A Quick Chat About The Prototype PenPal Program with Grant Rodiek

I wanted to talk about an excited about a new game design idea from Grant Rodiek. Grant has started a blind playtesting program for designers. It’s called The Prototype PenPal Program and Grant was kind enough to join me to talk about it.

Tom: Grant, what is the Protoype PenPal Program?

Grant: The Prototype PenPal Program is a way for board and card game designers to obtain quality blind testing from dozens of designers (and their friends) at a relatively low expense. Designers sign up and submit a single prototype into the system. The first recipient will test it, provide feedback, then send it to the next designer in the loop. The only cost for each designer is a single prototype and the cost of shipping someone else’s prototype about once a month or so.


Tom: Why are you starting this?

Grant: A few reasons. I am fortunate to have a large and highly qualified test group, but it’s always difficult finding long-distance blind testers. People are reluctant to assemble print ‘n plays and I’m reluctant to send out dozens of copies. Plus, some people DON’T have such a local network and this can assist them. Secondly, this is a way to build the community.  Finally, I think this will help us make better games AND give us insight on what our friends and peers are designing. It’s so rare we’ll actually find a publisher and at least this way, somebody else gets to try out your creation.

Tom: How has the response been?

Grant: Surprisingly strong. People are always reluctant to start new things. They are dubious of whether it will actually happen or succeed. But, so far I have just shy of 30 designers signed up, most of whom have prototypes ready to send right now. We’re actually going to give out the first round of assignments in the next day or so. I have 2 designers in Canada and 2 in Europe, which is also great (and if you’re from those places please join in! We have people for you!).

Tom: Who are some of the designers involved?

Grant: Some great folks I’ve met in person and hope to meet again at GenCon, plus some other folks. Jay Treat, Chevee Dodd, AJ Porfirio, Daniel Solis, Rael Dornfest, Duane O’Brien, Phil Kilcrease, Paul Imboden, Matthew O’Mally…and more!

Tom: What do you hope to get from this?

Grant: Great testing feedback, great community, and a little fun along the way. Not everyone can attend Protospiel, Unpub, GenCon, etc. so I’m hoping this program fills a hole for those on a budget or without a local test group.

It’s been great talking to you again Grant. It sounds like the program is hitting at just the right time. I’m excited to see what cool games develop out of it. And what cool ones will be showing up on my doorstep. Please keep me updated.

If you want more information about The Prototype PenPal Program you can find it at that link right there. I would encourage you to bookmark Hyperbole Games also. Grant has some fantastic posts on gaming, game design, and his games.

A Conversation with John Moller of Unpub, Part 2

Welcome back!  Here’s part 2 of my interview with gaming influencer, John Moller.  We talk about what makes a good player, game themes, and of course Unpub.


Tom: How many Unpub events are planned for 2013?

John: We’re deep in the planning stages right now for a lot of events. Unpub 3, of course. January 19 and 20th we’ll have the flagship event and we’ll be announcing a lot of 2013 events then. We’ve got some big things in the works…and we’re still trying to set up more. If someone, a person or a store wants to run an Unpub Mini they should contact me. If there’s a convention that wants a Proto-Zone, they should contact me. We’re going to hit the ground running in January. So we’ve got a month (albeit a busy one) to get as many events on the books as we can.

Tom: Any chance of being near Durham?

John: Yes. I’ve had a few discussions and Unpub might be near or in Durham around 3 times next year. We might also be in Brazil…We’re definitely going to be in Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Arizona, Michigan, Illinois, Texas, Washington D.C. and Washington State. Hopefully we’ll get to be back at some of the big cons in Ohio and Indiana as well… time will tell.

Tom: Actually I knew there was one being planned. But three! Cool. Because I’ll be participating with at least one game of my own. I’d be glad to help. What are the aspects of a good player?

John: Patience, Attention, Risk, and Malleability. You have to have patience with any new game because you don’t know what’s around the corner. It just doesn’t help to get frustrated with something until you get to the end and it’s over….then you can get frustrated with it. This is why I’m not a good

Jason Tagmire explaining a game.

