John Lash

#110 – John Lash

Patrick Rauland: Hello, everyone. Welcome to the Indie Board Game Designers podcast, where I sit down with a different independent game designer every single week, and we talk about their experience in game design and the lessons they've learned along the way. 

My name is Patrick Rauland, and today I'm going to be talking with John Lash, who designed Cage Match. He's also had some interesting publishing choices which we're going to chat about on the show today. John, welcome to the show.

John Lash: Thanks so much, Patrick. Great to be on with you.


Patrick: I just want to give you– Whenever a guest does this, I'm going to give you bonus kudos on us having lots of technical difficulties and eventually figuring it out, so I appreciate it. Let's start with a little lightning round game just to introduce you to the audience. I've just got three quick questions for you. All right?

John: You bet.

Patrick: All right. Who is your favorite all-time mixed martial artist fighter?

John: My current one would be Khabib Nurmagomedov, but I think for an all-time fighter, I'd go with Georges St-Pierre.

Patrick: I know none of those names, but I'm guessing in the fighting circles they're well-known.

John: I think one or two people would know them, yeah.

Patrick: Nice. What is your favorite movie with martial arts?

John: Probably anything with Bruce Lee. I'll go with Enter the Dragon.

Patrick: Fantastic. What is a game you play with someone every single time at a convention?

John: I'm a big fan of Coup.

How did you get into board games and board game design?

Patrick: A big fan of Coup? I like that. I recently met the designer of that, so that's pretty cool. The first real question is, how did you get into board games and board game design?

John: Thanks for asking. I've been designing games from an early age, and I'm not at an early age anymore. I'm in the Middle Ages, but this is my first attempt at actually publishing something. For the last ten years or so, since about 2003. So more than ten years. I'm best known as “Roman, the Epic Duels guy.” I've done a lot of add-on content for the game Star Wars: Epic Duels. 

Then Restoration Games recently restored it as a game called Unmatched. So my blog is evolving to more of an Unmatched blog. I've been doing add-on materials for Epic Duels and now Unmatched, and then a lot of those materials brought a lot of blog visitors. Maybe sometime in the last five years, my friends started to say, “You're good at this. Why don't you do something original?” So after some– Maybe you have some too, after maybe some bad early games, I finally have a game that I think is worth pursuing in publication, in Cage Match.

Patrick: John, I've only made amazing games that get 10 out of 10. So, that's just not my design process.

John: That's why I admire you, Patrick.

Tell me about Unmatched and Cage Match

Patrick: I have very bad games, don't you worry. Let me talk a little bit about Unmatched because I haven't– Maybe I've seen this. Is this basically where you get two fighters from totally different universes, and then they get to fight each other with cards?

John: Yeah, that is basically the game. It's a dueling game. The original Epic Duels was Star Wars, and then fans like myself expanded it. I made a Lord of the Rings version and that sort of thing. Unmatched doesn't, at least so far, it isn't so heavy on the licensed content. Though they are going to bring out a Buffy set sometime down the road, but for right now, the starter set has King Arthur with Merlin. 

It has Alice from Wonderland with Jabberwocky. It's got Sinbad, and it's got Medusa. Four very different fighters. There is a Bruce Lee expansion, and there's also an expansion with Big Foot and Robin Hood. You can play one on one, but I think the game is at its best two on 2. You've got a deck of cards, and that's basically how you attack and defend, and create and plan your strategy, and hopefully emerge victorious over your opponent.

Patrick: Right. So let me, before we– I want to talk about Cage Match, your game, but can you just give me–? I don't think we talk about failure enough in our hobbies, so can you give me an example of a game that just–? One of your games that just completely did not go anywhere?

John: Yeah, I don't know if any of them– I think they're all at least candidates for maybe picking up at some point, dusting off, maybe re-conceiving it a little bit. I have one called Santa Fe, and it's a train game. It's a train game euro, and I know it sounds like a lot of train games out there, but this one is based on the idea of a– If you think about if you've ever had a toy train or model train track, they always go in an oval. I had one of those, and I wanted to gamify it, so that was the concept, but it just doesn't quite work because the train goes– You're always downstream, and I'm not going to get into the specifics, but because you're always downstream you can control what the opponent after you, what resources they get available because they're always going after you. 

