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NonprofitI started a program that rewards people for picking broken glass and cigarette butts off the beach AMA!

Mar 5th 2018 by raddlesnake • 24 Questions • 99 Points

Hi everyone! I am Niall Ferguson. I am the Milbank Family Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a senior fellow of the Center for European Studies, Harvard, where I served for twelve years as the Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History. I am also a visiting professor at Tsinghua University, Beijing, and the Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation Distinguished Scholar at the Nitze School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, DC. I have written fifteen books, including The Pity of War, The House of Rothschild, Empire, Civilization and Kissinger, 1923-1968: The Idealist, which won the Council on Foreign Relations Arthur Ross Prize. I am an award-making filmmaker, too, having won an international Emmy for my PBS series The Ascent of Money. In addition to writing a weekly column for the Sunday Times (London) and the Boston Globe, I am the founder and managing director of Greenmantle LLC, an advisory firm. I also serve on the board of Affiliated Managers Group. My new book, The Square and the Tower, was published in the U.S. in January.

Proof: https://i.redd.it/3chnemwo7ni01.jpg

You can find me online here:

EDIT: And that's it folks. It's 11:02am in Stanford and I have to get back to my day job. Thanks to all of you for really great questions. My RSI is now killing me, but it was fun!

Q:

Usually when I hear ideas like this that will benefit the environment or help clean up the beaches, they sound great initially, but I highly doubt that they can be sustainable for a long period of time.

However, your project sounds awesome! The businesses have an incentive to encourage their customers to clean up the beaches to get people back in their business, and people have another incentive to clean up the beach.

That said, do any people from putting their own trash in the jars and getting the discount?

Are there any other organizations that have similar goals to yours but have failed? How are you doing things differently from them?

Thanks for making the world a better place my man!

A:

How did you investigate producing the game when you first decided to dive in?


Q:

What did the athletes think of the Canadian skier who drunkenly stole a car?

A:

Thanks for doing this. Visited the distillery last summer and had a blast.

1) How closely does HH follow r/bourbon, if at all? Are you aware of how highly regarded Elijah Craig Barrel Proof is there?

2) What is one recent, readily available bourbon or rye (i.e. not secondary market or super $$) from a different distillery that made you say "Damn, that's good"?

If you answer, I commit to 3 fingers of Pikesville tonight in your honor.


Q:

In your recent interview with Sam Harris, you seemed to sidestep criticisms of Kissinger by saying that if he's a war criminal, then so is Obama, etc. Since this is not a political question but a legal one, and since many of us are perfectly willing to follow you on your point about Obama, what is an actual substantive argument for your lenient stance on Kissinger's actions?

A:

Thanks for the kind words!

We were initially worried about people discarding their own trash- we use the businesses to help self police that kind of stuff, but it honestly hasn't been an issue. Part of offering the incentive is that it's something between 2-5 dollars. It's enough to make the effort worth it, but not so nice that it would be worth it to cheat. This has been a concern for the businesses and we haven't had any of them come back to us saying it's a problem, so I think we're doing something right!

Plenty of organizations do cleanups and plenty of organizations try to create buy in. I think a key point where we differ from those other programs is that we target the people in local businesses, most of which are residents of the community. When the businesses support the community, the community supports the businesses. If anything, the role of our project is to facilitate that relationship in the background rather than lead from the front and have everyone fall into place behind us.


Q:

I went to a local game convention and talked to a lot of game makers who were a few years ahead of me. The community is super helpful in pointing new creators in the right directions in terms of manufacturing, logistics, etc.

A:

Laugh, but also they were appalled. While talking to some of skiers there, they said that there is a drinking/partying culture in Alpine Canada, so they weren’t surprised.


Q:

1) How closely does HH follow r/bourbon, if at all? Are you aware of how highly regarded Elijah Craig Barrel Proof is there?

We certainly follow r/bourbon but not at a troll level! I know I check in on occasion because I want to know what the conversations are and what people are currently interested in. And I’m not sure I knew how highly regarded the ECBP was there but I can imagine. People love it and it has become almost fanatical since we won 2017 Whisky Advocate Whiskey of the Year.

2) What is one recent, readily available bourbon or rye (i.e. not secondary market or super $$) from a different distillery that made you say "Damn, that's good"? If you answer, I commit to 3 fingers of Pikesville tonight in your honor.

Well, the Russells Reserve 10yro is pretty damn good. And if you know anything about Jimmy and Eddie it’s that they are pretty good at what they do. I would also say that Eddie has one of the best palates of anyone I’ve ever been around. He is well known for his talent to taste and describe.

A:

I haven't begun writing vol. II, so I wasn't side-stepping Sam's question, just making sure I didn't preempt myself. My argument is for consistency. My hunch is that either there are a lot of war criminals who have led the State Department / U.S. government or none, depending on your definition. What seems highly implausible to me is that there is only one, and that is Kissinger. Remember, the main basis for this claim is a really shoddy little book by my old friend Chris Hitchens. He was many things, but a lawyer wasn't one of them.


Q:

A 16 oz container full of potentially harmful beach litter sounds like, well, alot. I am surprised anybody is really willing to do that much work for a free coffee.

How many of your 18 businesses from last year are participating this year?

A:

Are you now or will you in the near future bring us a balanced version of the Cones of Dunnshire?


Q:

Do many of the athletes worry about post-Olympic life?

A:

Hi Denny! I'll start us off simply. Based on all factors including price, what's your favorite whiskey? If it's one you make, what's also your favorite that you don't distill?


Q:

How much of your time do you dedicate to reading history?

A:

All of them and then some!

And I totally agree about your 16 ounces comment, but there's a lot of small that are out there. I feel one container pretty much every time I go to the beach. I can fill one in 30 minutes if I'm getting after it.


Q:

If I had a dollar for every time people asked me something about Cones of Dunnshire :) I am totally Ben Wyatt in so many ways. Haha, we even made our last Kickstarter video using stop motion I just realized.

I'll see what I can do!

A:

Yes! I'm currently in the phase of ”what do I do now?”


Q:

There’s not one that is my favorite, just depends on the occasion. If I’m sitting at home watching a movie or going to a football tailgate, it changes and that’s the beauty of what we do! There are a lot of different options at a lot of different price points. For example, if I’m going to a tailgate I’m going to bring Larceny - it’s a crowd pleaser and you can enjoy it anyway you want, like neat, on the rocks, classic cocktail. If I’m sitting at home watching a movie, I’m going to have some Elijah Craig Barrel Proof or Henry McKenna BIB. For options I don’t distill, probably Makers where I worked for seven years and was Assistant Master Distiller.

A:

A minimum of two hours every day, including the work of my students, manuscripts people send me to read, historical articles. I wish it could be more, but I end up doing stuff like this instead!


Q:

So are people really doing 30 minutes of work on the beach in exchange for a free cup of coffee (and of course the satisfaction of helping out the community)? Or were most of the cups returned to businesses for rewards last year for bigger rewards? Do you know the average retail price of a reward that was actually collected?

This sounds like a really great idea that could be featured in a book like Freakonomics someday.

A:

That's it!? I thought it'd be longer!

No, you don't understand! I was proud of that!

I compared it to the next Avatar!!


Q:

Did the people who won medals walk around high and mighty inside Olympic Village?

A:

Hey Denny-

big fan of heaven hill brands. elijah craig barrel proof, in particular. i have a few questions:

  1. do you have any favorite independent or small distilleries you think we should be watching? people who are doing it right and not rushing product to market?

  2. any chance of barrel/high proof offerings of other heaven hill labels?

  3. what is heaven hill doing to stymie the oncoming pop to the bourbon bubble? does heaven hill even think this is a bubble or does hh see the current fervor as a sea change for the whiskey world?