Josh Tempkin explaining a game.

player. Attention is important. I don’t care what game it is, you have to be present…be in the game, in that moment. It’s just better for everyone and it’s a more satisfying experience. Being willing to take risks, particularly in a new game, is key. You want to try everything you can to stretch the game to it’s limits. Someone else is going to try to do that, why not you? Why not now? Don’t worry about hurting a designer’s feelings, you’ll be helping them in the long run. If they don’t realize that…then you’re teaching them another valuable lesson too. Just don’t be mean about it. Malleability, the one that has people rushing to their dictionaries… is all about agenda dropping. Having a set strategy is great, but don’t be afraid to change mid stream. It’s one of my top player attributes. It doesn’t always win me the game, but I’ve had far greater experiences because of it.  I guess the last piece of the puzzle is that the one thing you cannot be in order to be a good player is closed minded. Even if you don’t like “this type” of game. If you sat down to play, give it your all. I’ve had many people say they don’t like a certain type of game only to find a game the exception to the rule…and if you don’t find a game to be your exception, talk to the designer about it. …because you may find what you have to say is important to making a positive change in the game. It’s just good business.

Tom: John, those are fantastic characteristics. I especially like attention. Being in the game and focused on what you are there to do with regards to play-testing is vital to be a good player/play-tester. You mentioned ‘types’ of games. We’ve had zombies, pirates, city building, deck building. What’s the next hot theme in board games?

Pixel Lincoln by Jason Tagmire

Pixel Lincoln by Jason Tagmire

John: I think what we’re really seeing now is a push towards the vintage of classic video games. Pixel Lincoln, Boss Monster spring to mind…but I know of some other games in pipelines that carry the thematic elements of classic adventure video games. I think we’re at the front of this craze and it’s going to become bigger and then fade away. That’s interesting. Now that you mention it, I see it. Hmm. I’m not really a prognosticator of trends… We’ll never see the end of Zombie Games, which is sad because I really don’t care for zombie games. Me too.But as to what’s next? I couldn’t tell you. I see such a wide variety of games in the Unpub program…I don’t sense any real trends in what people are presenting. …I take that back. Dice. Dice games are really becoming a thing. I’m starting to see a lot of dice games in the Unpub program.

Tom: What game surprised you and how?

John: If we’re talking Unpub games, then it’s got to be Viva Java. When I first encountered it, I had no idea what to expect. I fell asleep listening to the rules!…Then playing it, Viva Java just completely blew me away. The level of interaction in the game was so appealing. It was like a cooperative game, but not. You really had to pay attention to other players and their actions, you had to work with people (sometimes unwillingly,) you really had to have an idea but be willing to alter your plan.  This was a game that really hit on all cylinders for me.  It’s no secret, I decided to have the first Unpub because I saw it as a chance to get to play Viva Java again. I needed to show this one to my friends. I had to have other people experience this game. It had to happen…and here we are nearly two years later and people all over the world are playing it. I had nothing to do with the game… I don’t think I ever gave any feedback that helped the game… but I feel really proud of everything TC  and the Dice Hate Me team has accomplished with it.

Tom: Viva Java is a good game.  I’m glad it’s done so well for TC, Cherilyn, and Chris.  What is next for you?  What else is in the que?

Good times are brewing!

Good times are brewing!

John: Unpub3. The event is January 19 and 20th in Delaware. We have 40 games currently registered for the event. We’ve just added two panel discussions and we’re in talks to add a third. We’re adding a video demo service to what we offer at the event and we’re going to have a few podcasters and reviewers in the mix as well as a growing number of publishers.  We’re in for two huge days of play-testing and networking and I couldn’t be happier about it. I expect we’ll keep adding and changing things to make the event bigger still as we get closer!

Tom: Is there anything else you would like to talk about? John: Unpub  and Unpub3 are specifically where my head is right now, so I don’t have a lot else swimming around there to talk about. I… I think if I were to have one thing I really want people to hear and understand is that we’re a low cost/no cost program that is really driven by participants. If you think “Well, Unpub isn’t near me…” Then it’s your job to contact me and get Unpub near you. I’m not Unpub. I don’t need to be there for an Unpub Mini or an Unpub ProtoZone to happen. I just need passionate people who want this idea to continue and grow and blossom. It’s something that belongs to every designer, every store…anyone who wants game designers to get their games played and their dreams met. That’s what Unpub is…and anyone can be a part of it. We seem really

regional, but we’re really trying to break out. If you want us to come near you, we can…with your help.  I want people to hear that and know it. That’s…our thing. It’s not a program about us, it’s about everyone who can use it and benefit from it.

