The origins of my games (Andrea Meyer)
Andrea Meyer
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Just like Marcel and Friedemann (thanks for the idea) I thought I'd share the background of the games I made so far.

Many of my games demand overview and an ability to set priorities. I rather offer players a wide variety of choices and ask them to orientate within this variety themselves. This often gives players the feeling that they "are played" by my games which I believe is not true. My game systems are just not as hierarchical as those by other designers. I rather prefer complex game systems that in a way reflect reality.

Personally, I sometimes think what makes the difference is that I approach games with a "female" style, stressing the importance of networks and multiple levels to consider at the same time, whereas a lot of male authors prefer a hierarchic style of "if - then - else".

Looking forward to your comments.
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1. Board Game: Stimmvieh [Average Rating:6.28 Overall Rank:12344]
Board Game: Stimmvieh
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My first game published. I had been working on the prototype for a while when in 1998 it struck me that having two friends who are game designers (Friedemann Friese and Wolfgang Panning) and being an educationalist myself seems to be the perfect basis for a game designer seminar. So, we organised a workshop and one of the results was Stimmvieh. I had brought my "raw" version to the workshop. The theme had already been clear - collecting votes and donations - and I also knew that I wanted to have a mechanism that gave the person(s) with the highest number of votes and advantage as to the donations (i.e. victory points). However, the complete finetuning happened in the workshop with various playtests.

Afterwards, having nothing better to do - and not feeling like completing my thesis for the diploma grade yuk -, I decided to self-publish the game well in advance before the German federal elections in September 1998, first showing it at the Spielewahnsinn in Herne in May 1998. By October, when the fair in Essen came up, the first 200 copies were nearly sold out. All in all, I printed 500 copies of the game, which are sold out.
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2. Board Game: Hossa! [Average Rating:6.37 Overall Rank:10428] [Average Rating:6.37 Unranked]
Board Game: Hossa!
Andrea Meyer
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The relative success of Stimmvieh had struck me like lightning. It was a great feeling to stand in Essen and selling your own games, especially with my friends from Bremen and Druebberholz supporting me.

In the spring of 2000 - I had moved to Berlin in the meantime - I shared an apartment with a roommate. Every morning the kitchen radio was switched on, playing the same songs over and over again. One morning, I found myself sitting on the commuter train repeating chorus words from two different songs in my head. Being as analytic as I am, I soon found out that it's basically always the same words that occur in choruses.

Back home, I checked my CD collection and soon had a prototype with 60 different words often occuring in song titles. I took the prototype to Druebberholz and people loved the game, singing the whole weekend. In the coming weeks I finetuned the game, and my computer ran through a large database of songtitles counting the frequency of certain words. Hence, this first version of Hossa! contained roughly 750 different words, none of which occurs less than 50 times in published song titles.

By the way, the title "Hossa!" is a creation by my ex-girlfriend. It is a quote from a German popsong from the 70s and has no other meaning beside that.

The first edition of Hossa! came in a folded cardboard box with a violet banderole. The 500 copies were sold out in 2003.
 
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3. Board Game: Hossa! Seefahrer-Erweiterung [Average Rating:5.83 Unranked] [Average Rating:5.83 Unranked]
Board Game: Hossa! Seefahrer-Erweiterung
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Having little time due to my strenuous job at a federal ministry and having heard "complaints" that Hossa! did not contain enough words to survive on only naming and singing shanties, I decided to publish a do-it-yourself add-on for Hossa.

This sold-out game consists of 2x six sheets (labels and cardboard) with 9 cards each with German and English keywords from shanties. The do-it-yourself part was sticking labels onto the cardboard and then cutting out the cards.

Btw, I now sell the pdf-files through my website.
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4. Board Game: Ad Acta [Average Rating:6.18 Overall Rank:7192]
Board Game: Ad Acta
Andrea Meyer
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In the meantime, I continued working in the federal environmental ministry. My job as a personal assistant was to "precheck" all files for my boss, a parliamentary state secretary, and decide whether the files were important enough for her to see. One night, around 10 pm, while sitting at my desk doing so, I mused about how I had to open 100 files to find the 2 that were really important. Soon I was thinking about stack management - and the first idea for Ad Acta was born.

It took me roughly two years to actually finalize the game. One reason was that I was stuck with an actual "file cart" carrying the files around. It took me some time to realize that this could be a virtual move in the game, having players take turns in being the "messenger boy". I presented the game to some companies, who all liked it, but who said at the same time: "If you want to see it published, do it yourself. That is a theme nobody but you will touch."