I thought about some different ways to maybe disrupt that a little bit, but at least so far, it was fine. It's not a terrible game, but with so many games out there now and especially a lot of eurogames, there just wasn't enough new and interesting and different about it. Not enough of a hook to pursue, at least not for now, and I may end up with another way to do it at some point in the future. But I think it's figured out, “This is how I like to do it. This is how I like to make my prototypes. These are the materials I like to use. 

This is how I like to do playtesting, and these are some of the things I've found out with a couple of old games that I started out with.” That helped when I finally had the concept for Cage Match, and I thought pretty much right away because mixed martial arts is such a growing sport in the United States and around the world, “This one is worth pursuing.” I didn't have to learn all those lessons with this one, I already know how I like to make my prototypes and engage people in playtesting, so I can dive right into that.

How Many Games Did You Make Before Cage Match?

Patrick: Nice. Can you just give us– Paint us a picture, how many–? Maybe, how many games did you make before Cage Match? Or, how long were you designing games before you made Cage Match? Like, was it ten days or was it two years?

John: I think it was more like two years, and I might have maybe two to three games that I've prototyped out and playtested with people. Like I said, they're not– I don't think they're hopeless, but just not quite enough there to go ahead and pursue that one. I think I've been an original game designer now really just maybe 3-4 years since I designed that game Santa Fe I talked about. Even this one, Cage Match, was going to be something else. 

I didn't think much of it, and I think we've chatted– You and I have chatted a little bit about this on Twitter, but it's like even when you're not feeling creative, you just have to keep working. Because you never know where an idea is going to go, and this one– I'll tell the story about this one. When I was a teenager, I developed– Actually, this is when Role-Playing Games were big. I developed a role-playing game, and my group would play it, and it was looking to, and I was talking with some members or some old friends about that and saying, “Maybe we could bring it back.” I was thinking about how that old role-playing game was based on a Japanese anime and manga, and it was very combat-oriented, so you're just always fighting. 

I thought we used to use the old Dungeons and Dragons ‘Roll a D20 and add these bonuses,” and I thought, “That's not interesting and dynamic enough, and even though this idea we're talking about will never go anywhere, that's all right. I'm a game designer. Maybe I can come up with something, and maybe I can come up with a better combat system.” My goal was just I was meeting a couple of friends to talk about this old role-playing game, and my goal was just to come up with a more interesting and dynamic combat system than the old “Let's roll a D20 and add our bonuses. You roll to hit, and you roll to dodge, and then you do one D6 damage.” 

So instead, I came up with really just on the fly rock, paper, scissors combat system where the throw beats the parry, the parry beats the punch, and the punch beats the throw. “Let's build something around that.” Then I realized when we playtested it that it went well, so I playtested it with some other friends, and it went well again. I'm like, “All right. This is going well, and maybe we have something.” But this is based on this old Japanese manga that we'll never get the rights for, and even if we did, no one is going to care. “I wonder if there's another concept I could apply this combat system to?” 

Then I had the brainstorm, “Wait. Mixed martial arts.” My wife and I are big fans, one of my best gamer buddies who has been instrumental in developing the game is also a big mixed martial arts fan. I remember I called him up and we talked for an hour about the different– How we might construct a game around it. Then I guess I'll say the rest is history. It's just taking that combat system I developed for something else entirely, adapted it to mixed martial arts, had to throw in the whole ground and wrestling aspect of mixed martial arts. 

That was something else I had to figure out, and then from there the playtesting, and get a lot of playtesting feedback and shaped it over the last– It's almost been, I think it's been a little over two years since I first figured out “I want to do this as a mixed martial arts game.” It'll be just a little over two years when we finally get it listed on Amazon, and depending on when people are listening to this podcast, and you should be able to find Cage Match the MMA fight game on Amazon. You can search for “Cage Match.”

