Continuing on with the October theme I bring you an interview with Erik Andersson Sundén Designer of 2020's Whirling Witchcraft from AEG. If you have not read the review of Whirling Witchraft, it is a fast paced game with multiplayer strategy that is simple quick and fun. The game can be played in 15-20 minutes and each game is not the same. If you haven't added this to your Halloween playlist I suggest you do. With out further delay here is the interview with Erik.
What brought you into game design?
I have always loved games since I was a child. Back then I made "great" roll and move games that my family played with me. Eventually, I dropped the board game design to pour my creativity into writing scenarios for my RPG group that formed during my teenage years. I loved it. As my RPG time was decreased due to me moving out of my home town, I picked up playing board games more and more again. After some time, and this is probably about ten years ago, I started asking myself what it would take to design a game. And so the journey begins... I tried for a long time to build a Worker Placement game with simultaneous action selection. I still haven't fully found out how to make that formula work, but I will eventually. And it will be glorious. Hahaha!
What led you to the theme of witches? The short answer is: I liked the idea of players playing strong women as protagonists. However, the journey to the witch theme was quite long. Whirling Witchcraft started as a mechanism: the circular economy where cubes rotate around the board. The theme was very abstract back then. Players had industries that took certain types of goods to produce other types of goods. For a few iterations, this was replaced with a candy theme, similar to candy crush. For a brief second, I considered having players playing office mates that tried to overflow the email inbox of each other with meeting bookings. I thought it was funny, not everyone did though... I tried out an alchemy theme for a while but it didn't fully work with the mechanic. So, finally, I tried out the witch theme and it sort of clicked when a player made a burst of witchy laughter during a play session.
Do you know any actual spells or potion recipes? No, but I am an applied nuclear physicist as my day job so some people probably would say that what I can do is a bit like magic.
What is currently your favorite game to play?
I play games in very different groups, ranging from my family to game enthusiasts of heavy games. With my family, I love to play Mysterium, A fake artist goes to New York, and Skull. When playing in a group of adults and game enthusiasts, I love some medium-heavy Euros, such as, Agricola and Barrage.
I also play a lot of unpublished prototypes created by myself and designing friends from all around the world. Please reach out if you want to be in a playtesting group!
What is your favorite mechanic in Whirling Witchcraft?
I love the idea of the cubes that arrives from your left and that you pass new cubes on to your right.
What did you find was the most difficult part of the design process?
Haha! Probably the waiting. The developer, Neil Kimball (who is great by the way - check out his game Sheepy Time!), and I were done with the design process in October 2020. After that, some graphic designs and illustrations remained before the manufacturing started. The game came out nearly a year later at GenCon. And this is completely normal - but I wanted to know the reactions of gamers right away!
What was your favorite part about the design process?
I have loved to iterate this game. To learn from the reactions of play testers. To try to learn what the feedback TRULY means. My notes have started to be less and less about balance and more and more about the reactions of players. "What makes them laugh? What makes them grunt?"
What did it feel like getting a large publisher to publish your game?
I was lucky to have offers from several great publishers. I chose AEG because they clearly showed me that they loved the game and a time schedule that I thought looked reasonable. Neil and I worked on the development of the game from March to October 2020 and I couldn't have been happier with the process and the end result.
Do you have any advice for up and coming designers?
Make games you love to play and enjoy the process!
What is the airspeed of an unladen swallow?
An African swallow or a European swallow?