Why did you decide on the rhino as the main focus for the game?
Our son-in-law is from South Africa and his family is very close to us even though we are separated by thousands of miles and only see them occasionally. The "Big Five" mammals (rhinoceros, elephant, lion, leopard, Cape Buffalo) are iconic to South Africa. We became especially interested in the plight of the black rhinoceros as it is on the critically endangered species list of animals. My husband, who graduated with a biology degree, has been a very positive influence in our decision to meld a game designed to bring together family & friends with the preservation of rhinoceros species, particularly the black rhino.
How many family members were involved in the process of creating the game?
Our entire family has been instrumental in this process over a period of several years. Besides my husband and I, our two adult sons, our daughter and her husband have each contributed uniquely to this endeavor. Over the course of many revisions and rules adjustments, we have had great input from many others as we "tested" game play. This included my elderly parents; both in their 80's when the game was introduced to them. They enjoyed game play as I would keep score for them. At the other end of the age spectrum, our grand-daughter began playing at age seven using the cards only. After one or two games, she quickly advanced to full game rules using the tokens and at age ten is a very competitive player today!
How were the animals decided on for the power tokens and the abilities?
Please refer back to your first question which should give you insight for our choice of animals for the tokens. We chose the theme of a photo safari for the game, which in itself is difficult, as the game has no board component to reinforce this premise in the player's imagination. However, I would like to point out the "Quick Reference Guide" on the back cover of the Rules of Play booklet. As you see, each of the "Big Five" animals are given realistic character qualities that correspond to the functions of the tokens themselves. Given that each player receives a set of these one-time use tokens at the beginning of a game, a comprehensive strategy is incorporated as when to most effectively use each of these five tokens during the course of 13 game rounds. Such variables as cards dealt, number of rounds remaining, Bonus cards, along with other players bids and token use is incorporated into strategic use of the tokens. You may have also experienced how each new set of players greatly influences game dynamics and strategy. Game play with three players, for example, is very different than with six players. If you have had the opportunity to play in the team format, you may have noticed how other new strategies can be incorporated into game play.
Were there any powers that did not work during playtesting?
Yes, several modifications have been made during this phase. One example is what happens when the "Super Safari" card is turned over during trump determination. This was resolved by declaring this would result in a no-trump round of play. Another example is the requirement of using the Rhino and Confidence tokens only with a bid of one or higher. This constraint was placed to move certain players out of their comfort zones who were prone to bid zero whenever possible. The token combination options (Freedom, Confidence, and Exchange tokens) during the return to the waterhole in rounds 2-7 has resulted in more games in which the winner is not determined until the last round, and sometimes the last card of the last round!
The components are excellent. How were you able to produce so a high quality game independently?
Thank you for your compliment! This too has been a very involved process over a significant period of time as we wanted to produce a game that could be viewed as a long-term investment with people saying such things as ,"I loved playing this with my grand-parents!", or "My roommates in college had a blast playing Rhino together!"
Our son, Andrew, has had many opportunities to utilize his graphic design skills, for example. In addition, the artistry of Marissa Quinn, especially her "Big Five" collage drawing, has already been enthusiastically received and complimented by many. As you see, this has been a collaborative effort of many to come to where we are in this adventure.
Regarding the components, we chose the highest casino quality German card-stock and the solid, sustainable, unfinished carbonized bamboo tokens, for example. As you have read, the game is assembled in the U.S.A. of domestic and international components. Having the final game assembly locally has given us a greater control over quality control too. In addition, we have included the "Welcome" card insert with each game to note the variations in the appearance of the tokens that result from the varying densities and grain directions of the bamboo, along with the multiplicity of variables inherent with the laser engraving process itself.
Another factor which we have emphasized in offering Rhino The Game® is the personalization of the game tin. This has opened up many opportunities for the celebration of birthdays, graduations, weddings, and other special occasions. People, like yourself, have noted the special value of having an attractive personalized game tin.
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