There’s been a new trend on Kickstarter over the past few years that’s helping designers get their games out to the masses in a new way. Print-and-play games have become quite popular, and it’s easy to see why. For a price of around $5, gamers can get well-developed games that often feature high-quality artwork. Many of these games fit in the roll and write genre, as it naturally lends itself to a printable game experience.
Shu’s Tactics from LeviathGames is one of these games, and it completed a campaign in 2022 in which it raised over $31,000. Not bad for a game that’s only $6! And for that money, you’re getting quite a bit of gameplay, and new content has been released on a consistent basis since the end of the campaign.
I wanted to know more about this growing piece of the board game market, so I sent the brains behind LeviathGames, Thin LeHuu, a few questions to learn more about his process.
First, tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into board games.
Hi, I’m Thinh LeHuu. I’m from Vietnam. I’m a teacher, and a board game enthusiast.
Starting with party games like Werewolf around 2014, I rapidly dove deeper into the world of heavier games and now, I’ve become an immersed board gamer. I love to explore all kinds of games, especially euro games.
What was it that made you want to start making your own games?
I’ve loved playing and making games since I was a child. I’ve always dreamed of becoming a video game creator, but the chances for development in the field were not very clear in my country back then, so I took another direction and became a teacher. After I discovered the hobby of board gaming in my college years, I thought of it as an opportunity for me to relive my childhood dream, so I started creating my first board games.
What’s the story behind the creation of Shu’s Tactics?
To be honest, I didn’t choose Shu’s Tactics to be my debut game. By summer 2021, I’d already had another game of mine illustrated and prepared for release, but due to the pandemic and the global shipping crisis, I knew I could not in any way afford to print it. But then at the end of that same year, when the game Voyages kicked off a new trend for print-and-play roll-and-write games, I thought this could be my chance to land a first step onto the board game industry.
You have a very interesting approach to the game where you’re releasing it in chapters. How did you come up with that idea?
I did some research and saw that most people expect roll-and-write games to be light and simple. However, the initial design of Shu’s Tactics was quite complex and leaned towards the heavier side. That gave me the idea of creating a couple of “tutorial” maps that players should play first in order to get accustomed to basic mechanisms and rules before playing the full-scale map. Then I thought if the game now has several maps, why not implement narrative elements to it? That way not only will there be more coherence between the maps, but the stories may also serve as breaks from all the mechanical factors of the game.
You have released this pretty robust game with all these different updates… and it’s only 6 bucks! Do you think this type of approach to getting your games out there will become more popular over the next few years?
You know, it’s really difficult for a first-time designer like me to earn the trust of people, especially one not coming from a country with a long-established tradition of board gaming. In fact, during the Kickstarter campaign for Shu’s Tactics last year, there were people expressing their doubts about the quality of the game, some even suggested that it was a scam. There was not much I could do about that, apart from working as hard as I could to make sure those who supported me get the best value for their money, with the hope that they will continue supporting me in the future.
Who or what are some of your biggest influences or inspirations when it comes to board game design?
I must say I’m inspired a lot by Paul Grogan, Rahdo, and Jamey Stegmayer for their enthusiasm, positive energy, as well as massive contribution to the industry. What those three have done is amazing given all the difficulties they had to face on their early days.
As for board game design, there are three names I really look up to, which are Stefan Feld, Bruno Cthala, and Vlaada Chvatil. I’ve always enjoyed playing their games ever since I got into this hobby.
You know, it’s really difficult for a first-time designer like me to earn the trust of people, especially one not coming from a country with a long-established tradition of board gaming.Thinh LeHuu of LeviathGames
You mentioned in the campaign that at least 5 chapters were coming out for the game, but possibly more if the support was big enough. Any update on that? Do you feel like you still have some great ideas that you want to put out there?
I intended to release more chapters as a thank-you for the huge support. However, as the campaign is only based on the Yellow Turban Rebellion period of the Three Kingdoms era, the story will likely have come to a conclusion by the time chapter 5 is out. It wouldn’t be appropriate if I make up some events to continue the story, as some Three Kingdoms fans may not find it acceptable. So, I decided to add a lot more heroes and bosses to make up for that.
You’ve committed yourself to supporting Shu’s Tactics for a long time, but do you have any plans for what’s next?
Yes, definitely. I’m hoping to launch a Kickstarter campaign for my next game around quarter 3 or 4 this year, and it’s a physical one. You are wizard tamers who gather mystical beasts to compete in a tournament. It’s an engine building game featuring synergy comboing and auto-battlers.
The interesting take is that the beasts are so wild that you cannot tell them what to do. All you can do is line them up and make use of their unique abilities to bring out the best combos possible.
You can find out more about Shu’s Tactics – and purchase it for yourself! – at LeviathGames’ website.