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#61 – Justin Blaske

Patrick Rauland: Hello everyone and welcome to the Indy 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.

Patrick Rauland: My name is Patrick Rauland, and today I’ll be talking to Justin Blaske, who designed Mint Works, Mint Delivery and a game that’s on Kickstarter right now, Area 1851:Express. Justin, welcome to the show.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/five24labs/area-1851-express

Introduction

Justin Blaske: Thank you for having me.

Patrick Rauland: Did I get your last name right? Blaske?

Justin Blaske: You did. You got it right.

Patrick Rauland: Alright. So I’ve done a little bit of research before the show has started, but the audience hasn’t. So I like to start with a very simple little game. Just sort of three lightning round questions. Ready?

Justin Blaske: I’m ready.

Patrick Rauland: Alright. So what game would you play with a stranger at a convention like every single time?

Justin Blaske: The Resistance.

Patrick Rauland: Ooh, and how many rounds of The Resistance?

Justin Blaske: You know, three to five.

Patrick Rauland: Okay. Okay, that’s a good amount, because sometimes people want to play like 20.

Justin Blaske: That’s too much.

Patrick Rauland: Yeah. What is your favorite flavor of Tic Tac?

Justin Blaske: Orange.

Patrick Rauland: Oh, good choice. And a random side tangent, I used to live near a Tic Tac factory many years ago and we got tours and we had way too many orange Tic Tacs, but you would have been very happy there. And then UPS, USPS or FedEx?

Justin Blaske: probably USPS.

How Did You Get Into Board Games & Board Game Design?

Patrick Rauland: Okay. Cool. Some people have some very strange preferences there. I love it. Okay, so first serious question, how did you get into board games and board game design?

Justin Blaske: So like many before me, what really got me into the modern board gaming was Settlers of Catan. It’s really what got me focused on that stuff and then I think from there went into Alien Frontiers and then just kind of blew up from there. And then after that, you play a few games, you started going, huh, I might be able to do this. I’ve always been interested just creating games in general. I’m a software developer so I’ve always played around with trying to make video games and stuff as well. So board games just seemed like a simpler way to go forward on making a game kind of thing. And there was a episode of the Dice Tower forever ago were Tom had said something along the lines of:

There’s just not enough western games out there.

And I thought, oh, well maybe I’ll try to make a western game. I’ll fill a niche then or something like that. And that’s what led to the very first version of Area 1851.

Patrick Rauland: That’s awesome. So basically you heard a podcast and they said there’s not enough of these games out there and you just made one?

Justin Blaske: Basically.

Why Make a Game That Can Fit In a Mint Container?

Patrick Rauland: That’s fantastic. Very cool. Okay, so I want to talk about, I first heard about you through your mint games. Actually fit in the mint container and I really liked portable games and generally people seem to really like them and I actually am pretty sure I’ve heard them talked about on the Dice Tower. So first of all, let’s start with like, why did you make a game that fits in a mint container?

Justin Blaske: I had no intention of doing so actually. There was a competition on BoardGameGeek a while back that was essentially make a game that will fit in a mint tin, and I saw it and discounted as ludicrous, crazy idea and I’ll never be able to do something like that. That’s too much. And a week later I’m just kind of chilling out around the house and it pops back over my head and I go to do a little typing on the computer. A couple of hours later I’ve got files printed out and start testing what becomes Mint Works.

Patrick Rauland: That’s fantastic. Was it one of those games that the core of the game was there immediately and it was just sort of development around the edges?

Justin Blaske: Yeah, the game that everybody knows and loves now is very similar to that initial game.

Patrick Rauland: That is super cool. And you basically just mulled over a contest for a week?

Justin Blaske: Yeah. Yeah. Just in the back of my mind.

Why Not Double Down on the Mint Container Niche?

