A Note from The Opinionated Gamers: In lieu of our normal convention coverage, we’re doing publisher interviews about upcoming releases, asking their thoughts on the events of 2020 and other topics. Today’s interviewee is Friedemann Friese of 2F Spiele. Friedemann has been designing games for nearly three decades, and since 1992, he has also been publishing games. Often featuring green boxes and game names starting with “F,” 2F’s games are highly innovative and highly engaging. Friedemann is certainly one of my favorite designers — printing many of my favorite games, including Fabled Fruit, Fauna, and Power Grid — so it is always a joy to get to talk to him and hear his insights.
First, I have to ask about Power Grid. I just noticed at my FLGS that the expansion maps have been released in Recharged Versions! What are the big differences from the old versions? And what’s next for the Power Grid line (if you can say)?
The recharged version is like an update for Power Grid to the changes we made for Power Grid deluxe. I took deluxe as a chance to change Power Grid and put in everything I learned about Power Grid over the years. Now we do have a real challenging 2-player version for Power Grid. The main complaint about Power Grid was always the 2 player game.
The other important thing for the recharged version is the starting market is randomized. There are not always the same power plants in the starting market anymore. After years I wanted to have a new choice in the beginning of the game (with the old version I absolutely know how much to bid on every starting plant).
The are a lot of minor changes as well and most important to have the refill charts printed on cards. To update this these chart-cards are added to the expansions. For the expansions there is not so much change.
I honestly cannot really tell anything new for Power Grid now. By now I’m only working on new games.
It is sad that we won’t get to meet at Gen Con or Essen this year, which is normally how I notice upcoming product lines. What games does 2F have coming out this year?
We just announced „Feierabend“ to be published in early August 2020. This is an after-work worker placement. In all worker placement games you send your workers to work to get the best benefit out their work. We just changed the perspective. Sending workers to their after-work activities: pubs, amusement parks, blind dates, whatever fun means. To change this, changed the goal of the game. The goal is no longer to become the wealthiest employer, instead become the most relaxed employee. Because of this the game got a focus on the fight for worker rights. Kind of obvious: If you try to make the workers more happy, they really need to fight for better working conditions.
We agreed with our publishing partners to put this out in a bilingual (german/english) first edition on our own. If (or because of) it becomes a success we will have an international version with our usual partners all over the world. By now nobody knows what happens to their markets and all partners have to deal with themselves in 2020.
For fall we worked on our big gamers game for Spiel ´20 Essen. We still work on it now, but without a fair it will probably also be a bilingual smaller first edition printrun, to be republished worldwide in 2021. In this next game the most important part all players build on the same structure. Nobody owns anything built. You only get benefits in the moment building it, after that everybody can use whatever was built. Together with a new card buying and using mechanism (with some similarities to deck-building, but clearly not a deck builder, no shuffling) a very strategic game, with many different ways to victory to be explored.
Editor’s Update: Yesterday, 2F announced “Finishing Time,” which you can read about in Eric Martin’s excellent post on BGG.
Without the opportunity to connect at conventions, how are you reaching out to gamers over the next few months? What is the best way for them to keep up with the new games coming out?
For these bilingual small printruns we decided to have special internet shop solutions for the start. In Europe we have a very stable distribution concept with spiel direkt to deliver the games to the shops. We do have a concept for the US as well (only for this first printrun smaller production, later hopefully the partners will join in again), but cannot tell right now, because it is not officially announced.
Do you think things will mostly return to normal in 2021 (or whenever the dust settles), or do you see any big changes to how we play and buy games?
I founded my company in 1992 and there were so many changes over the years and now this year feels a bit like getting back to the old days where I sold my games without international partners. On one hand I really look forward to do this again, to have a more direct feedback to my games, on the other hand we built up a strong network of partners all over the world and I really want to go back there. For me it depends on what the partners change for their future to see what will happen. The german versions of the games will still be selling over spiel direkt. My actual work on the games is getting better now. I have game nights again.
A lot of people tried online gaming and a lot will keep doing it in the future, but as long as I can still just be here designing my games and find gamers to sell them to, to get the money to do my work, there is no need to change. I do think I have a really good job, try to keep this….