This is a transcript of Brainwaves Episode 119.
Direct quotes are in italics.
Iain McAllister: Hello everyone, I’m Iain McAllister
Oliver Kinne: I’m Oliver Kinne
Jamie Adams: and I’m Jamie Adams
And this is Brainwaves episode 119, bringing you the best in tabletop gaming news
These are the headlines for the week of the 17th of April 2023
Klaus Teuber passes and
Magnate by name, Magnate by Nature
All this and more on this episode of Brainwaves.
Oliver: Following a brief and severe illness legendary game designer Klaus Teuber passed on the 1st of April this year.
Klaus won the Spiel Des Jahres an impressive four times with Barbarossa in 1988. Adel Varpflictet in 1990, Druneter and Druber in 1991, and finally in 1995 with the Settlers of Catan, die Siedler
It is for Catan that Klaus Teuber is best known. For many in the hobby this game represented their introduction to the world of the modern hobby board game. Its influence was undeniable and since its release has sold more than 40 million copies and been translated into more than 40 languages.
It is seen by many as the first of a new way for board games that opened up the hobby to more people and led to the massive growth that tabletop industry has experienced in the last couple of decades.
The official Catan twitter account put out this statement on April the 4th.
It is with profound sadness that we at CATAN Studio acknowledge the passing of Klaus Teuber, legendary game designer and creator of the beloved board game CATAN. Our hearts go out to Klaus’ family during this incredibly difficult time.
While Klaus’ contributions to the board gaming industry are immeasurable we will remember him most as a kind and selfless human being, an inspirational leader, and most importantly, as a friend. His legacy will continue to inspire and shape the gaming community for years to come.
We encourage you to honour Klaus’ memory by being kind to one another, pursuing your creative passions fearlessly, and enjoying a game with your loved ones. Klaus’ impact on the world of gaming will never be forgotten.
The death was reported across the tabletop gaming hobby but also across the wider culture as Catan had an impact outside what we would think of as ‘the hobby’. There was an outpouring of grief and fond memories shared across the tabletop community and we would urge you to read Dan Thurot’s piece on the place that Catan had in his life. A better obituary we cannot imagine.
So I guess, I assume all of us here on the cast have played Catan. I certainly can remember playing it back in Germany before I moved over here with friends at games nights many many times and then when I came over to UK I obviously played it a lot and we traded a lot of “wood for sheep” and I’m sure people have used that phrase as well so that that’s my memory of Catan.
Iain: yeah I played a huge amount of it at university I Settlers of Catan I don’t I still I don’t own a copy anymore but yeah I played a huge amount of University it’s one of the first games I picked up from Blacklion Games in Edinburgh when I first moved to University and played with loads of friends at University including my now brother-in-law uh David Dolliver uh and yeah you could potentially argue that Settlers of Catan was responsible for me meeting my wife if you’d like to go down that route.
Yeah just played a huge amount about loads of it on like on like tiny floors and student accommodation and just love the hell out of it played so much of it yeah definitely my introduction to the modern hobby without question.
Jamie: I’ve I’ve only played it once I thought it was fine
Iain & Oliver: (laughing)
Oliver: the memory that’s that’s fine it’s worth sharing but
Jamie: no yeah it’s a Memory after not playing it for a very long time and feeling like oh maybe I don’t need to I finally played it and got thoroughly trounced by friends who not only have played it a lot but also very good at it and maybe that’s why I went “oh it’s fine”. I’m not saying I’m bitter or anything I’m just um what’s the word bitter that’s it yeah. I’m not bitter, it’s fine.
Oliver: Catan as we say has had a huge impact
Jamie: oh yeah
Oliver: it has gone through various iterations and it was known as Setters of Catan and then just Settlers and now Catan and it’s obviously a huge brand and yeah um
Jamie: I didn’t I didn’t realize it was officially called settlers I just thought it was just that was a time then Catan that makes sense yeah that makes a lot of sense I.
Iain: I think I remember reading about uh Settlers of Catan in like one of the first issues of Arcane did you ever read Arcane Jamie? It might have been a little bit before your time.
Jamie: Now Iain, come on mate
Now I’m feeling old. Arcane was a future publishing magazine in the mid 90s I think uh
Jamie: I was just entering Primary in the mid 90s just
Iain: now be quiet
Jamie: I’m like 10 years younger than you Iain I’m afraid
Iain: Shsh, I don’t I don’t like to think about it. Terrible.
But yeah I remember reading a review of Settlers of Catan in Arcane magazine uh way back in the day when it still existed but just which was a good magazine. I think I’ve still got some of the encounter pull outs that you could get from that on my shelves.
But yeah no matter what you think about Catan no matter what you’ve like critically like about or dislike Catan, it’s undeniable how much influence that game had it opened up the modern hobby for a huge number of people and yeah yeah it led to the modern hobby as we see it now.
Oliver: And it still is a game that sort of leads people into the hobby though oh yeah otherwise try it so definitely yeah
Jamie: completely completely I’m not
Iain: yeah you see on Supermarket shelves and morristons all sorts of like regular places where you just buy games you see Settlers of Catan or Catan as it’s now more commonly known and yeah or versions thereof yeah just undeniably a huge influence. A huge loss for the community.
