Friday, October 28, 2016

An interview with Keith Baker designer of ILLIMAT

When i first heard about the ILLIMAT kickstarter  I was not sure about it. I mean i am a fan of THE DECEMBERISTS, and i am also a fan of Keith Baker's work (see Gloom) but would these two things go well together. That was answered quickly when i saw the pictures of the game. It looks amazing and the rules are very well done. I contacted Keith to talk about the various aspects of ILLIMAT.

On the kickstarter campaign it say that the band plays a lot of games on the road. What are some of their favorite games?

I think the best thing I can do is let The Decemberists speak for themselves. In this video, they provide a peek inside the chest of games they bring along when they're on tour:

What games did you draw inspiration from in creating illimat?

Our goal with Illimat was to create a game that felt like it could have been around a hundred years ago and simply forgotten... or that it might be a classic card game from a different world. I was inspired by the set-building mechanics of Cassino and Scopa. The inclusion of the Luminaries ties to my love of tarot cards. But the defining element of Illimat is the Illimat itself - the game box, which sits in the center of the board. In a strange way, I'd say this is slightly inspired by a Ouija board - the idea of a secondary component of the board that turns to alter the nature of the game. 

There have been several kickstarters that lose the balance or flow of a game when you bring the player count down to 2 players. How were you able to avoid that?

Illimat includes an additional suit of cards that are added to the deck in a four player game, which both extends the game and adds a few strategic decisions that help to compensate for the generally more chaotic experience of having more players. With that said, Illimat provides a different experience based on the number of players. The two-player game is more strategic, and players can make more long-term plans and schemes. The four-player game is more about spotting and seizing opportunities as they arrive. The three-player version falls right in the middle, and is probably my favorite way to play. 

Can you tell me more about the Society Of Luminaries? Will there still be a way to get a membership card and the first secret challenge despite not being in the first 812?

Illimat first arose from the idea of a secret society that plays the game in mysterious places. We wanted to bring that idea to life in the campaign. Colin Meloy developed the hierarchy of the Society, and members will be able to advance in rank by completing challenges. By default, the lapel pins indicate your status and rank - you don't need a card, because if you have an Initiate pin, people in the know will know you're in the Society. The membership cards for the initial 812 and the upper tiers are a fun bonus - but you don't need the card to be part of the Society. 

Finally, what is a game that you love that we may have not heard of?

My wife and I love Red7 by Asmadi Games . It's simple, quick and portable, and we often play at restaurants while waiting for a meal. The mechanics are simple but I enjoy the decisions, and I'm always happy to play another round.

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