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Board Games by Jamey Stegmaier

Jamey Stegmaier runs the day-to-day operations of Stonemaier Games, located in St. Louis, Missouri. Jamey designed Viticulture, Euphoria, Scythe, Charterstone, and Tapestry, and he has had a lifelong passion for playing and designing board games. His 8 crowdfunding campaigns raised over $3.2 million, and he shares his insights, mistakes, and lessons learned on this blog.

Jamey grew up in Virginia playing games like chess, Scotland Yard, Labyrinth, Milles Bourne, poker, Risk, Key to the Kingdom, Monopoly, Magic, Dragon Dice, and hearts. He attended Washington University in St. Louis. During that time, he fell in love with St. Louis and has lived there ever since. He currently lives with his girlfriend (Megan) and his two cats, Biddy and Walter. His other hobbies include indoor rock climbing, reading, writing, blogging, watching movies, and playing soccer.

Scythe board game
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Rank: 3
Trending: 43
Viticulture: Essential Edition board game
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Rank: 6
Trending: 77
Tapestry board game
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Rank: 116
Trending: 201
Charterstone board game
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Rank: 135
Trending: 356
Tuscany: Essential Edition board game
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Rank: 141
Trending: 243
Scythe: Invaders from Afar board game
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Rank: 196
Trending: 679
Scythe: The Rise of Fenris board game
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Rank: 223
Trending: 596
Viticulture board game
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Rank: 360
Trending: N/A
Euphoria: Build a Better Dystopia board game
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Rank: 374
Trending: 729
Scythe: The Wind Gambit board game
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Rank: 379
Trending: 930
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What Inspired Jamey Stegmaier to Create Scythe, Viticulture, + More image
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These would be my picks…

Scott Almes: I have played a few of his Tiny Epic Games, but I would have to go with #Claim. This trick-taker keeps the player on their toes due to each suit (race) having a different ability. With each expansion/standalone the variety and replay ability increases.

Ted Alspach: I would go with #Castles of Mad King Ludwig (#Suburbia is second for me). Nothing like bidding on the next crazy addition of this work in progress castle. I’m sure I am not alone when I say I can’t wait for a deluxe version of this.

Antoine Bauza: #Ghost Stories. My favorite co-op. Love the theme and its brutal difficulty. Damn those hopping vampires.

Bernd Brunnhofer: probably best known for #Stone Age, but for my pick I would have to go with the engine/tableau builder #St. Petersburg. The last time this was reprinted by ZMAN which added some extras (like the market), but I would have loved to have picked up the older version with the artwork that was closer ascetically to the time period when the game was set.

Richard Borg: Honestly, I haven’t played many from Borg. I owned and played the rummy variant #Wyatt Earp and #Thunder & Lightning. I no longer own either.

Inka & Markus Brand: Lots of admiration goes to this power couple. For my money, #Village is their best. What other game allows you to kill off your workers? People say Euros are not thematic, I say check out Village.

Tony Boydell: #Snowdonia hands down. It is one of the few games where the dummy player is not limited to two players. Plus the weather mechanic is nifty. I admit I wanted to like #Guilds of London, but the iconography made it a bear to learn and teach.

Richard Breese: Can’t think of a standout here.

Bruno Cathala: Strangely I feel that this designer does his best work with others. For my pick it would have to be #Abyss which was co-designed with Charles Chevallier. Aside from the artwork, the game does have a lot of neat mechanisms attached to it (press your luck, hand management, and set collection). I will say the game needs the #Abyss: Leviathan to cover what I feel is its weakest points (monster track).

Matthias Cramer: #Rococo which Kind of cheating because it was a co-design with Stephan and Louis Malz. Deckbuilding with area majority. My masculinity is not threatened by dress making. I kinda of regret getting rid of my first printing, but grad school is expensive and I have kids to feed. I did pick up the deluxe version.

Carl Chudyk: I feel like every one of his designs attempts to be like #Glory To Rome. Glory to Rome was the first game after playing CCG/TCG that got me hooked. Every card in this game seems overpowered and the lead follow mechanism is brilliant.

John Clowdus: Known for his small card games, which often seem a bit too similar in my opinion. I will have pick #Omen: A Reign of War. Game is a tug of war race that feels close to a CCG/TCG.

John D. Clair: I’ve played two of his designs: #Mystic Vale and #Space Base. I played a lot of vale via app. I did think it was a gimmicky deck builder at first (card crafting), but the press your luck aspect of corruption is quite fun. I will say that Space Base fixes what I hated about Machi Koro.

Rüdiger Dorn: #Istanbul (not Constantinople). Pick up and deliver mixed with wheelbarrow racing. Favorite aspect is the family member that is constantly incarcerated.

Stefan Dorra: Probably best known #For Sale. For my pick I’ll go with the abstract #Medina (second edition). Basically the most interesting thing about this is how each player plays a game of chicken regarding claiming parts of the city.