Patrick: Which I'm definitely going to talk about in a minute, I just want to highlight something. Number one, we constantly think people are having overnight successes, and your overnight success is a three to four-year investment. Every time I hear a game designer talk about that, I'm like, “Great. I'm not doing so bad. It takes years to get to do this.” 

And number two, I love what you said about how you basically just want to follow ideas and see where they go. I like that you made a combat system for, let's just say “No name anime” that no one knows about, but you liked it, and then you said, “Let's basically re-theme this to something that everyone will like.” I like that you basically took something that was just never going to be a good product and turned it into something that is going to be good. It's different, and it's not like you slapped on a theme. It's a totally replaceable, and both themes make sense. I love hearing both of those. That's cool.

John: I think mixed martial arts fits the mechanics as a theme. I think it fits the mechanics better than what it was originally intended for, and I think that's right. If you want to be a game designer, I think one thing you and I are talking about is you've got to be patient. You probably won't hit it out of the park on your first pitch, and you've got to keep trying new designs. You don't know where it's going to go, and you don't know when you might get something that you're stuck in. 

Like, “OK. This didn't go very well.” But then you could be introduced to a new game next week that gives you the idea, and you're like, “That's the piece I was missing for that game. If I would just import this mechanism from this game I'm playing now into that whole design I had going, I might be able to bring it new life.” Now I haven't had that exact experience yet, but I can imagine it playing out that way.

How are you publishing Cage Match & how did you make that decision?

Patrick: I totally agree. So, let me move into publishing. Listeners, I will have a link to Cage Match in the show notes. But John, you and I talked for I want to say, on and off again, not often but on and off again for maybe 2-3-4 months about your game. You were debating, “How do I know if it's ready for Kickstarter?” 

Or “How do I do this, how do I do that?” In the end, you decided to go with Amazon and fund the whole run yourself. Just put it up on Amazon and sell it directly to people that way. Can you tell me, why did you–? What was your thought process there? Why did you make that decision?

John: That was not an easy decision. I think, as you're mentioning Patrick, we did as a group go back and forth about that. We were going to, and we weren't going to. We were in, and we were out. In the end, I think there's four or five reasons we decide not to go to Amazon, but the biggest one is this. You do want to design your game with an audience in mind. I think this one is obvious, and we're looking for the gamers who like mixed martial arts or the mixed martial arts fanatics who at least occasionally buy a board game. 

We think to reach– We just don't think there's that many of those people on Kickstarter, and that's the main reason. We don't think our audience is there. Now I know there would be some people who fit that description on Kickstarter, I know that for sure. But as you know, Kickstarter now, you don't just throw your hat in the ring. It's big, and it's very competitive, it's a big production. You're going to put in a lot of time, and then I think at this point even a fair amount of money into getting your campaign together. You need a nice page, and you need at least on but probably more than one well-done video. 

I don't even see too many videos anymore of, “Hi. I'm a designer, and this is my dream. Please back me.” Now it's animated with unicorns and fancy graphics, and that's just the price of playing paying poker. That doesn't mean you're going to succeed. There's nothing wrong with that, and there's nothing wrong with going– I wouldn't discourage anyone from taking all those steps and getting invested in a Kickstarter if you think your audience is there. In our case, I just don't think our audience is there. I think our time and money would go further, just running Facebook ads, and making it available. If you think of the MMA fanatic who maybe has bought Monopoly and maybe a couple of other board games, they're not going to go on Kickstarter and wait months and months, or years in some cases, for the product to be delivered.

Now I can run an ad that says “Go to Amazon, buy it now, have it in days.” I think that just is a better fit. It's a better product experience, delivery experience, and all that for the audience we're going for. The Kickstarter audience is looking for beautiful sculpted miniatures and all these stretch goals and that sort of thing. And I have some of those things in mind, and I have a whole expansion in mind if we're successful. But for right now, it's like “Look. We've got a game that's $20 bucks, and you can have it in your hands in days.” I think that selling proposition is just going to go a lot further with this particular audience than a Kickstarter would. 

