Matt Leacock is well-known as the designer of Pandemic (2007), Forbidden Island (2010), Forbidden Desert (2013), and related games. I interviewed him about his designs a couple of years ago, following the release of Forbidden Desert. Now that Modiphius Entertainment is Kickstarting his newest co-op game, the Thunderbirds Co-operative Board Game, I was thrilled to talk to him again, to see how it fits into his evolving design philosophy.
Shannon Appelcline: Between the Pandemic series and the Forbidden series, you’ve become one of our industry’s definitive co-op game designers. What led you to create this new Thunderbirds game for Modiphius?
Matt Leacock: Chris Birch approached me at Spiel in 2013 and pitched the idea of a Thunderbirds game. Growing up in the States, I had never seen the show but agreed to check it out. Chris is good at making a pitch and there was such enthusiasm and excitement in his eyes — I could tell he was passionate about the project. I went home and watched some of the shows and immediately understood the appeal. I also thought Thunderbirds and the world of International Rescue was a natural fit for a cooperative game, so I signed on. Continue reading →
I’ve enjoyed watching the deckbuilding genre emerge over the last several years. However, only a few of the deckbuilders have caught my attention enough to become regular members of my gaming catalog. Dominion (2008) and Ascension (2010) were both early members of that club, racking up 100 and 21 plays to date respectively. However more recently another one has really caught my eye: the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game (2013). Though I’ve only been playing it since last April, I’ve already recorded 23 plays of the game, which has put my group almost halfway through the Rise of the Runelords campaign.
The Cards Quickly Become Manageable. When I wrote my original article, I said that you could easily get lost in your hand. Because the cards are all quite unique, it’s hard for a first-time player to track everything that they can do. However, I found that this problem resolved itself within several plays. Now I can sit down with my familiar deck of cards and instantly know what everything does. Continue reading →
Last year, I talked with my friend Eric B. Vogel about his first published deckbuilder design, Zeppelin Attack! Now that he’s got his second deckbuilding (and first worker placement!) design, Don’t Turn Your Back, on Kickstarter, I couldn’t resist talking to him again, to see how his ideas about deckbuilding have evolved in the last year.
Shannon Appelcline:Don’t Turn Your Back is your second deckbuilding game, following Zeppelin Attack! Why did you return to the genre?
Eric B. Vogel: For me it didn’t feel like a return to the genre so much. That’s because when you’re playing, the worker placement element feels most prominent. You really only shuffle every turn or two, buy one or two cards a turn, but you place 4-7 workers every turn. You also have the area control elements. I would say this game is 1/2 worker placement, 1/4 deckbuilding, and 1/4 area control. So to me, I felt more like I was creating my first worker placement game, instead of my second deck-building game.
This article brings Alea past the mid ’00s and through the rest of what I think of as its lowest peak. After Palazzo and Rum & Pirates, following on the heels of Fifth Avenue, I was wondering if I should give up on the series … and then the good Feld games started appearing (in part seven!). I think it’s notable that I haven’t played any of these three games since my alea-thon of 2009, though two of them remain in my collection.
The object of Palazzo is to build Renaissance palaces composed of multiple floors. You bid for those floors in auctions and/or purchase them. Each floor is made of a specific material, has 1-3 windows or doors, and bears a number from 1-5 (which must be placed in increasing order as you build). The final value of each palazzo is dependent on how many floors it contains, whether it’s all made of one material, and how many doors and windows it has.
Strengths: Auctions & Options
Both the auctions and the options in Palazzo include some clever design.
Over the years, my board game writing has very much been a labor of love. So, once a year I like to remind readers that they can help to support this writing, and ensure that Mechanics & Meeples continues into the distant future.
If you’re interested in supporting the publication of Mechanics & Meeples articles, I encourage you to become a patron at Patreon. You can choose to contribute as little as $1 per new article I write, and in doing so you’ll work together with (hopefully) lots of other patrons to support this site.
When you become a Patreon, you can also receive all of the notes I post on Patreon, where I do my best to post a link for every board game review I publish and for every old article that I revive here. So, it’s a one-stop shop for all of my board game writing (though only the new stuff is labeled as “paid” creations).
Even if you personally can’t become a patron,thanks for your readership and your thoughtful comments. That’s just as important as a little bit of patronage to keep me writing!
This past Christmas I got a very generous present from my long-time friend Christopher Allen: a beautiful wooden box for storing my Dominion cards, complete with labeled dividers showing which cards went where. It’s a thing of beauty — and also a solution for a few different problems that I’d had with Dominion over the years.
The Problem with Dominion Boxes
Previously, I had a mighty stack of square Dominion boxes atop one of my book cases, running from the original Dominion (2008) to Dark Ages (2012) — with a few of the smaller boxes located somewhat nearby. Unfortunately, I always found the individual boxing of Dominion supplements to be troublesome. It might seem a silly thing to complain about, but boxes can have real repercussions for how you collect and play games (as I’ve written about in the past), and I think that’s particularly true for Dominion.
Sadly, Fall 2014 just wasn’t a great season for gaming for me — and especially not for new gaming. A few plays, Thanksgiving, and Christmas kept some gaming nights from occurring, while rain and rioting cut other game nights short. Even when I did play there were six plays of current obsession Pathfinder Adventure Card Game (more on that next year!), six plays of prototypes, and three plays of Kickstarter prereleases. I’m actually pretty surprised I managed ten totally new games, which I’ve detailed here (plus one that was only new in my mind).
Also sadly, the games that I played weren’t (on average) that great. This wasn’t another season of the very good … but instead a season of the mediocre. Ah well. Maybe winter will be better.Continue reading →