If you and your friends were stuck on a desert island, what three games would you bring?
I like variety in games and, since we’re on a desert island, longevity will also be important. So first game would be an LCG with deck construction that we can endlessly tinker with. I prefer the theme in Netrunner to Arkham Horror: The Card Game, but the latter has a variety of scenarios rather than the straight corp vs. runner in the former, and AHTCG is cooperative.
Second would be an RPG so the narrative is only limited by our imaginations, which I admit is a bit of a cheat. The problem is which RPG, since I haven’t played that many and am not wedded to any particular one. Furthermore, I play RPGs for storytelling, not combat. How about Primetime Adventures, a game I’ve only done PBF and we only got through a fraction of an episode before it fell apart. I appreciate the ambition and structure of creating a potentially multi-season TV show centered around the personal drama of an ensemble cast. Though we might hack in some mechanics from other narrative games like Fiasco that may be better at creating interesting scenes.
Third would be a silly game we could use to blow off steam, like Quacks of Quedlinburg. Runner up is Camel Up, but I think Quacks has more longevity.
What is your favorite party game?
BGG lists Captain Sonar as a party game, but is it? I feel party games are social games first and foremost, and Captain Sonar feels more like maneuvering within the confines of the game mechanics. I do enjoy Sheriff of Nottingham, but I worry bluffing is a red herring, which obviates a lot of the social interact. So I’ll go with Blood on the Clocktower, which I’ve only played once, but has the most depth out of all the hidden role games I’ve played.
What game are you sick to death of playing?
Recently, it’s Codenames. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good game, but it’s just become the default large group game. And coming up with good clues takes too long for both spymasters and their teams. Before, it was Spyfall.
If you were a board game, what kind would you be?
I once took an online quiz of what ballroom dance you’d be, and my result was Foxtrot: elegant, classic, and let’s face it, a little boring. I’m also very mathy and analytical, so I’d probably be a eurogame with lots of number crunching.
What is the most edible board game component?
This is probably showing my age, but the pastel camels in Through the Desert. Like the little eggs in Windspan, they look like little candies you can pop in your mouth.
Which celebrity would you most like to play an RPG with?
Neil Gaiman. I’d like to see what weird and wonderful worlds and characters he would create.
What’s your favorite place to play games?
I like to play games in my home or those of friends, sat around the table, baked goods on counter, maybe pets nearby, music playing in the background.
Tiny games or massive games?
If it’s not fiddly, I do appreciate the scope of massive games.
Weirdest thing one of your RPG characters has ever done?
I’ve not played a lot of RPGs, but the weirdest thing is probably chant in Latin as part of a ritual to seal a shadow monster while keeping my gun trained on a trapdoor and not looking anywhere else lest the monster escape and kill everyone.
Name four board game designers
Reiner Knizia. When I started board gaming, a lot of the games we played were Knizia classics like Battle Line, Modern Art, Ra, Samurai, and Tigris and Euphrates.
Cole Wehrle popped on my radar because of Root and Pax Pamir. With the announcement of Oath, he is now firmly one of those designers whose games I wish I had designed, someone who takes complicated political or interpersonal conflicts and distills them into something more accessible than traditional wargames.
Speaking of wargames, I appreciate Rachel Simmons engineering new mechanics to achieve elegance and aesthetics in the extremely stodgy wargame genre.
I don’t know what Rob Daviau is up to right now, but the Pandemic Legacy series has given some of my best gaming experiences, so he has my thanks for that.
Board games or card games?
I feel like this is a false dichotomy.
What tabletop related item is most effective as an implement of murder?
Probably whacking someone on the head with Gloomhaven.
Ameri-trash or Eurogame?
This used to be the debate between theme vs. mechanics, but I think Ameri-trash mechanics have caught up, so definitely Ameri-trash.
If you could design one board game, what would it be about?
I would like to design a board game that can create an emergent narrative with minimal scripted pieces. Tales of Arabian Nights is randomness relying on players to figure out the narrative. A lot of campaign games and dungeon crawlers are scripted. I’d like a board game where players get a satisfying character-driven story that’s all their own.
Bonk, marry, kill: your three games from the first question
Quacks is definitely the sort of game you’d bonk: have a fling, but see you when I see you. Because I’m more of a board gamer than a roleplayer, I’d have to say marry AHLCG (it and Netrunner are lifestyle games, after all) and kill Primetime Adventures, but with a tear in my eye.