Phil Eklund: Haven’t played a ton from him, but I do like #Pax Porfiriana. The Eklunds have a knack for building games that can make a historian swoon.

Steve Finn: King of the fillers. #Biblios is my favorite here. Mix drafting and an auction and you get this game. Will note that is the first game I played with my (now) wife before we started going out. This game also made me realize that I am terrible at teaching rules.

Stephan Feld: I am a stickler for multi-use card games like #Bruges, but for this I have to go with #The Castles of Burgundy. Probably my favorite dice placement game and the very definition of point salad. Genius of how every aspect is so integrated.

Friedemann Friese: To be honest, I was not a huge fan of #Power Grid. Maybe because I was tired the first time I played it, maybe it was the people I played with. Played #Friday quite a bit. Honestly, I don’t think I ever won a game.

Jacob Fryxelius: n/a

Mac Gerdts: #Concordia. Honestly when this pandemic is over with I can’t wait to play this and Ra.

Hisashi Hayashi: Only played a few, but will have to say #Yokohama is our favorite. It is kinda like worker placement mixed with a mancala.

Steve Jackson: #Munchkin. I haven’t played a game of it in years, but I will say that #Munchkin Cthulhu is the best because of its alternate win/end condition. Game does have the tendency to go on like a bad rash.

Wolfgang Kramer: #El Grande. Pound for pound the best area control game. Needs 4 people to be playable.

Reiner Knizia: #Ra. Such a clever auction game with press your luck and set collection. This is a hard one for me as Knizia has a bunch of great designs.

Michael Kiesling: One of my grail games is #The Palaces of Carrara btw. I haven’t played #Azul enough, so my pick would be #Vikings. Haven’t played it in a bit, but how the auction wheel will move as tiles/Vikings are bought.

Richard Launius: I’ve played #Elder Sign a lot, but nothing else from him. Part of the appeal is the Lovecraftian lore (I am from RI after all). Co-op #Yahtzee is what this is. Game does need either the omen expansions like #Elder Sign: Omens of the Pharaoh Expansion or the #Elder Sign: Gates of Arkham Expansion to shine. Probably the only games we house rule as well. Game is technically over when all of the investigators die. Yeah, not doing that…

Scott Lang: Haven’t played enough to pick here.

Vital Lacerda: I own #Vinhos Deluxe, but have yet to play it. Mainly bought one of his titles due to Portuguese pride to be honest.

Daniele Tascini & Simone Luciani: #Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar. I was ready to chalk up the gears as a gimmick, but they are really an ingenious way to plan when and what a worker will get.

Thomas Lehmann: Much like Chudyk, I feel like most of his games are tableau builders like #Race for the Galaxy. I will say that this game works best with 2 and requires a bit of a commitment to get good at (I’ve played this over a 1000 times and I still suck at it). Common complaint about this one is its iconography.

Paulo Mori: #Via Magica/ #Rise of Augustus. Bingo with a little extras. First game I was able to play with our 2.5 year old.

Corné van Moorsel: Will have to go with #Habitats. Probably his best known title to begin with. Honestly it is an easy tile laying game that requires a little planning. Who does like building their very own ecosystem? Also. If you have the 1st printing, you have those cute handmade ceramic animals as well… or you can do what I did and buy some Red Rose Tea figurines.

Shem Phillips: I own #Raiders of Scythia, but haven’t played it yet. Can’t pick a favorite here.

Alexander Pfister: #Port Royal since I haven’t played #Great Western Trail trail yet. Port Royal is a simple card game with press your luck.

Uwe Rosenberg: Hard choice here as well. #At the Gates of Loyang followed by #Caverna: The Cave Farmers / #Agricola (Revised Edition).

Vladimír Suchý: What I love about this designer is that he rarely designs expansions. I haven’t played #Underwater Cities enough to say that it is his best. I have played #Last Will will a few times and will say that the theme and gameplay are unlike anything else. The entire premise is to blow all of your money to win and the ways that you can part with that cash is outlandish.

Andreas Schmidt: Own #Heaven & Ale, but haven’t played it yet aside from solo. N/A

Reiner Stockhausen: #Orléans. Not sure if this was the first “bag builder”. Orleans is kinda point salad. Probably favorite aspect of this is the travel aspect that reminds me of another favorite, #Village. One expansion can also make this a solo or co-op game as well.

Jamey Stegmaier: #Viticulture: Essential Edition w/  #Tuscany: Essential Edition. Very simple and streamlined worker placement. I used to help my grandpa (Avo) make wine so this always reminds me of him and that time. Lovely production quality.

Ignacy Trzewiczek: I would pick the #51st State: Master Set over #Imperial Settlers. They are similar, mainly because both were modeled after the original #51st State. I think where state has the edge is how the game will end at a set point value. Almost every game of Settlers ends with a blowout and has a set amount of turns.

