I was thinking what else can be changed in Power Grid and I focussed on the cards, because they are more important than the board. As playing the game very often I always know which plant I will buy for what price and if I can get the 25 or 26 early in the game it is good. So I wanted to make a deck of cards where these decisions are not that clear any more. I was calculating a lot and wanted to make the coal plants worse and the others better, because coal is cheap in the game and the power plant are cheap, too. So I decided to push garbage forward and I really like the new twist on that. I played the new cards a lot and found out that now other players are winning the game (not me any more ) and decided that this a good sign, because you need a new strategy now. Some of the players playing Power Grid a lot were disappointed about that fact, but I was happy. Later on the idea came up to start with number 1, because if the number of each plant is 2 less, than more power plants will go out of the game by actions of the gamers, that you can use it. If the 1 and 2 is not bought in the first round the game now will speed up because in the first round 2 power plants will go away, so you will have a complete different game, but if somebody buys the 1 and slows the game a bit and will make the coal very fast expensive, this will lead to another game. Now the power plants look much more efficent because of the lower price, but the price is not that important, more important is when the power plants are coming in the game and only the first power plant a lowered. Normally I'll buy only two of these low plants, so it is for the whole came 4 bucks cheaper, which is not much. I really like the mixing up both decks variant, because you have to change your strategy to the new deck, every time you play, so you have to be flexible and I always like games, where the strategy is not clear to be seen.
This game was made for my girlfriend. She is very interested in animals especially from madagascar. I found an animal book and was thinking to give it as a present for her birthday. In this book every animal was noted with origin, weight, length and tail-lenght. That inspired me for the game.
Because of the horrible many pictures to be put in the game, I decided not to make the game in my own company and searched for a publisher. I'm happy finding huch&friends for that, because they did an awesome job with the artwork with this game.
It was a lover's gift, the love is gone, the gift (game) is here.
The Korea Board Game Company, was in for another foreign language edition and we decided to make a korean board.
Me having a far look on that country made an only south korean board, but the koreans wanted to have the complete korea for the board. Then the idea came up to make two different resource markets and I was very positively surprised how well this change is working with the game. I really love this map and sadly I'm not winning the game when playing with korea.
So the second map has to be done for the expansion and because china is next to korea, I decided to make china.
When thinking of china the planned economy came into my mind, because we had something similar in eastern germany. I worked on that and found out that this is a complete different twist with the game. I really like that board because it plays very well with 2 players.
I had the idea of making a race game with totally different boards and a simple mechanic. I wanted to build different boards with different strategies, so the game will be different whatever boards you use.
To have a very easy game mechanic, I wanted to have something easy like roll-and-move, but I didn't want roll-and-move, so I was inspired by Ave Caesar (a game I love), to take cards for movement.
I tried this and found out that the boards are too empty with two players. I just added a second pawn for two players. So I needed to have two sets of cards for the two pawns. The really great idea was, to shuffle the two sets of cards together and I really love the effect coming out of that.
Because of loving this I decided to have two pawns with every player's number and now you have 3 pawns with 2 and 3 players.
It was a lot of fun to design all of the 12 different boards and built in different strategies in each of the boards.
The Lamont Brothers and me was at a game meeting late in the night with some fine single malt whisky.
We played a very interesting prototype ot them, which was designed for playing in a pub. A lot of gamers passed us by and look very strange at us because we did strange things and they didn't know any rules, of course.
The idea came up to design a game, where the gamers themselves are in that strange feeling of not really knowing what to do. The feeling is similar to looking on people doing some religious jobs without knowing anything about that religion.
We immediately built up a prototype and tested it one hour later and had a lot of fun and now the gamers passing by look strange because of not knowing the rules at people looking strange because of not knowing the rules. Very strange but awesome.
The Lamonts left to Scotland and I back to Bremen and then we designed about 100 different cards for that game and had a very funny time in playing this game with our friends, because no one of us had ever played a game alike.
We were very happy to found Andrea Meyer (bewitched) for publishing it, because both of us were working on a card driven race game with different boards (strange).
Andrea did a very good job in working on the game and adding important rules to make the game not only a fun party game. Now it is more deductive, without losing the amazing silly fun.
