Patrick Rauland: Hello everyone, and welcome to the Indie Board Game Designers podcast, my name is Patrick Rauland and today we’re going to be talking with the Victoria Cana and Alex Uboldi, who are the designers behind Gladius. Which is where you are betting on gladiator fights and you manipulate how each team is doing with these cool face-down cards. Victoria and Alex, welcome to the show.
Alex Uboldi: Hello.
Victoria Caña: Hi. Thanks, Patrick.
Tell Me About Origins
Patrick Rauland: So, first of all, I found you online through someone- I forgot who- but they’re talking about you, and you guys are active on Twitter and Facebook and right after I came back from Origins, I was following up on your Twitter and Facebook and I realized we were both there and we didn’t run into each other.
Victoria Caña: I know. We would’ve met up.
Patrick Rauland: We should’ve. How was your experience at Origins?
Victoria Caña: It was good. In the beginning, I had a little bit of a headache, but once we made it through- halfway through, we had an awesome time.
Alex Uboldi: Yeah, the Sunday of Origins was really [crosstalk 00:01:06].
Victoria Caña: It was like [crosstalk 00:01:07]
Alex Uboldi: When you didn’t have a headache, but, yeah, it was a good time. It’s a great con to go to, lot of amazing people.
Victoria Caña: We got a copy of The Mind, I don’t know if you’ve heard of The Mind.?
Patrick Rauland: Yes. It is the only game I bought.
Victoria Caña: Oh really?
Patrick Rauland: At Origins.
Alex Uboldi: Worth it.
Patrick Rauland: I have a very small collection. I consider not only cost but the size of the game, and for the size of the game, The Mind can be in my collection for a long time.
Victoria Caña: Yeah. I think we started playing it. We found out about it early June, we played a triggerman copy of it, and since then we’ve played it at least 30 times and we’ve been experimenting with different things. Like, two-v-twos and groups of six, all sorts of things.
Patrick Rauland: What?
Victoria Caña: Yeah.
Patrick Rauland: Wow.
Alex Uboldi: Just make up our own [crosstalk 00:01:53]
Patrick Rauland: You’re taking it to a whole new level.
Patrick Rauland: I keep introducing it to new people and we keep getting to the last level and then dying. I gotta play with a consistent group, I think, and then you get your cadence down.
Victoria Caña: Yeah.
Patrick Rauland: Anyways, so The Mind, is awesome.
Alex Uboldi: Yes.
How Did Demoing & Playtesting Go?
Patrick Rauland: So, you’re at Origins, you did some play testing and demo-ing, right? How … what is demo-ing like?
Victoria Caña: So, demo-ing interesting. We were in the un-pub room, which is great, because it’s basically a free area where Indie designers can go to either play test their game or promote their game if they’re aiming to self-publish it. So for us, it’s a little bit of both. We brought Gladius over there and we’ve been … the game is close to being finalized, we had a few things we wanted to test out, but we also did some fun stuff; like we brought a really fancy red velvet tablecloth. We brought a Gladiator helmet. So that’s what we were up to there.
Patrick Rauland: So at this point of the game … was it more polishing the game or was it more building the fanbase. What was the most important objective there?
Alex Uboldi: I think the most important objective, at this point, is just building the fanbase. Because I think the core of the game is well polished, but sometimes we’ll play and play and play and then the designer will come along and be like, “Hey, have you tried out … this?” And we’ll try it and be like, “Wow. It’s like a really great idea, thank you for that.”
Victoria Caña: Actually, a good idea that we got came from Twitter.
Alex Uboldi: Yeah.
Victoria Caña: It was a mind blowing, genius idea. We basically met somebody at a previous con, and then weeks later he came up with an idea where he said, “Why don’t you start the round by placing one bet card, and then close the round by placing another bet card.” And … you handle that Alex.
Alex Uboldi: No, no, no. That was just like a great idea. It was the designer … do you remember his name?
Victoria Caña: I think his name is Jason.