Patrick Rauland: That’s fantastic. Okay. I know a lot of people, well a lot of people don’t have a niche. They sort of design a western game, then design an alien game, than they design an abstract game. And it’s really hard to stand out. So I have a question for you. You’re coming out with Area 1851:Express. Why not double down on the whole mint concept? Why not just go, you know, Mint Works, Mint Delivery, Mint Air Planes, Mint Trucks, just go down the line.

Justin Blaske: Mint all the things. Well, I do have plans to keep doing Mint games. I just also have a backlog of games that I started designing before doing Mint Works that I think would be great games to bring out. And so trying to intersperse those with the Mint games so that some of these other things that a bunch of times has been put into can actually come out.

Patrick Rauland: I mean, so you just want to keep creating.

Justin Blaske: Yes. I enjoy making the games and so I don’t want to be trapped in a tiny little mint tin forever.

What’s The Favorite Game You Designed?

Patrick Rauland: Okay. I hear ya. I hear ya. Okay, so what is the favorite game you’ve designed?

Justin Blaske: It’s a game that’s not released. It’s called Dungeon town. It went through a lot of iteration, but essentially it’s a worker placement kind of game. You only have one worker that moves around basically. And you’ve gotta gear out yourself with shopping around and building up your gear in town and then you go down to the dungeon and fight monsters and earn money and whatnot. Kind of a very typical dungeon crawley experience, except there’s no dungeon crawling.

Patrick Rauland: And one worker?

Justin Blaske: And you’re one worker. Yeah.

Patrick Rauland: So is that more like action selection?

Justin Blaske: Kind of, but when someone selects it, they can’t go to that thing. There’s only so many people can select it in a round or whatever. So it’s kind of action selectioney. There’s an action point allowance system in it. But I like it. It’s really fun. It’s just been sittin’ on the back burner for a while ’cause it’s got a little too big of a box to be puttin’ out right now.

Patrick Rauland: Well, okay, so let me change the question a little bit. Like you have some Mint games, you have the other western game or there’s multiple western games, right? It’s not just the one.

Justin Blaske: So Area 51 originally and then now 1851 One:Express, the new and improved version.

Patrick Rauland: Ah, okay. But how about between those, what are the elements that make one of those your favorite? Does that make sense?

Justin Blaske: So I really like it card drafting, which is why I went with a drafting game for my first design and went back to it, kind of retooling the game just because I really enjoy that aspect of gaming. It was the type of Magic that I played the most towards the end of when I just stopped playing Magic. It was just doing drafts and it’s just, I love that type of mechanism. And so being able to do a game where you’re just drafting and then you’re done is really fun to me.

How Long Do You Work on Games?

Patrick Rauland: Awesome. So how long do you work on your games? How many hours a day are you working on these games?

Justin Blaske: It really depends on the day and the game and where we’re at. It could be all day long for a week, it seems like, or it could just be intermittently throughout a day or it could go a couple of weeks where I haven’t done anything just ’cause other stuff comes up, but pretty much if my mind’s in it, as much as I possibly can.

How Much Research Do You Do?

Patrick Rauland: Okay. That seems pretty good. How ’bout this, what sort of research do you do and how long do you spend doing this research before making a new game design? Does that make sense?

Justin Blaske: Yeah, that makes sense. I guess it really depends. Like for Area 1851, I worked with a friend of mine who’s an author and we did a lot of research and a universe building actually. There’s a whole rich universe behind Area 51. He actually wrote a novella around it too. It’s a hilarious little novella. There was a lot of research done there because we want it to be respectful, touching on the concept of having the natives and stuff. We didn’t want to be derogatory to anybody or anything. And so lots of research was put into that to make sure that we were making the right kinds of choices going forward on that. But on a lot of other things, if my muse strikes me or whatever, just whatever gives me the idea for a game, that just kind of gets it going and then once I start rolling I go, well let’s make sure I’m not overlapping right now.

Why Build a World for Your Game?

