Jason MoslanderUnited States
Originally Posted at http://www.gameswithtwo.com/2013/05/euphoriainterview.html
Last fall, I had a chance to interview Jamey Stegmaier of Stonemaier Games. He told me all about their first game, Viticulture. Well, Viticulture is currently being sent out to Kickstarter backers and Jamey and his partner Alan have started their next project, Euphoria: Build a Better Dystopia. I was able to sit down with Jamey and discuss his new game (currently on Kickstarter http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/jameystegmaier/euphoria-...).
What is the Theme of Euphoria? Euphoria is a dystopian-themed game. It’s not a gloomy dystopia, though—I mean, from our perspective it’s kind of sad, but the workers in the world of Euphoria don’t know they’re in a dystopia. A lot of the references in the game are tongue-in-cheek; for example, each of the markets have contradictory names, like the Plaza of Immortalized Humility. Many of the recruits and ideas in the game pay homage to dystopian literature and movies, but the story of Euphoria stands on its own as well.
What mechanics does it use? I’ll just list the mechanics here and go into detail in later questions: worker-placement, dice allocation, area control, hand management, set collection, engine building, press your luck, resource management, alliances, semi-cooperation, variable setup, and variable player powers.
How does it differ from your other worker placement game, Viticulture? Interesting question. I was definitely going for something very different than Viticulture in terms of theme. Many of the mechanics above aren’t in Viticulture. But I would say that the biggest difference is the flow of the game. In Euphoria, you either place one worker dice on your turn or you retrieve any/all of your worker dice—one or the other, just like in Tzolk’in. There are no rounds, no phases, no seasons, no upkeep—once you start playing, you keep taking turn after turn until someone wins. That removes the need to determine the first player or have a semi-moderator reminding everyone which round they’re in. Viticulture’s theme means that the seasons really are necessary, but I wanted to make Euphoria a game that flowed in a more fluid way.
How does it differ from other dice worker games, such as Alien Frontiers, Kingsburg, and Castles of Burgundy?
I’ve played Alien Frontiers and Kingsburg (and greatly enjoy both of them) but not Castles of Burgundy (I’ve read quite a bit about it, though). The biggest difference between all of them and Euphoria is the way the numbers on the dice are used. I’m not aware of a connection between the numbers on the dice in those games and the themes. But in Euphoria, the numbers on the dice represent the knowledge of each worker. In a dystopia, having workers that know too much is a bad thing, because they might realize they’re in a dystopia and run away. So the collective knowledge of all of your workers must be kept below a certain limit or else you’ll lose a worker. There are many ways to mitigate that, including not adding extra workers beyond your starting 2. Luck barely factors into Euphoria, while I feel like it has a greater impact in those three games. When you roll the dice in Euphoria, the numbers don’t limit you to certain action spaces on the board. Nor are high rolls necessarily better than low rolls, or vice versa. Rather, based on your recruit cards (which give you special powers), you might get a bonus based on the way your worker interacts with another worker. For example, the Euphorians value equal knowledge—they want everyone to be the same as everyone else. So one Euphorian recruit might say that if you place you worker next to a worker of equal knowledge, you get an extra resource. The only real luck factor in the game is that if you roll more than one worker of the same knowledge, you can place both of them on your turn instead of just once. Thus there’s a big incentive to get more workers and increase the chances of rolling doubles (or the coveted triples), but you have to keep an eye on your overall knowledge, lest it gets to high and you lose a worker.
With Viticulture there was a money back guarantee, no questions asked. Will the same be true for Euphoria? Absolutely. We continue to believe that Kickstarter backers put a huge amount of trust in us to deliver on our promises. If we don’t, they can return the game to us within the first month of receiving it, no questions asked.
How many players can play Euphoria and what is the playtime? The version that is launching on Kickstarter plays 2-5. There is a stretch goal that adds a 6th player. It plays 15 minutes per player once you know how to play, almost to the minute.
How well does it play with two players? According to our blind playtesters and from our experience, it plays really well with 2. Setup is exactly the same, but there are a few less spaces for placing ownership tokens (victory points) on the board to make it a tighter game. One of the couples that blind playtested the game must have played it between 10-15 times, and they loved it. They said that the games lasted almost exactly 30 minutes every time.
I saw Euphoria being demoed at Geekway to the West this year, are there plans to the demo the game at any other conventions? Yes! It was great to meet you at Geekway. We’ll also be at Diecon with Viticulture and Euphoria at the end of June, and then at GenCon in August.
What are some of the unique stretch goals and kickstarter exclusives that backers can expect to see? Any surprises you can tell us about? You might remember the Viticulture campaign as a wild ride where I kept releasing new reward levels and stretch goals. A big part of that was that I was learning as I went. Although it was a lot of fun for me and the backers, it was not the wisest approach, especially when it came to accurate pricing. Thus the Euphoria campaign is planned out to the smallest detail. All of the stretch goals are visible on the project page. The only thing I’m keeping a secret are the various things needed to unlock those stretch goals…I have some fun surprises planned there.
Is there any expansions planned for Euphoria, if so, can you tell us anything about them? Honestly, I’m focusing a little more on Viticulture expansion brainstorming right now, as I don’t know how Euphoria will do yet. However, there is an expansion that is a stretch goal on Kickstarter. Again, I planned ahead with this one and extensively tested the expansion as part of the game. That way we know it works.
Where is the best place to get a hold of a copy of the game? The best way to get the best copy of the game is Kickstarter! We would love your support in making this ongoing dream a reality.
If you could only use one word to describe Euphoria what would it be? Apocalicious.
Is there anything else coming down the pipeline that you can tell us about? I’d like to make a card-based strategy game that plays up to 8 players. I have two ideas in that realm that I’m working on. Alan is working on a Prohibition-themed game. And both of us are always thinking about our big-box Viticulture expansion. The sales and ratings of that game will determine if we pursue the expansion pack.
A big thanks to Jamey for taking the time to sit down and interview with us about his new project Euphoria: Building a Better Dystopia. I look forward to hearing more about it, and I can't wait to give it a go. I saw it being demoed at Geekway to the West and it looked pretty sweet. Of course, I am a big fan of worker placement and dice, so this one appeals to me. And I am very excited to hear that it plays well with 2 players, and plays in about 30 minutes with 2 (a big plus for Mrs. GwT). I can't wait to try this one out. Be sure to check out Stonemaier's project (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/jameystegmaier/euphoria-...), and while you are waiting you can pick up a copy of Viticulture, which should be available very soon.
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