Justin De Witt: The only game I really played from him is #Castle Panic. The game is akin to those tower defensive games. Simple co-op that is a great entry point into the genre. The game does feel like the #Castle Panic: The Wizard's Tower expansion should have been included from the start. Was curious about the failed kickstarter that was going to be a deluxe version.

Martin Wallace: Only played a few from him, but I would pick #London Second Edition.

Cole Wehrle: N/a

Top ten games I play to keep wife/partner a happy gamer

This is the list of games that my wife suggests most often to play on game night. The games are ranked with 10 being most happy to play and 1 is the game I most have to endure in order to get my games on the table. 

What are some of the worst games your partner/family/gaming group loves that you endure so you can play what you want?

10) WIngspan - Thank you, Jamey Stegmaier. Wingspan is probably the only game on this list that I am perfectly happy to play when the wife suggests it. It does have a fair amount of luck, but I feel with a good engine strategy during gameplay, you can mitigate a lot of it.

 9) The Crew - I do like this game a lot. My wife LOVES it. I am more of a euro gamer who enjoys digging deep into strategies. Of everything on this list, this is the one card game (unless you count Wingspan as a card game) I will play most often when asked.

8) Catan - this is the game that started our family as hobby board gamers and it has a special place on our shelves. I am always happy when my wife suggests this over some of the games below it.

7) Survive: Escape from Atlantis - I enjoy this game as a one-off filler game. I will play it on occasion, but I don't want it to be in our regular family game night rotation.

6) Ganz Schonn Clever - okay, here is a dice game where luck is a big factor. However, I feel that the score pad allows for really minimizing that luck. Sure you can have a planned destroyed by a few dice rolls, but in this game, it feels more like a push your luck element.

5) Love Letter - I enjoy this game in moderation. It can be great as a filler, but when it is someone's go-to game, it can get old quickly. There are so many other hidden role games I enjoy more.

4) Sparkle Kitty - luck, luck, and more luck! Sparkle Kitty is one of those games where luck plays a significant factor, and there is not a lot of ways to mitigate it. 

3) Yam Slam - Can anyone say dolled up Yatzhee?!

2) Phase 10 - This game can go on FOREVER... To me, this is nothing more than an advanced version of rummy. If I am going to play this, I must need brownie points for getting a Euro on the table.

1) Pass the Pigs - There are no redeeming qualities about this game, in my opinion. It can be funny how the pigs land when you roll them, I have no idea why she loves it so much

There was an interesting musing and discussion on this topic by Jamey Stegmaier a couple years ago: https://stonemaiergames.com/one-box-to-rule-them-all/

Apparently that lead to the release of the Scythe Legendary Box.  I found that was an interesting solution.  While the Legendary Box wasn't for me, there are clearly people who appreciate it.  I thought that the size of the original Scythe box was quite appropriate and fit everything nicely for shipping and storage, without adding too much air.  It's also pretty dense, weighing a lot for its size.  I (just barely) fit the first 2 expansions in it, and wouldn't mind if it was just a little bit bigger.

One game that had the perfect box size was Gloomhaven; at least after everything was organized into trays (I had 3D printed a bunch of inserts).  In that regard, it also had the benefit of not having to accommodate a bunch of expansion content.

Both of these games seemed pretty cognizant of the practical implications of box size.  Meanwhile, the Carcassonne Big Box just pissed me off.  Needless, gratuitous, wasteful.  The amount of air in that box is disgusting.  I had never destroyed a box before, just to cut it down to size, but for Carcassonne I made an exception.  To a much lesser degree, the Mage Knight Ultimate box could/should have been smaller, but it wasn't nearly as bad.

In the case Carcassonne, I absolutely think it was a marketing ploy to gain shelf presence.  For Mage Knight UE, I think it was just inefficient design.  Unlike Carcassonne, the Mage Knight inserts at least actually touch the bottom of the box.

Meanwhile, there are cases like the Arkham Horror LCG box, which make me say: "wat?".  If there was ever a good case to sell a mostly empty box, this is it.  A game that is designed to have players regularly buy cards and expand on their collection should come with a relatively large box that is designed to efficiently store those cards.  A long, narrow, tall box would have been perfect.  Instead, they opted for a short, square box with a lot of empty space that's too awkward to actually store those cards.

I don't have one of my own, or an account at all, but my wife follows Jamey Stegmaier's account, since he posts a lot of cool stuff, and he published one of our favorite games, #Wingspan. I know that's not what you asked for, but that's all I've got, haha!

Honestly, this is gonna sound a little bad but I have little knowledge of the breath and width of many designers.  Outside of Jamey Stegmaier and Cole Wehrle I wouldn't know most designers even for the games I do own.  But, out of my top 5 they have 3 of the titles.  Having said that, because of my excitement around Oath I think I'll have to give it to Cole.

I was very pleased with the Jamey Stegmaier interview, he is a very personable dude! Keep up the good work Trent!

Played Viticulture: Essential Edition for the first time in honor of interviewing Jamey Stegmaier! Trent and I were just delighted by every aspect of the game :)