While at Gen Con I was lucky enough to run into Chris Leder, who was a delight to interview. We talked about the new Deluxe Edition of Roll For It, which is absolutely beautiful (gallery below the interview transcript), and he teased us with a little info on the 10th Anniversary Luxury Edition of Tsuro.
Richard Miles: Hello, this is Richard Miles with BoardGameAuthority.com and today I am with…
Chris Leder: Chris Leder. I do retailer relations for Calliope Games and I’m the designer of Roll For It.
Richard Miles: Tell us a little bit about why we should go out and be excited for the new release that’s coming out?
Chris Leder: Sure. Roll For It began… Most of my designs were strategic and my family and my wife would tolerate them but they didn’t love them so I wanted to create something that my family would play and I could get more people around the game table. Roll For It was my attempt at creating something kind of fun for everybody. It’s cards on the table with dice images and you roll dice and you try to match them to those images and score 40 points worth of cards first.
It’s really quick; it’s really simple. You can learn it extremely fast. Right away, after I designed it and put it on the table and put it in front of people, it got a great response and I was thrilled. When I came to Calliope three years ago with it, it was a perfect fit for Calliope. We’re all about games you can learn quickly and you can play in less than forty minutes and you can seat a large number of people, so it worked really well for Calliope. We found over time that… we originally started with two different sets. There’s a red set and a purple set. Each of them can seat up to four but you can combine them. They have different colored dice, different cards, and you can seat up to eight players with the two sets.
What we wanted to do is create a set that combined both of those and really spoke to gamers. Something that was just beautiful so we had just gotten Calliope’s brand art redone by a fantastic artist named Echo Chernik. She and Lazarus Chernik had created some amazing layout for our new Deluxe Edition Roll For It. It takes these awesome steampunk whimsical images of Calliope and the Pegasus and the dragon and it puts them on the cards. The dice are translucent and then some are pearlescent and they’re metallic looking and it’s just amazing. It’s all in a tin that is flocked on the inside so you can roll your dice and take it anywhere. That’s the best thing about Roll For It is that you can take it anywhere. I’ve played it in airports, I’ve played it in Irish Pubs, I’ve played it at the dinner table, I’ve played it all over the place. The tin you can fit in your pocket. When you open it it’s flocked. You can roll your dice into it so it doesn’t make a tin noise. It’s got a dice bag in there that you can put any components that you’re not using if you’re playing with less than eight players. So we try to get this packaged: beautiful, beautiful art, keep the design simple, the way it was, but something that people can take on the go. Gamers can put it out, they’re excited to see this beautiful art and then they can bring new people into their hobby.
That’s the main thing. You put this on the table, non-gamers will want to play it and then they might want to take a look at, you know, a gamer’s hobby, maybe that they haven’t looked at before. We’re a gateway company. That’s exactly where we want to be. We want to be “filler games”; we want to be “gateway games”. Roll For It hit that sweet spot where you play it with people who don’t normally game and they might say ‘Hey you know what? This is kind of an interesting thing where I’m putting these here.’ And you think, ‘Hey I’m teaching this person worker placement without them even knowing and now I can graduate them to a different game.’
We want to introduce none gamers; we want to bring them into the hobby, and we want to be a gateway. I think the Roll For It Deluxe Package, with all of the eight players worth of components and the dice bag and the flock material, the embossed tin, the embroidered bag… It’s just the perfect way to do that.
Richard Miles: I appreciate gateway games myself. I have my circle of friends that I game with, but then I also want to game with the in-laws. And they’re not all into the real hard core “gamer games” right, the hobbyist games. So any game that I can play with them, get on their kitchen table, or get their 9 or 10-year-old or whatever involved also, that is great for me. And a game that plays up to eight players? Because if we’re on a family vacation sometimes there are six or seven people involved and not every game does that. So that the scalability… I really appreciate that too.
Can you talk about that for just a split second? About is there is difference between a four player game and an eight player game? Time-wise, interaction-wise, things of that nature?
Chris Leder: Sure. If you play with up to four players you’ll have three cards on the table. If you’re playing with any more than four players you deal four cards on the table. That way there’s a better chance that you’re dice that you place on the cards are still going to be there when it comes back around to you. As far as rules-wise, that’s the only change. The game play in an up to four player game is probably going to be 15-25 minutes. If you’re playing with eight players, it may be a little bit longer. It may be a 40 minute game. A lot of that has to do with the people you’re playing with. You might be playing with some real cut throat folks who are really going to go after you and the other thing about it is you will be socializing while you play. You’ll be laughing about what happened, but you know what? Someone brings out a plate of buffalo wings while you’re playing, you might start eating that stuff, you’ll forget about the game and you’ll be interacting, and then suddenly someone will say ‘Oh yeah, it’s my turn’. And you get right back to it. So you lose track of time while you’re playing because it’s very simple. It’s something to focus on the table but it’s not something that dominates the gathering. So it’s a great focal point. I would say as far as scaling up to a higher number of players, it might lengthen the playtime just a little bit just because there’s more social interaction. But really, that’s kind of what you want when you get together to play some games.
Richard Miles: I heard the Tsuro Tenth Anniversary Edition is going to be something to look out for. Can you tell us when we should expect to see that?
Chris Leder: Well, right now we’re working on the time table; we’re working on the production. I will say that from all indications this is going to be a game that if you are lucky enough, it’s going to limited, but if you are lucky enough to have this game you will have people flocking to your house to play. The components are going to be gorgeous. Just the experience of playing is going to be amazing. We’ve met so many Tsuro fans over the years who just really adore the game. They play with people; they use that as their gateway game to bring people in.
This is going to be Tsuro taken to the absolute extreme of just beauty. And it’s going to be the center piece of a lot of people’s collection. I’m saving my pennies because it is going to be pretty amazing.
Richard Miles: That’s awesome, sounds good. I appreciate the time you took to talk to me today. It was very good meeting you; appreciate it again. Thank you so much.
Chris Leder: You’re welcome, thank you.