Alex Uboldi: Jason. Yeah, he was like the designer. Apparently, he designed the betting system for Wits and Wagers and he took one look at our game and was like, “Why don’t you try this betting system?” It’s been great. It’s added a lot of depth to the game, and didn’t cause a lot of problems, by adding- it actually fixed a lot of problems we were having. Sometimes you can get really lucky and have that, but I think at this point, the reason we’re going to so many cons is to build up and promote and cultivate a community.
Patrick Rauland: So it’s fascinating to me how someone’s off-hand comment can cause huge changes in your game. One person can mention something one time, you’re like, “Oh my God, I never considered that.” And it’ll change the whole game.
Alex Uboldi: Design is an incredibly collaborative process. It’s like people can design in silos, but really where the best designs come from are play tests, collaborations, talking to other designers, getting their opinions. There’s things you didn’t consider, there’s things they didn’t consider, and these melding of perspectives really make for better games. So sometimes you can have that happen, it’s nice.
Patrick Rauland: So you sent me a video of your game about a … I think you took the video about a month ago, and since then you changed some of the rules. I think I’m curious how often, at this stage in the game, are you changing things around.
Victoria Caña: So, right now, like Alex mentioned earlier, the core of the game is really there, but there are some specific tests on some of the cards that we have that affect minor things that we’ve been changing. And it’s kind of interesting, because we’re doing that in parallel with making the art. We signed a contract with our artist last October and we’ve been working with her throughout the entire process. So it’s been really interesting. We have most of the art, we wanna keep the core of the game there, but it’s just a final few influence cards in our game, a little bit of how the events work in our game. Also balancing player powers, which is … You know that you’re gonna have a certain number of player powers in the game, but balancing exactly what those are, that’s the idea behind the mechanics in the game that we’ve changed.
Victoria Caña: But also, Alex, you can probably talk more about the betting, which changed a little bit more than a minor change.
Alex Uboldi: Ultimately, the game is built around a lot of pillars and trying to move any of those pillars causes structural problems. But what we can do is change a lot of the more modular mechanics, like you were saying. The influence cards. The nice thing about that betting system that we’ve adjusted to, it doesn’t move any of the pillars. I think it actually adds to the fun of the game without changing any of the core mechanics. Which is … Things we’re always on the lookout for, to make the game better.
Alex Uboldi: Sometimes ideas come along and it causes a refinement that improves the game, but mostly, at this point, we’re just looking to adjust the balance of a few of the powers and then, potentially, add or takeaway one or two influence cards. But the core of the game is pretty much unchanged, going forward.
What Conventions Are Most Useful?
Patrick Rauland: Very cool. So looking through your social media, you’ve gone to a ton of conferences. Which ones are the most useful?
Victoria Caña: I think that Pax Unplugged, which was a brand new con last year, it was actually really helpful if you’re planning on self-publishing a game. And the reason why is because they have un-pub, which- did I talk about that earlier? I think I briefly touched on it.
Patrick Rauland: I don’t think so.
Victoria Caña: Un-Pub, they’re an organization that helps with prototyping and play testing games. They have a special area where, if you’re a badge holder, you can sign up to have a table space and have play testers come to your room and also helps you promote the game. And we got a lot of foot traffic. We were only in that room for five hours each day, and I think a hundred people played our game. And we had four people working our table, it was almost like we had a free [crosstalk 00:08:02]
Alex Uboldi: Yeah, it was like we had a free booth.
Victoria Caña: Except maybe with more traffic. And on top of that, what’s really great, is that a lot of the people who go to Pax Unplugged seem to be newer gamers. So it’s easier to sell to them and to get them into your game, because they’re not as jaded as a player who is at Origins or some other more serious [crosstalk 00:08:21]
Alex Uboldi: Yeah, I wouldn’t call them jaded, it’s just a lot of players. A lot of players at Origins, they’ve been playing board games for a long time and they know exactly what type of board games they like, and what type of board games they don’t like, and they pretty much know what they’re going to buy when it comes out. Or they take recommendations from videos. But, whereas newer gamers who are newer to the hobby, are more open to trying things out and seeing how it goes and every game is like a new, fun discovery. So it’s just a better energy overall, I think, for people looking to self-publish. Who aren’t big, established publishers or game designers.