Tom: How can people contact you?  Are there any links you would like folks to visit?

John: My email is john@cartrunk.net, and I’m on twitter @cartrunkent . If people want to know more they should definitely visit Unpub.net.

Tom: Lastly, can you explain pizza noodles to me? Well, Pizza John: Noodles are like spaghetti for people who don’t do well under pressure.

Tom: That’s great! Thanks John.

What a fun and interesting interview! I got to spend some time with John at The Escapist Expo this year.  He’s a fun, smart, thoughtful, and very sincere guy. He loves games and is extremely dedicated to bringing new, good games to fruition.  I believe that Unpub is and will have a HUGE influence on the gaming industry. In five years we will point back to it as a key to many of the games we love.  If you are a designer, publisher, or retailer you can contact John at these linked banners .


Thank you for joining me for another fantastic interview.  I’d like to hear what you think about it. Please leave a comment below. Let’s have a conversation!

I have interviews with Paul Owen of Paul Owen Games, the results of The Question of The Month, and an In The Lab update in the que. Please come back often.

A Conversation With John Moller of Unpub, Part 1

I am very excited to have John Moller as my guest this time.  John is the founder of Unpub, an organization that assists game designers get their games into a publishable form through playtesting, connecting people, and advice.  This is a long interview so I’ve broken it into two parts.  Part two will come in a couple of days.

Unpub.net is a network is game designers, publishers, players, retailers and artists working towards the creation of new and unique table top games that will keep people entertained for generations to come! 

unpubTom: So John, tell us about John Moller.

John: I’m a guy who likes games. I do other things, of course, but they’re not all that relevant. My standard answer is that I do different things for different people. I’m a lighting designer who specializes in theatre and concerts, I’m a voting machine technician for my county, and sometimes I’m a welder. …But none of that is important. For me they’re impediments to getting down to games.

Tom: You have a varied palette of skills.What do you do to fuel your gaming habit?  

John: I play as often as I can. When I can’t, I talk about games or I write about games. If I’m not doing one of those three things, I’m probably working.

Tom: What game got you hooked on gaming?   

John: That’s a complicated question. I have a LOT of memories of games and playing games, but I don’t remember being a game player. My brothers are like 10 years older than me, so I have early memories of trying Dungeons and Dragons, experimenting with Shogun (now called Ikusa,) and playing lots of mass market games like Uno, Monopoly and branded board games for things I loved. I remember playing games with my

Uncle Wiggly - a classic

Uncle Wiggly – a classic

Grandmother including Tiddly Winks and Uncle Wiggly. There was an older lady, Mrs. James, down the street who I would go play card games with some afternoons. I look back and games were always there….somewhere, but maybe not in the forefront. …until high school when I got into CCGs. I started with Star Trek and tried Star Wars…and then fell into Magic: The Gathering. That put us in the way of seeing other games and finally experimenting. I think my first “real game” was Carcassonne, but the true revelation came with Reiner Knizia’s Lord of the Rings. My inspiration for design came from James Ernest’s Cheapass games line in the early 2000s. It’s been a snowball since then.

Tom: Lord of the Rings. You must have played that with Darrell. He mentioned it as his first ‘real’ game. Uncle Wiggly holds a special place in my heart too.  And my grandmother and her friends were card players so I learned a few card games early, Catch The Five in particular. Cheapass has inspired me too. It’s good model for getting games out there. I wonder why it hasn’t worked for anyone else.  Now let’s talk about Unpub. What is it and where did the idea come from? John: Unpub is short for unpublished games. We are a growing network of designers, players, retailers, publishers and artists. It started out as a single event ( The Unpublished Games Festival,) which we’ve run for the last two years, and has grown over the last year into an participant run organization that has held more than 15 events around the country. We are focused on supporting unpublished games primarily by helping them get played, gain feedback and get better. We do that by holding different events like the Unpub, Unpub Minis (held at game shops,) ProtoZones (held at conventions,) and through our growing play-test at home program. We’re looking at adding other programs in the future.  Where did the idea start?…Well, that’s kind of a long story. It started with the Regional Rio Grande Game Design Contest in October 2010 that was held at the Congress of Gamers. The event was awesome but it was a contest. I loved the interactions, the friendships, and the feedback that weekend created and I thought: “there has to be a way to make this happen again.”…So, I said “what made that event work for me?”…and created the first Unpub. It was basically people getting together specifically for