As having more an more foreign partners for Power Grid, I decided to add Iberia to the official maps. Brazil has very much new gamers and it fits well on the other side.
As usual I look at the way energy works in this countries. Spain started late with Nuclear Power plants but heavy, so it is in the game. But they are also very big in ecological energy plants. The map for Iberia was some kind of simple. Portugal has approx. a fifth the population of spain. So we have one region Portugal to five regions Spain. The cities in Iberia are spread very good all over the map, so this map is very balanced with the connections.
On the other side there is Brazil: Many cities in the costal area and the big areas Sao Paulo and Rio. Long distances in the middle, similar to China.
Brazil is very interesting in the usage of resources. The have a lot of Oil and less coal, but very much bio-gas from sugar. So I decided to add this and the make the game some kind of brutal, because in the power plant deck there are all these coal plants, but there is not enough coal to use them all. On the map you have to bid high on the interesting plants.
I like this expansion a lot. It is not as special as the last expansion was, but it is a new challenge.
I was asked by the company that made the contact for the ENBW version of Power Grid, if the is a possibility for a game about factories.
I started to think of it an found out that there are different things you can put in factories. Normal stuff like maschines and robots, but also controls and optimizers.
So I worked on a factory organizing game. It was totally clear that it should be a game, where you have to invest in better technology to get more money to put it in new technology and so on.
I made a prototype and it was like the theme very dry. I went with this to the gathering of friends 2008, not really happy because it was just a somehow game. At the gathereing I got the idea of creating the market in one step and buying from the market in the other step and I loved it, because the person last in turn order will put the pieces in the market the first player will buy and the first player puts in what the last will buy. This can be used friendly cooperative or evil, depending on how the players like it.
I focused my work on this game to this unique mechanic. As I started to add the workers as action points for buying and all other things I started to really love this game.
The turn order was too good for the first player, so I added the discounts, but not so high that it is too balanced. I wanted to still have the advantage for the first player, so that auctions are still important.
Than replayability became an issue, because in all games you have the same tiles. The energy cost growth was not different enough and should not be, because bigger changes will be unfair. The discounts on the shuffled turn order tiles gives every game a differnt feel, but after adding the three random tiles for the start, each game got a real different feel, because depending on these three tiles in addition to the different discounts, totally changes what you can try (or do) in the first round. The first round being always different, means that the other rounds are also different.
For me the game has a lot in common with power grid (turn order, auctions, industrial growth, money, calculation in the last round), so I decided to brand it. Of course it is marketing, too.
The most important part for this game is to find out that if a tile is more expensive than another tile (of the same type) it is better in a way that I always try to buy all expensive stuff, but this means I always want to be first. But if I bid to many workers I can not buy everything I like. For me the first four rounds are just making decisions on bidding and tiles (not really calculating) and in the last round I have to calculate.
2010 is a very special year for me as an author. I will add 10 new items to this list. Yes 10 new games (some really new, some redone stuff and one expansion) and I'm very curious how Essen this year will be for me.
So number 1 out of 10:
Tadaaam! is a complete new version of Monstermaler and we (Andrea, Marcel and me) worked together with the repos guys, to make the game much more fun. It was fun to think about stupid ways to draw. Some things like with on ear on the table are very silly and I'm happy to see this game in such a version.
This is the game with the most comments writen by now. I started developing "Freitag" in 2008 on the friday at Essen and worked every friday on this project. There is a german blog at my website. As I started the idea was to make one game to be published in 2013 on a friday in Essen, but I was to fast. Now I'm working on Friday(3) by now, not finished Friday(2).
I'm happy with this game, because it creates a very good feel of a stock market with a bubble to be exploding sometime. This is always high tension when I play it.
This trick taking game was once a birthday present for Henning. I was just thinking of how many different ways are possible to play trick taking games and found out very special and strange rules.
The game is always fun to play, everybody enjoyed the part of learing the rules for the game every new round and it is always lots of laughter when sombody makes a big mistake by forgetting one important rule.
Sometimes the game is just a "normal" trick-taking game and somtimes absolutely weird and normally somewhere inbetween. Fun!