Patrick Rauland: I’m curious if you’ve gone to … I guess local conferences. ‘Cause I know I’ve seen you at a ton of … big conferences, like Origins. Have you gone to tinier, regional ones? Are those ones also useful for you?
Victoria Caña: Yes. So, we’re actually thinking about that. We decided to go to a lot of the big cons this year like Origins and Gen Con, but we also went to this smaller con called Too Many Games. It was actually video game focused, but they do have a board game component to it. We were in their special Indie showcase area. And we were a little bit concerned at first, because we thought, “Okay, this is a lot smaller of a convention. It’s mostly video gamers,” but we got a lot of people who were really interested, and they were actually reaching out to us saying, “Can we be on your email list? Can you tell me when this is coming out, so we can support ‘Gladius’ and buy your game.”
Victoria Caña: So I think that the [crosstalk 00:09:51] smaller cons are really helpful for that. And we also have some other friends, Glen and Sam, who recently launched a Kickstarter for their game called Fire Tower and they raised about 75-thousand-dollars, I think, they also went to a ton of cons and they told us that finding those small cons where a lot of people at the convention can go and play your game, and you can have that more personal interaction with them, and have those more intimate experiences with them, that’s really where you can build community. And I think that we definitely agree with that.
Alex Uboldi: I think it’s definitely … I think it’s great, because … it’s just people there and they’re all willing to try. I don’t know, it’s just how many conversions can you get per [inaudible 00:10:35] and I felt like we were much more successful at smaller cons than we were at larger ones.
Victoria Caña: Right. We also went to Evergreen Tabletop Expo, which is- I think it’s usually bigger, but this year it was very small. There were only 200 people, and it was mostly board game design, panels and also they ran contests. So we actually won an award, the Lucy Award People’s Choice. And we also thought that that convention was great, because we got to meet half of the people at the con and our award- as you would guess, people’s choice is based off of people voting for you. So I think that that’s a reflection on how we were able to connect with all of the people who were there, make friends with them, and now we have a bunch of friends from the Seattle are who we continue to talk to on Twitter and see again at cons.
Patrick Rauland: I think that you guys are doing an amazing job on social media, and it sounds like you’re just doing a great job connecting with people. Which I think is the real secret.
Victoria Caña: Yeah. I think so. In the beginning, when we were first designing Gladius, it was … We had been designing games a few years ago, and I think the initial design for Gladius came early last year. And we were doing it in a silo where it was just me and Alex, sometimes we would have a few friends play it, but then one day we thought, “Oh okay, what else is out there? What if we went to a play test meet up or something like that?” We went and in that very first play test meet up we met somebody named Gil Hova from Formal Ferret Games and he pointed something out that was really huge. We used to have four statistics on a gladiator, and he said, “Why do you have four? Why don’t you just have three?” And he made a bunch of recommendations and just from that one play test, there were so many changes that really helped accelerate the design process for Gladius.
Victoria Caña: And then, on top of that, we’ve been able to make friends who we now play board games with, are also able to support, we’re able to hang out with at cons. So that’s also part of why we go to cons, because now we have all of these friends and it’s all around a good time.
Patrick Rauland: That’s awesome. I’m so impressed. I think when I go to cons, I must not be like a friendly person in real life or something. I don’t have this many friends, what am I doing wrong?
Where Did The Idea Come From?
Patrick Rauland: So, where … you talked about starting this game a year ago, how and why did the idea come up? Where did this game come from?
