Sam & Ed Stockton

#151 – Sam & Ed Stockton

Patrick Rauland: Hello, everyone. Welcome to the Indie Board Game Designers podcast, where I sit down with a different independent game designer, 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 Sam and Ed Stockton, who designed Cult of the Deep.

Now, normally I talk with people right before their Kickstarter comes out, right after the Kickstarter comes out, or maybe a little bit later after that. But in this case, what's cool is the game is done, Cult of the Deep, but the Kickstarter is going to be coming out next year, so we might be able to get into some different topics in this interview. With that, Sam and Ed, welcome to the show.

Sam Stockton: Thank you.

Ed Stockton: Thanks for having me.


Patrick: Yay. All right, so I have an intro round of questions to introduce you to the listeners. Because obviously, we've been emailing back and forth, and I know a little bit about your game and your background, but the listeners don't. So I'm going to start with you first, Ed. Favorite magical spell in any universe, in any IP?

Ed: Arcane hand. I really enjoy doing an RPG with Arcane Hand where– I don't know, maybe I don't play it right, but I usually get the GM to allow me to– It's a hand that you can control wherever you want type of thing, so I usually play some rogue or some conceited, stupid character who likes to do stupid stuff all the time. What better way to do stupid stuff than with some hand that you control in another room?

Patrick: This is like a Dungeons and Dragons spell, but my history of DnD and role-playing games is I tend to like the computer games. Things like Arcane Hand is not a fun game in a video game, but when you have a live DM, and you can you ask him ridiculous things, like “Can I do this?” Then it's great. So, I love that answer. What about you, Sam?

Sam: Well, just real fast– As the DM on some of his adventures, it's more out of a sense of “I don't care anymore. Stop asking, just do it.” But for me, my personal, I've always been the Paladin type. For me, an aura that grants armor to your buddies is my favorite magical spell of all time.

Patrick: I dig that. All right, Sam, we're going to start with you this time. I don't even know if there is an answer to this question, so let me know, but is there a favorite magical cult from an IP? Is that a thing? Does that exist, do you have one?

Sam: Actually, we do. Surprisingly, the one we made– I mean, the game. We started a cult, so to speak.

Patrick: OK, so do they–? Sorry. Is there a specific cult in the game, or are you just saying the name of your game? The Cult of the Deep?

Sam: The cult in the game, which we should have some surprises down the road that should illuminate more about the cult in the game, but it's probably so far been my favorite cult.

Patrick: OK, what about you, Ed?

Ed: I don't have a favorite cult in the game or something, actually on the side when I'm bored on the internet, and you look up different cults and things like that. Maybe it's weird, do you ever do the Wikipedia and look up all the mass murderers? Anyways, I've done that before.

The subcontinent of India has a lot of interesting cults with a lot of things like that. But I think my favorite cult that I've come across so far is the Russian gadget cult called Gadgetology. The central character is Gadget from Rescue Rangers. I think that's pretty epic. I'm not sure if it's a giant internet troll or not, but it's pretty interesting.

Patrick: All right. I know it's something I would click on. Like, if I saw that link on Wikipedia, I would definitely click on that.

Ed: Right?

Patrick: So, I get that. All right. Ed, what is a game that you play with someone every single time at a convention? And by that, I mean, it's the end of the day, and you're tired, and you want to go back and sleep. But someone's like, “One more game of this.” What is that game?

Ed: I want this to happen. I'd love to– I would literally play Diplomacy with anyone, but that's never going to happen. So I would say anything new and anything I haven't played before. If someone asked me just any new game, I'd play a new game.

Patrick: Cool. And Sam?

Sam: Anything, not Diplomacy. My brother broke me of that game, and never again.

Patrick: It does seem– I haven't played it, but it does seem like a game where there can be lots of feel badsies.

Sam: Well, it's– I have no words for it. You go ahead, Ed. You describe it.

Ed: I didn't feel bad after playing, I'm just saying.

Sam: That's your answer right there.

