Cardboarding With Carla: Dice of Pirates

Today, Carla chats with Sean of Thing 12 Games and discusses the current Dice of Pirates Kickstarter campaign.

Game Title: Dice of Pirates ^

Short Description: Roll the bones! Fight yer mates! Claim the gold! A fast-paced game of piracy for 2 to 6 players. From the makers of Dice of Crowns!
Launch date: September 19
End date: October 20
Funded?: Not Yet
Cost for a copy of the game: $10
Published by:  Thing 12 Games
Campaign Link: Dice of Pirates

Carla: Hello! Welcome to Cardboarding with Carla and thanks for being on this interview! Could we start off with you telling us a bit about yourself?

Sean: My name is Sean Epperson and I’m the Creative Director for Thing 12 Games. Thing 12 was started in 2015, and I’ve been working in the game industry since 1998. I’m a mobile game producer during my “day job”, design and oversee the development of games for Thing 12 Games (of which I am co-owner), and I am a contributing member of the Board Game Alliance podcast. I’m also married to an amazing woman and I have 2 awesome daughters.

And yes, I rarely sleep. 🙂

Can you tell us more about Dice of Pirates?

Dice of Pirates is the 2nd game in our “Dice of” line. It is a quick playing, portable game where players compete as pirates to be the wealthiest pirate of the seas…either through claiming it from the sea or through piracy and plundering it from the other pirates. Unlike most dice games, which play like multiplayer solitaire, we have a unique mechanic which engages all players at the table and makes for very little down time.

You also have a game called Dice of Crowns; are the two games related?

A little bit, yes. We knew players would have an expectation of certain elements of play, but want to see something new…which was our design directive throughout development. We have had players, who know Dice of Crowns, play Dice of Pirates and tell us it’s exactly what they hoping for…so that’s been great to hear.

Can you tell us a bit about designing another small dice game and about the steps you took to differentiate it from Dice of Crowns?

It was an interesting challenge. When you design a game from scratch, you have far more freedom. Building a sequel has certain expectations, which you can’t really deviate from without potentially alienating fans of the original.

We also wanted to keep it in the same time period, which added some extra constraints.

We identified core design concepts of Dice of Crowns, like how a turn ends and how dice are handed out to players. There is also a “rule of 3” which features prominently in the games.

Going off of that, we wanted the game to FEEL different, and not just be a paint job change. We wanted to add an element that made it feel piratey… which we achieved through direct combat and thematic actions.

Any advice you would like to give to other designers that hope to create a line of games with similarities?

Identify the core mechanics that make your game unique. Then identify what you want to do for the next game.

What do you think your audience wants to see next? Do you think they want something in the same time period/universe…or something different? Use the theme of that direction to help guide you to what new mechanics you want to add, and what previous mechanics you should remove (if any).

What do you feel was the most important thing you learned during playtesting with Dice of Pirates?

When you show players familiar with the previous game, the new game, be open to what they expect from rules. Players may have an expectation that you didn’t consider…but may want to. Then be sure to test those rules against new players to make sure your rules don’t require “institutional knowledge” of the previous game.

Die Faces of Dice of Pirates

Do you have any interesting stories to share about designing Dice of Pirates?

Badger is the designer (he is also the designer of Crowns), while I’m more the developer (with some design input). Badger had a 3D printer which makes creating a dice game a bit easier. I’m not a fan of the typical “designer dice” where you have to put stickers on the faces. It always looks cheaper to me. With 3D printers we can actually get icons into the die faces that thematically match, and don’t worry about a sticker coming loose.

However, when you have to send out reviewer copies and thus have to hand-color each die face for 60 dice…

Yeah. That’s pretty grueling. lol

Oh, I can imagine! Reviewer Prototypes can require a bit of work, but that sounds like a lot! Are you doing anything different with the Dice of Pirates Kickstarter campaign?

Yes and no. We mostly sold out of Dice of Crowns, which has been very successful and popular… so we will be doing a second printing, where we allow new backers the ability to get both games.

What are the most important lessons you’ve learned from your previous Kickstarter campaigns?

Engage with your backers. Don’t be afraid to show them prototypes and let them know what you’re working on. If it’s wildly off-target, they will let you know.

Also have all of your shipping, costs, manufacturing nailed down well in advance. We did this for Dice of Crowns and really had no surprises on that side. I have seen publishers struggle because they underestimated shipping, for example, and end up paying out of pocket to fulfill pledges.

Do you have anyone that you’d like to give a shoutout to that gave you some really good advice? Feel free to list more than one, if you’d like!

There is an INCREDIBLE indie tabletop scene in the Pacific Northwest, and we are all great friends. Sarah, David, Nicole, and Luke from Playtest NW. Gar from BetaBotz. Joseph and crew with Fantastic Factories. Isaias, David, Levi and the crew with Daily Magic Games. The awesome folks with Ivion CCG. Space Goat and their awesome minis games. Dawson and family with Cohort VIII, and many others.

We also have a ton of board game cafes and places to play, many of which have been big supporters. Verne and Wells game club, Zulus Board Game Cafe, Card Kingdom/Mox Boardinghouse, Rainy Day Games, Dark Tower Games, Around the Table Game Pub and many others.

The Pacific NW has been growing into a MAJOR hub of indie development, and it is comprised of some of the nicest folks you’ll ever meet…and they are always willing to help each other out. It’s a FANTASTIC community. 🙂

Thank you for the interview time. I truely love the tabletop industry and all the great folks within it, and all the gamers who afford us the ability to create fun, engaging games that they can enjoy with their friends and family. 🙂

Thanks again to Sean for being on Cardboarding with Carla! Spy Club will be on Kickstarter until October 20th, so make sure to check it out before then!

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