The Solo Interviews: Celebrating the 2021 Solitaire Print and Play Contest

Welcome to the Solo Interviews, providing a platform for the designers, artists, YouTubers, and creatives of BGG’s 2021 Solitaire Print and Play Contest. We’ll dive into their gaming interests, their new games, and lessons learnt from designing games.
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Interview with Christopher Waite, designer of Bogbrook Dungeon

Today’s interview is with Christopher Waite, whose entry Bogbrook Dungeon is a solitaire worker placement game with a smattering of tableau building, some polyomino fun and a generous dollop of dungeon delving. Enjoy the interview, and please head over to their WIP thread to check out the game and show them some love.

Could you talk about your gaming history? How did you get into board games?
My journey into board games began about 10 years ago when I discovered Carcassonne (although I can't quite remember how I stumbled upon it). It was a bit of a revelation because up until that point my experience with board games had been limited to games of Monopoly, Cluedo, and card games from my childhood. I began researching some more and was quickly taken aback by how many modern board games existed and the wide range of mechanics and themes.

I remember initially splurging heavily and playing numerous games. Games like Dominion, Libertalia, Lords of Waterdeep (which had just come out at the time), and Castles of Burgundy amongst others.

Over the years I’ve played and enjoyed many games with my wife as well as groups of friends. About 3-4 years ago my interests had changed and I ended up selling a large portion of my collection to make space. In the past few years I've begun building up my collection again and, in particular, solitaire gaming (although I always try to ensure that my game's play well at 2 and, ideally 5, players as these are the group's I get together most frequently). I still have a fondness for many of those original games such as Lords of Waterdeep and especially Castles of Burgundy which is probably still my #1 game.

I've had some really enjoyable solitaire experiences recently with Gloomhaven, Auztralia, Expedition to Newdale, and others. I love that many games now come with a solo mode as it means that I'm guaranteed to get the game to the table. I have less free time now than I used to so I'm beginning to recognise that I value games with a 1 hour-ish play time which does unfortunately sometimes sit counter to my love of complex games

A friend who's never played board games before asks you for advice on what to play. What starter games do you suggest to help them love the hobby?
Love Letter is an easy recommendation for me because it's so quick and easy to play. It's a great pub game and it's relatively inexpensive.

The recent Exit games are also a lot of fun and I’ve had lots of success with introducing them to new gamers. They really show some of the inventiveness of modern games.

I still recommend Dominion because I think it's simple to learn and a really enjoyable, expansive and varied deck builder. Waterdeep and Castles of Burgundy are also games I recommend.

Waterdeep is a clean and straightforward worker placement game but also very relaxing to play. Castles of Burgundy is great for couples despite its ugly appearance. It's also a super chilled but fun experience in a relatively inexpensive box.

How did you start designing games?
This is my first time designing a board game. I've designed video games independently in the past and there is plenty of overlap in terms of game design theory. I've also always enjoyed game Jams and this contest has given me the drive to create a first attempt at something playable. I hope it's the beginning of more to come.

Tell us about your game: why should we play it? What makes it interesting?
Bogbrook Dungeon mixes a few different concepts. At its core, you are placing workers on buildings in order to gain resources (and sometimes to do other things). You can increase the actions available to your workers by purchasing new buildings.

You are also using these resources to delve into dungeons comprised of various traps, monsters, events, and rewards. A key mechanism here is the use of polyominoes to resolve grids of icons on the cards. This adds a nice puzzle element requiring you to cover the correct icons with the polyominoes you have available with more being unlocked as you explore the dungeons.

The pressure in the game comes from Bogbrook Dungeon itself. This is being built throughout the game using a separate deck of cards (acting as a turn counter). Once all of cards are added to the dungeon, you must face it.

Facing Bogbrook Dungeon is like the 2nd Act of the game. It uses the same gameplay mechanisms as the rest of the game, but the cards are more difficult, introduce a few new concepts, and are unique to Bogbrook Dungeon.

Pick a theme or mechanic that's crucial to your game. What made you want to design a game with this in it?
Worker placement is crucial to the game. I very much set out to design a game that utilises my favourite aspect of Lords of Waterdeep - the ability to add more worker placement spaces throughout the game.

I really enjoy that ability for your decision space to increase throughout the game, offering new ways for you to interact. This is especially true when you are able to immediately take advantage of a new worker placement space that you have just bought/unlocked.

In Bogbrook Dugeon there are 10 buildings (worker placement spaces) with only 3 available to you at the start of the game. The other 7 can be purchased during the game. You have total control of which ones you build which means that each game can play out in a different way.

What have you found most challenging when designing this game?
Aside from trying to find enough spare time to work on the game, the most challenging aspect for me has been the rulebook. Whilst it can be easy to explain something to someone face-to-face, translating gameplay mechanics into a set of written rules has been very challenging and has involved several rewrites. I think that my current rulebook is pretty good - or at least I hope it is.

Other than your own, which game in this year’s contest is most interesting to you, and why?
Interplanetary caught my eye for two reasons. 1, I really like the space theme, and 2, I like the complexity. Having tried the game, it has a lot of really interesting choices giving you lots of freedom to approach the game however you wish. Now I just need to find some more time to play it

I was also really drawn to a game called Tilting at Windmills. It has charming artwork and I think the name is great. It’s the first in-hand games I've played and it’s a really interesting concept. Lots to be said for the limited amount of space that it requires and the reasonably speedy play time. I also got oh my goods! vibes from the resource collection.

Ask a question for another designer of your choice in this contest. We'll try to get that designer to reply in the comments
Ben Morayta - how do you find time to run the contest AND enter it?!
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