We had the chance to interview Mr Knizia for the release of Schotten Totten 2!
Discover what he has to say about the game, and his other games!
Here is a summary of the interview. The sentences have been changed to summarise the points of Mr Knizia, but the answers remain the same. Watch the video for a complete interview with details from Mr. Knizia!
IELLO: Why go back to Schotten Totten 20 years after the release?
Mr. Knizia: The game has been successively on the market with many publishers. For me it is important that the game stands the test of time, and after 20 years I think that has proven.
The second point is that I wanted the game to be on the market with a strong publisher, like IELLO, so if I make a sequel, it will have the opportunity to reach a lot of people because they already know the game, after 20 years, and because there is a publisher that bring it to them.
IELLO: Did you absolutely wanted asymmetry in this new game?
Mr. Knizia: No, I'm not setting targets that I have to come up with specifically. What I try to do is create something new. I didn't want to do the same, but I didn't know what the difference would be, so I experimented with lots of different things. I found this new setting, we are not in the countryside anymore, we are in the city, and what do we do in the city? We have different roles, so came the inspiration for lots of mechanics (for example the oil cauldron). And all that created a very different game from the first one, which was exactly what I wanted, without losing the spirit of the first one.
IELLO: Was it difficult to find a balance between the attacker and the defender?
Mr. Knizia: Yes and no. When I design games, I have a big group around me and of course the game gets played a lot of time, before it goes to the publisher. In a natural way, within these plays we balanced the game. We gave it our best shot. Of course it's never perfect and people can argue which one is the stronger side, but that's part of the fun! I hope it is reasonably balanced though
IELLO: Do you have a secret, or secret weapon, to win a game of Schotten Totten 2?
Mr. Knizia: No, I don't. I'm not that player who tries to become the chess world champion or the champion in any game, I'm trying to keep a very broad look at many games and experience them, and so I'm not usually the best player of my games! I want to give people a lot of opportunities. The best advice I could give is "play the game many times and you will learn", and that's the best part of it. If I could give you a recipe and say "always play like this", then the game is broken, and the game is no more fun!
IELLO: Do you prefer to be the attacker or the defender?
IELLO: Is there any others of your classic games that you'd like to come back to?
Mr. Knizia: Yes, and of course I have come back to some of the classic games because I thought it is nice to make families out of these games and if people like to play these games, they like to see something new. I would love to go back to Kingdoms, but for now it is out of the market so I have to find a publisher that will publish the original game, and then I would bring a second game, potentially. If we are talking about revisiting some of the games, then for now it would be The Eldorado, and of course My City, a new game but it has been very successful.
IELLO: Can you tell us an anecdote about Schotten Totten 1 or 2?
Mr. Knizia: It isn't really an anecdote but if I remember correctly, Schotten Totten 1 was originally published in a UK magazine, in 1995. It was different, it was to be played with standard cards, and it was called the Fifth Column which means you have a battle line, against each other, but the fifth column is always going over to the other side, so you have to be careful about it! And then a friend of mine wrote a book about games, and published it in the book in Sweden! And it was only then, that the new theme came up, so the Schotten Totten theme.
It comes from Hotten Totten, which in German means the African people who jump all the time, and I thought "What if I put it in Scotland", so it was then called Schotten Totten. The publisher liked it and we sold the first version of the game!
IELLO: Do you think there will be a Schotten Totten 3?
Mr. Knizia: I don't know. We had Schotten Totten 1 for a long time, now we have Schotten Totten 2, and I don't want to flood the market and people get confused. I think Schotten Totten 2 will stay there for quite a long time, and maybe in the future I'll do a co-operaive game, or a multiplayer game, but it is certainly not planned in the next years because Schotten Totten 1 and 2 make a nice family and sometimes that is better to have a small family of games instead of a large one where people don't know what to do and you compete with your own product, and that's a no.
IELLO: What do you enjoy doing when you are not creating games?
Mr. Knizia: The business is a large part of my life. With so many games being released, there is a lot of work with publishers (more details in the video). I think game design is an art, and if you are an artist you need to be a little crazy and always think about it. So this is the biggest part of my life, what I have done for many years and have enjoyed for many years! I once had a very big hobby, which became my profession. Apart from this, I read a lot, I'm a big fan of history. I'm fascinated by technology, how our world changes, the advantages and also disadvantages. Think how fast our lives change is fascinating. I want to live another 200 years just to see what will happen!
IELLO: What do you think of digitalised board games?
Mr. Knizia: People say that digital games are the death of board games, I don't think so because it's a different way of experiencing a game. When I play on a smartphone or an Ipad or on PC, I am playing by myself or with other people, and it's a different experience that when I'm sitting around the table and playing with people. And so I believe as long as people play, it's always good! We, in the gaming industry, we are not competing against each other and against digital versions which will continue to grow, we are competing with sport, books, television. We are competing for people's free time!
I have also taken inspiration from digital games, because you have to change your game so that it is well online. It is challenging. As a designer, I want to do something innovative, do something new.
IELLO: Are you working on new projects?
Mr. Knizia: Of course I am working on new projects. Corona situation doesn't make it easy for playtests, but I have a new idea and I think there is potential to this idea. It is already a prototype. But I have many ideas. I have the curse of the idea! The challenge is to stick to it. I have a drawer full of ideas, and now I just bought a new drawer, so I have now more than 88 games waiting to be pushed forward, and most of them are ready for testing! There are so many things to be done! I have never been in short of ideas. The challenge is more to make them grow, like a child. Every game is waiting to grow up and be nursured.
10. A little surprise!
Thank you very much for you time Mr Knizia!
We hope you enjoyed learning more about the game, by its designer, and learn more about the mythic Reiner Knizia!
Want to know more about Schotten Totten 2? Read our article about the game here!
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