An Interview with Draco Magi Designer Robert Burke

coverIt’s time for another sit-down and chat with a game designer, and this week we’re chatting with Robert Burke of Robert Burke Games, co-designer of the currently Kickstarting Draco Magi, among other things.

Robert, thanks so much for taking some time during your Kickstarting to share your thoughts with us and our readers.

First, can you tell us a little about yourself?

I’m a husband and father of two from the Charlotte, NC area. I’ve been designing games for a few years now, and hope to continue since I have so much fun with it! I still have a full-time “real job,” but found that designing games is an excellent creative outlet for me. It’s also a great way for me to rationalize board game purchases to my wife. “But honey, if I’m going to improve my designs, I need to own and play more games!” :-)

What can you tell us about Draco Magi?

Draco Magi is a strategic and thematic card game where you play a Dragon mage apprentice vying for the throne of the dragon king. You do this by commanding dragons into battle on different landscapes to win gems. It’s a contest to become the head honcho.

Robert Burke Games is an “indie game publisher,” but you have some pretty heavy hitters who have contributed to Draco Magi. How did you get so well connected in the industry, and how did you manage to assemble this cast of characters to help develop the game?

Well I guess it boils down to two things. The first was putting out some games that were recognized--namely, Cartoona and Battle For Souls. And the second is, I was lucky enough to meet some great people in the industry, whom I meshed very well with.  I value the friendships I’ve made since I’ve entered the fray more than anything else.

You and Richard Launius co-designed Draco Magi; where did the concept of the game come from? And can you share a little about the design process?

The short version:

1. Draco Magi started as an abstract strategy game that was in my head for some time. It was just cards of numbers and colors.

2. I saw the dragon artwork of Kerem Beyit and fell so in love with it that I purchased a seed license to use it in my game

3. I played it with Richard Launius who loved it, but rightly let me know it had no connection to the theme, so we developed a partnership to design it together

So the rest is history. We think we have an excellent 30-minute game that is highly strategic and thematic, has world class art, and that we can sell on Kickstarter for $15. We hope this is the right combination for success.

The design process was fantastic mainly because we had two different perspectives and play testing groups helping to develop the game. The collaboration really forced us to look hard at every change since there was always another designer to review it, critique it, and streamline it.

You’re no stranger to Kickstarter, and the process of getting a game from idea to market. What is the most crucial piece of advice you would give an aspiring designer/developer before they jump into a Kickstarter campaign?

Get the word out from day one. Show people your design process publicly. You can’t be fearful of people stealing your idea. That won’t happen! Show them your art as you find it. Be transparent about what the game is. Make as much media available as possible: review copies, art, rules, videos, podcasts, etc. If you wait until your Kickstarter begins to do this you’ll have a difficult road indeed.

We know you’re neck-deep in the Draco Magi campaign, but is there anything on the horizon you can tell us about?

Yes, I am working with Steve Avery on a dungeon-delving card game with a traitor mechanic called Doppelganger. You have to complete quests as a team, but one player is a doppelganger trying to kill a party member off.

And another is a still-untitled, bluffing game. It was inspired by Coup, a game I love, but that I have some issues with. Namely, the limited number of roles and the player elimination. For this one I am focusing on removing player elimination and will have a lot more roles. Money is the key to victory in this. It should end up being small and inexpensive, but pack a lot of interactive punch.

You’re a self-described “music freak.” What does that mean, exactly, and what are five bands that we might not have heard of that we should be listening to?

I love and play music, and I write playlists for Yahoo Music and the brand new Beats Music.

Here’s a link to my top 100 albums of last year.

Hopefully, that’s better than 5. :-)

KS Promo cardsOkay, it’s time for the Rapid-Fire Section! We ask the questions; you answer them with one word (or super-short phrase)! And, GO!

Favorite dragon in Draco Magi?

Brass Dragon

TP: over or under?


Favorite minor character in a book or movie? Queequeg

Smaug vs. Draco? (You know, the dragon from Dragonheart… Ok, maybe this one doesn’t need answered.)


Favorite Kickstarter Game You’ve Backed?


We'd like to thank Robert for spending some time with us today!

We've reviewed Draco Magi and you can find that review right here, and you can still get in on the Kickstarter campaign of the game for a meager $15 until Feb. 21, 2014 by clicking right here!

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