An Interview with Jamey Stegmaier—Designer of Viticulture

Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions for us, Jamey. Could you tell us a little about yourself? I’m the co-founder of Stonemaier Games in St. Louis, along with my friend Alan Stone. I LOVE board games—I’ve been playing and designing board games since I was 8 years old (I’m a haggard, weather-worn 31 now). I’m an avid reader and writer; I play soccer, and I have two cats that keep me on my toes. They were not helpful in creating Viticulture.

What was your inspiration for creating your new game Viticulture?

A few factors played into the inspiration for creating Viticulture. I had a few key mechanics that I wanted to use in a game, and I was fascinated by both the romanticism and complexity of running a vineyard. So I combined the two into a vineyard in a box.

Would someone who didn’t like wine still find something to love about your game?

Oh, definitely. At heart, this is a worker-placement game with some hand management and production optimizing, so if you enjoy those mechanics... I also think that regardless of your interest in wine, people who enjoy the following elements of gaming will really enjoy Viticulture:

  1. Scalability: Viticulture is a 2-6 person game. Depending on the number of players, different numbers of worker placement spots on the game board are available. Thus the game feels the same whether you’re playing with 2 players or a larger group.
  2. Conflict Without Hostility: I designed the game so that people would walk away feeling elated, not frustrated. Thus you can’t block people in Viticulture unless you can actually take the action you’re claiming. There is conflict—after all, there are a limited number of spots on the board—but no hostility.
  3. Flow: Have you ever played a game where you have to wait 10 minutes with nothing to do before it’s your turn? Viticulture is not one of those games. Players place workers one at a time (not all workers for one player, then all for the next), so you have a constant stream of choices to make.

Not really a question, but I’ve never seen a money-back guarantee on a Kickstarter board game before. That’s a great idea!

Thanks! My backers are placing their trust in me to create a great game (and they’re pledging funds so that my game can be a reality), so I want to reciprocate their trust and generosity by offering their money back if they return the game within a month of receiving it. It’s my way of standing behind the Viticulture experience I’m creating.

I noticed that 3 of your top 5 games are worker placement games. Do you like any other type of games or game mechanisms? Which ones?

Sure, definitely. Dominion (deckbuilding) is high on that list, as is Ra (auctioning). I also enjoy games that feature drafting, and I love the idea behind tile-placement games (but have yet to find one that completely fulfills what I want—I might have to design it myself).

What was your gateway game?

There have been a number of gateway games in my life, each to a new level of gaming. I’d say that the biggest gateways were chess, then Risk, then Settlers of Catan, then Agricola. And lots in between. I feel like every innovative game opens a new gate.

One-Word Answers:

Buffy or Angel?


Coffee: Iced, hot, or neither?

Neither (I drink the occasional Frappucino, but that’s it)

Favorite author?

I’m an avid reader in a variety of genres, so this question is near impossible to answer. I’ll say that my favorite author right now is Ernest Cline, author of Ready Player One.

Favorite place you’ve visited?

Man, you want a one-word answer for this? So many amazing places out there! I’m trying to decide between Stonehenge or Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater. Stonehenge has been around for thousands of years, so it’s not going anywhere. Thus I’ll say Fallingwater, because it probably won’t last nearly as long.

The judges have decided to deduct 5 points for not keeping your answers to only one word. Nevertheless, thanks again for answering our questions!

Thank you! Your blog is one of the first gaming blogs I started reading, so it’s an honor to participate in an interview as a designer here.


Make sure you hit up Jamey's Kickstarter campaign for Viticulture. There are only four days left! And thanks for reading!