Patrick Rauland: Sure. Well, I kinda wanna touch on world building ’cause I think that’s something very few games do. Is that something you set out to do or is that just something that sort of happened because you happened to be working with this friend?

Justin Blaske: It kind of just happened because it was a drafting game and we were going to, big, pretty cards and doing flavor text and then well, how about we get some story in through that flavor text, a lot of world building through that and we just kind of evolved from there and ended up creating this. Like we had several meetings, several hour long meetings that we would just sit in the coffee shop building what this universe looked like and giving motivations to why the aliens came to Earth and what happens if they ever make it back home and what’s the physiological differences of these creatures and stuff. And so there was a lot of investment into this whole universe.

Patrick Rauland: That is super cool. Okay. Well I have to know, why did the aliens want to come to earth?

Justin Blaske: Human technology is a very sought after commodity. It’s actually black market goods basically back on their home planet. They’re not supposed to be here because Earth is quarantined to let them develop and so they step in basically to come get some stuff to take home and sell.

Patrick Rauland: Alright, we’re gonna Veer right off course. Have you heard of the philosophical argument that Earth is in a zoo and that’s why we haven’t seen other alien races?

Justin Blaske: I’ve heard some of that. Yeah.

Patrick Rauland: That’s actually cool that your game plays into that because that is like a philosophical thing. That’s why we haven’t discovered aliens is cause we’re like in an intergalactic zoo. That’s super cool.

Justin Blaske: So that’s kinda how that works. Just so happens the crew that comes to the visit us are not the brightest and so they crash land and get stuck here.

How Do People Like World Building?

Patrick Rauland: Love it. Is this something that people actually interact with? You know what I mean? Or did you create this in a couple of hour long meetings and then no one has ever talked about it online, no one has ever talked about it with you in person at a con or are people like, “Oh my God, I love that this alien or this cowboy did this thing.”

Justin Blaske: Every once in a while you get some, but usually when people are reading through the flavor text on the cards, they’ll start to get the character behind some of these because they’ll see a person’s name mentioned a couple of times and they’ll kind of start to get what this person’s about through some of that. But there’s just not been a lot of exposure to the universe yet for people to really latch onto it.

Do You Have a White Whale of Game Design?

Patrick Rauland: Very cool. Do you have a white whale of game design and by that I mean something you’ve sort of tried to get into a game and you’ve had to take it out or you’ve had to modify it?

Justin Blaske: I tried so hard to make a 4X game that used a deck building for combat. I just could not get it to work quite right and be fun, but I would love to do that eventually.

Patrick Rauland: I admire anyone who makes any sort of 4X game. But a 4X game with also deck building for combat sounds even more intense.

Justin Blaske: Yeah, doing deck building for all the different types troops and units you could have, I think Civilization kind of did that a little bit with their little square cards, but do different types of units and troops. In combat we used a lot of rock, paper, scissors affects between the different types of units with also strength and technologies [inaudible 00:12:13] there’s a lot of stuff going on, but it was interesting. I just couldn’t make it quite work.

What Games Inspire You?

Patrick Rauland: Yeah, I really like that. So are there games out there that inspire you?

Justin Blaske: It depends. Wingspan’s a recent one that’s cool, but when I first heard it, I was like, it’s a bird game. Why is everybody excited? And I saw it, I’m like, yeah, it’s pretty, but it’s a bird game. Why are we so excited about this? But I played it and it’s really clean. It’s really elegant. It’s fun and it takes that mechanism and does it well and I really appreciate when the game can do that.

Patrick Rauland: Does that make you want to break out of your … I guess Mint is a pretty unusual theme, but the cowboys is not so much of an unusual theme.

Justin Blaske: I don’t know. I guess Mint, we do have an actual theme with the Mint stuff. We’ve actually started building a universe around it as well now just to kind of get all the games interconnected with each other. I enjoy working in that universe and doing those games. Those games are also a little easier because I don’t have to find artists for as much stuff. It’s much, much lower on art. I’m terrible art direction. Mel, the other designer in the company, he’s much better at art direction, that kind of stuff. So I let him find artists for that kind of stuff.

