And all good things must come to an end, even a ridiculously hyperbolic dinner with truly the nicest guy ever. Dessert is served, night has fallen, and we might be the last ones in the Tide and Vine. But first, convention talk.
Daryl: Origins is one of my best shows for business reasons, ironically.
DTD: Really? That’s the smallest of the big three, big four.
The big four are GenCon, Origins, Essen Spiel, and pick another favorite. There’s BGGcon, Dice Tower Cons, Geekway to the West. PAX Unpugged is up and coming…
Daryl: Right. And that’s why I think it kind of works. Because bigger than that, people are too tired and exhausted. And it’s later in the season, so companies are kind of like… less looking, and more focused on, “I need to sell what we have, and market what we have.” So, I find that a really important show for me. And then, I’ve started to shift more and more into toy fairs.
Daryl: Yeah, so over the last year, and even like the year before COVID, I was starting to kind of cross over and try to do some board games. But mass market games, as well. And try to get my foot in the door with the Hasbros, the Mattels.
The important industry toy fairs include Nuremberg, New York, and Tokyo. More on that later.
Daryl: And so that’s been really fun, because I feel like there’s lots of people that pitch those companies that do toys. And they’re like coming to mass market board games, and saying, “We can make a board game.” And it’s like, “Well, you can make an awesome toy.” And then we’re trying to position, me and a few other designers are saying to ourselves, “Well, why don’t we move towards mass [market] and, say, take our board games!”
DTD: It’s really funny you talk about it that way. Because when I did my interview with Christian Peterson, he very specifically was talking about companies going up the ladder, down the ladder: it was from toys down or from board games up. And was really differentiating these companies, and what their approaches were, and everything like that. It was really cool.
Christian Petersen was the founder of Fantasy Flight Games, as well as a CEO of Asmodee. He was discerning between toy companies moving to make games, versus game companies pivoting to make toys.
Daryl: Oh, that’s so interesting. What we saw was an example that’s successful, is if you look at Funko Games, they seem to be an example of a studio that could bridge the gap, or hit IPs, or make stuff that…
DTD: But even them, they’re kind of tangential to the toy side. They’re collectible art.
Daryl: They are more toy. Yes. But before that, they were like Prospero Hall, and those names. They were kind of there. And so we see ourselves as meeting that that gap of, “Who could make a game but still willingly can make it accessible and not too cumbersome.” And so, I’ve been pitching a lot in that sector.
Prospero Hall is the collaborative name for a board game design house in Seattle which has done many games for Funko.
Daryl: And it’s a different world.
DTD: Absolutely. I’ve heard that from a couple people.
Daryl: At times I feel sad, because it’s a little more cutthroat, a lot more business-y, or corporate. But on the flip side, I like to remind myself: “No, let’s bring that energy and that love from the board game world in” And then it’s really fun.
DTD: On the toy side, though, you often get that discussion of the “gift market”, the whole concept that the product that they’re selling is not for the eventual owner of the product. It’s for someone to buy for them. You know, it’s what your grandma buys you that you don’t want.
Daryl: Right, right, right. Yeah, absolutely. And I mean, it’s important to consider that. I guess to some degree, I think to myself that hopefully, I can make something attractive enough that someone will request grandma buy them. Instead of just getting the obvious low hanging fruit.
Waitress: Here we are gentlemen. Enjoy! Dig on in!
Our waitress brought over a sight to behold, a dessert only sung about in sagas of old. Previously, I had loved this server for the food she delivered me. Now I was infatuated.
DTD: Oh man! Thank you thank you.
Daryl: Dig in!
DTD: Wow, that is an impressive thing. Yeah, I gotta do the millennial thing and take a picture of it. Phew – That is a beast!
I know I used the picture already, but it’s a beaut. so here you go again.
Daryl: [tapping the dessert with a spoon] Oh!
DTD: You’re surprised by the texture there?
I won’t lie – Daryl was prodding the cup of love with all the glee of a 7-year old poking something gross with a stick. I, however, was just diving in like a starved hyena.
DTD: Oh, there’s a thing! There’s a solid cap. Wow, there’s something there. Oooo – There’s a heavy saltiness in there.
Daryl: Lots of salt. But big chunks.
DTD: Not terrible. Surprising. Wow. I heard her say miso as well.