TC Petty III, one of the cogs that keeps Unpub going

TC Petty III, one of the cogs that keeps Unpub going

play-testing prototypes. I hadn’t heard about Proto-Spiel or Metatopia at that point, so I thought I was creating something new. It was a great event and we decided to do it again the next year. It got bigger…and then… well, we decided to take the act on the road. Now we’re heading towards our 3rd Unpub (January 19 and 20th) and it promises to be the biggest one yet. We’ve already got some big guns coming to the show this year like Compounded by Darrell Louder (with publisher Dice Hate Me Games,) and the awesome economic game East India Company by Paul Owen which has yet to find a publisher. That’s just two… of what is now more than 40 games that are appearing at Unpub3 and the list grows every day.

John: The ‘getting people together to play-test’ is a key to good game development. I think it is an awesome and sorely needed service. It seems that you’ve touched a nerve. I for one am very glad of it.I think it is a fantastic idea.  

I saw first hand how valuable it can be at The Escapist Expo. How many games have been ‘unpubbed’?

John: That’s a complicated question. We’ve done a lot different things over the past year from show up and play events, to actual registered events, to simply listing prototypes that are going to be at events (which was a big hit at GenCon and actually helped at least one game find a publisher.) All told, in the past year Unpub has probably had contact with around 130 different games. The number we would quote as actual Unpub Games is probably around 90. To be really considered an Unpub Game, and get the full benefit of everything we provide we want the game to appear at an Unpub Event. So, after around 15 events…roughly 90 games isn’t bad. We’ve been involved at some level with about 13 different publishers as well. All of those numbers continue to grow.

Tom: Ninety games! Thirteen publishers! That’s amazing.  It really shows that the future of the game industry is bright. How many of the Unpub alumni are published or contracted games?

John: We’ll claim about 15…but there’s a lot that goes into that number. Some of the games in the program had publishers before they got to us like Salmon Run and Pixel Lincoln, but were able to gain the benefit and the

buzz of Unpub to help move them forward. Other games decided to self publish...which is tricky and I don’t

 Contract negotiations for The Great Heartland Hauling Company

Contract negotiations for The Great Heartland Hauling Company

recommend. Others have used us to improve and find a publisher like Compounded.  We really serve all three of those strategies. The other side is, we’ve got a group of play-testers that enjoy blind play-testing. We’ve done some work on the side for a one or two publishers connecting games they want play-tested with groups of play-testers. We’re hoping to step up those efforts again.

Tom: The play-testing aspect of Unpub is very intriguing. We’ll come back to that. Is Unpub working like you envisioned it?  What would/will you change?

John: The great wisdom about starting any business is to go into it with a plan. That’s great wisdom and I absolutely did not follow it. So there’s very little “envisioning” that went on. When this all started I thought it was going to be one event each year. I was really okay with that. I didn’t even anticipate it being a big event. It was just a thing I wanted to do that first year and it was successful enough that there was enough interest in doing a second one. After Unpub2… there were so many voices whispering in my ear that we needed to do more. People wanted this to be more than a one time thing. …and people told me they didn’t want to come to Delaware. SO, I put my thinking cap on and said, “well, how does this work?”…And then we plowed forward. Strike while the iron is hot is another great piece of wisdom that I did follow.  The initial concept behind the website was an open market where designers could list their games, and publishers could come and find what interested them and then take the next step. It was about making it easier for the designer, making them the draw. We started the list and the Unpub Minis. The minis became more important…so we started holding more of them and working out the details so they can proliferate. I kept hearing people talk to me about getting these things in conventions…which sounds great to me. So we went forward with an idea and got shot down pretty

TC Petty III and the Big Blue Noodle. The Noodle marks the ProtoZone.

