We love game developers from all over the world here at Gameapalooza, without these people, artists and publishers we’d be a lot more bored and our lives a lot more empty. You know what else we love? Australian tabletop game developers and we’ve got one right here for you! Al Caynes is a tabletop game designer from Melbourne and the man behind card game “El Luchador Fantastico Grande”, a Lucha Libre inspired Mexican Wrestling card and dice game. We hit Al up for an interview and he was forthcoming and insightful.

Check out the full interview below and we’ve got a full review of “El Luchador Fantastico Grande” coming your way soon.


Interview with Game Designer Al Caynes of Senyac Games

Firstly who are you? Tell us a bit about you yourself and your independent game publishing company.
Well, I am Albert Caynes, currently based in Melbourne. I have been designing games for about ten years just for fun. I was previously a high level WoW TCG, WWE Raw Deal player and a Magic The Gathering obsessive. I love board games and have been playing them since the late 80’s (when I was around 6). I grew up on the C64/126 computer system and a mix of RPG’s from Ghostbusters, TMNT and board games like Dark Future (classic from Games Workshop), Car Wars, Space Hulk, Talisman Timescape (doesn’t hold up so well), Hero Quest and light stuff like Grass and Pass the Pigs. I mostly enjoy light/medium games and have very little patience for long euro games.

I own and run Senyac Games and I am previously a video game reviewer for my own review site, HittinCrits.

Senyac Games Australian game designer interviewFantastico!!

Tell us a little about the games you’re releasing and working on at the moment. Anything that’s got you really excited?
Currently I’m working on a dice bidding game, at least I think it’s a dice bidding game, called Space Junkers. Basically you are a Space Junker, bidding dice on Fuel Cells that you trade in for Derelict Spaceship cards. There is a lot of rolling dice, bidding on Fuel Cards, possibly screwing other peoples dice rolls by out bitting pips or straight up blocking them.

I guess you could say a dice bidding game with a high level of player interaction and take that, for 2-4 players. It currently plays around one hour, though I’m trying to reduce that down to 30-45 mins.

I’m also working on a worker placement game set on an asteroid, where you’re tasked with building a small encampment and trying to build a rocket to get off the asteroid and escape.

Let’s get to what we all want to know and possibly the easiest / hardest question. What are your personal top 5 tabletop games and why? (other than those of your own design).
Oh man, that’s a hard one. Well, I’m a huge fan of games I can play in a short period to maximise the amount of games I play and still have enough fun with.
So: King of Tokyo – now there is something to be said here about how it is slightly broken as a game, but King of New York is NOT the same game and has a much different play experience. Rise to Power – Rule and Make really scratched my itch with this game, though the player powers are a little broken. The base game though is great, it’s basically a futuristic city building resource game. Munchkin – As much as people MAY hate this game and it’s MANY incarnations, I still feel it is basic enough for NON-GAMERS to enjoy. At the end of the day, it’s a great intro game to slide folks in on. Boss Monster– A casual dungeon builder where you play as the boss of the dungeon and you’re trying to kill heroes to win. What’s not to love? Hero Quest – The original “short/medium play” tabletop game. If you’ve never played it, you should. It still holds up well and is a fantastic game. The models are all detailed and gorgeous, even for it’s day. The adventure aspect of D&D meets board game, kicking open doors and killing stuff. It’s mindless fun and it’s best! (We’ve still got out “HeroQuest” and “Advanced HeroQuest Al, a definite classic – Ed.).

BONUS ROUND!!! Everyone needs to play LOVE LETTER. It is a very smart, micro, gorgeous and fulfilling game!!!

Love Letter Card GameLove Letter, Al’s right, a great filler title.

In your personal opinion, are there any games in particular that lend themselves well to newcomers, that is, people who have never played anything other than perhaps the non German-style games?
King of Tokyo, Boss Monster and Munchkin have a nice spread of easy-to-learn mechanics/gameplay and don’t outstay their welcome. Though Ticket to Ride is also a very good introductory game, but leans more on the euro side of the fence.

If you could get one major license made into a board game, what would it be and why? (movie, TV, book, comic, video game).
Well it WAS ghostbusters about a year ago. I said this at PAX that a zombiecide style ghostbusters game would work very well. Damn it, Cryptazoic!!! I would love to see some sort of Aliens vs Predator hidden placement game. I don’t know, something like Specter Ops would work for it. Other than that? I would love to get my hands on an Indiana Jones license!

Are there any American style (Ameritrash) board games that you think manage the sort of depth that many German-style games offer? Do you have any in your collection?
To be honest, a lot of ameritrash misses the mark. They sure look pretty, but there isn’t enough under the hood. Usually theme takes a front seat and mechanics tying to the theme is in the boot, where no one can see it. I could be wrong and I’m happy for someone to point that out.

Have you used Kickstarter to back any tabletop games? What was the last one you backed and received and were you happy with it? Anything you’re waiting on?
I recently backed Guns and Steel from Grail Games, it looks amazing. I have backed a lot of stuff and I am awaiting a lot of stuff. I have yet to receive anything other than Boss Monster and the digital Boss Monster. Next that should be coming in is Steampunk Rally. It has a WHOLE mess of dice!!

You sound like an old school gamer given some of the games you list on your about page (Car Wars, Hero Quest, Talisman Timescape). What is the oldest board game you still own and why? What older game do you wish you still owned?
I own nothing from my old collection. All the games either belonged to my older brothers or were tragically destroyed in the 2011 Brisbane floods. That was Hero Quest L I wish I still had Dark Future, it was a car battle game and I want to re-engineer it. Make a new version of it. Those plastic cars looked amazing!

Dark Future Car Wars Style Games Workshop titleDark Future – A sort of 3D Car Wars, we haven’t played this one for years!

Last question, let’s end on a real downer… Of the new slew of board games of the last decade or so, what ones have made you want to throw pieces at the wall or do a table flip and why?
Actually, I have had a pretty good run with what I have played. Except BATTLESTAR GALLATICA. BSG is what I would call “why bother playing”. We played a few games, those games lasted around four hours and in the end we all lost to the bad guys. We spent four hours and took away nothing from it.

We’d like to thank Al for his time, even though he didn’t like Battlestar Galactica, those pesky Cylons they’ll get you eventually!

If you’d like to catch Al online be sure and check out his website, or you can find him on Twitter @SenyacGames or at the Senyac Games Facebook Page.

And if you’re heading to PAX Australia 2015, you can catch him at a shared booth between 93 Made Games (Monster Town, Viewpoint, No Fish) and their co-booth will have special guest designer David Harding (Matcha, One Zero One, Too Many Cinderellas, Guns and Steel) with us. (Map code TT62 and TT95).