Q:

What is the weirdest thing you discovered in your research?

A:

We ask our participating businesses to keep the incentives in the 2-5 dollar range. Some may be worth more to the person turning in a full container- 2-5 dollars for the business can be greater for the consumer, depending on the business. We've found that's the sweet spot for motivating people to take action without being so awesome that they'd cheat. Over the course of the summer last year, we estimated that we removed 800 gallons of small litter from the beach, 16 oz at a time.

I wonder what scale we'd have to reach to be freakonomics worthy..


Q:

Haha so classic. I'm going to watch that episode today.

Edit: Also, I just realized I'm married to a girl from Indiana...

A:

Most of them were pretty humble about it and didn't brag. I think they didn't want to bring any unwanted attention.


Q:

1) do you have any favorite independent or small distilleries you think we should be watching? people who are doing it right and not rushing product to market?

Love what Pat and Shane are doing at Wilderness Trail in Danville KY. Those guys are top notch and true experts. They have not released any of their whiskey yet but it’s coming and it will be good.

2) any chance of barrel/high proof offerings of other heaven hill labels?

Once again, will never say never.

3) what is heaven hill doing to stymie the oncoming pop to the bourbon bubble? does heaven hill even think this is a bubble or does hh see the current fervor as a sea change for the whiskey world?

As I said in a previous answer, everyone has their own perspective on this, but from my position I don’t think Bourbon is going anywhere any time soon. We’re only halfway to where the industry was in its peak in the 1970’s. And we have huge growth potential in the international markets. As the second largest holder of aging American Whiskey, we’re in a better position than most to prepare for the future.

A:

The strange truth about the Illuminati. After all the crazy conspiracy theories, it was really gripping to read about this weird little South German sect of radical Enlightenment thinkers in the 1770s who thought they could infiltrate the Freemasons and undermine Roman Catholicism.


Q:

I attend a festival that had something like this. They used to give a free ice cream cone to anyone for a 20oz soda bottle full of cigarette butts. It was a great idea but was eventually scrapped due to sanitary concerns.

At the beach you have cigarette butts, glass, all kind of plastic, etc... Do you provide people with latex/rubber gloves or things like alcohol wipes to keep potential cleaners, well... clean?

I know it sounds like a non-issue but you may be surprised by the amount of people who want to help but don't want to get their or their kid hands dirty or cut by random broken glass.

A:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OepXFbP5Zr8

I love the game box aesthetic. I hope we can have a whole shelf for you on the Kallax at some point :)

Salem to Tortuga to Deadwood. Where are you headed next?


Q:

What country has the nicest athletes?

A:

Hi Denny! Thanks for doing the AMA. I had a couple of questions.

1) What's one aspect of the master distiller job that surprised you once you assumed the role? 2) I'm a big fan of the Elijah Craig Barrel Proof releases and the Elijah Craig barrel picks. Do you think that Heaven Hill would ever release a barrel proof store pick Elijah Craig?


Q:

Can we expect some of he highlights in your new book?

A:

This is definitely a concern of ours. For the time being, we dont distribute any gloves. We educate people to be as safe as they can be, given the circumstances, but you raise a great point.

For glass, its typically not a big problem, so long as kids are supervised and everyone is being careful. For cigarette butts, we recommend people scoop them up with our containers, and then shake the sand out. Nobody wants to touch a gross cigarette butt (with their hand or their feet). This whole dilemma is kind of the point that I wish we could make to the people that leave them there - even the people who are willing to clean up after you have a hard time doing it.


Q:

We're not revealing Volume 4 just yet, but we're hard at work on it. But whereas the first 3 are all in the Americas, the next one will not! So many possibilities though for the series. Pick a city and a year and build a game around it.

A:

Norway (except Kristofferson)


Q:

1) What's one aspect of the master distiller job that surprised you once you assumed the role?

Honestly, how much the title actually means to our fans and our customers. The title gives you credibility in the market so that people truly listen to what you have to say and consider you an expert in your field. I never looked at it that way. I just knew that I enjoyed it and had a passion for the operations side but never considered how that impacts others. It’s humbling.

2) I'm a big fan of the Elijah Craig Barrel Proof releases and the Elijah Craig barrel picks. Do you think that Heaven Hill would ever release a barrel proof store pick Elijah Craig?

I would never say never, but right now we are still focusing on building the single barrel program for Elijah Craig Small Batch program at 94 proof. Remember, our barrel program was strong a few years back, before the big bourbon boom. We are still trying to catch back up and see how we can expand this program going forward. So who knows, barrel proof might be a part of that. But at this point we just don’t know. The 94 is the focus for the foreseeable future.

A:

And that's it folks. It's 11:02am in Stanford and I have to get back to my day job. Thanks to all of you for really great questions. My RSI is now killing me, but it was fun!


Q:

how's your dog?

A:

Great until they betray you.


Q:

Why not Kristofferson? Haven't been able to keep up with the news... Did something happen between you guys?

A:

How aware and tapped into the secondary/black market are you? Have your recent pricing increases for limited edition bottlings been related to prices you've seen on the secondary? or more from sales increases and market research?

as a consumer, i lament the price increase, but as a fan, it's good to see the higher end bourbon releases starting to get luxury prices more in line with products in the same family (ie, scotch)


Q:

With Dodd-Frank repeal or revision an increasing possibility, do you have any thoughts on the value of that legislation? It's hard to find reliably sensible commentary amid the political debate where reps on both sides may be pandering towards special interests in their arguments.

A:

He's good! Still hanging out on the beach when he can!


Q:

Yes.

A:

Dude had childish tantrums at security guards and told one them to ”fuck off” when they asked to check his bag in the village. I lost a lot of respect when I saw that.


Q:

I am not a collector so I am not tapped into the secondary market at all. Mainly what we know is what the consumers tell us. That market does not dictate at all what pricing is for our releases. We do try to manage special releases because we truly want people to drink these products and not just collect and/or resell them. However, it’s a market that has been created out of necessity so it is not a bad thing at all. It is filling a niche. I know that some products have seen increases but it is tough for us to control what the price is when it makes the shelf. We suggest pricing but that does not always dictate what it sells for. Elijah Craig Barrel Proof is a great example of that. Our suggested pricing is $59.99. Obviously we have seen it listed a lot higher than that. It also still amazes me that we can offer products such as Elijah Craig Small Batch and Henry McKenna 10yr BIB in the $30 price range. Unbelievable products for the price.

A:

I am writing an update to the Ascent of Money which will tear into Dodd-Frank as a really badly designed mess that didn't address more than a tenth of the causes of the financial crisis. Should be out in September.


Q:

do you have plans for helping other beach cities kickstart a similar program?

A:

Was the stop motion scene comparable to Avatar?

Seriously though. If you were to make The Cones of Dunnshire I would find it very, very difficult to not throw money at you and your family : D


Q:

So what did most people eat in the olympic village?

A:

We have the same last name. You get a lot of Harry Potter references anytime someone notices your name?


Q:

Can you talk a little bit about your political transition from Glasgow-born to Thatcherite / Romney supporter? In a similar vein, would you ever work for a presidential administration here in the states?

A:

Still trying to figure out the most effective way to accomplish this! Really, we need a solid point of contact to take the idea and run with it within each city.


Q:

Haha, noted :)

A:

Burgers and pizza


Q:

Yes, I get that question all the time!

A:

That happened at Oxford. I was a Labour supporter in 1979. Then I went down South and met English socialists -- boarding school boys who wanted the miners to go on strike -- and I was appalled. I quickly realized the smartest and funniest people at Oxford were Thatcherites (like my old friend Andrew Sullivan). The rest is not quite history. As for working for an American administration, I am not yet a citizen, so can't.


