Oh Captain, My Captain--An Interview With AEG's Todd Rowland

Today we're delighted to chat with Todd C. Rowland of Alderac Entertainment Group (AEG). Todd is here to discuss The Captain is Dead, as well as all things AEG!

Todd, thanks for joining us today!

Thank you for having me!

So. Let's jump right into it. The Captain is Dead--is it okay to panic now?

Panic? Panic? Did the Captain train you to panic or to do what you need to do? Well, knowing the Captain…he probably didn’t train much, just went looking for cute alien women...

Give us the low-down on The Captain is Dead, we're talking Co-op right?

Yes indeed! Full co-op, no backstabby bits. You are the crew of the starship that’s just lost its Captain. The systems are failing, and thus taking away your cool abilities. Luckily you can repair them if you think you have time and resources. Of course, if you don’t get the jump core repaired before the shields go down, it’s all over... 

At what point did you get ahold of this game, and what excited you most about the progress it's made in development to the finished version that is available now?

We played the original edition of the game last year during one of our company meetups--a high falutin’ soiree where we all get together and plow through as many games as possible, finding those diamonds in the rough. This was definitely a diamond we felt needed more exposure at a retail level. The fact that we had as much fun losing (a lot) as winning really said something.

The first print run is already sold out! (Congrats!) What can you tell the folks about the possibilities of a second run?

Oh it’s already underway! And there were a few little typos and minor improvements we saw we could make so we got those in quickly.

I (Jeremiah) am woefully behind in my Smash Up collection. What's new there and what news is coming down the line for the series?

2017 is bonkers for Smash Up. So we’ve released What Were We Thinking, which fulfilled my goal of putting competitive grandmas into a popular high-selling product. Life goal: achieved.
Following that, this summer we have two great releases: the Smash Up All Stars event kit will be in retail stores and give players the chance to win a huge Smash Up playmat, ultra-spiffy wooden tokens, and get a copy of the All-Stars faction, a new faction made up entirely of cards from prior factions. We ran them through the playtest wringer for a while and create a fully functional amalgam faction. And we put them on a basketball team, in space.
After that, in September we have Smash Up: Big in Japan. As you may have seen we have a thriving game-line we have called Big in Japan, including Love Letter and Sail to India. With many more coming this year such as Unicornus Knights and Sakura Arms, Smash Up didn’t want to be left out. So you’ll see Magical Girls, Kaiju, and more! Oh, and this set put the BIG in Big in Japan…

Finally this year for everyone who goes to our website and fills out a simple survey, we’ll send the Sheep faction absolutely free at the end of the year! Just for giving us a little info that will allow us to create even more quality high-performance Smash Up product.

Con season is upon us! What cons will AEG have a presence at, and which ones will you be at personally?

We are at Origins, Gen Con, Essen, BGGCon, and Tokyo Game Market in December, as well as visiting other cons around the world. Personally I’ll be at Gen Con and Tokyo Game Market.

Okay, I would be remiss in not asking for the low-down on Custom Heroes! What can you tell us? Is this a base game with expansions coming? Or a modular format where players bring their own cards/decks to the game? Tell us more!!

Okay, so Custom Heroes is one of our big releases for the year, the heat it’s getting is already pretty big. It’s a single-deck game, so you don’t bring your own. You deal the entire deck of cards valued 1-10 (6 copies of each) to the players, then you also deal them several clear-card advancements, similar to those in Mystic Vale and the upcoming Edge of Darkness. You play a trick-taking ladder-style game, so if the first player leads with x3 “1s” then the next player has to play x3 “1s” or x3 of a higher number, and so on until someone can’t play.  However, you can use card advancements to change the value of your numbers, so if you only had x2 fours and x1 three, you could add a +1 weapon to the three and now it’s permanently a four. There are also advancements that give cards unique abilities such as being wild, counting as two cards, etc. However, the cards retain their changes from round to round while being redealt, so you may end up giving opponents really cool abilities!
First player to a certain point total wins!


It's time for The Lightning Round!


Favorite vacation spot?

There’s a little cabin in the Arkansas wilderness that some of our family owns. It’s quiet, peaceful, right on a lake in the mountains, and no cell reception or wifi so I can’t work. It’s fantastic.

Favorite Star Wars Droid?


Last show you binged?

So...we’re weird. We watch a ton of YouTube, actually, so the last show we binged was Japanology from NHK. Or some various travel bloggers. 

Best NBA player ever?

I always admired Larry Bird, though Jordan is usually an easy answer.


Thanks, Todd, for answering our questions. And thank you for reading! Make sure you check out all the cool AEG games coming down the pike.