Welcome to the second Micro Chat in our 1st Quarter line-up, this time we are chatting with John du Bois on his Avignon: Pilgrimage.
Rekindle the flames of faith first stirred up in John du Bois’ Avignon: a Clash of Popes. This 2-player standalone expansion Avignon: Pilgrimage introduces new ways to push and pull your way to Pope, even more characters with new powers that change with their position, and alternate setups that create even more variety. Gameplay is like that of the original Avignon, using the characters' unique powers to pull the character cards over to their side of the table (their congregation), or force an opponent to push cards towards them. The first player to get three characters into their congregation wins. Play Pilgrimage by itself or combine it with the powers from A Clash of Popes to add new levels of strategy and tactics while preserving the quick and accessible gameplay of the original.
Avignon: Pilgrimage is currently on Kickstarter. What made you want to come back to the world you built with Avignon: A Clash of Popes?
John: I felt like there was some open design space left. We intentionally left out some of the more complicated Petition abilities, and the location cards (which weren't part of the initial design) opened up room to add cards like the Hermit whose card abilities rely more heavily on board position.
When coming into this process was it always going to be a standalone expansion or originally was it going to be just an expansion that needed the base game?
John: It was always going to be standalone - there wasn't enough content that was consistent between the games to justify it as an addition-only expansion.
What was the most challenging part of designing Avignon: Pilgrimage?
John: Balancing the expansion cards to work well with each other and with the base game - both individually and as a set - was incredibly challenging. I have much sympathy for Magic designers, who do that with hundreds of cards multiple times a year instead of the couple dozen I worked with.
What has been your favorite part of designing the game?
John: Watching players "get it" when they figure out how a card combo works or how to put themselves into a position to win.
As we come to a close - do you have any advice for designing out there that are trying to make a compact game that has teeth to it, like Avignon?
John: The primary question that needs to be asked at every point of game design and development is, "Is every piece of this game strictly necessary?" If not, it needs to be eliminated.
Avignon could not have worked with only five Characters, because excommunicating wouldn't have worked well near the end of a game with a ten-card deck. At one point, it had seven Characters, but seven wasn't necessary, so I kept the best six.
Similarly, anything that goes into any game - especially a compact game - that doesn't either directly improve the play experience or solve a problem in the game that can't be solved more efficiently another way dilutes the game experience and makes it less effective or less fun.
Thank you for taking time out to talk with us John.