Q:

-What finally made you quit your job? -How far were you into the board game business journey when you quit your job?

A:

What was the food like? I suspect athletes have pretty strict dietary standards leading up to their events, but if I was there I would want to try out all the local delicacies.


Q:

Hey Denny! Thanks for opening your doors to Heaven for a little bit.

Can you speak on the Bourbon industry and where you think it's going. Everyone claims the bubble is about to burst.

Also, can you explain the farm to distillery relationship and where you might get your corn, wheat and rye from? I've heard that a lot of distilleries, HH included use GMO products to keep up with demand. Any shift towards organic!

A:

Who’s been the most influential historian in your career? Most overrated? Most underrated?

And why is Cambridge better than Oxford?


Q:

We were lucky that our first game did really well right out of the bat. It had made $100,000 on Kickstarter, so some of the risk of leaving was mitigated. At that point I ran another side gig of digital marketing for small companies. When we launched our 2nd game and it also did well then I started doing only games full time.

A:

They had everything! French fries, pizza, pasta, sushi, etc.! You name it, and they had it available.


Q:

1) Can you speak on the Bourbon industry and where you think it's going. Everyone claims the bubble is about to burst.

Everyone has their own perspective on this, but from my position I don’t think Bourbon is going anywhere any time soon. We’re only halfway to where the industry was in its peak in the 1970’s. And we have huge growth potential in the international markets. As the second largest holder of aging American Whiskey, we’re in a better position than most to prepare for the future.

2) Also, can you explain the farm to distillery relationship and where you might get your corn, wheat and rye from? I've heard that a lot of distilleries, HH included use GMO products to keep up with demand. Any shift towards organic!

All of the corn comes from four local farmers who we have worked with for generations. We typically get our wheat from these same farms since they will grow the wheat on the same property once the corn is harvested. Our rye comes from the Northern US and Canada. We just cannot grow it economically here in KY. As for GMO, we do not dictate to the farmer what they should grow. They know what is best to grow on their land. That being said, no GM material makes it through distillation thus the reason why we do not mandate what the farmer must grow.

A:
  1. A.J.P. Taylor. He could write.
  2. Richard J. Evans.
  3. Maurice Cowling. With Oxford it was like marriage. With Cambridge it was a passionate affair.

Q:

That’s amazing good to see people taking risks to pursue a passion. I see the third game in the Kickstarter link. What are the first 2?

A:

Did you see anything you wish you wouldn’t have?


Q:

Hi Denny,

Any chance we’ll see a brand extension of Larceny? Maybe a barrel proof someday? Older age stated ones like Elijah Craig 18 year? Thank you for such an amazing portfolio of whiskey.

A:

Do you think Facebooks power and reach has peaked?


Q:

The first two are referenced in the 3rd campaign. You can also see them on our website, facadegames.com

Our games are:

Salem 1692 (originally called Salem)

Tortuga 1667

Deadwood 1876

Edit: Links added

A:

If anyone here has a GF/BF that was there at Olympic, high chances that they cheated. Personally knew a handful of athletes that cheated on their partners.


Q:

I’ve been on record saying that I feel Larceny is our next Evan Williams. Evan Williams is the #2 bourbon in the world and Larceny has all the tools to be right there some day. We released Larceny in 2012 in very select markets. This time last year we were only in 19 markets across the U.S. We wanted to grow the brand the right way which was making sure we had enough Wheated Bourbon to support true organic growth. By the end of 2017 we were finally to the point that we could fully distribute nationally. Right now that is our focus. Once we are comfortable with where we are as far as supporting the growth of Larceny we might take a look at some of the things you mentioned. And lets also not forget our announcement of Old Fitz BIB just last month, which is the genesis of Larceny http://blog.heavenhilldistillery.com/old-fitzgerald-bottled-bond-series/

A:

It's getting close. But we're not quite there yet. "Short Facebook" will be an epic trade for whoever times it right.


Q:

I just visited your site, and in a shot of one of your games there's a character called Will Griggs. Surely he's named after international footballing legend Will Grigg?

A:

Has there been a time where it's almost your turn to go, and since it's cold, you suddenly need to go to the bathroom?


Q:

Thanks for this AMA! I have a question specifically about the discontinued NAS Old Heaven Hill BiB (red, gold, black label). What was the approximate age of whiskey going into these bottles? I find it quite extraordinary for the price and tastes (certainly noses) well above four years. When I find these I make sure to buy them, as they’re nearly unbeatable for the value. Thanks again!

A:

When I was a post-doc at Oxford, I was told by the landlady that you used to live in the flat that I rented from her. She said that you had gone through some bad break up or something at the time and got lots of flowers and also that her husband agreed with you about monetary policy. Did you have a good time living there despite the apparently horrible break up? And any advice for a young academic just starting his first tenure-track job?


Q:

Haha, he is not. He was a guy who actually lived in the town of Salem during all the witch trial madness.

A:

Happens all the time


Q:

Old Heaven Hill BIB was 4 year old whiskey. Today, I drink our Evan Williams White label when I’m looking for a 4YO BIB.

A:

I have happy memories of Oxford in those days, despite the inevitable romantic ups and downs of my twenties. And if we're thinking of the same flat, it was a lovely flat! My advice is to expect romantic ups and downs. Post-docs and early-stage academics are at the bottom of the food-chain and very few boy- and girlfriends understand how hard you have to work and how little you get paid!


Q:

I love your themes!

A:

Congratulations on competing in the Olympics! My question is about the Kim Jung Un impersonator. What was the North Koreans reaction to him?


Q:

Do you see the future of American Brandy exploding in popularity much like Bourbon has in the last decade? If so, does Heaven Hill have any plans for this?

A:

Thank you for doing the AMA! I wrote a term paper on The Pity of War in college and thoroughly enjoyed your challenges to the conventional wisdom about WWI—I’ve even read the book a second time independent of any course work.

Do you consider yourself to be a historical contrarian? If so, at what point in your education and/ or career do you think you realized this? What do you think has led you to view many historical events and phenomena differently from other historians and commentators?


Q:

Thanks!

A:

They absolutely hated him. He apparently tried to get close to their delegation, and their security detail tackled him.


Q:

With the popularity of Bourbon, we continue to see people trying other brown spirits like Brandy. Heaven Hill currently owns the number-two selling Brandy with Christian Brothers. We just launched the first Bottled-In-Bond American Brandy two years ago, Christian Brothers Sacred Bond. I get to work with our distilling partners in California, O’Neill, which is an interesting collaboration as they are managing a different production process using grapes and copper pot stills.

A:

Worth reading / seeing The History Boys by Alan Bennett on this. I was always taught to challenge conventional wisdom when writing history essays. Otherwise, why bother? So the conventional wisdom on the First World War was just sitting there waiting to be challenged: that the war was a tragedy, but somehow inevitable. The Pity of War is a direct assault on that. Probably teaching the subject at Oxford pushed me further along the contrarian path. Students would come in with essays that said the same old thing, and my job was to ask: "Are you sure about that? What if Britain had simply stayed out?"


Q:

Do you physically make the cards and game pieces?

A:

Did you see any serious partying, like lots of booze and irresponsibility? If so, which country's athletes drank the hardest?


Q:

In what ways do you feel like the bourbon industry (or American whiskey in general) has been influenced by distilling traditions in other countries? Inversely, in what ways do you think distilling in other countries has been influenced by the U.S. (beyond barrel exports)?

A:

Hi Niall,

You defend Kissingers alleged war crimes by pointing to the crimes of other secretaries of state. Aren't you dodging the question of whether or not Kissinger himself committed war crimes in Indochina?


