Yeah, well like the North Sea was very much, like me, as a designer. By myself. Kind of figuring it out. 

DTD: Sure. 

SP: And I didn’t start  out wanting to make a trilogy. I just made one game, and then thought, “Let’s do some more.” So it’s very much just on the fly. There’s no…I had no kind of pattern or plan or anything, it was all just figuring it out. Whereas the West [trilogy], it was definitely a plan. It was like, “Alright the first game that Sam brought along was this one about building things in medieval France. Let’s make it Architects.” And then I always knew that I loved the word “Paladin,” and it hasn’t really been used in its actual form, other than fantasy Paladin classes, at all in board games. 

DTD: Sure. 

SP: So, let’s do Paladins [of the West Kingdom], because it’s a nice strong word. And then the third one, we were like, “What the heck is that gonna be about?”

DTD: Oh, but “Viscount” is the best word out of all of them. That is, that is an A-plus perfect word. 

Exchequers of the West Kingdoms would have been almost as good.

SP: Aw, nice. That was a challenge. We were like, “What the heck?” I didn’t want to do the classic story of the King’s dead, and someone needs to be The King. That’s been done 1000 times. So, we wanted to have some kind of simple story to sell. Well, you’ve built the city, you’ve defended it. What comes after that? And for more, I could see in history was that, basically like the kingship or whatever. And Francia at the time, kind of start to crumble a bit. They were more like regional Lords popping up and stuff, barons and all sorts.

DTD: Sure. 

SP: I guess that’s the kind of story, is that the…because watching The History Channel Vikings show and stuff, where they start to buy off the Vikings and get them land in Burgundy. It’s like, “Well, I guess the people wouldn’t be very impressed by that.” Yeah, with the King kind of going, “Oh no, I’ll give you gold, I’ll give you land,” and “go away, don’t hurt us.” It’s quite a bit of a coward’s move, that would take that kind of approach for it. But for the name we were like, baron is too short for “Barons of the West Kingdom,” because you want to have that title to be the centered word on the box. So, it was like, “Well, I guess Viscounts is probably the best one”, but I knew that people would stumble on the word. So I got all those reviews coming out going “viss-counts.” 

DTD: There was a little of that, “viss-counts.” But that’s not new. There’s  so many strange board game titles out there that nobody knows how to pronounce. 

SP: That’s so true. 

Technically, a Viscount is a noble ranked above a Baron, but below a Count. The original French term was Vidame.

DTD: There’s this weird “Noctiluca” thing that, you know. 

SP: I think I watched Tom and Zee’s review of it early on. He said “Noctiluca” straight away, then went “Noctiluca… Noc-tillica… Noc-TOE-loca…” He was trying to figure out how to pronounce it, but got it right the first time. 

DTD: I really… I enjoyed the West Trilogy a lot, because it felt like there was an evolution in the games as well. Each game felt like it took the previous one, and…well, it involved the  mechanisms and the workings of it. And to me, I’m in the camp that I think Viscounts is the the best of the three. 

Certainly the best word.

SP: Yep. 

DTD: And it felt like Paladins went a little crazy. There was so much to do in it, and there was so much space, and so much real estate. And it felt like the evolution was, “Paladins is really great. But what if we reined in the resource collection into a defined area?” So, I don’t know if I’m completely off. For all I know, you thought of the idea of Viscounts first.

SP: [laughs] No, we didn’t actually. It’s funny. So, Architects, yeah, was basically Sam’s pet project at first, and I came on board and added lots of stuff and worked them together. But then for Paladins, looking into the lore of the Paladins, I was like “Most of the fables say there were twelve, very much like King Arthur.” There were 12 Paladins of Charlemagne, or whatever it is. So, I was like, “A deck of 12 cards would be cool.” I always loved Citadels and stuff. So yeah, eight cards in the deck. So, I had that idea along time. And then, I think Sam had this idea of like, “What about a board, but all these cards are like sprinting towards the middle, into this like, where the city is. Like cards coming in from either side.” So, we had this kind of long board. 

The names of the twelve peers of Charlemagne vary between sources, but the leader was always named Roland.

DTD: Yeah. 

SP: And then the Paladin cards. But we had no idea what the game was going to be. And then Sam was kind of still working on this action-taking board, where you place workers down to take actions. And then it just somehow merged into being what we originally hoped it would be, with this long scrolling board and cards. And it’s funny, with the table space that it takes up. We were just like, “Let’s just do it. Let’s just be like unashamed. This is a table hog. This is a long game.” 

DTD: It is kind of crazy big. 

I agree, Corey. Crazy big.

SP: That’s one of those, “It’s going to be what it is.” Rather than trying to like, push it into what people kind of, maybe want. We were just, “Make it a big game. It’s going to burn their brains. It’s going to cover their tables. It’s kind of what it is.”

DTD: Well, I’ve been super impressed. You said earlier that you’re doing graphic design on your games as well, and I’ve been ridiculously impressed with, especially in the West Trilogy, the fact that the layout of the boards makes sense

Someone should spotlight unsung jobs within board games, like graphic design. Someone on the Dice Tower Now podcast.

