A letter to… Bruno Cathala

Dear Mr Cathala

I am writing as I wonder if you could help me with a problem I am currently experiencing at my local game club, The Noble Order of Huddersfield Board Gamers.

Kingdomino has always been a very popular game here. Ever since its release it has regularly hit our tables, sometimes with 2-3 different groups playing it at the same time! However recently a variant of the game has become very popular amongst a certain individuals among us. This is the variant commonly referred to as “Vuvuzela Kingdomino”.

I’m sure you must have come across this variant before, possibly on Boadgame Geek as I very much doubt that Si and Paul, the individuals in question, have the wherewithal to actually invent the game themselves. But just in case you don’t know, basically it plays exactly the same as normal Kingdomino aside from when the players give six loud blasts on a Vuvuzela at the obvious multiple points within the game.

While I’m all in favour of people having fun I do feel that this needs to be done with the consideration of others in mind. Last week for example Si and Paul’s game of Vuvuzela Kingdomio completely ruined the Super Rhino tournament I was trying to run on the next table over.

I have tried reasoning with them on this matter – even offering a compromise and suggesting they switch to something a little less disruptive instead such as “Kazoo Kingdomino”. However they just responded by saying “There’s nothing in the rules that says we’re not allowed to use vuvuzelas”. They then went on to call me “Specky four eyes” which was particularly hurtful as I wasn’t even wearing my glasses that day.

I know it’s a lot to ask, but I wonder if that in future reprints of Kingdomino you would be willing to insert some sort of “No vuvuzelas” rule in the rulebook. I’m sure our group can’t be alone with this issue, and the current lack of such a rule is likely to be causing problems in board game groups all across the world.

Many thanks for your assistance in this issue.

Dan Hughes
Noble Order of Huddersfield Board Gamers.

———

Dear Daniel

Thanks a lot for your message and for exposing me your problem.

Sadly, it will be impossible for be to do something for you.   It was probably not possible for you to know that, but here, in my area (french alps), the official way to play Kingdomino is the « Alphorn variant »

You play exactly the same way than basic rules but each player has his own Alphorn
During the game, the one of theme managing to play it the more noisy way gets a bonus of 10 points.

So.. nit far from Vuvuzela variant, i think

sorry for you and tour very delicate ears 😉

all the best

Bruno

PS: you will find a video of a local Kingdomino tournament there
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z_tfWYvp7HA

A letter to… Matt Leacock

8949670411_b79614b3c8_k.jpg25th January 2018

Dear Mr Leacock.

First of all I’d like to congratulate you on all your wonderful games.  I’m a big fan of Pandemic, as well as the Forbidden series, and I am very curious to see how Forbidden Sky’s turns out.  I must admit I am hoping it isn’t quite as much a departure from you regular style as Forbidden Stars was.

I’m writing as I have noticed you have released a number of re-themes of your Pandemic games.  I’ve played Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu and Pandemic: Iberia and enjoyed them very much.  I’ve unfortunately yet to play Pandemic: Rising Tide but have heard interesting things about it.  My friend Dave told me it was about Dutch people sticking their fingers in dykes – is that true?

Anyway, I digress.  

I wanted to contact you in order to suggest another potential Pandemic re-theme.  As I’m sure you are aware by now there has recently been a lot of interest amongst board game designers and publishers in setting their games in my home town of Huddersfield, England.  

I’m sure you’ll agree this interest is well overdue.  It has long baffled me why the area has been overlooked within the industry in favour of other less desirable locations such as Carcassonne and Puerto Rico. Can you believe that up to now the only board game to feature the town has been 2006’s Canal Mania by the Ragnar Brothers! 

However things are about to change!  Martin Wallace is currently in discussions with Roxley about a Huddersfield focused edition of Brass, and Stephen Buonocore from Stronghold games is very excited about a re-theme of Terraforming Mars to Terraforming Huddersfield – I quote: “This is a direct and perfect retheming of the hottest game in the industry! I can’t imagine that every gamer would not want to terraform Huddersfield!”.

