Interview with Andrew Lowen, Designer of Deliverance
Early last year, most likely while browsing r/boardgames, I came across mention of a game called Deliverance. Buried in the comments of another post was a user mentioning how much fun they had playing a demo at a recent convention. I immediately did what any other gamer would do and I looked up Deliverance and sought out how I could play it for myself. Sadly I came to find out it’s still in development, but I was so intrigued by the theme and ideas behind it that I’ve been following its development ever since. Deliverance‘s theme alone was enough to catch my attention.
I reached out to Deliverance‘s designer, Andrew Lowen, to learn as much as I could about the game as it gets closer to being ready for its proper debut. Much to my delight, Andrew took the time out of his day for an interview and we were able to learn a lot of exciting new details.
WTMG: Thanks for taking the time. I know you’re really busy with some play testing coming up and it’s a hectic time.
Lowen: Yeah, I think I might be a little too Hakuna Matata about everything right now.
WTMG: I’m sure it’s great. I’ve read a lot on BoardGameGeek about people’s experience running into you at cons and playing some demos and it’s been nothing but fantastic things, so I’m really excited about this one. I’d love to talk to you about your experience in game development. How did you get started in the gaming world and what does it feel like as Lowenhigh Games’ debut?
Lowen: The first thing is that Lowenhigh Games may be a thing and it may not be a thing. I am currently talking to publishers and publishing, and in essence, licensing Deliverance. If we can’t come to an agreement and the game’s critical path is ready for Kickstarter, then I will bring it to Kickstarter independently. We’ll do what we have to do to make it go in a timely manner. A lot of the publishers that are really excited about it know that’s the plan and have that in the back of their mind as conversations proceed.
To answer your question about game design experience, I’ve been designing Deliverance for about four years now. The first year and a half was a bit of a crash course in designing that’s not fun to play. I come from video games and I love tactical combat. I played a lot of collectible card games competitively, so I actually became a professional Hearthstone player.
A lot of the experience that I wanted to create in Deliverance was the highest of highs from my time in video games like Final Fantasy Tactics or World of Warcraft. The experience that you have after killing Ragnaros for the first time ever. That experience is what I wanted to give players while I wasn’t getting that same satisfying experience in the games that I was playing. So I figured, why not create a game? I have other game projects that I’ve developed, but I’ve sacrificed all of them for Deliverance and put those on the back burner.
WTMG: Were there any board games that inspired your approach to Deliverance or have you pulled your inspiration primarily from your favorite RPG video games?
Lowen: Final FantasyTactics inspired the movement and targeting system in Deliverance, but a lot of the inspirations were board games. A big one was actually Pandemic, in fact it was probably the first hobby board game that I played. The feeling that you get when you have to put the discarded infection deck cards on top of the draw pile knowing that it would cause an outbreak creates a feeling of chaos and loss of control is something I wanted to recreate. It heavily influenced the development of the darkness deck in Deliverance. Essentially this deck represents the evils of the physical realm around you while you play as angels fighting demons in the spirit world. So the darkness, the evils that are happening the the physical realm are bleeding into the spiritual realm and causing chaos there and I wanted to ensure that there was an ever present threat and alternate way to lose.
One of the things that can be boring about tactical combat games is when you get into this cycle of move and attack and can ignore elements of the game because that’s all you need to do if your hammer is big enough. Going back to Pandemic there are multiple ways to lose. Whether it’s an outbreak, or run out of cubes of a certain color, or run out of player cards, it all comes down to not being in control of the board. I wanted players to be forced to deal with one challenge or another in that same way even if they don’t have quite enough answers to solve all the problems at a given moment. That helped to drive the direction of the darkness deck which became the core of tension in Deliverance.
There are a lot of other games that inspired other elements in Deliverance. For example, the way that you place demons on the battlefield was actually inspired by Codenames. Each player will draw a battle card and a map tile that has corresponding symbols on it. The battle card tells players which enemies will be placed and the map card tells players where those enemies are placed. The chart in Codenames can be placed in any orientation essentially creating infinite replay value because you can’t solve Codenames unless you solve the people playing.
