Asger Harding Granerud is the designer behind the smash hits Flamme Rouge and 13 Days: The Cuban Missile Crisis. He’s also a pretty great guy and a designer who I think will we’ll be seeing a lot more of the coming years. Let’s find out what makes him tick.
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?
My name is Asger, I’m 34 years old, live in Copenhagen Denmark and married to my wonderful wife Malu. I’ve played games since I was 6-7 years old, and never really stopped. We’ve got no kids, but two dwarf rabbits (1.2kg) named Junior and Coco. I bike everywhere, and I’m fortunate enough to run a boardgame distributing company that covers the Nordic countries as my day job.
What’s your favourite game?
An impossible question to answer, because it completely depends on the crowd I’m with, its size and the mood I’m in. However, if I have to answer there is only one game I played 25 years ago, and I know I will be playing in 25 years, and that is chess.
What game would you use to introduce new people to the hobby?
When I introduce new people, at the moment it is almost always Flamme Rouge. Also because any people that aren’t already in the hobby, are usually asking for that game, because they’ve seen me post about it. It sets up fast, and the rules literally take 5 minutes to explain, then they are playing. Plus it works for both an 8 year old and an 80 year
old. Otherwise I’d probably pick Ticket to Ride or Hanabi.
What’s your best game experience?
In 2007 I won the European Team Championship in Warhammer Fantasy with the Danish national team. We had been close several times before, but never made it. I’ve never really done many team sports, but nailing this with team effort was just fantastic. It was basically the equivalent of the World Championship, no other event came close in size nor international attendance.
What is the most important aspect of playing games for you?
Socializing. I have a weekly game night with a crowd of 13-14 friends (sometimes we’re just two!), and it is a great way to make sure I catch up with a lot of my close friends.
Why do you design games?
Because I can’t help it! In all seriousness there are a multitude of factors: It is a creative outlet which is satisfying in and of itself. I take great pride in knowing that ideas that spark inside my skull, can end up on shelves across the globe. Lots of people are indirectly employed due to tasks sparked by that idea. Thousands of people have
already had good fun playing my games, which is great to think about. It earns me money too, which is also nice.
What are you most proud of?
Being a decent human being and a good partner, with a modicum of empathy.
What is the most import part of making a game for you?
Analogue games is one of the few areas where the product can outlive the creator. You don’t need to constantly update it, or adapt it to new technology. I aim to make games that will still sit on shelves in stores and peoples homes 20 years from now. I will fail more often than not, but it is the goal. Leaving a legacy is the least important part of
that, and though finance is a part of the picture, it isn’t what motivates me most personally. That is to create as much joy and happiness as I can, and I’ll achieve this best by reaching more people.
Do you usually like to start from the theme or mechanics?
Usually mechanics first, and when it is theme first it very quickly moves to mechanics. If the core mechanical action you’re taking isn’t engaging, then the rest doesn’t really matter.
Where do you find your inspiration for new game themes and mechanics?
I typically get inspired by other games. Sometimes games I play, sometimes games I read about, and sometimes games where I see a single picture that then triggers a thought process. It can be games I love where I only want to rework it slightly, perhaps to make it accessible to a different audience. Or games where I simply think I can do what they tried better. My co-designer Daniel Skjold Pedersen much more often presents ideas out of nowhere, based on a single mechanic, or just a stray thought.
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