Excerpts from a yet to be published interview with Richard Garfield...

What do you think about the guys at Abrakam?

Richard Garfield: They've got their own unique take on things, and to see that reflected in the game, and received as well as it has been, probably just fills them with just these ideas of all the possibilities that their unique take on games is going to take them.

Do you think the Abrakam team understands the mechanics of classic board games?

Richard Garfield: Absolutely. Part of the appeal of Faeria was that when you played it, it had mechanics that felt like they came from a board game and you felt like you understood the rules, even though and this is the mark of a ... for me, a really good digital game, even though you wouldn't really want to play it with just paper because the computer is doing so much to support the game.

Every turn, you're laying a land and you've got these different choices of what land and that enables what you can do in the future and you're building this board out. It feels very much like a paper game that has found life in a digital world.

What is Roguebook bringing that is new?

Richard Garfield:
In talking with them, I've been really excited about some of their approaches.

  1. Dual hero: One of their innovations is putting more position relevance into the game. So every time you play a card, it activates one of those heroes and whether it’s in the front or back matters, that sort of thing. I think a simple idea like that can lead to a lot of different possibilities. This team is really good at exploring those possibilities.
  2. Gem socketing: Another thing which really excites me is the idea of having upgradeable cards. As a result, the combinatorial possibilities of what a card has to offer within the deck is overwhelming. I think this will increase the players’ sense of what they can do within this game. One thing that players really respond to in this genre of game is this feel that afterwards, you've got something that's a unique expression of you and your strategy.
  3. Bigger decks: One other thing which I'm pretty excited about that they're talking about doing is figuring out the best way to allow players to build bigger decks. In Roguebook, they’ve got some interesting ideas for how to increase the power of choosing cards late in the game.
  4. Persistence between games - a lot of Roguelikes use that very successfully. But you have to be a little careful how you explore it because you don't want to make it so that players feel like they have no chance unless they fully unlock their game.

How excited are you for Roguebook and how excited do you think the playing community should be?

Richard Garfield: Well, yeah, personally I'm quite excited. I think the genre has a lot of possibilities and these, in the hands of people who clearly understand paper games, I think you're going to end up with a different and strong game which is going to be a new flag in this area.

You talk fondly of the team at Abrakam. What is it that's given you the confidence in the team's ability?

Richard Garfield: Their work on Faeria. It's going to give them new and innovative - that's what I saw in Faeria. There's a lot of different digital card games. Faeria had Paper Games sensibilities and it offered something really new. It didn't feel like it was just a little tweak on the basic formula, and then a game built around that, but something where they had some new things to say and they said it and explored it within this genre, and this has been supported by my limited exchange of emails on what they plan to do with Roguebook and what they really like about the genre.

They reached out to me because they were interested in sharing Roguebook with me. But, the reason why I was receptive to that was because ... I don't know was it three years ago, maybe two years ago that I found Faeria and was playing it, and played it compulsively. I really was impressed with what they had to offer, and was one of those rare games, rare computer games, that I had to stop playing because it was taking too much of my time, not because I had used it up.

So, yeah, I'm looking for a similar sort of innovation in Roguebook, and what they've described to be says to me that they're heading down that path.

What do you hope that they can achieve from this?

Richard Garfield: I hope that they can put another flag in this area of ... as you framed it, roguelike deck builders, that it does more than just change the flavour of Slay the Spire, but introduces new strategic possibilities and mechanical delight that I have enjoyed exploring in the other games.