Thursday, 22 March 2012

A Wee interview with some Warriors and Traders - Part 1

Its funny what can happen when wee gamers go off to somewhere like Essen Spiel.  In 2011, a bunch of wee gamers went there (and i must admit i was seriously jealous!!) and they duly came back with tales of high adventure and much booty. AAAARRRRRrrrrrrr.

One piece of booty that Wee Andy came back with was a board game called Warriors and Traders from a company called NSKN.  And it looks beautiful.  A review of gameplay and contents will come soon, but in the meantime Andrei and Agnieszka from NSKN agreed to a Wee Gamers interview so people can get a sense of the makers of Warriors and Traders.

1) So, what is NSKN and how did you guys start? 
The story of NSKN started with Warriors and Traders.

It all started about 2 and a half years ago........

I was spending a lot of time playing games with the same group of friends and, although we were mostly Euro-gamers, we used to throw in some war games once in a while. It was after one of these games when I received a challenge from a friend, to create my own board game, in which to combine Euro-mechanics in a war game and to make it luck free.

I took it as a joke in the beginning, but after no more than two weeks, I started thinking seriously about actually doing it. The first thing I came up with was the name and the setting. I am a passionate history reader and I chose to place the game in the Dark Ages of Europe, when most great European nations crystallized. It was the high-time of mighty warriors to defend and conquer and of skilled traders to provide for kings means to go on with their battles. Therefore, Warriors and Traders!

And as a plus, it describes the game so well in just two words.

At first I kept on going out of curiosity, to see just if I could do it. After my first few tests with only two players it was pure excitement that got me going until I reached the point of having an actually playable game. I had a bit of a downtime then , but I started working as soon as I had a chance to test the game with 6 players and the feedback was very good. My motivation grew stronger in time, just by seeing that a simple idea was growing in front of my eyes into a unique game that possessed all the elements that I wanted from the beginning: war, trade and resource management in a random free environment.

One year later Warriors and Traders was no longer a dream project, but a fully playable game. I was still playing with people wherever I was going and I was encouraged to get the game published by people in the industry. At the same time I was thinking about a career change and then, it just happened. I spoke with some of my friends who were involved in testing from the very beginning and also had some decisive contribution in the development and we started our own publishing house. Although we were self-financed from the day one, we took our chance and produced the games in Germany and signed up for Spiel '11 Essen.

It looked very risky at first, but I was willing to invest all my savings into making this dream I had into reality without compromises. And this is how NSKN Legendary Games was founded.

2) Who’s Who At NSKN , Who Has All The Ideas And Who Makes The Tea?
We are four!

Since there's no way to order people by importance, let's order them by name.

Agnieszka - the advertiser, coming up with new ideas, challenging the others. She's as much a board games fan as she is a perfectionist in her job. She's also the one who cares!

Andrei - the game designer and the business oriented guy. He makes the business strategy and makes the first prototypes for games.

Florin - the guy who does things. Joking aside, he's been responsible for game testing, marketing and selling and all the logistics. So, we can say he really does it all.

Vlad - the developer. He does mainly game development, take things where others left them and finishes. Also, he's there for technical support.

There are also many other amazing people who have helped us along the way and we thank them, but we are the four musketeers, making things happen.

The most important thing is NSKN = first letters of our surnames. Yes, I know, it is so innovative – believe me, creating the company was not as intriguing as creating a proper name for it.

3) I’ve Just Come Into Your 'Shop' It’s Raining, I’m Not Happy, My Friends Are Coming Round....Why Should I Buy Warriors and Traders? 
I think that if it’s raining and you’re not happy and I’ll assume you are also cold and in spite of all that, you decided to buy a board game – it has to be Warriors and Traders.

Playing Warriors and Traders will be long enough to warm you up but not too long to bore you. The game play will be exciting and engaging so you’ll forget the rain and the cold awaiting you outside. You will simply cherish the beautifully designed map and Warriors & Traders’ components so all your sadness will go away. You will have the unique chance to become a Warrior, a Trader and a Builder just in one evening, while happily spending time with great friends, warm drinks, delicious snacks and a brand new innovative strategy game.

If your friends are coming round, it's a game for 6, so, being a gamer, you won't have more friends than that! :)

Joking aside, Warriors and Traders is a gamer's game. It's complex yet not so complicated and it runs without a trace of luck. I can rather tell you what others liked and how they responded to Warriors & Traders, especially during the official release in Spiel '11 Essen.

The first thing that attracted people to our stand was the design of the box and of the game board. Once we explained to people what the game wass about, we got a lot of positive feedback from interested gamers who wanted to know more. I knew from the very beginning that Warriors and Traders was not a mainstream game and I was surprised to see how many gamers were still interested after hearing the peculiar aspects like the lack of luck in a game with a significant war component or the mix of military and Euro-engine. Many qualified our game as "unique" which was surprising but describes the game very well.

4) How Did You First Come To The Warriors and Traders Idea And How Does The Game Now Differ From Your Early Concepts? 
As, I said before, it started with a challenge and it became serious over time. I would say that the concept stayed the same, it was just the implementation that changed shape in time. The original idea was to have a random-less game, to be historically accurate and interesting and to bring in battle (without luck) into a game with a Euro engine.

The early concepts showed some lack of experience. In the very beginning, I had countless types or armies; I had a map that contained almost every single present-day country in Europe and a much simpler tech tree. Through testing and a better understanding of modern board games I got them in the phase where they are today. I had some financial pressure as well, I had to make some cuts due to production costs, but I never gave up the core ideas.

5) What Do You Feel Is The Most Important Aspect Of Playing Board Games?
I cannot settle for only one :) I would say - and this is a personal opinion - that the most important role of board games is that they stimulate our brains in so many ways that we cannot even imagine. I am, of course, talking about thinking, reasoning, exercising our memory, but board games also develop our social skills. 

Board games are back - this is how I started my first interview after making Warriors and Traders.

I believe people realize that it is a better, more intelligent way to spend free time with friends, especially when talking just isn't enough.

It’s the magic which always makes playing board games an amazing experience. When you start playing board games and you actually like it, then you cannot find other way for filling your free time with anything else.

Board Games are one of the greatest ways of learning, seeing things ‘out of the box’ as well as planning and  structuring your life. Besides the obvious like socializing with friends and sharing your passion with others I believe the most important aspect of playing board games is the different knowledge approaches they teach us.

6- What’s Your Best Memory From The Development Of Warriors & Traders? 
It's difficult to say. I was equally excited after playing the first prototype when I saw that my project made some sense and it was almost playable.  Not to forget when I opened the first game that came from the producer in Germany. It was a magic moment to tear apart the plastic shrink and to punch out the token from a game I created.

It was after my knee surgery when I was facing a long and disturbing process of recovery, Andrei brought first printed pre-prototype of Warriors and Traders. I remember how much I did not want to play at that time, I thought – I have heavy pain in my whole body and he wants to play a game! 

Anyway – I played, and after two hours of playing and another two hours of exiting brainstorming, discussing and challenging the rules amazing thing happened – I realized that I forgot about all my pain so we played till early morning next day.

Maybe it’s silly but still – this is the best memory from the development of Warriors and Traders I have.

To be continued............. 

What's that? Is that all? Do not worry all you Wee Gamers out there.  This is the first half of the interview.  The second part will be going up soon.  So come back for the next instalment, before we start looking at the game itself :)

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You can also find more about NSKN on their website | Facebook
Warriors and Traders can also be found on its own website | Blog |  Facebook | BoardgameGeek

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