To quote our waitress: It’s a peanut butter mousse, a miso mousse. And it’s coming topped with a little bit of chocolate ganache, a little sprinkle of some sesame granola, and then its going to be finished off with some vanilla crème anglaise.
Daryl: Oh, I didn’t catch that.
DTD: But I’m not getting that. So, have you played the whole dance of getting your games into mass market big box and all that? I apologize if you have, and I don’t know.
Daryl: No, no, it’s funny. When I did Maple [Games], I did some distribution meetings for that, but in general usually I sign my games to companies, that then that’s on them. The only part that I seem to be doing often is helping bridge third party licensing agreements.
Daryl: So, I actually did that for a few months, and like at a few events, like Essen. Where I intentionally was hired by Floodgate. I’ve done it for a few other companies where I’ve brought in third-party licensing agreements. I actually did that with IDW, the first time Asmodee had worked with someone that wasn’t Asmodee, to localize stuff. We localized a few games in, like France, Germany, Spain – like the biggies. And then, since then, I have built some pretty great relationships with international partners.
Floodgate Games is the publisher that did Daryl’s biggest hit, Sagrada.
Daryl: So, I don’t usually try to get into Target or Walgreens or whatnot, but I have helped co-print runs or encourage companies to work together, to kind of bring the bottom line. And then I have had games…
DTD: Such a businessman, it’s like you’re an adult. [laughs]
Daryl: Well, I don’t think so. [laughs] I think of it more as just like bringing people together. And I love… I used to call it that I was like a cross-pollinator, and then I would just buzz around and bring people together, and stir things up. I really enjoy that kind of stuff.
DTD: That’s really cool.
Daryl: I have had games in Target – Sagrada got into a few places, Barnes and Noble and such.
DTD: I thought it got into Barnes and Noble for sure.
Daryl: But I did a Titanic board game, with Spin Master. With the movie license. And that got into a lot of mass and did surprisingly well. I did the Oregon Trail game, and that got a bunch of places.
Spoiler: The ship sinks. And there’s not enough room on the door for two.
DTD: Yeah – I’ve seen that a bunch of places.
Daryl: Yeah, it’s funny. It sells really well internationally. It’s kind of bizarre.
DTD: How strange. And such a bizarre license, because it’s off that… One of the very first video games. Which almost nobody remembers now. Except for the tropes.
Oregon Trail was a computer game from 1971 in which your family died horrible deaths on the way to the west. Educational.
I should clarify, Daryl designed Oregon Trail Game: Journey to Willamette Valley, which was more bout the historical event. There was also an Oregon Trail Card Game based on the computer game, an uncredited design.
Daryl: The tropes! And those tropes – The best part was I needed to minimize them to make a game fun.
DTD: Well, the game was brutal.
Daryl: Right, and that’s not an experience that people wanted. The nostalgia has made it better.
DTD: You themed a game on dysentery. Because that’s the one you cannot remove.
Daryl: Right, absolutely. It’s true. We just, the way we saw it…
Nothing makes a man devour his dessert quicker than talks of dysentery. Both Daryl and I had noticeably slowed on shoveling pudding.
DTD: I have been beaten by the mousse.
Daryl: That’s fair.
DTD: That’s a very Canadian thing to say.
Daryl: [laughs] Very true, maybe that’s why it’s mousse. The solve for dysentery, what I did was, I just made it that you had a bunch of family members. So at least if it died, you just had less family members.
DTD: [laughs] It’s so brutal.
Daryl: And my favorite part about that is your family members…
DTD: [still laughing] I know it’s like a kid’s game in Target, but you’re just killing off people…
Daryl: There are cubes that look like dice, but on one side there’s a rest in peace stone. And so, when you leave them behind, you turn it to the rest in peace.
DTD: Oh no… I’ve actually seen that. That’s awesome, man. That’s just crazy.
Daryl: I have an upcoming game with Goliath because I loved working with them so much. They were amazing. And they’re huge, internationally. Huge.
DTD: They are a Goliath. They just made their big deal with Restoration.
Goliath produced a smaller, mass market edition of Fireball Island, called Fireball Island Race to Adventure, for Restoration.