Oliver: definitely our thoughts over the family and yeah
Jamie: and a man is not dead while his name is still spoken and his name will still be spoken for a very long time mostly going oh come on how could you that’s not fair I absolutely have the longest road
Iain: Over the last couple of months we’ve been reporting on the troubles besetting UK games publisher Inside the Box games. A couple of casts ago we covered the liquidation of that company. At the time Peter Blenkhern, the CEO of the company, hinted that they were in negotiations for the assets of Inside the Box to be bought.
On April the 5th James Naylor posted to the Naylor Games website announcing that they were buying Inside the Box’s remaining assets. From that post:
Jamie: I’m proud to announce that Naylor Games has made its second acquisition, buying all assets of Inside the Box Board Games.
All of Inside The Box’s board games will become part of our product range and – for now – the brand will be retained as an imprint of Naylor Games while we decide its future.
During its existence ITB brought many fantastic products to market: not least Sub Terra – a modern classic of the co-operative genre. Unfortunately, due to some poor strategic choices and a combination of unprecedented market conditions, the business became non-viable as a trading concern.
As a result, the business will be liquidated: it will be completely shut down. What funds are left are being divided between whatever creditors UK law recognises and in accordance with a repayment order set out by the UK government. Generally, staff owed wages are among the first to be paid. We hope that our purchase has allowed at least this to happen. But given that UK tax authorities are next in line, we expect there will be nothing left (we are not party to any of the internal operations of this process). To be absolutely clear, while Naylor Games acquired the assets, we did not buy the business itself. This business, along with all of its debts and liabilities, will – very shortly – cease to exist.
There is more to this statement but we wanted to let you hear more on this acquisition from the very best source. To that end I secured an interview with James that was conducted on the 11th of April. James is an executive producer of the cast which means he does support us financially. We’ll let you listen to that interview now:
Iain: I’m very delighted to say that we’ve been joined by James Naylor in the Giant Brain Studio. How are you doing James?
James Naylor: I’m doing very well thank you very much Ian very well I’m very very busy uh
Iain: you are indeed
James: but yes as you may have noticed um but I’m also very excited
Iain: yeah absolutely. Can you start by telling us a little bit about yourself and what Naylor Games have been up to over the last couple of years?
James: yes absolutely. So uh I designed a board game called Magnate: The First City uh which I decided a few years back to self-publish uh we got on Kickstarter did pretty well and then we delivered it at the very end of 2021. And uh sort of with the kickstarter it kind of gave me a bit of a lust for making more games so we started beavering away making multiple different games uh in the background while we were kind of focusing on promoting magnate.
Then we sort of realized that we were kind of quite good at Logistics. I think my kind of operations and software background has meant I think I’ve got quite a lot of skills there especially when we’re managing lots of information so we decided to get into that and then we sort of ended up working with a lot of companies behind the scenes on helping them kind of get their games around the world uh and we were sort of in the meantime spinning up multiple different software projects, sorry different game projects alongside that um so hopeful to bring our our second game to Market but we’ve been a bit busy with uh buying companies so in in fact uh the first one we did last year and obviously this is this is now our second acquisition.
Iain: yeah so yeah the reason we are of course talking to you today is that you’ve recently acquired the assets of inside the Box games which is currently in the process of liquidation. What led to you making that decision to obtain ITB’s assets?
James: A very good question. It was a few different things so I think so we did as I said we did our first acquisition last year with E-Street games. They were kind of looking very much to kind of get out but they had made a couple of you know great little products that were small more family weight games and um I sort of said to them well look I’d like to continue their legacy and I would like to uh continue promoting these titles and um we ended up agreeing to that um I bought them out and we found the whole process although there was quite a lot of complexity to it went really well and people were very interested in what we were doing. It allowed us to start selling those products more um because we had the existing links with different distributors etc and and it made me think well okay maybe we could do this again.
And then I heard about the kind of some of the issues that ITB were having as a business um I hadn’t actually been a backer of any of their projects, I knew Subterra for example very well um, but I hadn’t backed any of their recent kickstarters. And I just thought well okay this is going to be a lot bigger but potentially we could do something here to maybe save this a bit, because there’s some really amazing games in ITB’s catalogue and I figured there’s all these people so excited by them and it will be real tragedy if they never get there never get their games. Maybe someone could step in to solve this and so about October last year I started investigating the possibility of making this acquisition.
Iain: right yeah as you mentioned uh Inside the Box had several Kickstarter projects on the go. What are the current status of those products and how are you hoping to resolve the issues around them?
James: so in the end uh three of the projects the, the board game projects that would be Cryptex Sub-Terra 2, and Aquanauts were all manufactured so all the products exist and they’re all currently in China.
James: The Alba product was never physically manufactured although a dgitial version that’s close to final was produced um
James: uh so uh that’s where the kind of they are today. And so we sort of once we’ve worked that out we found that out under under the long process of you know under NDA of exploring the company’s assets working with them on what we could do to buy it and ultimately for most of the time working with the Liquidators we realized it would be possible to deliver those three at least physically uh and so we thought well okay this is this is a golden opportunity to actually save this one for the backers um so we thought we’ve got to go for it.
