Ryan LaFlamme lives in Lowell, MA, and is a general all-around lover of geekdom. Games just happen to take up a big part of that.
Ryan is the founding editor of The Cardboard Republic. Ryan started it with the intent of having an outlet where indie games had a place where they had just as much of a shot getting attention as the latest and greatest popular games to come out. Plus, he wanted a system of reviewing games that wasn’t strictly on a Good or Bad scale.
In addition to being the main point of contact for the site, Ryan also routinely keeps an eye on current and upcoming happenings in gaming, serves as the site’s Webmaster, principal reviewer, is one half of the site’s Twitter page, cohosted the weekly podcast for nearly five years, and writes the weekly EDH-focused Magic column Monday Magic. Plus, you know, anything else that needs to be done here. Hopefully that includes playing games.
The Five Questions
What was your gateway game?
The first game I truly played that wasn’t part of the traditional Monopoly / Clue / Candy Land fare was called Survive! (exclamation point included). I used to watch my brothers growing up play the game Shadowlord! (oddly, also with an exclamation point), but I was too young to play with them. Survive, though, I latched on to immediately, because it let me do something so radically different than roll a die and move around the same track. I loved the whole theme of trying to save my people from a sinking island and being able to send sea serpents at my enemies at the same time.
Of course, it wasn’t long after Survive that I learned to play Magic: the Gathering with my brothers, beginning a fascination with multiplayer casual Magic that continues twenty years later.
What was the last game you really enjoyed playing?
[Updated: April 2018] Considering I’m just coming off the 2017 Laurel Awards, it shouldn’t really come as a shock that I have a lot of those games on my mind. So I’m going to go with Yokohama at the moment. It’s a particularly creative worker placement and resource manipulation game that really seems to tick all of the boxes I really enjoy with that style of game: it lets me plan ahead, it has the opportunity for a decent payoff as a result of those efforts, it’s incredibly replayable thanks to its modular nature, and it does worker placement in a way that helps differentiate it from so many others.
How big is your game collection?
Including expansions and the like, well over 500 titles I think. You know when you have to build new shelves just for games that your collection has taken on a life of its own. And then when those shelves aren’t enough and it’s starts taking over entire portions of your house, you’ll know that life has mutated into some kind of monstrous unstoppable beast that can’t be satiated…
What is your favorite type of game to play?
I’m a Tactician through and through, so I love me some good hefty Euro games. The more wooden cubes and worker placement options a game has, the better. I like games where there’s a puzzle to figure out the best move, and I like playing the long game to victory. That said, I still fully appreciate a good thematic game like Arkham Horror or more casual games if people aren’t up for thinking. Trying to play Euro games when you’re tired doesn’t go well.
How do you feel about Monopoly?
I have to give Monopoly credit. It’s the game of the 20th century, and that should say something about the cultural impact it’s had. I firmly believe everyone should play it (with the right rules!) at least once, but I think the sun has finally begun to set on it. There are so many other great games that children, families, and/or gamers can play that are so much better designed and more fun than Monopoly. But none of them would be here if not for it.