Artikel vom 26.08.2010
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Interview mit Gordon Lamont
Deutsch | English
cliquenabend.de: Hi Fraser, hi Gordon could you give us a brief introduction about yourselfs, for the people who haven´t had the chance to meet you until now?
Gordon: Hi all !
We are Gordon and Fraser Lamont - known as the Lamont Brothers. We have been running Fragor Games since 2004 and release one game a year at Essen. Our Essen designs are frequently republished by bugger companies e.g. Shear Panic (Haste Bock- Zoch), Snow Tails (Asmodee) and Savannah Tails (Strauss voraus!- Kosmos). Our motto is every minute not playing games is a minute wasted !
We are based in Scotland. Fraser is an RSPB warden (think Aragon with binoculars). I am an advocate (lawyer with wig).
Gordon is the better looking older brother who is writing the answers...
cliquenabend.de: Most of my boardgame friends always ask me this question about your new game:
"Will it have cute 3D figures again?"
Gordon: It will not feature resin ants. This is because (a) they are difficult to get
(b) they would probably be too big
(c) they would be too expensive and, most importantly,
(d) because we have designed wood ants which will be able to carry the leaves and prey on them. A tool for this purpose costs a fortune but in our minds we wanted people to walk past the board and see ants actually carrying food!
cliquenabend.de: So far all your games are about animals. Most of them because, you saw them in your holidays. So how did you come up with antz? Did you picnic a lot?
Gordon: No, too many ants ;-) We have always been interested in animals and nature and, for a number of years, had thought about doing a game based around ants. They are amazing creatures. They build bridges, attack prey much bigger than themselves and are a highly organised group. They even manage to eat crabs and praying mantis! The theme adds a whole different meaning to a game involving "worker placement"!
cliquenabend.de: Please tell us something about the new game...
Gordon: Its about ants ! Ok, a bit more. Players play an ant colony attempting to bring back prey and leaves to their nest. Players build up their ant-hill which allows them to choose actions. The actions include hatching eggs, building the ant nest, heaving food etc etc.
Anteaters appear at regular intervals to make things a bit more difficult. The game plays quickly, is very easy to play but has a great deal of depth to it if you look for it. The artwork is truly superb as you will see if you look at the board.
cliquenabend.de: You mention a innovativ new game mechanism. What is it and how does it work?
Gordon: Ah, nothing gets past you ! Proudly announcing Fragor's Ant-hill system ! Each player starts with their own ant-hill. There are 6 possible actions on it. They are all at level 1. As the game progresses, players may acquire tiles to allow them to build up their ant-hill. The higher the action on the ant-hill the more powerful its effect. So, a level 1 heave would allow you to heave prey/leaves 1 space but a tile with heave built on level 4 would allow you to heave 4 spaces.
This means as you build the ant-hill you need to cover over actions that were previously useful . The game is a series of painful but fun choices. The actions available and how good they are depends on how well a player has built their the ant-hill.
We will make the rules available shortly so the readers can see the explanation with pictures. The building of your own ant-hill is great fun and it is a challenge to try and make sure you have all the actions you need and that they are as powerful as possible. On your turn you take just 3 actions so there is little downtime.
cliquenabend.de: Your 2009 essen release "Savannah Tails" will be released on the german market with Kosmos. Thats the fourth time one of your games is released by a german publisher. How does it feel?
Gordon: It is truly wonderful . We still get a big thrill of having our games published by a German publisher. It is fantastic to see our game being played at Essen at one of the large publisher stands and to see it in German shops. We never tire of German sausages, beer and board games !
This year we have been working with Kosmos and that has been great fun . It is a great to have our game published by another top company. We put so much into our game each year that it is a joy to have it picked up and made available to a wider audience.
cliquenabend.de: Are there any differences between your game Savannah Tails and the new game by Kosmos?
Gordon: The style of the artwork on the track boards is slightly different. The track is on much thicker card. Also, one rule has been simplified regarding changing lanes. Kosmos also managed to get slightly better ostrich meeples !
Other than that the game is basically the same - they even used the ostrich artwork from our version.
cliquenabend.de: How long did it take to develop antics?
Gordon: The very first prototype was played in June 2009 - it was basically a very simple version involving dominoes. It was designed with my 10 year old son and so involved the ants attacking each other a great deal ! For some reason this early version featured a red salamander ! Although the current game is much more developed (and less aggressive) the agony of building tiles on top of actions you need remains pretty close to the original idea.
Anyway, the main lesson from this was that the basic idea worked and Fraser and I then started working on the game in earnest. A breakthrough was the use of hex tiles as it meant that there was greater choice for each player. The next major breakthrough was probably the introduction of soldier ants and the building of bridges. After this came the anteater mechanism which allows tiles to constantly become available.
It feels like we have done nothing but playtest the game for the 15 months ! There are a number of mechanisms that are closely integrated so small changes require to be balanced across all of the game (e.g. number of tiles, effect of ant-eaters, value of leaves, value of prey, game end conditions etc). We are worn out. Thankfully we have had some tremendous playtesting this year and we owe our playtesting groups a huge thanks (you know who you are !).
cliquenabend.de: Do you have a funny anecdote about your new game?
Gordon: During one very early playtest session Fraser and I agreed that a player would need to be very stupid and playing very badly if they built tiles on their ant-hill over all the get and build tiles actions. About 15 minutes later I had done exactly that. This meant my very small ant-hill could now grow no bigger. Doh ! I felt very silly.
This was one of the reasons we introduced the "MagnificANT", a joker ant that allows you to take any action at level 1. Ah well , that is what playtesting is for.
cliquenabend.de: Which new games do you like at the moment and why?
Gordon: One of the problems of being a designer is that it really limits your playing time. We really have no time at the moment for playing new games. Even at Essen we rarely get the chance to play any of the new games.
However, I have recently enjoyed Thunderstone with my family on holiday as everyone got the game and enjoyed it. Games that I am really looking forward to trying are Defenders of the Realm and City of Thieves. Fraser and I most recently have played Jaipur and Pillars of the Earth : Builders Duel. Both were fun 2 player games. Oh, and Antics! of course ;-) We also tend to play a lot of Crokinole as light relief at the end of a design session.
cliquenabend.de: If you could be a game piece, what would that be?
Gordon: I would be the card in Junta which states "Students hand in petition - no effect". Fraser would be the bell out of Mystery of the Abbey.
cliquenabend.de: You've been interviewed by Andreas (Smuker) a lot of times. So what do you think of cliquenabend.de?
Gordon: Who ? Never met him. Seriously though, one of the highlights of Essen is our regular video by you ! I think I tend to talk too much so last year I think I demoed the game pieces while Fraser described it. I think we even gatecrashed one of your other videos last year (Note from editor: It is good, that you can cut videos later ). It is always great fun to do.
Cliquenabend is one of the great resources for games on the internet. We often check it out to keep up to date with what is happening in the outside gaming world. Needs a big Fragor logo on the front page though....!
cliquenabend.de: Is there anything else you like to tell our readers?
Gordon: Scotland is a separate country from England. Only problem is we are even worse at football.
cliquenabend.de: Thanks for your time...
Gordon: A pleasure as always. Especially since I am writing this while Fraser is doing the files for Antics! - hee hee.
The Interview was held by Andreas Buhlmann for cliquenabend.de.
Thanks to Fraser and Gordon for the support.
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