This interview was first published on Boardgamenews in 20-01-2006. I’m recovering all the old BGN interview and uploading here in my new blog.
[Liga] Hi Leo, I’m a big fan of your games since the first time I played Carolus Magnus! It’s really nice for me to have the possibility to interview you. Please give us a short introduction about yourself
[Leo] I’m 41 years old, married with Marina (formerly the Elf in my D&D gaming group) and I have two beautiful twins; I’m proud to say that one of them already started his career of game designer with Wikinder (published by Clementoni). I can say that my career of game designer wouldn’t have been possible without the meeting with Alex Randolph. I met him the first time when I was 12 years old, playing in a chess club in Venice. I ever loved games so I was completely fascinated by the Altmeister and I became one of the most assiduous tester of his new games and sometimes I submitted him my odd and ingenuous ideas; after many delusions, in 1986, I was finally able to publish with him my very first game, â€œDrachenfels (1986)â€? published by Schmidt Spiele. Inkognito was published two years after (1988), signed again together with Alex and it was immediately a big success. In the 1993, I finally decided to leave my job (I was employee in a bank). Some friends of mine and I opened a game and toys shop and I began to work in the shop. The next year, almost as a joke, Venice Connection was born. Alex Randoplh, Dario De Toffoli and I decided to start a small firm with the main object to having fun and not loosing money in producing games. Luckily, game designing is still my full-time job.
[Liga] Really nice, it seems a Fairy Tale … the kid that meets the great Master and than, growing older, become a Master himself! And now, Cosa Bolle in Pentola ?
[Leo] The main project for the next year is Mauerbauer a game that will be presented by Hans im Gluck at the Nuremberg toy fair. I think it is my best game ever; but may be I say that about all my new games. Another important project will be the second chapter of Cartagena, one of my most successful games. Our team developed also other 2 great games, Fischmarkt (by Mario Papini) and Walhalla (by Alessandro Zucchini), which were both finalists at the last edition of the Premio Archimede contest (a contest for not published games that I and Studiogiochi usually organize every 2 years). We recently signed the contract for both and they should be published soon.
[Liga] Yes, I forgot about that but Leo is not only a very good designer but also a clever talent-scout! Your projects for the future?
[Leo] It seems that the game market and the gaming community in general is growing more and more in Italy and this is a very crucial moment. We have to take this opportunity and to â€œcatch the momentâ€? all the main game companies should join their forces and start to cooperate each other. For this reason we are founding a distribution company – giochiUniti – with Nexus, daVinci, and Stupor Mundi (this last being a new publisher born from the ashes of Tilsit Italia). giochiUniti will be in charge to distribute the games of all the publishers above in a more effective way than in the past. Moreover giochiUniti will be in charge to publish and distribute the â€œColoni di Catanâ€? (Settlers of Catan) game and all its related expansions, since it has recently acquired the rights from Kosmos. At the same time we acquired also Cogito Studio that is composed by a very good pool of designers and game developers; we did that because we want to invest more and more in young Italian authors and they will help us in this â€œtalent scoutingâ€? task also. Finally, we are starting to receive the very first prototypes for the new edition of the Premio Archimede contest, whose final phase will take place in Venice on October 2006.
[Liga] Really a lot of interesting news! I think that I’ll post news here on BGN for some of these. Now I’m very curious to know the 10 games you like most to play!
[Leo] Generally speaking, any game I never played before; this because I don’t like to play the same games several times; I prefer much more to play several new games even if they are not so good than my favourite ones. Anyway, among my favourites there is Twixt; I usually donâ€™t like abstract games, but I think this one is unique in its genre as it is deep and aggressive at the same time; moreover I played it several times with Alex Randolph and it also has an affective value; I like Acquire because there is a great balance between luck and strategy and you have to catch the right move at the right moment as the situation evolves very quickly; I like history very much (in fact I have a degree in History) and I really liked how History of the World literally summarize the whole history of the world with a very simple mechanic; unfortunately its (only) flaw is the duration that is a little bit excessive; Carcassonne; is one of the few games in which you can involve non-gamer people and start to play immediately even if you have barely explained the rules; another characteristic is that you can have fun even if you play bad and lose the game; obviously I love particularly my version of the game, Carcassonne: the Discovery who gives, in my opinion more tactical chances, with less rules than the basic game; This last is a characteristic that has Settlers of Catan also, that is among my favourites as well. Sisimizi is one of the best placement games and it has almost the same feeling as Twixt. In Domaine (Lowenherz) I like the tension; That’s life! (Verflixxt!) is a very elegant game (one of the best among those of Kramer). Finally, I think that Zicke Zacke is one of the best games for children ever
[Liga] thank you very much Leo. that was a great interview and I got really a lot of nice news about games in Italy. good luck for your projects and good play!