That's the main reason, and I think another is I mentioned it's $20 bucks. For anybody who is in the publishing business, you could probably do some math and figure out what roughly this is costing us to produce. It's not prohibitive, I mentioned right up early in the podcast I'm a little older. I would encourage anyone that you want to get into this business as young as you can, but the advantage of being older is I know where to round up a few bucks. This is not such a cost-prohibitive project that we couldn't find the funding outside of Kickstarter, that is something we are able to do. Then finally, it's timing. We want to get this game out this year. 

I've got some other ideas and projects in the pipeline. At the time, I think we were ready to start the Kickstarter project. It would have been probably right around now that we're talking that we'd be starting the Kickstarter. As we're talking, I'm realizing now I'd be– We'd be worried about the holiday crunch, and we'd be pushing it off the next year. This way, the game is produced, and it's published. It's out now, here in the year 2019. We're going to learn all the lessons that a publisher needs to learn. There's still a ton to learn, still a lot of things I would do differently knowing what I know now. We can apply those to future print runs of Cage Match, and we could apply those to the next game that we do. Maybe we'll go to Kickstarter next time.

Since you’re not going the traditional route – how are you going to market your game?

Patrick: I want to follow up on two things here. I think there's two big things. Number one, and then the second question which I'll get to in a minute is I want to know how you're going to market your game. But the first question is, I think I agree with you where maybe MMA fans are not really on Kickstarter. It's just the super nerdy hobby board gamers who want 500 miniatures and 300 boards and 50,000 cards. You know what I mean, right? There are those people for sure. 

Although I will say, just to play devil's advocate, I launched an 18 card game on Kickstarter with a couple of little tokens, and it funded. But I think the one thing that's tricky is like, how do you–? I'm such a data person. Like, how do you test that? What happens if–? One of the best things about Kickstarter is if you fail, you don't lose any money. Let me ask you this way, like if you go through this Christmas season and you only get two sales, what are you going to do? That's a hard question for me. I don't know what I'd do.

John: Yeah, no. Fair question. I will not, and I'll be honest, I'm super excited about launching this game. I am a little anxious, and I am a little nervous. Like, “What if?” It is hard to know. So some of the things, one thing I did to test was– And it might even be you who suggested this, Patrick, but I've run some Facebook ads already just to get a little bit of a gauge “Are people responding?” I do get about 5% of the people, a couple of things. Facebook led, and this answers your second question of how we're marketing the game. 

I go to Facebook, and I can say, “I want an audience that not only likes board games but also likes mixed martial arts.” I can get that venn diagram if that makes sense. I get that intersection, and Facebook says, “That's 2.1 million people.” Now my understanding is Facebook tends to overstate this audience a little bit, but it's still a million people or more. So there's plenty of audience there, and that was one bit of– Knowing that audience is there was one reason we went ahead and went forward. And then, second, when I ran the ads, I got about a 5% response rate. Which is pretty good, and that response rate is enough to say, “OK. There's an audience. They are responding to the ad, and they are curious, they are clicking on it. If we were to scale this up and start reaching out to a lot of people, we're going to get some sales.” 

That's where I'm at. I'll say that Facebook marketing is going to be one big piece, and we are doing a couple of paid preview services with YouTube channels and YouTubers, that sort of thing. These are just a couple hundred dollars here, a couple hundred dollars there. Nothing huge. Beyond that, we'll do some Amazon search and maybe even a little bit of Google search, buying a little bit of Google search terms. Then we'll do as much free marketing as we can. That includes talking to you right now, that includes going to conventions and spiels and demoing the game and getting an audience that way. I'm confident, and I don't know if we'll sell through this entire print run. 

We could end up losing money on this. We will sell at least hundreds of these games, though. Based on some of the research I just told you about, I'm confident that we're going to sell more than two. We're going to sell hundreds. Maybe we will come up short, and we won't sell through our entire print run, and if we do, we'll lose a little money. It won't be enough to hurt anyone. There's me, and there's five other guys I've got in this venture, so between the six of us, no one's going to suffer. No one's sticking his neck out too far to where– Now if we don't sell any, that might be a little painful. 

