Tuesday, August 13, 2019

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 184: Ian Bach

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 http://gjjgames.blogspot.com/p/game-designer-interview-questionnaire.html and fill out the questionnaire! You can find all the interviews here: People Behind the Meeples. Support me on Patreon!

Name:Ian Bach
Location:Broomfield, Colorado
Day Job:Family physician
Designing:Five to ten years.
Webpage:Merlin’s Beast Hunt - WizKids
BGG:Ian Sebastian Bach
Facebook:Ian Bach
Find my games at:Game Crafter, BGG, WizKids
Today's Interview is with:

Ian Bach
Interviewed on: 7/19/2019

This week's interview is with Ian Bach, a designer with his first published game coming out very soon! Merlin's Beast Hunt should be available in retail from WizKids sometime this month. It's his first of hopefully many published games, so keep an eye out for it in your FLGS. To learn more about Ian and the other projects he's working on, keep reading!

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?
When 7 Wonders came out, I was an instant fan! While it is a great game, I thought I could do better and initially started with 2 player designed expansions. After that, I decided that a complete redesign was an even better solution. Ultimately, this led to Centuries, a card drafting, resource gathering, tableaux building game with a Renaissance theme which I self published.

What game or games are you currently working on?
I am working on 4 card games (Bouquets, Trailblazers, 2 un-named games), a genealogy game called Bloodlines, a cat and mouse game called Cops & Robbers and a game called Photographic Safari.

Have you designed any games that have been published?
Yes, Merlin's Beast Hunt is being published by WizKids and is due out September or October 2019. This card and dice game introduces a novel mechanic called card dice combos that uses dice and cards to build fences and capture magical beasts.

What is your day job?
Family physician

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

Where do you prefer to play games?
At home and friends' houses.

Who do you normally game with?
Family, friends

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
Brass Birmingham, Museum, 7 Wonders, Orleans, Tzolkin, Feast for Odin, Caverna, Pandemic (Legacy Seasons 1 and 2 if I could somehow replay them), Great Western Trail, Viticulture, Scythe), bridge/spades/cribbage

And what snacks would you eat?
Sandwiches, nachos, chili

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
Yes, 80s rock

What’s your favorite FLGS?
Wizard's Chest

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
Feast for Odin, poker, Candyland

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
Set collection, Pick up and deliver

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

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

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

OK, here's a pretty polarizing game. Do you like and play Cards Against Humanity?

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?
I have done both. Merlin's Beast Hunt was born as an actual dream where I saw the card/dice combo as a mechanic. I spent the day theming it as a dinosaur capture game and then re-themed it as Merlin's Beast Hunt with WizKids. On the other hand, I love Back to the Future and would love to invent a time travel game (haven't yet obtained permission for the IP or the mechanics to pull it off).

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
Yes, annually ( x 3 years) I have entered the B Con game design contest. With Merlin's Beast Hunt, I was the 2017 winner.

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
Mike Fitzgerald, Uwe Rosenberg, Rob Daviau, Matt Leacock (for game design) & Alan Moon & Reiner Knizia (for financial success) & Richard Garfield (for both)

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
Sleep, card rides, doing unrelated activities

How do you go about playtesting your games?
With the first prototype, I play test it to work out the obvious problems. With the next prototype, I guilt my family into playing it. On the third (and later) prototypes, local play test groups, friends, anyone I can convince. Every play tester has given me useful feedback that most times has made for a better game.

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
Most of my games are largely solo designs but with the input I get from friends, family and fellow game designers, it would be disingenuous to say that I every solely design a game. 4 of us had a blast co-designing a game called 2149 Space Prospectors, a game that deserves to be published at some point.

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
Finding enough time away from my day job to work on designs.

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
Back to the Future. The theme is awesome! Figuring out a mechanic(s) to handle the time travel would be really cool.

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
I wish someone would have told me how hard it is to publish a game (at least a really good one) but at the same time, how wonderfully satisfying it is when you finally break through and publish the first one.

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Playtest! Playtest! Playtest! And when you think have playtested enough, you probably still need 20% more playtests!

Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Published games, I have: Centuries (self-published)
Games that will soon be published are: Merlin's Beast Hunt (due in 8/2019 with WizKids)
Currently looking for a publisher I have: Bloodlines, Trailblazer, Bouquets, Photographic Safari
Games I feel are in the final development and tweaking stage are: Bloodlines, Photographic Safari, Trailblazer
Games that I'm playtesting are: 2 unnamed card games
And games that are still in the very early idea phase are: 1 unnamed worker placement game

Are you a member of any Facebook or other design groups? (Game Maker’s Lab, Card and Board Game Developers Guild, etc.)
Colorado Game Designer's Guild, Prototopia

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?
Both. Both. Neither.

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
Rock climbing, hiking, wilderness medicine, cooking, canyoneering,

What is something you learned in the last week?
That pharmaceutical companies flooded the market with 78 billion pills of opioids during the peak of the opioid epidemic. That Exxon created the first hybrid car in the 1970s.

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
60s, 70s & 80s rock, classic New Orleans jazz, classical, some folk

What was the last book you read?
Deadly Cure, Silence of the Lambs (re-read) & Characteristics of Games (I read multiple books simultaneously)

Do you play any musical instruments?
Piano (poorly)

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
I have moved 37 times in 45 years.

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
I rafted the Grand Canyon in a 16 foot raft.

Are you an extrovert or introvert?

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
Dr. Strange for the powers, Captain America for the body & the Hulk for the personality

Have any pets?
30,003 (1 newfoundland (180 lbs), 1 cat, 1 horse and 30,000 bees)

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):
Zev Shlasinger (WizKids) for being an incredible guy to work with when designing my first published game, Mike Fitzgerald for helping me as a fledgling designer and being a great friend, Scott DeMers for giving me the best advice for a great elevator pitch and Sean Brown of Mr. B Games for having the wisdom to turn down Merlin's Beast Hunt (though I'd still love to publish a game with him in the future).

Thanks for answering all my crazy questions!

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: http://gjjgames.blogspot.com/p/game-designer-interview-questionnaire.html

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1 comment:

  1. George:
    Thanks for publishing this game designer interview. This is a great venue for learning about new designers. Keep up the great work!