So you're not bothered by people creating house rules for your games?
Not at all, you can always put house rules in a game. The nice thing about Strut! is that you can leave the Black Rooster out or you can change what it does. Instead of losing everything, you can modify it. It can wipe out ten or fifteen points instead of going back to zero.
Rounding out your current roster at Alsip & Co. is Staggers. What's the backstory on that one?
Staggers was maybe eight years from conception to putting it on the market. Staggers was also inspired by another game, Shut the Box, which is a very old, sea-going English game that the crew played for money. You roll two dice and you have twelve numbers; it's a number elimination game. So I looked at that game and said, "I'd rather have more options." That's why we added a third die and a total of eighteen numbers.
The playing surface of Staggers, in its standard edition, is leather. But you're introducing a napkin version, with a cloth playing surface.
We looked around forever for a really high quality napkin. You can wash it over and over again. It goes anywhere. You can fold it up and put it in your back pocket. Camping, parties - anywhere. It's a great "leave behind." That's a term I really like to use when we're talking about these games. You're visiting somebody and you just leave it behind. A lot of my games are "leave behinds." Even Canoe, the leather version.
Over the 30-plus years you've been developing games, what do you consider your proudest accomplishment?
As with any art form, whether painting or whatever, it's not a big deal for me to have developed a game. I don't look at it as, "Wow, I developed that." Besides, it's not all you. It's family, like my daughters saying, "Dad, why don't you try this?" My wife has contributed as well, as she has a good eye for design.
What's really satisfying is when I talk to someone who says, "Our favorite game is Canoe, we play it every night." That's really rewarding for me. When I go to bed at night, sometimes I think about how many people are out there playing one of my games. What's really gratifying is to know they're having a good time, doing their mental gymnastics which keeps them young. That's really rewarding for me. More so than saying, "Gosh, look at me - I invented it!" When we did Bottle Topps, we sold 1.1 million units, most through Parker Brothers. I mean, that's kind of a monetary achievement.