Daryl: I mean they own… Yeah, and they’ve done Pressman. They bought Jax. They bought Endless Games. They own a ton of different companies in different regions. So, I made a game – at this last GenCon they hired me to make a game for a podcast. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of it, but it’s called “Last Podcast on the Left.”
Daryl: I made the official game for Last Podcast on the Left.
DTD: All right!
The game is called The Real Truth, and it earned Daryl a nomination for 2022 Game Innovator of the Year, the “TAGIE.” Winners are announced on November 22, 2022.
Daryl: And I’m really excited, because they’re coming to Toronto in May, and so they just told me I got tickets and backstage pass and everything.
DTD: Oh, that’s so cool.
Daryl: I’ve met them on zooms. They’re hilarious, even just on zooms.
DTD: I love it, that’s fantastic. [laughs]
Last Podcast on the Left is a hysterical show about conspiracy theories, cryptids, and various and sundry horrors, featuring Ben Kissel, Marcus Parks, and Henry Zebrowski.
Daryl: They’re all over the place. I was lost during the conversation, but it was good times. So that one I’m pretty pumped about. That’ll be a nice one.
DTD: That is awesome. That’s very cool.
Daryl: Yeah, that was a really fun project.
DTD: A lot of times… Like, I’ll go to the conventions and I’ll know a lot of people. And the running joke for a long time was – “I have absolutely no power in the industry, and do nothing, but I know the guy who does.”
Daryl: [laughs] That works. I can feel that.
DTD: I don’t know, I think you’ve worked with all of them.
Daryl does have a very impressive list of co-designers he has worked with.
Daryl: Right! Sure. Well, I’m very faithful. It’s fun bringing people together.
DTD: Oh, I agree. I think you asked earlier – I think I’m going to say that my favorite convention is actually GAMA Expo.
I didnt even list GAMA in my “big four” rant earlier. GAMA isn’t a traditional convention, it is a trade show – only people in the industry attend, and everything is geared towards sale, publishing, and design.
DTD: Because I just see so many people that I know. The pressure, for me at least, of playing and buying, and I know it’s not a real pressure or anything. But it’s gone.
Daryl: No, no. It’s gone.
DTD: Right it’s gone. And I’m just there to see the unseen, to see what’s going on and see friends I haven’t seen in a long time. And I love that. It’s such a cool convention.
Daryl: I feel that a little bit in the Toy Fair world. Now that I’m learning that. Not that I know a ton of people yet, but it’s just very much again, that pressure’s gone. And it’s all more about seeing each other, and encouraging what’s next, and finding where things are going.
DTD: That’s very fun.
Daryl: Yeah, I was going to go to Nuremberg, but it got cancelled.
DTD: Oh wow. Nuremberg and New York got cancelled too. But I think Tokyo is happening, are you?
See, the big 3 toy fairs. Told you it would come back around.
Daryl: Oh, is it? I’ve never been there, I really want to do that. I am going to ASTRA, which is in Long Beach. And that would be my first time trying that out.
DTD: That’s pretty good.
Daryl: Yeah, I’m curious about it.
DTD: I’d like to check those out sometime. Again, [Stephen] Buonocore has told me cool stuff. And I just need an excuse to go to Japan again.
Daryl: Absolutely. I mean, I have a friend named Daryl Chow. He has a bunch of game designs. He was the co-designer on Artemis Project. I’m sure you would actually be familiar with a bunch of his games, but the funny part is we met in Toronto. We both spell our names [with] single “R”, so we’re like, “Hey! Fellow Daryl.” Then we found out we were born on the exact same day, exact same year, him in Singapore, me in Toronto. So, we joke that we were brothers from another mother, really.
Just like me and “other Corey” – Corey Konieczka. Call me, let’s do brunch.
Waitress: Are we all finished over here?
DTD: Oh, I am so finished.
Daryl: Yeah, it beat us.
Waitress: How was it though?
Daryl: Super tasty!
DTD: That was really good.
Waitress: I’m really glad you guys enjoyed it. Can I just grab you the bill then?
DTD: Yes, please. I hope we haven’t kept you too late.
Waitress: No you have not. I am very much enjoying you guys company actually.
She is being very polite. We were the last ones in the joint. I would have kicked us out.
Daryl: Again, thank you. I appreciate it.