Ultimately the games that inspired Deliverance helped create the feeling that I wanted to give players. I wanted it to be a deep and highly variable game, but not necessarily complex.
WTMG: I think that’s fantastic. Some of the best gaming experiences I’ve had have been just that, experiences. Spirit Island and Nemesis, whether you’re completely working together or it’s semi-cooperative, they both give players a large number of threats and different ways to mitigate those threats, and just allow players to discover the game and how it all pieces together. I’m seeing a lot of those same elements in Deliverance and I’m thrilled about that.
Lowen: It’s been interesting developing this system. One of the most important elements of Deliverance to me is that it isn’t just a game that I’d release with this cool theme and all, but that it has a smooth system without a ton of moving parts.
WTMG: One of the biggest things that has impressed me about your process is that you’ve been very forward about the fact that Deliverance is rooted in the Bible. Darkness cards are conceptualizations of the seven deadly sins and you refer directly to angels and demons from the Bible. Throughout the whole process you’ve been trying to balance being respectful of the original text and believers while also creating a mass appeal game that doesn’t aim to ostracize players for not believing either. I’ve been eager to ask you about what that process has been like. And for those people who have had the chance to play Deliverance, what’s been some of the feedback you’ve received on the themes?
Lowen: Oh that’s a great question. I would say that even within the Christian faith, there are people that lean very conservative and people that lean very liberal, with everything in between. There’s about as much fragmentation within the Christian circle as there is outside of it. So what I decided from the beginning, and I’m a marketing professional, is that there are two big mistakes Christian games make.
The first one is they try to be all things to all people, which is a problem. Nobody is going to be passionate about something that is lukewarm. If they love hot stuff, then lukewarm isn’t going to do it for them. If they love cold stuff, then lukewarm isn’t going to do it for them. Nobody can be hyper passionate about a game that is just a good game. You have to appeal to a niche of fans that is passionate about your project. Early on I decided to build Deliverance as a Christian whatever. I was not going to exclude the word “Christian”, in fact I was purposeful about including it in every marketing message that I deliver. Sometimes I was very uncomfortable with that because I felt like I was excluding everybody who is not Christian and I’m also freaking out all the Christians that say “Christian games are bad”, which is the second problem.
You make a game and call it Christian, and it’s a “bad” version of an existing product. It’s not Settlers of Catan, it Settlers of Canaan. It’s not Monopoly, it’s Biblopoly. It’s a biblical reskin rather than something of its own value. I realized for myself that it’s quite a risk to build the game as a Christian fantasy/dungeon crawler, which is what I tell people. They hear “a Christian dungeon crawler? What?” and they immediately perk up. They say “ok, tell me more about this thing. It looks different and interesting”. And so I thought, to really lean in to the second part of your question, related to the way that it’s perceived by the masses, that there’s Christians and non-Christians and I find that about 80% of my play-testers are non-Christians, we’ll say they’re Atheist or Agnostic, or something and I would say 1 in 50 will not play the game because maybe they’ve had a terrible experience with religion in the past. They act like a wounded animal, where they hiss and say, “I won’t touch that.” I’ve had people say the artwork looks Christian and they won’t touch it. That surprises me. I mean they’re right, but I’m surprised and impressed that they could figure that out from the artwork.
Now I would say 1 in 10 Christians hiss and they are repulsed by the game. And this is really weird for me, that it’s five times more common to get flack from a Christian than a non-Christian. I think that it does get into some sensitive areas. Certain sects of Christianity are offended that I would dare portray an angel in a painting or Jesus in art and that’s something that’s a second commandment violation to them if I do that. So I’ve had some very unexpected reactions over time. As far as the game itself, it’s almost a little bit of a social commentary on the way I see the world today and I think I see people, whether they’re Christian or non-Christian, as people that are hurting in some way and they need to be loved on. People have different ideologies, like say the LGBTQ people or whatever, Christian WASPs, they’re all just people that need love and that have challenges that we’ve endured as a nation and as a people. The Darkness stack is a little bit of a commentary on that and we have cards named for particular things. Like “A Nation Divided” or some gnarly ones like “Suicidal Thoughts”, things like that that are very, very serious; that are evil things that we deal with. The one thing that I avoid like the plague, is calling out a particular lifestyle, because that’s not my place. I think the mistake that Christian games will make is that they’ll be judgmental, and to put it more basically, they’ll try to educate you about their beliefs. I’m playing a game, not looking for education. So that’s one of the ways that a Christian game will turn you off is it hides religious education behind a paper mache thin game.
