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Designer Diary: Pyramidion

Yannick Gervais
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Board Game Designer
Microbadge: Pyramidion fan
Board Game: Pyramidion
Greatly influenced by collectible card games like Magic: The Gathering, Doom Trooper, Guardians and many others, I started very young creating my own card games. All of my ideas had one thing in common – managing a hand of cards. I must admit, this design aspect is my favorite of any game mechanism, and this mostly explains the importance of managing your hand of cards in the game Pyramidion.

Pyramidion originated in 2006 as my first card game idea to incorporate elements of a board game. Like all my creations, the theme came first, then the atmosphere inspired the game mechanisms. Originally, I had opted for a science fiction theme, and the game was called Titan III. In this first version of the game, each player embodied an aspiring commander of the Army of the Empress of planet Titan III. In this version, players had to negotiate on different planets for all the resources required to build the most impressive fleet of ships and present it as a gift to the Empress.

From gallery of ForstMindstorm

Titan III was originally created to play with friends and never have I thought it could be published some day. The basis of the game mechanisms for this first version were rather similar to the current version of Pyramidion.

However, over the years, several improvements were grafted to the game mechanisms in order to improve the gaming experience. In 2008, the theme was changed for the first time. Since the science fiction theme was less appealing to my entourage, I opted for a medieval-fantasy environment in order to win them over. Thus was born the game Dendragon. In this new version of the game, players embodied a knight aspiring to sit on the throne of Dendragon. Players had to collect valuable treasures from different sites and offer them to the important members of the nobility in exchange for their votes during the next king's election at Dendragon. Appreciative comments that I received convinced me to make my first attempt at getting my game published.

From gallery of ForstMindstorm

The journey of editing the game brought Dendragon to participate in two contests for board game creators. First, Dendragon was ranked in the top 10 of the design contest run by Ne Tirez pas sur le Messager (NTPSLM, in Québec) in 2009, then ranked in the top 10 of the Plateau d'Or (Québec), also in 2009. This performance got noticed by Forgenext, which had acted as jury member during NTPSLM. Following the contest, Forgenext contacted me and asked me to send them a prototype. Despite a six-hour time difference between Montreal and Paris, this was the beginning of a great collaboration with them.

From gallery of ForstMindstorm

Collaboration with Forgenext was decisive for the future of Dendragon. A module to play online was created on Vassal Forge to test the game with different players. The valuable comments provided led to some adjustments to the game which enriched and balanced the gaming experience. Then the theme was changed once again as the medieval-fantasy theme made the game appear to several publishers to be an American game style, although that wasn't the case. Therefore, Dendragon had a second makeover, which transported us to the time during the construction of the pyramids of Egypt, and Pyramidion was finally born.

From gallery of ForstMindstorm

The game mechanisms of Dendragon were transposed into the new theme. I had always said that the game could adapt well to different themes, and it turned out to be quite true. In my suggestion list of possible themes, the Egyptian theme caught the attention with its new classic German theme and was finally chosen for the final version. Several games had already addressed the subject of the pyramids of Egypt, but Pyramidion proposes a different approach while adding original game mechanisms to it.

In 2011, Forgenext presented Pyramidion to White Goblin Games and the new theme hit the marks. Shortly afterwards, I received communication informing me that White Goblin Games was interested in Pyramidion and wanted to publish it. I was ecstatic when I got the news as it was a great honor for me to see that White Goblin Games had faith in Pyramidion.

Despite the time difference between the Netherlands, France and Québec, the collaboration was pleasant between White Goblin Games, Forgenext and me while working out the final details. I sometimes find that for games with three and four players, they can be less challenging when played with only two, so several game tests were held in order to adjust the two-player rules; these adjustments give the new two-player version, in my opinion, much more interesting and challenging game play.

Following these adjustments, the final rulebook was drafted and the production of the game was started by White Goblin Games. The game will be presented by them at Spiel 2012, and you have no idea how impatient I am to open my first box! I seriously feel like a child on Christmas morning!

Yannick Gervais

Board Game: Pyramidion
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Subscribe sub options Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:32 pm
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