Dale of Merchants Guild Master: Sami Laakso

Can you share a bit about your gaming background?
I’ve played board games since I was little. At some point I got a bit bored with the simple child games and moved on to video games for additional challenge. Many years ago I found out about hobby games and that’s the point where I pretty single handedly converted back to a board gamer.
What made you decide to not only become a designer but also self-publish your game?
The main reason was that I simply wanted full control over my game from start to finish. Other thing is schedule. Traditional publishers are stiff and slow. I want to keep things moving!
What inspired you to use animals as merchants instead of people?
The most obvious solution would be to use humans, but I constantly try to fight against the safe and ordinary ways of doing things. By straying away from the real world also provides more things to discover and flesh out an interesting world for the game to play in.
daleI really like the Stall mechanic. How did you come up with it?
I started to design this game around an idea of giving players though choices to make. The mechanic I came up with is a simple one where you can use your cards in multiple ways. Playing your cards to your stall is the hardest choice to make as you are permanently abandoning your cards this way.
This seems like a game that is easily expanded. Do you have any plans for future expansions?
Actually I do have multiple ideas in the works. They are shelved right now until the current game is out on it’s way to printers. I will continue to work with those after this project frees my hands. If Dale of Merchants proves itself a success, there’s no reason for me to not build more game on top of it.
That being said the base game will come with six vastly different animal decks that support multiple ways of play so the game fits your preferences – not the other way around.
As this is a deck builder, people will likely want to sleeve their cards. Will the cards fit in the box sleeved?
Personally I’m not a sleever especially when the game comes with quality cards (Dale of Merchants will do just that), but I understand that many of you will want the extra protection on the cards. The box will hold sleeved cards narrowly. The included game board on top of sleeved cards will make the box lid to lift up a millimeter or two. Unfortunately we can’t heighten the box any further because of the shipping class we’re using.
What advice would you give to people looking to self-publish their own designs?
Don’t hesitate to admit that you don’t know everything and ask help when in doubt. You will save so much blood and tears by not banging your head to the wall that way. You must also be ready for the long haul. Publishing isn’t something you get done in couple of days.
Lastly I would say that If in any way possible, Do not self-publish. Leaving it to the guys who know what they’re doing provides you more time to design games!
What would be your perfect game day?
My ideal gaming day includes my closest friends playing games just to entertain ourselves. I play to socialize with my fellow gamers – not to crush others. The perfect day would also include a lengthy break to eat some delicious food to keep us from passing out!
The choice of games is broad. While I do like to bring some of my old favorites to the table, I really love discovering and learning new games.
If you could play a game with anyone, who would it be and what game would you play?
I would be honoured to be able to play a round of Cosmic Encounter with Peter Olotka or any of his codesigners. Cosmic is my all time favourite game with its endless variation.
What do you find to be positive characteristics of the gaming community?
One of the best things about board gamers is their overall positivity. While some other hobbies might attract more hostile people, I’ve noticed that our lovely gaming community is generally really supportive and nice to each other.
What, if any, problems do you find in the industry and how would you address them? 
I’m too inexperienced with the industry to be the one pointing out any flaws. There are some minor things that get on my nerves from time to time, but as a whole I’m really happy how things are today in the board gaming world.
And, finally, how do you feel about Nutella? Do you have a favorite recipe?
I’m not totally comfortable with your obsession with said substance… I must admit I don’t personally have a strong opinion about it in a way or other. Sorry!