Ireland is a small country, but you might be surprised by how active it’s gaming community is. It really is thriving. There are a large number of regular meet ups run by different groups, in a variety of locations across the country, and no shortage of friendly local game stores. The Crafty Players want to do everything they can to promote games, gaming, and a friendly, inclusive community. One way we hope to do that is by interviewing and introducing our readers to different members of the Irish gaming community who are doing great things.
Our first guest is Robin David, a game designer based in Dublin, who’s game Sub Rosa is on Kickstarter now.
The Crafty Players: Hi Robin, welcome to our little slice of the internet. Please tell us a little about yourself.
Robin: My name is Robin David and I’m an English teacher, freelance writer and hobbyist game designer, living in Dublin, Ireland. I’ve been designing tabletop games, as a hobby, for several years now and have just released my first title – a spy themed microgame – on Kickstarter. I have a website which you can find me on (http://www.robindavid.info/) and I tweet a bunch @robindavid_dice
The Crafty Players: Very exciting times for you then! How long have you been playing games?
Robin: I’ve played video games since I was a kid, along with all the old classic boardgames, but I started playing hobbyist boardgames around four years ago. A friend of mine introduced me to The Red Dragon Inn and that led me to joining a bunch of local board game meetup groups. I’ve been hooked ever since!
The Crafty Players: Similar story to both of us. Why do you play games?
Robin: First up, I really enjoy the social experience that games provide. Back when I was a videogamer, I used to love split screen games like Halo, or pass and play games like Worms Armageddon. Obviously, these local-multiplayer features became increasingly rare and I pretty much stopped playing games altogether for a period, finding them too similar and unfulfilling. I didn’t really realise that I missed this social aspect of gaming until I went to my first boardgame meetup and got that experience again. I still play videogames, but boardgames are what I usually crave now. If I don’t get a session at least once a week I get antsy and irritable!
Secondly, I really enjoy the narratives that games create. If a game has got a convincing and unique theme, I find I really get into it – I’ll explain how my decisions make thematic sense and think back on the game with fondness. I have a lot of really nice memories of games like Forbidden Island and Dead of Winter. There was a time in Dead of Winter when we kicked a load of helpless survivors out of the camp. We thought it was practical at the time, but we lost anyway, and then felt horrible about our decision!
The Crafty Players:Yes! It’s all about the narrative, the stories and shared experiences with your friends. OK, tough question time: 3 to 5 games you would take to a desert island to play for the rest of your life.
Robin: I find this question really tough, because I don’t know if there are any games I wouldn’t get tired of over time. I think I’d have to bring Carcassonne, with a bunch of expansions – it’s one of the first games I bought and I still play and enjoy it to this day. This is cheating, but I like classic card games like Rummy, Poker and Cribbage, so I’d have to bring a deck of cards. Then I’d want something with a big board and lots of pieces for really involved game sessions – maybe something like Fury of Dracula – I’m not totally sure about that though. Lastly, can I bring an RPG system with me? Oh man, I hope there are other people on this desert island, otherwise Fury of Dracula will be really boring!
The Crafty Players: We’ll allow an RPG system, we’re not monsters! Good call with Carcassonne as well, a true classic. You have a game on Kickstarter at the moment. Tell us about it.
Robin: Sure! I’m currently running a campaign for a bidding and bluffing microgame called Sub Rosa: Spies for Hire. In the game, players are running international spy agencies and are trying to recruit the best spies to their organisation. So they do this by placing secret bids on the agents and then the occasional bribe to use special agent abilities – usually affecting their opponents’ bids! So there’s a load of tension and trickery. I’m really proud of how much I’ve been able to get into so few components – so this means the game is small enough to carry anywhere, and it presents really great value for money. It’s only $12, and included in that price is international shipping.
The Crafty Players: It incredible that you’ve managed to make the game $12, with free shipping anywhere in the world. How long have you been working on it?
Robin: If memory serves, I think I first came up with the game in around August or September last year. I was trying to make a game which used as few components as possible, but still presented interesting decisions. I brought it along to Playtest Dublin – our local playtest group – and we realised pretty quickly there was an interesting game in there. So in that same session, my playtesters and I tore up cards, changed rules, changed token values, to try and get the most interesting things to the front. And ever since then, the game has gone through loads of iterations. Because it’s so small, and plays quickly, it’s been easy to change and test, change and test, change and test. After all that work, I finally have the game in a state that I’m really happy with.
The Crafty Players: Paddy actually first met you at that Playtest Dublin group, and has tested a prototype or two himself. Do you have any plans for future designs and Kickstarters?
Robin: Absolutely. The Sub Rosa campaign has been, in part, a bit of an experiment and learning experience. I’ve spent ages working with manufacturers, loads of playtesters, a marketing consultant, a graphic designer and artists – I’ve really enjoyed the process and I’m excited to get the game into the hands of backers. Sub Rosa: Spies for Hire is my smallest game, so far, which is why I’ve led with that, but I know in the future I have several card games I’d consider bringing down the Kickstarter route. These include a weird bluffing game about eating poisoned watermelons, and a word game called Litterateur, which has had a fairly successful life as a print and play title. Lastly, once I have more cases for The Martian Investigations finished up, I’m considering launching a physical boxed set of those – that might be a long way in the future though!
The Crafty Players: Fantastic stuff Robin! We look forward to seeing what else you come out with in the future. Watch this space everyone!
Thanks to Robin for answering our questions and to you for reading. Make sure to check out his Kickstarter, which runs until Tuesday, April 12. If you have any questions for Robin, or any suggestions on how we can help promote the Irish gaming community, let us know in the comments below.