Last week, Stonemaier Games announced something unusual – a new game that they’re releasing in collaboration with us! Between Two Castles of Mad King Ludwig is an upcoming release that combines the crazy castle-building world of the original Castles of Mad King Ludwig with the tile drafting and partnership play of Between Two Cities.
We asked Jamey Stegmaier, the publisher and developer of Between Two Castles, a few questions about how the game came to be and about the process behind its creation.
There aren’t many games that cross over into the world of another publisher’s game. How did the idea for Between Two Castles of Mad King Ludwig come about?
After we released Between Two Cities, Ben, Matthew, and I brainstormed potential themes for a future Between Two game. I mentioned castles, and it stuck. At some point during the design process, Ben realized how well some of the mechanisms of Castles of Mad King Ludwig translated to the Between Two model, so we decided to approach Ted at Bézier Games to see if we could license the IP and work with him. Fortunately, he agreed!
You’ve mentioned in your videos that Castles of Mad King Ludwig is one of your favorite games. What do you enjoy about it, and how did you work with the designers to capture that experience in Between Two Castles?
It’s true—I absolutely love Castles of Mad King Ludwig. It’s been on my top 10 lists for the last 4 years, sometimes occupying the #1 spot. I love how rewarding of a game it is in that you’re often gaining multiple rewards every time you make a choice. I love how the game steers you in certain directions with public and private goals but doesn’t require you to do any of them. I love the satisfaction of completing a room. I love how easy it is to teach. And I really love the I-price-you-choose mechanism of the master builder (and that the other players pay the master builder). The game flows so well. Like, just by typing this out, I want to play the game right now!
It was an interesting balance while working with Ben and Matthew to figure out what aspects of Ludwig belong in Between Two Castles and which aspects don’t belong. We would chat about this from time to time. For example, in Castles, tiles often want to be next to other specific tile types, and the challenge/variety is getting them to fit because they have weird shapes and sizes. In Between Two Castles, because the tiles are square, there isn’t much of a challenge in this regard, so we gave each tile type its own rule.
The art for the room tiles is stunning, and you’ve also said that there’s more to it than meets the eye. What are some of the hidden Easter eggs that players should look out for?
Thank you! It was a pleasure to work with the two artists who illustrated the room tiles, Anez and Laura. There are around 160 unique illustrations in the game. If players look closely, they can find quite a few animals in the rooms, including my cats. There are also nods to each of our previous games and a portrait of Kramer from the TV show Seinfeld.
What’s your favourite room in Castles of Mad King Ludwig? Did you recreate it in Between Two Castles, or are they all completely new rooms?
There’s a mix of old and new rooms in Between Two Castles. We basically had a long Google Doc of room ideas that started off with the Castles rooms and expanded/changed from there. My favorite room in Castles… thematically perhaps The Pit, just because who puts a pit in their castle?! (The answer: I do.) Mechanically I love the sleeping rooms because they give me the ability to make the game last a little longer, and I always want more Ludwig.
My favorite room in Between Two Castles is probably the Kittenry.
If you were a Mad King, what would your first decree be?
Something involving chocolate. Perhaps: If you present yourself to the Mad King, you must provide chocolate.
If you could play a mashup of any two games (not by Bézier or Stonemaier), what would they be and why?
Someone mentioned this idea on my YouTube channel the other day, and I thought it was quite clever: Scotland Yard meets Mysterium. I’d play that.
A huge thanks to Jamey for answering a few questions about Between Two Castles of Mad King Ludwig!
If you’d like to find out more about the game or preorder it for when it releases on October 19, head over to Stonemaier Games’ website.
If you’ll be attending Essen SPIEL this year, you can also preorder for pickup at the show through our website.
Have you played either of the original games? What do you think of this new combo of the two?