I have also written to Eric Lang about setting his third game in the Blood Rage/Rising Sun trilogy in the town, however he has not yet responded.  Probably just as well as judging by recent events CMON would do all their research on the town from Wikipedia and include Percy Shaw (the inventor of reflective road markers) as a playable character when every fool knows that he was from nearby Halifax.

It is my opinion that Pandemic: Huddersfield would be a fine addition to your current lineup, and would certainly put you on the map as someone with their finger on the pulse of modern board game trends.

As for the theme – the town does not really have a history of plague, flooding, or other dimensional incursions that would make for interesting gameplay.  However Greenhead Park, which is situated just northwest of the town centre, does have quite a serious problem with dog fouling which may suit your cause.

Pandemic: Huddersfield could be about the council’s efforts to maintain a hygienic and attractive green space against the relentless onslaught of irresponsible dog owners.  The various roles from Pandemic could easily be translated to suit this theme.  The medic could be the park litter picker for example, and the dispatcher the park warden.  You could even find a place for the police community support officer who is able to issue fines of up to £500 should they catch an owner not clearing up after their dog (Not that the threat of a fine seems to deter them mind you. Not even my numerous letters to the local paper seems to have made a blind bit of difference in the matter)

An added bonus of this theme is that your publishers would not have to pay the cost of having a number of different coloured cubes in the game – as they all would be brown!  This also helps people who are colour blind too.

Obviously I’ll leave the finer details to yourself.  I’d not want you to get upset that I’d done all the work for you!  Should you want any support regarding the box cover design then I am happy to act as your “man on the ground” however.  I could even provide you with photos to use as reference as I’ve taken to documenting all the little piles I come across so that I can compile them in a evidence dossier to take to the council.  Let me know if you want me to email them over.

I look forward to hearing about the game as you go through the design process.  

Yours sincerely

Dan Hughes
Member of the Noble Order of Huddersfield Board Gamers.

——–

30th January 2018

Dear Mr. Hughes,

Thanks for your note. Huddersfield has indeed been on my radar for some time, as has it’s problem with dog waste. It’s clearly evident here: https://goo.gl/dk7FMm. And the degree of the problem is illustrated best by the way this culprit (https://goo.gl/nP2rdk) so casually lingers by the scene of the crime.

I write first, to thank you for the idea, and second to get your opinion on a hue.

Do you favor the warmer brown of Caylus: https://goo.gl/Syzqk7 or do you think the darker, more “rigid” looking brown (in 9mm) offers a better choice? https://goo.gl/Syzqk7I fear that the 9mm size may be a bit over the top, but I’m not in the field and don’t want to make Eric’s mistake of relying on Wikipedia for such things.

If you wouldn’t mind being my “man in the field” as it were, it would help the product (and by extension, me) signal real specialist knowledge in this area. Should I take your interest in the matter as a sign of availability? 

Please let me know at your earliest convenience.

Respectfully yours,
Matt Leacock

A letter to… Jamey Stegmaier

2885464326_d00bf1f072_b10th June 2017

Dear Mr Stegmaier

Firstly congratulations on the massive success of Scythe. Alongside Viticulture and Euphoria it’s really cemented Stonemaier as a company to be excited about.

As someone who has his finger firmly on the pulse of modern board gaming I’m sure you are aware of the recent surge of interest in using my home town of Huddersfield as a setting or theme for board games.

Previously we have been criminally overlooked by the industry, with only the 2006’s “Canal Mania” by the Ragnar Brothers featuring the town. However recently I’ve been in contact with a number of designers and publishers who have expressed interest in using the town in their games.

For example Martin Wallace is currently in discussions with Roxley about a Huddersfield focused edition of Brass, and Stephen Buonocore from Stronghold games is very excited about a re-theme of Terraforming Mars to Terraforming Huddersfield – I quote: “This is a direct and perfect retheming of the hottest game in the industry! I can’t imagine that every gamer would not want to terraform Huddersfield!”.

I have also written to Eric Lang about setting his third game in the Blood Rage/Rising Sun trilogy in the town, however he has not yet responded to me (To be truthful I am starting to get a little concerned that he is intending to go ahead with the suggestion without giving me any credit).

