Dale Yu – 9:07 PM
This year, the Opinionated Gamers are in an interesting position – normally we report back on the new games from Essen… but this year, we have a number of our writers who are involved in games of their own!  I thought it would be a good idea to get us in a chat room and discuss our new games for a bit.

[Based on the length of the chat, I will split this into at least 3 pieces for the blog, but what is published here is pretty much what we talked about without edits.  If you’ve ever been in a chat room, you know that the conversation gets a bit fractured from the lag.  There are a few places where I have re-ordered the chat to keep the conversations intact (and to make it easier to follow), but I have not changed any of the words of the participants.  The timestamps have not been altered, so you can try to follow my edits if you want.]


[Any extra text will also be denoted in brackets, just so you know]
The people involved:

  • Dale Yu – more of a host than anything else, though I do have a game (Suburbia Inc) which I have developed
  • Brian Yu – has 2 games coming out from Mattel Germany: Geister, Geister, Schatzsuchmeister, Kronen für den König
  • Jonathan Franklin – Plunder, from R&R Games
  • Brian Leet – New Haven, from R&R games
  • Ted Alspach – Suburbia Inc from Bezier Games (he also happens to own Bezier games)
  • W. Eric Martin – editor of BGG news.  He has no games that he’ll admit to designing
  • Jeff Allers – Artifact from White Goblin Games and Citrus from dlp games

Ted Alspach – 9:07 PM
Yeah, I have a mystery game being announced at Essen too. You forgot that.


Jonathan Franklin – 9:08 PM
Ted, is it being sold there?

Ted Alspach – 9:08 PM
Pre orders, yeah

brian yu – 9:08 PM
i hope it’s called kickstarter: the game

Dale Yu – 9:07 PM
Probably a decent idea to start by introducing ourselves and how we got into gaming?

Dale Yu – 9:08 PM
W. Eric Martin is also here. You know him a bit better from his other job, the editor of the BGG news feed
he’s here to correct us on all the factual errors we’re about to make

Ted Alspach – 9:09 PM
You know, W. Rick Thornquist wasn’t so pretentious he had to use his first initial.

Jonathan Franklin – 9:09 PM
Jonathan Franklin from Seattle here.  I fell into games from PC games.

W. Eric Martin – 9:10 PM
The world is thick with Eric Martins, so I needed to differentiate myself somehow.
Naked news writing doesn’t cut it.

Dale Yu – 9:10 PM
I started playing games in high school. Discovered Settlers in college. Played a ton of games thru school. Was in the right place at the right time and became a developer for Dominion. Now I’m here to make Ted’s games playable.

Jonathan Franklin – 9:11 PM
Well, a friend just congratulated me on my 100 yard rushing game for UCLA.

Brian Leet – 9:11 PM
I’m Brian Leet and I’ve really never stopped being in gaming. Play is a natural part of being a child, and I’ve just stuck with it into adulthood.

Ted Alspach – 9:11 PM
I’ve been gaming since I was a wee tot. Stratego, Risk, Monopoly, Careers, all that stuff. I started designing games when I was a bit of a bigger tot. And then in the last 10 years, I’ve been seriously focused on game design. And I’m a very large tot now.

W. Eric Martin – 9:11 PM
I have a pic of Ted at Spiel 2006, and he’s grown larger since then. Or rather wider.

Jonathan Franklin – 9:11 PM
I liked PC strategy games, especially Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri and the original Master of Orion.  I also liked the Independent Games Festival nominees.  In 2003, this game, Reiner Knizia’s Samurai got an award.  I tried it, loved it, and that was that.  I wondered who this Knizia guy was and I have not really gone back to PC games.  Thanks to RK and the guys from Klear

brian yu – 9:11 PM
I started gaming at an early age when Dale forced me to stop watching saturday morning cartoon and play board games with him. Some of my fondest memories of early gaming are cracking open some of the Game Master Series games and playing them for a whole weekend.

Dale Yu – 9:12 PM
we played slow, that was the same game of Fortress America that would last all weekend
Brian Leet – 9:12 PM
The goal of games is different when you are young and have all that time

brian yu – 9:12 PM
it’s true – we’d set a game up on Mom’s dining room table and leave it up the whole weekend.

Ted Alspach – 9:12 PM
Definitely wider.

Dale Yu – 9:13 PM
And… Jeff Allers is trying to log into the chat, so we’ll all be here soon.

W. Eric Martin – 9:13 PM
My brother and I played much more mainstream stuff, but we’d still take all weekend. We’d play Payday, but the game ran for decades instead of just a few months.

Brian Leet – 9:13 PM
Wow, that’s a game that really doesn’t deserve that treatment. My little sister liked it though.
We’d play Survive, or a Milton Bradley Gamemaster, or Civilization. But mostly the weekend long games were role playing of some sort.

