7 questions for Richard Garfield

Richard Garfield
Richard Garfield

In the board games family, there are games that everyone knows even if not everyone played them such as: poker, chess, Monopoly. And more recently: Carcassonne, Dungeons & Dragons, and of course Magic: the Gathering.

I was lucky that the creator of one of the pillars of the game world, answered my 7 questions.

Richard Garfield, this American creator native from Philadelphia, who has a Phd in combinatorial mathematics is the creator behind Magic :the Gathering, a global success that has influenced many other game designers since its release in 1993. Richard is the man of day.

Richard is well known for Magic but he also created between other, Android :Netrunner, another card game and more recently King of Tokyo a board game released in 2011.

If you’ve never tried Magic, I invite you to do so and discover what millions of players around the world already know. And of course try his other créations.

Here are 7 questions for Richard Garfield.

1. How old were you when you played your first board game and which board game was it ?

« That is hard to say, I played cards and classic games like chess very young. The first board game I remember really getting hooked on was Stratego. The game that pushed me from game enthusiast to game devotee and game designer was Dungeons and Dragons. »

2. Why and how did you decide to design a game ? 

« After discovering Dungeons and Dragons I felt that anything was possible with games, and I used them as a creative outlet for my ideas. I was quite serious about it — in fact – I envisioned a school where every subject was taught through games. I still like to design games around complex phenomena to understand better how they work – like in economics or evolution. »

3. What are your 3 favorite games ?

« I can’t answer that – I am instead going to give you 3 games that would appear on my top 10 game list.



Go »

4. For you, what is the best combination for a successful game ?

« I am constantly looking for games that have enough luck in them that anyone can win, but enough skill that investing in it feels good. Part of that is making it fast enough that when you lose despite superior skill you can play a few more times to make up for it. I also like games with a lot of interaction, but without much picking on particular other players. I also like games with a lot of variations of play.

You can see from that why Poker is on my top 10 list – it is perfectly described by my criteria above. »

5. How do you proceed to design a game ?

« I design games slowly and often more by intuition than reason. I am very critical of my designs and tend to put games that don’t satisfy me in the closet for a long while and revisit them when I am a different person. I design games both starting from a mechanical principle and adding flavor (Magic, King of Tokyo) and from a flavor and figuring out mechanics from there (RoboRally, Pecking Order). »

6. What tips could you give to someone who wants to design a game ?

« Get a wide variety of playtesters. When your playtesters have a problem they will often think it is one thing but it is actually another, with experience you can figure out what really isn’t working for them. This is important because often what the playtesters think they want  will undermine your whole game – but you can come up with fixes that get them what they actually want.

Get new playtesters after working on your game a while – if you always use the same playtesters your game will be developed only for experts, not for new players as well – and new players are, if anything, more important to a game.

Play lots of games. The more games you have the more solutions you will have at your fingertips for problems that come up with your designs. »

7. Could you give us some information about your future projects ?

« King of New York is finished and will be out in a few months. I am working on a trivia game and a number of card drafting games as well. In the online world I am currently shopping around some designs in the customizable deck genre to see if I can get any interest. »

To know more about Magic: the Gathering : http://archive.wizards.com/Magic/Summoner/


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