Well, so I did, and 450 of the first 500 copies were sold out at the Essen games fair in 2002. I reprinted another 1,000 copies, of which I have a remainder of about 200 left - a great success for a small company.
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5. Board Game: Hossa!: Arbeiterlieder [Average Rating:5.50 Unranked] [Average Rating:5.50 Unranked]
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In the same year, a friend from Druebberholz told me that they had played a whole game of Hossa! only singing workers' songs - mainly from the GDR, but also from the worker's movement in Western Germany.

So I decided to have another add-on for Hossa, another 56 cards with German only keywords from workers' songs. Of course the cardboard used was red . Again, the do-it-yourself part was sticking labels onto the cardboard and then cutting out the cards.

Btw, I now sell the pdf-files through my website.
 
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6. Board Game: Schwarzarbeit [Average Rating:5.67 Overall Rank:14726]
Board Game: Schwarzarbeit
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Around 1997 Friedemann had visited me so as to invent a game together on that very day. We discussed what kind of games we like and agreed that we both wanted to make a deduction game. And after a few hours we had such a game. We worked a while on that game and sent it to a company.

Years later Friedemann got back the prototype and a message that they didn´t want to publish it. I bet they had just tidied their shelves, but who cares?

Friedemann told me that this game is much better if you are not allowed to take notes. We tested it again and set it in the game scene where players having illegal workers try to tell off others' illegal workers (or have them work for themselves illegally).

The game is all about intuition, bluff, and too much information - and I like it a lot. I had this funny discussion with a guy at the stand in Essen, who playtested the game and told me, halfway through the game: "Now, this is pure luck, isn't it?" I said "No, it's intuition!" He looked at me and said: "Well, that's what I said: Pure luck".

Talking of male and female attitudes here, anybody?
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7. Board Game: Ludoviel [Average Rating:6.03 Overall Rank:11927]
Board Game: Ludoviel
Andrea Meyer
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There was the idea of working on a game about games just for geeks. I talked about the idea with Friedemann and as he is a geek, too, he wanted to design this game with me. While working on it other geeks from Berlin - Hartmut Kommerell, Thorsten Gimmler and Martina Hellmich - joined the project and we worked on it - testing variants both in Bremen and Berlin.

As the game is for geeks we wanted to make a small production and Friedemann had to design all the cards with artwork Maura had once made.

My job was basically coordinating everybody, and making sure we got everything ready in time. What is more, I layouted the rules - phew. However, the game packing parties at Rolf Braun's Haus, with a lot of help from friends, are legendary.
 
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8. Board Game: Hossa! [Average Rating:6.37 Overall Rank:10428] [Average Rating:6.37 Unranked]
Board Game: Hossa!
Andrea Meyer
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In 2003, the first 500 copies of Hossa! were sold out. Together with two friends - Rolf Braun and Andy-Maurice Mueller - I redesigned the game, cut down the number of cards to 120, simplified the rules and put the game into a silvery metal box - quite a good idea. I also added rules for groups of 20+ and 80+ people which I had been told about by enthusiastic players.

By the way, I also decided to print cups with one of the beautiful pictures which you cn see in the photo - not such a good idea, because people wanted to have them but did not want to pay for them.

My first visit to Alan R. Moon's Gathering of Friends in 2004 made the game more well-known in the US, too. The 1,000 copies of the 2nd edition were sold in early 2006, which made me produce another 2,000 copies in the same year.

Hossa! was republished by Schmidt-Spiele in 2008.

I am republishing a version including German, English, French, Italian, Turkish, and Japanese in 2010.
 
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9. Board Game: Mall World [Average Rating:5.52 Overall Rank:15081]
Board Game: Mall World
Andrea Meyer
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Starting in 2002, I worked on a "terraforming" game after having read a travel guide on Mallorca. The basic mechanism was to play with combinations of patterns, not all of which would be valid. So, from the possible 16 combinations only 12 can be built in the game. The additional new mechanism was to have players choose whether they want to use a building right so as to build next to something or on top of it. I added some more mechanisms to the game, among them one from Show-Manager (Atlantic Star) which I really like a lot. Another mechanism that came up later and which I am still amazed about is the interdependency between control of building rights and earning money. If it wasn't by me, I would be tempted to call it "simply ingenious" blush.

