Reiner Knizia interview
Worldclass boardgame author answers JesWeb's questions




Many many great boardgames have been created by Reiner Knizia, that formerly was a mathematician and bank manager. He was kind enough to answer our few questions for our readers.

Reiner Knizia portrait
Reiner Knizia
Many boardgame fans have already tried to create original games. Not many succeed, even less manage to get their game published. This has never been a problem for Reiner Knizia with more than 200 games or books published and many to come! From the simplest to the most sophisticated, Reiner Knizia covers the whole range of complexity and mechanisms in its boardgames. Here is a mini-interview of this "born to create" very special boardgame addict...

JesWeb - For which game were you most recently surprised or filled with wonder by a mechanism originality ?

Reiner Knizia answered this question with the next one.

JesWeb - We fell in love with Camelot, the French edition of Ivanhoe. The special cards bring some chaos to the game (but not too much), unlike many of your other productions. Are you proud of Camelot, and do plan to make other similar games ?

Reiner Knizia - I am proud of Ivanhoe and I am proud of Camelot. Camelot looks really FRENCH and I am very happy about its success in France. I think it is a very nice family game that can make addictive.

Ivanhoe
(Camelot)
Ivanhoe (Camelot in French) A great short, simple and very funny card game. Read our review
New game designs are like children, you can guide them, but you cannot force them into a certain direction. Each new game develops its own personality and eventually finds the form for which it is best suited. This may be a serious strategy game, a lighter family game, an easy fun game, or even a children game.

The key point is expectation. People know some of my games and expect that all of my games are of the same type. But I like to do a great variety of games of many different types. People are different, my children (games) are also different, and if people treat them all the same, they may be disappointed. All I can say: Don't put me in a box, be open to receive my children as they are...

...and yes, I plan to do more easy fun games. I think the market is flooded with complex games - and complexity is not a measure for game quality or joy.

JesWeb - What have you done to the jury of the Spiel des Jahres :-) ?

Reiner Knizia did not answer this question...

Do you know (and like ?) some French-designed boardgames ? (Serenissima from D.Ehrhard, Ohne Furcht und Adel from B.Faidutti, Meine Schafe, Deine Schafe from P.des Pallières...)

Reiner Knizia - I work a lot on my games, every day, 365 days a year. I am very grateful that I have the opportunity to bring much joy to many people. However, one of the consequences is that there are always many new prototypes to play. Even though we play many evenings each week, there is never enough time to play other games. Most other games I don't know and have never played - in fact, many of my own games I have never played in they produced form.

Lost Cities
(Les Cités Perdues)
Lost Cities (Les Cités Perdues in French) One of the best 2 player games we played. Read our review
You see, the games for next year are already finished and with the publishers. I work on the games for the year after next. The new games that appear this year are at least two years old for me. The new designs need all my attention. This would not change even if the day had 48 hours - it is just how I am. My favorite game is always the next one to design, and I still have so many exciting ideas. A certain degree of madness helps...

JesWeb - The winner of your games is often known after a complex point-counting system at the end of the game. Isn't that an easy way to show you are a mathematician and cleverer than others to count in real-time during a game ? :-)

Reiner Knizia - Actually, I do not like games that require a lot of counting or a lot of administration. Mathematicians do not deal with numbers, they work with models and theories. I do not count in my games, I like to play them intuitively. I want to enjoy the game, concentrate on my game options and have fun interacting with my opponents. I want the scoring system to be elaborate enough so that I CANNOT keep track, but simple enough so that I have a feeling of where I stand. If people really feel they need to know their exact scores, why go through the pain of counting - simply play open, so that each player can see the scores. Relax and enjoy!

But scoring systems are very important. We all thrive to win - even though winning as such is utterly unimportant. It is the objective, the aspiration that counts. Scoring systems guide the way we play, therefore they fundamentally influence the game play and our choices. Scoring systems also contribute a lot to the theme. A good scoring system promotes those activities we would naturally take in the role we are playing and in the world we are inhabiting. That is the reason why I give scoring systems a lot of attention - not because I want to count...

Discover JesWeb

JesWeb - You just come back from Nuremberg 2003, was it profitable for your game prototypes, and do you have fresh news for JesWeb ?

Reiner Knizia - I have been on the Nuremberg Toy Fair for six day. But I have not seen anything. I talked to people and I promoted my games. But rumours are that King Arthur caused a lot of excitement and Amun-Re seems to be one of the very few epic games this year. Why do I know these games? Your guess...

Every time I return from a fair, the sense of urgency increases. So many games to invent, so little time. And other people steel my ideas before I even had them. To speak with ToysRUs: Games is me!

I must go now, the games are calling...
... but thank you for giving me the opportunity to get in touch with your readers. I have just updated my internet home page www.knizia.de so there is more for them to find there.

Carpe Diem, Home Ludens!

JesWeb - Thanks a lot Mr. Knizia !



Interview made in February, 2003 by Pierre-Nicolas Lapointe. Reiner Knizia's photo courtesy of Greg Aleknevicus from the Games Journal, a major English magazine dedicated to boardgames.




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