In the Name of Odin by NSKN Legendary Games (Simurgh, Mistfall) was added today to Tabletopia, and we’re glad to publish this inteview with Blazej Kubacki, the designer of Mistfall and one of the members of NSKN Games, to celebrate this occasion!
Tell us a bit about NSKN Legendary Games for those who don’t know you. What inspired you to create the company, and how did you go about getting started?
The company was created in 2011, and the idea was really simple: we wanted to make great games (Legendary games, actually).
Also, the decision to start NSKN Games was influenced by the fact that we had become avid gamers about two years before, and we have been fascinated with games and gaming ever since.
By the way, where did the name NSKN Legendary Games come from and what does it stand for?
In truth, it is very simple: it consists of the first letters of names of the company founding members. And no, the “K” is not me, I joined the company a few yeas later, but its origin story is known to me really well at this point.
What’s the hardest part about running a board game publishing company?
Being a board game publisher is being a part of the entertainment industry. To some this is not immediately obvious, but it’s a fact you need to factor in, while making business decisions. Because even the best laid plan will fall apart if you forget that what you release into the market has to simply be fun.
What distinguishes you from other publishers? What is your style?
For quite some time, we were known as a company that makes heavy, cerebral games. However, we’ve been recently dipping our toes in lighter games as well (starting with In the Name of Odin).
We have even started a separate label called Strawberry Studio for super-light games you can play within a few minutes, so that anyone who buys a game from NSKN can still expect a solid, thinking person’s game.
What type of games are you looking to be known for? How do you find such games? What goes into your decision making when deciding to publish a game?
We look mostly at how interesting, solid and fun a designs is, and base our decisions mostly on those three elements.
There are some other concerns (we only produce games you can play with 2 or more players, never 3 or more), but we simply want to make games that will be fun to play if you’re a fan of a genre the game belongs to.
For those designers out there possibly reading this, what kind of games are you looking for currently for NSKN Legendary Games?
We’re on the lookout for strategy games which you can play in about an hour or so, with pretty much any themes and ideas.
Do you play the games you publish after the release?
Usually not immediately, because we play a lot of them before they go to print. Generally we do come back to playing them after a time, and I am personally one of the biggest fan of our own Progress: Evolution of Technology.
What do you think about Kickstarter and the culture around it (instabacks, exclusives, stretch goals, etc)? It’s no secret that many underdeveloped games were funded through this platform. Do you think the quality of Kickstarter games is improving recently?
Yes, sometimes Kickstarter publishers lack experience, but most of the games published using crowdfunding would not hit the store shelves any other ways. Interesting ideas, innovative but risky mechanisms and themes are becoming a part of the board gaming world thanks to Kickstarter, and that is what really matters.
How has the evolution of crowdfunding changed how your company publishes board games?
Apart from what I’ve just said, there is also the matter of simple quality crowdfunding a game allows small companies to achieve.
With a solid base of fans and backers, small companies like NSKN can produce games that are on par with component quality offered by the true giants of our industry – and simply offer our fans better quality of pretty much everything that goes into a game.
Tell us about In the Name of Odin, your recent release and addition to Tabletopia. Why should people play it? What made you want to publish it?
While a Euro-style game at heart, In the Name of Odin was designed by a true fan of Viking history and culture, and we decided to complement his passion with some great art.
So, what we have here is a medium-light strategy game, both beautiful and engaging, that plays fast, while giving each player a nice variety of choices to be made each turn.
Many of your games are available on Tabletopia. Why did you decide to bring them to the screen? What do you think about digital board games on the whole?
Board games are great fun if and when you have someone to play them with (unless you play solo, which is not really an option for every game). Digital board games allow you to sometimes do online what you cannot at the time do in real life, including playing your favourite game against a friend who is currently living on another hemisphere.
Do you plan on publishing games where modern technologies, such as tablet and application integration, are used? What kind of difficulties do such games pose for a game publisher?
We do not have any immediate plans for such a move, so there is not much I can say about potential problems.
There is only one thing I see as a bit of a problem with the whole process of digitalizing parts of a board game: the process shifts towards being “inside” a computer or phone, which may in time create a temptation to place more of what is traditionally a physical component into an app. And that takes away a bit of what a board game is.
It’s even hard to begin talking about all the cool new games that get published nowadays.
However, among many things going on in the world of board gaming, microgames left the biggest impression on us, which is why we decided to start Strawberry Studio and see if we could enter that sector of the hobby. With the recent launch of 3 Wishes we already know that we can!
What are you bringing to Essen this year?
We are bringing a lot of great stuff: Mistfall: Heart of the Mists, a standalone expansion to Mistfall is one of the big titles pre-launching at Essen. We will also have another small expansion called Sand & Snow that can be combined with Mistfall or Heart of the Mists.
We are also bringing Shadowscape – a game set in the Mistfall universe, and we will be showing it to the general public (but you will be able to get it only if you backed it during the Heart of the Mists Kickstarter). We are also bringing in In the Name of Odin, Simurgh with the Call of the Dragonlord expansion, and our classic game of space empire building: Exodus: Proxima Centauri together with its Edge of Extinction expansion.
For the first time we will also have two separate booths, the new one mostly used by Strawberry Studio, were you’ll be able to buy 3 Wishes and What’s Up – our two first microgames, and try Pyramid of the Sun – the newest addition to the microgame line, scheduled for next year.
What’s next on the horizon for NSKN Legendary Games – say for the first half of 2017?
More games, naturally! And more seriously: we will reveal more of our plans after Essen. Suffice to say, we have a few exciting new releases in the works, including a new engaging Euro-style game, an innovative card game, and a few new microgames.
You have been a professional board game designer and publisher for quite a while now. Do you have any advice for budding designers or publishers that would love to follow in your footsteps?
If you have an idea for a game, make a prototype and try it out. If it’s fun, put some hard work into perfecting it, ask as many people as possible for opinions, and when you feel it’s ready, simply pitch it to a publisher. We are on the lookout for great new games, you know, and yours might just be exactly what we are looking for.
A bit of talent, a lot of hard work, and some patience may just get you exactly where you want to go!
Thanks for this interview, Blazej! We’re expecting many more amazing games from the NSKN Legendary Games both in print and, of course, on Tabletopia!