Q:

We do not. We work with factories in China to manufacture the games. There is a lot of sending designs and samples back and forth to get everything just right.

A:

Oh yeah! On the last night, I went out to the only bar in PyeongChang, and it was packed!! The eastern Europeans and Americans were the hardest partiers.

Saw a few of them walking around piss drunk in the dining hall and harassing the staff there.


Q:

Well, most of us trace our roots to Irish and Scotch Distillers so it’s safe to say we have been greatly influenced. They brought the knowledge and expertise over with the founding of our country and we’ve benefited ever since!

A:

Read volume II. First I need to write it. The book will at least have a consistent definition of "war crimes."


Q:

Is there a website or vetted resource to point people in the right direction, if they want to find a Chinese manufacturer of an idea or product that they have?

A:

Did you see the athletes from North Korea at all? If so, what was their demeanor? Did they speak English at all, was there a translator for them to communicate with you guys or were they mostly kept from the other athletes?


Q:

Hello! Love your Elijah Craig single barrel and small batch bottles

Any plans for a barley based whisky? I'd love to see what you guys could do to an 'murican scotch styled whisky.

A:

What advice do you have for the younger historians attempting to take this route as their passion and careers?


Q:

Boardgamegeek.com is the place to go! There are lots of forums there to ask all kinds of questions. This guy also always has lots of really helpful tips on the logistics: https://stonemaiergames.com/about/jamey-stegmaier/

Edit: We've also just made this little guide for aspiring publishers: https://facadegames.com/how-to-publish-a-board-game/

A:

None of them spoke English or talked to anyone. My friend did however get a picture with them and a pin.


Q:

Our 9th Parker’s Heritage Collection release was an 8 year old Kentucky Straight Malt Whiskey with a 65% malted barley and 35% corn mashbill. We wanted to build a mashbill similar to Scotch with the Kentucky twist of corn. http://heavenhilldistillery.com/parkers-heritage-collection.php

A:

Read, read, read. Learn as many tricky languages as you can. And choose a PhD subject that a) can illuminate some present problem b) is technically difficult so you have minimal competition.


Q:

Was just out of curiosity. The games look amazing by the way, very elegantly put together.

A:

What were the shady/controversial things you saw?


Q:

How awesome is Lew Bryson's laugh? His book, Tasting Whiskey, is great and I know your makes are mentioned quite a lot.

As for a real question, in your opinion why do you think BiB bourbons aren't as popular as they should be?

A:

In a previous answer, you said you believe the benefits of the British Empire outweighed its costs for a long time. Can you talk more about this? Benefits/costs for whom?


Q:

Thank you! Having cool components are super important to us. We try to avoid typical cardboard punchboards as much as possible :) So it's a lot of communicating with the factory about what is possible. I've found that manufacturers can make almost anything that you can envision.

A:

Saw a lot in-team fighting and a fight between a Russian and Canadian athlete.


Q:

Lew’s laugh is the best. It gets even better as the night wears on. As for BIB, they are definitely increasing in popularity by the day. Heaven Hill has always valued the importance of BIB offerings so I cannot say that we have done anything different to support them. I think as consumers have become, and are becoming, more educated about american whiskies they naturally gravitate towards BIB products because of the rich heritage and absolute dedication to the tight production standards. No FAKE NEWS when it comes to a BIB!

A:

For humanity. The argument is there in Empire, as well as in other works (The Cash Nexus, Colossus, Civilization -- also War of the World). I have a paper that I never published that pulls the economics together, but I decided it was futile as the post-colonial types aren't interested in quantifying welfare or considering counterfactuals (which you have to do).


Q:

Are they an ethical company?

A:

I heard a lot of Canadian athletes were pissed that Russia was even allowed to participate at all after the doping scandal. Was this the case?


Q:

Any cocktail suggestions specifically for your wheat whiskey? Bernheim is delicious, and I was curious if any of y'all had a recipe unique to it.

Oh, and any suggestions for where best to find a 2014 Parker’s Heritage?

A:

Hi Niall, many thanks for doing this AMA.

What do you think will cause the next recession? (In the UK)


Q:

As far as I know! We talk with dozens of factories for each game and look into their practices and what other games are using them for production.

A:

Yeah, there was a lot of shade being thrown at the Russian's from Canada.


Q:

Bernheim mixes well with Ginger Beer so probably something like a Buck. Easy to make and rather tasty. As for Parkers 2014, your guess is as good as mine. I am far from a collector so I am probably the last person you should ask. That being said, you can always search the web since there are many groups interested in collecting and finding hard to get releases.

A:

The Fed. Or the People's Bank of China.


Q:

Do you have a translator?

A:

Did you win?

Are you Shaun White?


Q:

Hi! This is actually really interesting - I used to work at Kingsbarns Distillery on the east coast of Scotland. We use your bourbon barrels for maturation but have yet to break the first barrel (will have reached the 3 year maturation at the end of this month!!). For a lowlands scotch, what types of flavours would you anticipate might shine through from your bourbon, and how might you expect these to change as we mature for longer?

A:

Whats up Niall! Big fan of your work!

I'm curious to hear any strategies you have when wanting to learn about some topic, and how you go about finding work that is accurate and not overtly bias. How do you gauge it's validity?

I enjoy your work particularly bc you delve into topics with the understanding that there's good and bad things about everything and everyone.


Q:

Nope - the factories in China (or at least the main liason) actually have good enough English to communicate.

A:

Nope


Q:

Great to hear Kingsbarns Distillery is using our barrels. I’m always amazed at where our barrels end up. I guess I’m biased when I tell you that your maturation is starting from a pretty damn good place! The obvious flavors that would shine through from our barrels (depending on product) is probably going to be the corn and caramel. We use a #3 char in our new barrels so you’re getting a pretty good caramelized layer in the wood with that. Add in the % corn we use in most of our mashbills and you should be able to obtain those notes fairly easily. And as far as how that might change as yours matures……...how about I just come over and help you with your tasting notes when you’re done. Deal???

A:

Doing history well is all about the ratio of pages you read to pages you write. For many books it's close to unity. I shoot for 1000:1. There's no substitute for being comprehensive. It's only by reading as much as possible that you are able to screen out the garbage and identify the quality research -- the stuff based on deep archival research. And then you go to the archives yourself.


Q:

Who would you contact to have some chinese factory make something?

A:

What was customs like? Did you receive any special treatment being an athlete?


Q:

Hi Denny! Super in love with you guys! Especially Rittenhouse and Mellow Corn. Wish I could get yalls bonded brandy in Texas. Got to listen to a fine group of gentlemen do a little heaven hill tasting to song a few years ago at a camp in Kentucky. Absolutely rad. So question. How do you think you guys have done differently on the marketing side than other companies? I’m in love with the old school look of your bottles. I just feel like y’all take a different approach with your brands than others might. Why is that do you think? And how has that worked for you guys? Thank you sir!

A:

Thanks for the AMA, Niall. Looking forward to reading the Square and the Tower.

There are two broad views of the future of China, from what I can tell. There's a Graham Allison view, wherein China's meteoric rise as a great power will cause friction and perhaps war with the United States, and a view like Michael Auslin's, wherein China's growth is deceptive and we may see a backslide in the Middle Kingdom's power.

Putting aside the question of which one is right, which view of China's future is more problematic from the view of the United States, or for global security and stability in general? A confident and aggressively growing China, or a backsliding insecure China? Which one do you think is more likely?


Q:

An easy place to start is alibaba.com. You can request quotes on there for things and then several companies will start up dialogues with you about specifics.

A:

Was a joke! There was a special line for olympic delegations and they just looked at my passport and stamped it.


