Here at J4G we love games. From the epic 4 hour games, to the 10 minutes speed games, we enjoy the experience they bring. On International Tabletop Day this year at our local library we met Ben Cooper (known in the interview as BC). Ben is the CEO of Rounded Squarish a games company based in the south of England with their first card game about to launch on Kickstarter.
Ruddy Vikings is a fast paced 2-4 player card game that is perfect for those gaps in play. You know the ones where one person has to nip out to buy more booze or they are setting up an epic game of Dead of Winter? That’s the perfect time to play a hand or two. The rules are simple to pick up but allow for a fun, complex, set of hands that make you want to keep playing to even the score!
Here’s our little interview:
J4G: So Ben let’s talk Rounded Squarish. What is it exactly?
BC: Rounded Squarish was founded YEARS ago (about 5, makes me feel old) when an extremely naive and excited Ben and Rich decided they could make games better than other teams. We started working on our own projects, some way too big and later (when slightly less naive) some bitesize web games. These biteszie games were to form a solid base on which we would continue to develop as a creative entity.
In mid 2014, after being part of the Microsoft Ventures Pilot accelerator within another team, we decided to make Rounded Squarish official. We incorporated the company and set to work creating our first official mobile title ‘Print Jam’. A massive expansion to our very first web based game, ‘Print Jam’ has been in development since August 2014 and is set to be released in a couple of months.
During the lifespan of Rounded Squarish we have always hinted and touched on making board games. Early attempts were quashed by over ambitious-ness or simply by trying to take on too much work and becoming swamped. Early in 2015 we decided to give it another try. Once artwork for Print Jam had been completed, we set to creating our very own deck and that brings us up to where we are today!
J4G: Well we shall certainly look out for “Print Jam” when it arrives. What made you try your hand at physical games?
BC: We decided to branch into the physical world mainly because throwing your cards at your mate when you lose hurts a lot less than throwing your controller! In all honesty we have always been interested in developing a board game, but were never sure as to just how much the skills of developing mobile games would transfer and if we would be able to do a good job. However, after taking that leap, we have found making and developing a physical product to be just as much fun and relies on many of the same skills as creating a digital game.
The great thing about developing a physical product is that you can literally play the entire game in a matter of hours, rather than having to wait for several days whilst a prototype is mocked up for a mobile game. Another thing that really appealed to us was seeing how enthusiastic the board game community is! We wanted to be part of that community and bring with us something we would be proud to call our own.
J4G: OK lets get down to brass tacks IN 2 WORDS OR LESS DESCRIBE RUDDY VIKINGS! Or.. you know has many words as you want really..
BC: Ruddy Vikings is a strategic card game where players must protect their hand. They do this by placing defences and using cunning strategies in order to be the last one standing. It’s a game of secrecy and sometimes mass tension as you battle it out to be the epic Viking master OF THE WORLD. (last bit said in your very best Jeremy Clarkson voice)
J4G: Why Vikings? Don’t get us wrong everybody likes a good Viking, why not pirates or ninjas though?
BC: Yeah, Vikings. I think Vikings because it is something that has always appealed to me (they’re freaking cool!). I thought through various designs but Vikings seemed to stick out for me for some reason. We fully aim to create various expansions though, and choosing Vikings gives us great scope for a wide variety of games to come!
J4G: So you just built a whole new game system for Ruddy Vikings? Just like that? Were there any major challenges you faced?
The biggest initial challenge for us is being 200 odd miles apart! Playing a card game over skype is hard but if its still fun then you know you’re on to something! The design of the system seemed to come quite quickly with everything flowing relatively smoothly from the first or second game. We spent a short while balancing the game and then trying different methods of play.
When we felt that we had achieved the balance that we wanted, we started on the artwork for the cards. This has always been a part of our projects that I have never worried about too much. Rich is an amazing artist and has taught me enough to start being some form of help for him. The most tricky part was choosing from the hundreds of Viking sketches! Once we had the Viking style sorted, the rest sort of slotted into place. Defences gave us a bit of a challenge, at first, until we found something we loved and everything sped up again.
J4G: We love the defences in this game they add a lot of surprise to each play. What other games do you enjoy playing?
BC: I really like simple games. Games that you can pick up in one or two turns and not sit feeling like a lemon for half the game. Games that gave us inspiration were the likes of Zombie Dice and Forbidden Island which are totally different but immensely fun and SO simple to pick up and play.
J4G: So last and perhaps the most pivotal question is this. Who would win in a fight? A Viking with a LightSaber or a Ninja with a Bat’leth?
BC: 100% the Viking. It wouldn’t even be an epic battle to be honest. So the ninja would obviously gain the initial strike because…Ninja. However, the ninja wouldn’t account for the fact that the Viking, at that very second, would drop his giant leg of meat in his drunken state, bending to pick it up and missing the massive swipe of the bat’leth. From there on it’s game over for the Ninja I’m afraid. The Viking (now wielding the leg of meat) would lob the chunk of mutton at the Ninja, stunning the poor chap, right before he launched in with his glimmering lightsaber axe (custom made) and, well… I think we know what happens now. You can actually hear Yoda in the movies state “went all Viking on his ass, I did”. True story (Diclaimer: This may not be a true story). Vikings did it first.
Big Thanks to Ben for answering our questions and for playing the game with us. You can find the Ruddy Vikings on Kickstarter as of 21st of June (Here) and we highly recommend picking it up. All the family can get in on this and have a Ruddy good time!