DTD: Yeah, not a worry at all. I’ve been pretty lucky, so I could do things like this. And I enjoy it. This is really… It’s just fun for me. I think it’s great. Oh man, that was an amazing meal.
Daryl: Yeah, I am stuffed now. It’s catching up to me.
Waitress: Are you guys local? Or are you visiting?
Daryl: Ah well, it’s funny. I’m from Waterloo. So not too far. But [pointing] California over here.
4,275km from home. Only a 38 hour drive according to Google.
Waitress: Well, if you guys are, you know in the area or you want to come on down, we are celebrating our anniversary and there’s a little formal invitation. And on Sundays in May, we’re doing live music on the patio, which I just absolutely love.
DTD: That’s awesome!
Waitress: Yeah, we are going all out [oot] for the anniversary, just because its real special to us. We started out actually as a food truck in 2012. That’s why we are called Tide and Vine. The Vine was we would go around to all the wineries, and shuck oysters, and hang out. And then there’s was such a big demand, that we opened the bar area right there. And slowly but surely we have been kind of expanding.
Daryl: Nice. Yeah, launch it!
If I were local, I would certainly go. The Tide and Vine really was an exceptional restaurant.
Waitress: So, you guys are just chilling in Niagara Falls, doing some tourist stuff?
Daryl: Ah, we’re at a board game convention.
Waitress: No fricking way! I live here, and I didn’t even know that was a thing!
The Gathering of Friends baby! On the one hand, it’s a big convention with 400+ people. On the other hand, it’s invite only. Not surprised people haven’t heard of it.
Daryl: Yeah, it’s on the US side, but yeah, it’s super fun.
Our server brought over a portable machine to run the credit card at the table. More places should get on board with this technological marvel.
Waitress: Perfection – its connecting! It looks good. And I really appreciate you guys. I hope you have a lovely night.
DTD: Absolutely! This was a blast. Such a good place.
Waitress: I’m having a blast, too, so… Cheers, guys!
Daryl: Cheers! At least we don’t have far to go.
And so Daryl Andrews and myself barely managed to roll ourselves out of the restaurant, into the cold Canadian night. Actually it was a lovely 50 degrees.
DTD: Yeah, that’s it. I love her.
Daryl: It’s official?
DTD: It’s official. That’s it. I’m staying.
Daryl: Well, now you have another spot.
Daryl and I managed to shove ourselves into his car and started the not very long drive back to the United States, and the ongoing Gathering of Friends convention.
DTD: Well, it’s funny; the very first one of the that I did, I didn’t know what I was doing. Anyway, the first one, I’m like, “OK who am I gonna call up? So, I called up John Clair down in LA.
Daryl: OK, sure.
John D Clair is the designer of Space Base, Mystic Vale, and many others. Plus an amazingly nice dude. In our interview, we went to Tara’s Himalayan.
DTD: And I’m like, “I’ll come down to LA, and we’ll do dinner.” And then I realized I don’t know anywhere in LA – I don’t go there all that often. So, I know like 2 restaurants in LA. And I picked one. I picked this little hole-in-the-wall Indian place, that I had eaten at once or twice that I thought was really good. So, I told him where to meet me, I just gave him the address. He shows up, and he’s all misty-eyed. And he’s all like, “How did you know? I grew up here! This was my hangout place when I was a kid. It’s my favorite!”
Daryl: [laughing] Really? Wow!
DTD: Yes! And I was like, “[very serious voice] Yes, of course. I did my research. This is what I do. I’m the pro.”
Daryl: You deep-dive. Amazing!
DTD: So, that always sticks out. And John was so ridiculously nice.
Daryl: I don’t know him very well, but I mean his work is prolific.
DTD: Oh, he’s a great guy. And it was cool because he was very, very open. At that first interview dinner he told me his plans for every future game he was working on. He told me about Dead Reckoning. This was 3 years ago.
Dead Reckoning is a card crafting pirate game where you explore islands, build up a crew, and try to gain the most fame. It only delivered to backers within the last few months.
Daryl: Wow, I wish I was there.
Daryl: I love Cubitos!
DTD: Rolling Heights – all of these that are just coming out now, he told me the concepts and ideas behind them, way back. And that was cool. I mean, there were a lot of other designers that were very quiet, hush-hush about everything. And everything in between. You know it’s we’re all people, and every one of them is just different.