Patrick Rauland: I guess it is nice when you’re designing a tiny game to not not have to worry about that as much.

Justin Blaske: Right.

Can you Give Us An Example of an Underappreciated Game?

Patrick Rauland: Nice. So is there a game out there that you really appreciate? Maybe like something that’s underappreciated by the rest of the market?

Justin Blaske: That’s another good one. So there is a convention here, or sorry, a podcast from Omaha, nearby here, and they do a thing that was no game left behind and their whole thing was games that were, I think at least three to five years or older. And then they had to be lower than 500, preferably lower than a thousand on BGG, games that you really liked that were down in those areas. But I think some of the ones that I used to pick have started coming up in the ranks. I think Millennium Blades. Really, it’s one of my favorite games and it does what it’s doing really well in … Have you played Millennium Blades at all?

Patrick Rauland: No I haven’t. I was just Googling it.

Justin Blaske: So it’s a CCG simulation game.

Patrick Rauland: Okay.

Justin Blaske: Yeah, it’s, it’s such a strange concept, but you play the role of a person who’s been playing this card game, which is called Millennium Blades and it’s got this weird, huge story about how the Richard Garfield, the character of the universe, basically time traveled back a thousand years to introduce this game so that in the future there was a thousand years worth of cards in meta to be able to play the game. In the game it’s broken up into two phases. You’re playing in a tournament and then you’re doing market stuff. And so when you’re in a market phase, there’s cards you buy and you’re buying a card. It’s basically a booster pack, but there’s only one card because it’s really the rare that’s in that pack. It’s the card you’re looking for.

Justin Blaske: And so you’re buying all these cards and building up a deck and that’s timed. It’s seven minutes, seven minutes, and then six minutes, little timed chunks inside of there and then you go into a tournament and play with the cards that you used and you only actually play six, sixish cards depending on what you built your deck with and that’s it. Everybody plays one card at a time, almost like an action programming kind of thing. You just lay them out in front of you. As they all play, you score up everything, and then you go into the next buy phase and you do that three times and all along the way you get points for winning tournaments. You get points for collecting different types of cards and stuff and turning them in for points. There’s all kinds of different weird vectors for points. It’s chaotic and fun and a very well done.

Patrick Rauland: I have to say, I love a theme like that. A CCG simulator, ’cause I used to play Magic back in the day, but I don’t think I’d ever get back into it, but a CCG simulator. That sounds great.

Justin Blaske: Yeah. And whenever I like, I’m like, you’ve played Magic, you’ve got to try this game, you’re going to like it. And they actually, they’ve got a bunch of extra formats and stuff too. You can actually play it in a draft mode, which I haven’t tried yet, but I want to. There’s all kinds of weird stuff you can do with it that’s just cool.

Patrick Rauland: Yeah. Okay. So does a game like that inspire you to make something?

Justin Blaske: Yes. I want to make a game, that whole universe thing, you know, I want to keep going with the universes, but I want to be able to make a game like that. It was just that exciting and that massive but still works. Because it’s so many cards. It is so many cards.

Patrick Rauland: Okay. So tell me a little bit about the game that should be on Kickstarter right now, which is Area 1851:Express. So you said it is the sort of new and improved, what is something that’s changed about it and why did you need to change it?

Justin Blaske: So the original game actually was a full big box game that had a board, had kinda a worker placement kind of thing going on with it. And you have little objective cards, almost like destination tickets like in Ticket to Ride. And then it also had the whole draft thing going on and it just was … Sitting back and looking at it from today, it was just too much, too much going on. It was very much my first design. That was definitely this designers first game kind of thing. And so I looked at it, I said, “What can I do to get rid of the board but not lose any of that fun?” Because the board has all these cool interactions.

