Jason (GameGobble): Could you elaborate on the overall gaming experience you wanted players to have?
Curt (game designer): At its core, Cutthroat Caverns is a game about kill-stealing, a concept all too familiar for D&D fans. Everyone fights the monsters of the dungeons, but only the player who actually lands the killing blow claims any reward. So it forces players to jockey for position, trying to have their attack be the one to slay the creature, even if they have to trip another player or otherwise spoil someone else’s attack, so they themselves can claim all the glory. Cutthroat was one of the first true semi-coop games, admittedly one that leaned harder on non-cooperation and backstabbing, but tempered by the knowledge that if you didn’t work together, you had a very real chance of all dying and losing the game in a total player kill. Balancing the need to say alive, with the desire to win is the heart of the game.
Jason (GameGobble): Players may be able to deduct the intentions of others, but the game is designed to keep full knowledge of everyone’s hidden roles until the very end. Was this effect difficult to achieve? What were some of the design challenges and how did you overcome them?
Bruno (game designer): A design challenge we faced was to introduce catch-up systems. In the first version of the game, a player who had accumulated a lot of points was almost sure to win and the game was just about joining their team. The Assassin rule (giving secret negative points), the mutual cancellation of identical characters and the hippie rule all address this same issue.
Jason (GameGobble): Sunset Over Water has different card types that provide randomization during gameplay. But each player gets to make some interesting decisions too. What was your intention in balancing the amount of luck vs. strategy involved?
Ed (product lead): Sunset Over Water always had the same audience/player as Herbaceous in mind. We wanted to make a game Herbaceous players could easily transition to, so while there are more mechanics in the game (it isn’t quite the simple, beauty of Herbaceous) we wanted to make sure the experience was more than a taxing strategy game.
Sunset Over Water is a game that should be easy to teach, play, and one where you can have a hold conversation with your friends.
Jason (GameGobble): The look and feel of Herbaceous work really well with the game’s mechanics. Talk about how the artwork and theme came together during development.
Ed (product lead): Herbaceous was art/audience first, mechanics second. Beth Sobel had posted a number of the herbs as part of a Bonanza reskin and I felt there could be an incredible game there for a casual, non-gamer audience. Steve Finn understood the idea and designed a game to deliver that. We iterated a bunch, but the audience always was paramount.
Jason (GameGobble): Your games company Smirk & Dagger has a tagline of “cause games are a lot more fun when you can stab a friend in the back.” What are some of the ways those gotcha moments appear in Nevermore?
Curt (game designer): The game is filled with them and it is baked right into the core drafting mechanic. To play well, you are not just drafting the best cards for your hand and purposes, but carefully minding what you pass to your opponent. By sending them cards that set an expectation – and then breaking the pattern to suddenly deprive them of what they need and hand them junk instead, you bust their hand. “Hate drafting” is often more important than actual drafting in this game – and they will curse you for it.
Jason (GameGobble): The game 7 Wonders came out in 2010. 7 Wonders Duel followed 5 years later, and while related, is considered a stand alone game. What are the best elements of 7 Wonders that are present in 7 Wonders Duel?
Bruno (game designer): First, i have to remind readers that 7 Wonders is a game designed by Antoine Bauza, alone. This game was a huge, huge success, winning the prestigious Spiel des Jahres Connoisseur-gamer Game of the Year. It’s playable from 3 to 7 players, including a variant for 2 players. But Antoine was never happy with this variant. It works but didn’t give the game experience he wanted. So he decided to develop a pure 2 player game, and he invited me to work with him on that project.
Our target was to capture the flavor of the basic 7 Wonders but in a 2 player game. All the basic elements of the initial game are included in 7 Wonders Duel, but specifically adapted to a 2 player fight.