Return to Pathfinder Adventure Card Game II: Skull, Wrath, and Mask

It’s three years later, and I’m still playing Pathfinder Adventure Card Game. With a total of 87 plays (including 39 of the original Rise of the Runelords game), it’s on the verge of surpassing Dominion as my most-played deckbuilder. During those three years, Paizo has also released three new adventure paths for PACG — essentially, three different games using the same core systems. So this week I’m going to look at each of these variants and see how each has changed the deckbuilder genre, for better or for worse — or alternatively how they changed the other major aspects of PACG’s gameplay, which fall into the cooperative gaming and adventure gaming genres. If you’d like to read my previous articles on PACG, take a look at A Deckbuilding Look at Pathfinder Adventure Card Game and Return to Pathfinder Adventure Card Game — The Campaign. Continue reading

Co-Op Interviews: Matt Leacock — Thunderbirds

ThunderbirdsMatt 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

Co-Op Interviews: Bruno Cathala & Serge Laget

Bruno Cathala and Serge Laget are the designers of Shadows over Camelot and the recent Shadows over Camelot card game. They were kind enough to talk to about their design in email discussions between August and October this year.

Picture by Toshiyuki Hashitani (moonblogger at BGG); used under CC license.

Picture by Toshiyuki Hashitani (moonblogger), used under Creative Commons

Shannon Appelcline: How did the Shadows over Camelot board game come about?

Serge Laget: I’m a teacher, and I use cooperative gaming in my work. In the years before Shadows over Camelot was published, there were no cooperative games for adults except The Lord of the Rings by Reizer Knizia.

At first, I began to work alone on a cooperative game. I met Bruno Cathala during this time, and I proposed that he work with me on the project. The game was born by the cooperation of our two minds!

Bruno Cathala: The story begins on Christma 2002. My sister’s gift to me was The Lord of the Rings, the cooperative game designed by Reiner Knizia. In my head, i said: “Wow … exactly what I didn’t want to have.”

At the time, I didn’t like cooperative games (because I’m a competitor), I thought that cooperative games were just for children, and I was not familiar with Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings story. I had tried to read the book many times, but each time, I gave up after less than 100 pages, because the style was boring to me — as boring as the French author Honoré de Balzac! Continue reading

Co-Op Interviews: Corey Konieczka

Corey Konieczka is the VP of R&D at Fantasy Flight Games. He may also be the most prolific professional designer of cooperative games, with a half-dozen games to his credit. He’s best-known for the traitor game Battlestar Galactica, but he’s also designed two true co-ops — Gears of War: The Board Game and Space Hulk: Death Angel – The Card Game — and two overlord-led co-ops — Middle-Earth Quest and Mansions of Madness. Finally, he was involved with developing the second edition of Descent: Journeys in the Dark.

This interview was conducted by email in May, June, and July of 2013.

Shannon Appelcline: Thanks for talking with me, Corey. Let’s get started with the basics: what got you involved with the cooperative genre in the first place?

Corey Konieczka: Co-op games are very exciting to me because they can provide unique social experiences. The emotion of playing a co-op game can be drastically different than the emotion of playing competitive game. Knowing that you need to rely on teamwork to win leads to dramatic events that you won’t find in too many other games. You can have those moments where everyone is cheering and high-fiveing around the table; you don’t get that often in competitive games.

Continue reading

Co-Op Interviews: Matt Leacock

PandemicMatt Leacock is the author of Pandemic — one of the essential games in the cooperative field thanks to its attention to light, quick, well-polished gameplay. He’s also the author of Forbidden Island and the brand-new Forbidden Desert, which is to be released in several languages this quarter.

This interview was conducted in email over the course of April 2013.

Shannon Appelcline: What made you decide to design a cooperative game — and more specifically, what made you decide to design Pandemic?

Matt Leacock: I was introduced to the idea of a cooperative game being genuinely fun (as opposed to a “fun” educational experience) by Reiner Knizia’s Lord of the Rings. I found the mechanisms in that game fascinating — how so much tension could be created by pieces of cardboard — and wondered what it would be like to create my own. At the time, pandemics where all over the news and it seemed to me that diseases would make an excellent opponent: they’re unfeeling, scary, can grow out of control, and I figured they could be modeled with fairly simple rules. Those latter two properties were the most attractive. I’m drawn to designing games with emergent systems (where a simple set of rules can result in highly complex and variable results) and the thought of a system spiraling wildly out of control was irresistible to me.

Continue reading

Co-Op Interviews: Reiner Knizia — Lord of the Rings

In previous articles in this column I discussed the primordial co-operative play board games, from 1987 to 2000 — starting with Arkham Horror and ending with Lord of the Rings — and I talked with Richard Launius, who helped to kick-off the co-operative game explosion for the late 1980s.

This week I’m talking with Dr. Reiner Knizia, one of the top designers of Eurogames, and possibly the best known board game designer in the world. Just like Richard Launius, he’s a foundational co-op designer, because he’s the guy that got co-ops going again over the last decade, after they’d gone moribund for almost as long.

By chance, Knizia’s Lord of the Rings has just been rereleased by publisher Fantasy Flight in a new Silver Line Edition, which means it’s smaller and cheaper.

With that said, let me offer special thanks to Dr. Knizia for chatting with me about co-op games, as he rarely grants print interviews of this sort.
Continue reading

Co-Op Interviews: Richard Launius — Arkham Horror

Arkham HorrorLast month I started a discussion of co-op games with an article I called “Gaming Evolution: Co-Op Games, Part One: Honored Ancestors”. It talks about some of the primordial co-op games which helped to create the genre in the 1980s and 1990s. Before I move on to more recent games, I’m going to be publishing a couple of interviews with some of the designers of those co-op originators, to further document the games that the modern co-op boom ultimately looks back to as its foundation.

This month I’m talking to Richard Launius. He’s best known for his design of Arkham Horror. He was thus perhaps the first entrant in the “American co-op” subgenre of games which is best represented in the modern day by Fantasy Flight Games … who not by chance counts Arkham Horror among its stable of American co-op games.
Continue reading