Dan Weaver talks about his fun card games, Patchwork and PatchWord, with LoveToKnowBoardGames.
Please tell us about yourself.
Like most people, there are many facets to my life. On the personal level, I am a husband and father of three wonderful boys ages 3, 9, and 11. My boys are wonderful, energetic, and wicked smart, which keeps my wife and me running hard just to keep up. I also have the deep good fortune of being married to the woman of my dreams, who understands and supports my occasionally obsessive passions.
In my regular work, I am the head of the Scientific Computing department for Array Biopharma - a small pharmaceutical company in Boulder, CO. In that work, I collaborate with scientists to collect and analyze data to try and invent better medicines more quickly. So by day I try to help cure cancer, and by night I try to bring people joy and bring families together.
In addition to being a game-lover (obviously), I love backpacking, mountain biking, life science research, good food, and good company.
What inspired you to create your games?
About two and a half years ago, I reached the end of a long, unsuccessful, game invention project (I've had this crazy hobby for about 10 years) and decided it was time to start something new. That night I went to play poker with some friends, and the next morning in the shower, I pictured the previous night's poker game and realized that the backs of the cards are never used. From that point, it took less than a week to make a working prototype, and the game was complete. I like to joke that my first game took seven years and my latest game took seven days!
What can kids learn from playing games?
Playing games teaches children everything from analytical skills like spelling, reading, math, and critical thinking, to social skills like collaboration, negotiation, and good sportsmanship. Best of all, such games can teach children these skills while they're having fun.
Please tell us about your game Patchwork.
In Patchwork, each player starts with a curved wooden rack with six, two-sided cards in it. Each card can have different colors on the front and back of the card, so for example, a card might be red on the front and blue on the back. The object of the game is to collect cards, and to collect cards you have to make sets of four cards (or more) in a row with the same color, either on the inside of your hand or on the back of one of your opponent's hand. But you're never allowed to look at what's on the back of your hand! Each turn a player takes 2 actions, either rearranging the cards in play or scoring if he has created a set. If you create a set on the back of your opponent's hand, you can steal his cards! Play continues until all the cards have been drawn and whoever has the most cards collected at the end wins. I've made a YouTube video, How to Play Patchwork, that you can watch to see all the rules.Patchwork is a game that you can learn in a few minutes and enjoy playing for life. It succeeds at appealing to a broad age range - kids and adults really enjoy playing it, which means that in the family game night, everyone is having fun. Moreover, adults also enjoy it by themselves; I will play this with gaming buddies before we settle into a longer game, and my wife will play this with girlfriends over a glass of wine.
So, it's a fast, fun, light strategy game, for two to five players, ages five and up, and it plays in about 15-20 minutes.
Please tell us about your game Patchword.
One day, while playtesting Patchwork, one of my buddies complained, "How come we never play word games!?" His comment hit me like a bolt of lightning - why not employ the same game mechanic with letter cards rather than color cards! The result is PatchWord.
In PatchWord, players also have a wooden rack with 2-sided cards, but in this game they have to arrange the letters to spell words, either on the inside of their hand or on the back of one of their opponents' hands. Through the actions of each turn, a player has to arrange the letters into the correct order to spell the word before he or she can score it. Young players are allowed to score 3-letter words, while older players and adults have to score 4-letter words. Also, you can handicap the annoying word-game master in your life, by only allowing him or her to score 5- or 6-letter words. PatchWord has a similar underlying game mechanic, but very different game play and appeals to a slightly older age range, ages seven and up. Like Patchwork, two to five players can play.
In addition to teaching the planning, sequencing, and memory skills that kids hone in Patchwork, PatchWord also teaches word mastery.
Where can readers purchase these games?
The games are in over 150 stores in 40 states as well as available online from Amazon, my own website, and a number of other Internet retailers. I keep a list of the stores that I know are carrying the game on my website, www.knightweavergames.com - just click on the "Where to buy" link.
Do you have any other tips or advice you'd like to share with our readers?
Starting Knighweaver Games has been a singularly wonderful experience and grew out of a passion that I have harbored for years. Throughout these last two years, I have met wonderful, interesting people, learned a tremendous amount about games and business, and generally had a great time. All this happened because I pursued a small dream. So, I would give the same advice that others gave me: follow your passions, take some calculated risks, don't be afraid to try and fail.
The only other advice I would give is to correct what I view as an erroneous saying. You will often hear the expression: "opportunity only knocks once." I think that's wrong, opportunity is knocking all the time, but the problem is you have to answer it every single time! Following you dreams requires endurance and the willingness to pursue each opportunity that presents itself, because you never know which will turn out to be the right path forward.