Interview: City of Iron board game designer Ryan Laukat
Ryan Laukat is the designer of the board game City of Iron, which is currently on Kickstarter. Laukat was gracious enough to take his time to answer a few questions about himself and City of Iron.
Tell us a little about yourself.
A: I live in Salt Lake City with my wife and two kids. I like playing trumpet, writing fiction, illustration, listening to film scores, playing trumpets for Cannonball Musical Instruments. I’m also the head of hand engraving there. On the side, I’m a game designer and illustrator. I got my start illustrating games for Rio Grande Games, beginning with the Adventurer card in Dominion. I love to design and play all types of board games. My first published design is Empires of the Void. City of Iron is my second.
When did you get into board game design?
A: I’ve been designing card and board games since I was in jr. high school. My first game was a fantasy-battle card game, drawn with colored pencil and taped to poker cards. Since then I haven’t been able to stop– I’ve got a closet full of hundreds of prototypes. I also love illustrating games. Part of the reason I started designing was so I could illustrate the games as well.
What inspired the idea for City of Iron? What do you think makes the game special?
A: I was trying to design a big, hex-based civilization game on a huge board. I had this idea about building up cities and trying to have monopolies on rare goods. But as I was making it, cutting out the pieces, I realized it wasn’t going to work. Everything was too small to see clearly, even though the board was too big for my kitchen table. It just wasn’t practical. But I suddenly had an idea about making it into a card game. When I wrote the design notes, ideas seemed to flood into my head. I almost had the entire game come to me at that moment. The first time we played, I was very excited about it.
As many playtesters have said, the game comprises familiar elements, but feels totally unique. It has a bit of card drafting, some deck customization, resource management, a turn order bid, but it comes together to form something a bit different. One thing I especially like is the deck building aspect. Players customize not one but two decks of cards (representing citizen and military units). Also, when a player buys a new card to use, it goes into his hand. When he uses cards, he has the ability to discard them in the order he wants. There is no shuffling, so players have a large amount of control on what they will draw and are rewarded for planning ahead.
Were there any ideas you had for the game that had to go out the window during play-testing that you thought would be awesome but just couldn’t make work?
A: Yeah, we had to cut a few things here and there. At one point, each player had a deck of technology cards to buy. It felt a little
unnecessary so I figured out a way to get rid of them. Instead of having to purchase technology cards to purchase certain buildings, most buildings now have a basic science cost. This cleaned up the game quite a bit.
What are your future plans for City of Iron?
A: I think City of Iron would be great as a video game some day. I’m also thinking of creating a graphic novel in the City of Iron world.
How did you develop the world of City of Iron, which looks to have a neat, off-the-wall steampunk vibe to it?
A: The world of City of Iron is largely influenced by fiction I’ve written as a hobby over the years. I like to think of it as “fantasy with machines”. There are always toad mechanics in the stories, and of course they found their way into City of Iron. I actually have a website detailing the world of the stories I’ve written, and you can see some of the influence on City of Iron. www.blistworld.com.
Town cards and mercenary cards are two of the stretch goals for the Kickstarter. What do each of those add to the game?
A: In City of Iron, each player has a mostly identical set of citizen and military cards they can choose to purchase and use. The mercenary cards
are new cards that anyone can purchase. They have new abilities, and can count as military or citizen cards. The town card expansion adds new
towns to the game with different abilities. Normally town cards only give access to goods, but the expansion cards have things like “+1 Military
Draw”, for example.
Do you have any future plans to expand City of Iron?
A: I think the game is ripe for expansion cards. There are already many different paths to victory, but I have a lot of ideas for new cards that
could be added in the future.
Any other games in the pipe you can share with us?
A: I’m currently working on an expansion to Empires of the Void. It is called Key to the Universe, and is currently free and in beta testing. It
may be a Kickstarter project some time in the future.
Where can people find you online?
A: Please check out www.redravengames.com.
The Kickstarter page for City of Iron is http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/953146955/city-of-iron.
You can learn more about the game at boardgamegeek.com as well on the City of Iron page: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/123499/city-of-iron.
That’s it for the interview with Ryan Laukat from Red Raven Games, which (one more time) is Kickstarting its new board game City of Iron. I’d love to hear your thoughts on City of Iron and the interview in the comments. If you’re looking for something else to read, why not look at the Related Posts below, the Recent Posts in the sidebar, or go to a random post on Futile Position.