At the Office - The Game Night Crew

By Christina Sims

Wednesday nights at Cryptozoic are special nights, because Wednesday night stands for game night! We kick back, eat a bunch of food, and play whatever games we pull from our libraries with our friends and family. Game night is also a perfect time to play test the most recent game concepts from the minds of R&D, and that's where these fine gentlemen come in. Nathaniel, Adam, Tom, and Russell are a group of friends that have become some of our best play testers, and they see just about every change made to a game before it is released to the public. I wanted to get some insight into the play testing process over some cheesesteaks and Tasty Cakes.

Names – Nathaniel Yamaguchi, Adam Hench, Tom Driver, Russell Greenwald

You guys are volunteers and play testers for Cryptozoic; it must be a rough job! How far do you travel to play here at Cryptozoic every Wednesday?

Nathaniel: I personally drive approximately 45 minute to an hour depending on traffic. These guys usually meet me at my house so they have to drive an additional 10 to 20 minutes.

Adam: I gotta drive an extra 20 minutes on top of that.

Nathaniel: We carpool, so that makes it easier.

So when you get here at Cryptozoic, what is game night like? You come in and then you…

N: Usually I find Matt Hyra and ask, "What are we play testing tonight?" That's usually how the night starts. We play some games before dinner because there's only like 30-60 minutes beforehand so that's enough time to play a short game. Then after that he has a gamut of various board games he has us testing all night usually.

You come in and eat all of our food…

All: Yes!

Adam : As much as we can.

Tom: At least half of it.

What kind of games are you play testing right now?

N: We play a lot of deck-building games. There's a great variety because they each have their own engine. We're done with the DC Comics Deck-Building Game. We've done a lot on the Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Deck-Building Game.

Tom: We've been doing it all night so far!

N: Aside from that we've been doing a lot of board game related properties.

Adam: Yeah a lot of [unannounced project #1]!

Tom: Oh yeah we probably shouldn't mention [unannounced project #2] either.

N: So we play a lot of games of various IPs: [loooong list of secret stuff]. There are also some [bloop] prototypes we've been trying.

So many secret projects! How many changes have you seen in say, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings Deck-Building Game?

N: Depends. The overall engine is still the same, the theme and mechanics have changed a lot maybe twice.

Adam: We change 5-10 cards a week, probably.

N: Yeah. There's usually about a dozen cards with their text tweaked, but mechanically, maybe about twice.

So how do you guys usually give feedback to R&D after you've play tested?

Tom: it usually depends on how late Matt Hyra wants to stay!

(All laugh)

Russell: It's either a notepad or talking to Matt Hyra.

Adam: It's normally a discussion.

Tom: Sitting at the table tired …

N: 1am…

Tom: Cards may change during the course of the game with the designers. Depends on who is there overseeing it all.

Oh, so they just come up and write on the cards?

All: Yeah!

N: That happened today, actually. I asked, "Should this do this?" And R&D said, "Hmm, yeah it should do this," and just wrote on the card. They added two words to the card.

What are your favorite things you've play tested?

N: DC Comics Deck-Building Game for sure is my favorite.

Adam: Locke and Key promo cards. Promo cards are fun to test.

Tom: Again, I have to ignore MY DC Comics fanboyness. Hot Rod Creeps is something we worked with early on and that's a game that I still go back to every chance I get to play it.

N: Back when the board was a sheet of paper!

Russell: Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Deck-Building Game, just for impossible mode.

N: Impossible mode is impossible!!

I would have asked what impossible mode was, but you'll just have to find out for yourself when Lord of the Rings gets closer to the release date! Join me next week as we take a peek behind the scenes on the art acquisition process for our games and trading cards!