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 second part of the interview. You can read the first part of the interview here.
GM : In my point of view, Euphorian Tunnel must be yellow and the square for the worker must be red. But you reverse colors. Is this for a reason ? I ask this because 2 of my friends were confused with the Wastelander Tunnel because of that.
JS : Yes, this was due to graphic design. For the Euphorian Tunnel to show up well, it needed to be red, and when the red is next to the Wastelander allegiance track, it looks the same. So it had to be yellow. It was a good lesson for me about having my graphic designer work out the specs for the board before requesting art from my artist. I did it the other way around in this case: I designed the game, requested the art, and then asked my graphic designer to incorporate all the design elements. That’s the wrong way to do it.
GM : That’s what I thought. it’s classic in video games (i’m working in video games), we really wanted the game to be beautiful sometimes we forget understanding, readability, this kind of thing. The Ethical Dilemna is totally understandable in the theme but mecanically, it doesn’t seem successful. The choice is not very engaging. What do you think about that ? What guided your choices for Ethical Dilemna ?
JS : It’s a little deceiving, because what appears to be the choice isn’t actually the choice. The choice you think you have is between placing a star and drawing a new recruit. But the choice you really have is when you play your ethical dilemma. Do you focus on it in the early to mid-game, or do you leave it as an afterthought for the end?
Here’s my strategy tip: get the cards in hand to take care of the ethical dilemma early in the game, but hold those cards while you’re trying to build markets. There may come a turn when you need to do something, but a worker is on a construction site and you don’t want to move him. That is the turn that you should not do anything with your workers and instead play your ethical dilemma.
GM : I understand. It’s that kind of case when the theme is almost too good for the game.
We could find 48 recruits in an Euphoria’s Box. All of them have a different power over the game. All my games ended by someone who telling to the winner « ok you win but your power was very strong ». Fortunately, it was never the same power and often, a power we never saw before beat a power we considered as very strong. That makes me say that the powers are balanced enough. Isn’t it a big risk for the balance of the game ? I mean, how can you balance 48 different powers ?
JS : It’s very difficult, perhaps impossible when you have such different powers. There is a lot of variety in those recruit cards. In fact, even when I play now after hundreds of plays, I still enjoy trying to figure out the best combination from my opening hand and figure out which card is better early and which is better late.
Having variable powers is a big risk in a game. I think that’s why it’s key that players choose their recruits from several different options and that they have the second choice as to which recruit they activate first. That way, if a player wants to try a recruit that may not seem as strong, but they want to formulate a strategy around that recruit to see if they can pull off a win, they can do that. Plus, the game plays in about an hour. Having recruits with variable power levels wouldn’t work well in a 4-hour game.
GM : My experience was more a 90-min game with 5 players but i agree with you.