Alex Uboldi: Oh wow. So this game came from a lot of different places. There’s a video game called Domina where you run a gladiator school. And I was like, “That’s kinda cool, maybe I could make a game about a gladiator school.” And I was making that game and it was like, “This isn’t very fun, but you know what is fun? Betting on gladiators.” And so, it kind of shifted, ’cause there’s another game I really enjoy called Council of Verona, and it’s basically you’re betting on the characters from Shakespeare’s play, ‘Romeo and Juliet’. And I’m like, “That’s kinda neat,” it’s kinda like take that game, except you’re not directly attacking people, you’re attacking people on the board, without attacking each other. Which feels better than just attacking your friends.
Alex Uboldi: So I kinda incorporated that with the gladiator design and we brought it all together and … yeah, that’s where the origins of Gladius came from, came from trying to design two different games and then mashing them together into one great game.
How Did You Decide on the Art Style?
Patrick Rauland: I like it. Okay, so, the next questions … I don’t know if it’s … We kinda go into art. And I wanted to ask you about- I guess I don’t know how to ask this, but … Gladiator fighting is a really bloody topic, right? People die. It’s a serious topic, and you decided to keep it really light, without … I noticed all the character cards, there’s very little blood, if any of it on them. I’m sure there’s a little bit on some of the cards, but there’s very little. It’s very light. Why and … how did you decide to do that?
Alex Uboldi: Mainly, I think that’s a reflection of our personal sensibilities. Because we’re self-publishing we get to make the game how we envision it. And the idea is sort of like more … fun combat. Like even in ancient Rome, even though it’s very bloody, a lot of gladiators didn’t actually die ’cause gladiators were very expensive. And you don’t want them to die, because that costs a lot of money. So a lot of it were like … contests and we kind of played off that idea of context. Like, this was just a big gladiator … Not pageant, but contests and so, I think our personal sensibilities shy us away from the blood, the gore and, plus, it’s a lighter game so we wanted to have the art and the tone to kind of reflect that style.
Victoria Caña: Right. And also part of it is, one: market strategy. If you think about a Roman game, they all kind of look the same. They look like they’re painted by the same person. So if we had that [crosstalk 00:15:34] serious painted style, and we showed our game … I don’t think that it would be very eye catching if we would’ve launched on Kickstarter like that. And then, the other thing that we wanna bring up is that … So we’d been looking for an artist, and your self publishing, and you have- I think we have – 50 … around 50 to 60 cards that need original art. That can get really expensive. So, initially shopped around. We’re finding people on Twitter, we were seeing who designed other board game art, and people who do more serious art styles are very expensive and it takes a lot of time.
Victoria Caña: To have one person create 50 pieces of art, that would take a really long time and that would be a huge investment. So, we found this one artist, she’s from Hong Kong, her name’s Cheryl Young and she was just super fantastic, because she normally does art for- what’s it- Minecraft? So usually boxy characters and she draws a bunch of other stuff. But we asked her, “Hey, we’re making a gladiator game, can you show us a sketch?” And she got back to us so quickly, and we really liked the vision that she had for the game. And we also like her speed and quality of art that she can create. So we decided, “Okay, we’re gonna go with this art style. It’s a lighter game, this hasn’t really been done before in terms of … most like Roman or gladiator-type games.”
Victoria Caña: And I think what Alex said, it aligned with what our vision for Gladius became to be.
Tell Me About The Graphic Design
Patrick Rauland: I really like that. Now, I hear we have a special guest, Valerie Caña, who is the graphic designer and also your sister, right Victoria?
Victoria Caña: Yeah, she is.
Valerie Caña: Hi, hello.
Patrick Rauland: Cool. Hi. So, I didn’t know this and I had a pleasant surprise when I got on the call with you guys. But since you’re here, I would love to ask you some graphic design questions, sound good?
Valerie Caña: Yeah, absolutely.
What is the Difference in Graphic Design between Games and Other Industries?
Patrick Rauland: Okay, so this is … you are a graphic designer, and normally you design other things, other than games. My question is, what is the difference between a board game and everything else?