First set on an island, the game was at some point "moved" to the former German Democratic Republic and had the working title "1989". Players were Western German building companies "terraforming" Eastern Germany so as to make the most of the "deserted" landscape. I even thought of including two variants in the game, with the players choosing to either "improve the GDR as it was" or "approaching the game in a capitalist mood, selling the GDR off".

The main problem with the game was that I did not have the money to produce such a board game in a professional way, meaning I would need to print at least 2,000 copies to reach a reasonable price per copy.

At that point, Jay Tummelson's offer to join production forces came in very handy. However, it was clear that the theme had to be changed again, because US customers couldn't seriously be expected to buy a game with such a Germany-centered theme. I remember driving around in James Miller's car during the Gathering of Friends in 2004 brainstorming about themes and titles for the game. As you can see, we finally ended up with mall-building. I still have that song in my head "It's a Mall World after all". For cost reasons I decided to have the same theme for the German and the US version.

The game was designed and produced in a rush over the summer of 2004. I wasn't too critical because I had to cope with a death in my family and could not deal much with the production. The game was printed and ready for Essen - and I was sure people would like it because it was my best strategy game so far. What is more, there is an easy access to the game, because the balanced scores in the first round do not destroy the game for you even if you make mistakes.

However, I had to learn the hard way that Mall World rarely got the chance to be played twice - which in my opinion is necessary to understand its complexity. Many people did not like the design, others complained about the rules.

What remains is that I think that I produced a very good game but a not so good product. And for Germany it might have been better to produce a game with a "German theme".
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10. Board Game: Tunebaya [Average Rating:5.60 Overall Rank:15554]
Board Game: Tunebaya
Andrea Meyer
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This is a game which Peter Sarrett and Michael Adams started designing. Due to its being rather close to Hossa! I joined the designers' group at some point.
 
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11. Board Game: Wordwild [Average Rating:5.67 Unranked]
Board Game: Wordwild
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Another game the idea of which struck me while riding the commuters' train. Again, the origin is common parts of words (instead of songtitles). I read an article saying that no matter what happens with the letters in the middle of a word, as long as the beginning and the end are correct, you will always read the word correctly.

This made me think of different words with the same beginnings and endings. I then focused on the different way our two halves of the brain work. Again, this is about concentration: most people can either concentrate on the first round where you need to find any word or on the second where you need find a word from a certain setting.

It turned out that children are very good a switching from one focus to the other - which very often lets them win the game.
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12. Board Game: Split Personality [Average Rating:6.27 Overall Rank:6841]
Board Game: Split Personality
Andrea Meyer
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Both Marcel and Friedemann already posted some information in their lists.

We were in Nuremberg at the fair and met in a small cafe. Marcel and I wanted to invent a game and (as always, might I say ) Friedemann was (innocently, as he says) sitting there, too. But as the discussion went on he was integrated and (some time and some beers) later on we had the game.

One of my favourite gaming situations with Monstermaler was at the gaming night of the jury "Spiel des Jahres" in Essen 2006 where our table actually kept the - usually not very interested - waitresses from doing their jobs, exclaiming "What is this? I guess I like that".

Monstermaler was republished by Le valet du Coeur in Canada as "Split Personality" and "Monstre-moi un dessin" in 2007 and by Schmidt-Spiele in 2008.

Monstermaler was only recently published in Chile!

It also is the basis of "Tadaam" published by Repos.
 
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13. Board Game: Linq [Average Rating:6.87 Overall Rank:2226]
Board Game: Linq
Andrea Meyer
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This is a firsttimer in the sense that I "only" edited the game which was published in the US by Endless Games in 2004. However, Erik Nielsen, the designer, and I agreed that for oncoming editions we will be co-designers.

I first got to know Linq at the Gathering of Friends 2005, where I played it, but did not get most of the associations due to their cultural background. I liked the basic principle, though, and soon after returning home I contacted Erik and asked if he was interested in a German version. As it was, he was, and so I started re-editing the game. Friedemann Friese and many others helped me a great deal, so that Linq now is what I consider a great communication game somewhere between party-, bluff-, and wordgame.

I am very proud that Linq was recommended by the jury "Spiel des Jahres" in 2008.:-)

In Essen 2008 I published an expansion for Linq called Linqer, 26 new pairs of cards and 8 new question marks - in German, again.

A French version of Linq was published in 2009 by Christophe Hermier's company In Ludo Veritas. The game was nominated for the French price "As d'Or - Jeu de l'annee" in 2010, which makes me very proud.

A new German version will be available starting in autumn 2011.
 
