After his awesome conversation with Athena Ex, I'm once again handing the mic to Albin/Crazed Survivor/Razoupaf, a dedicated solo gamer and BGG aficionado who knows his way around solo games and the people who play them. You can find more of Raz himself at his site, Le Comboteur Fou. This week, I'm publishing his interview with Dejun King, another underappreciated 1PG hero. Take it away, Raz...
Dejun is someone whose generosity has always impressed me. Be it from trading a copy of Coffee Roaster, new, in shrink to send to me just because — something which I'm still yet to repay — or from sending some of his games to new members of the guild, the guy just likes giving and sharing.
He's also responsible for a couple solitaire variants to games he loves, notably Honshū. He won't hesitate to start designing a variant if you start asking him to. And he will pause playtesting his million undergoing designs to do so.
Admit it, you've already fallen under Dejun's spell!
So far, Dejun has done variants for Villages of Valeria, Honshū, Hokkaido, Goodbye, Ghosts!, The Oracle of Delphi and Arboretum.
While he's a little less present nowadays for reasons of his own, Dejun has left a strong impression on many a Guild member, who are avidly awaiting his return.
Raz - Dejun, I have selected you for your generosity towards new guild members, and for the solitaire variants you have designed. Can you tell us a little more about you?
Dejun - Raz! How's it going my friend, nice to be speaking with you again. Fair warning, since this is an internet-based interview I fully intend on making myself sound way more exciting than I actually am for the listeners, is that ok?
R - I'm totally fine with that and the mic is on. Lemme... Okay... Dafuq is wrong with this record... *Scratch scratch* okay the beat is on moffo, you can start, make it good!
D - Awesome! Well where to start... I am a 32 year old engineer from Missouri (astrological sign- Cancer, in case we have any fans out there) whose hobbies include not all but most of the following: Gaming, Music, Art, Eating, Long Car Rides, Adult Beverages, Tree Hugging, Maple Syrup Making, Gordon Ramsey Binging, Heavy Book Lifting, Flowers, Nature, Quilt Collecting, People Watching, Fire Juggling, Dancing, Antiquing, and Metal Detecting.
CONTEST ALERT: The first person to tell me the 6 falsified hobbies I listed of mine will receive a free game, compliments of myself.
R - Can I play too?
D - Dude we talked before this, you are getting the interview, isn't that enough... stop de-railing this thing... sheepsheepsheepWWWWWsheep [Editor's Note: Am mildly concerned, but determined to leave this interview as submitted.]
Moving on, I have a lovely family which consists of myself, my beautiful wife of of 7 years, Taylor, my smarter-than-he-should-be 6-year-old son ,Apollo, and our super-lazy dog, Tuna. I really enjoy meeting new people and am guilty of starting conversations through PMs on the Geek that end up lasting months... those poor souls who feel it's rude to not reply to my messages, I feel sorry for them.
Raz, I am sure you know me better than I know myself by now, did I leave anything out?
R - The freaky parts but those are best kept to ourselves, if you ask me.
D - Right... there are the rails... lets stay on track.
R - Can you tell me more about your variants? How do you pick a game to do a variant for and how do you design the rules ?
D - For me the games I choose to make variants for are the ones that I love to play during game nights but are impossible to play any other time. In order to get my fill of these games I must take it upon myself to either try and find a solo variant on the Geek that fits my personal play style or create something I would enjoy.
As for designing, I always enjoy an objective or competitive driven solitaire game rather than the stand by "Beat your best score". In multiplayer games I am striving to play better than my opponent to win, so this is what I try and re-create in my variants, even though my opponent is a fictitious robot with no face for which to rub in a victory.
Before I start a variant I really try to understand how the game works as a multiplayer game. From there I try figuring out what I can do to mimic "Player Only" decisions and make them as streamlined as I can. Sometimes it works great and the game is very enjoyable, and other times it all falls apart and you feel like you are doing tedious work rather than enjoying a board game, and this is where playtesting a variant over and over and over (I will skip the next 100 "over's" for the listener's sake) really becomes a crucial part you must not ignore.