Q:

You’re talking about my friends Bernie Lubbers and Hickory Vaught. Bernie’s our Global Whiskey Ambassador. I think we’ve done a nice job of updating our packaging as time has gone on without getting rid of the heritage from each brand. I think a lot of that has to do with our family ownership. Because we aren’t publicly traded we’re able to take a long term outlook versus whatever makes a quick buck. By the way I think Sacred Bond is now in Texas, so you may want to check with Glazer’s on that.

A:

Graham's thesis is looking good as Xi Jinping becomes ever more Kaiser-like and foreign policy ever more Weltpolitik-like. On my last visit to China, I thought how right Kissinger has been to compare our time to the pre-1914 period. There is a new over-confidence in Beijing which is like Berlin circa 1900. But I think Auslin may win in the end. Behind the cult of Xi there's a potential for Gorbachev-like disaster. The worst time for a bad regime is when it tries to reform itself. If they try to deal with their over-leveraged economy, it's going to get interesting. Or if they get drawn into a shooting war, which they're not ready for.


Q:

I am super intrested in getting into this. I usually have a lot of ideas for the design and mechanics yet I really suck at creating artwork. Any Idea how to roll with this? Hire someone? Do you think a bigger budget is required before financing it on kickstarter?

A:

So you guys got custom Samsung Galaxy Note8’s, right? Did you get to keep them?


Q:

Still gonna taste like bourbon. If your fill levels aren't great or it was stored at high temperature or in sunlight it could taste not optimal, still gonna taste like bourbon though.

A:

Hello Niall, a big fan of your work. Even if I don't always agree, I always find your arguments interesting.

In light of your work on the legacies of the colonial era, I was wondering if you had any thoughts about the recent vote to expropriate land from white farmers in South Africa?


Q:

Don't worry so much about the artwork at first. Make sure the game is super fun to play and is "flawless" in terms of mechanics.

For artwork, a good place to start is upwork.com. They have lower cost artists who do good work.

Here is some other advice about getting the project ready for Kickstarter that we wrote: https://facadegames.com/our-advice-to-kickstarter-creators/

A:

Yup, but I sold mine as soon as I got home.


Q:

This is a tough one. Bourbons that have been in the bottle that long are unpredictable. There are just too many variables … exposure to sunlight, quality of the cork seal, etc. Just enjoy the experience of tasting such an old bottling.

A:

It worries me, but I haven't yet seen the small print. History generally gives very low marks to most expropriations of land, because of the effect on rule of law of direct attacks on property rights, as well as the inefficiencies that arise when you break up big units. But there are ways to get this kind of thing right. Hernando de Soto would be the person for the South Africans to consult.


Q:

How many times have you playtested each of the games you made?

A:

What was your least favorite experience during the whole thing?

Your favorite?


Q:

Hi Denny,

I appreciate what you guys are doing at Heaven Hill. Does Heaven Hill have a place where I can find events that you guys participate in? Festivals, dinners, shows etc.

A:

Hi Niall,

I read The Square and the Tower and enjoyed it very much. In the book you only mention cryptocurrencies (Bitcoin and Ethereum) towards the end. Can you elaborate on what you think the possible futures of cryptocurrencies are for business as usual? Could you also give your opinion on the potential for smart contracts to disrupt traditional fiat currencies such as the US dollar? Do you think national governments are beginning to worry about cryptos competing with their own established currencies?


Q:

Our current game is on Version 74 :) But each of those versions also has had about 3-4 tweaks along the way and 3-4 playtests. So literally hundreds. It's my favorite part of the process though!

A:

The media. I had media approach me while I was out on personal trips with my family, which really irritated me. They lacked respect for athletes personal space.

Opening Ceremonies


Q:

We do keep this page (http://heavenhilldistillery.com/visit-us.php) updated specific to events happening at both of our visitor centers, the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience in Downtown Louisville and the Bourbon Heritage Center in Bardstown. We also participate in all 4 WhiskyFests and Whisky Live!

A:

Hard to answer briefly. I don't think cryptocurrencies are either encrypted or money. Blockchain has a big future as the new platform for smart contracts and record-keeping. But I don't think fiat currencies need to be replaced by a blockchain based money. It will only happen if, say, China decides to do it in order to eliminate cash and have completely indelible records of all transactions.


Q:

As a follow-up, what’s the lowest-quality prototype you’ve thrown together? Quality in terms of components at least

A:

Does this mean that you were famous enough for a lot of media to recognize you or did they do this to everyone?


Q:

What steps have you guys done to ensure there will not be another fire?

A:

Hi Niall What historians/historical works have shaped your historical thinking?


Q:

Literally cutting up paper and writing what cards/boards do with pen. Prototypes don't need to be pretty to figure out if they work in terms of rules and game play. The design and illustration are the last thing that comes together once the game is already really fun.

A:

😁😁😁


Q:

I wish I could say that we could absolutely prevent it but that is not the truth. I will say that we have put many measures in place to minimize the risk of another fire. 2 major components is installing fire sprinklers systems in new and old warehouses and also berming around warehouses that will either contain flaming liquid or directionally flow it away from other warehouses. The reality is, if you have a major lightning strike you have mere seconds for the fire sprinkler to extinguish the initial spark.

A:

And that's it folks. It's 11:02am in Stanford and I have to get back to my day job. Thanks to all of you for really great questions. My RSI is now killing me, but it was fun.


Q:

Do you have a group of gamer friends who are willing to play test the games with you?

A:

How well did the hosts/event organizers manage cultural/language barriers? Did you witness any issues with this?


Q:

Hi Denny, first off thank you for doing this AMA & making such a wonderful product. My question is how did you become a master distiller? What was your experience, education, and other factors that contributed to you landing such a wonderful job?

A:

Hello Professor Ferguson,

What are your views on the end goal of the wave of right-wing populism that has spread across the world? Do you think any actions taken by Orban in Hungary or Kaczynski in Poland will produce any legislation or changes in the political structure that will be difficult to reverse if these countries return to a more liberal democracy?


Q:

We do, yes. We've found that a lot of people love being on the innovative side of things and helping create the game. A lot of fulfillment in that.

A:

There was some issues as a lot of the volunteers didn't fluently speak English. So at times it was frustrating to talk to them when you had an issue. Overall they were incredibly hard working and always friendly.


A:

I think this is all a bit overblown, with all due respect to my colleague Larry Diamond. The "wave" hasn't actually changed the political structure of all that many countries, any more than the recent wave of left-wing populism fundamentally changed Latin America. The key issues are always: Can they change the constitution? Can they politicize the judiciary? Can they rig the next elections? If it's just legislation, then it's nearly always reversible. I am less pessimistic about Hungary and Poland than the consensus view.


Q:

How do you find playtesters?

A:

What country's delegation was the most obnoxious? Privileged/snobby? Nicest?


Q:

How can bourbon go up in proof as it ages? If it is barreled at 125°, how are there bottles of 130°+ Bourbons? Wouldn't the alcohol evaporate before the water?

A:

Hi Niall,

Appreciate all of your scholarly efforts!

Which current global leader has the best grasp of 'big picture' politics?

Also my goodness did you see the rugby last week? I was fortunate enough to be at Murrayfield - was a tad taken with patriotic fervour.

Thanks!


Q:

There are often board game clubs at universities, or just local community groups. Also, friends of friends. Everyone has a friend who plays games, so it's just a matter of asking for introductions and getting new people over for game nights.

A:

USA: Obnoxious France: Privilege/snobby Norway: Nicest

Edit 1: Didn't read that question properly.


Q:

Due to there being more moisture on the lower floors, you will typically see more alcohol escape than water, thus the proof is reduced. On higher floors that are considerably hotter, you lose more water than alcohol because a water molecule is less complex than an alcohol molecule. In the summer the 7th floor could be 30-40 degrees hotter than the first floor.