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14. Board Game: The 3 Commandments [Average Rating:5.49 Overall Rank:16810]
Board Game: The 3 Commandments
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Another game I "only" edited. I got to know the prototype of "Fanatics" Friedemann Friese, Fraser and Gordon Lamont had designed in the summer of 2007. Players would move pawns on a pentagram trying to score according to rules they did not know.

I was immediately interested in editing the game, and in the spring of 2008, my chance came. I made some slight alterations to the rules, mainly adding some more information for those who like deduction games. I like the game very much and had more than one situation in which everybody could not stop laughing. Let's see what happens at the convention.

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15. Board Game: Start Player: A Kinda Collectible Card Game [Average Rating:6.49 Overall Rank:6669]
Board Game: Start Player: A Kinda Collectible Card Game
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Another game I edited - meaning I translated and partly rewrote Ted Alspach's dialogues and texts and picked the cards for the German edition.

I had seen the English version at Essen 2008 and liked the idea of bringing even the toughest gamers to communicate with each other at least before the actual game starts (and they stop communicating at all ;-)).

A befriended teacher just told me how useful this device is for teachers as they repeatedly need to determine "startplayers" for exercises or else - funny, but quite the marketing idea!

However, I was still amazed that Fairplay actually had people vote for Startspieler in Essen 2009, because I think it is not really a game in the sense of the word.

Most important: It was fun to work with Ted, hope we'll repeat that.
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16. Board Game: Climate-Poker [Average Rating:4.82 Overall Rank:17660]
Board Game: Climate-Poker
Andrea Meyer
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The 13th game of mine: About time I dealt with one of the major themes in my life - protecting climate and the environment.

The roots go back to several gamedesigns that never got across prototype status. Some of you may remember the game about bands (pattern recognition) I tested at some Gathering. The idea to use the "Autoquartett" (Top Trumps) mechanism was in my head for a while. I started off with the idea of designing Top Trumps "power stations". However, it is still difficult to compare a nuclear and a wind power plant. I came across a list of the "dirty thirty", the 30 dirtyest power plants in Europe. Then the obvious occurred to me: Why not compare countries concerning climate policies. Here we go ...

The rest was intensive playtesting over weeks and changing bit by bit. A few weeks ago the game had a climate theme but you could easily play it without dealing with the theme even once. As you know, that's not my cup of tea. So, I followed some friends' idea to have players guess which card in a trick is the best. Suddenly, there were very interesting discussions at the table. Some rounds even dealt with the guessing rule as a common quiz -it was a lot of fun watching them.

Update: After having presented the game at several conventions, I think what I best like is how the facts still surprise you after a zillion plays (okay, I admit, I only played it a few hundred times so far ;-)). What is more, friends who work in the climate sector and have witnessed international negotiations were surprised how close the game came to the feelings experienced there.

Interesting enough, even though I expected that, I have not found many die-hard gamers willing to try the game. Those who did were surprised by the dilemma it offers. Those who did not "knew" already that it was only a variation of "Top Trumps" - "I heard that somewhere ..."

I guess you understand that with COP 15 of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Copenhagen starting next week, I am glad the theme also attracts a bit of attention outside the gaming scene ;-)
 
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17. Board Game: Tadaaam! [Average Rating:6.47 Overall Rank:7526]
Board Game: Tadaaam!
Andrea Meyer
Germany
Berlin
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In 2006, when we published "Monstermaler" in the notepad only version, the Belgians with the Sombreros a.k.a. Thomas and Cedrick asked us if we were interested in licensing the game to Repos.

As we were, we started talking about a contract for an international version of the game pretty soon, with the German licence having been granted to Schmidt-Spiele. Even though agreeing on a contract took us some time, we finally got there. Eventually, after some things had come in the way, Tadaam was published in 2010. I like the chaotic version with different obstacles. When we could not agree on one rule, we agreed to call it the "Sombrero rule" - guess why?

Anyway, I think Thomas and Cedrick did a great job and playing the game with them in Cannes in spring 2010 was definitely and enrichening experience ;-)
 
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18. Board Game: Freeze [Average Rating:7.11 Overall Rank:6859]
Board Game: Freeze
Andrea Meyer
Germany
Berlin
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When Hans-Peter Stoll showed me his collection of improv-theatre games a few years ago, I felt that there was a diamond buried somewhere in there. Now, in summer 2010, I can say that we found at least one, the game version originally called "Hierarchy".