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

Patrick: Great. All right, so first real question is, how did you both get into board games and board game design? Whoever wants to lead off.

Sam: I guess I'll lead on this one. I was always the little brother to the older two, Matt and Ed, here. So basically, when I got into board games was how we spent time together, so we played Axis and Allies, we played Hero Quest, Battle Masters, Robotech RPG. We've done a lot of different games together, and it was something that we did a lot of and something that we've kept doing. So, that's been pretty awesome. Sorry, go ahead, Ed.

Ed: No, I was just going to say that pretty much sums it up, man. Growing up, there's four of us brothers. Me and Sam, I'm number two and Sam's number three. We have one older brother and two more younger brothers. So there's five of us. But that's how we kept in touch and how we've even after growing up, and as we've gone into adulthood and things like that, we still play board games.

Families get together, and we play board games, it's a way to stay together with family. It's something we've always done. We moved around a lot growing up, by the time I was 18, I moved 18 times. So, sometimes you don't have friends, but you've always got brothers.

What made you start BA Games?

Patrick: Nice. OK, so let me ask then, the second part of that question is how did you get into board game design? Maybe I'll merge this with the next question, which is why did you start a publishing company? Why don't we start with you, Ed.

Ed: Right. Our experience with playing a lot of board games, one of the first games we started messing around with game design would be Hero Quest. We started making our own adventures, making our own characters, our own special rules and stuff like that. That's a precursor to almost any tabletop RPG. Me and Sam when I was a little bit older, we designed a game called World War Toy.

So, we were taking our toys and making a miniature game with your toys and action figures. You created characters and stuff like that. I think the only other exposure I had to game design was in middle school, I was that nerdy kid that everyone made fun of. I had no friends except one other guy. So during our lunch hour, we used to go out to lunch and eat our lunch.

We created this game where you had an army base, an Air Force base, and a Navy base, and it would send up units with a number of steps, and that's how you could attack people and do stupid things. So that's how I spent my middle school lunchtime, was doing this stupid game that me and my friend had designed. So that's how we got into designing games.

Patrick: Cool. Anything to add, Sam?

Sam: For me, along the same lines, because we did create World War Toy, which is obviously the best game ever made. Right, Ed?

Ed: It was horrible.

Sam: It was so bad. But at the same time, it taught us a lot of lessons and things we started thinking about and that we were OK with exploring, so even throughout middle school and high school, we started experimenting with things here and there, and nothing ever really clicked for the most part. But then eventually, things got better over time, and suddenly our games got better.

How do you try to set yourself apart from other games like yours?

Patrick: OK, so let me go with– Maybe we'll be able to dig a little bit deeper by talking about your game. So Cult of the Deep is, there's a hidden role, and I'm just going to call it a Cthulhu style game, right? That's the thematic setting. It's very obvious from the website. It looks very Cthulhu.

Let me just start with the first question is there are– It seems like there's a couple genres in the board game world– Zombies and maybe vampire stuff, and then there's just a million games that have that theme.

How do you, first of all– Why do you want to create a Cthulhu style game, and two, how do you set yourselves apart when you make a game that a lot of other people have also made games about?

Sam: Cult of the Deep is definitely Cthulhu inspired. We've been avoiding using the H.P. Lovecraft, actual Cthulhu.

Patrick: Good choice.

Sam: If you notice, we just avoid it. But we're definitely inspired by it and a lot of the horror that comes from it, so that's where the game even came from was after reading a bunch of horror books. A number of those books has to do with cults, and like “Wouldn't that be a great game if you're in a cult stabbing people, or whatever?”

That's kind of where Cult of the Deep came from in a horror kind of way. But what makes the game separate, though, is because it's inspired by it, we're not necessarily railroaded to the mythos itself. We've created, I think, some unique aspects to the game in terms of the art. And I think that the game is just an interesting, different take that we like in the hidden role genre.

Patrick: Anything to add, Ed?

