Wizards of the Coast: Maintaining Castles, Launching Boats

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Chris Cocks, President of Wizards of the Coast, spoke with Brian Crecente of Glixel, the Video Game Newsletter from  Chris Cocks arrived at Wizards of the Coast with years of experience in the video game industry, an industry he entered because of Baldur’s Gate, a video game that evoked his childhood memories playing Dungeons and Dragons.  During the interview, Chris emphasized that the company is going to build on its successes, but it is going to start taking more chances to innovate so it can grow. He describes his strategy for Wizards of the Coast as the Castles and Boats approach.

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“The castles are the big brands with large fan bases, high expectations, lots of history and lore. We spend a lot of resources on those,” Chris says. “The boat is more of a test. It’s very fast, very flexible. If a boat doesn’t succeed, that’s OK; you can launch a new one.”

Wizards of the Coast is going to launch more boats. Not only is it planning on trying new thing with its current properties, it is tapping into properties of its parent company, Hasbro. While no formal announcement has been made on some of these “boats,” such the upcoming Transformers trading card game, Chris names more than a few possibilities and projects in the works.

To find out what Wizards of the Coast is maintaining as a castle and what some of the new boats may be, read the full interview of here.

Expect to start seeing new and different things on the horizon from Wizards of the Coast.

Image from Asmodee's Web site

Image from Asmodee’s Web site

There has been a steady increase in stars in the board game world it seems with the likes of Rich Sommer, Wil Wheaton, and Jorge Garcia showing up on various board game podcasts and Youtube shows.  So what do you do when you get one on your show?  You interview them of course, and that is what Asmodee sat down and did with Rich Sommer.  They talk about things like how he got into board gaming, if he plays games on set, and what it is he likes about board games.  You can read the full interview on the Asmodee site here.

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Most of us have played Jenga, apparently the second most popular board game in the world. Eurogamer, a channel on YouTube, has posted an interesting interview with the creator of Jenga, Leslie Scott.

Did you know the origins of the name ‘Jenga’ (it’s from the Swahili word that means ‘build’)? Did you know that the inventor of Jenga always loses Jenga? Do you want to know more about the beginnings of Jenga and its marketing?

Check out the full interview on YouTube here. Also a bonus video – how well do you know the rules of Jenga?

Pictures from Meepletown

Pictures from Meepletown

Over at Meepletown, Derek Thompson has posted a great interview with Matthew Dunstan and Brett J. Gilbert, the designers of the highly anticipated upcoming release Elysium. They get into quite a few interesting tidbits about the design process for Elysium and their expectations for the game, but they also talk about their history with games, their partnership with each other, how it feels to be a published designer, and, of course, their favorite gaming moments.

You’ve both written a lot about games, and as I understand it, have co-designed with others and belong to a larger consortium of designers in the UK. What’s your particular partnership like?

Matt: I don’t know how Brett would describe our partnership, but I think we work well together because we have different but complementary skills that are useful at different points of the design process. I usually have too many ideas, and so I’m constantly throwing them at Brett to see if any of them sound like they could work. I’m usually making the first prototype just to get it to the table and see whether the idea is worth following. Brett has a really great editorial mind (I hope he doesn’t mind me saying this!), so he’s very good at taking in that first prototype and sorting it out into something sensible, and figuring out what we should keep and what isn’t working. I think we also work well together because our co-designed games tend to take parts of each of our own distinctive design ‘personalities’, and fuse them together into something unique that neither of us could have done by ourselves.

Brett: I am in no way offended by Matt’s description of me as someone with an ‘editorial mind’! Games need both order and chaos; systems and surprises. Creativity is not, as someone observed, merely the finding of a thing, it is also the making something out of it after it is found. Matt and I instinctively come at the same problem on different vectors, and that’s enormously powerful, generating new insight and often shortcutting what might otherwise be a long process of iteration, discovery and (potentially) failure. And the quicker you can find out what you have (or don’t have!) the better. Elysium is a great example of something that neither of us could have created on our own — and indeed, something that neither of us could have *expected* to create. It’s exciting to investigate ideas together and suddenly realise you’ve ended up someplace totally new.

Check out the full interview here.

chez geek

Picture From Tabletop Gaming News


A well-known friendly-local-game-store in Québec, Chez Geeks, was recently targeted by the Québec Board of the French Language, whose role is to keep Québec’s French heritage alive.  The store was targeted primarily for its advertising and selling of English-only board games and an English-only website.

Jared Miller of Tabletop Gaming News interviewed one of the co-owners of Chez Geeks, Giancarlo Caltabiano, and discussed the issue at length.  In the interview, Caltabiano briefly describes the store and the services they offer, encouraging gamers to check it out both online and in person.

He then goes on to explain Québec’s Bill 101, the Charter of the French Language, its purpose and how it has been used to target his store, specifically with Article 54: “English only board games that do not have a French equivalent ‘that require non-french vocabulary for their operation are prohibited in the Quebec market.’”  Also notably discussed in the fact that video games have been excused from this law.