Iain: So how will how you be resolving those three physical products then well they the backers still have to pay for shipping or anything like that or is it are you just doing out of your own pocket? How’s it, how’s that going to happen?
James: so a lot of the process is very much out of our own pocket. But when it comes to actually shipping it to the backers we decided that we would uh the best option that would be sustainable would be to offer them the chance to have their games again if they’re prepared to pay for shipping. Uh because the amount unfortunately the money that had been charged for shipping had already been consumed by the ITB business.
So and obviously we’re just an asset buyer we’re not buying a company, the company will just disappear forever quite soon um and uh taking all its debts with it. Uh so we have no Capital to do, sufficient Capital do the shipping costs because we’re talking about a vast amount of products we’re talking about um I mean I can’t go into the exact details but you’re talking in the order of 100 cubic meters or close to something something something like that so um it’s an enormous uh undertaking in terms of that so there’s no way we could afford to ship that ourselves. It wouldn’t it just wouldn’t make Financial sense for us to do that.
So we figured well what’s the second best option I’m understandably some of the backers are going to be miffed they have to pay for shipping again twice, I would be in their situation to be honest, but we sort of took the bet that overall they’d probably rather get something uh than nothing in most cases and then what we’ve decided to do is uh for um for the remainder of it uh for the backers who don’t want to take, don’t want to pay for shipping we’re going to use that money to pay the cost of freighting the games and sort by managing the entire process and then we’re going to donate some money to charity and we’re going to select a suitable kind of game related charity is the idea uh because again I I don’t want us to be profiting effectively from other people’s disappointments.
And so far I have to say the response to this has been fantastic and I think most backers really appreciate it because to be honest in the vast majority of cases what tends to happen at this point is assets get acquired uh company says we don’t owe you squat and from a legal perspective you know we don’t we don’t know the back is anything it’s a legal perspective but then they just say hard luck and I just felt like that’s a bit crap and I would rather say here’s a chance to get what you paid for.
Iain: yeah that’s completely fair. So um we mentioned a couple of times today that ITB are obviously liquidating have you actually bought the brand of ITB or is it just its assets, will the ITB brand just sort of disappear along with the company?
James: So the ITB brand is part of the asset purchase so uh the terms on which we purchased it is literally everything. So everything that can be an asset of ITB is now ours so that includes all intellectual property so uh that it very much includes the ITB brand.
What we do with the ITB brand in the long term I don’t honestly know. I think that’s one that we’re going to have to consider. Obviously in the short term it’ll continue to exist just because it’s on all the boxes and it’s uh part of our stable officially now and we’ll be talking about that probably at UKGE um but whether in the long run we retain it I don’t know.
I, I think in its last years it got very tarnished unfortunately um
James: going from maybe a you know a really exciting UK startup that a lot of people, for very good reasons, um had huge confidence in from the point of view it’s product range, to being something that didn’t make people feel so good anymore. So we will have to see
Iain: I think I’m a bit of an understatement
James: for sure yeah
Iain: We know there are companies that are handling the foreign language versions of the games are you involved in helping out the companies with the foreign language versions of the games or is that a completely separate matter?
James: well we’re working really close to them I’m actually already in touch with all of the uh different localizers uh in different languages. But um because arrangements with them were not all managed identically uh the situation is quite complex in terms of which
James: which for example some backers is maybe due to receive more product um some may not and at the moment I wouldn’t like to comment on anything individual with those localizers because just because it’s so complicated uh in terms of those pieces.
I mean you know you if you involve another party in production this always happens but I have to say so far um it’s been brilliant uh working with them and talking to all of them. They’ve all been very friendly it’s very obvious they’re all really keen to do the best they can by the backers of what’s what’s realistic and achievable and you know I’m hoping that we get to continue working with uh the same firms into the future because there’s loads of other games we’re going to want to bring into um languages outside of English. So uh yeah so it’s been very positive so far
Iain: Do you see a future for the assets, the some of the games you’ve acquired from inside the Box do you see you sort of coming back to those properties and producing more in those lines in the future.
James: Uh for some of them certainly yes. I think it would be fair to say for example I actually think from what we’ve seen the Subterra series still has a lot of potential life in it and in fact the ITB did have various uh various plans for future versions of it that are quite interesting. I think some of the games definitely have a real life ahead of them I don’t think they all do um.
James: I think speaking candidly I think ITB would have been better off having been a wee bit more focused. I mean our approach maybe is too extreme we like to take years over each title and and that’s difficult to sustain unless you have another business like we do on the logistics side uh to maintain that kind of thing but I just think they really went too far the other way.
They have a they had a lot of projects in development as well as things they produce that probably would not entirely advisable but I will say is something that’s really impressed me is that the kind of final end quality of everything that we’ve seen is really good. I think that’s something that ITB were very committed to was the kind of final produced quality of of their products, and uh so so who knows it might be that most of the titles have a kind of ongoing life. We’re just going to discover that one I guess.
Iain: Yeah I’d like to touch about on that sort of sustainability thing just just for a moment in this interview. So you mentioned in the update you posted to Naylor games blog that you think and I’ll quote from it “a substantial chunk of the industry has been operating an unsustainable model”.
Now on Brainwaves we’ve certainly reported on companies that appear to be struggling like Inside the Box and most recently Mythic. Could you elaborate on your thoughts for us what you think that it takes to be a viable tabletops game company in the current climate?
