Charterstone Q&A with Jamey Stegmaier

Charterstone Interview

We were fortunate enough to once again catch-up with Scythe creator Jamey Stegmaier, to speak about Stonemaier Games' brand-new creation Charterstone - which will be hitting the shelves during the winter.

Hello Jamey thanks for taking time out to talk to me. We have spoken on a few occasions and I am a always excited when I see an announcement on anything to do with Stonemaier Games. In recent weeks, the main focus for your updates have been the Scythe expansion and Charterstone, the latter being a game I am very much excited for. Can you give my readers who may not know (some of them may have been living under a rock) a quick rundown on what Charterstone is?

Thanks! Charterstone is a competitive village-building legacy for 1-6 players. In Charterstone, each player controls a section of a new village in the fictional Kingdom of Greengully where, over a 12-game campaign, they’ll construct buildings (stickers) and populate the village with workers that can be placed on any building. After the 12-game campaign is complete, the game remains completely re-playable.

Being a ‘Legacy’ game makes me instantly compare it with Pandemic Legacy how much was this an influence for Charterstone and what do you plan to do differently?

I fell in love with the legacy format by playing Risk Legacy, and I also enjoyed and learned a lot from Pandemic Legacy and Seafall. As for Pandemic Legacy’s experience in particular, I loved how we were personally invested in our characters due to the stakes involved, and I like that it told a specific story.

I thought about the story a lot for Charterstone, because I wanted it to be a little less linear than in Pandemic Legacy.

The end result in Charterstone is a system involving two types of legacy elements: One is the overarching story, which involves a decision made at the end of each game that impacts the next game or permanent mechanisms, and the other is the branching paths a player can take when constructing buildings and unlocking components in-game.

Being a ‘Legacy’ game makes me instantly compare it with Pandemic Legacy how much was this an influence for Charterstone and what do you plan to do differently?

I fell in love with the legacy format by playing Risk Legacy, and I also enjoyed and learned a lot from Pandemic Legacy and Seafall. As for Pandemic Legacy’s experience in particular, I loved how we were personally invested in our characters due to the stakes involved, and I like that it told a specific story.

I thought about the story a lot for Charterstone, because I wanted it to be a little less linear than in Pandemic Legacy.

The end result in Charterstone is a system involving two types of legacy elements: One is the overarching story, which involves a decision made at the end of each game that impacts the next game or permanent mechanisms, and the other is the branching paths a player can take when constructing buildings and unlocking components in-game.

A Legacy game has a somewhat limited replay-abilty due to components and factors being changed as you play it, how will Charterstone deal with this?

I view permanence as an asset to a legacy game, not something that needs to be dealt with. Naming a card or permanently placing a sticker on the board carries a certain weight and establishes an emotional connection to your choices. In Charterstone, you’re building a village over time, and just like in real life, if you built a house yesterday, that house is still going to be there when you wake up today.

For players concerned about a game’s limited lifespan, Charterstone has infinite replay-ability because the game is designed to be played even after the 12-game campaign is complete. And for players who really just don’t like the idea of making permanent changes to their cardboard, I’d recommend three games that have some similar mechanisms to Charterstone without being legacy games: Lords of Waterdeep, Caylus, and Ora et Labora.

When someone mentions Stonemaier Games, to me I think of great quality components and a guy who is always helping the board game community with advice. What great components can we expect to see in Charterstone?

I appreciate that me and my company are associated with quality components. I can’t reveal all of the components in Charterstone, but the things I’ve already mentioned publicly are 300+ cards with unique art, custom wooden resources and meeples, and 36 thick metal coins. These are standard components in every copy of Charterstone.

Back to helping people out, I first reached out to you many months ago and asked for advice on how you dealt with reviewers and bloggers and following that advice I have had great success and now have a signed a contract with the publisher Final Frontier Games to produce a game together. What further advice would you give anyone out there who wants to make a game?

Congrats on finding a publisher! That’s awesome. I’ve compiled a bunch of thoughts about designing a game, but a few core highlights are: If you want to make a game, make it. That is, don’t get caught up in the hypothetical aspect of designing a game. Instead, just do it. Sit down, brainstorm some ideas, make a prototype, and play it. You’ll learn a ton from that basic process. Also, I love to play a lot of different types of games, even if they’re not in my wheelhouse as a gamer or a designer. I try to learn something from every game I play.

Moving away from Kickstarter was a bold move and one that has worked for you however a lot of people still use the platform and at present it is going through a very busy period. Do you ever see the Kickstarter ‘Bubble’ bursting and what would you suggest if that were to happen?

Indeed, Kickstarter remains a robust, amazing platform for creators to start and grow their companies. I honestly don’t see a bubble when I look at Kickstarter. Sure, technology will change—Kickstarter is only eight years old, but people have been asking each other for money, community, ideas, and support for a long, long time, so now that they have a platform to do so, I think it’ll continue to be used for many years.

To answer your second question, if a significant number of backers stopped using Kickstarter, I certainly think we’d see fewer games made.

Moving away from Kickstarter was a bold move and one that has worked for you however a lot of people still use the platform and at present it is going through a very busy period. Do you ever see the Kickstarter ‘Bubble’ bursting and what would you suggest if that were to happen?

Indeed, Kickstarter remains a robust, amazing platform for creators to start and grow their companies. I honestly don’t see a bubble when I look at Kickstarter. Sure, technology will change—Kickstarter is only eight years old, but people have been asking each other for money, community, ideas, and support for a long, long time, so now that they have a platform to do so, I think it’ll continue to be used for many years.

To answer your second question, if a significant number of backers stopped using Kickstarter, I certainly think we’d see fewer games made.

My last question has to be what’s next? After Charterstone where will your focus be? Will the world of Charterstone be visited again? Will you ever use Kickstarter again?

Charterstone is a one-and-done game—every good idea I had for the game is already in it, and now that I’ve designed a legacy game, I think I’d rather focus on other challenges in the future. I’m working on a few co-operative games right now, and I’m helping to develop a game that was submitted to Stonemaier by an outside designer.

I’m also working a little bit on Scythe’s third and final expansion. I don’t intend to ever use Kickstarter again, though I continue to be fascinated by the platform, so I will maintain my crowdfunding blog until I run out of things to write.

Pre-Order Charterstone

Charterstone is available to pre-order right now at Zatu Games and due to be released during the winter months. If you pre-order with Zatu Games you will receive your copy on the day of release but please remember that the release date is subject to change by the publisher and Zatu Games has no control over these changes being made.

Leave your comment