Jamey Stegmaier is the designer of Euphoria – Build A Better Dystopia and Viticulture. 2 boardgames that are distinguished themselves on Kickstarter these last two years. Exclusively for GeekMate, he accepts to answer my questions by mail.
This is the first part of the interview.
GM : First of all, congratulations for Euphoria and thanks for answering this interview. I must say that I really enjoyed Euphoria as a player and as a game designer. Can you introduce yourself for french fans? What did you do before designing games ?
Jamey Stegmaier : Hi, I’m Jamey Stegmaier, the president and co-founder of Stonemaier Games here in St. Louis, Missouri. I’m a lifelong gamer and game designer, and I’ve been very fortunate to have run two successful Kickstarter campaigns for two of my own designs, Viticulture and Euphoria.
I run Stonemaier Games full-time now, but before that I worked as the Director of Operations at a church on a university campus. Before that I worked at publishing company. It’s worth mentioning that I’m also an avid writer and blogger, and during summer breaks in college I worked as a waiter at a few restaurants. I mention those two experiences because they helped me developed skills that I’d later use on Kickstarter.
GM : Euphoria seems inspired by Agricola and Alien Frontiers but with an Alliance / Betrayal twist. Do you like these games ? Did you play them ? Tell us what games inspired you for Euphoria ?
JS : I’m a big fan of Agricola and Alien Frontiers, so they definitely had an impact on Euphoria. I would actually say that Tzolk’in and Alien Frontiers played the biggest roles during my design process, though. I like the dice placement mechanism in Alien Frontiers, but I wanted to create something that was a little more wide open (you’re fairly restricted in Alien Frontiers by the dice you roll). I really like the choice to either place or remove workers in Tzolk’in—I think it leads to quick, simple turns and thus limited downtime. Also, Tzolk’in’s tech track had a big impact on the allegiance track in Euphoria, except that advancing the position along the Euphoria allegiance track may affect more players than just you.
GM : I didn’t play Tzolk’in this year but maybe i should. This is not the first time someone speak of it in good.
Despite the complexity of Euphoria, it surprises me how fluent the game can be. Even with my « slowest » friends, (by slowest i mean the ones who like to think a lot before playing their turn, not the dumb ones) the game turns to be very fluid.
Can you explain how you manage to do this ?
JS : Ha ha, yes, that plays into what I mentioned above about the simplicity of a turn—you’re either placing one worker or removing most/all workers. The other key is that although other players can affect the board state and even the state of your workers when it’s not your turn, there typically aren’t drastic changes that occur in between turns. Thus you’re usually able to plan for your turn in advance.
GM : I think something great is that you can easily think about your objective and the path back of actions you have to do to succeed it. Even when your objective changes, this mental exercice is quick enough to not slow down the pace of the game.