But like I said, I'm confident we'll sell more than a few. I think more than likely we will make the money back. I think it's more a question of “How long does it take? Are we going to make the money back by the end of 2019?” That's a smashing success, and we will immediately order another print run. A bigger, larger print run and do more marketing. I think if it takes us five years to sell through them all, then that will be the end of that, and we'll have moved on to another project long before then. It will probably fall somewhere between one month and five years, and we'll have to gauge it from there and say, “Did it sell through fast enough that we think this is worth investing in another print run, or should we just move on to the next game?”

How big should you go for your first print run?

Patrick: I love that you did the data because it's just a lot of– I have a little bit of a marketing background, so maybe I have an advantage here, but a lot of board game designers have no idea how to collect data. I love that you ran some Facebook ads, and just to see that people click them is huge. Like, someone's going “An MMA board game? What is that? I want to know more. I might buy it.” That's super powerful. 

I obviously don't have the whole funnel setup from Facebook ad to them buying it, which you can start to see soon. But it's just nice to see that you have some interest. I think just one last question here on this demand, and validating that there's demand for your product. If someone else is doing this, let's say they don't think their audience is on Kickstarter, and they do want to make a game, and maybe they have some– They do run a couple of Facebook ads and people are clicking. That still doesn't tell you exactly how many people are interested, so how big of a print run should you get? Like, do you go minimum 1,500? Because obviously going up to 3,000, there's a big price difference per unit. So, where did you land with that?

John: We pretty much went with the most minimal print run we could do, and I won't say what the number is but if you want to shop around. Whatz Games out of China is our manufacturer, and if you want to talk to Whatz Games, they'll tell you what their minimum is. I have found one company we're not working with, Do Fine Games out of China will do as little as 750. I think that's an option for people who are maybe thinking, “I want to do the most minimal print run as possible.” You could try Do Fine Games and do as few as 750, but I'll just caveat it with, again, this is a $20 retail game. 

The costs to do 750 or to do 1,500, it's not that much money between six people. I also have six people, and I would recommend getting some people in on your venture. I put a little board together, and it just helps. I've got a group of guys to bounce things off of and just say “I'm thinking of doing it this way, we're thinking of doing Kickstarter, we're thinking of not doing Kickstarter.” I'm not just listening to my own echoes and deciding, and I'm bouncing it off others and some who've been pretty involved in the process. I think what's great is some of them are not as involved, and I think that perspective is also really valuable.

Patrick: Cool. Great, I love hearing all this. I super appreciate it, and I think I just like hearing different stories because I think in the board game world, Kickstarter is almost like a deity you worship, and it's nice that you're just like “Nope. That's not for me and my audience. I'm trying something different.” It's nice to hear that.

John: Yeah, no. I think that's right. I think everybody thinks you have to do Kickstarter, and I think Kickstarter is great for a lot of game designers, and depending on what you're trying to do, you can get support, and you can get the word out. I'll be honest, and maybe I'm missing– Maybe I should be on Kickstarter reaching all the MMA board game fans that are on Kickstarter. 

But I think it's important for everybody to know you don't have to go that route, there are other ways to get it done. Especially five years ago, Kickstarter was a disruptor. It was new, and it was different. You just had to have a really good idea, maybe a thought out idea, and you can get that support. Now today, in 2019 and going into 2020, Kickstarter is not a disruptor anymore. This is where the big boys see games and plays and uses it as a pre-order store. You've got to bring your A-game, go big or go home.

What one resource would you recommend to another indie game designer or an aspiring game designer?

Patrick: Yeah, I hear you. OK, so let me move on to just some other questions here, just because I love talking about the publishing side, but I'd like to talk about a few more things. You've been doing this for a couple of years now, what's a resource that you'd recommend to another indie game designer?

John: I love, and I'm a big consumer of audio. Because I've got to, spend time commuting and spend time at the gym just about every day, so I've got time to listen. I love, in addition to the Indie Board Game Designers podcast, I love the Ludology podcast, and I love Breaking Into Board Games

I think for this, for someone who is breaking into board games, that's another great one. A little more on the business side is The Board Games Insider, which is another podcast that I recommend as well.