Justin Blaske: And so I basically scrapped the board out and moved those onto the cards because the cards themselves didn’t actually do anything. They just were worth points and then made these funny sounding gadgets and stuff. So now all that’s off the board, it’s onto the cards. And in doing that, some of the effects don’t quite work in the way that I would want them to work, so we introduced tokens and so some of the cards when you deliver them, you’ll get a token to use that effect later on rather than as soon as you deliver it. And so some of these tokens that you know on a future turn, play two cards out of your hand instead of one, stuff like that. Pulling a lot of that extra stuff out, refining it and getting it all focused just into a straight card drafting game. Got the time down because it was about an hour and a half game. Now it’s down 30 to 45 minutes.

Patrick Rauland: Wow.

Justin Blaske: Yeah. And so the teach is way easier now. People don’t go, wait what? And I’m only halfway through the teach. It’s a much easier teach. It’s a much quicker play and the the game length and game weight now feel appropriate to each other.

Patrick Rauland: That’s really cool. I always struggle with big changes, right? ‘Cause I know I’m making some people happy but I’m making other people less happy. How about this, let me make this a question rather than just talk at you. Was there anyone that sort of preferred the older, more heavier version that you had play tests with?

Justin Blaske: Possibly, a lot of those people, I kind of overplay tested with them, so they don’t play test with me too much anymore. But I don’t know. It’s possible. There are people who want to go try playing it after playing the new one. And there’s people who say, I still like the new one and I like the new one. I like the old and both. It’s possible. It was an acceptable game. It just wasn’t a great game.

How is This Launch Different From Your Previous Launches?

Patrick Rauland: Sure. Interesting. Very cool. You launched this before and now you’re launching the new one. How has that launched changed?

Justin Blaske: So my very first launch actually failed. And then I got picked up by Game Salute and they’re the ones that actually ended up doing another campaign launch and publishing the original game and it just didn’t sell well for them and it didn’t quite hit the market. It was a little too high priced for the game weight, right? It was the duration and total cost of components just put the game up at like the 40, 50, I think it was a $50 range and it wasn’t a $50 experience. And so coming back now this time around, we dropped the price down and get it much more reasonable and try to match up with what we’re providing for an experience.

Patrick Rauland: Love it. I mean, right now I’m looking at it and it says it’s $22. So dropping from 50 to $22 is pretty amazing.

Justin Blaske: Right. And that’s the backer price ’cause I think we’re going 25 MSRP. Our Kickstarter exclusive is a discounted price. We don’t like actually changing what’s in the game. We want to everybody. Regardless of how you got it, we want you to play the same game and experience the full game. So we give our backers the exclusive of a better price.

How Long Since You Launched the Original Game?

Patrick Rauland: Oh, I like it. I think that’s really cool and I’m looking through the Kickstarter page. It’s really cool that you went back and did this. About how many years was it since you launched the original one?

Justin Blaske: I want to say it was four, maybe five years ago. It was a while ago.

Patrick Rauland: That seems like a pretty good timeline, right? Like four to five years of extra experience is plenty for you to learn and grow and make a better game.

Justin Blaske: Right and I definitely have learned a lot since then and will learn even more.

What Resource Would You Recommend to a New Game Designer?

Patrick Rauland: Speaking of which, what is a resource you would recommend to another indie game designer?

Justin Blaske: I mean, your testing group, right? That’s the most important resource you can ever have is a good testing group that not only will they actually come back and test your games and really try to break them or really focus on the thing, but will give you honest feedback and not be worried about hurting your feelings. Like they’ll tell you, this is dumb or I liked this or we could change this, this might be more fun. That’s so much more valuable than people who are like, yeah, it was cool.

Patrick Rauland: Going along the lines of testing, like do you recommend, is this something that you’ll do for like eight hours on a Saturday once a month? Is that something you’ll do once a week at lunchtime? Like what is the best sort of format that’s worked for you?

