Editor’s Note: As a kind of content geek, I try new formats. So, here’s a new interviewette for tabletop designers. We promise no TL;DR. Let’s see how Phil Walker-Harding, the designer of hot new game Bärenpark (among others like Sushi Go, Imhotep, Cacao and more) does, shall we?
BGB: Attention is money, my friend. What is the elevator pitch for Bärenpark?
Bärenpark is a family strategy game about building a wildlife park from polyomino tiles. Fit the pieces together like a puzzle! Plan ahead as your park expands!.. Um, it has pandas!
BGB: Making games is hard work, so you best have a great reason for making this thing. What inspired this game?
I have always really loved board games that use polyomino tiles. Some favourites (Ed.Note: Phil’s an Aussie, so we’ll allow for that ‘u’) are Blokus
and The Princes of Florence
. So I always wanted to design a game with these pieces. After playing Patchwork I was inspired to move ahead with a design that put them front and centre. As I developed it, I realized that the funnest thing about these games for me is when you get a piece to perfectly fit in around other pieces. So I tried to make these little “eureka!” moments happen as often as possible in the design.
BGB: There are too many games out there. What hole in my game collection does this fill?
Phil Walker-Harding: If you like spatial tile placement games, Bärenpark plays very quickly while allowing some nice planning decisions. The game has had some success as a welcoming gateway style game that will also give gamers something to chew on.
BGB: This is Boardgame Babylon, so out with your dirty secrets. What DON’T you want to tell me about this game?
The game originally had an amusement park theme. So, instead of 4 different types of bears, the pieces represented 4 different types of rides – rollercoasters, waterslides etc. The publisher, Lookout
, felt that a more original theme was needed because a few theme park games had come out in Europe in recent years. I love the art and cuteness factor that the bear theme brought to the game, but I have to say that I think rollercoasters would have been cool!
BGB: Thanks for telling us a bit about Bärenpark. Let’s wrap up with the key specifics (play time, number of players, and the link to the game) and also, since I think you can tell a lot about a person by understanding their sense of humor, what’s a good joke to close this interviewette?
Phil Walker-Harding: Bärenpark
is 2-4 players, ages 8+, 30-45 minutes.
I’ve always like the Groucho Marx quote: “I’m not crazy about reality, but it’s still the only place to get a decent meal.”
NOTE: Here at BGB, we LOVE a lot of Phil’s games, including Sushi Go Party