Could I also just take a minute to--
R - I don't think we have time for that...
D - —thank each and every person--
R - Dejun I have a schedule to--
D - —who has helped me with any form of feedback and playtesting--
R - No seriously dude I really mean it!
D - —for my games and variants over the years.
R - Oh boy I'm so fired!
D - You have all made a huge difference and I appreciate each and every one of you for your help.
R - You mention all of your designs, be it solitaire variants, or actual new games, are ongoing. You've released your variants and have sent game rules to your friend, but you're never satisfied. What would it take for you to consider a ruleset to be finished and ready for publication?
D - I do not think that the design is the issue in your question but rather the creator. I have been this way all my life. I have drawn pictures that I have never hung up for display. I have written songs that only a handful of people have heard. This type of compulsion to never finalize something because I think I can keep making it better leaks through to my solo variants as well. Even though I design simple games/variants that receive positive feedback, I still am always hesitant to commit and say that a product is finished.
R - You love trading. You are not trying to make a profit in it, and you love meeting back people you've traded with to play a game with them. What's your best trading memory?
D - You absolutely right Raz, I am a trader through and through. I often do mildly lopsided trades benefiting the other person for two reasons:
1.) The games I trade no longer get played as they should and I know they are going to someone who will give them the attention they deserve.
2.) When you feel like you are getting a deal you can't help but smile and be happy and I love to make people happy.
As for my most memorable trade story, it would have to be when I traded Terraforming Mars to Derek (Donutz McGoo). I was no longer playing TM like I once was when I first picked it up, and he had expressed interest in a number of games I had so I thought it would make for a good trade opportunity. After discussing the trade we met up and I said goodbye to my games as did he to his and we parted ways.
A couple weeks go by and I saw Derek post an entry to SGOYT (ndlr: the Solitaire Games On Your Table monthly geeklists, for which you can subscribe here) for Terraforming Mars and I was pleased to see that my game was getting to the table an being enjoyed. A few more weeks go by and Derek's entries of Terraforming Mars continue to increase especially after adding the expansion Prelude. The more entries I read of Derek's, the more I found myself saying, "Man, he is making this game look great...... is he selling me on my own game!?" Long story short, it didn't take long until I was back at the game store making a purchase for something a few months earlier I was glad to get rid of. I still laugh about this today.
R - You've fallen deep into the Keyforge trap, and although I know you enjoy crushing your opponent and then digging their grave with their own corpses, I'm surprised you still haven't figured a solo variant for the game. I guess my next question is: when can we expect such a variant?
D - Oh man we get to talk about Keyforge!!! Ok, super pumped about this... so there is no solo variant on the horizon although I did try and contact Richard Garfield and FFG to ask if there would ever be an introduction of "Training Decks". House-specific products you could purchase that you could pit your decks against at your leisure (something along the lines of what Magic: The Gathering did around the Theros block (nldr: Magic: the Gathering had soloable challenge decks during the Theros block which never really took off but were a much welcome addition for players who couldn't regularly meet opponents, or simply wanted a lighthearted cooperative variant. There were 3 of them, one against an hydra, one against a minotaur horde, and against Xenagos after he ascended to godhood). Each deck would deliver road blocks that house is capable of playing in a PvP game and it is up to you to forge 3 keys before the training deck can.
Although a solo variant is not in the works from me, I am very pleased with the progress I am making for the "Big Deck" variant I am in the process of creating. I love, love, love this game and am so pleased the I have finally found for myself a good alternative to MTG.
R - You definitely have to let us know if you start co-designing with Richard Garfield!
D - HA! you know that will never happen...
Wait, did I hear sarcasm in that comment?
Was that meant as a stab towards me..
You know what.. we're done here..
GET THIS THING OUTTA MY FACE!
R - Erm. Moving on.