Justin Blaske: So what we did for the longest time was we would do once a week in the evenings for like three to four hours. And it just depended on what we were testing and how many people showed up. We’ve recently shifted it. We follow that same weekly pattern, but we now break it up into sprints so that we’ll focus on a four week period of a portion of the game and focus on that and then adjust things from there and then do it again.

What are Sprints?

Patrick Rauland: So I’m a software developer or I have a background in software development, so I have a pretty good idea of what sprints are. But can you tell me what sprints look like in the board game world?

Justin Blaske: For us, so we have a Facebook group and we set up a group for the specific sprint, which would be just basically a time block in which we have some focused objectives of what we want to accomplish. We invite all of our alpha testers, and say you’re all invited, only accept if you can commit to showing up on this, this, this, and this date. And then we’re good to go. And that way we don’t have to worry, who’s actually coming to testing tonight? Oh, I don’t know. You don’t end up with 20 people one night and two people. It helps a lot.

Patrick Rauland: So you ask your play testers to commit to four weeks basically?

Justin Blaske: Yeah, basically.

Patrick Rauland: Interesting. The group we have here in Denver, it’s a very informal thing. People just come and go. And I guess the good thing about that is I usually get very different play testers. But the bad thing is sometimes they’re very heavy games and I make light games or vice versa. Man, I really want to dig into this. I mean, these people just like to come in and play your games and even play them four times in a row?

Justin Blaske: Yeah, yeah. They really like what we’re doing. They’re a really great team that they play the games hard when we need them to and they’re willing to do it again week after week. And you know, some of these games we’ve tested for a year plus like this and they keep coming back, so-

Patrick Rauland: You must be bribing with like brownies and ice cream or something. Right?

Justin Blaske: We have a drink fridge so there’s always beverages and sometimes there’s snacks but yeah, they’re awesome. Just coming and having fun. We’ll change it up from time to time and maybe just do a game night or whatever, just to keep things from getting too monotonous but yeah, they’re invaluable. We would not be where we are without them.

What’s the Best Money You’ve Spent?

Patrick Rauland: Love it. Okay so what is the something, I mean I think a lot of game designers are a little bit frugal, myself included. I’m like mega frugal. What is the best money that you’ve ever spent as a game designer?

Justin Blaske: Ooh, there’s two things that immediately come to mind on this. We’ll go with the first one, which was a die cutter. Like a full on rotary, crank the wheel, press, die press cutter, the sheet that can cut a whole legal sheet of paper into different things.

Patrick Rauland: So sorry, I have no idea what a die cutter is.

Justin Blaske: Okay. It’s called Accucut is the brand. They make a few different types of these, but basically there’s a little machine that’s got two rollers that you would roll to squish something in and then a metal tray. You set the metal tray down, inside the metal tray, you’ll put a little like a foam-coated die cut and it’s got all the little metal shapes that need to cut whatever you’re going to cut. So we have one for the mint sized cards and stuff like that. You lay your paper on there, you just roll it on through and it comes out the other side. All the cards are cut like they’re supposed to be.

Patrick Rauland: Very cool. I mean that’s awesome.

Justin Blaske: The amount of wrist I’ve saved by not razor blade and rulering. It’s been amazing.

Patrick Rauland: So would you recommend this over, I have a friend who has the giant slicer. Do you know what I’m talking about?

Justin Blaske: Oh, like a, oh geeze, I know exactly you’re talking about, but all of a sudden I blanked on it.

Patrick Rauland: I used to work at an advertising-

Justin Blaske: A CNC machine. Oh, a plotter.

Patrick Rauland: Yeah, I don’t remember the name of it, but you just slide it and then there’s a, it seems like a two to three foot steel arm blade and you just slice it down.

Justin Blaske: Oh yeah. So I have one of those too, but it’s just not as accurate. Like if I have to do a bunch of things that I don’t need super accurate, I’ll do it sometimes. Like super, super early. Maybe it’s a lot of cards and I’m just gonna throw them in sleeves. But I still reach for the die cutter more often.

