Kick The Box: Interview with Dreaming Spires Creator, Jeremy Hogan

Kick The Box

Interview With Dreaming Spires Creator, Jeremy Hogan

Dreaming Spires Box

This week I was privileged to exchange a barrage of emails from none other, than the creator of Dreaming Spires, Jeremy Hogan. I hope you enjoy the end result of our bantering as much as I did being a part of it.

Kick The Box: I read in a previous interview that you are a video game designer. What are some of your favorite video games?

Jeremy Hogan: Yes I’m the Senior Designer at a small indie studio in London called Beatnik Games, it’s a great company, we have a game coming out early next year. My favourite genre is strategy but I try to play games in all genres. Some of my favourites are Civilization, FTL, Skyrim, XCOM and recently, Hearthstone, which I think is going to be huge!

KTB: Did you see the game Stonehearth on Kickstarter? You can find their website here. Something that might be up your alley.

JH: That looks great, I missed that one, I’ll look forward to that next year. I’ve also been following Banished which looks really nice. I’m a big fan of building/management games, Tropico is fun and funny as well!2

Yes, I agree. Tropico is a blast! As well as video games, what are some of your favorite tabletop games?

JH: I have been playing a lot of historical wargames recently. I really enjoyed Britannia and can’t wait to give that another try. I play a lot of the Command and Colour series as well and a lot of card-driven strategy games like Twilight Struggle. I also play euros, I think Tigris and Euphrates is very clever, I’m looking forward to trying Terra Mystica. And talking of what is coming up, I can’t wait to try Two Rooms and a Boom, it’s such a smart idea and the different cards all sound great.

KTB: That is a list of great games! Terra Mystica is definitely on my short list also. What tabletop game would you say you’ve played the most in your lifetime?

JH: Number of games would be Chess but for a strategy board game and not Dreaming Spires, which would win by a mile, it would be Catan as I have introduced a lot of people to the hobby with that. If it was done on time spent, I think it might be Magic: The Gathering as I used to spend hours fiddling with decks when I was younger. I am keen to try Android: Netrunner but Hearthstone is scratching that CCG itch for now!3

KTB: I loved the original Netrunner CCG. I haven’t had a chance to play the new LCG version yet either. When you play Catan now, do you play Vanilla Catan or is their “must have” expansions you play with?

I’ve played Cities and Knights, which is great but usually it’s with new players so we just play vanilla. When we have experienced players, we’re usually playing the latest thing someone has bought – someone clearly has to pick up Seafarers!4

KTB: What games (video or tabletop) are the main inspirations for creating such an unique and beautiful game like Dreaming Spires?

JH: Thanks for that, the artists have done an awesome job. The inspiration for Dreaming Spires is a tough one, it doesn’t fit into a genre very easily, it borrows from different genres I suppose. It’s a building game using tiles so perhaps owes a little to Carcassone and then the cards add layers on top. The Scholars are a bit like MTG cards and the Event cards are similar to a historical CDG. The general idea is to have relatively simple systems with a lot of variety from cards all rooted in a very strong theme.

KTB: Even though we have almost a weekly group of friends together for games, my wife and I spend a few evenings during the week getting in a card or tabletop game. Your campaign page claims 3-5 people, is it possible to play with only two? or with more, such as 6?

JH: The game can be played with 2 players but we wanted to describe it as 3-5 players because the scoring system really shines when there are multiple rounds as it’s interesting to see how scoring boxes are reassigned – readers can check out the rulebook if they want to understand how this works, it’s downloadable from our campaign page here.

JH: Rahdo (an excellent video reviewer) has suggested a 2 player system similar to Belfort, where we could add a dummy player. This would require a fair number of extra cards and a lot of playtesting so we wanted to focus on the 3-5 player version for now but we would definitely do a 2 player and indeed a 6 player version as part of an expansion if the game was successful. We’ve also played when 2 people team up to play together so that is one solution for now!

KTB: I’ve noticed that you have only 6 event cards per time period. Is that few going to have a negative effect on replayability?

Well actually that has positive effect on replayability up to a point! You only use 2 event cards per era as standard. Certain scholar have an ability to trigger another one but the player who has them may choose to use them to improve their reputation in one of that scholar’s subjects instead or that scholar may not get chosen at all. We wanted to include extra event cards so that you would still be encountering the new ones after a few plays. We are also about to add our 2nd extra event card as part of our stretch goals!5

KTB: That is awesome! Not only what buildings you choose to place in your Oxford College, but how you place them gives your college benefits. How does the placement of the tiles representing your buildings affect the benefits your college receives?

 Some building tiles have whole benefit icons on but a lot of tiles just have partial icons on, these can be half or quarter icons, or have these as well as a whole one. Placing buildings so that you create whole icons out of adjacent partial ones is key – planning how you can best do this with what is available is a big part of building a good college!

KTB: Great Idea!  I can’t wait to play it!

I had a blast putting this interview together. Thanks Jeremy for taking the time to answer my questions! Be sure to check out their Kickstarter campaign out (here or click on the game box on the top of the page) as they enter their last week of funding!


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