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Become a shipbuilder with Utahn's new 'Hagoth, Builder of Ships' game

"The quest for exploration has gripped the beautiful land of Bountiful, creating an unprecedented boom in ship building. Under Master Shipbuilder Hagoth, apprentice craftsmen contend to design, build and sail the wisest combination of vessels for a voyage to the uncharted land Northward."

So, let the competition begin.

This is the premise of a new card/board game called "Hagoth, Builder of Ships," designed by Mike Drysdale, a Ph.D. student in Logan, and published by Mayday Games, owned by Seth Hiatt of Clearfield.

You build your ships by collecting cards that fit together to form the design, explains Drysdale. But before you can sail your ships, you also have to collect wood pieces for them. The bigger the ship, the more points you get for sailing it, but along the way other players can sabotage your work, taking your wood, sending you back, etc.

"It's a great family game," says Hiatt. "There's a lot of interaction; it's not like four people playing Solitaire at the same time. And it works for all ages. It's listed for 8 and up, but some of my younger children have played it."

The game plays in 30-45 minutes, works for 2 or more players and sells for $22.95. The artwork was done by Scott Wakefield, who lives in Logan.

" 'Hagoth' just came to mind one day," says Drysdale, in explaining how he came up with the game. Those who know their Book of Mormon may recognize the name. "There are three verses about him." The book of Alma tells about Hagoth building ships and sailing off into the unknown. One ship came back but went out again, and Hagoth and his ships eventually disappeared.

"I thought about that, and about using cards to build ships," says Drysdale. "The next day, I took a sheet of paper and wrote it all down. Then I took some bits of paper and made cards, and my wife and I started playing." With a few refinements, that's essentially the game he has now, he says.

Drysdale has been a game-player all his life.

"I played a lot up through high school, then got too busy. About two or three years ago, I got back into it, but with the idea that I'd like to create and design games." He joined the Board Game Designers Guild of Utah, where the feedback and interaction have been helpful, he says. It was through the guild that he met up with Mayday Games.

"I knew I wanted to do something that involved building," he says. "Those are my favorite kinds of games. I love 'Dominion,' and there's a mass-market game called 'Heroscape' that I play a lot."

The Book of Mormon connection is fun for those who know it, says Hiatt, "but this really isn't considered a Mormon game, other than the name. Those who don't know Hagoth look at the box and think it might be the Vikings. So, we think it will have wide appeal."

He is planning on taking the game to three major game conventions this summer, including one in Germany.

"Mayday is just getting into board games," he says. "We've also done one called the 'Space Junkyard Board Game,' which comes from Israel." The company was started, he says, to produce game accessories, such as protective plastic sleeves for cards, replacement tokens and such.

"If you like 'Ticket to Ride,' for example, but have six people in your family so you want another train set of a different color, we do that." The accessories are mostly sold through game stores, he says.

"I think 'Hagoth' is going to have broad appeal," says Mike Compton, of Game Night Games, which will be holding a launch party for the game on May 8. "It has a lot of strong points." Members of the guild will be on hand to demonstrate and teach the game.

Drysdale is working on his Ph.D. in psychology. Does that help or hinder his game playing?

"I like to think that I've learned something about how people interact and how they react under pressure that helps a little. But mostly, you just look for a good game."

Hiatt likes the fact that there is both strategy and luck involved.

"There's actually an elegance to the game's balance. It seems like luck at first, but you realize there is some real strategy in maximizing you card usage and getting your ships in the water. But there's also a balance in the play. Who you think is going to win can change at the end; everyone has a chance to pull from behind and win."

It's just the kind of game his family likes, he says. "We love to sit around the table and play games. Sure you can watch TV and play video games, but there something that's just different when you sit at the table. I think playing games makes you more intelligent."

He makes a point of trying one new game a week. "I've always been a gamer. I grew up playing 'Risk' and trying to get my brothers and sisters to play chess with me. Then I discovered 'Settlers of Catan,' and I've never been the same. There are a lot of good games out there."

Sometimes, he says, when people find out what he does for a living, "they say, 'board games? Do people still make those?' I say, 'Yeah. And they are huge.' Just talk to anyone in Germany. Game playing is their national pastime."

If you go...

What: "Hagoth Builder of Ships" launch party

Where: Game Night Games, 2030 S. 900 East, Sugar House

When: Saturday, May 8, noon-4 p.m.

Phone: 801-467-2400


Also: Discounts and prizes will be offered