Rolling Heights has yet to release, and is a meeple-rolling title about building up skyscrapers.
Daryl: Sure. It always cracks me up when people are like, “But I can’t talk about that…” It’s like…
DTD: “What’s it really gonna hurt?” But I mean, I don’t argue. So I’m totally cool – if there’s anything you don’t want put up on the Internet where nobody reads it, then you let me know. [laughs]
Did I remove things from this interview? I guess you will never know…
Daryl: [laughs] Yeah, I’ve had my hand slapped the odd time. But I don’t know, it doesn’t seem that big of a deal. I’m sure there’s the odd time it matters a lot. And maybe I’m just not attached to those scenarios.
DTD: Speaking of all that, that business. Oh, we’re going to have to do the whole passport thing again right? I left mine in here.
Daryl: We are. No ArriveCAN, though. This is even easier.
ArriveCAN is the app required to cross the border from the United States into Canada.
DTD: Got it. I thought the Canadian side was supposed to be nicer and easier.
Daryl: I mean, it was. But I’m saying, and I think its going to be easier because we don’t even have to do ArriveCAN. Sorry, you were saying?
DTD: Oh, what was I saying…? So, we played Texas Showdown, which is still one of the best games I’ve played in the show. It’s like a hidden gem card game.
Daryl: Huh, I don’t know it.
DTD: I thought you played it with me. The trick-taking game.
DTD: Really. It’s an old game.
Daryl: I played Lorenzo the card game with you.
Masters of Renaissance: Lorenzo il Magnifico – The Card Game by Simone Luciani and Nestore Mangone is a delightful resource management game that uses a marble board as a market. The title has a very strict inventory system which adds a great puzzley element.
DTD: Oh, OK. Texas showdown is a 2015 design. It got picked up by Amigo in ‘18, only printed in Germany, trick-taking game. You dig trick taking?
Daryl: I love trick taking.
DTD: This is the 6 Nimmt of trick taking games. You can screw your neighbor, kind of.
Daryl: Yeah, like a passive-aggressive kind of thing?
DTD: And you don’t need to play aggressive and thinky. And it’s good for big crowds. So, the deal is it’s a trick taking game that’s must-follow. So, you start with lead, I have to follow. If I cannot follow, I can play anything. And then the person after me must follow either of our cards. And you don’t want to win tricks.
Normally in a trick taking game, all players must follow the suit of the led card.
Daryl: Okay, neat. That kind of reminds me of a Stick ‘Em.
DTD: That’s a little more… You’re just trying not to lose. This one, the whole deck is numbered from 0 to 74, and every sequence of a certain amount of cards is a different suit. So, like 0-8 or 0-11, I think, is one suit. And then 12-16, and then duh-duh-duh.
Daryl: So, they’re not even the same length?
DTD: No, the high numbers don’t have many cards in a suit, and the low numbers have a ton. Because the winning trick is whichever suit has the most cards. So, if there’s three yellow and two pink, whoever threw the high yellow is gonna win it.
Daryl: Right. That’s cool.
DTD: So, if you lead with something, someone else might put another suit in. And then someone else puts another one of that suit, and all of a sudden the winner is that other suit. And ties are broken by the number. So if there’s two blue and two yellow, it’s whatever number is the highest. It is fast and so freaking fun.
Daryl: Oh, that’s cool. That sounds really clever. It’s called Showdown?
DTD: Texas Showdown. Nothing to do with poker, nothing to do with Texas. Only printed in Germany. And by the way, out of print and impossible to get.
Very kind of me to talk up an unobtainable title.
Daryl: Hey, go on the hunt.
DTD: So, I was sad I was bitching. And then Ken Hill walks by, and he was like, “Oh yeah, we’re reprinting that.” And I’m like, “Tell meeeee”. And so, he told me every detail.
Ken Hill at the time was one of the higher ups at Rio Grande Games.
DTD: So, the new one is called Seas of Strife. Beth Sobel art.
Daryl: Okay! You already had me, but sure.
Beth Sobel is one of the finest board game artists, and her work illustrates titles such as Wingspan, Calico, and Cascadia. Texas Showdown was originally published as Strife, although it sold very few copies with that name. Seas of Strife includes the very similar rulesets from both editions.