Ed: Yeah, I think we pay homage right, Cult of the Deep and things like the name “Deep,” you start talking about Cthulhu and stuff, you start talking about deep ones and things of that nature, and we pay homage to that. But it's more of a, and I'd say a horror genre. If you wanted to get into some of the historical backgrounds we've got in the game, there's some alternate history stuff going on and things of that nature that set it apart as well from a Cthulhu game.

Sam: Yeah, we definitely dwelled on the mythos, we definitely pull a lot from Greek mythology because the game is placed in Greece, but there's Mayans and other people who were there. So, it's interesting how it all works out.

Patrick: To that second part of the question, how do you set yourself apart? Because to some extent, aren't all Cthulhu games based in horror? Like, how do you imagine setting yourself apart in that crowded space?

Sam: There is a lot of horror games out there. There has definitely been a resurgence, and you see them a lot on Kickstarter. I think you're trying to capture some of those elements in the game, so how we do that is, for the most part, in a hidden role game, what we've enjoyed about Cult of the Deep is the actions are measurable. In many hidden role games, you have this aspect of “He said, she said. Did you see what he did? His eye twitched there, the guy's obviously lying.”

Patrick: Right.

Sam: So what we did is, we're like, “What if you actually had actions?” So we have rituals in the center of the board, you roll dice, and you commit those dice, so maybe you're playing as a person who's trying to help the high priest out, but you're going to be killed. Maybe you do something to hurt the high priest to throw everyone else for a loop.

They can't argue with the fact that you stabbed the high priest, so what are you going to do about it? Having that physical evidence in the game can sometimes play mind games with people and definitely get the sense of a definite betrayal that can happen in the game. So, that's one of the first things we're looking at. Actual, measurable, physical actions that help sell or not sell your cover story.

I notice that once you die, you take on a different role, and you can still win. Can you tell us about that?

Patrick: Sure. I totally dig that. I actually will say hidden role games, whether it's just someone's word like someone failed the vote and it's just my word against someone else's word– I would say they're uninteresting to me. I dig hidden roll games like Battlestar Galactica or whatever, where at least there's some actions being taken, and you can see what people are doing.

So I dig that, I think that's pretty cool. Let me get dig into something else in the game, the thing that caught my eye the most when I was looking at your website was when you die– So, you can die in this game. Number one, that's noticeable.

Number two, when you die, you take on the different role of a Wraith, and you can still win. I guess, how do you decide in a game that someone can die, and then how did you decide what to do after they die? And then how did you come up with a system so that they can still win after they die? I am super curious.

Ed: Oh, man. That's like a three-part question.

Patrick: Yeah.

Sam: Go ahead, Ed.

Ed: I'm not going to tackle all the questions, Sam is the main designer behind this. But one of the big things is when you're part of this cult you have a role to play, either you're for the cult, and you're a faithful guy, and you want to help out the high priest, and you're trying to make your cult successful and gain power for your cult.

There's a cabal who's trying to basically– They're trying to get their guy installed or be the leader of the cult, so you're trying to take out the high priest so you can install your own people. There's even a third faction, that's the heretic who's like, “I hate you all. I'm just going to kill you all and burn you all to the ground.” So you have these roles, but when you play, you've got to have an elimination.

I'm a fan of elimination, but I'm not a fan of games where you get eliminated, and then you're just sitting there doing nothing, and you go off to La-La land and do something else or play on your phone. That's no fun. So you've got to have some of that interaction because that's the whole reason you play board games. So what you do is when you die, you can still affect the game, and you can affect your other factions, but it has to be in a less way because you're dead.

Patrick: So, how likely is it that you're going to win after you've died in this game?

Ed: I'll let you answer that one, Sam.

Sam: Sorry, we're running some numbers on that. Actually, good.

Patrick: OK.

Sam: It's interesting, Because– So, here's the best way. Here's an example. I was playing a game the other week, I was on the cabal side, which our goal is to get rid of the high priest and their faithful. That's one of the three factions. I get taken out the second round because I was the creator, and apparently, that makes me enemy number one. So, I get taken out.