James: Yeah so I think kind of what’s happened is maybe just par for the course in a lot of uh booms, because we’ve seen such a sustained growth of tabletop games in the last 10 years. And what happens is people come a bit over exuberant and they tend to start thinking that there’s the future’s always going to be so unbelievably um, what’s the phrase to use here, perhaps bountiful that it’s just about growth and you can just you can price things aggressively to get as many customers as possible and you know even if the projects today aren’t profitable don’t worry because tomorrow we’re going to score it big.
And uh uh fundamentally what this has meant is you’ve seen a lot of underpricing of products uh where pricing is is put forward as a strategy but realistically it’s not a strategy because it’s uh it’s it’s just making it not possible to make enough money to pay for all of your overheads.
Uh shipping levels are really underpriced and something that’s a bit frustrating thing on Kickstarter moment is that the way that people often price their estimated shipping is that they’re they’re substantially discounting it in reality. And this has created an effect where people start seeing realistic shipping costs and they go oh that’s very expensive and that creates a pretty negative environment because reality is the the company, the only way the company has to recruit those funds is to increase the price of the product but obviously that’s also constrained and in the end they think oh well I don’t want to go too expensive because I won’t get enough customers assuming that they’ll make the money back on the second print run or the third print run.
But the reality is is that the vast majority of games now are only ever going to get one print run. And that’s because they are too niche they are landing into a market with thousands of new releases every year and uh that means that if if you’re betting on I need my second print run and second title to be profitable you’re already taking an enormous risk because
James: it’s such a buyer’s market that it doesn’t and I would say it’s from my perspective it makes a lot more sense to sacrifice a little bit of growth and impressive headline numbers in the short run to build a business that’s more sustainable in the long term where you’re consistently making profit.
Again that means everyone wins. You win, your customers win because you’re not suddenly going bust and disappearing on them. Um your suppliers win for the same reasons and everyone benefits but it just requires being maybe a little bit less extraordinarily exuberant at the beginning of the process.
Iain: Interesting. I, I could talk to you about that kind of thing for ages but we don’t have time in a small interview right now.
So, uh Naylor games itself seems to have been undergoing a period of strong growth how are you managing that expansion and what are your plans for the future?
James: uh very good question. So um we have indeed been and I I guess our route has been a bit unorthodox because we’ve grown quite a bit through acquisition and it’s certainly something we would definitely consider doing continuing to doing rather in the future. Um it’s been quite a challenge because we’ve taken on quite a lot of new things the Back Office business in particular is suddenly really growing where we’re managing other companies logistics services for example for them.
Um and uh the way that we’ve done this though um is just by trying to work smarter rather than harder. so I’m always Investing for example into automation uh I’m always trying to bring on the right people for the team who can really execute rather than necessarily just trying to throw money at the problem and recruit whoever.
We’re very careful in how we expand in that sense and I’m always keeping an eye on the cost base making sure we’re getting lots of value. I think we will be growing the team again sometime soon actually because we’re going to need um we’ll just get we are going to need more people to do more things.
But I, I always just think it’s about being sensible and you look at your cost base you look at a realistic idea of what your revenue is going to be in the future which means start with something optimistic, and then do a pessimistic analysis of it and bring your estimates down. And then if you do that bit right and you’re mindful thought to when you’re getting overloaded and you can start bringing people on then you can have that more sustainable growth.
For example with uh ITB it’s very unlikely that we would make another acquisition this year because there will be so much to do just consolidating ITB’s assets into our business that, that will take a lot of time and we don’t want to be unrealistic about what we can bite off. Also although we’ve got a big slate of projects all of those have been in development for quite a long time and so as a result they’ve been you know we’ve been beavering away at them behind the scenes for quite a while so I think it’s that overall strategy of slow steady growth I think is uh is very much the way forward.
Iain: that’s great thank you very much for your time today James it sounds like the ITB assets are in good hands and hopefully you’ll have success getting those backers sorted out with their Kickstarter projects. Uh we’d love to have you back on again sometime
James: thank you very much it’s been a pleasure.
Iain: I thought James was very candid in the interview and he set realistic expectations in the rest of the post will share about what backers can expect from Naylor games as they try and resolve all the outstanding issues. I really enjoyed talking to James he was he was very honest about the problems facing ITB and the issues that they have now inherited at Naylor games.
I do have hope that Naylor games can help a lot of backers get their games, it is probably going to mean a little bit more financial pain for the backers as James said in the interview they are going to need to ask for some shipping money because a lot of that cash has disappeared into Inside The Box at some point so yeah.
But hopefully this will bring some of those problems to resolution and from what James was saying in the interview that, backers seemed quite happy that he they are taking charge and there is some progress being made.
Oliver: I certainly think is good news that uh Naylor Games is now uh owner of the assets and some of the IPs and things and yes I think we all have to accept that the company ITB is gone and stock is where it is and Naylor Games can’t you know they don’t have the financial power to just ship things over and and swallow up the cost.
All they can do is try and get you know find the best possible compromise to get the games to backers and hopefully you know I think James was all saying that some of the upcoming games may not be produced and there’s some problems there but you know I’m sure that the interview will explain a bit more and more information will come out but certainly I think on the whole this is good news and there have been some really good games in ITB so it’s nice to see that these hopefully will live on in some shape or form.