Ted Alspach – 9:14 PM
Lots of D&D for me in the 80’s. But I spent more time designing campaigns than playing.

W. Eric Martin – 9:15 PM
Not these days, no, I can’t imagine playing Payday now like we did then, but somehow it worked for us. Survive was another one tat was constantly in play, although we never ended when the island exploded, but kept going until everyone was on an island or shark food.


Jonathan Franklin – 9:17 PM
Careers has influenced quite a few games that came after it, so there is a definite resonance between those formative games and new ones

Dale Yu – 9:15 PM
well, maybe this will take awhile [for Jeff to log in]. In the meantime, maybe we should just start talking about one of the games.  who wants to sit in the hot seat first?

Ted Alspach – 9:15 PM
Brian, he’s new

Brian Leet – 9:15 PM
Sure, I’ll jump in

Dale Yu – 9:16 PM
Awesome, so… you’ve got a new game coming out this year called New Haven

W. Eric Martin – 9:16 PM
Plus his game was the longest in the making,.

Brian Leet – 9:16 PM
The game is called New Haven, and is the first published design for both Kevin Worden and me. We’ve been designing games for a very long time together, so we are quite excited. This seems a good place to mention the Designer Diary I wrote for BGG which talks a bit more about our friendship and co-design process.

W. Eric Martin – 9:16 PM

Brian Leet – 9:17 PM
ugh: http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/146158/new-haven
thanks Eric

Dale Yu – 9:17 PM
I’ve read through the rules, and I can sort of explain it as a tile placement game
but on two boards, both the main board and the player board
surely you can do better than me!

Brian Leet – 9:17 PM
I think the tile laying part is really clear from the rules, but it is also a drafting game
Mechanically it is a strategic tile laying and drafting game. On a turn you select one of the two randomly drawn tiles you have behind your screen to play on a common board. This tile creates an amount of value in two or three of the four resource types. You then use this value to play building tokens to your own town. Your goal is to create and use exactly the value you need because waste can hurt you in two ways. It decreases the number of new buildings you can draft and it also is possible for opponents to use significant excess value to build their own buildings on your turn.

The drafting component comes at the end of your turn when you draft new buildings from the face up offering and the draw bag behind your screen. With only ten turns for each player in the game, the decisions of which tiles to play, when and where to play buildings and which new buildings to draft are all key to success.

Ted Alspach – 9:18 PM
Who is the publisher, Brian?

Brian Leet – 9:19 PM
published by R&R Games

Dale Yu – 9:19 PM
have you seen a physical copy yet? from the rules, it looks like there are a ton of tiles/boards/etc.  I’m guessing the game weighs 4 pounds!

Brian Leet – 9:19 PM
I haven’t seen a copy yet, and my understanding is I probably won’t before Essen

Ted Alspach – 9:20 PM
R&R has some pretty high-profile designers now.

W. Eric Martin – 9:20 PM
Probably not.
Ted Alspach – 9:20 PM
Knizia, Leet, Franklin, Alspach

Brian Leet – 9:20 PM
I guess it was the last in the sequence off the presses

Dale Yu – 9:20 PM
i’ll be sure to let you know how it looks if I get one prior. I”m hoping to get a review copy (and Coal Baron)

Brian Leet – 9:20 PM
it has quite a few tiles, but not a lot of other components, no cards and few wood bits

W. Eric Martin – 9:20 PM
If it’s being produced in Germany, then Ludo Fact will probably keep it in storage until the last minute or print it at the last minute and deliver it straight to Spiel.

Brian Leet – 9:20 PM
I’m very excited that Frank has found a way to hit a $29.95 MSRP

Jonathan Franklin – 9:20 PM
One of the great things about R&R is that it has reach from party games like Time’s Up to Qin and Coal Baron

Dale Yu – 9:21 PM
Let’s not forget Attraction. that might be my favorite filler from last year

Ted Alspach – 9:21 PM
R&R has really stepped up. And Hanabi kind of just fell in his lap…nice to be Frank.

Brian Leet – 9:21 PM
It is probably closest to Qin in Frank’s lineup, and I think it will appeal to folks who like that game but want something a tad bit more complex

Ted Alspach – 9:22 PM
Where is the game being manufactured?

Brian Leet – 9:22 PM
It is being printed in China, so not a Ludofact production

Dale Yu – 9:22 PM
so, for Euro gamers, it sounds like this is more complex than Carcassonne, but should still be accessible to most gamers?

Jonathan Franklin – 9:22 PM
I think one of the challenges for publishers is capitalizing on good luck.  Suddenly, a game sells out and you have to get cashflow, logistics, etc. all in line in a way you might not have had to before.