A:

I'd day Wang Qishan. He's about to come back to the foreground of Chinese politics. A serious historical thinker and formidable strategist. On rugby, I was there too, with my eldest son and it was one of the happiest days of my life. The final minutes, as "Flower of Scotland" filled the air, were unforgettable. But I remain a believer in the Union. Part of the fun of being both British and Scottish is that we can give vent to all that national sentiment, and then head off to work down in London with no hard feelings. Hats off to the English fan in front of us who turned round and shook our hands at the final whistle. That was the true spirit of Six Nations rugby!


Q:

How did you navigate the legal aspects, like intellectual property right to your game, copyright, etc. Were legal fees built into your original business plan?

$1 million in revenue, but how much in profit if you don't mind me asking. Obviously feel free not to answer that if you don't want to.

A:

What were the accommodations like? Were they nice or shoddy? Did you feel the games were run well by the host country?


Q:

Are you guys going to bring back the Elijah Craig Small Batch 12 Year at any point, even as a limited release? It was my go-to daily drinker for years but, since the age statement was removed, the ECSB has lost the depth and complexity that it had.

A:

In the modern political context, and maybe drawing on your knowledge of some historical examples, how exactly can a government or society counter negative social engineering and radical ideas in a free and open society without trampling over first amendment rights?

A lot of people recently will accuse people who have conservative views of being Russian trolls. I guess my question is, in the hypothetical case that say a huge surge in conservative views was an act of some sort of foreign influence, how could a government or power counter it ethically? How can you counter division and radical ideas from the governmental level (as is often discussed with recent events) without trampling over free speech?


Q:

There's actually not too much to do since natural copyrights are built in. You can't patent game mechanics, so there's that.

So much of the value of games is actually executing them right. Making it all come together. So someone who "stole" the idea of the game would still be years behind. Also the game community is very protective- if they see a copy of another game, then they will point out the faker and won't buy the new one.

Profit is about 50% after all the manufacturing, shipping, advertising, illustration costs.

A:

The accommodations were pretty average, kinda what you expect for a college dorm room. My room was really big and had a nice view of the village. The Korean definitely put on a good show! All of them were friendly, generous, and always willing to help everyone.


Q:

We do not have any plans to release Elijah Craig Small Batch as a 12 year. When we made the decision to drop the age statement instead of drastically raising the price due to a shortage of barrels, we made a commitment to continually release Elijah Craig Barrel Proof as an aged stated 12YO.

A:

Regulation of all political advertising exists for TV and newspapers. It didn't exist for the Internet in 2016. That needs to change. If those ads had said words to the effect of "Sponsored by the Russians," they would have been far less effective.


Q:

Did you have kids at the time you quit? Serious props to you if you did, as that would make most people second guess themselves.

Your games look really fun

A:

In your opinion was there anything going on between Virtue and Moir, or are they just amazing actors?


Q:

But Scottish Whisky is better, am I right?

A:

Would you consider your histories factual?


Q:

We did not at the time. Hard to say what I would have done if we did, because it is something to consider.

A:

I still don't understand their relationship dynamic??? I saw them at the opening and medal ceremonies, and their chemistry was undeniable. Pretty sure they're ”dating”.


A:

Yes.


Q:

What are your margins?

A:

Were you able to talk with any North Korean athletes?

Are there any generally hated Olympians? Maybe ones that think their sport is superior to others and look down on other athletes.


Q:

Y’all hiring?

A:

Hey Niall. I always read your books because they provide two things: a personal touch to go with the information (I like how you start your sections with someone involved in the history's perspective, maybe through a letter, and go from there) and always a clear argument to be mulled over while reading.

Sometimes, though, I read your books and am overwhelmed by the amount of info. How do you recommend readers of history go about tackling history books? Read first and last chapter's first, read intro and conclusion chapter sections first, read first and last sentence of paragraphs first, or go straight through like a novel?

Hopefully this makes it up there.


Q:

Depends on the avenue. Generally about 50-60 percent goes towards profits for our living expenses, and to reinvestment into the company and other games. But yeah, the cuts that Amazon takes, that distributors take, that retailers take, that Kickstarter takes, all vary.

A:

Unfortunately, no. I wanted a pin from their country.

Elizabeth Swaney was the least respected Olympian there. Henrik Kristofferson was also not very friendly.


Q:

Are you a mixologist? We have an opening at the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience. If not, keep tabs on our open jobs at https://heavenhill.com/careers.

A:

Great question. Most people who are close to my kids in age have concentration issues because of all the messages, emails, alerts in their lives. So a bit of mental fitness helps: get your brain to read faster and in a more focused way -- like taking your head to the gym. Then read ruthlessly. If it's boring, skim. Read intro, then conclusion, then dip. If it's good, you'll get drawn in. If it's not so good, you can be done inside half an hour and know all you need to know. A total lack of respect for authors is important. The truth is that most books don't deserve more than half an hour of your life.


Q:

Thanks - congrats on your success!

I work with a guy that is very into the board game culture. He and his wife go to the conventions, play in clubs, spend hours testing them, etc. That community seems to be very passionate about it so prob great opportunity to find success making good games.

A:

Did you visit other countries' home bases (eg. Canada House)? What was your favourite?


Q:

Yes, it's a super passionate community. Lots of great, helpful people!

A:

Visited the Canada, Czech, Austria and Sweden house

The Canada house was kinda of lame and you had to pay for everything. All the other houses had free food and drinks. Austria and Czech were probably my favourite.


Q:

How do you handle the artwork of the cards and boxes? Also is their any website coding knowledge internally or do you use a basic template? Do you have paid game testers or volunteers/ friends

A:

How much time did you have to actually relax? How much time did you spend practicing? Did you have any other people who were not teammates/ olympics related travel with you to South Korea? And how do you olympians deal with nervousness/ generally being nervous and the pressure before actually performing in the Olympics?


Q:

My wife does the graphic design in Adobe Illustrator, and we hire an illsutrator to draw the pictures.

We have a weekly playtest group that comes to our house. We also have a network of a few other groups around the country that we send print and plays to test out.

A:

I didn't have a lot of time for myself. I spent a lot of time training or doing my rounds of media interviews. I did get to go out a couple times in Seoul and explore Korea after my events.

My family came out to see me and stayed for the entire games.

It's the Olympic man, enjoy yourself and compete like you always do!


Q:

How did you find/choose your illustrator? How much do you pay him/her? How did you decide on a salary for you and your wife versus reinvesting? Where do you plan to go from here? More board games? Thanks.

A:

So, how much sex were the athletes having with each other? Does it happen as often as people think it does?


Q:

We found our artist on a university job board. For the first project we offered a percentage of whatever we made on Kickstarter, since we didn't have a lot to pay up front that first time. Since then we've tweaked it for each project.

You can also find artists for good prices on places like upwork.com and fiverr.com.

Deciding on salary is a lot to do with taxes. We pay ourselves more or less depending on how much we have made that year. On "up" years we'll increase our inventory and put more towards retirement.

And yes, more board games from here!

A:

Surprisingly, no. The media blew it out of proportion. The rooms in the village were not very private, so it was difficult for hook-ups. I did, however, witness some Swiss guy notoriously hang around the rec center picking up chicks every night.


Q:

Do you think board games will still be popular a few decades from now?

A:

What was the most controversial thing you witnessed?


Q:

I do. They are actually growing in popularity- I think because people are needing a retreat from technology because it is advancing so much. Something about sitting around a table with friends and touching physical pieces that really can't be beat.