Iain: Yeah from, from, from what you’ve seen in the interview um uh Subterra 2, cryptex and Aquanauts are all physically produced, they are just in China. Alba never got physically produced there’s a digital version of it but uh Alba which is was the game book that ITB were making that never got physically produced. So yeah they’re needing a little bit more money from backers in order to get those copies shipped and there’s an alternative version there if you don’t if you basically want anything to do with it you can basically donate your copy to ITB who will sell, sorry to Naylor Games who will sell it off to charity instead and they’ll donate some money to charity uh just so something is being done with those and and James seemed very understanding that he can completely understand that some of the backers would be annoyed by the situation because yeah they’ve been waiting for so long for the games and now they’ve been asked for more money and he totally understands there’s financial pain involved there.
He seems like he’s very very much got his head screwed on straight.
Jamie: And Naylor Games is in the ascendant
Iain: yeah absolutely yeah I mean I backed Magnate I was very pleased with that campaign and we previewed it when we were still doing previews. I still need to get my copy of my game to the table, sorry James uh but I will I will do eventually one uh and uh actually write a proper review on it.
Jamie: I may have I may have won the one game I played but it’s fine. I’m sorry James, it’s fine maybe it’s not my game.
Iain: yeah I mean I I would like to play I mean I might bring it through next time I come through to Glasgow Jamie and try and learn it with the uh the the learning deck thing that they’ve got built into it because I haven’t tried that.
Oliver: Jamie I think James will take that um praise you know if Magnate is as good as Catan in your experience. [Laughter]
Jamie: okay moving on, moving on to the rest of the news
Jamie: We’ve reported a couple of times on the dealings of company Mythic Games publishers of Darkest Dungeon and the Super Fantasy Brawl games among others.
Now they’re drawing fire for a Kickstarter that we’d forgotten existed. Now it seems Mythic might have as well. Back in 2019 Mythic funded the Monsterpocalypse board game to the tune of $1,310,177 dollars out of a $100,000 target. That game is still yet to reach backers despite Mythic having funded and at least partially delivered other games such as Darkest Dungeon.
In an update to the kickstarter campaign posted on the 31st of March 2023. they apologize for not having posted anything recently and then go on to say:
Oliver: As you know, we are a small team now, and we have to focus on one delivery at a time. After delivering 20,000 backers of Darkest Dungeon, most of our human resources are currently focused on delivering another big project, 6: Siege, scheduled for September-October.
This will be our modus operandi from now on: we will take the necessary steps to deliver each project, soliciting backers as needed and adapting to the specifics of each project. When one project is delivered, we will move on to the next.
For Monsterpocalypse, it will be some time before we can move forward with production. However, we hope to show you the last validated elements in future updates. We also want to clear up any misunderstandings that may have arisen. Since the announcement of our restructuring, we have announced that we have sold some IPs and we have highlighted some games that we have kept. If Monsterpocalypse was not mentioned, it is only because it is not one of our own franchises, as it is an IP owned by our partner Privateer Press. However, we remain just as committed to this project and determined to deliver it as soon as our schedule allows. In other words, even though it is not an in-house IP that we will continue to develop, Monsterpocalypse is still a project that we care about and its delivery is still a priority. We are aware of the long wait and thank you for your patience.
Jamie: We wanted to draw our listeners attention to this story as a warning about future Mythic projects and also to show how they’re treating their backers. Right, Right
Iain: What on earth?
Jamie: very very quickly very quickly sorry as you were reading that Oliver and I was listening to you read it and I went, so you have several projects involved and you’re not, okay I understand not every business is going to focus on one project get it done get it out then move on to the next one but why aren’t you doing that right now?
Jamie: or you are doing it now but why would that not the standard model. I know nothing about business.
Iain: But like to not even have moved into production with us while you’ve moved, moved into production and delivered later games like. Why are Kickstarter even allowing this company back on Kickstarter? I mean I know what the answer to that question is don’t get me wrong that’s a rhetorical but yeah, yeah it it it’s kind of madness right.
I mean like yeah I I didn’t even I’d even for I forgot like as we say in the article we’d even forgotten this exists until uh until Adam on our Discord drew attention to it thank you very much Adam
Jamie: I think I played monster apocalypse a long time ago in one of its kind of earlier iterations.
Iain: It was originally a collectible game produced by Privateer Press and then obviously Mythic have done some sort of board game tie up back in 2019 in order to produce this. But yeah like to not even have moved into production what have they been doing for like four years?
Jamie: Mate, Covid!
