Thursday, April 13, 2017

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 65: Emanuele Santandrea

Welcome to People Behind the Meeples, a series of interviews with indie game designers.  Here you'll find out more than you ever wanted to know about the people who make the best games that you may or may not have heard of before.  If you'd like to be featured, head over to and fill out the questionnaire! You can find all the interviews here: People Behind the Meeples or in the index.

Name:Emanuele Santandrea
Location:Milan, Italy
Day Job:I work full time at VentoNuovo Games.
Designing:Five to ten years.
Find my games at:Direct from VNG. Noble Knight carries them also.
Today's Interview is with:

Emanuele Santandrea
Interviewed on: 3/28/2017

Emanuele Santandrea is an Italian designer that has a number of published games under his belt. He's currently running a Kickstarter campaign for his game Bloody Monday, about the Battle of Borodino from the Napoleonic Wars. It's already funded, and looks like a really awesome military game, so be sure to check it out. And read on to learn more about Emanuele and his other projects.

Some Basics
Tell me a bit about yourself.

How long have you been designing tabletop games?
Five to ten years.

Why did you start designing tabletop games?
My first design was at age seven, called "Man on the Moon." My father bought a new lamp for the dining room which was a replica of Sputnik. So I was interested in the Space Race, so I wrote a book and then developed a game, both called "Man on the Moon."

What game or games are you currently working on?
Bloody Monday, Black Sun, Stalingrad, D-Day, El Alamein. Longer goal-- Blocks in the Pacific (to complete my "Blocks in..." series.)

Have you designed any games that have been published?
Yes, nine so far. One on kickstarter now.

What is your day job?
I work full time at VentoNuovo Games.

Your Gaming Tastes
My readers would like to know more about you as a gamer.

Where do you prefer to play games?
Often we play in my company warehouse.

Who do you normally game with?
Friends, and sometimes VNG fans who visit Milan.

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
My first choice is always Blocks in the East.

And what snacks would you eat?

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
No music. Absolutely not.

What’s your favorite FLGS?
Noble Knight.

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
Favorite: Black Sun (not yet published). For published, I still like Blocks in the East. Not so favorite "Blood: King of Wallachia." Worst game ever: Talisman.

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
Favorite game mechanic? Blocks Least favorite: Card-Driven Games, like Twilight Struggle.

What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
World in Flames

What styles of games do you play?
I like to play Board Games, Miniatures Games, Video Games

Do you design different styles of games than what you play?
I like to design Board Games

OK, here's a pretty polarizing game. Do you like and play Cards Against Humanity?
Not familiar with it.

You as a Designer
OK, now the bit that sets you apart from the typical gamer. Let's find out about you as a game designer.

When you design games, do you come up with a theme first and build the mechanics around that? Or do you come up with mechanics and then add a theme? Or something else?
Theme first.

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
Yes, I have entered.

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
Gary Grisby

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
While reading (wherever that might be)

How do you go about playtesting your games?
We have both formal and informal playtesting sessions. And anyone who visits might be plopped in front of a new game.

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
Original design is solo, then I collaborate.

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
To pay salaries to employees.

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
Can't think of anything.

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
You will not become rich!

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
I'm too young to share advice.

Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Published games, I have: Six games released, another near release.
Games that will soon be published are: Leningrad '41 will ship in May.
This is what I have currently crowdfunding: Bloody Monday
Currently looking for a publisher I have: I am the publisher
I'm planning to crowdfund: Several things.
Games I feel are in the final development and tweaking stage are: Black Sun
Games that I'm playtesting are: Too many to list here.
Games that are in the early stages of development and beta testing are: Same answer
And games that are still in the very early idea phase are: Same answer

Are you a member of any Facebook or other design groups? (Game Maker’s Lab, Card and Board Game Developers Guild, etc.)
Not really.

And the oddly personal, but harmless stuff…
OK, enough of the game stuff, let's find out what really makes you tick! These are the questions that I’m sure are on everyone’s minds!

Star Trek or Star Wars? Coke or Pepsi? VHS or Betamax?
Star Wars. Coke. Betamax (VHS is dead).

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
Are there girls involved?

What is something you learned in the last week?
Stress control.

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
Italian pop. Historical. War movies.

What was the last book you read?
Disaster at Stalingrad.

Do you play any musical instruments?

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
I wrote an adventure novel that won a competition.

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
I took a trip to St. Petersburg but never made it, and had a wonderful time.

Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
Do you mean a blonde or brunette accident?

Who is your idol?
David Bowie

What would you do if you had a time machine?
I would go back to 1939 and stop WW2

Are you an extrovert or introvert?

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?

Have any pets?
A large cat-- which appears on the logo of my game company.

When the next asteroid hits Earth, causing the Yellowstone caldera to explode, California to fall into the ocean, the sea levels to rise, and the next ice age to set in, what current games or other pastimes do you think (or hope) will survive into the next era of human civilization? What do you hope is underneath that asteroid to be wiped out of the human consciousness forever?
I would like to think Blocks in the East will last.

If you’d like to send a shout out to anyone, anyone at all, here’s your chance (I can’t guarantee they’ll read this though):
I'll talk to them personally.

Just a Bit More
Thanks for answering all my crazy questions! Is there anything else you'd like to tell my readers?

I'd like more people to discover VentoNuovo, because we are doing some very interesting things here, trying to combine history with fun and exciting.

Thank you for reading this People Behind the Meeples indie game designer interview! You can find all the interviews here: People Behind the Meeples and if you'd like to be featured yourself, you can fill out the questionnaire here:

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