Somewhere in the process Hans-Peter and I agreed to be co-designers, as nothing much from the game collection he showed me back then remained in Freeze. We rather took a start together from there, trying to find the diamond first and then polish it. That took it's time, several game tests, several rule changes, and a bit of work.

However, as the playtests already rewarded us with a lot of laughter and fun, we did not care. And we grew ever more convinced that we had not only found the diamond but also it started shining ever more.

Update: The Jury Spiel des Jahres recommends Freeze as one of 16 games in 2011! Yay!
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19. Board Game: Frigiti [Average Rating:6.98 Overall Rank:9506]
Board Game: Frigiti
Andrea Meyer
Germany
Berlin
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As a kid, I loved playing "Nobody is Perfect", also known as The Dictionary Game. However, I didn't like it when people actually knew the words that were to be defined. Of course the game has a rule for this case, however, it spoilt the game feeling for me.

So here comes Christmas 2010, and I happen to play around with letter dice and make up words. I immediately thought of the time when my older sister and I used to play Scrabble. One of our new rules was that you could create any word that you were able to credibly define.

Combine both and you basically know what Frigiti is all about. I added scoring rules (that some find too complicated but which I still like), and Daniel Müllenbach did a great job with the artwork.

The game contains rules in German, English, and French, so what are you waiting for?
 
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20. Board Game: Freeze [Average Rating:7.11 Overall Rank:6859]
Board Game: Freeze
Andrea Meyer
Germany
Berlin
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Upon presentation in Essen 2010 Freeze was taken up by Ravensburger (with some other publishers standing in line). The boxdesign was already presented in Nuremberg in February 2011, the game itself was published in the summer of that year.
 
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21. Board Game: SingStar: Das Brettspiel [Average Rating:7.00 Unranked]
Board Game: SingStar: Das Brettspiel
Andrea Meyer
Germany
Berlin
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In 2011 Ravensburger contacted me and offered an option on Hossa, meaning I could not sell the licence to anybody but them for the time of the contract. They then briefed me on creating a competitive board game about singing, which I did - also with the help of many friends. The game I developed from the basis of Hossa soon turned into something very different, mainly because you can play Hossa competitively, but few people don't. Only in early 2012 did I learn that this game was meant for a licence of Sony's Singstar (which I have and like a lot). I guess I will never forget our playtests at the Gathering of Friends 2012. Donna, your songs will be with me forever! As will some performances from, among others, Heli.

To cut a long story short: The game was shown first in Nuremberg 2012, published during the summer, and basically came and went unnoticed, not least because the connection to the licence was not overemphasized, to put it diplomatically.
 
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22. Board Game: Funstir [Average Rating:8.00 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.00 Unranked]
Board Game: Funstir
Andrea Meyer
Germany
Berlin
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My 2012 publication was an expansion to 2011's Frigiti. Think Frigiti, but add advertisement slogans. The idea hit me when I was cycling through Berlin and saw more or less stupid slogans all over the place. Having played Frigiti for a while, I also noticed how many definitions referred to new words being the new brand of this and that. Last, but not least I have a very good memory of slogans popular during my childhood and youth. So I thought: "Why not combine the two?"

Which I did. Funstir is the result. And here's to Bill Cleary for inventing the title during a playtest at the Gathering of Friends.
 
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23. Board Game: Sauschwer [Average Rating:5.47 Overall Rank:15983]
Board Game: Sauschwer
Andrea Meyer
Germany
Berlin
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Martin Schlegel and I joined forces on this. He showed me the game as a publisher a few years ago. I liked the idea of playing with weights, but had so many ideas how the change (and hopefully improve) the game that I suggested to work as co-designers - which he agreed to.

Thumbs up to Martin for his intense research for interesting and yet funny items and their weights. I soon learned that museums know nearly everything about their exhibits - but their weights. At the Haus der Geschichte (House of History) in Bonn a friendly colleague put exhibit after exhibit onto the scales just for us. By the way, the game was originally called "Helmuts Hammer", because the hammer ex-chancellor Helmut Kohl had used for the laying of the corner stone of the new chancellory in Berlin was also among its exhibits and thus in our cards.

Finding a publisher was also curious. Zochhad shown interest early in the process, but then withdrew. We showed the game to about everybody out there, but the game never hit home. After another round of game in Goettingen 2012 (without much success) I received an email by a Zoch editor excusing for forgetting to tell us that they wanted to license the game and where should they send the contract.

I like Sauschwer for what it does for non-gamers. It is easily explained, intuitive and short enough to play another round.
 
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