A:

-In team fighting -Elizabeth Swaney -Dave Duncan’s drunken night


Q:

What are your top 3, not made by you, board games? Where do you draw your inspiration from? How do you see the board game genre developing in the coming years with the advancement of technology?

A:

Did the north Koreans stay in the Olympic village?


Q:

I am awful at picking favorite board games, because it always changes on my mood. But my most recent favorites are Code Names, Pandemic, Ticket to Ride, King of Tokyo, One Night Werewolf.

Inspiration comes from testing our games a TON, playing other games, learning about history (our games all have historical tie ins), and traveling! Traveling really jogs the brain for creativity.

Honestly I think the advances in technology make people want to go back to the basic cardboard and paper and tangible pieces in their hands. They need an escape from their phones and the mess of the internet. I think board games are getting more popular because of that.

A:

They did indeed! They had a massive flag hanging from their building in the village. They usually kept to themselves and only walked in the town with their delegation and security detail.


Q:

How does it feel to be Lily's dad from How I Met Your Mother?

A:

Did Lindsey Vonn find a Valentine's date? Asking for a friend.


Q:

Oh it feels good :)

A:

She did, apparently, it was a news anchor. However, I did spot her on bumble.


Q:

Do you need someone to help you test out games? Lol. I love seeing more non-traditional board games (read as Hasbro repackaging a 50 year old game). What gets the idea for the game started, do you find the theme first then figure out gameplay mechanics or try to figure out what kind of interactions you want players to have with the game/others and go from there?

A:

What was the gossip about Elizabeth Swaney?


Q:

It really varies. Sometimes there's the idea of a mechanic that I build around (like in our 2nd game I built the game around the idea of a mutiny- working with a captain and then betraying him), and sometimes it's a historical setting (like in our current Deadwood game I learned about the town a lot before building the game around it). Really depends! Every game is a conglomoration of lots of inputs from life.

A:

Saw her around the village a couple times; she seemed very fake. After all the bad press, she went into hiding.

A lot of athletes from the smaller countries were floored because she made them look really bad in the media. They felt that she was a scam and didn't earn her place there.


Q:

How hard was it to come up with the concept/theme/idea? What do you do with concepts/themes/ideas that just don't work? Are you afraid of running out of game ideas?

A:

Being that these were your first Olympic games, what surprised you the most that you weren't expecting? Also, how much was free for you?


Q:

The ideas for the games really just snowball from one little thing. We think of some core concept, or some city and year from history, and then build from there. We test a ton and keep improving as we go.

Not worried about running out of ideas :) There are infinite ways to play a game, and infinite themes to pull from.

A:

Nick kroll deciding to randomly show up in the village. Everything was free!


Q:

Any big plans now that you have a million in revenue? Other business interests or personal interests outside gaming you would go after? Just looking to live vicariously through you haha.

A:

Have you had sex with any other Olympians?


Q:

Good question! We want to keep making games! It's so much fun and it lets my wife and I work from home and not work crazy hours. So why mess up a good thing?

That being said, I'm interested in innovating in this world a bit. Creating cool interesting apps out of our games, inventing new genres of games, building on the worlds our current games are in, etc. There's so much room for creativity in the game world so it brings a lot of fulfillment.

A:

Yes


Q:

Nice, yah does sound like the dream to me. Be able to put my energy towards my own pursuits. Best of luck with your future endeavors!

A:

Saskia??


Q:

Thank you!

A:

Ahaha, I wish! That girl blew off every single guy that approached her.


Q:

Where were you when you got the first idea of making a board game?

A:

OK... How did sex with Olympians compare to non-Olympians?


Q:

Alaska!

I was up there working for a summer and my friends and I designed a "Harry Potter Mafia" game that tweaked the traditional mafia/werewolves idea. That morphed into a game called "Cities" and then it became our first game "Salem." It was all just for fun of course, but then when it went big we found a way to keep making games.

A:

Better than expected.


Q:

What would recommend to someone for making a board game? Like what sort of skills and resources would help with making games?

A:

What were the cliques like? Was it mostly athletes from the same nation sticking together or did cliques/groups form according to their sport etc?


Q:

Check out boardgamegeek.com and look around those forums.

Don't be afraid of criticism! Print out a game and test it over and over again. Just jump into it and you'll pick up skills as you go.

A:

Most athletes stuck together with their own countries.


Q:

What kind of instruments, software, hardware, pencils etc, do you use to design the boardgames?

A:

Did it ever feel anti-climactic? What was your favorite part? What's the part that no one who wasn't there wouldn't guess?


Q:

Lots of cardstock for printing off prototypes for games.

For software I just use Powerpoint for the non-designed prototypes for figuring out the game mechanics. Then when we design our illustrator uses Phototshop, and my wife (as the graphic designer) uses Adobe Illustrator.

A:

It wouldn't say anticlimactic, but the opening ceremonies were a bit a disappointment. There was a lot of unsold seats compared to the closing ceremonies (really odd).

I think everything about it was amazing. It was my first games, so I didn't have any expectations. Really enjoyed the atmosphere at the short-track races and my events.


Q:

Do you think you'll have "made it" enough to not use kickstarter someday? What do you see as the advantages to using kickstarter even after getting a couple of hits under your belt?

A:

Thanks for doing this AMA! Is there any sort of "talk" that you are given by your host country or by NBC or the Olympic Committee regarding how you are supposed to act or regarding political statements or topics that might be sensitive to the Olympics?


Q:

I think that's a possibility for sure. But I love Kickstarter for several reasons beyond just funding. It does a great job marketing the game since thousands of people see it and get excited about the idea of a campaign. It also lets us know how many games we can produce. If we made a game and then nobody bought it we would have a lot of lost money in sitting inventory. Kickstarter lets us know how many we can order, and bring down manufacturing costs accordingly (since ordering more brings the cost/unit down).

A:

Mostly to just stay neutral. Try to defer any political comments and don't state your position.


Q:

You can do your own marketing and preorders to achieve that, though, right? You mentioned you have to give kickstarter a cut of your revenue. If it's a convenience thing then maybe giving up that cut is worth it to you still.

A:

What was the worst part of the olympics?


Q:

Yes, but it would mean putting in a LOT in place on my website, marketing channels, etc. Kickstarter makes it super easy. Also, about 70% of our sales on Kickstarter come from internal Kickstarter traffic. They have that audience of people that we wouldn't be able to pull in otherwise.

A:

-Elizabeth Swaney -Aggressive Media -low turnout for the opening ceremonies


Q:

How do you start designing the game when you just have the idea and nothing else?

A:

Hi,

How efficient is the IOC anti-doping agency?

Have you come across any cases/hearsay where an athlete won a medal because of performance enhancement drugs but cleared the official doping test?


Q:

You just start! You get something printed out and test it. It's always awful the first 20 times, but you take little pieces of each version and keep making it better. But that's the key- test test test and don't be afraid of feedback and admitting the game sucks for a long time.

A:

After Sochi, they definitely step up their game. I was tested three times in the week before my departure to Korea and once before competition.

I haven't, but I wouldn't be surprised if there was one athlete there at PyeongChang.


Q:

What software do you use to design your games?

A:

What do you REALLY eat when you're in a foreign place to compete?


Q:

Our illustrator works in Adobe Photoshop, and my wife primarily works in Adobe Illustrator doing the graphic design

A:

Everything and anything on my plate. The dining hall had a good selection of different foods.


Q:

A couple of friends and I are a little over a year into creating a board game, aiming to have a finished product to start looking to sell (on kickstarter or to an existing company) by the end of 2018. I think we're on version 5 or 6 of the rules at this point. Do you have any recommendations for who to work with once we get to the printing stage? What parts of the design process are pitfalls to watch out for, in your opinion? How did you balance players who want to do nothing but betray in an initially cooperative game vs players who don't ever want to backstab?