One of the things we did for ghosts is when you die, it sucks. When you get eliminated, it's a good feeling for the person doing the elimination, but it sucks when you're the person that receives it. It helps the game progress, so how do you deal with that? We created these wraiths like you said, and what you do is you haunt people. So when someone's rolling dice, instead of you rolling your own dice and doing your own actions, now you can just be blatant in what you want to do.

Like, “See that dagger you're going to stab that guy with? No, that's not– You're going to heal yourself? Yeah, No. Why don't you go stab your buddy over there instead?” So you just manipulate the rolls that are happening, which helps, and number two, when you die, you don't lose– Like, you get a once per game special power called a sigil, you can still use those later in the game. So even if I'm dead, I can still use that later for my team, as well as any tokens and things that have accrued throughout the game, I can still use those if I'm dead.

So when I'm dead, I get a little bit less in terms of I'm not rolling five dice and trying to do stuff, but I still roll dice, and I'm still affecting other people's roles. Plus, I still have my big, powerful abilities. So we were able to win because I died, my own cabal killed me, lying to the high priest that they were the faithful. A high priest totally bit into it, and the high priest ended up killing his own faithful because he wasn't being faithful enough, even though he was the faithful.

So there's this lying that happened, and then we were able then to– We were going to lose, and I used my ability, which added a dice to another player, he went all in and used his ability, and we killed the high priest before we were all wiped out. It was truly epic. But that's what we're looking for in the game, is you're out, but you're not. You can still win, and you can be very effective even as it goes.

How did you go about making art for this game?

Patrick: Yeah, I dig that a lot. I do wish some games had a little bit more like maybe you could be knocked out, but there's still a tiny percent chance that you win. I dig that you have that in your game. So, let me ask one more thing about your game here before we go into some different questions.

So, Cthulhu or horror-inspired games, they're very– They have a certain look and feel. How do you try to tell people that you're a horror game and or a Cthulhu game but not look like all the other games in that genre? How do you look close enough but still look visually distinct? Is that something you guys thought about?

Sam: Yeah, I had a lot of sessions with an art friend of mine, Chuck Walton. He does a lot of art, and one of the things that I learned from him after many conversations is that there are certain things that are iconic that call out to certain things. For example, if you see tentacles coming out of the water, there's only a few things it could be. Depending on how the art looks, it's either Cthulhu, it's a Kraken, or it's just a giant squid.

But it evokes weird things, so certain things are iconic. If you see a pyramid in the desert, Ancient Egypt. So there are certain key points that you have to think about when creating either creatures or designs or artwork that has to read a certain way, so one of the things about Cthulhu is it has to be dark to a certain extent, so it's not happy-go-lucky. There's no rainbows and dancing, so you try to avoid those for sure.

But at the same time, you have to also add in some other things. I like the culty aspect of the Cthulhu mythos, so with that, you've got to have robes, and then you've got to have torches. Instead of using a lamp, you'd use a torch. If you have some underground wet-looking areas that are suddenly kind of seedy looking.

That also sets the setting that “OK, it's underground. They're wearing robes. Man, this is totally a magic cult. Then here are some tentacles, crap, that's Cthulhu.” So those different things will trigger in your mind what it's going to be.

Patrick: Yeah, I totally dig that. Anything to add, Ed?

Ed: Nope. I think we did that, and to differentiate ourselves and stuff like that, some of the characters we made are based off of real people. If you look and you can see the Sorceress character, she's an amputee who is missing part of her arm. That's based off a player named Mandy Pursley, and she does cosplay, and she does a lot of cool things.

She's one of the people that inspired Sam to continue to do stuff, so we used her as a character model. But that's a real thing, you don't see that in board games a lot. People who have something like that, so we base the sorcerer character off that to help differentiate ourselves from a game.

Some of the models are based on real people who help inspire us to create the game and allows us to differentiate ourselves that way because then we're able to say, “In this universe, if someone were to be a sorceress but they were missing that arm, they could use some power arm or something that that they would be able to use.” What differentiates us some that way, as well as we get into the alternate history portion of it where you have Mayans in ancient Greece. Like, what's that about?

