BGG in Review 5/8/17: Ambition vs Overambition

A few days ago in the Game Designers Subforum, a brand new user Matthew Jones (ClashOfTheWorlds) made this post talking about his project:

Subject: Building A Game and at Beta Testing, Funding, and Partner Phase

In 200 words, Jones put a vivid image in my mind of a 90 year-old off-the-grid ex-wargamer, toiling away at a passion project in a cabin in the British Columbian wilderness with no internet for three long years.

After finally perfecting his game which perfectly synthesizes Magic: The Gathering, Axis and Allies and Twilight Imperium – Jones emerged from his cabin with only a dream and a stack of Non-disclosure/Non-compete forms.

And some incredibly ambitious ideas:

I figure 1500 miniatures, 150 chips, 340 trading cards, 1 Large game board, 1 Small game board, 1 Rule Book, 4 Small booklets and 1 game box. This is all for a single copy of the game.

The initial strategy is to get players hooked then provide options for different types of play, (e. g. Players joining in after the game has started and still having odds of surviving)

Jones had originally just asked for help with estimating production costs – something you can no doubt find in a sticky somewhere.  I think it was his own excitement for his game that had him disclosing details of his project; the kind of enthusiasm that can keep a solo designer burning away on a single project for years.

In the thread, Jones was met with some rightfully skeptical responses from the community.  1500 Miniatures is inconceivable, and  trading cards with randomly sorted booster packs are extremely unfashionable.


When I read through this thread, my first reaction was to shake my head at this ludicrous, overambitious idea.  How foolish he is to have spent so many years working on a game that will clearly be a failure!

But then I caught myself being small-minded.  I’ve come to learn that in many ways, creating something requires unlearning as much as it does learning.  Unlearning the prehistoric programming in your brain that associates failure with death.  Silencing the voice that tells you not to bother trying.

You could argue that Jones is wasting his time on a project that no one wants to buy; but what would the alternative be? Browse Reddit and Boardgamegeek? Certainly these are bigger wastes of time.

I think, there is no such thing as Overambition, just misunderstood ambition.

Jones comes across as what he says he is, someone new to the board game community with questions about designing his first game, of course he lashes out when criticized:

wow no one can get a grip on the idea. but on the bright side this is a secret I must keep for myself. Thank you all for the feedback as I am taking much of it into consideration and applying alot of it. If anyone is willing to put in the time to get a better grip on this. Please message me directly so that I can send you a non-compete/non-disclouser

When you are watching an interview of someone who has just put out a new album, and you get to that really cliche’d part of the interview where the artist says something like:

“Everybody thought I was going to fail, they all said I’d never make it.”

And looking at them, and how successful they are, you can’t even imagine how anyone ever told them their amazing music was bad.

I don’t think Matthew Jones is the Kanye of boardgames, I just see where he is trying to go.  Who are we to tell him to stop?

Now that I am thinking about it – there is a game about building empires using tons of minis, trading card combat, and allows players to join midway through a game without throwing everything out of balance:


It’s only the highest grossing mobile game of all time at 2m/year. What a terrible idea!


Ruining the Geek,