Tea time with the Creators of Chai!
We recently got an excellent opportunity to speak with the creators of Chai. Their company, Steeped Games, launched Chai on Kickstarter and beat their funding goal of $25 000 by achieving $136 000 in pledges!
Tell us about Chai.
Chai is a family board game that features players being tea merchants crafting their own unique blends, but specializing in either black, green, white, oolong, or rooibos tea. Customers are craving different brews, so you’re either purchasing ingredients like mint, berries, jasmine, lavender, lemon or ginger in the local market, or heading into your pantry to stock up on honey, milk, chai spices, vanilla, and sugar. You can reserve a customer to your private tea shop, and choose a special action that changes between rounds. At the end of your turn, you’ll optionally complete a customer’s order by placing all the ingredients in their tea cup! We’ve had a lot of fun hearing people *clank* the pieces in, before flipping over a tip. We’re really excited with how people have responded to the game, and we’ve learned a lot about the tea world too along the journey.
What is your favourite drink?
Dan: These days I’m enjoying Greek Mountain Tea with a touch of honey.
Connie: A homemade London Fog, or Taro Bubble Tea.
How did you get into board game design?
It’s interesting because we’re both into visual and graphic design with wedding photography on the side. Looking over at our Kallax bookshelves at the hundreds of games, you could say we’re gamers too! Dan has always dabbled in making board games throughout elementary and junior high for school projects. He’s played competitive chess for over 15-years, so the jump to making games seemed really natural. Connie really enjoys finding strategic patterns in solving problems, and as a school teacher finds the overlap of games and education fascinating.
Working in a team of two, do you ever have any disagreements while designing Chai? How did you resolve this?
That’s a really interesting question! To be honest it’s been a positive journey overall especially as we’ve learned new things, but differences can arise from visual choices especially as we started requesting artwork from our talented artists. We had a few drafts from different artists but really had to narrow things down in what we wanted Chai to display as a cohesive package. At the end of the day you just have to pick something and move forward, especially as we’re perfectionists! It comes down to a lot of preference, but at the end of the day we decided to land on something bright, clear in iconography, diverse in characters, and a bit whimsical to keep the fun highlighted.
Chai was able to build up a big following prior to launching on Kickstarter. How did you gather your followers and how long did it take?
One of the strongest parts of Chai we felt was the theme. Maybe not surprising is the large number of gamers who love a good cuppa tea as well! We started with the concept about nine months before the Kickstarter, so there wasn’t a large time rallying people behind the idea of a tea game, but it picked up a lot of traction when we launched our free print and play around May. With over 1,000 unique playtesters in our communi-tea giving helpful feedback, we were able to quickly change things that needed to be, and also make new friends along the way. We couldn’t have done it without them! Because tea and games are so strikingly visual, we were also able to garner a lot of support on Instagram.
What is the biggest lesson through out your journey? What would you warn other designers not to do?
Thanks for helping us be reflective, which is easy to forget with the different tasks we need to keep up with. For us, it was really important to learn to just enjoy the creative journey while creating something. It’s taught us to take all types of feedback positively as a way to make the game and our communi-tea better, and to make sure we’re creating out of joy. If we had to warn our past selves and other aspiring designers that want to self-publish, we’d try to do more research in advance about manufacturing and making sure we invested enough time in figuring out how to start in the board game industry. Connect with existing publishers, read Jamey Stegmaier and James Mathe’s blogs, and make sure you playtest, playtest, playtest!
Whats next with Steeped Games? Will we see another expansion of Chai? Or perhaps another tea game to be launched?
We’re really excited to be working on Chai: Tea for 2, which focuses a lot on the process of making and shipping tea in the same world as Chai. We love boats and the wide open ocean, so it’ll be a great match! Our communi-tea has been requested a bubble tea expansion for Chai as well, so we’re actively working on trying to make that a reality as well. It’s going to be wonderful demoing at Essen Spiel, SHUX, PAX Unplugged again and other convention this fall, so we look forward to meeting many of you there!
Article published on www.fourtato.com.