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a new game design?

Patrick: Cool. All right, so let me shift gears a little bit. Before you start a new game design, and I don't know if you guys are working on other games, but before you start a new game design, what sort of research do you do? How much and how long do you spend researching, and what kind of stuff do you look up before starting a new game?

Sam: For me, I have a notebook that I write my ideas down in. I'm apparently analog, and I like to write stuff with a pencil or pen, so I was writing stuff down because sometimes I get ideas– Even if it's just a “Wouldn't it be cool if I did this and this? OK, that's an idea. I may come back to that later.” I had that notebook where I'm working on ideas, and I want to spend some time working, I'll start looking at my previous ideas and see if I can expound them over time.

But for me, the big thing about research is you need references. Just as like the major artists, some of the best artists you ever seen. They use models and references. Chuck Ian told me, “Even if you're a great artist and you know the human anatomy so well, and you can draw perfectly almost every time, if you stop using models and references, you'll start getting strange proportions.

The eyes will be too big, or the neck could be too long, or the legs will get too long. Different aspects of the anatomy will change because, for some reason, your mind does weird things when it's trying to recall memories. Taking that in for references, and you see this advice all the time, play games. So my goal for this year has been to play 50 new games.

Patrick: That's fun. How is that going?

Sam: I busted it a couple of weeks ago, I did 54 so far.

Patrick: That's great.

Sam: The reason why you do that is one, it's awesome. I love playing new games. And two, it's so interesting now that I'm starting to do more game design to see how other designers solve problems. Just what you're doing, you're solving a problem.

How can we have fun using these components? And you see, “That's an interesting way of doing that.” Sometimes you're like, “I don't really like that way.” But at the same time, you watch someone else play it, and they love it. Why is that?

Patrick: Totally. This reminds me of one of my favorite questions, which I didn't ask, which is, were there any challenges in the game design, and how did you solve them?

Sam: Oh, jeez.

Ed: There was quite a few.

Sam: You can ask Ed, early designs were a little rough.

Ed: Yeah, early designs were definitely rough with some of the stuff. A lot of the problems were solved by just brainstorming sessions between my brother. For a while, we got in the habit– He's actually up in Nebraska, and I'm down in New Mexico, so we're physically separated by about 800 hundred miles, something like that.

A lot of our brainstorming session is Sam would go and playtest, and he said, “We ran into this problem here.” So we'd sit there and just brainstorm different design ideas or different ways to deal with a problem. “What if we change this rule?” Or “What if instead of doing this, what does this do? What is the overarching goal we're trying to reach?” Or “What is the root of this problem that this keeps popping up? Is it a rules problem? Is it a component problem, or what is the root of that problem? And how do you make that fun?”

That's one of the reasons why the race popped up, because being unlimited sucks. That's some of the reasons why some of the different mechanics of the game on the cards and rituals ended up the way they are because we tried doing them different ways, but it just wasn't fun for anyone, or it had a detrimental effect. For whatever reason, people don't like being punished when they do things in games. When you do something, you don't want to be punished for it. I find it weird, but whatever.

Sam: That's because you like punishing and doing terrible things to people.

Ed: I like horrible games that punish people. I know.

Sam: So, the game still does that, don't get me wrong. There's some gameplay elements that will destroy you if you left them unchecked, but for us– For example, we'll give an example. One of the characters is the alchemist, and that character has gone through 18 different iterations. It is the one character we could never solve, for whatever reason.

Something like the assassin, second iteration, pretty much done. Librarian had an unintended consequence on that one, which maybe we'll tell another time as a funny story. But the reality is we couldn't solve it, we kept doing this “That was too powerful.” We do this, “That's not good enough.” We do this “That's not interactive. That just sucks.

Ed: It's boring.

