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The Meeple Guild: A look at the games of Tim Schultz

Generatorb is a game you can play with a pile of two-coloured stackable pieces and a checkerboard which always interests because that combo of supplies allows a lot of great games.
tim schultz
Tim Schultz took time to reflect on three of the games he created.

YORKTON - When I received an email recently from game designer Tim Schultz asking if I had seen he had created a new rule set playable with his Wizard’s Garden game, I was of course interested. 

Wizard’s Garden is an addictive little game with simple rules which is an ideal two-player filler game. 

What did surprise me was looking back it was 2019 that the original game was reviewed, so I had to ask the designer how Wizard’s Garden had done? 

“I think the response was good,” he replied via email. “The initial run of the X/V version of Wizard’s Garden was a small run of 1000 games. Since I’m only the designer and not the publisher, I don’t know how many of them have been sold, but according to the Board Game Geek 231 of the members there own a copy of Wizard’s Garden, and those that ranked it gave it a six or better. There has been a discussion of another run, time will tell if it comes about.” 

And, Schultz likes what people have said about the original game too. 

“Yes! I’ve read most of the comments and seen all the reviews on the Board Game Geek and they seem to have a positive opinion about both the quality of the game pieces, and the game itself,” he said. 

“I think X/V Games did a great job in making the physical game. The only issue people seem to have is the use of the rule book as a piece, not because it’s being used as a piece, but because the booklet might get damaged in the bag.  

“Using the rulebook as a game piece and calling it the Wizard’s Tome was a pretty cool idea though. While I was self-playtesting WG 2, I carried my copy rolled up and, in my pocket, and used a small folded-up pdf I made of the Wizard’s Tome, so I could leave the booklet home.” 

As a quick aside a coin or business card works really well if you seek to protect the rule sheet. 

“The rules tweaks for the X/V version are also my favourite,” continued Shultz. “I really like that the board is set up before you know who goes first and what colour the Wizard’s Tome is. I also like that reducing the number of pieces makes the game a little quicker (it also made it so I could eliminate one rule).  

“People like that it’s very quick to learn the rules and only takes 15 minutes to play, but it also takes thought to play. (Aside number two, you need to be real thinky to push most games to 15 minutes). It is easy to make a mistake if you don’t pay attention. Some comments state that you can only score if your opponent makes a mistake or he has no other choice but to make a move that lets you score, which is kind of true, because the only time you can score is if your opponent leaves a pattern you can change into four in a row.  

But, what about the new rules, how did they evolve?

“The sliding of game pieces onto the board was one of the mechanics I was exploring when I was making the original game, but I ended up going with the drop and flip mechanic instead which worked better for the Shared Pieces Game contest -- which made it so players could not claim a colour,” explained Shultz. “Eighteen years later I started thinking about it again and I came up with WG2.” 

A rule set alone is hardly saleable, but as an add-on it is nice, but Schultz said the rule set was created simply because he wanted to design it, 

“There was no real goal other than I had an idea for a game and it worked,” he said. “I’ve always been a fan of game systems -- a set of components that can be used to play several games; like a deck of 54 cards, dominoes, the piece-pack. So making it so you can play more than one game with Wizard’s Garden seemed like a fun idea.” 

And the games are different enough to both be enjoyed, said Schultz. 

“There is definitely a difference between Wizard’s Garden 1 and 2,” he said.  

“In WG1 you can’t set up a scoring move for yourself, your opponent has to leave one for you. 

In WG2 you are trying to set up scoring moves for yourself. WG2 really gets fun -- for me at least -- when there are one, or more rows of four, and you can start sliding pieces on and off the board trying to make four of the same color in a row. It has a puzzle feel to it.” 

While I had Schultz in an email conversation it was also a great time to ask about his 2001 creation Generatorb. 

Generatorb is a game you can play with a pile of two-coloured stackable pieces and a checkerboard which always interests because that combo of supplies allows a lot of great games. 

Generatorb was created for the 2001 8x8 Game Design Competition held by and Abstract Games Magazine, while Wizard’s Garden was created for the 2004 Shared Pieces Game Design Competition held by and Abstract Games Magazine.  

“In the 2001contest the theme was a two-player game that can be played on an 8x8 playing surface using pieces most people are likely to have around the house,” said Schultz. “Generatorb was loosely based on the game Halma. Since I learned about the contest closer to the deadline, I didn’t have a lot of time to self-playtest before I sent it in. The updated version is a lot better than the first version, which had some flaws, but overall, I think it’s a decent game.” 

Of course there is a sort of pet peeve for this writer, too often today games come out and as the player base broadens flaws are unearthed, and games often get lost, with only a few seeming to ‘fix’ problems after public release. 

In Generatorb Schultz did tweak his game including adding a new piece, the globe. 

“The original game had only one-win condition, which was to capture your opponent’s corner space of their orb generator by landing one of your pieces there, which requires setting up a series of game pieces that you can use to jump other pieces over,” he explained. “The purpose of the globe is to make it so the path you create is harder for your opponent to use against you, since only you can jump pieces over your own globes.” 

Schultz added, “what really made the game better, was the addition of the second win condition called the Front Line. That idea came from Ryan Hackel.”  

As noted I often think some fine games are created, found lacking and never allowed to be 'fixed' with rule changes, but Schultz said it is not always easy to ‘fix’ problems in a game. 

“Not all games can be fixed, or at least I wasn’t able to,” he offered. “The ones that can be fixed, I guess it depends on why, and who you’re fixing them for. If the game is listed on the Board Game Geek you can always write up the fix and post it as a variant. I’ve done that for a few games there. 1313 Dead End Drive is one that comes to mind. Of course, you need a copy of the original game to play it.” 

For Shultz though game design is less and less part of his passions. 

“I still play games and create new ones occasionally, but my focus is not on games as much as it was before,” he said. 

It will be interesting to see what one day might stir his creative juices again.