DTD: And it’s probably coming out in the summer. He showed me. And I’m like, “I’m gonna put this in my news podcast. Tell me what I can say and what I can’t.” He’s like “Say anything you want.”
Daryl: Nice. I love Ken. Ken is lovely.
DTD: So, it was like Christmas all over again. It’s like, I want that.
Daryl: That’s cool. Yeah, I’ll keep my eye out for it. Neat. That sounds right up my alley. And those kind of games do really well in this show because again, kind of that late night, what do you play that doesn’t take too much brain power.
DTD: Yeah, I’m not going to pull out you know Steam right now or anything.
Steam was just the first game that popped into my head for being long and complex. Really, an odd choice.
Daryl: Umm, Scout…
DTD: So, you know the story behind the Scout?
DTD: So… Not the summer Gathering, but the Gathering before, a couple people brought, you know, like four or five copies of Scout and it went around like wildfire?
The Gathering of Friends entered into a strange schedule during the pandemic, having skipped a year, but doing a smaller convention in the summer of 2021. Normally it is held each April.
DTD: It’s because some insane Californian bought 75 copies from Japan, and gave them to every friend he knew.
Daryl: Ha ha! I played your copies.
DTD: And like 10 copies showed up at The Gathering! And then I started getting emails from everybody, who’s like, “You’re the Scout guy, aren’t you?”
Daryl: Yeah! Oh, it was the hotness.
DTD: And then right after that, Oink [Games] nabbed up the little publisher that made it. I love that freaking game.
The original Japanese publisher of Scout was One More Game.
Daryl: Good for them! Yeah, that’s one of my favorite in the last year. It’s so little and straightforward.
DTD: I was so happy to discover that one, pick that one up.
Daryl: Yeah, I mean to me it was just like another kind of Krass Kariert kind of moment, where I was just like, “I like this.”
DTD: I like it better than Krass… What is it in English…?
Daryl: Dealt. It’s Dealt.
DTD: There’s actually a copy in the Red Badge bag.
First time attendees to the Gathering of Friends are given a red badge, as well as a goodie bag of games.
Daryl: Yeah, we got them in the summer. In our bags.
DTD: Nice! So, I’m glad I’ve got that English one there. But I don’t love the whole “one person loses, everyone else wins.” It’s a fun game. I’m unsatisfied with the end.
Daryl: Yeah, understandable.
Krass Kariert is a lovely shedding card game, notable because 1) you cannot change the order of the cards in your hand, 2) you have 2 public cards that can be put in your hand anytime, and 3) There is no winner. Only a single loser, and everyone else wins.
DTD: And Scout does it a little better, I feel.
Daryl: Yeah, yeah. The point system really is much better.
Scout is a similar shedding type card game where you cannot change the order of the cards in your hand. But it has a clever point system, and a single winner.
DTD: Eric Lang totally disagrees with me, and he’s like, “Oh, Krass Kariert is so much better.” Made me play it, just to prove that it was so much better.
April 14, 2022. And let’s just say Eric Lang was not among the winners.
Daryl: I usually have a life goal of disagreeing with Eric Lang, in all the most loving ways possible. But I am his kryptonite. It’s very funny because I’m one of the only people that can put him on tilt. And it’s lovely, because we love each other. And yet, we love pushing each other buttons.
DTD: [laughs] I like, I like Eric a lot. And I actually only got to really spend time with him at GAMA [Expo]. And did one of the interview things with him at GAMA, which was great. Because, you know, as soon as I started doing these interview things, it’s like, I started writing Eric. Like 3 years ago, and he never answered.
You can tell I am a professional by the way I refer to my scheduled meals as “dinner things.”
Daryl: He’s definitely been a major mentor to me, because he’s always lived ½ hour away from my house. So I’ve been spoiled.
DTD: That’s true. That’s true. Well, I mean, for a long time he was in Singapore.
Daryl: Yeah, minus that. Which… We kept threatening that he was going to lose his Canadian citizenship, or at least Canadian “cred”.
DTD: Yeah, only if he got meaner.
Daryl: [laughs] Right. Well, we just kept saying it, because we wanted him to move back.
DTD: [laughs] That’s awesome. And he is back now, right?
