51 – The Family Gamers Podcast – Donovan Eberling and Jeff James

Donovan and Jeff

Donovan Eberling and Jeff James are the founders of Iron Hippo Games and co-creators (or maybe “architects”) of Tournament of Towers, a dexterity game now on Kickstarter.

Iron Hippo Games has its seed in the “bro-cathalon” that Jeff ran for Donovan’s bachelor weekend. They’ve been working on other games, but Tournament of Towers is the first one to come to Kickstarter.

Tournament of Towers was inspired by a German dexterity/auction game called Bausack, in which players build towers but try to force the other players to take the hardest pieces. Donovan realized that he wanted to flip the game on its head: instead of trying to avoid the interesting pieces to win, why not make a game that rewards making something beautiful?

We discuss the base rules for Tournament of Towers but also a few of the many variations that are possible. It’s more of a system and a basic idea of what to do.

We want to inspire people to create with this. We don’t want to tell people there’s only one way to play this game.

Andrew and Anitra both mention that we hated this game the first time we played, in part because we did not expect a simple-looking dexterity game to be so hard. But that’s part of the point; it’s a hard game but so rewarding! And not too hard for a three year old to play, as Donovan’s son shows us.

We discuss the two philosophies that tend to show up: “Queen Structura” players that just want a sturdy stable tower, and “King Curvanimus” players that want all the gold. “They flame out like Icarus,” says Donovan. First time players tend to fail (tower falls down) about 50% of the time. But failing should be encouraged, because it’s the best way to learn how to be better!

As we often do on the podcast, we explore rule-shifting; ways to keep the game fair among players of differing abilities.

Find Tournament of Towers on Kickstarter.

Read our review of Tournament of Towers.

If you liked the show, (or even if you didn’t), don’t forget to leave us a review on iTunes!