As you can see, the town is really hot property at the moment!

As an industry leader I’m sure you already have plans to make a game set in Huddersfield. However as I am somewhat of an expert on the town I thought you might benefit from some of my advice and suggestions.

My first thought was that you could maybe consider re-theming Scythe to be set in the town. Obviously we don’t have many giant “mechs” in the town, however the town does have a history of building tractors. As you no doubt already know the David Brown tractor manufacturing company switched to making gears and gearboxes in the 1990s. However as you set Scythe all the way back in the 1920s I’m sure that going back just a couple of decades to the 80’s or 90’s wouldn’t be much trouble.

I know Scythe has been universally acclaimed for it’s art. I hope you don’t feel it is too presumptuous but I have included a picture of a tractor I’ve drawn that you may wish to use. Obviously it’s just a sample and if you chose to use me as an artist for the project I’ll spend a little more time on it, but its a good indication of my art style and abilities.

pic3595470

Another possibility would be an expansion for Viticulture set in the town. Huddersfield has it’s own vineyard, which I have been reliably informed produces wine which is “not as bad as you’d think it would be”. It might be worth contacting them in oder to see if they would be interested in licensing their brand to you.

However this might not even be necessary as you already have one native of the town in the game already! “The Politician” card is a portrait of a gentleman called “Bod”. While those who know him are struck by the irony of him being depicted as having a position of responsibility; the general public don’t need to know that and much could be made of his appearance and link to the town – therefore riding the wave of the Huddersfield craze without even having to develop any new games!

My final thought was that you could re-theme Euphoria to be set in the town, however on reflection I think that it is just not believable that Huddersfield could be a dystopian setting. I think you’d have much more luck with our neighbouring towns Halifax or Oldham in that regard.

I hope you give my proposals some thought and I look forward to hearing back from you re: my artwork portfolio. I’m also quite good at drawing cats if you have any games featuring those in the pipeline.

Yours sincerely.

Dan Hughes
The Noble Order of Huddersfield Board Gamers

——————

13th June 2017

Hi Daniel,

Thank you for taking the time to share this delightful e-mail with me. I admire your love and passion of Huddersfield, and I hope to include it in a game someday.  I would probably focus on the Huddersfield Festival of Light as the theme.

Best,
Jamey

A letter to… Stephen Buonocore

5040867057_e4d082a401_o17th May, 2017

Dear Mr Buonocore

Firstly I would like to congratulate you on such a successful past twelve months. The popularity and success of both Terraforming Mars and The Great Western Trail really have catapulted Stronghold games to the front of people’s minds when they are thinking about top quality games.

As an industry leader I am sure you are well aware of the recent surge in interest in the use of my home town of Huddersfield as a setting or theme in board games. Previously the town has been almost criminally overlooked by board game designers, with only the 2006’s Canal Mania by the Ragnar Brothers featuring the town.

Recently however things have started to change. In an email conversation with Martin Wallace he has informed me that he will discuss setting the next Brass follow up in Huddersfield with Roxley. I have been in communication with Eric Lang about him setting the third game in his Blood Rage/Rising Sun trilogy. So as you can see, Huddersfield as a board game theme is the new hotness currently!!

Being the astute businessman that you are I’m sure you will want to get in on the ground floor of this new trend. I observed with interest that you have previously re-released some of your successful games with new themes to great success (I’m thinking of Survive: Escape from Atlantis here). Perhaps this would be a possibility to retheme some of your existing games to be set in Huddersfield. I am inclosing some ideas on this for your consideration.

The Dragon and Flagon
I have not witnessed many bar fights in Huddersfield. However I was at a real ale festival in Marsh Liberal Club a couple of years ago where a man tried to jump the queue to order a pint of Musky Bell End. There was quite the kafuffle, I can tell you. Several people tutted, one person shook their head disparagingly, and the gentleman in question found that his answers to the pub quiz were marked unforgivingly by his peers for a number of weeks afterwards. I’m sure that The Dragon and Flagon’s programming mechanics could be very easily adapted to reflect these events.