Patrick Rauland: Very cool. I have not. Tell you what, if we ever meet up at a convention, you have to show me how it works ’cause I can’t visualize it, but-

Justin Blaske: I can definitely show you how it works. It’s a pretty awesome thing. I’ll send you some links too.

What’s the Best Way to Market Your Game?

Patrick Rauland: Yeah, very cool. Okay, so what’s the best way, we’re nearing the end here, but what’s the best way to market your game?

Justin Blaske: Best way to market my game. I wish I knew because I’d be doing it right now. We could use that right now. Really, we just got to find people who like having a draft … Introducing a draft concept to people actually works really well at this game too. Much like Sushi Go would, but just people who really want to sit down and have a good time, but also think a little bit. Finding as many of those people we can and getting them as excited as we are so that they want to get other people excited as well. That’s really what we got to get to and we got to get more people as excited as we are right now.

Patrick Rauland: Love it. So good old fashioned word of mouth.

Justin Blaske: Yes. Yeah. That’s what we need right now, I think.

How Many Unpublished Games Do You Have?

Patrick Rauland: Yeah. And how many unpublished or half finished games do you have?

Justin Blaske: Do I have to give a real number?

Patrick Rauland: Give us an estimate.

Justin Blaske: I got a bookshelf. Let’s say seven or eight.

Patrick Rauland: Oh, that’s not many. I know plenty of people who have dozens, so.

Justin Blaske: Okay. Yeah. Seven or eight that are in various states of playability.

What Does Success Look Like?

Patrick Rauland: I hear ya. Okay. So sort of last serious question. What does success in the board game world to look like to you?

Justin Blaske: That’s a good question. I think it depends on if you’re talking as a designer, as a gamer, as a publisher. As a designer, I think just success is that you’ve got a following that people are enjoying the games you’re making and you’re enjoying making them and you have a good interaction with them. I think that’s a good measure of success. You make it on top 10 lists, that’s always a nice thing. But I don’t think that’s a good way to measure success by any means. But I think really being able to have a following, you get some people who are like like, oh yeah, I like your games. I’m totally in. That’s success really, as a designer.

Patrick Rauland: Just knowing that people like your games?

Justin Blaske: Yeah.

Patrick Rauland: Really?

Justin Blaske: Yeah.

Overrated Underrated Game

Patrick Rauland: Love it. Okay, so I like to end with a silly game called Overrated, Underrated. Have you heard about it?

Justin Blaske: I have not heard about this.

Patrick Rauland: Excellent. Basically, I’m gonna say a word or phrase, for example, pretzels. And you’re going to say clearly underrated because they are salty and delicious. Something like that.

Justin Blaske: Okay.

Patrick Rauland: Cool. Alright. So a games with a memory mechanic. Are they overrated or underrated?

Justin Blaske: I think they’re underrated. You could definitely utilize more of that memory mechanic and more games. It’s kinda regulated off to the little kid games space. I think we could see some good use. I think a good example of a not kid game that uses memory mechanic would be Galaxy Trucker. That’s a great example of a memory mechanic usage.

Patrick Rauland: I’ve played it only a couple of times. Are you saying where you look ahead at what events are going to be coming up or are you-

Justin Blaske: I’m talking about shipbuilding, when you’re flipping titles and putting them back.

Patrick Rauland: Oh. Okay. Yeah. Fair enough. Love it. Electric scooters. Overrated. Underrated.

Justin Blaske: Oh, I think maybe maybe a little overrated just because battery technology is not quite there yet.

Patrick Rauland: Very cool. Does your town have those electric scooters all over the place?

Justin Blaske: There’s a few people that I’ll see be-bopping around on ’em. Like the unicycles, little electric unicycles be-bopping around and stuff, but that’s about it really. Not too much other than that.

Patrick Rauland: So I live in Denver and we have them all over. They’re just on like every city corner. There’s like these electric scooters that you can rent with a smart phone.