WTMG: I appreciate that this is not a theme that is just kind of slapped on. You’ve really put a lot of time and effort into this. You’ve given it a lot of heart and I think that it really shows.
Lowen: Thank you. It’s been a labor of loneliness, pain, and (laughs) sadness. But of course joy, excitement and thrill.
WTMG: I appreciate that you’re also getting into dark topics. I think it would be really easy to shy away from topics like suicidal thoughts. But I’m also just really excited because the dungeon crawler genre is ripe for this kind of entry. Demons are a very common theme in dungeon crawlers. It’s something that gamers are really familiar with. I’m a big fan of Gloomhaven, where you have all of these elemental demons and I also love Dark Souls; demons are a huge character type there, but you rarely see their opposite counterparts. And I think it’s kind of what you were talking about before, where you do have those people who are adverse to it. I think you have picked the perfect genre, the perfect format for this and I’m really excited to see this come to fruition.
Lowen: It’s really interesting, I’ll say that I walk a very fine line with Deliverance in so many ways. When you open up Deliverance and put it on the table, and you take your first move, I don’t want you to feel like you’ve been sucked into Jumanji where you have to finish it. That these demons that you’ve unleashed from the box are never going to get put back. So I had to build the game with a certain level of humor and a level of non-severity if you will, even if it’s grim and dark. I had to make it a little less serious than what the bible actually says. I call the game “theologically sound”, except for several places where I purposely deviate from what the Bible says. I’ve been really open and up front with that.
Angels, for example. There’s no evidence that angels even have wings. There are Cherubim, Seraphim, and all of that, but only in the Bible will it say that there are creatures with four wings in Ezekiel and six wings in Revelations; there are men who are walking around and and angels in Genesis, but I basically built angels to be really great looking people with wings. We chose that direction to make the artwork more relatable.
Another area I decided to deviate from what the Bible says is how gnarly demons are. You look at the story of Job. Satan was able to do everything he wanted except take Job’s life. Man, he didn’t just take all the things Job had, he did it in such a theatrical way to try to break Job. You think about all that happened in just that one story. That’s the spirit realm. So I had to take only a little bit. It couldn’t be so grim and so dark. You have Herod killing all the babies in Jerusalem and Pharaoh killing all the babies back in Exodus when Moses was born. Then you’ve got the book of Kings where they killed more babies. All sorts of other crazy stuff that’s just recorded there, that I actually believe was motivated by demons, which is why Herod the Great is a boss in Deliverance. Because you have the demon spirit upon Herod, who killed all the babies back when Jesus was born. But there were certain things where I couldn’t get so dark. Moloch is an example of an idol that would do some gnarly things and I won’t explain it. I was working and designing Moloch as a boss for Deliverance and I go to a very dark place sometimes when I’m working on demons in the game and I actually just had to stop.
WTMG: I can imagine. Even just looking at Legion, there’s plenty of gnarly directions you could have gone in and honestly I think that there are more than enough heavy-handed games out there where along with deep, tactical heavy-handed gameplay experiences, it becomes a heavy-weighted theme. And I’m thrilled that you’ve managed to separate those two. You’re still dealing with serious matters, but also with a way that won’t leave players feeling depressed and defeated when the game is over, which I think is great.
I want to talk about the actual gameplay a little bit. I guess just give us a typical overview of its current form in terms of a turn structure. What tools do players have at their disposal?