Sam: So we kept going over and over, and we finally got to a design where it was like, “This is actually fun, this is good. I think we're on the right track finally.” And some parts of the design are going to be this stubborn rock that you can't get over, and sometimes you've just got to keep trying and then work on other stuff too, at the same time. Don't let that one thing stop the entire design.

Patrick: Do you work on other games, or do you work on other aspects of the game?

Sam: I try to work on different aspects of the game. You can ask Ed when I get in the mode, it's one thing and all or nothing. I don't tend to branch out a whole lot. I tend to be focused, which can be a problem too because I don't see what's around me, I just see what's in front of me.

Ed: He is very detail-oriented with all the small details, and he gets focused in on things, so what we would tend to do is if we ran into a problem– We'd run into a problem like you mentioned with the alchemist and stuff like that. We'd work on that a little bit, but then we'd turn to another problem like game flow.

Game flow for a while wasn't wrong, but it was a little choppy or a little chaotic at times, which can happen with a hidden role game. So we're like, “How do we combat that?” We changed it, and we've had probably two or three iterations of how the game flow works or the number of phases in a game went from 2-5, and I think we're down to 3. So there's different phases of the game that helped chop up that flow and make it flow correctly, instead of being– It makes the game less chaotic and less harmful to the player.

Sam: That's where it was nice having a partner because honestly, I will spend– On the Alchemist, I'll spend three days on it. I'll just write out 180 different ways to do the alchemist, and I'll start going off one by one, which is great sometimes when you need to get things powered through. But having a brother to be like, “Dude. What are you doing?? And I'm like, “I'm doing stuff.” And he's like, “No. Stop it. Go over here.” And I'm like, “OK.”

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

Patrick: Moving into the– What did I call them in the last interview? I think I called them “The final approach” questions. What is a resource you'd recommend to other indie game designers?

Ed: I'll go first. A printer that works, I hate my partner currently. It doesn't work. Outside of that, I think having an accountability partner or someone that can come into play. I do this outside of board game design with just different projects around the house and things like that. I do that with my wife; she's my accountability partner when it comes to different aspects of life that I'm trying to get under control and get certain things done.

There has to be that open, honest relationship where she needs to be able to tell me, “You done screwed up, you need to fix this or you need to get back on track.” And with game design, that's what Sam is for me, and I am for him, is an accountability partner. Even if they're not even related to you, just someone that you can say, “I'm trying to get X done by X,” and sets out that goal. It's verbally said, and that person can say, “Why isn't this done?” That's important to have that accountability partner.

Patrick: I love that answer.

Sam: Part of me does not like that at all, but it's needed. I don't want to be restricted by your deadlines.

Ed: I know.

Sam: Your nonsense. But at the same time, it is super important. It's helped us keep on track and to get things done, and to move the game design forward instead of just dwelling on elements that are, frankly, in the end, not as important as the other aspects of the game.

For me, the one resource I would recommend is find a mentor. Reach out to the community. We've had a great relationship with– It was 524 Labs, now it's [inaudible]. Rachel Blaske, I'm not sure if you know about her. She's a great person to ask questions to.

They've published multiple games now, they've done a Kickstarter well, they do a lot of things right. So she's been a great resource to pick her brain and be like, “What do you think about this?” And she's like, “Just let me tell you a story about that.” And I'm like, “OK. Yeah, maybe I shouldn't do that.” It's been really helpful to have a mentor.

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

Patrick: I did have a Justin Blaske on in episode 61, it looks like. I talked through– Rachel set it up, so I had a little bit of conversation with her. They have a ton of great stuff, and I love following their rebrand to [inaudible], which seems to work perfect for Mint tins. Love this. So, Sam, I'll go back to you here. What is the best money you've spent as a game designer?

Sam: So this was something that I felt like it was needed, and it turned out I was right. Thank heavens, my brother was giving me the look, so when we created– We were going through the game design process, and we kept iterating, and we'd get feedback that “This game is fun once you get into it.” We kept getting feedback like, “That's cool. But I don't know how to use a dice, or I don't know how to use this and this.” And honestly, it was because my prototypes were bad.