Daryl: Yeah. And he’s back. It was hard for him to be away.
DTD: That’s very cool, man. The other trick taking game I found recently that I liked is Luz: L-U-Z.
Daryl: I don’t think I know that.
DTD: There’s a copy at the Gathering. It is a trick-taking game, standard trick taking rules. But you hold your cards Hanabi style. Everybody else sees them, not you. And there was an old one that did that – Pikoko.
Hanabi is the most famous game for holding cards backwards. It is a cooperative game about fireworks, where everyone tries to play their own (hidden) cards in order, using clues from the other players.
DTD: This one, the suit of your card is reflected on the back, so when you hold them backwards you can see what suit everything is.
Daryl: Right, so you can follow suit still. But it might be the wrong…
DTD: And, your neighbor has ordered your cards for you. So you know these [pointing] are the high cards, these are the low cards. Or whatever. So, it’s grouped in suits, and you know low to high. But you don’t know numbers.
Daryl: Wow, sure.
DTD: So it’s kind of that perfect balance of like, this is “⅔ information”, which I like a lot.
Daryl: Yeah, yeah yeah, that’s interesting. I had a card game that I was pitching around, called “Upside Down”. And the funny part was, it played off of a similar mechanic as Scout, but all the time when you played a card you could flip it right side up or upside down. And so, if I was playing a 14, I could flip it around, and it was a 41.
In Scout, the cards have two different values, depending if you hold the cards right side up or upside down.
DTD: Oh, I dig it. That sounds like a Cosmic Encounter ability.
Cosmic Encounter is a clssic card driven area control game from 1977. There were tons of alien factions you could play, each with wild abilities. I believe the Virus allowed you to use cards as either the number backwards or forwards.
Daryl: Right, right? Well, every card was that, except for doubles. Because doubles either way was what they were. And the neat part is, if you do that with a deck, it’s 54 cards, and you cover numbers 1-99.
DTD: Every number is covered?
Daryl: Yeah. If you have a 14 you have a 41, and so you don’t need a 41 card, because you have it. Doesn’t that scream like – it’s all by itself? Like a tight little… I love it.
DTD: Well, it makes the outside cards very, very interesting, and the middle cards very, very boring. which is neat.
Daryl and I reached the border, entering back into the United States.
Border Control: Hello. Country of origin?
Daryl: Hi. I’m Canadian.
DTD: I’m American.
Border Control: Where do you both live?
Daryl: I live in Waterloo.
DTD: And I live in California.
Border Control: How do you two know each other?
Daryl: Board games. There’s a board game convention at the Sheraton.
DTD: So, we’re both at the same convention.
We got quite a look from the guard. No one ever believes us when we say this.
Border Control: When are you going home?
Daryl: I go home on the Monday.
DTD: I go back…
Border Control: I don’t care about you [laughs]…
Probably due to my complete lack of interesting details, the guard returned our papers to us.
Border Control: Bye bye.
DTD: Thanks very much
Border Control: You’re welcome.
Daryl: “I don’t care about you” – Tell us what you really think. [laughs]
DTD: You know [Stephen] Buonocore’s story, right?
Stephen Buonocore was the founder of Stronghold Games, is one of the hosts of Board Game Insider, and now does media as the Podfather of Gaming.
DTD: So, it was a tradition every year that Buonocore and Zev [Shlasinger] would go across the border, and basically go play at the Boardwalk-y kind of stuff. They’d go miniature golfing, and arcade, and eat candy.
Daryl: Yeah, like a date. I love it.
And Zev was the founder of Z-Man Games, and is currently the head of WizKids.
DTD: And so, they came back one time, and the custom agent’s like, “What were you doing in Canada?” It’s like, “[super animated] Oh, we had such a good time! We were playing in the arcade, and we were golfing!” And the guard very calmly said, “Yeah, sounds like a perfect day. If you’re a 12-year old boy. Get the hell out of here.”
Daryl: [laughing] Amazing. No – I never heard that. That’s amazing. I mean it tracks.
DTD: Oh, very much so. Oh, he loves telling that story.
Daryl: That’s funny. I actually forgot about their date time every time.
DTD: Well, they didn’t go this year. Well, you know, Zev got sick. But besides that, I think they weren’t going to go anyway.
