Interview a Sebastiano Todaro
Here we are today with Sebastiano Todaro, the author of "Competitors"! Sebastiano lends itself to our interview to tell and talk about his new Board Game: intriguing, engaging and daring strategists! But no more talk, let's start!
Welcome Sebastiano and thank you for having decided to dedicate part of your time to our interview and to "feed" our curiosity about your life of author and your projects. First of all we would like to know how your passion for comics and board games was born ...
My passion goes back to when I was a child, in the sixties, a historical period in which there were no economic possibilities today. I remember that it was enough to watch a movie on TV or read a comic book to explode my creative vein and recreate those stories realizing their scenarios with simple materials like cardboard. What I did not do after seeing the first black and white version of the "Titanic"! The next morning I got up at 5 and built the ship and even the iceberg. Same thing when I happened to see a film about the French revolution ... mine were not so happy to see that I had built a guillotine and that I had already completed many performances by cutting the head soldiers!
Joking aside, I think I've started to get excited about board games and comics around the age of 5 and since then this passion has not left me anymore.
Poor soldiers !! But on the other hand, never stop the creative flair of a child! And if I asked you for your personal list of favorite boardgames, which ones would you include?
I fondly remember my first board games, the classics par excellence "Risiko", "Monopoly" and a less known "Enchanted Castle".
Over time, after realizing how little I was lucky with cards and dice, I approached more tactical games like chess. It was only in the 1990s that I received an electrocution by discovering "Heroquest", a game that made me very passionate and which inspired me a lot thanks to its very realistic dynamics and the low incidence of the "luck" factor: the outcome of the match, in fact, depended on a large part of the decisions taken by the players.
To sum up, I can say that my 3 favorite games were: "Enchanted Castle", "Risiko" and "Heroquest".
Needless to say, however, regardless of the historical period, most of the gamers start with "Monopoly" and then engage in good nights in the name of "Risiko"! Instead, Sebastiano, how was "Competitors" born?
It all began many years ago, precisely in 1986, when I was hired by an international courier as a hand-carry. Basically my task was to collect and deliver small consignments, mostly legal documents, contracts and electronic cards, all over Europe. I happened to start my working day in Rome and finish it in Frankfurt! It was a really exciting, dynamic and full of surprises! Obviously the time, the speed and the ability to face all the unexpected with effective solutions was of fundamental importance.
Having to travel a lot on the plane, I had a lot of time available both in flight and while waiting. It was then that I thought of turning this world of shipments into a board game. Unfortunately at that time the technological means to create it were really scarce and so I just threw down the rules, convinced that the day would come when I could make it physically.
I had to wait for more or less 20 years and, with the advent of computer and graphics programs, I was able to continue that design in the drawer for some time.
Whoever lasts it wins it! It's really great that you managed to make your dream come true! And now let us dream a little ... unveil the contexts, the dynamics and all the details of "Competitors"!
"Competitors" was born as a game that aims to recreate virtually all the situations that are typical of my work in the international shipping field.
Each player assumes the role of an entrepreneur at the head of a shipping company operating in the world market, with the aim of trying to expand its commercial network. He will have to challenge the opponents, deliver the highest number of possible expeditions and get the highest score to proclaim victory.
In this competition, as in reality, there are no shortcomings determined now by adverse weather conditions, now by unexpected social political situations. The real battle, however, is the cynical and ruthless one that takes place without the exclusion of blows among the protagonists of the match: you can indulge in intrigues, alliances, unfair actions and low blows to weaken other opponents and achieve your goal.
An advantage of "Competitors"? Players can establish from the beginning the type of game they want to play: "in time" (about 60 minutes), in which the player with the highest score wins by the end of the time; or "points" (90 minutes or more), where the end of the game occurs when one or more players reach 10 points. In case of a tie between two or more players, the richest player wins the game.
"Competitors" has its roots in today's reality, the reality of work, current events, news and politics ... only if you rely on reason, cleverly mixing cunning and strategy, you will come out winners!
Precisely for this reason, I think my board game can be a novelty in the world of board games. Players can count on a virtually infinite range of possibilities given the amount of variables that determine game situations. You can always play different games, the more difficult and challenging the more creative and strategic the players will know. I like to think, finally, that "Competitors" can also be considered an educational game. In fact it illustrates a working reality unknown to many and is able to offer, thanks to a detailed and descriptive map, a vast amount of information of a geographical nature as well as political-social and meteorological. The very realistic picture of the area in which the game takes place, I can guarantee, is the same that an operator engaged in this profession must absolutely take into consideration!
Guys finally found a way to learn geography while having fun! But I imagine it was not easy "to put the pieces together" and to realize all the details of "Competitors". What were the difficulties you had to face before getting to know our reality?
Well, the most important difficulties I found in finding a contact with those who work and lives in the field of board games. Obviously I had not deluded myself to find wide open doors and editors that would ring me on the intercom! But I would not have even imagined a lot of closure and diffidence, even just accepting the presentation of a project! I can say that I have wandered for years and almost got to the point of giving up because of the indifference and lack of care of publishing houses and operators in the sector.
Then, finally, the meeting with a publisher in Rome has given me confidence, even if, and it is probably normal that this is so, the times of a publisher are not and will never be those that an author wishes.
When and how did your collaboration with Tambù start and why did you choose us?
It all started during a fair where I got to know Davide Lo Presti, CEO of Tambù. Like me, Davide was there to present his project and, after having exchanged feelings and opinions, he wanted to try and play "Competitors" (at the time still in a rather embryonic phase). We greeted each other, then exchanged their contacts and on a cold December day he called me back to me about his ambitious project. I remember thinking ... "Why not?" He convinced me of his enthusiasm, his simplicity and transparency and his love for games and creativity. Later I had the opportunity to meet other members of the Tambù family, through whom I had the pleasure of coming into contact with a world little known to me that gravitates around table games, their creation and diffusion.
We are really happy to have met you and above all we are proud of your "why not?" That gave life to this beautiful collaboration! Returning to "Competitors", during the period of its realization has it happened to you some curious fact or do you have some funny anecdote to tell us?
I often think of a rather amusing episode that happened to me during one of my first presentations of the project.
I was at the fair in Assago and an American lady appeared before me, intrigued by the "Competitors" map. I remember that he absolutely wanted to know the area in which the game took place and almost immediately showed a strange euphoria: he took a chair, climbed onto it to look at the map from above and then began to cry out to the husband! I felt proud and embarrassed at the same time! Both greatly appreciated my idea and encouraged me to implement the project.
What a great satisfaction! And tell me Sebastiano, what are your future projects as an author?
At the moment I would like to work hard to complete what I can safely define as "the work of a lifetime". I would like to introduce "Competitors" to as many people as possible and I would also like to illustrate the beauty of the profession to which the game is inspired by passionate students, perhaps in the course of recreational events for educational purposes. For the future I have in the pipeline several games proposals to be able to achieve with a common factor to all: real life!
But then we are very curious! It will mean that we will wait for the first spoilers on your ideas ... Thanks again for your time Sebastiano! Do you greet us with your battle cry?
Tied up as I am to a wonderful comic book I own the entire collection, I would be shouted "AAAAAAAYAAAkKKK", which is the battle cry of Zagor, the spirit with the ax, but to avoid the danger of plagiarism I will settle for a more sober: "BELLA Lììììììììììììììììììììììììììììììììì"