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Q&A Today: Fedor Sosnin

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It’s not every day that we get to enjoy seeing game designer Fedor Sosnin chime in on DICE BAZAAR and all things gaming, so let’s do this, with relish.

Q:  What can you tell us about your colorful DICE BAZAAR game?  What makes it different from other games?

FS: Dice Bazaar is a bit different than other games because it wraps modern game mechanics and colorful theme around familiar game style everybody can relate to.

Q:  What’s your favorite number of players for DICE BAZAAR, and why?

FS:  3. The game works really well with 2, I’d say it’s perfect with 3, and it’s an exciting challenge at 4.

Q:  You’ve gone analog post-digital.  What’s that journey been like for you?

FS: I began designing games when the first iPhone was released as it was an amazing platform because of its large touchscreen and powerful specs. After creating a few games and apps and seeing where the market has gone, I have turned back to tabletop gaming. When I tell people what I’m working on now, they usually ask me “What?” and “Why?” in confusion. But in my experience, there is just something about having a tabletop game in front of you that creates a fun, social environment that digital games cannot replicate.

Q:  Where has the market gone exactly?  And where do you see it ten years from now?

FS:  The app and game market in the app store became very saturated. To the point where you had to have a large IP contract or make something quite obscure to get any downloads or to get noticed. Little companies such as mine just got eaten up in the process even after being featured several times by Apple themselves. For example, if you made a great new way to play or great new twist on Solitaire, there are already 2.5k other solitaires in the store. In 10 years, the board game market will likely be in a similar state because it is growing so rapidly. But it is possible that some new platform will make for more interesting gaming. I’m sure Elon Musk will help with that in some way shape or form.  (laughs)

Q:  Let’s look back for a moment, at the early development of DICE BAZAAR. What was that time period like for you?

FS:  It all started when I wanted to play board games with the kids and family to get away from the TV and iPads and phones. All they were familiar with was “traditional” board games like Monopoly or Life and I really wanted to avoid those titles. That is when I decided I needed to make something better that both non-gamers and experienced players could enjoy. One thing that I noticed was how excited kids got when chucking dice and counting up the results. Another was how some of the more colorful games got their attention over others. With that in mind, Dice Bazaar was born.

Q:  Why play analog games in a digital world?

FS:  There is something about all that cardboard, wooded pieces and colorful dice in front of you that is captivating. On top of that, the excitement of playing stays the same even when playing with strangers. Every game tends to be a unique experience, every time even when the storyline or gameplay is “on rails.”

Q:  You mentioned the term “on rails,” and we do know exactly what you mean by that. Do you have a preference, games “on rails” or games which are NOT “on rails”?  If so, why?  If not, why not?

FS: I’d like to think that most tabletop games are kind of “on rails” because of the way endgames are triggered. There are also a ton of games with multiple endgame triggers which is always fun depending on how complicated you like your games. I personally like games with multiple ways to earn points but with a single endgame trigger—they tend to be a bit more focused while letting the players make fun choices. For example, Five Tribes gives you lots of ways to earn points but the game ends when there are no more moves to make.

Q:  Beyond DICE BAZAAR, have you got other irons in the fire?

FS:  Taking what I learned from Battle of Durak and Dice Bazaar, I wanted to start working on a game that was a bit different from my previous titles yet stayed true to my idea of having family friendly games. It is called Grease Monkey Garage and it is a worker placement / action selection game that is designed to be easy to learn. In the game, you are a manager of a busy auto repair shop and you manage the shop’s mechanics in attempt to fix as many cars as possible. Just like my other games, I try to pull the theme from my past. For example, In Dice Bazaar I wanted to play off the bazaars I went to as a kid growing up in Uzbekistan and in Grease Monkey Garage I wanted to play off the memories I had of my father’s auto repair shop when I was growing up.

Q:  Grease Monkey Garage sounds like great fun.  When will that be ready to go?

FS: Hard to set a date. I have been working on the game for a year and a half and have drawn a bit of interest. However, I am taking a few months away from it to come back with a fresh mind and add the final touches with new ideas. I always post what I’m working on and the status of the games on Twitter at @FedorSosnin. Feel free to follow along.

Q:  Which other tabletop games have you been enjoying these days and why?

FS: I love playing all kinds of games! My most recent plays have been Scythe, Escape from Zombie City, Quests of Valeria, Camel Up, Machi Koro as well as some Roll-N-Writes that I’m helping some game designers with.

Q:  Scythe is a board game that we keep seeing more and more about.  What do you suppose has been the secret of its success?

FS: I’d say it’s the blend of Eurogame elements with the classic Amerithrash area-control flavor. Plus, let’s not forget the awesome minis!

Q:  Some newer board games really go all out with their minis.  In addition to Scythe, which other newer board games include awesome minis? 

FS: Blood Rage is on point. Even something like the anniversary edition of Ticket To Ride has awesome minis. There are so many great ones and it seems as though the sculpts are only getting better and better.

Q:  What hasn’t really happened yet, in the world of tabletop games, that you would love to see happen next?

FS: Tough question! I both like and dislike when companies add tech to their games. Many have really elevated their games with apps and even virtual reality. At the same time, I’d love to find a way to add that much excitement without the need to keep using your phone or tablet. Impossible? Maybe…

Q:  For many of us, tabletop gaming has become ”gaming with family” or “gaming with friends at gaming conventions.”  What are your thoughts on the pros and cons of those two options?

FS:  I do both and love both almost equally. The pros are that I love discovering new games at conventions and sharing games I already know with family. I do think that it’s sometimes nice to keep those separate so you can get to play all kinds of different types of games. I’m not really going to play Blood Rage with the kiddos! Ha ha. But at a con, I’m game.

Q:  What is it about the Blood Rage game that impresses you most?

FS: It’s that it feels like a very simple, straight forward game but the total package; the art, the minis, all of that together makes for a package that just feels tight as a drum. The balance is great.

Q:  If you were leaving tomorrow, on a cruise to the Caribbean, and you could bring three board games along with you for the journey, which three board games would accompany you?

FS:  One Night Ultimate Werewolf, For Sale [Travel Edition] and Happy Salmon. (I’d keep it light)

Q:  Happy Salmon?  Nice!  What is it about that game that really launches your rocketships?

FS: You can literally play that game with anyone practically anywhere. It gets everyone laughing and involved and even the spectators have fun! Just don’t play this game when you are by a table of gamers playing a stressful, quiet game!

Q:  What’s scarier, dungeons or dragons?

FS:  Dungeons. There could be many more things than just dragons in there!

Q:  What’s the craziest thing that ever happened to your character in a dungeon?

FS: I made it out with the loot.

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