Cheryl Young: Well first I would say, a lot. Initially when Alex and Victoria asked me to help with the game, I was like, “Okay, how hard can it be?” But I really wasn’t expecting how much work I would have to put into it, but it’s really fun and really challenging. And I think that working graphic design is obviously the most interactive type of design there is out there. And there’s so many little things that you have to think about because, as opposed to designing websites or books or posters which are much larger – you have a two-point-five by three-point-five space. And how can I make the most out of this tiny little space when so many things have to be on there? Had to be readable and playable?
Cheryl Young: And so there are a lot of things that, when I was making prototypes, there are things that I thought would be better just from a design perspective, but through play testing a lot, there are things that have issues. Such as, the base line of text, even if people are dyslexic they can’t even read it. Or like [crosstalk 00:18:57] color-blindness, too, is something to definitely think about. So, there’s just a lot of little things that you had to think about, and to make sure people can play the game really easily and not be stumped by trying to figure out these tiny little things, that would just get in the way otherwise.
How Do I Find a Graphic Designer?
Patrick Rauland: So it’s cool that you’re Victoria’s sister. Now, I don’t happen to have a sister who is a graphic designer, so when I look for a graphic designer, how do I find one and how do I know that they can actually design my board game?
Valerie Caña: That’s actually a really difficult question. I guess … you would have to look for someone who has a more print portfolio. Obviously you’re printing a lot of cards and probably someone who has a lot of varied styles, because if you’re going to work with a lot if different illustrators, they all have a different style. And initially, I would do a lot of corporate things, a lot of elegant things. Like, I used to work for a wedding invitation studio, so everything’s super pretty. But working with Cheryl, it’s a lot different, it’s more cartoony and light and her pictures look like they’re animated, like they’re going to move. And so I had to definitely refine my design style to match her art, so someone who is more versatile in their styles and creates a lot of things for small formats would probably be the person you’re looking for.
Patrick Rauland: Awesome, this has been really, really helpful, thanks for popping on.
Valerie Caña: Oh yeah, thanks [crosstalk 00:20:41]
Patrick Rauland: Okay, so, you’ve mentioned a few times that you want to self-publish, where do did that desire come from? What is the goal with self-publishing?
Victoria Caña: Well, so we initially decided … Or we initially thought, “Okay, let’s self-publish our game,” because like we mentioned earlier, we had- this is before we went to any conventions. We were making board games in our apartment, having friends play it, and we just came … We went on the internet, saw that some games were getting kickstarted by smaller publishers and thought, “Hey, there’s no way that a real publisher would take our game, what if we just made it ourself? And figure out how to manufacture it and launch a Kickstarter campaign?” So that’s how it initially started, which is kind of embarrassing.
Victoria Caña: But, when we started going through the process and going to different conventions, we actually did start pitching to publishers and publishers were interested in the game. And that created a moment where we thought, “Oh, which path should we choose?” Even now, we’re still talking to some publishers we don’t know. We have all of this art, should we have a publisher take it and take this art with them? Or should we do our own thing with the Kickstarter campaign? But what we realized is that, we’re going to these cons and normally- I don’t think that many people like to do the whole business aspect of self-publishing. The figuring out the shipping costs and figuring out what the marketing and Twitter strategy is. I think self-publishing ‘Gladius’, going through this whole community building process takes up a lot of our time.
Victoria Caña: But I think that we really love to do it; we’re making friends, we have a reason to hang out with a bunch of people. “Please come to our house to play board games, also can we play test Gladius? Do you have other friends that we can hang out with?” [crosstalk 00:22:30] Gladius with? So it’s a real motivating factor to get us to do things that maybe we wouldn’t do, because we’re a little more introverted.
Patrick Rauland: I think it’s really awesome and I just want to go back, I think you said something about how … something about it’s embarrassing we didn’t know how hard it would be, or something along those lines. I think that’s how everyone gets into everything, right? I think when you don’t know, you jump in, you go, “How hard can this be?” And then, you get into it and you’re like, “Oh my God, shipping costs and fulfillments and Kickstarter fees?” It’s a whole thing. I think you do what every self published game designer has done, is they say, “This is easy,” and then you realize there’s more details.
