Bruno Faidutti is the legendary creator of Citadel and Knightmare, two games that have inspired me throughout the years along with 40+ additional published games. In addition to game design, Bruno has studied law, economics, and history, and knows an awful lot about unicorns. This episode is full of lessons on design fundamentals, rules creation, and drafting games, in particular. Enjoy!

“It started with the idea that maybe we could mix the two together.”

Bruno speaks about the early development of games in France and what it took to be part of the burgeoning gaming industry in his country. He speaks about the development of one of his early games, Knightmare Chess (which is something I’ve played a lot of) and how it ended up being designed. He describes the process of taking two games, in this case, Chess and Cosmic Encounter, and mixing them into one new game.

“I think the lazy game design process is to make it simple. The way to make sure you’re making it simple is to write everything down and make it simple.”

When we speak about the lazy game design method, we’re talking about simple ways to come up with new and exciting games without having to invent something completely new. Bruno speaks about trying to get all the rules on one sheet of paper to make sure they’re perfectly clear. Bruno’s process of combining two or three games and then writing out a simple rules sheet, that gets simpler with time and playtests, is an incredibly effective method for game design. Here we discuss design and prototyping and go into detail about the above process.

“I think it’s important to keep your day job.”

Here we talk about becoming game designers and pursuing a career in game design. Games, generally, won’t free you from your job when you first start, and in the end, it may never pay all the bills. The key takeaway here is working toward game design because you feel the need to make games and find yourself thinking about it a lot. 

We later go on to talk about how Bruno’s long list of accomplishments and studies* and how they affected his game design. We also talk about unicorns.

*From Wikipedia: Bruno Faidutti studied law, economics, and sociology, eventually earning a doctorate in History by writing about the scientific debate in the Renaissance on the reality of the unicorn.

“Every publisher tells me, even when they don’t publish my games, even when they don’t think my games are the best ones, they are always ready to look at them because I write good, clear rules.”

Writing clear rules is an incredibly important step in getting your game published. Generally, the easier it is for the publisher to look at the rules and understand them the easier it is to get it published. Bruno gives us some of his tips on writing clear, concise rules. They are awesome.

“I think a really nice thing with drafting games, be it characters or other types of cards, is that they are a type of game that balance themselves.”

Finally, we speak about Citadels, one of my all-time favorite games. We discuss its history, its design, and the core mechanics of the game. This section includes details about designing drafting games, how to make them interesting and exciting to a player, and how to teach the value of the card through their design. I also get some great advice from Bruno on some new games I’m working on.