Lowen: At the very beginning of the game you’re going to select your character. There are eight of them that I designed and tested and there are actually another seven beyond that that I have waiting in the wings. Each character has five basic skills on it. In essence: movement, a basic attack of some kind, a basic heal of some kind, and a more advanced skill. Most often an attack of some kind or some movement, let’s say AoE or something else and there’s a lot of diversity in each character in those things. Then, you’re going to get three talents, which represents extra skills or upgrades to existing skills or new passive abilities. You place a random talent of level 1, a random talent that’s level 2, and a random talent that’s level 3 face down next to your character. At the moment there are four at each level, but I’m also thinking of adding additional. So basically there are sixty-four meaningful combinations of skills per character and as you play through the game, you’re going to level up and unlock those new epic skills and your character’s going to grow in power. So depending on if you’re playing the very same character in a different game, you’re going to have a different experience. Azrael the Angel of Death, could be built in a way that would lean into his scythe and do more damage physically, or he could deal damage with what I call “afflictions”, which are basically status effects. You know things like Wither, which is akin to poison and deals -1 Health a round, or other effects like that. He could just sit still and lob plague and pestilence across the map. Three very different play-styles just within that one character’s talents.
So there are two modes of play. The first one is a skirmish, which is where you select your character and set up your talents, and you begin the game that way. And then there’s the campaign, which is where you get a character that has no talents, but over time over the games is going to get experience that you can apply toward leveling up and getting new talents. Maybe you’re going to have a skirmish with levels 1, 2, and 3, whereas in the campaign maybe you’ll have three level 3 talents.
In essence you select your character and the way that a round actually works is depending on the number of players, 1-4, you’re going to place one Darkness card face down per player. Oh, I forgot about the battle! So, you pick your character, set up your battle, which is for each player you’re going to put a map tile face up on the board in front of you and you’re going to draw one Battle card which is going to tell you how to stage that tile. There are various symbols on the map, which will correspond to what’s on the battle card. So you’ll have demons and saints that will populate a map in front of you. You’ll take their little character cards and put them on the side of the board.
Now the actual game is going to begin. It’s really only about five minutes of staging. First thing you do is place a number of Darkness cards equal to the number of players face down on this Darkness board. Starting at whichever player you want, the first player uses two actions. Any actions they want, they’re listed right on the character card. Certain actions are free, certain actions actually cost one action, etc.
After one player acts, the first demon type that was determined by the Battle card drawn will take an action. All demons of the same type take the same action, determined by a single dice roll corresponding to the little numbers on their character card. So if you get a 1 or a 2, the demons will then do X. Their skills are written out, so just follow along with what that skill does on the card. They might move five spaces and attack, or maybe they’ll do something special like lob a bomb at you. Then it alternates between players and demons until all the players and demons have acted and you go through the Darkness phase.
If any Darkness cards that were placed face down remain you’re going to flip one of those up for each saint on the board. Saints are kind of in a state of oppression so unless you save them, unless you help them, which you’re probably not going to be able to do much of early on, the saints that remain, that are oppressed, you’re going to going to actually flip a Darkness card face up for each one of them. And they’re going to do awful, evil, dramatic things to you. They might deal damage to you, they might buff up the demons, they might cause some sort of affliction. These cards kind of function like, in Magic: The Gathering you have enchantments which stay in play and do something ongoing and then you have Instants or Sorceries which get activated and they do the thing one time and then they get discarded. So that’s kind of various types of those things.
Then the ones that turn face up, there are a bunch of them that are going to stay and remain in play called Strongholds. They have a symbol on them identifying that. So they remain in play and then the top of the next round begins. You take a Darkness card and put it face down per player and alternate between angels and demons, and then deal with the Darkness after that. It kind of continues on like that until all of the demons are defeated or all angels are defeated.
WTMG: So it’s really going to be in the player’s best interest to try to go after the saints and do what you can to help out. Is your goal to rescue them?
Lowen: Saints represent people of a special significance in the physical realm. They can’t see or hear you, but they’re drawn to your presence. When you move adjacent to a saint, you’re going to protect them because you’re their guardian angel. Demons will try to contest them and you’re going to kind of battle over the saint. So if a demon is adjacent and you move in, that saint is contested. He’s not going to flip, he’s not going to get away until you knock that demon from him or kill that demon.
WTMG: So rather than saving a saint just one time, it’s a passive effect based on proximity.
