Board Game VIP – Matt Leacock Interview

Board Game VIP

On this edition of Board Game VIP Matt Leacock, the creator of Pandemic, Forbidden Island, and Forbidden Desert, answers some questions for us!

Matt, Flaming Dice Reviews – Matt, you’re arguably most well known for Pandemic. How did you come up for the idea for the game? Did you intend for it to produce numerous expansions or did you think that it would be just the base game all along?

Matt Leacock – I was interested in designing a cooperative game after trying out Reiner Knizia’s game, The Lord of the Rings. I wanted to know if I could create a game with such great tension and drama using only cards and cardboard. I also enjoyed playing cooperative games with my wife since it meant we both got to be on the same team and set out to design a game that we could enjoy together.

As far as the theme, pandemics were very much in the news at the time and seemed like a great “unfeeling” enemy. I was also interested in creating a game with chain reactions that could spiral out of control.

Expansions were never in the plans—my hope at the time was just to get something published.

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Matt, FDR – Another extremely popular series of yours is the ‘Forbidden’ games; Forbidden Island and Forbidden Desert. It seems to be split down the middle on which of the two is an individual gamer’s personal favorite. Out of the two games (if you were forced to pick one) which would you say you are most proud/fond of and why?

Photo from Click to visit the site

Photo from Click to visit the site

Matt Leacock – While I think Forbidden Desert is the deeper game (more strategies and depth), I think I’m more proud of Forbidden Island. I love the fact that I can give that game to just about *anyone* and know that they’ll be able to understand it quickly, get it on the table, and have a great time, whether they’re a gamer or not.

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Matt, FDR – We’ve heard sporadic rumors for a while about an ant-themed game that you are/were working on. Can you set the record straight on that subject for anyone who is unfamiliar?

Matt Leacock – Not much to say there. I started an ant-themed game (around the time that I started on Pandemic) and never finished it. The design was never good enough for me.

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Matt, FDR – With Pandemic: Legacy now available what are you working on? Is there anything in the pipeline that you can talk about?

Matt Leacock – Rob and I are working to a follow up to Pandemic Legacy Season 1. I also have more in the pipeline for Pandemic and a few other surprises for next year.

Photo from Click to visit the site

Photo from Click to visit the site

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Matt, FDR – Are there any board or card games you are currently enjoying playing or looking forward to playing?

Matt Leacock – My daughter and I have been playing Thunderstone, Tigris and Euphrates, Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small, Splendor, and Rolling America lately.

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Matt, FDR – What do you think about the popularity of using Kickstarter and Indiegogo to fund board games?

Matt Leacock – It’s a real mixed bag. The barrier to entry into the market is much lower for designers but many of the risks are shifted from the producer to the consumer. That said, as a game buyer, you can learn a lot more about games prior to buying them and publishers know they have to maintain a good reputation if they want to have repeated success.

I enjoyed watching Thunderbirds go through the process and enjoyed interacting with the fans of the license well before the game was finished. I was able to share the rules during their creation and get early feedback which was really helpful. That said, I don’t have any interest in running a Kickstarter on my own – it’s far too much work and I’d rather concentrate on designing games

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Matt, FDR – Do you have any advice for aspiring board game designers?

Matt Leacock – One of the best things you can do when testing your designs is to actively listen. Blind test your designs with people you don’t know and ask them to video record their sessions for you. You’ll learn a tremendous amount by watching and listening to them play your game without you in the room.

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Matt, FDR – Matt, thanks again for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer our questions, and a huge thanks for all of the work you put into making games for everyone to enjoy!

Matt Leacock – You’re welcome.


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