TC Petty III and the Big Blue Noodle. The Noodle marks the ProtoZone.

hard. I’m stubborn, so we still moved forward unofficially…because I truly feel that we have to offer has value and has great value at the convention level. Designers with prototypes are marginalized at most conventions. They’ve got to be their own salesman but it’s so hard to connect to the right audience. Putting all the designers with prototypes in one place is a good idea because there is safety in numbers. It let’s people who want that kind of thing find that kind of thing. If a publisher knows they can see Unpublished games at a certain place, they will go there.  At Origins we had 9 different publishers in our area just about every night. Our GenCon area, made possible by Game Salute, higher numbers and more foot traffic. The big cons spawned 6 small fall conventions and some great opportunities leading into next year. But…that wasn’t on our list of things to do when we started. We’ve also been…not very well, but growing a small program of at home play-testing. Connecting play-testers with games…and providing print and play games that need play-testing.  Bottom line? The initial concept was helping games find publishers, what we are now is a service that seems to be specializing in play-testing and promotion. That’s become our goal: to help make good games great. We do this by doing everything we can to get games played. We continue to find new avenues to do that and make new connections to help it grow.

Tom: It’s really amazing how it has grown. What feedback has been most valuable?

John: Every piece of feedback I’ve heard carries value. As with designing a game, you hear what they’re saying and you try and listen to what they mean. People want more opportunities…and we’re working to create more. I have a good group of dedicated people who help me out…but the program really thrives and will endure with the realization that’s it’s participant driven. We have the system now… If someone says to me “Why don’t you have an Unpub Mini near me…?” I can say: “I will if you’ll help me…” And there’s a place to go with  documentation and guides to make that happen.  We can have Unpub Mini just about anywhere there are game designers and a place with space for people to play games. Apart from that…we just try to do everything we can to provide

Darrell Louder at an Unpub Mini at 6 Feet Under

An Unpub Mini at 6 Feet Under

people what they need. We are always open to ideas and suggestions. …But, and this is something I do try to stress: We know what Unpub is now. We’re not having contests or starting forums to talk about game design. There are places for that (The Game Crafter and the Board Game Designer’s Forum respectively.) We are about play-testing and promotion. Getting games played and getting people talking about them.

That’s part one.  Part two will be posted in a couple of days.  Please come back for it.  It is a ton of fun.


A Conversation With…Darrell Louder, the designer of Compounded

This time I’m talking to Darrell Louder. Darrell’s the designer of Compounded, a new game coming from Dice Hate Me Games.

Tom: Alright Darrell, tell us about yourself.
Darrell: I’m a 33 (soon to be 34, on Valentine’s Day to be specific) year-old crazy person. Married with a beautiful wife, Lesley, and the greatest 2 year-old kid in the world, Ethan. Born and raised in Dover, Delaware where I still reside. I’ll allow you a few minutes to look for Delaware on a US map; hint, we are under New Jersey. 

Tom: It’s going to be a couple of years before you’re the next Knizia. Everyone else has a day job.  What do you do to fuel your gaming habit?
Darrell: I currently work for GameSalute as their webmaster & a member of their graphic design team- so from when I wake up to when I go to bed, I’m constantly working on game related media. So it’s nice to constantly be surrounded by that, and with people who understand your gaming passion. I also volunteer free-time to my friend John Moller in running the Unpub program he started. John and I have been friends for over 20 years, so it’s great to work with him on something that we feel improves the gaming environment for everyone.When I’m not working, my wife is usually always poking me for a game before we retire to bed; usually Stone Age, Maya, or St. Petersburg.

Tom: You’re a busy rascal. I have an interview with John pending.  There’s a bit of crossover with this one. GameSalute is great. Top notch outfit runs by outstanding people.What game got all this started?
Darrell: Magic the Gathering, actually. I’ve played that blasted game since the Dark came out, and only quit it last year. I remember hanging with friends, and they were playing Catan. I scoffed at them, never trying it myself, and instead kept playing Magic with whoever wanted to kick my butt at the time. Then one day, I sat down and tried Catan. Then Knizia’s Lord of the Rings is what REALLY got me hungry for more board games. So Magic, then Catan, then LotR. Man… now I want to play Lord of the Rings.