SP: That’s good to hear [laughs]. 

DTD: You have unified colors and unified shapes and unified icons, and things follow lines, and things follow paths. And the layout of it really enhances the mechanisms and the gameplay. We need that more often in games. But, you know, bravo just on the graphic design of those games. 

SP: Thanks. Yeah, I actually use graphic design a lot for how I design games. Like, we will often have a very rough black and white scribbled down kind of version first, and then I will take that, once we know it’s kind of working, and then put it into Illustrator and start mocking up cards and mock up the board. And actually, when I’m doing that, I’m like, “Hang on a sec, that could actually be a co-mechanism. That card could do that as well.” And so I use, kind of graphic design to help design the game. A little bit. But then things like that Viscounts board, that was a mission. Trying to get all those buildings to line up with the turn structure, there was… That was a lot of fun. 

DTD: But it works. 

SP: There was lots of back and forth, and changing. 

DTD: It has such neat ideas. I’m always impressed when the mechanisms in a game translate into the actual physicality of the game. Where what you’re moving and where they’re laid out matches actual concepts in the game.

SP: Yeah, I always want to make them as…

DTD: So, the conveyor belt of the cards, and the paths…the way the paths are laid out, inner path versus outer path. Two choices on inner, two choices on outer. Viscounts was really…it’s graphic design done right. It is very, very impressive. 

SP: Oh, cheers. Yeah, that was a big mission, but it was, it was fun. It was very, very challenging. Yeah, even like the things like the… I think the coin costs becoming the movement, stuff like that was all based off graphic design. Because I started to work on the cards, put the coin costs on, like “Maybe they could be the movement.” You know, things like that just comes when you’re designing cards. So, I think we had… Sam came up with the idea of the tableau, of the playing a card and it sticks around for three rounds, kind of thing. Then they drop off. That was his kind of concept he came up with. And we started working on like a map, almost like Catan. So, you’re moving around these hexes, and like doing different things, maybe attacking that castle there, and doing stuff. It had more of a combat feel to it at first. 

DTD: Uh huh. 

SP: But when we first played that, we were like, “There’s no tension. Like I can just go anywhere, there’s no… Why would I go here versus there? There’s no kind of reason to do it.” And then we tried more like a travel-type map, like you’ll see in games, like…more like Village, or there’s new ones…the Italian designers, where you know kind of moving point to point around and map kind of thing. We tried that, and that was kind of OK, but I didn’t really feel it. So, I kept pushing Sam, and was like, “We should do a rondel. It would be so fun, because the cards could determine how far you can move.”

I suspect the implied game from Italian designers may have been Marco Polo.

DTD: [laughs]

SP: I love the tension that rondels create. He was… I think he pushed back a little bit, but then eventually we’re like, we tried it and he was like, “Oh yeah. Definitely. I can see why that works.” Because it’s the tension of, “Argh! If I don’t go there now, I have to wait the whole time to come back.” So yeah, it ended up working well. 

DTD: And it is a small enough map that you can do whatever you want. You just may need to pay a little extra for it.

A little extra coin and a player can lap the entire rondel.

SP: Yeah, yeah. 

DTD: So, you know, large rondels have that thing, where “There’s no way I can get all the way over to there.”  This was just a tight little board with easy-to-understand mechanisms going on, so it worked for me. It felt like that reigned-in Paladins feeling, and Paladins just felt epic and sprawling. 

SP: Yep.

DTD: I think that’s the big fight, people are fighting about Paladins versus Viscounts now. 

SP: Yeah, they definitely are, yeah.  And then with the Paladins Expansion coming out, well it’s coming on Kickstarter in a week. 

On March 4, 2021, Paladins of the West Kingdom: City of Crowns funded with NZ$585,340 from 5,467 backers.

DTD: Oh congratulations. 

SP: So, it’s gonna be interesting to see when that, when people get that kind of… When that starts showing up in six months, or whatever it is, it will be very interesting to see how that then affects Paladins, comes back up, or whatever. But we’ll see, because it kind of just adds more Paladins to Paladins. Just makes it heavier and longer. 

A panoply of Paladin pieces.

DTD: [laughs] You have to! Oh, that’s great. I have every faith, because all the expansions that I’ve seen so far have just been extraordinary. You know, the expansions to Raiders were just magnificent. They added just enough and fit in seamlessly. 

Raiders of the North Sea had two successful expansions, Hall of Heroes and Fields of Fame. My only complaint is that alliteration is so overdone.

SP: Yeah, it’s funny doing that, because you know the quests that go face down, face up I guess, once you’ve raided, are the exact same shape as the offerings, but back to front, I guess. So many people thought that was, like pre-planned, like, “Oh, you were going to do that the whole time, weren’t you?” And I’m like, “Nope.” 

DTD: [laughs]

SP: I literally just copied those. I had three offering spots at the bottom, like “I’ll just use the same shape for the raiding spots!” And put them up at the top. That was the whole plan behind it. 

DTD: Ha ha!

