Christwart Conrad is an Author from Bonn, Germany. He won second place in last year´s contest with his entry “Grazing Lands”. Subsequently he was offered a contract with KBG for the game, which is currently in production. Read about his life with boardgames, last year´s contest and regarding the cooperation with KBG, after the break.

Hello Christwart! Congratulations to your winning entry “Grazing Lands”. As we got to know you, we found out that you are actually a real veteran of the board game industry. How long have you been working with board games and what kind of jobs did you do?

Thank you. I started in the early 80s with game weekends that I organized and game lessons during the [Essen] SPIEL which was called Deutsche Spielertage in those early days. I remember I taught games like Metropolis (by Sid Sackson) and Acquire which I still appreciate a lot. I continued within the game business. My first game was published 1995, one year after I got the first prize of the most successful German contest, the Hippodice Autorenwettbewerb with “Spiel der Weinberge”, which was published as my 3rd game in 1999. In the late 80s, I started to review games in newspapers and magazines and on a regular basis in the legendary Pöppel Revue. When it finished, I transferred to spielbox. Often I have some ideas to improve a game so I contribute regularly to the section “besser spielen” [game improvement suggestions].

In the beginning, I worked as a games host, I tried to persuade people to join a game and I explained the rules of course. Meanwhile, there are lots of game events so it’s not necessary to make people play anymore. Personally, for the last 20 years, I have had enough people who like to play with me – which was not the case in my childhood.

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I’m a games collector too, I do some trade, buy and sell. For some publishers, I taught new games for people who sell games in stores.

I invent strategic games for large groups, too. I sell these games not by box, but by event to large companies, to an administration of a city and to other organizations. Here are some details in English: Link

I try to develop the education and training of game designers. I founded 2005 the German Game Designers’ Convent (Deutsche Spieleautorentage) with 5 other game designers

And I organize a weekend for newbies.

I work for companies as a translator, a rules developer and a game developer. 2000, I founded “Team Annaberg” with 3 other game designers. We are responsible for e. g. TransAmerica and Piranha Pedro. Since last year I realize game ideas (of different game designers) for Argentum.

To get a feeling for what kind of gamer you are, please tell us your three favorite games and explain your choices.

As I’m very interested in new games, it’s hard to say which games I like most. There are important aspects that may give a hint of my attitude.

1) bluffing and guessing: Bluff (Liar’s Dice) is definitely one of the games I played most (besides Doppelkopf, a traditional German trick card game with mostly 2 partners). I even designed a variant, “Bluff Extreme”, but Ravensburger was not interested. And you surely recognize the relationship to my card game “Grazing Lands”. It’s interesting to watch the interaction of the players and try to conclude the best moves. That’s because I’m a face-to-face-player. Playing on the internet doesn’t give me much.

2) economic games, in particular auction games: Yesterday I played Kuhhandel again. It’s nearly 30 years old but has still an enormous appeal. Its basic mechanism combined with an elegant simplicity: great. (and in this game, too: bluffing and guessing) To cite an auction game without incomplete information: Yunnan, a game by Argentum, to be published in Essen this year, which I had the honor to develop.

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3) negotiation: I like to negotiate in real life and in games. Risk Legacy, The Werewolves of Miller’s Hollow, The Resistance need a lot of it. as a general rule: I’m not quiet during a game, I like to persuade, to whine and agitate.

There are some few communication games like Dixit or Time’s up which I like, too. It depends on the players, the mood and the situation.

Let’s talk a little more about your winning game, Grazing Lands. We know that you are actually working on a high number of games at the same time, how did you decide to choose this one and what do you yourself feel makes your game special?

You asked for a card game. So I sent you the best I had in my opinion, although already rejected by some companies. It’s one of the rare games my wife accepts to play with. Two of my children and the boyfriend of my daughter love it. So much acceptance for one of my games is an exception in my family.

As we have already revealed, you received a contract offer for the game and accepted it. Obviously the game is not out yet, but do you have anything to say about the cooperation with KBG ? Now would be your chance to warn people!

In this early stage, there’s nothing to warn about yet… But, by the way, how long will it still take for the advance?

Recently a big trend in the board game scene have been crowdfunding projects. There are many success stories and sadly also quite a few failures. Do you have a strong opinion either way about this as an industry veteran? Did you ever consider to start a project of your own?

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There is a risk of getting games not finished or not developed to the maximum, because of the lack of supervision. But it’s a good chance to publish special games which have no chance to be published by an established editor. As I’m really a dead duck as a graphic designer, I can’t present an appealing project. I have a game of my own in mind which would qualify after a graphic artist has worked on it. The publishers I presented it rejected it with the (realistic) argument: “Too small target group”. It’s a strategic game without any luck.

Final Question: Ìn our contests we are looking for games that fulfill certain criteria. Some of those criteria are necessities of the market, some derive from our feeling and intuition on what is good/fun and what is bad/boring to play. What – in your opinion – makes a great game?

If all parts and aspects (time, tension, components…) fit. If all players have fun (the losing ones, too).

Thank you for the interview!