Tom: I own it but haven’t played it yet. So recommend it?
Darrell: Oh yes! The game was my first forray into co-op games, and it is a nail bitter. Probably the best Knizia game ever designed. From the theme to the gameplay it’s a through and through fantastic game!

Compounded. I’ve heard a story about how it came to be. But you should tell us all about it.  Where did it come from? What is it about?  How do you play?
Compounded came about as charity, believe it or not. I had zero interest in entering the game design industry. My friend, John Moller, was always making games that our group would play from time to time- but I don’t think anyone ever thought of ‘publication’. So, John wanted to do something for the board gaming world and came up with the idea of Unpub, an unpublished games festival. As a graphic designer, and director of marketing I did everything I could to help him get the first Unpub off the ground; however, as the date loomed closer I was worried about a lack of designers coming- so I decided (within 4 days of the event) to make a game to enter. If it flopped, it flopped- I was doing it only to help John.

So I kicked around an idea of being an alchemist and you’re putting together indregients to make potions. I shared this with my wife, a High School teacher, and she asked “why?”. It took me back. Usually she is all gung-ho for my ideas and encourages me to jump on them… this was odd. She then continued, “Why do potions? Won’t that be white noise? You should do the periodic table of elements and build REAL compounds!” That was it. As soon as she said it, I couldn’t turn back. I’m very much a man of science and that idea stole my heart. So that day, while at work, I sketched out Compounded. The original game was just a bag of reused Agricola pieces and compounds printed on 4×6 cards. It was ugly, simple, but it was the spark of something good. The fact that I had a full game in 4 days seemed to take everyone at Unpub by surprise. Their feedback & encouragement helped me continue to massage it and work on it. Really, it is everything Unpub stands for.

Tom: So your wife is actually responsible for Compounded. She’s a bright lady. Tell her thank you from all us gamers.
Darrell: I read your response to her, she smiled and said “That was nice, thank you.” Thanks for scoring me a few brownie points. 🙂

Dice Hate Me Games is publishing Compounded.  I remember when Chris and Cherilyn first started talking about it.  That sparkle was in their eyes and I knew that they wanted it.  How did they actually catch it?
Actually, Chris & Cherilyn caught it by accident- sort of. I only knew Chris & Cherilyn via Twitter. John knew them after meeting them at Origins. So John went down to visit with them and help T.C. Petty III shoot his KickStarter video for VivaJava. John & T.C. had both played Compounded, and liked it. So I asked John if he would mind taking the latest version of it down to get thoughts and feedback from Chris & Cherilyn. I can honestly say that it was NOT my intention to get it in front of them for possible publication, I didn’t think it was there yet. I just wanted feedback from a different, third party, source. Turns out, Cherilyn liked it, alot. She was the driving force behind DiceHateMeGames picking it up. So what turned out as an innocent search for help, turned into an amazing (and surprising) new dream being fulfilled.

Did anything change from initial concept to final product?
Oh man, did it ever! Originally all the compounds had abilities & victory points. The idea was you’d sacrifice your points to do things to screw over your opponents. That version was just too harsh though. So then I introduced the social aspect of trading, then a player tableau… and it just went on from there. The original elements in the game were even different. The nice thing is, those elements/compounds are still stored for possible future expansions. Dice Hate Me Games and I are actually planning (and working on) an included expansion with Compounded that will add a REALLY cool twist on the social game.

It’s puppies, right? Almost everything is better with puppies. I can see the Kickstarter now. ‘At the $1000 Sr. Chemist level, Darrell will bring you a puppy. To your house. For you to keep.’
Yep, you got it (not really)! I will (not) be bringing puppies door to door to every backer. I will (not) be hand pairing a breed with each kick starter supported based on their pledge level. 🙂

Tom: I’ve played Compounded at the last Gameathonapocalooazfestacon and it is a very good game.  When can we expect to get it in our hands?
Darrell: Well, Compounded will launch on KickStarter on January 18, 2013 at 12:01am. It ties in with the launch of Unpub 3 (January 19 & 20) as Compounded really is the product of the first Unpub. So it’s this kind of cool circle to see it go from birth to publication all around the Unpub program. We are then aiming to have the first public release at Origins. That, of course, depends on the printer, customs, etc. It is something we are eyeing though.