My first 2-players card game. One day I got an inspiration. I was thinking about the number 60 as the number of cards in a deck of cards (it is used because you can devide it evenly for all players from 2 to 6). I don't know how, but there was the idea to seperate the 60 cards in four families with 15 cards each. 15 is a pyramid number, means: 1+2+3+4+5= 15.
I had now four families with a pyramid in each family in my mind. It was easy to think about a hierarchy in these four families, with one leader, two lower ones down to 5 lowest.
The idea was then to start with the lowest cards in each family and use the cards to get to the highest.
Then the families needes to have special abilities and after a few tests it was clear these families will be mafia families with one leader and so on.
The game itself is very special. You start with almost no choices, but after a few turns the possibilities are "exploding" and it takes you some games to play to find out which of the choices are the best ones.
And after you understood this, you can start to add timing to your strategy, it is possible to slow down (or speed up) the game.
I wanted to make this game for more than two players, but the structure is impossible to build a more than two players game out of it.
I was visiting nuremberg fair and met Inka and Markus Brand, Michael Rieneck and Stefan Stadler there. They were talking about a secret project and decided in that moment that I should be part of it. They explained me that there will be a funfair game and I should design the ghost train. Of course I said yes. After that I just forgot about this project.
I received an email from eggert spiele that the meeting of our game project will be soon. I was surprised, but made it possible to come. It was one of the best weekend in my life. We had soooooo much fun.
We decided to make collection of mini-games and decided to try to make emotional game design. We tried to think of the emotions of each of the attractions at a funfair and then to design a game that has the same emotions and I think we did well. We had even more fun with this games, than being at the funfair.
We met two more times and got a collection of eight games. We all don't know if the gamers will have the same fun as we had with this stupid game collection. I hope you will, have the same fun, because everybody deserves having fun.
As Fauna being a big success, we were thinking of a version for younger children, because the children are always very interested in the normal game.
The main problems the children had with the game were: - if you know an animal lives in the jungle, it is enough knowledge, but hard to tell which jungle - the children can compare sizes with other things but can not tell if this is one meter or one feet - it is also not good for children to loose their tokens for not being right and spaces are blocked by other players
We found the solution: 6 different areas to guess on (including farm), compare the animal to known objects, no losing of any markers and you can bid on the same space, but getting less points than the first guesser.
Number 9 out of 10: The are comic strips from Walter Moers I read in the nineties. One of these cartoons was about how and when an author (here not gameauthor) gets his ideas. It was mentioned that it can happen anytime anywhere. Examples were long walks in the wood, while having sex or sitting on the toilet. So I was warned that it can happen to me, too. This is my first game with the inspiration came over me while sitting on the toilet.
This idea was just simple. Take a deck of cards, the cards are all different development cards, with different prices. Some are very expensive, so can not be built in the early game and others are only good for the early game. Just shuffle them all and whatever is not built is put under the pile, so the expensive cards will come later. This idea is similar to the power plants in Power Grid and the not sold cards in Friesematenten. But the difference in Fürstenfeld is, that every player has its own pile, with all players having the same cards.
Fürstenfeld is just an easy game build around this idea, but in developing the game, there was added one more important rule.
The gamers are limited to six spaces they can build on and whenever they want to build one more card, they have to cover (loose) one card. To win the game you have to build a palace, which is divided in six parts. The more parts you build, the less space you have to earn money.
It will not come out in Essen. Wait for spring....
But I wanted to have 10 games in Essen.
But now it is in the database. It was my hope it will come out to Essen, just because it would be number 10. But I think it is better to have this out now in spring.
One night I had some kind of insomnia and was lurking in my living room. My eyes were caught by one game "Zoll" (aka Contraband), a game I really like but I think it is too long. And in another moment I had an idea for a game inspried by this game.
A few days later after the first test, I was really happy that this game shows its source of inspiration but can stand on its own and feels like it should: a new game. The idea that the higher negative cards can go from one player to another adds a very interesting aspect to this bluffing game. If you own one of these big cards, you can bluff much easier and others are not so risky in trying to outbluff you. So this is a very joyful self-balancing aspect to this game.
