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Designer Diary: The Making of Mondo

Michael Schacht
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From gallery of W Eric Martin
After many recent difficult productions, it's nice to have an easy one for a change – and that's what happened with my new board game Mondo, which will appear from Pegasus Spiele in German and Z-Man Games in English. After a movie wraps, the director does press tours praising the actors and vice versa. I'd like to take this opportunity to do the same, but not just to be polite.
This time the game started with a visual idea: an empty playing area that would be covered with matching tiles. This "key visual," as you say in advertising, is an image of the globe, which is depicted on the game board of each player. This defines where you can legally place your tiles, which means that the most important rules are already given to players from the start.
Game play takes place simultaneously, with everyone drawing from the same stock of landscape tiles. You earn positive points for animals collected and landscapes completed, while losing points for mistakes or an abundance of volcanoes.

From gallery of W Eric Martin
Board Game: Mondo
Early and final versions of the player board

A timer determines how long you have to arrange and place the most valuable combination of tiles. Beginners have seven minutes available to them, and while that might sound like a lot, it's not. If you do manage to finish early though, you can score extra points while the other players continue until time runs out. The advanced and professional game settings, as well as multiple variants, provide increased thrills and a lot of variety. This last feature was already clear during development, namely that the game system is incredibly flexible. Elaborating on these possibilities was a central goal for me.

Looking back on my design history, it seems that I have a weakness for speed games, perhaps because games like Socken Zocken and Tohuwabohu have been among my most successful creations. Or perhaps I just have fun looking for a new twist or a way to improve earlier ideas. (In Mondo, for example, you can see aspects of earlier games, such as Affenraffen and Architekton.) Finally, this game category offers the chance to create a tight set of rules.

From gallery of W Eric Martin
From gallery of W Eric Martin
From gallery of W Eric Martin
Early takes on the box cover

As always, my main focus is on creating family games, and this was the most significant factor among others that led me to create different levels of difficulty in Mondo. Now it's possible to bring beginners to the table and have them compete against experienced players, while also challenging the pros. An added bonus to the different levels is that the game can be taught in a short time bit by bit.
The production company Ludofact got involved early on, which made it possible to create production samples with finished artwork and the proper material. As a result, I could preview the game at Spiel 2010 and various other conventions to test the final components in detail.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Back again to the subject of teamwork – I've rarely seen this much work on the details of a game. The search for the perfect name, for example, was a massive effort. Much appreciation goes to artist Oliver Freudenreich, who was involved through all the conceptual stages and who created artwork and a design that are pretty impressive. I also got more involved in the production than I normally do, and while that took a lot of time, the effort was worth it. You never stop learning – and that's a good thing ...

Michael Schacht
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