Lord of the Rings

A few days ago, Chevee Dodd, in his daily vlog, told a story about him discovering and falling in love with the J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. Interestingly enough, my experience was far different, so here I am, with my very story. Let’s get back in time. I am 14 years old. It’s 1990.

***

It’s one year after communism collapsed in Poland. It is the first year of freedom in Poland. I am a 14-year-old bookworm from a rather poor family, as many families in Poland back then. I heard about this famous novel that just got published. It consists of 3 tomes and is very expensive. Know nothing about it besides the fact I must read it. It’s called The Lord of the Rings.

I don’t remember how on Earth I made it and could afford to buy the book, but I precisely remember – believe it or not – the bookstore in Sosnowiec, I remember me stepping inside and purchasing the book. It was 30 years ago, but that was an important moment in 14 years old Ignacy’s life. It burned on my hard drive forever. I got the book. Three tomes. Pure joy.

***

It was boring like hell. I was so disappointed. Forty pages of birthday party? What the hell is that?

I put the book aside. Worst spent money ever.

***

It was a costly book. A few weeks later, I gave it another try. I crawled through the birthday part and ended up with two stupid hobbits walking, and walking, and walking, and walking, and walking…

I put the book aside. Worst spent money ever.

***

It was a costly book.

We had family in the countryside, and my parents took me for a weekend in the country. Small old hut, no TV, water only in well, chickens, ducks, and all the inventory running all around. Countryside, you know.

I had the book with me and was ready for the third attempt.

Survived the boring birthday party chapters. Survived hobbits walking. Entered The Inn of the Prancing Pony. Met Strider. Met Nazguls. A few hours later, Gandalf was dead, Boromir was dead, Merry and Pippin kidnapped, Frodo and Sam left the party, Aragorn was giving a speech about rescuing hobbits from Uruk Hai.

And I was in the middle of nowhere, in the freaking countryside village, and Two towers was left at home. I took only the first book with me.

Who could expect I’d need a second volume?

Never before I waited to come back home so eagerly. I was ready and packed in the car on Sunday morning, asking my parents if we are going home already.

***

It was a costly book. Best spent money ever.

I did it justice

I remember being a kid and being honestly perplexed when my school friends were complaining about Robinson Crusoe. Thick, boring book, with no dialogues. They whined. In Poland, Robinson Crusoe was mandatory reading in school. Every kid was complaining. For me, it was the novel of my life, even though my life was like ten years long at the moment. I loved it.

Years passed. High school. College. Life. I was a book worm, and geek, and a gamer. I discovered RPG, found a game company, wrote few RPG games, started a family. Robinson Crusoe was with me all the time. I read it few more times, watch all the movies about it, even designed an indie RPG game about castaways that never got published.

Then I discovered board games. I designed Witchcraft (2008), Stronghold (2009), 51st State (2010), and Pret-a-Porter (2010). Early 2011 I felt I am ready. I felt I have enough skills and knowledge about game design to do Robinson Crusoe justice and make it into the best board game I can ever design.

It was 10 years ago.

As for today, the game has nearly 100k logged plays on BGG. It sold in more than 200k copies worldwide. Released in 12 different languages all over the planet. And exactly today, on Sunday, April 11th, 2021, the new edition of the game, this full-blown fantastic Collector’s Edition, passed 2 million USD on the Gamefound platform. Quite the milestone.

And even though the design is 10 years old, I still look at it with pride and satisfaction, and I strongly believe I did Robinson Crusoe justice.

I like to think that this 10 years old Ignacy would be pretty darn proud of me right now.