I struck down the path of hobby gaming at a young age. I had played Risk several times with friends but the bug really didn't take hold until one fateful day in a little Hialeah hobby shop (a couple doors down from a music shop where KC of Sunshine Band fame worked) where I spied a copy of Napoleon: The Waterloo Campaign, 1815.
I had never heard of Avalon Hill, I knew who Napoleon was and he was neat (common '70s vernacular). I vividly recall seeing the box standing upright on a glass display in the center of the shop. I picked it up and I heard those sweet sounds of small wooden objects rattling and sliding. Many of them judging by the weight and feel. What could those be I wondered? Troops, blue and red came to mind. I was certain whatever they were, they would be very different and so much more intriguing than the plastic geometrics that risk used to represent armies.
Somehow, I convinced my mom to buy it for me. Which in and of itself was worthy of Napoleon, such a great victory against overwhelming odds.
From there it was all "downhill" so to speak. Next was Rise and Decline of the Third Reich, followed by The Conquerors, then BattleFleet Mars and Star Fleet Battles. My gaming buddies and I went far afield to smaller publishers to find interesting titles including Godsfire and C.V.. I was in with both feet and up to my eyeballs.
During these formative years I designed several "homebrew" games, developed several RPG campaigns, and all the other things gamers in the late 70's and early 80's did as they evolved and grew with the hobby gaming industry. I took a hand at play testing. Since my group was very much into Star Fleet Battles, I play tested several scenarios from various expansions. When my first play test credit was published I was thrilled and mystified at how badly my name was misspelled. One of the more memorable activities was with the RPG Villains & Vigilantes (1st Edition), where we worked through some combat examples and directly reported back to Jeff Dee, all by handwritten and typed letters. No email kids.
Thereafter, I attended college and participated in all of the expected and hoped for events: marriage, career and children (in that order). My playing time was reduced during the 1990's with all the responsibilities that go along with (or are precipitated) by those events. Which brings me to 2001 and my first truly self-published design and the sole humble contribution to the art which begets my "designer" status on BGG, Doubloon Lagoon.
Desktop publishing was just starting to come into its own in 2001, photoshop was mature, and inkjet printers were really starting to shine. People could print out their own games and they wouldn't look half bad! Freedom! I decided it was time to get back into the design aspect of gaming and started up a print and play game site, battleplay.com. There was no doubt that I wanted to continue with competitive games revolving around conflict between players. This was natural given my strong wargaming roots. And the two part name combining the battle and play seemed to tell everyone what they needed to know about the games I wanted to create.
Doubloon Lagoon was a concept that had been floating around in my mind for a while. At the time I was into CCG's and loved their card play aspects. At the same time I wanted to recapture some of the flavor of the original war games of my youth: hex and counter. I also liked the story elements that drove my RPG campaigns. So what was novel to me at the time was to synthesize elements of the three into a unified design. Hex and Counter for combat, event cards to add an element of the unexpected, adventure cards to build narrative, all wrapped into an overarching pirate story pitting up to four captains and their crews against each other. Exploration, treasure hunting, naval battles, island skirmishes, and ancient artifacts were all represented. When I stopped tracking in 2010, the game had been downloaded a little over 10,000 times.
I am working on some new concepts now and look forward to sharing more in the future.
-- Steve Zaccardi