Interview with Lucas Gerlach
The Pullbox is lucky enough to be in contact with one of the most innovative new game designers headed to Gencon this year – Lucas Gerlach of Gerlach Games in Wisconsin
Thanks Lucas for speaking with us…
1.) In thirteen words or less – tell us who is Lucas Gerlach?
A dad, husband, and teacher who constantly has games on the brain.
2.) On your perfect game night, what is your favorite game? (specific or type of game)
For me, a perfect game night consists of a variety of game types. I would start with a quick, light game… perhaps Asteroyds or Sushi Go! I would then continue to a few medium weight strategy games such as Belfort, Viticulture, or Alien Frontiers. Then, perhaps polish off the night with a cooperative game like Flash Point: Fire Rescue or Burgle Bros.
3.) What originally got you into game design?
I have a background in art, and I’ve always enjoyed being part of the creative process. There was a time when it seemed that I was too busy to make artwork; however, a few years after my love for playing games was re-awakened as an adult, I began imagining new games. Designing games has become my form of art. It is fascinating to be able to design the mechanics and the look of a game while considering how the players will relate to each other.
4.) You are headed to Gencon to promote Spyzinger, can you tell us about the game?
You bet. In Spyzinger, four animal kingdoms are on the brink of war. Each kingdom seeks to gain an upper hand in the coming war by sending agents to intercept the secrets of their rivals. You, the player, are the head of such a team of agents.
Spyzinger is a 20-minute 2-4 player dexterity game that combines flicking with a pick-up-and-deliver mechanic. Each player flicks four agents around a table in order to be the first to collect a total of six secrets from their rivals. You have three types of agents, each with different shapes, weights, and functions. Nimble spies strike enemy couriers to capture secrets. Heavy thugs steal secrets from spies. When an agent gets a secret, the agent must physically deliver the secret back to his own courier in order to place it in his base. In addition, agents can collide with other agents to send them flying off the table.
While the game itself is pretty simple, Spyzinger always has a lot going on. I love the way people really get into the game… so many laughs, groans, and exclamations. My wife talks about how there never seems to be a quiet game of Spyzinger. Spyzinger is a boisterous kind of fun, the kind of fun that brings people together, and that thrills me.
5.) Is it an all-ages game?
Spyzinger is certainly a game that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. Young kids (under 8 or so) might not have quite the physical or strategic skills to excel at the game, but I have played with 6-year-olds who have had a lot of fun with it. On the opposite end of the age and abilities spectrum, one consideration is that Spyzinger is a game that requires players to walk around the table as they seek the best shots, so this is not a game for people who have difficulty standing or walking around.
6.) How important is it for you for a game to be all-ages?
As a dad and teacher, I’ll always think about how well differently aged people can play my games. I enjoy playing games with my family, so I generally design games that can be played by most of my family members. That said, I have a few designs that would be too complex for most young people to play.
I guess another aspect of “all-age games” would be whether or not subject matter would be appropriate for kids. For me, I won’t consider making a game that has subject matter or illustrations I would consider inappropriate for kids.
7.) Shameless plug time – are there any other projects you would like to talk about?
Of course! When I head to Gencon, I will be taking part in the First Exposure Playtest Hall and will be meeting with publishers to talk about two of my other games, De Stijl and Interstellar Envoys.
De Stijl is a quick 1-5 player card-laying game, based on the art of Piet Mondrian (think primary colors and perpendicular lines.) Each square card is divided into a 3×3 grid of five colors. As players take turns, they place one card so that it covers 2-4 squares on previously placed cards. In the end, the game ends up looking like a big Mondrian style painting. Players are trying to get the most separate spaces of their own color, gaining one point for each of those spaces. In addition, though, bonus points are given for having the largest contiguous spaces. The game is elegantly simple but really works your spatial reasoning
Interstellar Envoys is one of those more complex games I was talking about. It’s a 2-6 player area majority game in which players vie for control of the Galactic Council. Factions pursue political objectives by maneuvering envoys into key locations. One of the unique features of this game is a central rotating launch pad which determines where your envoys can go. Interstellar Envoys is a fairly “thinky” strategy game with a fair bit of player interaction.
Thanks for talking with us!
It’s been a pleasure!