Iain: Yeah, but still
Oliver: do it in the order off when when these games were basically promised and not do it in any order. I think they’re trying to take the IP as an excuse why that maybe hasn’t happened yet or something
Iain: sounds like it doesn’t it
Oliver: yeah yeah
Iain: I would be very, very wary folks of like backing Mythic games. I mean I’ve got a friend who had darkest dungeon Kickstarter he’s they’ve got the first wave of it. They’re quite happy with it. My first impressions of the game I have played it once is it’s fine
Jamie: Is this the it’s fine podcast I’m gonna so Darkest Dungeon sorry is as good as magnate which is as good as Catan
Iain: I’m going to cut your magnate comment
Iain: maybe well I’ll see let’s see how it fits
Oliver: he’s a sponsor after all
Jamie: yes but also so Oliver you and I just got to spend the rest of the podcast if anyone mentions the word fine just bring it up and then we yeah we have to do it so many times so Iain has to keep it. You see I know how this works here I know how to break you
Oliver: anyway we didn’t have time to reach out for comment from Mythic games and we’ll do so for the next cast and I think yeah
Iain: I do I do intend to do that for the next cast so yeah
Oliver: moving on then to the American table top awards for 2023 which have just been announced.
The awards began in 2019 to celebrate the games deemed the best of the year by a committee of folk known in the U.S tabletop scene. This year the winners are:
In the early gamers category it’s Boop by Smirk and Laughter games designed by Scott Brady
In the Casual games category Turing Machine published by L’Scorpion Masque and designed by Fabian Gridel and Yoann Levet
In the strategy games category Planet Unknown published by Adam’s Apple Games LLC and designed by Ryan Lambert and Adam Rehberg
and finally in the Complex games category, Carnegie published by Pegasus Spiele and designed by Xavier Georges
Congratulations to all the winners.
Now Iain I understand you have some thoughts on the American Table Awards
Iain: some comments
Jamie: I’m going to say right now everybody strap in
Oliver: It’s not fine anyway
Jamie: no it’s not fine it’s not fine, absolutely not fine it’s not as good as Catan, Magnate and Darkest Dungeon however Iain has does have some thoughts on this.
Iain: so I don’t know who the American Tabletop awards are for right.
Jamie: American tabletop gamers?
Iain: thanks technically the started out as like an idea of like trying to do a sort of Spiel des Jahres kind of thing for American for, for the American Table Community right? That was the intention. But the way that they do this is that the commit, the committee themselves and you can find out who the committee are for this particular year by going to the American Tabletop Awards website it’s all open who who’s on there the committee themselves submit games for consideration and I’m going to quote from the FAQ on their site
“The Committee Member should have played the game they are submitting for consideration”
Iain: Should being the operative word in there and doing an awful lot of heavy lifting. I’m sorry but if you’re going to try and do some sort of like big award for American tabletop games and make it be a thing, you have to have better standards than the “Committee Member should have played the game that they are submitting for consideration”. That is absolutely Madness.
Oliver: so let me get this clear there’s the committee who’s who’s deciding what games are put forward and who’s just actually choosing the winners is that the committee?
Iain: That commitee is also choosing the winners as well
Oliver: and they may not even have played the game
Iain: and they may not have even played the game and there’s some sort of like sort of vague sort of look at ethics like a Committee Member can’t submit a game on behalf of another Committee Member who might be involved with that game, that kind of thing. But whenever they like with the Spiel des Jahres and and other Awards like the As d’or and the other big tabletop game awards there’s some builds up.
Right usually there’s like these Awards these games have been submitted and these games are being considered then here’s the short list like the Oscars you know there’s a short list Etc
Jamie: no there’s also the long list and there’s a lot of heavy campaigning by various film studios they’ve got a lot of money into that campaigning
Iain: yeah but I’m trying to make a yeah just a comparison you know there’s some build up with with the other Awards. With the American Tabletop Awards they’re just sort of like splatted out. They just sort of emerge at some point here’s the American tabletop Awards people talk about it for like a day and then it disappears. Not even the Publishers seem to care.
Oliver: is there a physical award or a logo that people know?
Iain: no, there’s a logo
Jamie: there’s a logo
Iain: I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen it on a box. I mean it’s only a few years old so whatever but I just I just don’t get who this is for and what they’re trying to do. I don’t understand. Like they they don’t have like the rigmarole of like the spiel to like be properly like a proper critics like here are the best games of the year
Iain: and the Spiel has its own like criteria and yeah not all games get considered and there’s reasons for that. But I, I just don’t understand it every year it just sort of like emerges and then it’s like oh the American Table Top Awards have been announced and then no one cares. I don’t get it.
What are you trying to achieve please tell us!
Jamie: Iain do you not get it
Iain: I don’t get it. I am going to reach out for the next cast I’m going to email them for the next cast and say look you put this out every year but are you obviously trying to achieve can you please like explain it to us so we can like tell our listeners that’d be great.
We opened the year with our bumper episode looking at the fiasco that Wizards of the Coast found themselves in with the changes to the open gaming license, the document that allowed other companies to make Dungeons and Dragons content without having to pass everything by Wizards of the Coast all the time.
Around that time many companies announced their own open gaming license as many looked to games other than Dungeons and Dragons as the ire over the moves grew.
Wizards were forced into a massive Backtrack on their open gaming license plan and since then some companies have continued to work out ways to make it easier for folks to make new products for their systems and licenses.
Main Wizards of the Coast rival Paizo Publishing has just released the first draft of their own called the ORC that’s the open rpg creative license. Paizo are the publisher of the Pathfinder and Starfinder RPG. Pathfinder originally started as an alternative to Dungeons and Dragons and has grown into a well-regarded game in its own right.