So we stopped, we took the time, we made better prototypes with actual symbols and artwork and developed it to a much more polished date. Then we got it printed, I think it was Print and Play. We got them to print the game for us, and then when we took that to the table, we got taken a lot more seriously. We went from “OK. Here's a cool game.” To, “OK. This is a game? OK, let's talk about this.”

So people got much more into the game just because having a card in your hand, feeling an actual card instead of a piece of paper, having actual artwork, and having all these– I'm not saying go and commission some, but find artwork that matches your game style. Find different things, some basic graphic design elements to put it together. It's amazing the difference people react to it as well as yourself, like, “Oh my gosh, this is a real thing. I'm going to do this.”

Patrick: I love that, and I and I totally agree, by the way. People take you so much more seriously when it's a very pretty prototype. Cool. Ed, what about you? Anything–? What was the best money you've spent?

Ed: I'd say the prototypes being made. Between those stickers on dice that were look like the symbols as opposed to trying to translate numbers into other cards and things like that, especially– [inaudible]

Sam: Gosh, I'm sorry. I'm sorry.

Ed: It was atrocious the first couple of games. That makes a huge difference. Like Sam said, you don't have to go commission art. You ain't got to do whatever, and there's all kinds of free resources with 8-bit designs and things like that.

Even if it doesn't match your eventual theme of the game, it can match what you're trying to do with the cards and things like that. It makes a huge difference. That's probably the best money we've spent, and I hate spending money because I'm a cheapskate.


Patrick: I understand that point of view. So, I like to end my show with this game called Overrated/Underrated. Now for those of you who haven't heard of this, I'm going to give the guests a word or phrase, and they're going to have to answer with if it's overrated or underrated and a sentence why. So if I said, “LaCroix soda,” you might say, “Overrated. Because it's basically just water in a can,” something like that. Make sense?

Sam: OK, let's do this.

Patrick: All right, Sam, I'm going to start with you. Games that are specifically manufactured in the United States is that overrated or underrated?

Sam: Overrated, and I guess the reason for that is I love the US, and I want to manufacture in the US, but pricing-wise they are so used to doing such bulk production that as an indie startup who is hoping to do a couple thousand copies in their first game, they can't– They don't go down that low, they just don't. They're like, “We can do it at this price.” And I'm like, “OK, [let's let somebody else do that.]”

Ed: Moving on.

Patrick: Economically hard. What about you, Ed?

Ed: What did he say? Overrated? It's underrated, but once again, the price is a factor. Like, I want to, and I wish there was more things here. I'm sure it's doable somehow, but man. I love the US, I want to manufacture in the US. That's where I would rather do business in the US.

Patrick: Great. I think all three of us are in the same place there, where it would be great if it was economically feasible. All right, so Ed, I'll start with you this time. Peacock, as in the streaming service, which I think is– What is that, NBC? Is that overrated or underrated?

Ed: Overrated. We have way too many streaming services. How many do we–? It's becoming like cable channels, except it's more expensive if you buy all the cable. I got Hulu and YouTube and Disney+ and blah blah blah. No, it's overrated.

Patrick: Overrated. Sam?

Sam: Who?

Patrick: Same thing, Peacock. Overrated or underrated?

Sam: I don't even know that is. It's a streaming service?

Patrick: It's brand– It's pretty new, which is why not a ton of people are talking about it. But it's the NBC streaming service, so just for listeners who don't know, that would include things like Friends and include things like, my wife likes to watch Parks and Rec on there. So there's a couple of really good shows on there.

Sam: Friends? Overrated, sorry.

Patrick: Great. So, Sam, I'm going to start with you again. 20 sided dice, overrated or underrated?

Sam: This is controversial but overrated.

Patrick: Give me a sentence why?

Sam: I am a much bigger fan of using D10 systems or a dice similar to that, a 10 base, not a 20 base system.

Patrick: Cool. Ed, any thoughts on the D20?

