Eric B. Vogel is the designer of multiple games, including two deckbuilding designs, Zeppelin Attack! (2014) and Don’t Turn Your Back (2015), that he’s discussed in previous interviews. This time around, he’s created his first cooperative game, based on the popular Dresden Files series of novel — a game that’s now available on Kickstarter.
I talked with Eric about the mechanics of designing a cooperative game in an email interview conducted over the course of April 2016.
Shannon Appelcline: Thanks for agreeing to talk about your new game design, Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game — or DFCO to use the abbreviation favored by your publisher, Evil Hat. It’s your first cooperative game. What made you decide to go with a cooperative design?
Eric B. Vogel: It was the publisher, Evil Hat Productions, who made the stipulation that they wanted it to be a cooperative game. That was not initially something I was happy about. I had done some development work on a cooperative game previously, but I had never designed one up to that point. So I started the project without any clear ideas for cooperative design. It took a few months of blind fumbling before I finally came up with the core mechanic of DFCO. Continue reading
I haven’t talked about a new deckbuilder all year. As I’ve previously written, I think that’s because the genre has peaked. So I was happy to get my Kickstarted copy of Don’t Turn Your Back (2015), by Eric B. Vogel, because it gives me a chance to return to a topic that has often filled this blog in recent years.
I talked with Eric about the game in February, but now that it’s out I can talk more about my own experience with the game — about how it expands the field and where it has troubles. I should note that Eric is a friend of mine, and I playtested the game several times in 2014, so take what I write with the appropriate amount of salt!
Don’t Turn Your Back is a deckbuilding/worker-placement game. You buy cards and filter cards like you’d expect, making the best deck that you can. However, the game’s use of those cards is unusual. Instead of just playing them and taking their effects, you instead place cards on specific areas of a game board, each of which has limited spaces. Doing so produces specific results: 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.
Zeppelin Attack!, by Eric Vogel, is a deckbuilding game that I have a personal connection to, as I gave playtesting comments on it from its earliest days. It’s also published by Evil Hat, who is currently running my Kickstarter for Designers & Dragons. So, take what I say here with a grain of salt — but I do find it an interesting and innovative deckbuilding design.
Zeppelin Attack! is a game of fighting zeppelins. You build a fleet out of your flagship and other zeppelins, and then you use those zeppelins to launch attacks and deploy operatives. The card-based direct conflict of zeppelin-to-zeppelin attacks makes Zeppelin Attack! a very different sort of game from the multiplayer solitaire that’s the basis of much of the deckbuilding genre. You even get points when you cause another zeppelin to “retreat” (die in flames!), making the conflict an important element of the game.
As you’d expect, there’s card buying too. Currency in the form of “Fate Cards” can be used to buy new cards from piles of Attack cards, Defense cards, Operatives cards, Attack Zeppelins, and Operations Zeppelins. The big catch is that the Fate Cards go away when you use them! This isn’t the infinitely renewing currency of most deckbuilders, but instead a uniquely expendable resource that must then be reacquired. Continue reading
I’ve been writing about deckbuilding games here for a while, so I’m delighted that my friend, Eric Vogel, has a deckbuilding game of his own coming out from Evil Hat. It’s called Zeppelin Attack! and it’s a new Spirit of the Century-themed game. I played it while it was under development, and liked it quite a bit, so I asked Eric to talk to me about the new game and how it advances the deckbuilding form. —SA, 1/28/14
Shannon Appelcline: Thanks for talking about Zeppelin Attack! What led you to design a Deckbuilding game?
Eric B. Vogel: When Dominion first came out, my friends and I played it to death. We played it till we were sick of it. I thought it was incredibly clever, but it did not directly inspire me to make that kind of game. Later, when I played Thunderstone and then later Ascension, and it was clear that deckbuilding was going to be a genre and not just a game or two, I started to really have a desire to design one myself. Also, with the design of Armorica [a card management game —SA], I started to wrap my head around some of the technical issues involved in designing complex card games. A deckbuilding game seemed more like something within my grasp. So probably around 2010 I started really playing with ideas for a deckbuilding game.