David Gregg, designer of Nightfall card game

In 2011, David Gregg, designer of Nightfall the card game, attended MACE for the first time.  He was kind enough to answer a few interview question.

Thanks for taking the time to talk with us. Tell us a little about yourself?

Certainly! I grew up around Wal-Mart variety board games, video games (favorites were Mario and Sonic) and classic card games. My family would frequently play a game of Hearts or Euchre after dinner in the evenings and my father loved to destroy us in Monopoly or play cooperatively with me in Contra on the NES. My dad taught me chess in middle school, which stuck with me all the way through high school, even going so far as to start a chess club, run it for a couple years and compete in some local tourneys. Throughout high school I played TCG’s such as Magic: The Gathering and Yu-Gi-Oh, but eventually had to abandon those money sinks and ended up settling on video games for quite a while. It was some years before I finally found Board Game Geek and officially adopted board gaming as one of my primary hobbies.

What kind of gamer would you characterize yourself?

I’m mostly a casual gamer, playing with my wife, daughters and a few close friends. My nearest FLGS is a bit of a hike away, so I don’t get to game there very often. Right now I’m just trying to grow my collection, nabbing some of the most popular games so I can get a good feel for what all is out there. So far I very much enjoy cooperative games and strategy games that have small bits of luck tossed in. I’m a big fan of card based games, modular boards and dice that have more then 6 sides. I’m not interested in war games, abstracts or the overly complex, they tend to make my head hurt. I haven’t yet gotten to play any RPG’s, but have a couple that I would like to try out sometime.

Tell us a little about Nightfall and its inspiration?

Shortly after discovering Board Game Geek I found out about the deckbuilding mechanic and thought it sounded like a great way to have a Magic-like game without the necessary money sink that comes with a TCG. Unfortunately the only deckbuilding game around at the time had little to no player interaction, which disappointed me greatly, so I decided to attempt a game of my own. My first attempt ended up being something extremely similar to Magic with a light bit of deckbuilding thrown in and it was absolutely horrible… After a few iterations I decided to abandon cost restrictions for playing cards, but still wanted to restrict play somehow. After a lot of twiddling my thumbs I came up with the chaining mechanic that the game is now centered around. Tracking minion health directly on the cards was added and shortly afterward AEG spotted me in the BGG forums and picked me up. It wasn’t until after I gained the help from AEG’s playtest teams that we came up with the wound system, the minion based starter decks and the final influence systems, all of which I’ve been very happy with. All of this can be read in more detail via my designer diaries on the official Nightfall website: www.nightfallgame.com

What is the philosophy behind its design?

The original goals were simply a deckbuilding game with directly conflict. As development progressed, other goals were added such as wanting the game to build up in epicness over the course of the game, preventing run-away-leader and for the game’s momentum to build up very quickly.

How does this compare to other similar games?

There are several deckbuilding games in the market now, but from what I know of them there still lack other DBG’s with direct player confrontation. Most of the DBG’s are more about racing to some end goal such as most victory points or some other win condition, which while some love those scenarios, others will quickly point it out as their primary reason for why they generally dislike the genre. Nightfall in comparison is all about direct confrontation, with the game scoring the players based on how well they handle all those incoming attacks.

Tell us a little bit about your plans for MACE and Nightfall.

This will be my second convention (first was GenCon this year), so I’m still very new to what is available at game conventions. So far I know that I want to help out with the Nightfall demos and tournament in any ways that I can. I also plan to browse what other games are being demoed and perhaps demo another game that I’m currently developing.