Victoria Caña: Yeah. I went to a tax session at a board game convention, I was like … holy moly … about the taxes. So …
Is Game Design Energizing or Draining?
Patrick Rauland: Awesome. Okay, we’re getting a little bit near the end here, I’d like to … I wanna change gears a little bit. When you are designing these games, is the process energizing? Is it exhausting? What do you get out of it?
Alex Uboldi: It’s great. It’s like … I don’t know, it’s like you get something trapped in your brain and it’s really nagging at you and it’s there and it’s just bothering you day in, day out. And then finally, when you put it into a prototype and play it, that feeling goes away. It’s like a nice relief, like, “Oh I got that idea out there.”
Alex Uboldi: I don’t know, it’s kind of like … we just get a lot of ideas for games and they bounce around and then we just wanna make them. And sometimes they work out, and sometimes they’re bad, but … it’s fun. It’s enjoyable. We play a lot more unfinished prototypes because we got a little play test group that we do actual board games and it’s a good time. I don’t know, I always enjoy it.
Patrick Rauland: Same thing for you, Victoria?
Victoria Caña: I think it’s a little bit different for me. I think for Alex it really energizes him, for me, it depends. Sometimes, if it’s … okay, we’re having a session, we need to collaborate and figure out how we’re going to fix this, sometimes it’s like having writers block, or designers block. It bothers me until we actually get it. Then it’s like, “Wow, we were able to do that.”
Alex Uboldi: Oh yeah, I feel that too. It’s just the relief part I like. I like that. That feels good.
Patrick Rauland: This very much reminds me of how I like to exercise. I don’t like to exercise, but I like having finished exercising.
Alex Uboldi: Yes, that’s the whole thing. That’s the part that revitalizes me, it’s the stress of doing and the revitalization of having it done.
Victoria Caña: Also when [inaudible 00:25:09] bad ideas, it doesn’t feel good. But when I have good ideas, it’s like wow [crosstalk 00:25:14]
Are There Games You Wish You Could Change?
Patrick Rauland: I love it. So one of the other questions, I don’t always ask this one, ’cause I think it can sometimes put out negative, and it’s never negative, it’s just like what would you …. So the question is: Is there a game out there that you wish you could change? Maybe add something to it, or take something away?
Alex Uboldi: Yes. I would love to change the theme of Hanamikoji. Have you ever played it?
Patrick Rauland: No, what is it?
Alex Uboldi: Okay, so Hanamikoji is a two player game and it basically is a game about choice. So there are five … I’ll tell you with the theme. There are five geishas and you’re competing to get the geishas to come to your establishment, and you do this by making sure they have the most of the object they like the most.
Alex Uboldi: So you have a hand of cards and … a lot of the game revolves around setting up the cards in a way that your opponent picks the bad ones and you end up with the good ones. ‘Cause you always have to give your opponent the choice to pick the cards first. It’s a great two player game and I highly, highly recommend it if you’re looking for a two player game.
Alex Uboldi: I just don’t like the theme. It makes me feel weird that we’re bidding over geishas. I would prefer to be bidding over anything else. But the mechanics are solid. I think a lot of games I would change I was like, I really like the mechanics but the theme just is strange, and it doesn’t align with the mechanics.
Alex Uboldi: Like we played Ra, which I think is like a fun option game, but I don’t understand why [crosstalk 00:26:38] it’s weirdly Egyptian themed. But yeah, I guess those two: Ra, Hanamikoji. I would change the theme.
Victoria Caña: Yeah. For me, so the one that comes to mind is … I’m looking at my shelf. We recently played Carcassonne: The Castle, which is the two player version. And-
Patrick Rauland: Oh, I don’t know this.
Victoria Caña: Oh, you didn’t know about it?
Patrick Rauland: No.
Victoria Caña: Okay. It’s a two player version, we borrowed it from a friend. And the very first time we played it- it’s funny- Alex hates this game. What happened is, there are these tiles and there are- I think it’s roads-
Alex Uboldi: Roads, yeah.
