This week, I get a chance to catch up with Jamey Stegmaier, founder of Stonemaier Games and designer of Euphoria – a cool worker placement game now on Kickstarter. Jamey has been publishing great content on how to run a great Kickstarter campaign over at his blog. He’s a great guy and I think just about everyone can learn something from his experiences.
1) Please tell our readers a little bit about yourself.
Hi, thanks for having me! I’m Jamey Stegmaier, the co-founder of Stonemaier Games in St. Louis with my friend Alan Stone. We founded the company thanks to a successful Kickstarter board game called Viticulture in the fall of 2012. I had designed games my entire life and decided to test the waters of Kickstarter with my latest game. Thanks to the support of 942 backers, we were able to publish the game and start the company!
2) Can you describe Euphoria in a few sentences?
Euphoria is a dice worker-placement game set in a blissfully cheery dystopian world. By using elite recruits, emerging markets, ancient artifacts, and growing allegiances, players try to grab control before anyone else.
3) What is your favorite mechanic in the game?
This is tough, because there are a lot of new mechanics in Euphoria. But I think the most fun mechanic involves the market cards. At the beginning of the game, 6 random market cards are placed face-down across the board on construction sites. Players can work together or alone to build these markets. When a market is built, all players who didn’t build the market are faced with a new, ongoing restriction to the rules. This may sound painful, but it’s very gratifying for the players who built the markets, and it’s actually fun to try to work around the restrictions and adjust your strategy if you’re hit with them. You can also get out of those restrictions by doing certain things, but it’s difficult to do so. Also, once markets are built, any player can visit them to trade commodities, resources, and artifact cards for the ability to place ownership tokens (victory points). Each market has a different cost to visit, so every game is different in terms of what you need to acquire to move towards victory.
4) Tell us how you came up with the theme for Euphoria.
Full credit to my business partner on this one. I wanted to name the game Dystopia for a long time, and I even got the permission of a video game company that uses the name for their game. However, Alan thought it was too gloomy, and he suggested the oxymoron Euphoria. The second he said it, I knew we had our name.
5) What’s your favorite Recruit?
I had to pull up my PnP to answer this question. It’s tough, because there are currently 44 recruits in the game, and they’re all quite powerful. I’m going to have to go with the Futurist, just because I like the art so much. His ability is pretty good too.
6) What are some other games that if other players liked that game, that they would like Euphoria?
If you like the dice-as-workers element of Alien Frontiers and the place/retrieve choices in Tzolk’in and The Manhattan Project, you’ll enjoy Euphoria.
7) Euphoria is your second Kickstarter board game project and is already looking to be a huge success. What are some of the things you’ve learned from this experience that you think other Kickstarter creaters would benefit from?
I write a series of “Kickstarter Lessons” over at www.stonemaiergames.com, and I can already tell that I have some additions to make to those lessons after Euphoria is over. I really think the key is to stay flexible and transparent during the project. There are going to be very vocal backers who don’t agree with the way you do things, and it’s easy to get defensive (in your head) and stop listening to them. But I’d recommend fighting that instinct as much as possible. Listen to them, show that you’ve listened, and stay flexible. That doesn’t mean that you have to change everything that a vocal minority says, but stay open to their ideas and consider polling all backers if you want a group consensus. Plus, that will make everyone feel more involved in the project.
8) What were your design inspirations for creating Euphoria?
I think I have to give the most credit to Alien Frontiers—specifically, the flow of the game. There are no rounds in Alien Frontiers—you simply place your worker dice, leave them on the board, and when it gets back to you, you retrieve your dice, roll them, and place them again. Euphoria breaks down those steps to bite-size increments to allow players to plan ahead and to reduce downtime when it’s not your turn, but the concept is the same. Once the game starts, it never stops for rounds or seasons or anything like that. So it’s the flow of the game of Alien Frontiers that inspired the flow of Euphoria.
9) What type of gaming experience do you hope to create for the players of Euphoria?
This is probably cliché, but the word I want to use is “fun.” I always aim to create a thematic, mechanically sound game, but if the game isn’t fun, no theme or mechanic matters. I think Euphoria is a blast, and I hope backers agree.
10) Anything else you would like to mention?
Well, I wouldn’t mind turning around this last question on you. Tell me about how your game is going and if any element of the Euphoria campaign has given you ideas for your upcoming Kickstarter.
Thanks for asking – Monster Zoo is coming along really well. I’m finalizing a few more tweaks based on my last round of playtesting to streamline the game and make every round during the game count. It’s a casual deck-building game with a fun theme, so I really wanted to make every decision a fun one. I’m about to print the “final” pre-pub version and ship those out to reviewers. So a bit nervous about getting it out to the media, but the good news is that I’m happy with where the game is at.
I’m also wrapping up the final pieces for the Kickstarter page for the launch in June. One of the things that has impressed me so much about the Euphoria campaign is how polished the Kickstarter page looks – you have everything covered, the review, playtesting details, box information, stretch goals, mechanics, etc. I’ll definitely be referring back to your Kickstarter page to make sure I’ve covered everything for Monster Zoo.
Thanks for the interview Jamey!
Make sure to check out Euphoria on Kickstarter now.
Thanks for this interview, Michael! I really enjoyed it. If people have other questions, I’m happy to answer them in the comments.