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Interview with Phil Walker-Harding: Creator of Sushi Go!

Phil Walker-Harding (via Indiegogo)

Phil Walker-Harding (via Indiegogo)

There’s no shortage of great tabletop games, but our time and money are limited. Sushi Go! combines a tasty theme, adorable art, and a simple card drafting mechanic to stand out among its peers and achieve tremendous replay value. After discovering  SushiGo!’s second edition would be published by Gamewright, I had plenty of questions about the story and future of the game. Who better to ask than the man himself, Sushi Go! designer Phil Walker-Harding.Stars

When you initially thought up Sushi Go!, did you envision a sushi themed card game with a drafting mechanic and cute art? Or did all these elements slowly fall into place after you began designing Sushi Go!? 

My design goal was to make a simple card game that used the pass and draft mechanism that I enjoyed so much in 7 Wonders and Fairy Tale. I wanted to bring the inherent excitement and tension of this mechanism to the fore, with as few other rules as possible. From the start I decided that set collection was the simplest type of game I could create with this structure. When I was thinking of a theme early in the process, the idea of sushi popped into my head because passing cards around a table reminded me of the conveyor belt in a sushi train restaurant. I had seen some really great chibi style sushi pictures online and thought this look would really suit the game’s light-heartedness. I am not much of an illustrator, but am okay with vector graphics, so I decided to try doing the art myself!

Phil Harding Quote

I’ve heard a lot about people’s experiences using Kickstarter, however this is the first time I have gotten a chance to ask someone about their experience using Indiegogo. What was your experience with Indiegogo like and would you say there is anything Indiegogo does more effectively than Kickstarter?

The main reason I used IndieGoGo was that Kickstarter was not yet available for Australian projects. If Kickstarter was available I would have used it, if only because of the huge amount of exposure you get just by being on that site. Having said that, IndieGoGo is clean, well designed and easy to use. The whole process was pretty smooth. I like that the site encourages charity projects and seems to work really well for them.

The game production process went relatively smooth. I had worked with LudoFact in Germany before so had no problems. The fulfillment process wasn’t too bad either as I had a really manageable number of backers and only a couple of reward types. It was a good experience to have my first crowd-funding project be relatively small.

SushiGo! First Edition (via adventurelandgames.com)

SushiGo! First Edition (via adventurelandgames.com)

Was Sushi Go! ever available for direct purchase on your site? Have you had any difficulty meeting the high demand for Sushi Go!? (if you did have difficulty) What would you do differently to better prepare for this high demand? Is there really anything you can do without certainty that your game will be in high demand?

Yes it was available from my web site until the game sold out. From a couple of months after the game was out, it was pretty clear the print run would sell out and I’d need to do a reprint. However around this time I was also approached by Gamewright who wanted to take the game on. I was happy about this so I decided not to reprint and handed it over to them. Knowing how to time a reprint is pretty hard for small publishers, but I would say as soon as it is clear the game will sell out it is time to seriously consider reprinting.

Sushi Go! got picked up by GameWright. How did this business relationship come about?

Someone from Gamewright played the game, liked it and emailed me, simple as that! I feel very fortunate that they stumbled across it, and I think it shows their commitment to looking for good family games that they play even relatively obscure small publisher titles.

Gamewright sushigo!

Second Edition of SushiGo! (via gamewright.com)

The art in the second edition of Sushi Go! is different from the art in the first edition. Was there any specific reason for this change?

It was Gamewright’s decision and I think it was mainly to bring the game in line with the illustrative art style they use in their card games. I really like the new art, there is a great level of detail in the sushi characters.

What does getting the game published by GameWright do for the future of Sushi Go! and you in particular?

Well their edition hasn’t been released yet, so it is hard to say! If it is a success it will hopefully stay in print for some time. It is really great now being in contact with Gamewright, as they are one of the publishers I respect the most.

When and where can fans of Sushi Go! look for the second edition of the game?

It should be out in late April and will be available pretty widely. Many hobby game stores and toy stores stock Gamewright products so it shouldn’t be too hard to find.

Phil, thank you so much for answering our questions and we look forward to the future of Sushi Go!

No problem at all!

-Kyle

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