Panamax
As I have mentioned previously Huddersfield’s canal has already been utilised in 2006’s Canal Mania, however there is plenty of scope for further exploitation of this theme. As well as the cargo, stock market and lock mechanisms in the game you could also add “avoiding the half sunken shopping carts and bicycles” , “feeding the ducks”, and “getting out and walking where the canal has been filled in just after the college” mechanics.

Teraforming Mars
The Packhorse shopping centre in the middle of Huddersfield is in a very sorry state currently. I suspect it is only the fact that you can get three mars bars for £1 at the newsagents in there that is keeping the whole place afloat. It would take very little effort indeed to convert the theme of “Terraforming Mars” to “Renovating the Huddersfield Packhorse Centre”.

As you can see there are a multitude of opportunities for you to utilise your existing titles to jump on this new trend with very little work on your part. There are many more ideas I have in this vein but I don’t want to give you too many in case you feel you need to take me on your payroll!!

I look forward to maybe hearing about some of these projects in the 2017 Essen preview lists.

Your sincerely

Dan Hughes
Noble Order of Huddersfield Board Gamers

——————

17th May 2017

Daniel,

Thank you for this very nice email. Your kind words and your ideas are GREATLY appreciated!

And I think that you really are on to something here! I can see a board game based on this town, definitely! I mean, look… Any town that would be considered the “Worst Place to Live in the UK” definitely has a place in a board game! Here is my reference link for this:

http://www.examiner.co.uk/news/west-yorkshire-news/really-hu…

So, how about this:

The biggest game in the board game industry now is “Terraforming Mars”, as you know. It’s #8 on BGG rankings overall, and climbing, and has been in the top hotness since release, so it’s on everyone’s mind. Here is my idea…
“Terraforming Huddersfield”

Corporations (just like in Terraforming Mars) are given contracts to completely obliterate the place, and create an inhabitable area from what is now completely uninhabitable. They will blow up unsavoury areas using explosives (rather than Asteroids), create new town centers (rather than cities), add greenery (same as in Terraforming Mars!), put in ponds and lakes (rather than oceans), and of course introduce proper life forms rather than the horrific ones that are now living there.

This is a direct and perfect retheming of the hottest game in the industry! I can’t imagine that every gamer would not want to terraform Huddersfield!
I’m on it!

Thanks,

Stephen M. Buonocore
Stronghold Games LLC

——————–

17th May 2017

Dear Mr Buonocore

Thank you very much for your reply and encouraging enthusiasm regarding re-theming Terraforming Mars to “Terraforming Huddersfield”.

I would like to take issue with some of the finer details however. Unfortunately the article you cite in your email is a little out of date. I notice it was published in 2015 and the town has developed significantly since then.

Specifically there has been a new roundabout and traffic light system installed at Ainley Top which has reduced congestion when coming off both the M62 and the A629. In addition Bolster Moor farm shop recently won the “most innovative sausage” award at the at British Sausage Week competition in London ( http://www.bolstermoorfarmshop.co.uk/whats-new/ ). So as you can see, the town is really going places!

I must admit that initially I was a little shocked at your proposal to “completely obliterate the place” within the game. However on further reflection I can see this really working well, with a little modification.

I was wonder if instead of destroying the whole town in the game you could focus on just destroying my neighbour’s Paul and Julie’s house instead. They have an unfortunate tendency to park rather inconsiderately, as well as sing loudly in the house with their windows open – and I’m certain that some kind of card you could play that would raze their home to the ground (or at least force them to shut their windows) would be very popular with the fans.

I also note that you have recently joined our Facebook group. I think this is an excellent idea for further research and inspiration. I must warn you however that some of the other members may be a little odd and unrealistic in their expectations (as we in Huddersfield would say – “there’s nowt so strange as folk”)

I am attending the Dice Tower Con in Florida (USA) this year, and so can hopefully meet with you about the project in person (perhaps we could even discuss my box credit on the new game too!).

Yours sincerely

Dan Hughes
Noble Order of Huddersfield Board Gamers

A letter to… Eric Lang

2342263969_4670376fe9_b7th May 2017

Dear Mr Lang.

