245 – Jonathan Chaffer – The Family Gamers Podcast

Jonathan Chaffer
Jonathan Chaffer

Welcome to another episode! This week, we’re talking to game designer Jonathan Chaffer.

The Family Gamers Podcast is sponsored by First Move Financial. Did you know some of the best financial advice is also the simplest? If you need to talk about ideas to get started budgeting, set up a call with First Move by going to firstmovefinancial.com/familygamers today.

Episode 245 fact: 245 is the Title field in the MARC standards. (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MARC_standards for more.)

What We’ve Been Playing

Super Skill Pinball (WizKids) – long, but really captures the feeling of pinball in a turn-based roll and write game.

MicroMacro: Crime City – a cooperative detective/puzzle solving game. Content warning: art style is cartoon line art, but subject matter includes a lot of murder.

Unstable Unicorns and Telestrations with nieces.

After last week’s show, our kids started asking to play more Bananagrams and Monopoly Deal!

Tidal Blades (Skybound) – enormous, gorgeous, and fun. Now they’re interested in the RPG?

A short discussion of D&D and roleplaying games.

Lucky Numbers (Luma Imports) – We’re getting ready to review the physical copy, but you can play right now on Board Game Arena.

Wordsy (Formal Ferret Games) will be part of our gameschooling series. Your goal is to come up with really long words!

We discuss what we loved about Poetry Slam.

Project L (Boardcubator) – like a cross between tangrams and Splendor.

Board Game in the Middle – Jonathan Chaffer Edition

Which one is in the middle, between The Kringle Caper, Stroop, and Filler? (Based on average BGG rating.)

Listen and find out!

More with Jonathan

Jonathan designed several of our family’s favorite games, including Filler, Stroop, and The Kringle Caper. He tells us a little more about himself:

He is from Grand Rapids Michigan, married with no kids. “I have the luxury of spending some of my non-day-job time working on this hobby of designing games.”

His first published game was Stroop, which is a game about the Stroop effect. This is a game that has been really hard to translate into other languages! Andrew and Anitra share how Stroop is not a game you can play quietly… we brought it to Disney World and ended up sitting out in the hall to play when the kids when to sleep.

Filler (Green Couch Games), a game about making filled pastries, is a big favorite in our family.

Jonathan is finishing up a game that will be set in the world of The Artemis Project (Grand Gamers Guild).

Andrew is interested in a weird game Jonathan made – a tabletop game about curling. Well, it’s because Jonathan was challenging himself to make 18-card games. Which leads to…

Pocket Escape Room Games

Could you fit an escape room style into 18 cards? What started as an exercise to make an unusual “Christmas card” became The Kringle Caper after a publisher saw it.

Our family had a lot of furn with The Kringle Caper because it required cooperation and knowledge that our kids didn’t always have, without being too hard.

Now it is becoming a series of games, the Holiday Hijinks series!

The next one scheduled is The Independence Incident, available for pre-order right now.

Look for The Pumpkin Problem and The Cupid Crisis in the future.

Before these, we had never seen an 18-card escape/mystery before. How can you fit an hour of gameplay in such a small box?

First, “I could not afford to spend any paper on solution or hints”, which means there has to be an app to assist (without putting the game into the app like Unlock!) The app is really just a website that can provide some help and checks.

“There’s a well reasoned rule of thumb in [designing] a real world escape room, that you shouldn’t need any information that isn’t in the room.” Most escape-room-in-a-box games follow this rule as well, but with only 18 cards, there wasn’t any room to spare for just background information. (So the app/website can help with that too.)

Most cards get used in multiple ways over the course of the mystery.

For each holiday, Jonathan has been working through what sort of information and cultural references make sense. Working on Independence Day means he can talk about tons of stuff throughout American history. (It promises to be educational, with facts about states and about presidents.) Jonathan tells us it’s a bit like the movie National Treasure with Nicolas Cage. Wackiness awaits!

If you want more games in this vein (more wordplay in the puzzles), check out the Professor Hincks games: https://www.teambluefish.com/curiouselevator

Find Jonathan Online:

Get Holiday Hijinks games: https://grandgamersguild.com/holiday-hijinks/

Find him on Twitter: @uncleJonBob

Find Us Online:

Facebook: @familygamersaa and thefamilygamers.com/community
Twitter (X): @familygamersaa
Threads: @familygamersaa
Instagram: @familygamersaa
TikTok: @familygamersaa
Youtube: TheFamilyGamers

or join the Family Tabletop Community on Discord! thefamilygamers.com/discord

Or, for the most direct method, email us! andrew@thefamilygamers.com and anitra@thefamilygamers.com.

Check out our new Family Gamers and Play Games with Your Kids merchandise – T-shirts, hoodies, and mugs – at thefamilygamers.com/merch.

PLEASE don’t forget to subscribe to the show, tell your friends about the show, and leave us a review at Apple Podcast or whatever your podcast subscription source is. We’re also on Amazon Music, TuneIn, and Spotify.

The Family Gamers is sponsored by First Move Financial. Go to FirstMoveFinancial.com/familygamers to learn how the team at First Move Financial can help you pile up the victory points.

First Move Financial - Financial planning for all stages of life. What's your first move?