Shout Out to Steven Poelzing
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Today we check out a few of the games created by Dr. Steven Poelzing, who does not have a doctorate in game-ology.

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1. Board Game Designer: Steven Poelzing
Board Game Designer: Steven Poelzing
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Dr. Steven Poelzing's game design career has been entwined with his education and work life since college.

Born of a Haitian mother and East German father, this first-generation American earned a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, designing games in the late 1990s and early 2000s while in graduate school. "I spent many a fond summer at Origins in Columbus, Ohio sitting next to other delightful and stubbornly optimistic self-publishing game designers and dreamers," he told me. "I lost most of the money with my first games, but have a lot of fond memories of learning very important lessons about the game industry."
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2. Board Game: Chobolo [Average Rating:7.75 Unranked]
Board Game: Chobolo
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Board Game Publisher: Games For the Mind
Poelzing's first published design was 1998's Chobolo, which was also the first title from publisher Games For the Mind, started by Poelzing and his brother Walter in their Cleveland apartment in 1998.

Here's an overview of the game:
Quote:
Chobolo is a customizable board game in which the board is composed of hex tiles that are themselves each gridded with smaller hexes. Each player controls a wizard and three warriors, attempting to gain control of the demon Chobolo, which starts at the center of the board, travel to the enemy's main tower, and cast a final spell.

Wizards cast spells by visiting "element" hexes to gather spell components in a stack, then spending the proper components (which must be at the top of the stack and be in the correct order) for the desired spell.

Board Game: Chobolo

Characters can gain and lose "levels" (bonuses) as the result of (dice driven) combat. Towers can also be constructed to provide a defensive bonus for characters.
Games For the Mind released six games in total, with the final two being Steven Poelzing's For the Birds in 2007 and Walter Poelzing's Prove it in 2009.

Poelzing liquidated his remaining fifty copies of Chobolo in 2011, but a couple are for sale in the BGG Marketplace should you care to investigate further. (By chance, one copy of Chobolo is owned by collector Alfonzo Smith Jr., who was profiled earlier in February 2021.)
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3. Board Game: Cubist [Average Rating:6.78 Overall Rank:3141]
Board Game: Cubist
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In 2005, Poelzing moved to Utah, where he worked as an Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Utah, and he started connecting with the local game community right away.

"I was amazingly fortunate to meet someone who would become a life-long friend," says Poelzing. "Alf Seegert and I met while we were both demoing our individual game designs at the newly opened Game Night Games in Salt Lake City. I still remember his game, and someday I seriously hope he gets it published because it gave me so much joy to be embodied in his game world. Serendipity does not do justice to the meeting. I am sure we would have met at some point, but to meet Alf shortly after moving to Utah and being introduced to his gaming family was an incredibly moving and inclusive experience for my wife and me."

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While in Utah, Poelzing was one of the founding members of the Board Game Designers Guild of Utah and one of the founders of SaltCON, along with Dave Bailey, Dale Gifford, Phil Kilcrease, and Sean McDonald. Says Poelzing:
Quote:
We had two goals with the convention. First, we wanted to directly connect game designers with publishers through the Ion Award. We had so many amazing designers and publishers help build the vision. I am particularly thankful to Rick Soued of Eagle-Gryphon Games for his friendship and willingness to help a small game convention with big dreams grow. We have since become good friends, and I always enjoy our chance to chat.

The second goal was for SaltCON to move into a convention center and become a brand name. SaltCON started in student spaces on the University of Utah's campus, moved into hotel ball rooms, and only after I left, Dale and so many talented workers and volunteers completed the cons journey to a world-class convention. I am thrilled to watch Dale's vision for the organization blossom into something even more amazing.
Board Game Publisher: Eagle-Gryphon Games
All of these elements came together in 2014, when Eagle-Gryphon Games published Cubist from Poelzing and Seegert. As Poelzing relayed in a designer diary about the game: "We always thought it would be fun to design a game together, but nothing ever came up that we both felt resonated with our different game design styles — but while we were eating lunch one day, Alf brought up a mechanism he was playing around with that was very loosely based off a game mechanism from one of my prototypes."

There is much more to the story that you can read about in that designer diary, but for now here's an overview of the game:
Quote:
In Cubist, you and your opponents are architects competing to build a grand and inspiring new Modern Art Museum including its interior sculptures or "installations". Aptly enough, your building materials are cubes, or more precisely, dice!

On each turn, you roll two dice and place them in your studio as raw materials for your cubist sculptures. From there, you position these dice to complete commissioned installations for the museum. Dice with identical numbers can be stacked on top of one another to give your sculpture elevation and grandeur. Dice with adjacent numbers go next to one another to construct unconventional footprints of modernism. You can press your luck by committing to a certain risky commission — hoping that no one else will complete it first — or play it safe by locking up your dice for later use.

Board Game: Cubist

You can also use your dice to enlist the aid of masters of modern art like Juan Gris, Franz Marc, and Olga Rozanova. Each installation you complete allows you to contribute dice to the building of the Museum itself. You will have to sculpt cleverly but quickly to get the new Museum named after you!
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4. Board Game: SiXeS [Average Rating:7.18 Overall Rank:6145] [Average Rating:7.18 Unranked]
Board Game: SiXeS
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In the mid-2010s, Poelzing headed east to serve as Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics at Virginia Tech where he co-publishes research articles such as "Orientation dependence of microcirculation-induced diffusion signal in anisotropic tissues" and "Potassium Channels in the Cx43 Gap Junction Perinexus Modulate Ephaptic Coupling: An Experimental and Modeling Study". He is also co-director of a relatively new graduate program called Translational Biology.

"I missed my friends so much after leaving Utah that I invited a number of them to my 40th birthday party at Origins in Columbus, thus completing a bit of a ritual game circle per se," says Poelzing. "At that party, in a hotel room suite surrounded by great friends, Rick Soued brought a pen-and-paper concept out late into the night that would go on to become the game SiXeS."

Here's a summary of the gameplay:
Quote:
SiXeS is about things that are similar and different. Play six rounds, thinking of six things each round and trying to predict what you will write that will match — or not match — what the other players write, depending on whether you are in a "match" round or a "unique" round. The player with the most points after six rounds wins.
"I am humbled that he asked me to co-author it with him," says Poelzing. "I always get a kick out of Rick sending me a copy of SiXeS published in a new language and learning how different cultures express "six of one, half dozen of the other". It truly gives me great satisfaction to know that I may have in some way contributed to bringing people together even briefly over a shared and meaningful experience independent of their backgrounds and world-views."
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