From the post
Jamie: In January, Paizo and an alliance of more than 1,500 tabletop RPG publishers announced our intention to support the development of the Open RPG Creative (ORC) license, a system-agnostic, perpetual, irrevocable open gaming license that provides a legal “safe harbor” for sharing rules mechanics and encourages collaboration and innovation in the tabletop gaming space. The ORC is not explicitly a Paizo license, but is intended for the common use of the entire games industry, across a wide variety of games and platforms. Over the last several weeks, we have been working closely with Azora Law, an intellectual property law firm that works with Paizo and several other game publishers, to develop and refine a working draft of the ORC license for public discussion and refinement.
The first public draft of the ORC license is now complete, and we welcome the feedback of individual publishers on the official ORC License Project Discord, found here.
Iain: We were a little dubious of the 1500 Publishers claim as we’ve heard from other folk more involved in the RPG industry than us that some of that number are merely interested in what Paizo are doing as opposed to officially on board. We reached out to Paizo to about the 1500 Publishers claim and they replied
Jamie: The new Open RPG Creative License is being built system agnostic for independent game publishers under the legal guidance of Azora Law, an intellectual property law firm that represents Paizo and several other game publishers. Paizo is paying for this legal work. We have invited game publishers worldwide to join us in support of this system-agnostic license that allows all games to provide their own unique open rules reference documents that open up their individual game systems to the world. They have joined the effort by signing up using a form on this blog page.
They were then invited to a Discord server to provide input to Azora Law. We have a partial list here:
They continue to provide feedback on the drafts of the license.
Iain: Yeah there’s maybe some 50 or so Publishers on that list, where it’s a list we have linked to before, so we are a little dubious about the 1500 claim that they keep touting at Paizo publishing.
It does feel to me like there’s maybe a bit of steam being taken out of Paizo’s of sails here especially with the backtrack from Wizard of the coast and moving Dungeons and Dragons SRD into Creative Commons, so we’ll see what comes of this down the line. I mean it’s good that more licenses are out there for people to do something with, to actually create their own good things with. So yeah I mean I’m all for it in principle just not entirely sure that Paizo is going to get the attention they think it’s going to get over the next few weeks and months
Oliver: yeah and it’s nice to see that other companies are offering licenses as a sort of more open license at least these are available to anyone like the common uh you know was it there’s a cc licenses that you can get for other work and the internet and stuff, but yeah it’s just that big number and then having a partial list of fifty. I get that maybe not everyone wants to be named and hence the 50 are people who are happy to have their name against it or others sort of looking at it and maybe are on board but don’t be named. I don’t know. But yeah it’s just great to see that we have another option here I’m not relying on just one single license for everything.
Iain: Yes indeed. Now we’ve got some late breaking news from the world of Chess Jamie?
Jamie: well it’s late breaking news to us recording, this will be maybe old news to you as you’re listening to this, but still.
The Kenya Open is an annual national chess tournament in Nairobi, Kenya. Of those who attended 99 were organized into the women’s competition, and from that a new player called Millicent Awour was seeming like she was having a very strong debut and likely to win the over three thousand dollars in prize money.
However Millicent Awour was revealed to be 25 year old Stanley Omondi, a known male chess player who’d signed up dressed in a burqa and spectacles. He was ejected in the fourth round after officials were concerned about accusations of profiling due to the religious wear, and didn’t want to act earlier.
Bernard Wanjala president of Chess Kenya told BBC sport Africa
Iain: “He acknowledged that indeed he is a man. He regrets what happened, apologised and said he was only doing that because he had financial difficulties and thought winning the title will help him overcome.
We didn’t have any suspicion at first, because wearing a hijab is normal, but along the way, we noticed he won against very strong players… and it will be unlikely to have a new person who has never played a tournament [being very strong].
One of the red flags we also noticed [was] the shoes, he was wearing more masculine shoes, than feminine. We also noticed he was not talking, even when he came to collect his tag, he couldn’t speak, ordinarily, when you are playing, you speak to your opponent… because playing a chess game is not war its friendship.”
Mandala went on to say Omondi would probably receive a ban of several years but would not likely be banned from chess forever. Omondi wrote an apology letter saying he was ready to accept all consequences.
Iain: Wow, extraordinary.
Jamie: well then
Oliver: what a story
Jamie: Chess is, Chess is big business in teenagers and young people are currently in the middle of Chess fever. Where I work with children we have now got about three or four separate chess boards and almost every day kids are playing it. We have not lost chess, we have not lost like full chess boards in a long time this is unprecedented.
Iain: wow it’s cool to play chess, there you go
Jamie: yeah but is it ever going to be cool as in the Middle Ages when you know bards and jesters would include chess problems in their songs and poems.
Iain: bring it back Jamie, get on this go on the stages when you’re on stage you should like post Chess problems
Oliver: there is a market
Jamie: no listen listen mate you got the Wu-Tang clan members of the Wu-Tang Clan who are massive chess fans they they know what they’re doing, I I I’m rubbish.
Iain: Hasbro owners of Wizards of the Coast among others has announced two new hires.
Tim Kilpin will join as president of toy, licensing, and entertainment and Gina Guetta will join as Chief Financial Officer, CFO. Both will take up their positions on the 18th of May.
