Here is our interview with Chief Creative Andrew Harman who answers all our questions about his amazing board games and also gives advice on how to create board games:
Tell us about your games:
At YAY Games we produce games that are quick to learn, easy to play but have a hidden naughty streak that people seem to really enjoy. Our motto is ‘Play Hard. Play Naughty. Live Better.’ And all our games have to have that at their heart.
We have 3 games out right now. ‘Ominoes’ is our newest release. It’s a dice tactics game for 2-4 players which takes seconds to learn and 15 minutes to play. The dice act as the playing pieces and players are trying to get groups of their Egyptian God symbol in fours. As soon as you get a group you can take them off the board and score points for the number of dice. The first player to 13 points wins. Easy? Well, in turn each player rolls a dice then moves one that matches the symbol so I could be moving your piece and sabotaging your plans. Then the new rolled dice is placed on the board anywhere. Add in a ‘move any dice’ face and ‘reroll anything and put it back on the board’ and there’s plenty of scope for messing about with other players.
‘Sandcastles’ is about making the best sandcastles on a beach. The square cards build up to make castles that can score points and bonuses. But you can use other cards to steal pieces from other players. A seagull beats a crab, which beats a bucket, which beats a seagull. It’s fast and silly and plays up to 7 players.
And we started this journey with ‘Frankenstein’s Bodies’ where players are surgeons in Frankenstein’s Lab trying to impress him with the bodies they create. Bodies are made of 6 parts, a head, a torso, two arms and two legs. They come in male and female and four different colours. You get the best score for bodies that match for colour and gender. But there’s only one of each part in the game – so pretty quickly players end up removing other player’s parts using surgery cards. And it all goes downhill after that! 2-6 players in about an hour.
Which one is your favourite game and why?
That’s quite difficult as they are all very different. We are particularly pleased with how well all our games are being received and the fun people are having with them. But as ‘Ominoes’ recently won the Best Abstract Game Award from UK Games Expo we are a little bit extra chuffed with that one.
How do you come up with an idea for a new board game?
It could be a whole bunch of different things. ‘Frankesntein’s Bodies’ came about because a friend of ours Iain Lowson wrote an RPG called ‘Dark Harvest: The Legacy of Frankenstein’ where he extended the whole Frankenstein story right up to the early 1900’s. It’s fantastically dark. He ‘suggested’ that Jenny and I would be ideal to develop a board game set in that world. So we – eventually- managed to develop ‘Frankenstein’s Bodies’. ‘Sandcastles’ was originally supposed to be a more family friendly version of ‘Frank’ but somehow ended up somewhere else and ‘Ominoes’ came out of ideas we were having to do a dice game based on ‘Frankenstein’s Bodies’ – but somehow it changed along the way. Games do that all the time. The newest one was inspired by a Polish phrase ‘Not my monkeys, not my circus’. I thought it was such a good phrase that it would make a great name for a game.
Can you share any details of your upcoming designs?
That’ll be ‘Not My Monkeys’. It’s a strange game about getting escaped monkeys back into their enclosures. It’s still in playtesting and is coming along very nicely. There is of course, lots of player interaction and some of that seems to involve people wanting to swear at each other when they tempt other player’s monkeys away with piles of bananas. We’re also working on a few ideas based around the Ominoes dice and different ways to use those. There’s a neat worker placement style game and a few other concepts hatching! But they could very well change a lot. Games do that!
Do you have any top tips for aspiring board game designers?
Playtest your ideas as soon as you can. I’m constantly surprised at how willing people are to try out something new even if it’s a very early concept. You can learn more in 15 minutes of play than you can in weeks of plotting and scheming. And the other most important thing is to listen carefully to criticism. Often people’s comments can be not quite what they mean. I had a test of a game last week and a comment came back that the maths was wrong in some cards. After digging a bit deeper into this it came out that the problem was actually that it didn’t feel important enough to go and get a particular set of cards. So the problem was in-game motivation – but yeah, the maths was a bit screwed up too. But the overriding toppest of tips has to be – just remember it’s supposed to be about fun – making fun, having fun and sharing in the fun!
There’s loads more info about YAY Games at www.yaygames.uk and you can find them on Facebook and on Twitter. Their games are available to play and buy at Sugar and Dice and if you’re interested in testing out your own games, our next Playtesting event is on Thursday 24th August 🙂