It is a time of unrest in 1920s Europa. The ashes from the first great war still darken the snow. The capitalistic city-state known simply as “The Factory,” which fueled the war with heavily armored mechs, has closed its doors, drawing the attention of several nearby countries…
Scythe is a popular 4X board game where players conquer territory around the ever-foreboding “Factory.” We were fortunate enough to interview lead designer Jamey Stegmaier of Stonemaier Games, who detailed his motivations behind creating tabletop games, as well as his plans for future releases of Scythe and games beyond.
Read the full interview below.
Pictured: Jamey Stegmaier of Stonemaier Games
Game Kastle: What was the driving factor behind choosing the theme/backdrop for Scythe?
Jamey Stegmaier: I stumbled upon an article on Kotaku.com in the summer of 2014 (it seems so long ago now!) that featured 6 or so illustrations from an artist named Jakub Rozalski. The illustrations depicted an alternate version of our world that I was instantly immersed in—something about it made me want to design a game in the world. So I contacted Jakub, got the tabletop rights, and started designing a game in that world.
“[Jakub Rozalski’s] illustrations depicted an alternate version of our world that I was instantly immersed in—something about it made me want to design a game in the world.”
GK: What came first in the design process, the game mechanics or the theme?
JS: In the case of Scythe, it always started with and came back to the theme. Whenever I felt like something wasn’t working, I would look through all of the art Jakub was creating for the game, and I would ask myself how I could better capture the feeling of the art in the game. Of course, through many, many playtests, some mechanisms emerged and evolved based on what was fun and interesting, but it was never a case of me inventing a mechanism and then changing the theme to fit it.
GK: Are there plans for future releases for Scythe? If so, what are your plans? Will there be a follow up to Scythe?
JS: Scythe’s expansion trilogy will end with The Rise of Fenris later this year. After that we may release a few Scythe-related accessories (a modular board and metal mechs are under consideration), but we have no plans for future content for Scythe. The reason for this is I know how much money many people have spent on the game, accessories, expansions, promos, etc, and I want to show them that I respect their wallets by not stringing them along forever. As for a Scythe follow up, my hope is to design other games in worlds Jakub creates, but mechanically they’ll be completely different than Scythe.
“I know how much money many people have spent on the game, accessories, expansions, promos, etc, and I want to show them that I respect their wallets by not stringing them along forever.”
GK: Are there any other projects you’re currently working on?
JS: There are! We’re about to enter production on Scythe: The Rise of Fenris and another game we’ll release in August (hopefully). There are two other new games in the works from other designers that I’ve helped to develop. We’re finalizing small expansions for Viticulture and Euphoria. And I’m currently designing 3 games, which will hopefully release in 2019/2020 if all goes well.
GK: Beyond the specific game talk, what inspired you to become a board game designer and start Stonemaier Games?
JS: I’ve been designing games since I was a little kid—as much as I loved playing games, I felt a strong pull to design them too. As for Stonemaier Games, even though we no longer use Kickstarter, it all started out with me seeing how games were starting to be successful on Kickstarter in 2011. That gave me the encouragement that my hobby of designing games could be paired with my desire to do something uniquely entrepreneurial, especially in terms of directly connecting with customers.
“As much as I loved playing games, I felt a strong pull to design them too.”
GK: Do you have any other comments or pieces of advice you’d like to share with the Game Kastle fanbase?
JS: Thank you for being a part of this wonderful hobby with me! Hopefully I’ll someday get to play games with you at Game Kastle, and in the meantime, if you’re ever in St. Louis, please let me know. I welcome strangers into my weekly game night all the time. 🙂
We are so grateful to Jamey for his time in answering our questions. It’s great to hear from the creators of our favorite games – and from the sound of his responses, he’s definitely a designer worth following! Make sure to check out his company, Stonemaier Games, and to support his games by staying up to date on the latest news about future plans and releases.
Visit their website: www.stonemaiergames.com
Follow them on Facebook: www.facebook.com/StonemaierGames
Follow them on Twitter: www.twitter.com/stonemaiergames
To read more about Scythe or to buy the game, click here.