Lowen: That’s correct. And in a certain way, it’s kind of like an area of control game with objectives. They are basically the objectives on the board that would encourage you to move because there might be a saint over here in a corner somewhere that you either need to move to that guy and protect him, or you need to deal with the fallout of Darkness flipping every single round. Like one card for that guy, every single round and that’s a trade-off that you might just have to make. There is an experience system in the game, so anytime that you flip a saint, you know the first time you flip a saint in a round, you get one experience for that. So you’re going to get experience for slaying demons, you’re going to get experience for flipping saints and protecting them. That’s how you level up and there’s a little tracker that tells you all that.
WTMG: At what point in the round sequence do players have a chance to use that experience?
Lowen: At the end of each round. When you destroyed a demon you would collect loot. There’s a type of loot in the game, it’s called “Heavenly Treasure” and it represents epic items that you get to add to your boots, and chest pieces, and helmets. And that’s something that you use to be able to draw whenever you slayed an enemy, but now there’s kind of a group experience bar where your experience ticks up and you get 2 XP per player, which is how you level.
WTMG: So if you found out that one player is particularly struggling you could allocate those earned points to them and help them out?
Lowen: Well the way we used to do it was, you know how Michael the archangel is in the game? That dude’s slaying a lot of demons. He teleports places and smashes fools, and so he got a lot of last hits on demons. So the Michael player would just be filled with items. And you have another player that maybe really likes being a healer and doing that kind of thing and there’s not really a system that rewards the last hit in combat. There’s not really a way to reward the healer for their contribution, right? But as we all know, the healer is essential to any DPS or tank, right? So I switched to a group experience system, where let’s say we’re playing a four player game, it takes 8 experience to level up. At the end of the round, we spend that 8 experience and every single player gets to level up something. So you either get to flip your top level talent that remains face down or you can grab a Heavenly Treasure, which is a loot that is going to boost your stats. You know, make you hit harder. And doing that all at the same time is really fun. It’s like my favorite part of it. I love loot, I love getting loot (laughs).
WTMG: That’s fantastic, I love that. I love how much synergy there is between all the characters, abilities, and just being able to add loot and additional powers over the game.
Lowen: I’ve worked a long time to make sure that it doesn’t feel complicated when you’re playing the game. It flows so nicely now. Players kind of get it after one round of explanations, one round of going through. I played over five hundred times with players over the years and just in the last year, probably, excluding some of the COVID stuff, maybe ending in March, like two hundred times in the last year and some change. So a lot of the time they tell me to just stop talking and they all take it from there. It’s really fun to just watch them.
WTMG: You’ve created a lot of bosses for this game. In terms of the skirmish mode, when you initially set up your skirmish scenario, is it the kind of situation where you can choose what type of boss you’re feeling up to fight that day, or does the Battle card itself determine who you’re fighting?
Lowen: That’s a great question. In a skirmish mode there are two battles. The first battle you’re going to stage just like we talked about. The second battle you’re going to stage just like we talked about, except the very last Battle card, the last player who draws that final Battle card, instead of drawing from the normal cards you’re taking a friend’s Battle cards, shuffle them up and pick a random one. Or of course you’re welcome to decide, “oh we really want to fight Legion, you know we’ve never fought him before. Let’s do it.” So you’re kind of able to pick the boss. So it’s a ton of fun. It’s definitely the highlight of the game. You’re kind of ramping up from something that feels like you’ve got it, then all of a sudden when you get in between the first and second battle when you get into the second battle, it’s like that epidemic card, you just feel completely overwhelmed. It’s like, “oh my goodness, we are going to die.”
WTMG: Going back to the experiences of the game, those are the things that at the end of the game you walk away, ready to play your next game and those are the experiences that stick with you.
Lowen: Super high highs.
WTMG: But you also need to have those low points. It’s got to be a rollercoaster ride.
You’d also mentioned the campaign mode. Obviously, you said you’re starting out with angels that have no abilities. You gain experience, you can expand that as you go on. In terms of the campaigns, what’s the current format? Do you have a single one planned? A couple shorter ones? How many scenarios do you see that playing out as?