SP: Yeah, but then I was like, “Oh, I guess the quests could go on those spots, and they will be the same shape.” 

DTD: No, no, that’s brilliant, pre-planned graphic design, is what that is. Actually done perfectly. 

SP: Actually, I think an early play tester actually called out that fact, and was like, “Why are these the same shape? That’s confusing.” I was like, “I like it. It looked cool, so I stuck with it.” 

DTD: “I already have that shape in Illustrator somewhere.”

SP: Yeah, it took me a long time to make that shape, so yeah. 

DTD: That’s delightful. All right, are you having Aussie licorice there? 

SP: Yes, I’ve got a little bowl of treats. 

DTD: Oh, my goodness, that is something I really miss. When I was in…when I was living in Australia. I miss Aussie Licorice, it was just magnificent.

Aussie licorice is thicker, softer, and made with wheat flour and treacle. But then again, most British derived sweets have treacle somewhere, don’t they…

SP: This is RJs, it’s actually made in Levin, which is about 25 minutes north of me. 

DTD: Oh cool.

SP: Yes, but they’re probably the best licorice I’ve ever had. Just really soft, but really delicious. 

Apparently Shem’s description (and watching him eat the licorice online) really worked. I ordered about 20 bags from New Zealand soon after the interview. They are long gone now.

DTD: That’s the thing, I just don’t get licorice like that in the United States. It’s generally pretty hard. 

SP: Yeah, yeah. 

DTD: And just, the flavors and the texture were something I had never experienced before. I remember I got it in Darling Harbour in Sydney. I got that licorice for the first time, and that’s all I ever wanted. I used to, I used to airmail it to California from Australia on a regular basis. Just pounds and pounds of it, just to have it. 

The brand I fell in love with in Australia was Darrel Lea, especially the black liquorice, and the mango. I am drooling just thinking of them.

SP: [laughs] Yeah, I love the Raspberry licorice is so good. But they do all sorts here. Like they do these, but with like sherbet on the inside. And tangy apple.

DTD: I saw those were filled. 

SP: These have got chocolate inside them, yeah. 

Yup. Those are the ones I ordered. Raspberry with chocolate inside.

DTD: Oh, my goodness. 

SP: Yep, good stuff. 

DTD: I gotta see if they if they airmail now. I wonder what the what the pandemic rules are about shipping licorice. 

They do.

SP: [laughs] I have no idea. Yeah, it’s quite cool. You can go to the factory on weekdays. You can just go in there. They have got a little store at the front, with all the off-cuts that they can’t sell. So, you just go in and get like a $10. I guess it’s like roughly like 7 US dollars, and you get like a half a kilogram bag. A big bag of just off-cuts and misshapen bits and stuff.

I just want to note here that a single bag of RJs licorice contains supposedly 7 servings according to the bag. From experience, this is simply not true. Eating the whole bag in a single sitting made me feel…not quite well. So, I would put the serving size at 1.5

DTD: That’s amazing.

SP: But yeah, and it’s also when they when they try new flavors, they’ll put them in there first.

DTD: To test them out.

SP: Yes, like mango and all sorts of weird flavors. 

DTD: Oh, I love it. I remember when I went to, actually to music camp, it was in Vermont. And it was relatively close to the Ben and Jerry‘s factory, the original Ben and Jerry’s factory. And they would have bizarre flavors of ice cream that they would offer, sometimes for free, if you just came by, to see what people thought. And whatever didn’t sell they gave to local farmers, and they fed it to the pigs. 

Shout out to Point Counterpoint music camp!

SP: [laughs] That seems healthy. 

DTD: They were happy pigs. They may not have been the skinniest pigs, but they were happy. Do you know Jelly Belly jellybeans?

SP: Yep. 

DTD: That factory is probably 20 minutes away from me. 

Fairfield, California. Home of Budweiser and Jelly Belly factories. Meets all your consumption needs.

SP: Oh wow, yeah. 

DTD: And they do similar things. You can go for the tours and check them out, but they sell messed up jellybeans. They sell the ones that came out the wrong shape or the wrong color, or the wrong flavor. And they sell them in in big shipping bags like this. [gestures] And they look just ugly and they’re called Belly Flops. 

SP: [laughs] That’s good. 

DTD: So, I love my food. I love my candy. 

To tie it all together, when I was at music camp, my mother, who owned a gift shop, sent me a 10 pound shipping bag of watermelon jelly belly jelly beans in a care package.

SP: Yeah, same. I definitely have a sweet tooth.

DTD: See, I’m big healthy, though. I’m eating oranges now.

This is not an ordinary orange I am eating. This is a Sumo Mandarin, technically a fruit known as a dekopon. These are the best oranges ever, and they only come into season for a single month each year, usually around February. If you have never had one, search for them. They are the total zenith of citrus.

SP: Good on you.

Join me next time for more games, more pie, more candy with Shem Phillips. Shem talks about the new Circadians game on the horizon, past and future work with Weta Workshop, and the difficulty of working with IPs. And of course random talk about games we like, from Feld to Lacerta.

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