What was the best money you ever spent as a game designer?

Patrick: Fantastic. Love all those. One of my favorite questions is, what is the best money you've ever spent?

John: On games, or just on anything in my life?

Patrick: Let's just go with games, but if you have an interesting answer for anything in your life, let's go for that too.

John: The best money I've ever spent on games actually would just be the $150 dollars I spent setting up my limited liability company. Now I wish I had done it much sooner because now I can write off anything I'm doing that's game-related, and that's going to conventions. If I'm staying in a hotel or burning any gas to get to that convention or buying a plane ticket, all of that gets written off. Even any prototyping supplies that I buy from The Game Crafter or from Meeple Source, a couple of my favorite places to buy chips and Meeple and that sort of thing. 

Anything along those lines, any money I spend printing. I did spend gobs at FedEx office printing prototypes of Cage Match, and that includes even any board games I buy at this point. Board games I buy, I call and research their business. Sometimes I just buy a game because I like the chips, and I want to read the box for the different chips, and anyway, all of that now gets written off as a business expense. It was worth the $150 or so dollars I spent setting up my limited liability company, and it wasn't even that hard to do. I would recommend anyone who is thinking of going down this path, do that first and start writing everything off.

Patrick: Super good idea. I will say one thing for those of you who care about tax stuff, and you need to have enough write-offs, so you don't use the standard deduction. If you have the standard deduction, at least in the US, then the extra tax write-offs just don't make sense. You need to have so many write-offs between– This is your whole life. 

It's not just board games, but with your mortgage interest deduction and your this deduction, and if you donate to charity, all of those deductions. If you don't go over the standard deduction, then it doesn't make sense. I want one caveat there, is just what I want to add.

John: Yeah. Good point. I've got other things I'm throwing into it as well, so I'll just mention my cell phone bill, my cable bill, and all that goes on there.

What does success in the board game world look like to you?

Patrick: Nice. I think we talked about this a little bit, but let's go a little bit deeper. What does success look like for you?

John: I would really– Look, the dream here is we sell through this print run quickly enough that we do a second print run, at the very least. I'd say if we do that, I'd call it fairly successful, and I would even start considering, “Maybe we want to do an expansion to this game.” That would be success as a business, is if we can even get to that second print run. For sure, if we get to a third print run, then we might make some money. We'd take that money and just probably plow it into another game anyway, but if we do get to a third print run, I would say we will do an expansion. 

This game has been a success from a business standpoint, so that'd be great. Me personally, I would just like to see some people popping up on BoardGameGeek or maybe my blog and saying, “Our group likes this game. We like MMA. We got into this game, and we like this fighter. We like playing the different fighters. This particular fighter is our favorite, because of the way he does this or she does that.” So, that would– Even if we don't get to a second print run if I'm getting some of those testimonials from people who are enjoying the product that would be successful for me on a personal level.

Patrick: Yeah, sometimes just a couple of nice comments can make your whole project worth it. Just a couple of people saying “This is my favorite game,” or “I played this all weekend with my family. It was great.” Just one or two of those comments, and all of a sudden, your day is infinitely better. So, you don't have an interest in doing this as a day job? It is basically just a hobby dream project for you? Just a passion project, maybe, is a better way of saying that?

John: Yeah. I think that's right. Look, I'd love for this and other games to be so successful that I don't have time for a day job, but we talked about data a little bit. I'm a data analyst at a not for profit, and I really like the job I have, but I think more critically for anyone in the United States is it provides health insurance, and it's just almost not feasible for someone to not have a job that provides health insurance anymore. So, until that situation changes, I can't see myself ever really leaving my day job unless– Again, this would be a high-class problem. 

I'm just so busy with games because Target, the retailer, is on my phone saying “We need more” and people are inviting me to speak at different cons and spiels, and I'm trying to be in three places at once to the point where I can't hold down my day job anymore. That would be a nice dream, but I'm not planning on that. Listening to this and other podcasts, there are a lot of really successful gamers out there that still have day jobs.