Ted Alspach – 9:23 PM
Great challenge to have

brian yu – 9:22 PM
Is it a multi-lingual production?


Brian Leet – 9:23 PM
I think it is accessible to most experienced gamers. It is, in my experience, a bit tougher for those new to gaming. Not because the rules are tough, but because it is relatively strategic and difficult to understand what a good decision is on early turns for some people.
I am not 100% sure what will be in the box, but the rules are translated into German, Italian, French, Dutch, I think Spanish is coming

Brian Leet – 9:23 PM
other than the back of the player screen reference the components are all language neutral


Jonathan Franklin – 9:23 PM
Brian, what was it like to work with a co-author?

Jonathan Franklin – 9:24 PM
Did you each have distinct roles or perspectives in the process?

Brian Leet – 9:24 PM
Well, Kevin and I are old best friends, so that helps a lot. Our friendship comes way ahead of our design relationship

Jonathan Franklin – 9:24 PM
Was one of you pushing for more complexity or more streamlining than the other?

Brian Leet – 9:24 PM
we both bring different things for sure. I am probably more of an editor and developer in the process, and I did a lot of the networking and learning to help guide us to what publishers would want
No, we had similar goals for this, but often Kevin would introduce new ideas and then we’d sift them through and either drop them out or get rid of something else

Dale Yu – 9:25 PM
sounds like my work with Ted as developer. though he always ends up with all the credit

Brian Leet – 9:25 PM
he’s more likely to introduce something “out of the blue”, I’m more likely to introduce something to “solve a problem”

Jonathan Franklin – 9:26 PM
I envy game design partnerships.

Brian Leet – 9:26 PM
but that is just tendencies
I don’t think we’d have gotten anywhere without a partnership. The energy of getting together to work on it keeps things going.

brian yu – 9:26 PM
were your design sessions all face to face? Do you guys live close by?

Jonathan Franklin – 9:25 PM
Do you two have plans for other games?

Brian Leet – 9:26 PM
We are friends pursuing a shared hobby first and foremost.
yes, we now live about a mile apart. When we started this process we were states away, but life changes…
as to new games, we’ll be pitching a couple new games at Essen to companies to see if they are interested in picking them up. One is a thematic and mechanical sequel to New Haven that has an even simpler component set as it is just a card game, but similarly thoughtful play.
now Kevin’s daughters are in elementary and middle school and make terrific test subjects for our design goals

Ted Alspach – 9:28 PM
I hear that Bezier Games is looking for intriguing new designs by up and coming designers. But that just might be a rumor.

Brian Leet – 9:28 PM
so, we use their feedback on certain games to help decide what is really working. A seven year old is much more honest than most adult playtesters.

brian yu – 9:28 PM
how was long distance designing?

Brian Leet – 9:29 PM
long distance designing was interesting because we’d have to sync our design cycle to chat and visit availibilty

Brian Leet – 9:30 PM
so, we’d make sure to have “playable prototypes” whenever a visit was possible and iterate like heck for a week then spend months digesting what we’d learned and move on

W. Eric Martin – 9:31 PM
Sounds like Jay Cormier and Sen-Foong Lim, who design together all the time while living on opposite sides of Canada.

jeff allers – 9:31 PM
Hello…is this thing on?

Dale Yu – 9:31 PM
aha jeff is here!

Jonathan Franklin – 9:31 PM

Dale Yu – 9:31 PM

Brian Leet – 9:31 PM
it’s easier to live close, but the lack of automatic deadlines also make it easier to not get anywhere
you’re on!

Dale Yu – 9:31 PM
Jeff, to catch you up, we were just finishing up with Brian.  Just jump in wherever!
well, Brian, i know that it will be your first time at Essen this year, so make sure that you get a few hours away from the R&R booth to look around.  Though I’m sure you’ll be around it enough to sign copies of your games for your adoring fans.

jeff allers – 9:32 PM
Yeah, especially the White Goblin booth:-)

Brian Leet – 9:32 PM
Absolutely! I’m excited to be there regardless, and it is mostly to see, meet and say hi to people!

W. Eric Martin – 9:32 PM
Plan to blow all of your spending money in the used games booths on the first day.

Ted Alspach – 9:32 PM
That is awesome to go to Essen with your first published game. Few things can be more exciting!


[End of part 1… Come back tomorrow for more of our chat session!]

About Dale Yu

Dale Yu is the Editor of the Opinionated Gamers. He can occasionally be found working as a volunteer administrator for BoardGameGeek, and he previously wrote for BoardGame News.
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  1. This is great – having met many of you, I can picture you around a table after a game, having this very conversation.

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