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.

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The Expansion Game, Part Two: Bane or Boon?

Four weeks ago, I wrote about gaming expansions, positing a history for them that I really believe is how they came to be. Having thus examined the question of how gaming expansions exist, I’d like to talk about a more philosophical question: should they?

This surely isn’t the first time that I’ve talked about whether gaming expansions were good or bad. In my Carcassonne articles, I discussed how much the various expansions — particularly the latter ones — have messed up the core game play, while in a discussion of Memoir ‘44, I talked about how much I admired the system of scenarios, something that has now been carried across several supplements.

So, expansions can be good and bad, and when I answer the general question of whether gaming expansions are a bane or a boon, I generally have to say yes. Continue reading

Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror, Part One: A History and Ten Top Games

In my real life I work for Skotos Tech, an online gaming company that’s increasingly becoming an online entertainment company. Our newest site, which I launched last week, is Xenagia, a community site all about fantasy, science fiction, and horror. Thus far we’ve got a forum and a book index, with plans to add reviews in a couple of weeks.

(And, if you’re interested in the topics, please stop on by, as we’re working hard to create a community, particularly on the forums.)

Because of my work on Xenagia, I’ve been largely immersed in these three genres over the last couple of weeks, and that’s what led to this article, talking about science-fiction and fantasy (and to a lesser extent, horror) in gaming.

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Elegant Games, Elegant Components

Remember back to days of playing Monopoly? Did you ever actually read the rules? For myself I’m pretty sure the answer is, “No”, because in more recent years when I have gone back and looked at the venerable Monopoly rules, they looked entirely unfamiliar to me.

There’s a reason for that.

Now, I would never be one to call Monopolyan elegant game, but the Parker brothers did know how to do one thing right: they made good use of their components. In Monopoly’s case, practically everything you need to know about playing the game is right there on the board and the cards.

“Collect $200.00 Salary as You Pass Go” the Start space says boldly. “Community Chest,” another space states. “Follow Instruction on Top Card.” Sets of property are color coded, and the cost of each property is clearly stated on the board. The ownership card for each property displays all possible rents, a mortgage value and the cost of houses and hotels.

Now some game designers (and publishers) think that the primary purpose of components is beauty, so if they want to impress you they use quality materials and plaster artwork wherever possible. The results of this can be very positive. I’ve found that French games in particular, including Asmodee and Days of Wonder, often wow me with their artistic sensibility.

However any publisher that stops there has only gone halfway, and is omitting the other great advantage that components can offer, the one that the Parker brothers knew: elegance. Continue reading

Fantasy Flight’s Adventure Games & That Old Time Roleplaying

Last month I chanced into a game of World of Warcraft: The Board Game. It’s really not the sort of thing I usually play with my various board game groups — if for no other reason, game length — but it’s the exact sort of game my roleplaying group likes to play if we’re not roleplaying on a particular day. We’ve actually played a number of Fantasy Flight games in that group. Besides World of Warcraft there’s also been Runebound and Arkham Horror.

On my first game of World of Warcraft I was struck not only by its similarities to the other two Fantasy Flight Games we’d recently played, but also its differences. At first I thought that FFG might just be retreading these same ideas, but then I realized that something different was going on … Fantasy Flight is actually creating a whole new subgenre of board games: adventure games. Granted, we’ve had these adventure games around for a while. Arkham Horror was originally published in 1984, and it shortly followed on the heels of another adventure game classic, Talisman (1983). The same era would later see Milton Bradley’s HeroQuest (1989). However, with one publisher now putting out so many games, there’s an opportunity for something new.

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