Victoria Caña: That’s what they have. The very first game, I start it. I put two roads together and I think it popped off the …
Alex Uboldi: Yeah, the idea is like, if have a road you must play it onto another road, but there’s certain tiles that block off road completely. Just end routes. And so Victoria on the first game, blocked off the two starting roads, so … I’d say a quarter to a half of the tiles we just had to discard in that game.
Victoria Caña: We couldn’t even play anymore, because the roads ended.
Alex Uboldi: The roads ended, and … of the other … I don’t know … you played Carcassonne the original?
Patrick Rauland: Yes, I have.
Alex Uboldi: Imagine playing that, but not using any road tiles.
Victoria Caña: So, if I had to change a game, I’d probably fix that [crosstalk 00:27:54]
Alex Uboldi: Just make it so you can’t … That is weird because it’s like if you legally can only play it on the other available road tile … it’s just a weird hiccup in the thing where it’s like, with the road tiles and blocking … yeah, we’d change that. Otherwise it’s fine. It’s a fine game.
Patrick Rauland: It’s interesting for me as a game designer, try to figure out what is the probability of someone drawing two of those same road tiles in the first turn. Or in the first couple plays. And is that a problem worth solving? So one of the games I designed, or am designing, there’s sort of like an ultimate … Like if you have these four cards out of all 16, you will probably win the game. But it’s really, really hard for you to get four specific cards out of 16.
Patrick Rauland: It’s weird to like … What are the chances and how do I fix it? Do I kill one of the cards? Or do I have a special rule that says two end pieces can’t be placed right next to each other? Yes, it’s tricky.
Alex Uboldi: It’s an interesting design question because I think for your issue its’ a question of probability, right? There’s an X-percent chance. But I think for the Carcassonne issue, it’s both a problem of probability and a problem of player choice. Like, if a player chooses to block off roads, then they can quickly derail the game. And I’ve designed several games where I play test with one particular friend who just plays … What if I play to ruin the game? And it’s like, [crosstalk 00:29:19] you do that, it ruins the game.
Alex Uboldi: So then, how do you design around … Make the game like … if one person decides to play Pandemic horribly and inefficiently and causes plagues everywhere, it’s like, how much do you design for that and how much do you just be okay with that and hope people play the game the way it was meant to be played?
Patrick Rauland: Great question. And if that person did that to me in Pandemic, I would be very frustrated. I don’t know …
Alex Uboldi: Yeah it’s like, why not just be angry at them, that’s what the rule book says.
Patrick Rauland: Especially Pandemic Legacy, ’cause then you’re affecting X …
Alex Uboldi: And then it counts.
Overrated / Underrated
Patrick Rauland: Alright, so I like to end my show with a little game called “Overrated, Underrated” and I’m basically … What I’m gonna do is I’m going to say, give you a phrase or a term and then I’m gonna force you to take a position if you think it’s overrated or underrated. And since there’s two of you, I think we should do this separately.
Patrick Rauland: So I’ll ask each of you the question. If you think it’s overrated or underrated. So if I said, “Pizza” you’d probably say, “underrated, because it’s the best food on the planet.” Got it?
Alex Uboldi: True.
Victoria Caña: Got it.
Alex Uboldi: I mean, yes.
Patrick Rauland: Alright, you’re off to a good start. So, let’s go with Alex first. Trick taking games, are they overrated or underrated?
Alex Uboldi: Way overrated.
Patrick Rauland: Why?
Alex Uboldi: I have never played a trick taking game that didn’t feel like I was just putting cards from my hand in the center of the … I don’t know, my big problem with trick taking games is they have a difficult time incorporating their theme. Like, to me, the best trick taking games are is a trick taking mechanic incorporated with another type of game. Like, I think [Nit 00:30:54] has an auctioning mechanic and then … There’s this one Japanese one where you’re controlling area zones with separate danyo, like … Jo-su … Jesuvo?