Ed: Underrated. Love the D20, nothing feels better in your hand than a D20. They look so pretty, and you line up all your pretty little dice and your click clacks, and you're like, “Man, my D20s.”

Sam: You're a dice goblin, I forgot.

Ed: Don't judge me.

Patrick: All right, so– Sorry, did I–? Yeah, I think I got both of you. So, Ed this time, Thanksgiving. Overrated or underrated?

Ed: Underrated, because I love food, and we always play board games and hang out with friends and family. So, it's underrated. Never good enough.

Patrick: Love it. Sam?

Sam: Totally, underrated. I have to agree with my brother on this one, for the first time.

Patrick: A question popped up in my mind just now, like is Thanksgiving as good in a pandemic–? No, let me rephrase this. Is Thanksgiving better or worse in a pandemic year?

Sam: As long as everyone tests negative and you can get together, it is underrated. Because there's nothing like seeing your family and playing games and seeing people is nice.

Ed: I think it's worse, though. Because of Black Friday. Me and my wife, we like to go to Black Friday, not to buy stuff, but to just watch all of the nonsense. You wouldn't believe what people do in stores– Especially if you're not trying to buy anything and you're just there to watch people. It's hilarious. It's absolutely amazing to watch people do things. You're like, “Man, this is society.” I'm going to miss that this year.

Patrick: All right. Black Friday– We can make a reality TV show out of that. Like, a Black Friday Bloopers, basically.

Ed: That's awful.

Sam: There's a board game in the making there, by the way.

Patrick: There we go.

Sam: It involves a lot of hitting and lying and stealing.

Ed: People taking things out of carts and then guys yelling at other guys, and there are people with their significant other, like, “How dare you buy that? We've got to buy this $200 dollar thing here, not your $50 dollar thing that you want.” It's awesome. I just love it.

Wrap Up

Patrick: Awesome. So, Black Friday Chaos? Love it. Ed and Sam, thank you so much for being on the show.

Sam: Thank you.

Ed: Thanks for having us.

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

Sam: Our website is BA Games Co, That's where we have our website, we have our weekly blog, we have cult of thee Deep landing pages there, there's more information there. Also, you can check us out on any of the– Instagram, Twitter, or–

Ed: Facebook?

Sam: Facebook. That's the thing, the Facebooks. Out there, we have BA Games Co. Is our tag there. But also, we have a Cult of the Deep community page. Anyone is welcome to join that, we have sneak peeks to the game. Also, we have an online board game night every Thursday on Tabletop Simulator.

So if anyone's ever interested in just hanging out playing board games, we don't play Cult of the Deep that night unless everyone votes for it, which is– Usually we're taking a break from playtesting, so I think last night we played Automobiles. We've played Sheriff of Nottingham, we've done Century: Gollum Edition, we've done–

Patrick: Cool.

Sam: Defenders of the Realm, we've done Power Rangers, we've done–.

Ed: All kinds of games.

Sam: Tiny Epic Dinos. We delve into all kinds of stuff, all kinds of games. Mostly we just hang out and play games. So, anyone's invited.

Patrick: Cool. Love it. Listeners, if you liked this podcast, please leave us a review on iTunes or wherever you heard us. If you leave a review, Sam and Ed said they would promise not to haunt you if they get turned into a wraith. And that's in real life, not if you get turned into a wraith in the game they may haunt you in the game, but in real life, they won't haunt you. So, that's a pretty good deal.

Then instead of talking about my Patreon, I did want to mention that I am planning something for Black Friday. Basically, if you want to get a ton of copies of Fry Thief– If you order 10 of them, I'm going to give you 50% off. Which seems crazy, but if you want to get a whole bunch of games for your friends and family, then that's the way to do it. It's a cute fry game for everyone in your family.

So if you're looking for something like that, it's on the table. It'll be up on the website, I think I will put the link in my show notes, so you can find it there. But besides that, you can visit the site at, you can follow me on Twitter and BoardGameGeek, I'm @BFTrick on both platforms. That's it for me. Until next time everyone, happy designing. Bye-bye.

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