This week we celebrate the triple-threat designer, artist and publisher, Ryan Laukat of Red Raven games. Ryan is responsible for hit games like Near and Far and Above and Below. He has a fascinating story of how he started in the board game industry as an artist, then a designer. We dig into all of that goodness and go on to gush over our favourite Red Raven games. While we’ve only played a small sampling of his games, the art, mechanics, narrative and world-building at play has left us craving more.
Ryan’s character and setting art bring to mind Disney animation or the whimsical worlds brought to life by Studio Ghibli. The wide range of characters he creates vary from human to robots to anthropomorphic birds and reptiles. The worlds he builds are full of bizarre architecture and buildings that you just want to visit. His written narrative sections are thoughtful and not filled with fantasy tropes. It’s obvious that Laukat has a deep love for board games as an art form and he seems to give his all in his game designs. His games feature hundreds of unique card illustrations, pages upon pages of storytelling and character art that never seems to get reused.
I’ve gushed on enough. Listen on to hear more praise for the man of our hour and hear about us exploring the underground caves of Above and Below and swashbuckling our way through Islebound. We also eagerly anticipate the time when we can enter the other worlds that Ryan Laukat has so lovingly created and speculate on other games of his like Empires of the Void 2 and the upcoming Sleeping Gods.
Long live Red Raven!
A few Links
Red Raven Games: Empires of the Void (2012) | Eight-Minute Empire (2012) | City of Iron(2013) | Artifacts, Inc. (2014) | The Ancient World (2014) | Above and Below (2015) | Islebound (2016) | Dingo’s Dream (2016) | City of Iron: Second Edition (2016) | Near and Far (2017) | Klondike Rush (2017) | Megaland (2018) | Haven (2018) | Empires of the Void II (2018) | Roam (2019) | The Ancient World: Second Edition (2019) | Sleeping Gods (2020) | Deep Vents (2020)
- We listed a lot of Ryan Laukat and Red Raven Games but we missed a bunch too. We did compile a complete list in the notes above to make up for it but there are a pile of expansions we did not mention at all that you will have to track down and explore on your own. Like a game. 🙂
- Mitch may have got several dates wrong during the episode. Above and Below was released in 2015 but he may have said 2014 (or even earlier yikes, get it together). From there things may have continued to be off by a year for Near and Far as well.