Design Diary – Castles

This is a compilation of the designer diary entries posted in the Between Two Castles of Mad King Ludwig Facebook group. They are listed here in chronological order, with the most recent entry at the top.

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September 15, 2018: Naming the Rooms

There are 147 unique room tiles (basic rooms) in Between Two Castles of Mad King Ludwig. How did we choose their names?

Well, we started with information we already had: Castles of Mad King Ludwig. There are 75 basic room tiles in that game, so we listed them on a Google Doc.

But for a 7-player drafting game, we needed a lot more room tiles than 75. Ben and Matthew calculated that we needed a little more than 20 tiles of 7 different types.

So the Google Doc got a lot bigger, nearly twice the size. This was a fun part of the design process. Ben, Matthew, Alan, and I contributed various names and ideas to the document over the course of a month, adding and changing room names based on (a) differentiating the rooms (nothing too similar), (b) realism (rooms that you’d find in a 19th-century castle), and (c) fun (memorable room names, but nothing too outlandish).

I’ve posted a screenshot here so you can see what the Google Doc looks like.

Here are a few of my favorite room names: Cape Room, Chocolate Room, Aviary, Kittenry, Scythe Room, In-Law Suite, Between Two Rooms, Wine Cellar. Yes, many of those are nods to our other games. :)

What are some of your favorite room names in Between Two Castles of Mad King Ludwig?

September 8, 2018: The Origin Story

How did this weird mashup of two published games happen? I’ll share the story in today’s design diary. Ben, Matthew, feel free to chime in if I remember any aspect of this incorrectly.

After the release of Between Two Cities, Ben and Matthew (the designers) asked me what I thought about them making another Between Two game. I was intrigued as long as it brought something new and fresh (while still creating the unique feel of partnership and collaboration in a competitive game). We brainstormed a few different themes, and I mentioned that I love castles.

A year or so later after trying several themes and versions of new Between Two games, Ben was at Geekway to the West, and he said he had some news to share. Apparently local playtesting for a castles-themed game had been going quite well. But, Ben said, many of the mechanisms were heavily inspired by Castles of Mad King Ludwig, so he was worried about how Bezier Games would feel about that.

It was then that I told Ben that Castles of Mad King Ludwig was (still is) one of my absolute favorite games. Instead of making Between Two Castles, what if we collaborated with Bezier to make Between Two Castles of Mad King Ludwig?

We were both excited by that prospect. Ben knew Ted, so he made the initial contact and showed the game to Ted at Origins 2017. I also played it around that time to make sure it was a game I wanted to publish, and indeed that was the case—it was a little rough around the edges, but overall it captured everything I love about each of the two games.

I met with Ted at Gen Con 2017. There played Palace of Mad King Ludwig together, which both provided good inspiration for Between Two Castles and was a personal highlight for me–I was playing a Ludwig game with the designer of one of my favorite games! (For those keeping count, this was probably the first hint I publicly dropped that we would be collaborating.)

We worked out a deal with Bezier that amounted to a licensing deal (Stonemaier Games is the publisher with full responsibilities for developing, blind playtesting, art, graphic design, production, marketing, distribution, localization, etc), with Ted playtesting the game at several key points along the way, selling it at Essen, and essentially putting his brand’s stamp of approval on it via the Ludwig name. It’s been a fruitful collaboration, and I’m so glad we were able to make it happen!

September 1, 2018: Unboxing Video

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