I Don't Discuss My Process

A board game design blog by board game designer Scott Rogers

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Scott Rogers' History of Board Games: PASS-OUT (1962)

Scott Rogers
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PASS-OUT(1962)

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My high school retail job was working at the Game Keeper - a West-Coast chain that exclusively sold board games & puzzles.

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The majority of our inventory was high-end chess and backgammon sets, but we also had a few shelves of board games including classics such as 221B Baker Street & the 3M games including Acquire and Twixt.

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We also carried games like Monopoly and Clue but our big seller was Pass-Out, an adult drinking game. We also once sold Twister bed sheets, which I always regretted not buying!

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My boss, Jon, insisted that I read the rule books of every game we sold in order to sell it. In retrospect, it was an amazing "boot-camp" for familiarizing myself w/ these classic games.
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Fri Dec 3, 2021 7:00 pm
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Scott Rogers' History of Board Games: MARVEL SUPERHEROES ROLEPLAYING GAME (1984)

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MARVEL SUPERHEROES ROLEPLAYING GAME (1984)

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A lifelong comic reader, my fandom kicked into high gear thanks to Crisis on Infinite Earths, Marvel Secret Wars & the Handbooks/Who’s Who’s Guides.

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Couple that w/ my D&D love & this game was catnip. I loved that the modules were chock-filled w/ original comic art by Byrne, Zeck & Milgrom. I loved that they were original stories. I obsessed over character stats.

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I went all in: modules, sourcebooks, accessories, miniatures; I even tracked down supplimental material in Dragon magazine. Although I don’t know why the “advanced” version never clicked w/ me.

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The bummer was, I had a hard time convincing my non-comic collector friends to play it. If it weren’t for forcing my little brother to play, I probably would have only played a handful of games.

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After college & a dozen moves, I ended up selling (almost) all of my books, modules, standees & minis to pay rent: a purge that I regret to this day.
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Sun Nov 28, 2021 2:25 am
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Scott Rogers' History of Board Games: GRIMTOOTH'S TRAPS (1981)

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GRIMTOOTH'S TRAPS (1981)

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I had been playing D&D for a couple of years when three things changed my DMing forever (or at least for the next few years)

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After watching Raiders of the Lost Ark & getting the Tomb of Horrors for my birthday, I became obsessed w/ traps. I spent hours designing ways to murder my players. They retaliated by spending their starting gold on hiring lackeys who would "go first".

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Then came Grimtooth's Traps: a glorious tome filled w/ murderous devices. I ate it up. In the back of the book, there was a request to submit ideas for later editions. I came up with dozens of traps, but I chickened out; thinking they'd never want ideas from "a kid".

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Years later, I met designer Paul O' Connor, a great mentor & friend. One day, he mentioned he was the author of Grimtooth's Traps! He WAS Ol' Grimtooth!!! I told about my trap obsession & why I never submitted. He said I should have done it as he would have would have printed them & that most of the "submissions" was him using pseudonyms!

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Years later, when I submitted my designer credit to BGG.Com, I was surprised to be Scott Rogers (II). When I looked up Scott Rogers (I), I was amazed to find that their only credit was for Grimtooth's Traps vol. 4! I tracked down the volume to make sure it wasn't something I had forgotten about submitting!! (It wasn't)
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Tue Nov 23, 2021 6:00 am
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Scott Rogers' History of Board Games: HAUNTED MANSION GAME (1972)

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HAUNTED MANSION GAME (1972)

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I had already fallen in love w/ Disneyland's Haunted Mansion by the time I traveled to Florida to visit my Grandmother.

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On her game shelf, I discovered this. I have no idea if it was left by another relative or if she had bought it especially for us. I remember being sad that visiting WDW & Sea World would take away from time to play this game.

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As a game, it's not great. It's a roll & move w/ an unpredictable "the path changes" mechanism & a punishingly hard penalty system. Expect to lose many turns in the dungeon.

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But as an object, it has real table presence. The spinners are mesmerizing. The art is gorgeous. It has doombuggy movers. There's a reason why this game is considered a "grail" game by many collectors. But owners beware, the game itself is very fragile.

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In the early days of eBay, I won a mint copy. Of course, it got lost in the mail. I eventually bought another before the prices got too high. Restoration Games if you have any interest in "restoring" this classic, call me.
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Mon Nov 22, 2021 6:00 am
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Scott Rogers' History of Board Games: GAMMA WORLD (1978)

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GAMMA WORLD (1978)

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While D&D was my "main", occasionally I would dabble in other RPG systems. I remember that local game stores were starting to spring up to support the audience's never-satisfied demand for new games.

