(this is the translated text of the interview - with kind permission from Michael Weber from www.reich-der-spiele.de)
RDS: Heinrich, as a member of the author group "Weilburger Sieben" you are publishing a game with no rulebook. My first question: Who bel ongs to this team?
These are the "Weilburger Sieben" - a team of seven (who would have thought) authors: Leif Busse, Marcel-André Casasola-Merkle, Peter Inzenhofer, Henning Poehl, Hans-Peter Stoll, Michael Sträubig and my humble self.
RDS: How did the group form and where did the idea for this game came from?
Well - we were formed - by Michael Sträubig who organized an ad-hoc workshop at the 4. Deutsche Spieleautorentage at Weilburg having the topic "A game with no rulebook".
RDS: Does the title have a special meaning?
O.k. - Yes - it has a special meaning.
RDS: Yes, which meaning?
(sigh) - Ooookay: Yes - the title is part of the box of tricks that we used to provide as many hints as possible to the players to allow them to deduce how the game works.
RDS: This all is quite difficult to imagine. There is really no rulebook in this game? How could a game work when there is no rulebook?
If a game works as such often depends on the fact if it is played in the way the author intended it to be played - that's the main reason why rulebooks have to be more and more detailed and longer (right?).
Sure - we wanted "Eine gegen Eine" to work - but for a start we do not reveal our design.
This is the unique feature of "Eine gegen Eine". It is - let's say - a "Filler" (regarding the playing time of about 20 minutes that's no secret anyway) having the additional charm that the players have to solve the "Riddle of the rules" by looking at the components - and then have to play the game according to these (in fact their!) rules.
The players explore the game and thus design it anew. If and how they can find out, how close their design matches "our" rules ... is only one of the surprises this game has to offer.
RDS: Could you possibly give an descriptive example how to find the rules by the way of the material? What is in this game?
But I won't.
But I could give you an example that has nothing to do with our game:
Let's assume we open a box and find a track, five meeples in different colors and a die. At one end of the track we see a pistol that is firing into the air. At the other end of the track we see a circle with a ribbon stretched over it.
This material saves us half of the rules text.
"Eine gegen Eine" is neither as primitiv as this example in respect to game play and rules, but the example illustrates that an intuitive design of the material can
lead a long way.
RDS: To design such a thing surely is not a very commonplace endevaour. Did this project use a special approach that was was even new for you?
Neither the crazyness of the idea nor the objective of this project was something especially new for me - rather the fact, that we planned to create a working prototype in less than three hours, claiming to work without a rulebook.
This was not at least the achievment of Marcel who - at the start of the workshop - asked us, if this all would be a theoretical discussion only or if we indeed plan to do something practical.
I glanced at him and - suspecting trouble - decided to say something like: "We want to build a real prototype".
His answer: "Well. In this case I'll stay."
Today I would say - we were in luck.
RDS: Will you pick up this idea more often now or do you think this is an attempt that will be hard to repeat?
Some of the "Sieben" will surely pick up this idea again - and we hope that there are a lot of other authors that will consider this approach too.
In my opinion there are a lot of unexplored possibilities in this area. The rulebook is very often nothing more than a "afterthought" following the main development of a game. The material in most cases ist just good enough to support the game actions - nothing more.
But the aim should be to integrate the design of the material much more in the development process with the purpose to communicate the rules of the game.
With "Eine gegen Eine" we raised the bar extremly high - but the insights that we gained during the numerous test runs are - frankly said - pure gold for any author.
We will sell "Eine gegen Eine" in Essen (Hall 5, Booth 03) to attach the names of the Weilburger Sieben to this piece of "pioneer work", to share our experience with other authors and in the end to offer players something that up to now simply did not exist:
Finally ... something different!