Friday, August 31, 2012

Interview with Daniel Griego

Yes, the title of today's post says “interview,” but it's pretty much just a plug for a Kickstarter project.  No, it was never intended for this blog to be a Kickstarter shill, but – for the record – your humble host has not compromised his journalistic integrity by accepting free product.  No, Shadowfist is neither old school nor a role-playing game, but it has the same setting as Feng Shui.  (Created by Robin D. Laws)  Regardless, Shadowfist is a game your humble host happens to like and it does not receive the attention it deserves.  Anyway, Shadowfist is dropping the 'collectible card game format' and, with Combat in Kowloon, it is reinventing itself as a 'dynamic card game.'

I met Daniel Griego of Inner Kingdom Games at Gen Con earlier this month and offered to interview him so as to provide additional (scant) exposure for the project.  Although is is quite busy (as one might well expect), he has humored me by supplying answers to a small number of questions.  The good news is that the project is more than 200% funded.  The bad news is that, by the time I post this interview, the funding window will close in less than a day.  So, without further ado...

Thoul's Paradise: Perhaps you could start by telling us how you came to be associated with Shadowfist and the origin of Inner Kingdom Games?

Daniel Griego: I first learned Shadowfist back in the 90s when it was still being printed by Daedalus Games. At the time, I was a Magic player, so it was a big deal for me that there was a game out there with such a great niche premise that also featured such balanced game play. I was hooked. After Daedalus went out of business, the game went on hiatus for a while, as did many of its players. I didn't come back into the fold until several years into Z-Man Games' ownership, totally unaware that someone had picked up the game and started printing new cards. So from 2003 onward, I was an avid player again, up to and including my deployment to Iraq in 2005-2006. There's actually a very large population of gamers within the military community, and I wanted to capitalize on that by bringing my cards with me to the sandbox. It took off and I recruited more than a dozen new players during my time there. This is also relevant, in that during my deployment, I strategically scheduled my two weeks of leave time to coincide with Gen Con 2006 in Indianapolis. It was my first Gen Con and my first opportunity to meet the key figures in the game, including Zev, Paul, Allen, Josh and Gavin. They were impressed with my passion for the game, and my devotion in taking it with me to a combat zone. So when the time came for Zev Shlasinger to move on past Shadowfist and sell the game, my name kept coming up as a natural successor to carry on the legacy. So in 2009, I partnered up with Braz King and he and I formed Inner Kingdom Games in order to take over Shadowfist from Z-Man Games. Recently, Braz has had to refocus his time and energy, so I've assumed solitary ownership of the game and its properties.
           With that, I'm now working to release the first starter deck set for Shadowfist in almost a decade, while transitioning the game from a CCG model to a non-randomized, standard-release format very much like Fantasy Flight's Living Card Games. I'm calling the new release model a “Dynamic Card Game,” and Combat in Kowloon is the first set for the new game environment.
           Future expansions will feature standardized 50-card expansion packs with no duplicates, no randomization and no rarity schemes. Each expansion pack will be the same, per release.
           It's an exciting time to start the game if you've never played and a great time to get back into it if you've been on a break for a while. The new cards are well-tested and powerful, the reprints are highly-desirable staples and there's something for everyone in each deck, old and new players alike.

TP: You mention the transition from 'trading card game' to 'dynamic card game,' but would you care to explain the rationale?

DG: The rationale in shifting to a non-randomized, non-booster pack model is the awareness that CCGs are on the decline and near impossible to recruit new players, if you're not Magic or Yu Gi Oh. Players looking for a new game want an easy buy-in and an easy new entry point. That was my big motivator in shifting to the dynamic card game model.

TP: Are the Architects [of the Flesh] gone for good?

DG: The architects and their friends lost in time (syndicate, purists, seven masters) are not dead and not completely obliterated from the game. They're simply not being featured for the time being. I'm not 100% ruling out bringing them back one day, if the game takes off and there's support to reintegrate them.

TP: Finally, what's your favorite faction?

DG: My favorite faction has always been the monarchs, with a secondary partiality for the dragons.

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