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Gamma World, Tunnels and Trolls, Ace of Aces, Boot Hill, Villains and Vigilantes... I bought and played them all. While I liked taking a break from medieval fantasy, I never quite found a game system that was as satisfying as D&D.
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Sun Nov 21, 2021 6:00 am
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Scott Rogers' History of Board Games: DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS (1977)

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DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS(1977)

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I was at a Boy Scout horseback riding camp & as we finished up for the day, I noticed several older boys had gathered in a tent. I found them huddling around maps & dice. I thought they were gambling.

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I asked "what are you doing?" They said "we're playing a game." I asked "Can I watch?" They said "As long as you're quiet." Nearby they had several books w/ interesting pictures on their covers. I grabbed one.

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Inside, I recognized creatures from Greek Mythology - Medusa, Minotaur, Sphinx - which I had just learned about in an after-school program for gifted kids. I turned to one of the old boys and said "You HAVE to let me play this game!!"

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I explained that I knew all of the monsters in this book and even more importantly, I knew how to defeat them. If the goal of the game was to fight monsters, they needed me to join them. My pitch must have been convincing because soon I had rolled by my first character, Aragorn the Fighter.

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By the end of that session, Aragorn had been killed, smooshed under a Hydra he speared in the heart, but I was hooked. I begged my parent for D&D books and dice for my birthday. As I was the one who owned the supplies, I was the dungeon master by default.

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It is fair to say that my game design career began w/ D&D (as is the case w/ many other designers I have met over the years) - it sparked my creativity, taught me how to design for players, how to draft maps and craft worlds. Skills that I still use to this day.
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Sat Nov 20, 2021 6:00 am
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Scott Rogers' History of Board Games: CLUE (1949)

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CLUE (1949)

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When I think of classic board games, there's Monopoly - a game about getting rich, Candy Land - a game about getting candy, & Clue - a game about murder. It's so odd that such a grim theme is a staple at family game night.

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Everyone has "their" version of Clue. The version their grandparents or parents owned or the version they got for a birthday or Christmas. "My" version of Clue is the one w/ the photographs. I don't know why more publishers - other than Flying Frog - use photos in their games. You'd think it would be cheaper & easier.

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I do like that recently, there have been some clever "twists" on Clue - you are looking for the Death Star Plans in Clue Star Wars. Or in Clue: Discover the Secrets, if you guess wrong, a player dies.

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While I have found many games to "replace" Clue - Awkward Guests, Mystery of the Abby, Mysterium, 221B Baker Street - but I think it's Clue's simplicity that allows it to survive. And also nostalgia & recognition that allows it to thrive. After all, Colonel Mustard & Professor Plum are two of the few characters from board gaming that most people know by name.

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My dream game night is one in which I play Kill Dr. Lucky (to kill the old man), Clue (find out whodunnit) and 1313 Dead End Drive (who gets the money).
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Fri Nov 19, 2021 6:00 am
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Scott Rogers' History of Board Games: MONOPOLY (1933)

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MONOPOLY (1933)

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Yes, it's design was stolen. Yes, it promotes capitalism. Yes, it takes too long to play. Yes, you are playing it wrong. Let's leave our prejudices behind for a moment.

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The best game designs make a player feel smart, powerful or rich. Monopoly does the last one in spades. Does it ever get old getting money from rent or by passing GO? Nope. It plays upon a deep desire. Is it any wonder Monopoly has sold consistently over the decades?

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Even if you hate the game, you have to respect how many iconic things it's spawned: Funny money. Pewter dogs. Rich Uncle Pennybags. Boardwalk. Beauty Contests. Get Out of Jail Free. The word Monopoly. And so many spin-offs.

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Sure, my Dad cheated at Monopoly & that's all I ever think about when I play the game, but I also respect that Monopoly always reinvents itself. That it has endured for so long. If I could create a game w/ 1/10th the impact of Monopoly, I'd be as rich as Uncle Pennybags.
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Thu Nov 18, 2021 6:00 am
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Scott Rogers' History of Board Games: BATTLING PIRATES (1975)

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BATTLING PIRATES (1975)

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When I was a kid, games and toys were much closer relatives. Case in point, this target shooter: Battling Pirates.

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The goal was to “sink” your opponent’s two ships by blasting them w/ marbles. What can I say? This was before video games & we were easily amused.

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A huge thanks to Tabletop Island for helping me find the name of this game. He does exceptional retro game reviews on YouTube.
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Wed Nov 17, 2021 6:00 am
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Scott Rogers' History of Board Games: THE GAME OF AUTHORS (1861)

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THE GAME OF AUTHORS (1861)

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As a kid, I was a voracious reader. My parents supported this habit w/ trips to the library, buying Classics Illustrated & the game of Authors.

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Invented in the 1800's by editor Anne Abbot, the Game of Authors was a top-selling product for decades.

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It plays like Go Fish w/ Mark Twain, Louisa May Alcott & Edgar Allan Poe & it's the reason why I know that Robert Lewis Stevenson wrote both Treasure Island AND a Child's Book of Verses.
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Tue Nov 16, 2021 7:07 pm
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