Justin Blaske: Oh, whoa. No, we definitely don’t have that here.

Patrick Rauland: Alright.

Justin Blaske: I think we have a few bikes you can rent downtown. That’s about it.

Patrick Rauland: Well, some day soon you’ll get the electric scooters and then you’ll know what I’m talking about. How about flash goals on Kickstarter and my flash goals, I mean it’s like, in 24 hours or in 48 hours if we do this, you get this thing.

Justin Blaske: They seem very gimmicky to me. Overrated because I don’t really like that kind of stuff. I don’t even like stretch goals really. I like to keep it pure.

Patrick Rauland: I realize we’re going off topic and I’m doing a terrible job of keeping on time, but why don’t you like stretch goals?

Justin Blaske: In my experience, they’ve either been things that have been intentionally removed to be added later as stretch goals or it’s just new content being added, which will delay production. So you’re either pretending to not give them the full game or you’re setting everybody up for a really late delivery campaign. And then you’ve also got the whole concept of do we show all of our stretch goals or do we only show a couple so we can keep adjusting the stretch goal prices as we go. And that seems really disingenuous to me.

In my experience, [stretch goals are] either been things that have been intentionally removed to be added later as stretch goals or it’s just new content being added, which will delay production.

Justin Blaske

Patrick Rauland: You know, I hear you Justin, I ran my own campaign and it was very hard to decide how and when to reveal the stretch goals and for how much, and it does feel like, here’s the game I want to give you. Just give me the money and I’ll make it, you know what I mean?

Justin Blaske: Right. Yeah. I think that’s the designer in me. But then as a publisher, well you gotta play the game to keep people interested in it, but yeah, we did stretch goals, but they’re all only quality of life stuff instead of actual content.

Patrick Rauland: Love it. Last one. Is Easter overrated or underrated?

Justin Blaske: I don’t know. It’s pretty evenly rated, right? It’s kind of up there with candy and just getting to hang out with family and stuff.

Patrick Rauland: I mean I’m gonna make you pick one. Overrated and underrated.

Justin Blaske: I guess this is a tough one to pick. Let’s go with overrated only because like there’s other holidays that could take over, that could be higher up on the list I think.

Wrap Up

Patrick Rauland: Okay. Very cool. I like the answer. Hey, thank you for being on the show Justin. I really appreciate it.

Justin Blaske: Yeah, no problem. Thank you for having me.

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

Justin Blaske: I’m pretty much just JBlaske everywhere except Twitter. I’m @_JBlaske, you don’t want to go to the other one on Twitter. It’s a weird long story of an account that was used by someone who didn’t actually use their account and then eventually got hacked and take over by ne’er-do-wells. So, but yeah, so JBlaske pretty much everywhere, Instagram, Facebook, BGG, all that stuff.

Patrick Rauland: And Area 1851:Express is on Kickstarter so that-

Justin Blaske: Yes it is.

Patrick Rauland: So we’re gonna be releasing near the end of your campaign. Will you have like late pledges or anything like that?

Justin Blaske: If we fund, which I’m pretty sure we’re going to fund, it’s just going to be a close one. We will have a pledge manager for late pledges.

Patrick Rauland: Very cool. Yeah, I just wanna make sure that I can point people to the right place. Listeners, if you like this podcast, please leave us a review on iTunes. If you leave a review, Justin said he would give you a Mint at the next convention he goes to and a Mint from the Mint guy is pretty dope I think. Just on my news, my game Samhain is still in the holiday design contest over at The Game Crafter. I am still in the semifinals. When will the judge publish the results? Hopefully by the time the next episode comes out, I will actually have the results. You can visit the site at indieboardgamedesigners.com, you can follow me on Twitter. I am @ BFTrick. That is B as in board game.,F as in fun and trick as in trick taking games. That is all I got. So until next time everyone, happy designing. Bye bye.

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