Nick Karp – Founder and Chief Financial Officer

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI grew up in Manhattan playing traditional card and parlor games from an early age. First chess, poker, and Scrabble delighted me, followed by Monopoly, cribbage, and dominos (how’s that for quaint?) A whole summer was spent lost to backgammon and Risk, leading to highly motivated study of the distribution of battle results and my first romance with probability. But when a gaming relative gave me copies of SPI’s original American Revolution and Sinai in the old flat boxes, they seemed like too much work and sat on the shelf!

Legions of the Petal Throne was my “gateway” game, leading to Dungeons and Dragons, and a group of serious gamers. When they told me of company downtown giving free pizza to kids who played their works-in-progress, it sounded too good to be true: frighteningly like abduction stories told to keep kids from going off with strangers in playgrounds. I gave it a try anyway and had the pleasure of playtesting Richard Berg’s Conquistador!

I loved the SPI playtest experience, and ended up spending far too many Friday nights during the Ford and Carter administrations making counters, logging details of play, and trying to make sense of game systems scrawled on paper napkins between bits of egg foo young and cashew chicken.

SPI was rare and wonderful

SPI was rare and wonderful, in that they didn’t care how old you were: if you produced a coherent manuscript you were part of the team (all the better if you accepted payment in product and didn’t quibble over silly child labor laws). So I tested, wrote articles for Moves, Strategy and Tactics, and Ares magazines, earned my first Assistant Developer recognition helping Eric Lee Smith develop Jim Dunnigan’s Bulge game, and then produced my first design, Rescue from the Hive, as one of SPI’s first formal interns. RFTH was followed by Star Trader and a bunch of Developer credit’s, most notably on Richard Berg’s Desert Fox.

I watched sadly as SPI dissolved, and gladly when several of its best designers emerged from its ashes to form Victory Games. In 1983-4 I did my most ambitious game, Vietnam: 1965-1975, almost wrecking my college career in the process, but rewarded with that year’s Charles Robert Award.

I did manage to earn my degree from Princeton, only to discover that there wasn’t much call for Latin majors in private industry. After a couple years learning to program the first generation Macintosh (128K RAM !), I found an opportunity at Booz, Allen and Hamilton with Mark Herman, building simulations of Low Intensity Conflict for the military. Booz, Allen led to 20-odd years in software development and finance, including three stints at startups, black box trading on Wall Street, and M&A work at a Fortune 500 firm, picking up an MBA in Accounting along the way. I was always active in gaming, but as a hobby rather than a profession.

Shenandoah is a dream come true

Shenandoah is a dream come true, a chance to do what I’ve always loved, with some of the most respected names in the gaming community, on a platform ideally suited to enhance the serious game experience. It’s an exciting place to be!

Some favorite games:

1. Paths of Glory: A rich, tense education in the pleasures of trench warfare.

2. Freedom in the Galaxy: And now we will discuss the location of the secret rebel base…

3. Hannibal: Great interplay between strategic choices and battle tactics. Cartago delenda est!

4. A House Divided: A simple system with great drama, difficult prioritization, and a wonderful historical arc.

5. Napoleon’s Last Battles: Another game where multiple distinct engagements take on special meaning in a larger context.

6. Starfleet Battles: Does a great job encouraging creativity extracting the last value from a shattered hull.

7. Diplomacy: Grandaddy of pure multi-player duplicity.

8. Rommel in the Desert: The unforgiving supply system, asymmetry, and limited intelligence lead to a teeth-grinding interplay of fear and hope.

9. War in Europe: Massive and majestic, yet surprisingly playable.

10. Acquire: The old Avalon Hill bookcase game on the unlikely topic of hotel chains, wonderfully subtle and counterintuitive

11. Settlers of Catan: Great for new gamers, kids, a quick play.



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Last week, Brad and Wai Teng had the opportunity to chat with gaming legend, and the newest Shenandoah Studio advisor, Bruce Shelley. It’s great...

Interview with Bruce Shelley, New Shenandoah Studio Advisor – Part 2

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We continue our interview with Eric, this time he talks about movement and introduces the art direction. -Brad

So tell us more about movement.

To old...