I'm happy that filosofia kept the theme with the snails and flowers. In my testing round the gamers liked this theme a lot.
Second game from the Freitag project. As beeing new in the business of fatherhood, I found out that time is an important thing. The second important part is, that you can not really plan gaming meetings with having a newborn at home, so I started playing a lot of cooperative games solitaire.
I tried to make a cooperative game and started with a solo game. To my surprise the game is awesome as a solo-game. Now I will publish it for Essen 2011.
2011 --> 2001 means 10 years. Hm which game was published 2001, ahh it was "Funkenschlag". This year there is the 10th anniversary. I should do something special to celebrate this.
The word Funkenschlag can be translated (very wrong, but literally) as Sparks-Punch. Whatever this means?!
Sparks like Power or sparks like FIRE, this is an idea. So lets go to the first sparks. Soon you will get more information....
Soon is: NOW!!!
The idea of first sparks = fire was there and now everything came into my mind: number of clan members = numer of cities food in different forms = resources tools for hunting = power plants
Now I had to put it all together: Phase 1: turn order -> easy Phase 2: buying new tools (tools are numbered in a layout of two rows with 4 cards each) -> done Phase 3: Hunting (getting food, fruit, fish, deer and mammoth in turn order using your tools) -> using your tools and not paying, hey that's different Phase 4: Expanding your clan by paying with food -> sounds familiar Phase 5: Burocracy (yes stone age style) -> But no income (food is already gained in phase 3, but we can put the highest tool card under the pile)
Interesting when all these things come into the mind in just one moment.
Now the question: What's new????
- No bidding for tool cards, but special turn order buying stuff (new mechanic!!) - you have to have food to feed your clan members (yes it is possible, possible but never happened, to loose members by starving) - special new hex grid topology with fields with 5,6 or 7 neighbors - not only tools (limit 3 per player), but also tech cards - no steps - faster (obviously not so forgiving) - lower numbers to calculate - new theme (not new to the gaming world but new to this game) - animeeples
Power Grid expansions. Making a new map I would feel like beeing a Expansion-Inventing- ROBOT
Yes a robot. There are a lot of gamers around saying that PowerGrid (Funkenschlag) is not a good two players game and maybe they are right.
I saw that Tom Lehmann did a robot for Race for the Galaxy and that this was well accepted. I worked on the solo rules for Famiglia, but I still was in doubt if I would like a scripted player as an option to make Power Grid a better 2 player game.
We were also working on an AI for PowerGrid which gave me new insights in my own game, because I had to analyse what I do when I make decisions in Power Grid. This all together brought me to the idea just to test a virtual additional player. Working on the AI helpes a lot and I instantely had a lot of different behaviours for this robot.
Then the idea came up to make different acting robots to add variety. I decided to have 6 different patterns of behaviour for each important moments of decision in the game.
These most important moments are: 1. Selecting your starting city 2. Bidding how much on which power plant? 3. How many resources to buy? 4. How many cities to build and where?
It was clear that such a "stupid" (not changing his strategy) player can not win the game, but I wanted to have a challenging opponent, so I added a 5th category: Advantages (like more starting money, more income....)
I was not sure if this will work, but after playing it the first time it was a blast. You can use the robots determined moves to play against the other player. It was my best 2 player Power Grid ever. I was convinced to make this the new expansion.
After playing a lot of games with the robot (or wathing others playing it) I found out that the robots normally play very well up to 10-12 cities in the network. After that they are getting dramatically worse, which is not bad, because the robots are not designed to win, they are just designed to make the game more interesting for lower player numbers.
Other intersting aspect was that some players say "why do this robot do such a stupid move. Nobody would do that. If he do that he cannot win." My answer was always. "The robot is just in the game to make the game more interesting, not to win the game."
Fauna is my "second-best" (whatever second-best means) game and it really needs an expansion. So this is first of all an expansion with a lot new weird animals. (edit second-best seems not right anymore )
A lot of people play Fauna as a party-game and 6 players feels limited for a party game, so we added the 7th and 8th player.
And then the idea came up to make a rule to play a fauna-like game with the expansion only. So I made a rule for that and this is a very interesting bidding on your knowledge combined with some bluffing aspects.