Firstly I would like to congratulate you on your recent appointment with CMON and your fabulously successful kickstarter for Rising Sun. I, like many others are very keen to see what your next project will be.

It is on this point that I am writing to you. I’m sure you are aware of the increasing prominence of my home town (Huddersfield, England) within the board gaming industry. For many years Huddersfield has been bafflingly overlooked when it comes to theming. Up to press there has only been one game I’m aware of to feature the town – the 2006 Ragnar Brothers game Canal Mania. Apparently Andreas Seyfarth very nearly set a game in the town too, but at the the last minute decided to go with Puerto Rico instead.

However things appear to be changing. For example Martin Wallace has said he is talking to Roxley Games about a Huddersfield themed version of Brass; and the town has had numerous mentions on the Dice Tower recently. It is entirely possible that that games set in Huddersfield may replace Zombies, Cthulhu, and Vikings in the gaming zeitgeist in 2017/18.

As one of the most prominent and respected designers of our age, as well as someone who is responsible for keeping CMON relevant and up to date, I’m sure you do not want to miss out on this explosive new trend in modern gaming.

Perhaps you could use Huddersfield as the setting for the third game in your Blood Rage/Rising Sun trilogy? While we do not quite have the range of legendary monsters and creatures that both the Japanese and the Norse mythologies provide, there are ample opportunities for antagonists if you scratch just a little bit below the surface.

For example there is a duck down on the canal which is considerably larger than all the other ducks. Also there’s a woman behind the counter at the post office who is incredibly grumpy and to certainly would not be too much of a stretch to call her a hag – although I’d advise against doing so to her face (She doesn’t work on Tuesdays or Wednesdays; perhaps that could be incorporated into the game mechanics in some way?).

I’m sure that with a bit more work even more examples of terrifying opponents and creatures could be found (I don’t want to do all your work for you!!).

I have enclosed a picture of the duck in case you wish to give it to your modelling team to create some prototypes. Unfortunately I was unable to get a photo of the woman at the post office as she threw me out when I got my camera out.

I look forward to seeing the project on Kickstarter soon. After the success of Blood Rage and Rising sun I’m sure it will be another record breaker for your company.

Yours sincerely

Dan Hughes
The Noble Order of Huddersfield Board Gamers.

pic3595460

A letter to… Martin Wallace

2576582542_cfe8fea7e9_b24th July 2017

Dear Mr Wallace.

I notice with interest that an updated version of your classic game “Brass” is currently seeking funds on kickstarter. However I am very disappointed that you have not addressed the biggest flaw in the game – namely the omission of Huddersfield from the map of Northern towns of the Industrial Revolution.

I will acknowledge that you get quite close – the map reaching as far as Oldham, which is just 23.2 miles from Huddersfield. This is significantly better than your game “A Few Acres of Snow” where the nearest place on the board is Louisbourg which is an outrageous two thousand five hundred and seventy nine miles away from Huddersfield Town centre – or even longer if you don’t take Halifax Road in order to avoid the traffic.

When I heard you were going to bring out a sequel to the game my hopes were raised again. I was sure you had realised your mistake and had decided to rectify things. However I’m sure you can imagine my shock when I learnt you had decided to feature Birmingham instead. A town that no doubt has its own small merits, but it hardly the English jewel that Huddersfield is.

Fortunately as the kickstarter is not yet over there is still opportunity for you to include the town in a second sequel. You could perhaps make a special Brass ~Huddersfield edition, which I’m sure would prove of significant benefit for the finances of your campaign. If I might suggest Mirfield, Slaithwaite, Edgerton, Dalton, and of course Berry Brow as potential locations on the board.

You could even do a link to Oldham if you wanted, although I’d suggest just labelling it “Lancaster” so as not to give them any ideas above their station.

I hope we can resolve this issue to our mutual satisfaction.

Yours sincerely

Dan Hughes
Noble Order of Huddersfield Board Gamers.

————————-

24th July 2017

Hi Dan,

I certainly think there is a case for a ‘Yorkshire’ version of the game, which would obviously include Huddersfield. I will suggest it to Roxley.

Best

Martin