Tom: Maybe I’ll be there. That would be cool.
Darrell: If you come to Origins, let me know. I’ll reserve a chair at the game table for ya! With everything else Dice Hate Me

Games has brought, and knowing what’s to come… there is no shortage of original, awesome games coming from them!

Tom: What are the aspects of a good player?
Darrell: To be blunt, not being a #@$&. Nothing is worse than playing a game where an opponent just ‘shuts down’ and just mopes through the remainder of a game. Or an opponent that argues rules, because he/she weren’t paying attention during the explanation.

Tom: I’ve been guilty of that first one. Did it during Extra Life this year. Of course it was 3 a.m. and we were unwise to attempt 1960: The Making of The President …
Darrell: Time is guilty of making a #@%& of everyone. Therefore time is the biggest dick of them all? 🙂

Tom: We’ve had zombies, pirates, city building, deck building. What’s the next hot theme in board games?
Darrell: Hybrids. Games have been so cut and dry on one style of mechanic, “oh it’s a worker placement.” and “this is a deck builder”. I think you’ll start seeing games that are going to be difficult to classify by giving it a single label mechanic. Salmon Run, by Jess Catron, is a great example of this. Sure it has a deck building element to it- but it’s a racing game. So I can’t call it a deck builder as I feel it’s insulting to the great game that it is.

Tom: That’s an interesting idea.  I can see it and it builds out of the previous Question of The Month about new mechanisms. What are you currently playing the most?
Darrell: Wow, that would be a toss up between Stone Age or St. Petersburg. Either way, my wife is schooling me both.

Tom: What game surprised you and how?
Darrell: This year, FLEET. I loathe bidding/betting games, but damn it if that game isn’t all sorts of rock star awesome. If you haven’t played it yet, you really are missing out on one of the best games of 2012. A brilliant game by Ben Pinchback & Matt Riddle.

Tom: I’ve played Fleet and it is a good game.What is next for you?  What else is in the que?  What’s next for Darrel Louder?
Darrell: What’s next in the queue? Well, I’m working on my next game with T.C. Petty III, the designer of VivaJava. It was a game idea we birthed as a joke, but after a game design retreat we found a solid game. It’s currently called “Pirates of the Carbon Copy”. It’s a game of being pirate accountants. Seriously. You have a ship and you are plundering islands for goods, but the royal navy is about so you need to ensure you get/make receipts for the goods aboard your vessel because there is always an audit just around the corner. The goal is to ‘race’ to the end of the shipping route before the tax deadline. It has worker placement, rondels, trading, racing, blind tableaus, and more. It sounds strange, I know, but man is it fun. So we’ll be premiering that at Unpub 3.

Tom: Pirates” sounds a lot like that Monty Python short. That could be an interesting game.

Darrell: That was brought up during our ‘brainstorming’. Actually the idea came about (jokingly, as I stated) while playing a prototype to a pirate game. This prototype had so many numbers to keep track of, we joked that we were pirate accounts, sailing the seas to H&R Rock. It just avalanched from there. It’s very much a ‘you had to be there’ story.

Tom: Is there anything else you would like to talk about?
Darrell: Unpub 3, you and your readers should go! It’s amazing to play a print and play copy of a game, and then see it picked up later- knowing you had your hand in helping that game designer fulfill a dream is just- there are no words. All feedback is unpubinvaluable, and that is the point of Unpub, to play unpublished games to give feedback to make it the next best thing!

Tom: John’s whole interview is about Unpub so be sure to come back for that.How can people contact you?  Are there any links you would like folks to visit?
Darrell: I’m on twitter, religiously, at @getlouder
I’m also on BGG under getlouder (I love geekmail)

Tom: So every BGGer should send him some. Preferably with GG attached.
Darrell: For more information on Compounded visit: http://www.dicehatemegames.com
For more information on Unpub3 visit: http://www.unpub.net

Thanks again Darrell. That was a ton of fun.