Alex Uboldi: I don’t remember what it’s called. But yeah, basically when it’s trick taking incorporated with a secondary mechanic, it can be fun ’cause then it’s like you’re using the tricks to do something. But in terms of a purse trick taking game, I’ve always just felt like I was playing cards from my hand into the center of the table in the most efficient manner possible. And sometimes I’d get it right, and sometimes I’d get it wrong.
Alex Uboldi: I don’t know, I don’t really feel like I’m accomplishing anything. There’s no sense of growth and achievement for me with trick taking games.
Patrick Rauland: What about you, Victoria?
Victoria Caña: I think they’re overrated and part of that is because I don’t play that many trick taking games.
Alex Uboldi: Played ‘Hearts’ …
Victoria Caña: I know, I didn’t like it [crosstalk 00:31:44]
Patrick Rauland: So, Victoria, with you first. ‘Gladiator’ the movie, overrated or underrated?
Victoria Caña: I think it’s a really good movie, so I have to say underrated.
Patrick Rauland: Alright, any [crosstalk 00:31:59]
Victoria Caña: Joaquin Phoenix, we used to live in a hotel-slash-apartment building and Joaquin Phoenix, who plays … was it Commodus?
Alex Uboldi: Commodus, yeah.
Victoria Caña: He stayed at our hotel, apartment building. Yeah.
Patrick Rauland: That’s very cool. What about you, Alex?
Victoria Caña: You’re gonna say overrated, aren’t you?
Alex Uboldi: Yeah, I’m gonna say overrated. It got like 10, 12 Oscar nominations that year? It was a weak year for movies, but I think ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ should’ve won it that year. But that’s just me.
Patrick Rauland: What? Oh boy. I don’t know. [crosstalk 00:32:34]
Alex Uboldi: It’s like Ridley Scott’s third best film? But I still think it’s a little bit overrated. Just a little. Just a hair.
Patrick Rauland: Alright. So app-based versions of board games, do you think they’re overrated or underrated, Alex?
Alex Uboldi: Underrated.
Patrick Rauland: Which one’s your favorite?
Alex Uboldi: I like Through the Ages, the app game. I think I wouldn’t play that as a board game. I don’t know. I like the app … I think app-based games are really helpful for complex … there’s pros and cons. I think the pros are, they do a lot of the most boring part of board games for you. Like maintenance, upkeep, making sure things go where they need to, making sure no one’s breaking any rules, making sure you don’t have to go back and check the rule book to see how these two specific things interact.
Alex Uboldi: They’re really good for that. You lose out on the face-to-face social interaction part, but if you’re playing a game for the pure mechanics of it, and your playing very non-interactive games- like I think a lot of Euros aren’t that interactive. I think the app-based game … any app-based game is good. And I think a lot of people hate on them, but I think for certain games it can be better if not as good.
Patrick Rauland: Love it. Alright, Victoria. Overrated or underrated?
Victoria Caña: I think that they’re overrated and that’s because if a board game is designed to be played face-to-face, I think that that’s how it should be played. But if it’s a digital first board game, I think then, for an app, it makes sense. Like Hearthstone. Hearthstone is made for it.
Alex Uboldi: Or, like, ‘Mello’.
Victoria Caña: Or ‘Mello’.
Patrick Rauland: Alright, very cool. Well thank you both for being on the show. Where can people find you and your game online?
Alex Uboldi: And I’m @AlexandreUboldi.
Victoria Caña: So it’s pretty easy.
Patrick Rauland: Yeah. Well thank you both again, by the way if you’re a listener, if you like this podcast, please leave us a review on iTunes. If you do leave a review, Victoria and Alex said they’d be willing to watch you fight in a gladiator match, they’d even do the thumbs up, thumbs down thing.
Alex Uboldi: Yeah.
Victoria Caña: It’s true.
Alex Uboldi: One-hundred percent.
Patrick Rauland: So you can visit the site, IndieBoardGameDesigners.com. You can follow me on Twitter, I am @BFTrick. With that, until next time. Happy designing. Bye bye.