Patrick: Absolutely. Cool, so I like to end my show with a game called Overrated/Underrated. Have you heard about it?

John: Yes, I have.

Patrick: Fantastic. I'm just going to give you a word or phrase, and you just have to tell me if it's overrated or underrated, and then a sentence describing it. Cool?

John: You bet.

Patrick: All right. Any game where there's simultaneous action selection between the players, overrated or underrated?

John: I'm going to say it's underrated because that's a core mechanic of Cage Match, simultaneous secret action selection. When you reveal your moves, it's exciting. It's an exciting moment. We found that it works for this game, and I don't think you can do it all right now. It's not right for every game, but not many games that I've played use that, so I'm going to say it's underrated.

Patrick: It's funny, I tend to see it mostly in dueling games. There's all sorts of multiple dueling games or fighting games. That is one of the most common times where you see simultaneous action selection. So the next one is just Rush Hour, as in the movie. Overrated or underrated?

John: That one's overrated to me. I like Jackie Chan as much as anyone else, but I guess I just don't– I never really found Chris Tucker that funny. I think that the dialogue in that movie leaves something to be desired. I'm going to say that's an overrated movie.

Patrick: I like the answer. I'm not a fighting, and I don't have any interest in like martial arts stuff. Was the fighting at least good in Rush Hour? Was it just the dialogue, or is it also that the fighting was not impressive?

John: No, I think it was fine. I think there are better Jackie Chan movies if you like that. One of the more famous ones is Rumble in the Bronx, and I much prefer the fighting in that. You can watch a lot of Jackie Chan movies with better fighting than I think what you'd find in Rush Hour, but I think the fighting in Rush was just fine.

Patrick: Perfect. How about this– One vs. many games, overrated or underrated?

John: I'm going to say underrated. I can't think of a ton of those. One that we used to play was Last Night on Earth, a zombie game. One player would control the zombies, and other players would play the heroes, and I always thought that dynamic of it was a lot of fun, but I haven't seen it a ton in many games. 

You have to have the right group of friends like you have to have somebody who's willing to play that one versus many role. We do in our group, so at least for me and my gaming group, I'll call it an underrated thing.

Patrick: Awesome. The last one. We are– By the way, listeners. I should have said this earlier on. We're recording this in early December, but it'll probably come out in late December or early January. How about Christmas Eve? Overrated or underrated? I'm specifically talking about the Eve, not Christmas. I feel like that one's too easy.

John: I think I'll go with underrated, in the sense that I think Christmas eve is probably better than Christmas. You are with your family, probably. There's that anticipation, and there's that– You don't have the pressure of “Is she going to like my gift?” And the pressure of the big meal. It's that time where you can enjoy Christmas together as a family, maybe without some of the pressures that come on Christmas Day.

Wrap up

Patrick: I think that's a fantastic answer. John, thank you so much for being on the show.

John: Patrick, it's great to be on. We've been able to chat in person at GenCon this last year, and it's great to be on your show.

Patrick: Where can people find you and your games online?

John: You will post the Amazon link, but anybody who wants to chat with me, please stop by You will find me blogging about Cage Match, blogging about Unmatched, blogging about Star Wars: Epic Duels, plus any other game I've ever played I review it there. I'm also on Twitter at @GeektopiaGames. You will find me chattering and sharing pictures with Patrick and other game designers.

Patrick: Awesome, John. I super appreciate that. Listeners, if you like his podcast, please leave us a review on iTunes. If you leave a review, John said he'd give you tips on getting out of a chokehold, which you might need at some point. Who knows? Then I just wanted to promote Protospiel Denver. I mentioned it a few times before, but I didn't mentioned that I'm going to run an escape room like thing, like a puzzle adventure thing before Protospiel. So if you want to do that, reach out to me on Twitter or BoardGameGeek or somewhere else, or through the website. Speaking of, you can visit the site at, and you can follow me on Twitter and BoardGameGeek. I'm @BFTrick on both platforms. That is all I've got, everyone. Until next time, happy designing. Bye-bye.

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