Altiplano (2018) is a very nice and smart medium-heavy resource management game, while Crazy Kick (2006) is a purely party game – fast, loud and wild. Does that difference between them represent your evolution as the game designer or rather the change of your taste as the gamer?
No, I think both games are for different gamers and different occasions and as a designer you can be specialized, but also have a range of games you are interested in playing and also in inventing. After Orléans and the success with this game I was more focused on heavier games, but there as still some ideas for lighter games.
Siberia, Orléans and Altiplano seem to be three consecutive steps in developing the concept of bag building game – each iteration seem to enhance it further. Do you percieve it also in that way? And if yes, do you plan to follow this path? Do you have any new ideas how to make bag building even more attractive?
Altiplano was originally not developed as a bagbuilding game, but when I had the main concept and combined it with the bagbuilding mechanism it worked perfectly together. I had to make some changes in comparison with Orléans. For example in Orléans you can use the characters for more different actions and you have some Joker-Tiles as the monks, so it’s not so important, that you get exactly a certain tile. In Altiplano you have to be sure, that you get the tiles, that you have produced, again after a while to make your engine work. I don’t think, that I will spend more time in developing the bagbuilding mechanism as I work on some other concepts, but certainly there will be some more games or expansions for Orléans and/or Altiplano.
I would like to ask you also about the most recent game that you designed: Moorea. There is not too much info available yet in English (and even less in Polish ;)). Could you please introduce it in few words? On BGG site I found an opinion that it’s a mashup of Splendor and Jaipur – can you describe shortly what we should expect from this title?
It’s a light game, where you draw cards and have to collect certain number of resource cards to swap them for other cards, which can be products (and give you Victory Points), tools (which helps you collecting the resources – better cards, more cards and so on) or other resources, which you can collect and change them into more valuable products. The main mechanism is easy, but there a lot of special cards which allows you to persue different strategies.
What games do you like to play the most?
As I play often with people who are not so experienced, I play lighter games and I like a lot communicative games as Codenames or The Game. Another favorite is Pandemic.
Do you often play your own games (for pleasure, not for testing)? Do you win often?
I do not play my own games very often as I have to use the time to know as much other games as possible. But sometimes other people want to play these games and so I play with them. Last year I played with some people from „Mensa“ Orléans and I lost, but I am good player of Altiplano. I think, it will be hard to beat me.
And what is your favourite strategy in Orléans?
I like to play Orléans with the place tiles „Herb Garden“ or „School“ (I also like the place tile „Pharmacy“). Depending on the place tiles I chose my strategy – f.e. with School I go fast forward on the University track – so I get the scholars and also the Citizen Tiles. Then I try to build as much Trading stations as possible.
Whom do you have in mind (as imagined target group) when developing a new game? Do you create the games that will please the specific people or you rather aim to attract everyone?
I always try to catch the people who are not yet experienced players, but sometimes during the process you can’t keep this in mind and the you have to do, what is needed. The target audience is only one thing among others, that determines the developing process.
Who is the first tester of your new board game ideas and concepts?
That’s me as in an early phase it’s not so much fun to test a game and I do not play a complete game. I try certain things and sometimes have to interrupt after a few minutes. When it’s more advanced I play it with family or friends. And later I also send it to groups.
The artist behind your the most known titles (Orléans, Altiplano), as well as for the newest one – Moorea – is Klemens Franz. How does your cooperation look like? Do you consult with him the theme of the game during the design phase or you provide him with the final thematics already prepared?
We meet once or twice a year. In Essen and in Nürnberg and we discuss the projects. For the Rest of the year we communicate a lot via e-Mail. Sometimes I am very clear regarding the theme, but I am always thankful for good ideas. So for example my idea for the Cover of Altiplano was very different and when I saw Klemens’ proposal with the alpaca I knew, that this was the right way.
The themes of your games are varying a lot: medieval France, South American highlands of the Andes, South Seas island, Siberian grounds. Where do you take your inspirations from?
From the world map 😉 Sometimes the game forces to a certain theme. For example: First we had the mechanism with the raw materials in Moorea, but it seemed a little bit gloomy, so we searched for a enjoyable theme, a sunny place and found it in the South Sea.
You are not only the board game designer, but also the publisher and owner of DLP games. How do you split your time between these professional occupations? Do you feel more that you’re a publisher or a designer?
For the moment I am more a publisher as I don’t have the time for designing new games. But I hope, that I can organize dlp in the future in a way, so that I will have more time for my own designs again.