Friday, July 15, 2016

An interview with Chris Castagnetto

After Love Letter was released, the market was flooded by a deluge of micro-games. I have pretty much shied away from them, but there is one that has been getting a lot of pre-Gen Con buzz. So, I decided to have an interview with Chris Castagnetto to talk about, among other things, 3 Wishes.


Before I even get into games, I have to ask about the Game of Thrones picture. Is that the actual throne?
Long story short, I was attending WonderCon a few years back before season 1 aired, and they actually had the throne from the show at the event. They were giving fans the opportunity to take pictures on the throne so I defiantly had to get one in. Not the biggest fan of the show, but that is definitely a cool picture and throne. =)

And you also compose music under the name DJ Helsing?

Back when I was in college and while I worked at Gaia Online, I was a professional DJ and spun at conventions and other events (including Gencon) and my DJ name was DJ Helsing. I never composed music, but although I don't DJ anymore, I kept the username because I like it and a lot of people know me by that online handle.

Your new game 3 Wishes is a microgame. What do you feel separates it from other micro games?
I have been an avid gamer for the majority of my life and when I had my first child I decided that I wanted to start working on designing games that I would be able to play with her when she gets a little older to help bridge the gap between games like Memory or Candy Land to more "core" games like Carcassonne or Agricola. I also wanted to work on games that are small in packaging and components, so that players could easily carry it with them and basically play it anywhere with their family. That's where microgames became a big focus of my game design.

3 Wishes was an idea that I had that takes the memory aspect that my daughter loves and add a number of gamer twists to introduce her to set collection and point maximization. The biggest differentiator, in my opinion, is the fact that 3 Wishes can be played as either an aggressive "take that" style game, where players are trying to screw each other over while getting the most points, OR it can be played as more of a casual set collection game where players just focus on collecting the best set possible. By having both of these mechanics together, it brings to the table a very unique experience where players of either game style can play together while also playing differently, but both having the same opportunity to win. Just because a "take that" player is being aggressive, it doesn't mean that the casual player will have a bad game experience. In fact, with the way the game was designed, the "take that" aggressive player may actually help the casual player by providing them with what they need to complete their set, or by taking away a duplicate wish while actually helping the opponent!  So, in summary, I think the biggest differentiator is how it can bring together a variety of player types while providing a fun play experience for both at the same time, in a quick and fast experience.

Did it always start as a microgame, or did you have to work it down from a full sized game?

3 Wishes was always a microgame from its inception. After the birth of my second child, I shelved a number of full-size games that I was working on to focus more on some micro family games that I could easily put in the diaper bag and bring with me to family or friends' homes to play short-but-fun game experiences without the time commitment.

You are also the last reigning champion of Clout Fantasy. Are you allowed to defend the title? do you have a belt made of clout coins? 

Hehe, that's a good one! Yeah, in 2006, I won the last Clout Championship level event, and shortly after, the company stopped supporting the product, and soon after, closed their doors. I personally love the game, and think its a very fun strategy game, with a fun dexterity and agility aspect which I really enjoyed. I've been trading folks on the 'Geek to get a larger collection, so when my children are old enough, we can have Clout days with Dad, and work on both their agility and dexterity while also introducing the concept of deck construction and strategic abilities. As for a championship belt, that would be cool but I don't have a belt, what I do have though is a nice plaque in our game room with all my Clinch Metal Trophy Chips, which is pretty cool.

Finally, what is a game that you love that we may have not heard of?
Lately I have been playing lots of Ghooost! with my local game group. We have made a few slight alterations to the rules, but really love throwing down a round or two while setting up Talisman or Agricola, or while cooking French Toast for our Game Night!

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