Julia Schiller
New Zealand
New Zealand
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What were the origins of Flaming Pyramids?

The first version of this game saw the light of day over 25 years ago, when I was a kid myself. Back then, we played it with German Mau-Mau cards. I was messing around with a lot of game ideas, but I noticed quickly that this game was something special. Other kids really liked it. However, life happened and I put the game into a box for quite a while...

What are Mau-Mau cards? And what elements of that original game are still present in the version we’ll be publishing?

Those are standard playing cards that can be found in almost every German house hold. You can use them to play all sorts of games. Most famous are Mau-Mau (comparable to Uno) and Skat (comparable to 500 – but much more complex).
There are only a few elements left from the game. One example is the number of different colours: four.

What happened when you unpacked the game again?

When I was 20, I unpacked it and played it with my girlfriend. She drew some beautiful illustrations for the cards and we put them together to form the first real prototype of the game. We added the name-inspiring fire to the game, as well as the special 200. The new design came with new degrees of freedom and its own inspiration.

Can you elaborate on that? Did the Building Regulations (as we call them now) get less constricting?

The core concept of the game stayed unchanged, but we had more freedom in terms of the values on the cards. But the most important part was that we suddenly had three different materials: straw, wood and stone. Seeing them inspired us to introduce the fire concept.

Then, as you say, life happened again. You married your girlfriend, had two children and came to New Zealand.

Yes. When the kids were old enough, I unpacked the game again and showed it to them. They liked it a lot. That was the moment where I thought "maybe we really are onto something here" and I started looking for game publishers. A short time later I met Julia from Cheeky Parrot Games, and soon after that, we started making concrete plans to publish the game.

And I believe one of your kids contributed a new twist to the game? Can you tell us about that?

Yes. We were looking for a way to keep players from being overly mean by placing two fires next to each other. My daughter and I were doing some play testing and brain storming for this – and she came up with the idea of the explosions.

Another late change was allowing the player (not the tile’s colour) to determine whether the tile falls to the left or the right after the tiles below it collapse or ignite. How does that add strategic depth to the game?

True. That is something that came out of playtesting rounds initiated by Cheeky Parrot. Playtesters noted that the collapses did tend to be too big. Back then the color of the card determined if a tile falls to the left or to the right. Allowing the player to choose, made the collapses less devastating and added a bit more strategy to the game – something all test players have welcomed. Now, the collapse is not simply something that happens to you, but it can be small or big depending on how you let the tiles fall.

Flaming Pyramids can be played as a quick starter or filler, a friendly casual game, or as a multi-round competitive game. What is your favourite way to play?

That depends on the group of people playing the game. If I have an experienced opponent in a one-on-one encounter I prefer the competetive way. But with a bigger group or my family I always prefer the casual game play.
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