Daryl: That’s too bad. It’s funny, Zev was the one that dominated the discussion, when I did the triple pitch. [laughs] Which I was like, “I knew this was gonna happen.”
DTD: Yeah, I kind of believe that.
Zev tends to be quite … brusque. He’s a wonderful guy, but very frank and terse.
Daryl: I’m like, I don’t mind. It’s Zev.
DTD: I had just played a game with Zev. We played Sidereal Confluence. And man, he was into it. And I did terrible. It was my first time playing.
Sidereal Confluence is an amazing game of real time trading and backstabbing. There were 7 of us playing the game, including the designer, TauCeti Deichmann. I came in 6th of 7. TauCeti won.
Daryl: That is a great game with the right crowd for sure.
DTD: The designer was in the game, we had such a good time.
Daryl: Oh yeah – he’s here! Yes, I always play it with Jon Gilmour and the “Jontourage.”
Jonathan Gilmour is the designer behind Dead of Winter and Dinosaur Island, as well as many, many others.
DTD: I can see with the right group, that has got to be ridiculously fun experience. I mean, it’s Pit without a bell, and it’s crazy. But after that Zev was like, “You wanna play a game?” And I’m all, “Yeah, cool.” And I asked him what he was looking to play, and he’s like, “Well, I mean there’s Ark Nova, but I’m pretty sure I’m going to hate it…” I’m like, “I’ll teach you Ark Nova!” And he was so down on it from the from the start. And he’s like, “Oh this is not my kind of game.” Then, like we played through the game and he’s like, “[depressingly] I actually kind of liked that.” Not happy about it.
Ark Nova is currently in the top 5 games on BGG. I taught it quite a few times at the Gathering of Friends.
Daryl: [laughs] That’s awesome. That’s funny. Well, my Zev moment actually happened here. And it was… Josh Cappel was doing a pitch, and he had this game that he knew didn’t really show well as a two-player. So, he was like, “Hey, just wander by, and then join us for the game. I’m just going to do introductions. So, like go away and then come back, and be like ‘Hey do you need another player?’ And I’ll be like, ‘yeah, join us’ ” So, I walk away, and what I don’t know is while I walked away, Zev was like, “Yeah I don’t want to see anything that’s not two-player only.”
DTD: [laughing] Oh God.
Daryl: And so then Josh switches the game, because he had another game that was two-players. It wasn’t the top of his list. I come wandering over, and I was like “Hey guys, you need someone?” And just trying to be funny, Zev just is like “F— off!” And I was just like, “[startled] What?” And I’m like “Josh, you sure?” And he’s like, “Yeah…”
DTD: [laughing] (Robotic voice) This does not track! This does not track!
Daryl: And I walked away, and we had never spoken to each other. So afterwards, I guess he [Zev] said to Josh, “Hey, is your buddy cool with that? Like, do you think he’d be offended?” Josh is like, “No, he’s fine.” So that was my one-off. But he was just being goofy.
DTD: Oh yeah. I had met Zev a bunch of times, but hadn’t really hung with him, or talked with him much before this. I’ve met so many people at this.
Daryl: Yeah. It’s nice because you actually can get like face-to-face time.
Daryl and I arrived back at the Gathering of Friends hotel, and I reluctantly got out of the car.
DTD: I have my passport. that’s important.
Daryl: Yeah. That’s crucial, actually.
DTD: Because if I leave it here, I won’t know for like a year. [laughs] And then I’ll call you – “Ahhh Daryl? I think somewhere in your car…”
I am happy to report that I am finishing this interview in an airplane coming back from Germany. So I did in fact have my passport.
Daryl: [laughs] Oh, what a feast!
DTD: That was amazing! Thank you for indulging my gluttony.
Daryl: Yeah, me too!
DTD: That was so fun. So, standard torturous interview?
Daryl: Ah yes. The hardest. You’re real rough on your people.
DTD: I know. I have a hard sell.
Daryl: Yeah, I could see why no one wants to do that.
And so, the tortuous interview had ended. I was full, happy, and had an amazing time. I want to thank Daryl for being such a kind and entertaining guest. After the Gathering, I was lucky enough to go to dinner with Daryl several more times, and I can faithfully say it was not a fluke occurence.