Ridere, ludere, hoc est vivere.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Friends of Mars

Ben Rosset (l.) and Stephen Craig
UnPub 3, in January 2013
Many years ago at our engagement party, my wife Kathy introduced me to a close family friend she'd known since grade school, Stephen Craig.  He and I developed a great mutual respect and friendship over the years since then.  Not terribly long ago, we discovered that we share a common passion - designing boardgames.  At one design convention, he'd met Ben Rossett and convinced him to part with a prototype copy of his work in progress at the time, "The Market."

(c) NeverMore Games.  Used by permission
I met Ben Rossett myself at PrezCon last year when he was demonstrating "Stranded."  I didn't get to play that game, but at the World Boardgaming Championships that summer, I did get to meet up with Ben again and play a re-themed incarnation of "The Market" called Mars Needs Mechanics.  I was absolutely enthralled by the clever supply-and-demand mechanic that floated the prices of the different components based on the players' decisions.  I was also fascinated by the steel playing board that Ben had made for his prototype, complete with hex nuts for playing pieces.  It was a heavy, substantial piece of work.  More to the point, Mars Needs Mechanics was an elegant, fun game, so I was delighted to hear soon afterward that publication was picked up by Nevermore Games.

To fund the production of Mars Needs Mechanics, Nevermore ran a Kickstarter campaign that was quite successful.  What I learned later was that my good friend Stephen had backed the game - and had gifted a copy of Mars Needs Mechanics to me.

Mars Needs Mechanics Metal Board Limited Edition, signed copy numbered 22/25
So today a box arrived from Nevermore Games, and I was very excited because I remembered how much I'd enjoyed Mars Needs Mechanics the one time I'd played it.  When I opened the package, I found something special.  Not only had Stephen arranged for me to receive a copy of the game, but the package also included a metal box of components and a canvas tote bag containing a steel game board very similar to the prototype that I'd seen at WBC.  A letter from Nevermore's John Sizemore explained that this was one of only 25 hand-made steel game sets.  On the back of the game board is a copper plate signed by Ben Rosset and artist Bryan Fischer, numbered 22/25.  This set is absolutely extraordinary.

I am overcome with emotion from the significance of this wonderful gift.  It's a genuine pleasure to know Ben personally, so to have such a special version of his first published game is truly meaningful.  Most of all, Stephen's gift represents a profound gesture of friendship for which I am deeply grateful.  Without even having opened the box, Mars Needs Mechanics has become the most personally significant game that I own.


  1. Wow, that is quite a nice gesture.
    And on a more humorous note, I'm reminded of an earlier conversation somewhere in your blogs about judging a game by how much it weighs (where I was tempted to write, "use lead figures"). :-)