Lowen: At the moment there are fifteen different scenarios. There are twelve scenarios that kind of represent six different acts in the play. So Act 1 is at the Heavenly Gates and it’s time to break into this heavily demonically infested town. Like a bunch of Navy Seals jumping out of the back of a plane, I guess. Then a lot of acts are kind of exploring the town, figuring out what’s going on, you know that sort of thing. In doing that you’re going to find interesting scenarios that might not always be “slay all demons to win”, you know because of the saints being a mechanic in the game and you’re able to escort people and you’re able to collect “X” items around town or whatever. So there are multiple objectives, but there are scenarios that are straight up, “here’s the boss and here’s his minions” and you’ve to kill the boss or you’ve got to slay all the demons, that kind of thing. It’s a blast.
Each campaign is probably about an hour, versus a scenario which is maybe ninety minutes for a full four player game. So, they’re designed as single battle experiences. That kind of allows players, depending on what time they have, to just sit down and get a game in versus Gloomhaven. Man, (laughs) let’s not even factor in setup, it’s going to take a while, right?
WTMG: It’s still a lengthy process to think of every move. There’s so many components to move around. I think I average two hours on that. If I’m lucky.
Lowen: Yeah. So that’s one of the things that I- in fact, one of the more recent changes was when you would attack something, you would roll a die to see what happens. Did you hit? Did you get a critical strike? Or did you miss? And Gloomhaven has cards that do that. I actually removed that system entirely, so damage is automatic. When I hit somebody with your hammer for 3 damage, then you deal 3 damage. If Christine wants to imbue your weapon with lightning, then that’s going to give you 4 more. Or whatever, right? And there’s no need for dice rolling in those scenarios and I was actually able to save about five minutes per player just off that one change by itself. There’s enough randomness going on that you kind of need that stability in the game. Little things like that, I found creative ways to reduce play time and deepen the impact, you know? It just felt so needed.
WTMG: It’s the dice roll is where I hear most of the complaints about a game being too random. Your Darkness cards are going to be the random element that is a surprise and the frustration of the challenge, but it’s that dice roll that’s the added feeling of, “oh I don’t have anything I can do about this.”
Lowen: Right? It feels bad. I’m all about experience first. As a designer, I want you to feel like an angel battling demons against overwhelming odds and you’re just this little beacon of light in this sea of darkness and that’s what I wanted you to feel like. It just feels bad when that little beacon of light rolls a miss. It’s like, “you’re Michael the archangel, you don’t miss.” But yeah, it’s just one of those things that was a real negative player experience and the randomness would always happen at the strangest of times.
I’ve played several times with Sam Healey, now of the Dice Tower, formerly of Mythic Games, and he’s a big fan of the game, but both times I played with him, first time we were up against a cool boss that everyone has a great experience with. It’s like my Steady Eddie of bosses, called the “Euphrates Frogs”; everyone has a really great experience with these guys. So if I wanted to impress a big-wig like Sam Healey, I would bring these guys out. And no kidding, they missed ten times in a row. So it was like no danger at all. “Man this is terrible!” and then the next time we played after a bunch of shifting around, all of the dice was like, we missed. All the time. Like this is terrible. A one in six chance of missing, I mean it’s like one in six million to miss twenty times in a row, and that’s exactly what happened to us.
WTMG: Well the important thing is that he had a good time, he still loves it!
Lowen: Hopefully I’ll be the second game he backs on Kickstarter!
WTMG: Outside of specifically branding yourself as a Christian tactical dungeon crawler, the other thing that fascinated me was your work with Dan Maynard. You’re creating a lot of illustrations for a lot of abstract concepts, such as Darkness and Loot cards. What was the design process like, and how did you guys work together in order to reinforce your vision for this game?
Lowen: It’s been quite a long road. Some elements were a little more straightforward than others, but everything has had so much thought put into it. I’ve been working with Dan for two and half years now. We started sketching in January 2018, I think. It’s been a long time!