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Picture From Tabletop Gaming News


Caltabiano states:

“I do understand that [the Québec Board of the French Language] want to protect their language, heritage, and the Quebec people, and I’m all for it, UNLESS these laws actually HARM us in the guise of protection. Article 54 was last amended in 1997. Since then, online sales and commerce has increased…Article 54 would, in fact, inadvertently close my store down, and Quebecers would STILL get the English only games online, effectively giving our money to another province or country. So, in my views, Article 54 (along with many others like it prohibiting English only ads of English only board games) not only DOESN’T protect Quebecers, it’s downright detrimental to them.”

To read this article in full, visit TGN’s website here.

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As part of the lead up to the Chicago Toy and Game Fair they are conducting a number of interviews with game designers and executives.  In this interview they are talking to Laura Robinson the designer of the classic 80’s game Balderdash along with the new syndicated game show Celebrity Name Game which we covered here around a month ago.  As a veteran designer of party and family games she offers a very unique perspective on this industry and truly does bring something different to the table.

I appreciated how she talked about using experiences from her growing up in her development of Balderdash.  Additionally she offered a great piece of advice fo aspiring game designers.

laura robinson

I always tell inventors to thoroughly research their idea. Find out if there something else in the marketplace that is very similar. Make a simple mock up and play test, play test, play test! Do that before you spend a bunch of money on an elaborate prototype because it is in the playing that you will find out so much about your idea. And you have to do real “blind” play tests. In other words, you can be there to watch, but not to show people how to play or answer questions. You have to let them read the rules and play just like they would if they bought the game and brought it home. Make up a questionnaire and have anyone who plays it, fill it out anonymously so you can get candid answers to your questions. What did you like best about the game, packaging, design? What don’t you like? Is there anything that you think would make it more fun, easier to understand or play? Things like that. You can listen to the feedback, make changes and then make your professional prototype.

If you watched The Dice Tower’s top 10 list for things all game designers should know this was a major point that they hammered in over and over and over again.  Playtesting and especially blind playtesting is very important.  There is only one of you even if your a twin and you can’t be there for everyone that will ever play your game.

For the full interview head over to ChiTaG’s site here.


Image taken from T&

Image taken from T&

For most of our readers you have likely never heard of Kevin Kim of Korea Boardgames.  He offers some perspective on the some of the unique things of the Korean game market.  In particular the fact that many themes do not work and the prevalence of certain genres of games like trivia or trick taking games are nearly non-existent.

His company has partnered with MayDay Games and put out the game Coconuts and the followup to that game Coconuts Duo which just funded on Kickstarter a few days ago.  They are making a much more concerted effort to try to market their games more internationally.  In an effort to accomplish this they will be showcasing a number of titles at Essen this year though he does not state which titles will be showcased in this article.

For the full interview visit ChiTAG’s website here.

Image Courtesy of "From Inspiration to Publication"

Image Courtesy of “From Inspiration to Publication”

Sen-Foong Lim of Inspiration to Publication posted a great article, “What Makes a Game Worthy of the SdJ Award?”  Referring to the Spiel des Jahres Award, Lim notes that he was able to recently meet with Tom Felber, jury chairmen of the SdJ at a “Q and A.”

Lim reports  that “the biggest take home point for me was something that I regularly espouse – rules are an essential part of any game system.  Without them, you just have bits on a board.

Also, if you missed the interview with Felber earlier this year, check it out, it’s interesting.


regis bonnessee Derek Thompson published an interview with game designer Régis Bonnessée (Seasons, Himalaya) on  Bonnessée has recently released two new Seasons expansions and will be releasing Lords of Xidit at Gen Con.

Last time we spoke, Seasons was just about to come out at Gen Con 2012, and was a smash success there. We’ve now had two expansions to the game. I noticed that the rules changes of both expansions were very similar, which I liked – they didn’t change the game too much. What’s next for the game Seasons, if anything? Do you think you’ll ever consider the game ‘done’?

At the moment there’s no extension planned. But as the game continues to work well and we regularly receive requests, maybe I will look at it for next year. In any case, I’m glad about all the good feedback I’ve had from the players. The tournaments we run around the world show us each day a little more of the attachment people have for this game.
Stefan: In USA, the next big tournament is at Gen Con; there will be special unique promos available for participants.

With all of the new cards and mechanisms, do you have a favorite combo or strategy in Seasons? Any advice for newbies?

I have nearly a thousand games played under my belt (thanks to the online version on BoardGameArena) and I still don’t have a favorite combo. And this is the essence of the game: having to renew and be inventive with each new game. This is the key to success. Although I must admit there have been pleasurable times finding new combinations, e.g.: in round 2 of the first year I played “Vampiric Crown”, and with it I drew “Mesodae’s Lantern” (Asmodee anagram by the way). The game started well.

To read the entire interview you can click here to head over to Meepletown.