“With a Smile & a Gun” – Hinter den Kulissen


“With a Smile & a Gun” – Hinter den Kulissen

Einblicke, 19. Februar 2024

5 Minuten

Unser Würfeleinsetzspiel "With a Smile & a Gun" hat bei euch voll eingeschlagen! Nicht nur auf der SPIEL 2023 in Essen wurde uns der Titel aus den Händen gerissen, sondern auch überall sonst. Deswegen war das Spiel ruckzuck ausverkauft - doch jetzt ist endlich die zweite Auflage angekommen, kurzum: Ihr könnt "With a Smile & a Gun" jetzt wieder kaufen! 🤩

Besonders freut der große Erfolg natürlich auch Amanda Vallerand, die Autorin hinter diesem fesselnden Spiel. Wir haben es uns nicht nehmen lassen und sie gefragt, wie sie eigentlich auf die Spielidee kam. Im folgenden Artikel verrät sie es uns! 🙂

"With a Smile & a Gun" - wie kam Amanda auf das Thema?

Hi all!

My name is Amanda Vallerand, and I am a game designer from Montreal, Canada.

When I was in university, I was playing a ton of Monopoly with my friends. One night in 2011, I found a video named “If you like Monopoly, you could like these other games!”, and from it, discovered Dominion. Dominion was my first step into the hobby, and from there I rapidly bought way too many games way too fast!

I started designing games in 2015, and with playtesting opportunities being so hard to come by, I tried to have games for different occasions: one bigger game, one smaller game for larger groups, and a smaller 2-player game. For the 2-player game, I wanted to make a majority game where you could win a majority with enormous numbers, or sometimes just by blocking your opponent from going there. The gangster themed, dice-drafting, area majority game that became "With a Smile & a Gun" was born.

But it didn’t always have a gangster theme. The game always had the cutthroat feeling, the cunning Machiavellian atmosphere, but it did go through a lot of different settings. The first version was called Finding Atlantis, and had the players be explorers finding Atlantis and looting magical artefacts; then, it became Mutiny!, a game about overthrowing the captain on a pirate crew; Turf Wars, a game of modern criminal biker clubs a la Sons of Anarchy; then Et tu, Brute?, a game about Caesar’s assassination.

Die Prototypen hatten viele verschiedene Themen.

Mehr als nur Gangster?

While all of those themes worked, and offered the chance for an interesting theme, they all had the same problem: they created expectations that the game was never going to match. Finding Atlantis made players want to cooperate over the discovery, no matter how much I told them they had to compete; Mutiny made people want to raid and pillage, no matter how much I wanted to focus on the mutiny itself; Et tu Brute made some people want to support Caesar, instead of assassinate him.

I tried to meet some of those expectations, but every time, they took away from the core experience, which benefitted from being simple and straightforward. The only theme that promised exactly what it delivered was the organized crime.

There was another theme that worked, but I ended up deciding not to dive into. For a while, the game was named A Vote For Me, and was about two low-level politicians getting their hands dirty while trying to get elected. It worked, surprisingly well – who knew that gangsters and politicians are so similar!--, but I decided to stay away from it. As a queer trans woman, a lot of people see everything I do as political: how I raise my kids, how I talk, how I dress, how I live my day-to-day life, and feel like that justifies bullying, insulting, and threatening me and others like me. The idea of making a game about actual politics felt like an invitation for more of that, and I really didn’t want to deal with that amount of flack in my inbox. Who has the time?

Das von Justin final gestaltete Cover.
Weihnachtskarte von Justin Lanjil, dem Illustrator von "With a Smile & a Gun".

Wie eine Weihnachtskarte alles veränderte

In 2019, after a few of my friends successfully self-published their small games, I was thinking about doing the same. I remember, over the Christmas break, while sipping cocoa in my parents’ living room, scrolling Twitter and finding these beautiful, spooky Christmas card by Justin Lanjil.

That cemented my decision. I reached out to Justin, who created this wonderful universe for "With a Smile & a Gun". Over the next few months, and with the help of many others, we took this weird prototype and made it into a wonderful little game that we were proud to present to the rest of the world. 😊

… und immer auf dem Laufenden!

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