Interview – Meet the guys from Albe Pavo

Interview – Meet the guys from Albe Pavo

Another interview for your enjoyment. This time we talk to Matteo Santus and Jocularis from Albe Pavo, another fresh faced company from Italia!

Their key release in 2010 was Munera: Familia Gladitoria which is a simulation of the world of Roman gladiators and their first expansion about to be released is MUNERA: Ars Dimicandi

My review is here –

Hello Matteo and Jocularis,

Congratulations on the publication of Munera Gladiatoria and your first expansion – MUNERA: Ars Dimicandi

MS: Thank you very much Mark!
J: Hi Mark!

Can we start by having you tell us about the Munera Gladiatoria. What is the basic premise? Can you describe the general game play and objectives? Is it a family game or more for the hobby gamer?

MS: I’ve always loved history and I’ve always founded the gladiators’ world really interesting, so I’ve studied them and decided to make a managerial game, because there were none existing! We wanted to do a solid game that could be played by anyone (even the youngest) to learn something about the real history of gladiator and having fun doing this! We designed a game in which each player takes the role of a lanista, an ancient world entrepreneur who decided to invest his wealth in building a gladiator’s gymnasium to train the greatest champions of the arena, conquering eternal glory!

J: It is for sure a game for hobby gamers, not a family game. It is focused on a great historic research, and for this reason I think it could be a good game to have a new point of view from learning history, and a really enjoyable one!

Can you tell us the story about how and when the idea for the game came to you and the process you have went through to publish the game?

MS: The first idea came to me when I was studying the history and I thought it would be great to have such a game! Published games on the same topic had terrible historic flaws, so we decided to do it by ourself giving birth to ALBE PAVO! It was very difficult at the beginning, because we had no idea about how to do it, and the game passed continuous reviews because at the beginning we were designing but not taking a look at the production, but the very need of good production improved our game, pushing us to think it through again and again and to improve it in a more essential way.
J: the first ideas sometimes are good, anyway only with a lot of playtesting the game can be ready for publishing. It is like a good novel, some idea could be strong but only through  proofreading it could be a brought to a good point of equilibrium.

Your new expansion, MUNERA: Ars Dimicandi, changes things somewhat.  Tell us what players can expect.

MS: I think that Ars Dimicandi it’s a great improvement to Familia Gladiatoria. It changes the way in which the duels are resolved, it gives to the players a new Pugna (battle) deck and reviews the managerial aspects of the game. I think it is very fun and very tactical! Not just for the new way to manage duels, but also for the managerial choices it gives to the Players.

J: Simple change: cards are used instead of dice. This is one of the core parts of the expansion, but I think this can add a great level of depth to the game

What kind of research did you have to do for these games? How historically accurate are they and what is the balance you had to achieve to be faithful to the historical events and making a fun, playable game?

MS: I studied a lot of the history. Indeed I thought it is not absolutely difficult for a game to be historically accurate, because history is so full of interesting and logical things and you have just to portray them! You have to study the history, you need to find what existed and you only have to think about its purpose and its reason to simply integrate it into the game mechanics, and the job is done!

What were the main challenges in designing all the Munera series of games?

MS: The main challenge is to create games not completely independent from the others but also playable as a stand-alone. That’s our purpose for future projects on Munera, but it’s not an easy one, I know!
J: for this year we need to concentrate on some different projects but of course we would like to work again on the Munera series. It depends on the customers requests and feedback. We are very close to our community.
Have there been any particular surprises in designing the game?
MS: It surprised me how a game can be improved when you think there is no more chance of improvement. Never cease to playtest, always playtest with different people!
J: well, I was surprised about how many graphic changes a game could have!!! Even the smallest particular detail is important to comprehend a game deeply.  

How did you arrive at your key design decisions and mechanics?

MS: It was a clear path, right from the beginning. The game came out pretty much as it is now when I first designed it. Of course it took a long time to tune it, to make it smarter and easier!

What kind of feedback have you received?

MS: We’ve received two kinds of feedback. Those who said “We really love this game, it is great!” and those who said “The game is really interesting, but I don’t like the dice”. Now, with MUNERA: Ars Dimicandi the expansion could change their opinion… and that’s great for us!!

How long have you been gaming yourself? How did you get started?

MS: I cannot remember where it all started. Maybe with Risiko when i was a little kid.. Then came Hero Quest, then I discovered Battletech, then a whole world opened before my eyes when I started playing games from all over the world. It was great, especially because here in Italy gaming is not so developed as I see it is in many other countries!!!
J: I started with RPG games, but that was only the beginning. When I discovered the incredible variety of boardgames It was a real blast to my mind! I’ve always loved well illustrated games, and on board games this aspect comes to a greater level of complexity!
What type of games do you like to play? Any particular favourites? Any games or game types that you avoid?
MS: I love all games in which theme is strongly connected to mechanics. I love history games, war games and strategic games. But I also love other games. The only important thing is that they have to give me strong feelings and that they need to have funny and smart mechanics! I usually avoid abstract games or games that are too much in a “german-style” where theme is sometimes pasted on a good, but cold mechanic. Talking about titles I love, there are many. i can say for example the wonderful “Twilight Struggle”.
J: I need to play games where theme is the core part of the game, not only the mechanics. This can be done with a good illustration too, but the game mechanics are important: I usually avoid abstract games, but sometimes even the simpliest game can provide great surprises! (I recently bought “Dixit”, genius! )

How did you get into game design?

MS: I’ve always designed games for passion. Since I was very very young. I remember that my first game was about combat between aircraft on squared paper where you had to erase your plane and write it in another square to move.. When ALBE PAVO came to birth, we were already designing games together for many years! 

Do you have a specific design philosophy that you subscribe to?

MS: I would like to design something that players can feel, something with a strong theme that feed your minds and your feelings.
Do you have any particular game designers and/or designs that you admire?
MS: Not one particularly, but I admire good ideas and I love good games!

Tell us about your future plans? Will there be wider distribution of your games in Europe and the USA?

MS: We already have distribution in many countries. RAVEN DISTRIBUTION is our distributor in Italy, SPIRAL GALAXY GAMES in UK, INTRAFIN in Belgium, REBEL in Poland, these are just some companies in Europe, on the other side of the Ocean we work with MINDSPORT DISTRIBUTION in Canada and MAYDAY GAMES in USA, who  furnished us the card sleeves included in every MUNERA: Familia Gladiatoria box. About our future projects, we are planning to release two other games this year: WINTER TALES and SAKE & SAMURAI.. we will mail you soon information about that!!!
Any words of advice for others interested in design/publishing their own games?

MS: Three things to do! One: always keep an eye to production when you design a game! Two: go to fairs and have no fear to talk to any distributor! Three: playtest, playtest, playtest it!!!

J: oh, and forth: playtest it!!!

Tell us where we can meet you this year. Upcoming public demos, conventions? Do you have a website?

MS: Sure, we have a webiste., both in italian and english language! Surely we will be in Lucca fair (around the 1st of November) and maybe our games will be in ESSEN (but I doubt we could be there in person.. Triste Emoticon).

J: thanks for your support Mark!!!

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