As you’ve mentioned, the Prayer cards and Darkness cards are great examples of abstract concepts, social commentary on certain things. We actually moved away from illustrations on Darkness cards. I have about ten illustrations of things we’ve done for Darkness cards, such as Seed of Pride and Heart of Stone. They were easy to put together; for instance, when designing Corruption of the Innocence, we had an ink blot dropping into water and turning into an angry emo little creature, very abstract and interesting, being kind of a commentary on sex trafficking. With that being said, these were the easy concepts, unlike some other ones that are much harder to pair up such, for instance, Suicidal Thoughts.
In this case, you might as well just draw just an ink blot or, say, a butterfly, because people are going to see whatever they want to see in those cards. Another example is a card on the Darkness deck called Sexual Immorality, and that is very open to interpretation, very uncomfortable for some people.
I remember I was playing the game with a LBTQ guy. He loved the game, he was having so much fun, and at the end of the play test he came to me and said “hey, I just want to let you know, there was this card that came out and it kind of hurt my feelings, as if your game was unapproving of my lifestyle, but then I finished the game and realized it’s just social commentary, being very open to interpretation.” Afterwards, he started talking about his life, about how difficult of an experience he had when he came out as homosexual to his parents, he was unaccepted and all that. That is what I want, I want for these cards to be so open to interpretation that they mean whatever you want them to mean.
My goal is not to preach, my goal is to build a great game. In the hands of a minister, it can be used for ministry. In the hands of a gamer, it can be used for gaming. So this was something that was a difficult element to work with Dan, as this was a big challenge, artistically speaking. Eventually, we just decided to exclude art, shrinking the card size from standard poker to mini was a really easy decision. We could make them look beautiful without filling space with something.
With Prayer cards, it’s pretty much the same, but it’s an easier, lighter topic. How do you explain The Golden Rule? Just write it on the card, and whatever you want to think about it, there you go! The Angels were another element that took a longer time to design; every Angel is positioned in a certain way to show the guiding principle behind each one of them, such as the power of love and of a sound mind. It took a long time to get it right. I could go on and on about the art.
WTMG: I noticed how you guys captured your ideologies behind the art design while also creating these really strong, possibly aggressive characters without ever going for the typical heavy lines on warriors’ faces. You guys really did a fantastic job with that.
Lowen: I wanted them to look dangerous, strong but under control. I wanted them to look a bit friendly, all while still making you think twice before trying to cross them. I wouldn’t invite them for a barbecue, for sure.
WTMG: I have one last question. You’re obviously in the process of talking to publishers, trying to figure out what the next step is, whether someone is going to pick it up or if you’re going to self-publish it. One of the biggest questions that always comes up for Kickstarter projects is obviously the stretch goals. Did you have anything in mind that you really wanted to do or add to the game if you had an ideal publisher and resources to do so?
Lowen: Well, yes. I was given excellent advice by a game store owner that’s local to me, he told me three and half years ago that, when you’re designing a game, you should design them with stretch goals in mind, and make all of that content, and then playtest with that content. Then cut down to what you need to have in order to make the box affordable and all that at the end.
Let’s use Prayer cards, for example: we’ve created eighty-six different Prayer cards, and there was no way I’d be able to stuff all of those into the game. We might have like sixty or seventy of them. I’m not even sure if I’m going to be able to include eight Angels into the base game. I will have a couple of stretch goals with finished art and completely play tested content. A big problem with stretch goals is that you come up with new content that hasn’t been created yet, so it has never been tested, and a lot of the time, it just ends up sucking, being unbalanced in comparison to the rest of the base game.
That is something that I’ve always wanted to avoid, but I will say that there are some special things that I have cooking, that I’m not sure I’m ready to reveal yet, that I think will make people go ballistic, things that are in high demand, that people keep asking us about. I’ll leave it at that, but I’m very excited about it.
WTMG: Andrew, thank you so much for taking the time. This has been a really wonderful conversation and now I’m even more excited for the game. We’ll be sure to keep our eyes out for it in the near future!
It may still be some time before Deliverance is ready to hit our tables at home, but there are plenty of ways to keep up to date on further developments. We will continue to cover Deliverance as more news becomes available. You can connect with the project directly on BoardGameGeek, Discord, Facebook, and of course, the Deliverance website.