Hasbro’s CEO Chris Cox said of the hires
Oliver: “We are excited to welcome Tim and Gina to Hasbro. I am confident that their skills and qualifications will complement Hasbro’s existing leadership team as we execute against our Blueprint 2.0 strategy, which is focused on bringing our brands to life for consumers of all ages, maximizing the value of our IP, and creating long-term shareholder value.”
Kilpin has previously held roles at Mattel, Walt Disney, and Blizzard and Goetter joins the company from Harley-Davidson.
Now it seems that Hasbro are looking to expand on its licensing with the Kilpin hire by the sounds of it. Obviously the Dungeons and Dragons movie is out right now and has been very well received worldwide it’s taken a lot of money and we’ve talked before about well obviously a lot of the problems that the OGL issues caused at the start of the year with Wizards of the Coast were because Hasbro were looking to maximize the value of their IP as Chris Cox says in that quote. Hopefully they won’t make the same mistakes again bringing in these folk but who knows they might try and tread over oldl ground once the dust is settled
Oliver: we shall see
Iain: (laughing) Jamie’s entire comment
Jamie: yeah, that’s my entire comment
Iain: no it’s good, I like it
Iain: Just a couple of opportunities and events here folks.
While I was looking into Kickstarter issues for the cast I came across the Creative Scotland fund. Now this is a £50,000 fund set up with backing from the UK National Lottery to support Scottish based creators who are running Kickstarter projects. Live projects on the kickstarter site can be submitted for consideration and if successful they’ll receive up to five to ten percent of their goal from the creative Scotland fund.
So yeah if you’re a game creator on Kickstarter right now, do look into that you might be able to get a little bit of funding to push you over the edge to your goal.
And Tabletop Scotland is happening on the 25th to 27th of August. I know we have previously reported there was a little bit of doubt as to whether that would go ahead but the Dewar Center is going to be remaining open until at least March of next year so the convention can go ahead this year. So 25th to 27th of August we’re going to be there and tickets go on sale on the 29th of April so we hope to see you there and yeah it’ll be a great event they’ve got a lot of new exhibitors and more space and I believe they’re putting I believe they’re like paring back a little bit of their sort of like talks and that kind of thing to make a bit more room for events and exhibitors etc as well so should be a really good one
Iain: we’d like to take a little moment now to give a shout to our patrons especially James Naylor, thank you very much James for coming on the cast and telling us about the ITB Acquisitions that was most helpful and Sean Newman, of the gamealot team they’re both our executive producers and give us a bit of money each month to help the running of the cast.
And you can join them on our patreon from just one dollar a month it really helps us out with running costs of the site and cast. there’s numerous other ways to support us on the site you can find a links to those in the show notes buying merch, um little donations that kind of thing uh help us out any way you can even a little share on your social medias which is totally free really helps us out especially with podcast discoverability if you like Brainwaves please do share and give us a like that is really really helpful.
But Jamie’s back so the Monopoly news is back, feel about that how you like
Jamie: yeah well well
Iain: I’m not gonna judge you. Much.
Jamie: I thought I thought I’d take everyone back in time to the heady days of 2016 and one of the most awkward political moments of the last seven years I mean there have been a lot but this one is
Iain: I mean you’re really going to clarify that
Jamie: this was if you recall Hillary Rodham Clinton in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election said I don’t know who created Pokemon Go but I’m trying to figure out how we get them to have Pokemon Go to the polls.
Iain: oof, that is bad
Jamie: I’m I’m amazed you didn’t win you know. I wonder why.
Um anyway this is related to the go uh online digital series of games I say that it’s not developed by Niantic it’s published and developed by Scopely the previous Publishers of Yahtzee With Buddies. This is a game described as highly social it’s Monopoly Go
Jamie: players will be playing Monopoly on a virtual board or they’ll have a mode that’s these players establishing real estate Empires to gain new boards to play Monopoly on all the while other players are attempting to steal money and destroy your Empire. Oh it’s late stage capitalism.
I can’t deal with this, I am going on the road again. I’m off.
Oliver: where do you go from here
Jamie: uh uh out on the road again bye
Iain: yeah I think we wrap it up there.
Thank you very much for listening everyone if you like what you listen to then the best way to help us out as ever is to share the podcast and drop us a review and rating especially on iTunes it’s really helpful with podcast discoverability. We don’t like doing a like and subscribe thing, but it is just the nature of podcasts unfortunately.
You can also follow us uh you can follow Oliver on the tabletop games blog where he writes excellent articles please go and check him out. Our Discord link will be in the show notes you can come along there where we’ve got a very friendly and growing community and regular games nights uh Twitter is the giant brain that’s hosting myself the Instagram is the giant brain UK Facebook is the giant brain that’s all mostly me posting on their website is giantbrain.co.uk where you can find all our articles I’ve recently put up on how to play, and run, blades in the dark guide it’s doing well please go and check that out
Jamie: it’s fine it’s just as good as Catan, Darkest Dungeon, Magnate
Iain: you’re fired
Jamie: I’m going anyway yeah
Iain: you’re fine that’s that’s my opinion of you after all these years, fine
Jamie: yay I’m just as good all these games. That’s the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me
Iain: it probably is. thank you very much for listening everyone bye for now
Oliver: bye thank you it’s all fine