An Interview With Nightfall Designer David Gregg

davidgreggToday we’re thrilled to have David Gregg—designer of the hit deck-builder Nightfall—join us for some Q&A. David! Thanks for agreeing to talk to us!

Thanks for having me!

So first, tell us a little about yourself.

I like to take long walks on the beach... I mean >.>

I'm currently 28, married for 10 years with 2 daughters who are both in middle school now. I love technology and Japanese culture, so my hobbies usually revolve around some combination of those two. The company I work for now doesn't have an official IT department, but I basically spend my time doing IT-related things with a large focus on developing in-house Web-based systems. Lately I've been training to run 5K's and have also gotten into racquetball at my local YMCA. We recently moved to a larger home as we plan to foster-to-adopt in the near future, but also want the space now as we started participating in the foreign exchange student program as of last year. I used to be big into MMO's and other video games, but wanted to increase my time spent with the family, so have swapped over to board gaming (with the occasional computer-based game tossed in).

Your bio says, “Having kids brought me to Christ.” Would you mind sharing that story?

My parents never got along as I grew up, and I had developed a strong dislike for my father’s personality. Entering my teens I had decided that whenever I had kids of my own that I would vow to be a better man. (Sorry for the dark story, but you asked, lol...) Anywho, when my girlfriend and I found out we were pregnant, I knew I had to figure out how to be a good dad and assumed I’d find some good pointers in the Bible. Ended up finding much, much more than I had bargained for, reading the whole thing through that year.

How did you get involved with Euro-type games?

I had played your standard Wal-Mart fare of games for years, especially classic card games and chess. Late in high school I got heavily into Magic: The Gathering as well as the Yu-Gi-Oh TCG. Having kids, however, made those too expensive for me. Fortunately someone had the genius to create Dominion AND I was lucky enough to find it. The fact that such a great game existed outside of Wal-Mart got me hunting for where else I mind find great games like that, which led me to BoardGameGeek.

What are your five favorite games right now?

That’s a hard one. I keep a tight rein on my collection—only keeping games that both my family and I enjoy, ensuring they all get played. As for my personal favorites? Guildhall and The Resistance are easily the top 2 right now, with 7 Wonders, King of Tokyo, and Go probably being the ones to round out my top 5.

Does your family play games, or is this just “Dad’s weird hobby...”?

Oh they’re thoroughly converted—well, most of them anyways. My youngest daughter has entered full-on geek-mode, frequently requesting game time. The wife also really enjoys all the family time that gets generated, though prefers lighter games. My eldest daughter is probably the least interested in games, but still humors us from time to time.

NightfallCoverSo Nightfall. Did the lycanthropic theme drive the mechanics, or vice versa?

Neither actually. I’m a huge fan of fantasy, especially magic, dwarves, elves, etc., and had originally designed the game around that, with the chain mechanic being the way that the players weave their spells. AEG was really wanting to capitalize on the whole vampire/werewolf trend in general media however, so we swapped out the theme.

As a Christian, have you received any flack for the “ghoulish” theme and “sexy vampires” in the game?

Very little actually. Most of my family is too proud that they know a game designer to really fuss over the little details like that, though I have encountered the occasional person who dislikes the theme.

Yours is still one of the only direct-conflict deck-builders out there. What made you decide to go that route?

Even though I really enjoyed the deck-building mechanic introduced by Dominion, I sorely missed all the interaction from my Magic: The Gathering days. That’s when I decided to try my hand at mixing the two.

You and AEG recently announced an Eastern Skies expansion. What can you tell us about that one? What unique thing does it bring to the table?

This is a new base set and will likely be the set I begin recommending as the new starting point. Its complexity is somewhere between Martial Law and Coldest War, so shouldn’t be too hard for new players who have some deckbuilding background. As for the new stuff, this one introduces a new Link mechanic that ties into the existing Chain mechanic as well as new starter minion and a new wound effect. This set also continues the Summon mechanic introduced in Crimson Siege, though the Combat mechanic didn’t make the cut in any of the 24 new order cards.

Are there any other designs kicking around in your head—or even upcoming! Or are you mostly focused on NIghtfall expansions?

I’ve not begun work on any more Nightfall expansions, but have kept busy with new stuff. I have a time-travel-themed co-op I've titled Just In Time, which is mostly ready for publishing and just collecting dust as I wait to hear back from publishers. I’ve posted several images, as well as most of my process of creating it, over on BGG. I’m also working on another card-based game I’m calling Emerging Mystics, where the players are student mages who are learning how to harness magic and learn their first spells. The game uses a Mastermind-like deduction mechanic to generate mana, a puzzle for converting mana to what you need (racing the other players for purchasing priority), and then a scoring system similar to the science cards in 7 Wonders based on how highly you manage to level up the various spells you learn.

NightfallCardIt’s time for One-Word Answers! It’s just what it sounds like: Answer these questions with just one word (or a short phrase is acceptable, too...)

Favorite Nightfall card?


Favorite short story?


What is your “guilty pleasure” band—the one you’d be embarrassed for the world to know you listen to...?

OMG <3 Deadmau5 (or dubstep in general)

Favorite Muppet?


Favorite Proverb?

Twist: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom

Thanks for taking time to answer our questions, David! And thank you for reading!

Make sure you sign up to follow the blog, as we're giving away a copy of Boss Monster this week—all you have to do to be eligible is sign up to Follow the blog over on the right----->

(Sorry,the contest is only open to those living in the US and Canada.)

When Expansions Go Bad...

MontrealBy Firestone I love expansions. LOVE THEM. Sometimes they can "fix" some of the problems that emerged in a game when it first came out. Sometimes they can just breathe some new life into a game that has grown a little stale. Sometimes they allow more players to play the game (although this is rarely a good thing, IMHO).

Age of Steam is a good example of a game ripe for expansions. Awesome base game, and the expansions are just maps. Maps of new areas—real and imagined—with new and interesting rules and mechanics. Does it always work? No! (cough*Golden Spike*cough). But when it does (Montréal Métro, for instance), it makes me love the base game even more... (Power Grid also benefits from more maps.)

Card games are a natural fit for expansions. Thunderstone, Nightfall, Netrunner, and Lord of the Rings all benefit from just more awesome stuff to add!

Pandemic's On The Brink added some significant gameplay changes—including someone playing as the baddie! Those are the most risky expansions, because they have the potential to be awesome or terrible.

PrincesBut sometimes expansions are just...awful. The first one that springs to mind is the expansion for The Princes of Florence. Now understand: For years and years and years Princes Of Florence was my very favorite game. It was only recently eclipsed by The Resistance, due to the sheer amount of fun I've had with it. So I was excited to play with the expansion that came in the Treasure Chest (one box that had 10 expansions for six games). It. Was. Horrible. Our one and only game using the expansion took 4 hours. 4 HOURS!! Toward the end of that game, the expansion made me hate Princes Of Florence. Any expansion that makes me hate my favorite game is bad, bad, bad.

Another bad one was the Necromancer Island expansion for Small World. This was a freebie giveaway promotion, so I think they felt they could experiment a little. It's lame. It forces the players to cooperate against the Necromancer player—which doesn't really work well in the framework of the game. But beyond that, those who do work to fight the Necromancer are in a worse position that those who don't. Blech. It's going for ~$30 on the secondary market, thanks to completists who didn't get it when it was free and want a copy now. I'll happily part with my copy for that price...

So what are some of your favorite expansions? And what are some that fell flat for you?

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