A:

What was your "dating" app of choice for Olympian hookups?


Q:

We used Panda Games for our first game. They are a little more costly, but make it easy for first time creators. pandagm.com.

One thing to watch out for in the design process is to not fall in love with your baby too much. Don't be afraid to hear points of criticism or recognize that your game might be clunky or flawed. Rip it apart to its core!

For your third question, just make sure incentives line up correctly. Reward them for staying just enough that they think about staying. But reward them for leaving if the opportunity comes up. Our new game Deadwood actually does this a lot.

A:

Tinder! Everyone staying in the village got upgraded to gold for free. Surprisingly a lot of the athletes shut their account down because ”NBC” had an Instagram page that exposed everyone. So most of the people you matched with were not in Korea and were using the passport feature to match with all the Olympians.


Q:

Hey 'a dad'! I'm a huge fan of boards games and so I very much respect and envy you!

Where would one go to patent their own board game idea or to get the ball rolling?

A:

Did you get to see or meet the North Korean cheerleaders?

What was your impression of them? They always looked sort of unreal or doll like when I saw photos of them.


Q:

Hey! Thanks!

We don't worry about patents, since it's really tricky to "patent" an idea of a game mechanic. So honestly don't worry too much about it. Just start making a game, testing it out, getting art slapped onto it, and then getting it out there!

But make sure you're making a game for the fun of it, not to make money. Most games don't make a lot of money. But if you passion shows through then people will see that and it may get big.

A:

I did see them at my event when I was competing and at the short-track race.

I think it was a hilarious propaganda tool by DPRK, and they seemed very doll like and fake. Around them, there were escorts that made sure none of them escaped.


Q:

Since you were presumably not running a business before, what advice would you give to new business owners that could make life much easier now knowing the potential pitfalls?

A:

What was the general stance towards German and Norwegian(etc.) athletes like, especially those who won multiple medals. Like where they not well seen or was everyone just happy for them?


Q:

Start using accounting software right off the bat to keep track of all income and expenses and taxes and such. Makes all the "boring" stuff easier in the long run so you can focus more time on the fun stuff of the business. Wave is a free software you can use. Quickbooks is what many people use.

A:

Nobody had hard feelings to them. Only OAR and their athletes who won medal.


Q:

What’s the process like starting a new game? Like what’s the process from ideation to shipping the games out. :)

A:

What was the general stance towards Russian athletes? Did you interact with them? Do they discuss the doping scandal?


Q:

Ah man, tough question :) Short version: come up with basic idea, test test test test test, get illustrations, get graphic design to put all designs together, proof rules, create kickstarter page, do Kickstarter campaign, manufacture game, freight game across ocean, ship out game. For longer version read more of this whole AMA.

A:

Most of them were really quiet and kept themselves. Everyone respected their space and didn't bother them much (*Except the Canadians). There was already bad vibes from everyone so they didn't really talked to anyone except their own delegation members. However, I talked to a few of them in the fitness centre and they were really nice.


Q:

I've been thinking about a game that is mainly card based. Where do you get to get your cards produced?

A:

From the perspective of an athlete, what is the best and worst part of competing at an Olympic level? Is there anything that you wish was handled better?


Q:

We use makeplayingcards.com for prototype decks. Then when we actually manufacture we use factories in China.

A:

Best: Competing against some of the best athletes in the world

Worse: High pressure to succeed for sponsors, nation, etc

Handled better: Media!


Q:

How exactly are the 3 games different from eachother? All it says on the kickstarter is that each "have a dark, mysterious, or secretive element in its gameplay". I don't want to get into a Forbidden Island/Forbidden Desert situation where the games are almost identical

A:

Do you think PyeongChang was well prepared to host the Olympics? Any unsafe things or weird shit happen?


Q:

They all play very differently.

Salem: a group trying to find the witches. The witch team spreads during the game so it's a race against the clock. Lots of lying.

Tortuga: two hidden teams, so you have to figure out who your teammates are. Trying to get the most treasure for your team. Some lying, lots of strategy and using turns wisely.

Deadwood: work with a team to get the most gold, but at the end you have to kill your own teammates! Balance of teamwork, and self-preservation.

A:

It was safe, nothing out of the ordinary happened from what I remember. They definitely had their shit together well in advance!


Q:

Hm, it sounds like your games involve a lot of lying and betrayal. Do you still trust your wife?

A:

Did you get a Poutine at Canada House?


Q:

There have been many a game night where she doesn't speak to me for a good hour after we play :) We have lied to each other A LOT during our games.

A:

Nah man, that shit was overpriced.


Q:

How does the work life balance compare to your previous job? Do you work more hours now?

A:

You've mentioned in-team fighting a couple of times. Can you give us an example? What's going on to incite things like that?


Q:

It's great! I work less now, and I get to be home all day with my wife and daughter, which is awesome.

Sure, it's harder to "clock out" since I never "clock in", so sometimes I have to force myself to not check emails over weekends. I also have to set hours for myself so that I will indeed "clock out" on some days. I really love what I do so I need to make myself stop.

But yeah, it's great being able to travel whenever we want and take days off whenever we want.

A:

Apparently, there was drama going on in the CAN woman bobsleigh team, and none of them sat together. One them left the dining hall in tears a couple of times.

Not exactly sure about the details, but I believe it has to do with competitiveness or the team positions.


Q:

the kickstarter page says 2-9 players but the FAQ says 4-9 players- which is it? i'm seriously considering getting the 3-pack!

edit: 3-pack secured!

A:

So how many athletes are doping?


Q:

Nice! Salem is 4-12 players, Tortuga is 2-9, Deadwood is 2-9. That's why we say each game in the series is "at least" 4-9.

A:

Everyone is doping


Q:

I hear that for people from poorer countries, the highlight of going to the Olympics is actually getting much needed health care. Are they able to receive that?

Also, are companies just throwing things at you as far as gifts and goodies?

A:

There is a polyclinic that has everything in terms of health care. You have access to physio, acupuncture, dentist, medicine, etc. You'd be surprised that it's not just smaller countries that take advantage of this, but in fact a lot of American athletes were using the dental care access.

Samsung gave every athlete a free Samsung Galaxy Note 8 phone. Got a backpack, a lot of clothing, headphones, goggles, and a lot of free equipment.


Q:

How is Shaun White off camera? I have heard he can be kind of rude in person, but that's something I read on the internet so could be completely false.

A:

No, it’s very true! My brother got snubbed by him when he asked for an autograph.


Q:

Hi, Thanks for AMA.

  1. Is that much sex really happen which is portrait by media?
  2. How you dealt with the performance pressure?
  3. How bad was the effect of Norovirus?
  4. Does the sportsmanship spirit really exists in that highly competitive environment? Recent example from this time?
A:
  1. Every athlete was really just focused on competing
  2. It was my first Olympic so I really didn't have any high expectations. Just to have qualified and to be able to take apart was a huge honour in itself. I just competed like I would have on any normal day.
  3. The media over-exaggerated it. There was maybe 8 confirmed cases, not 30 something.
  4. YES! I was surprised to see some top-level athletes and even medalist came to me and gave me some personal advice.

Q:

What’s the deal with Virtue and Moir?

A:

Dating... or secretly married


Q:

I know you want to keep this pretty anonymous, so I'll try to be general. What continent are you from?

A:

Panem


Q:

What did you do to spend the time when you were not attending the ceremonies and events?

A:

Went to Mcdonalds, watched other events, trained, did some interviews, and toured Korea.


Q:

How's the McDonald's at the Olympic Village?

A:

It's was pretty average, very low selection of items. I went about 5-6 times and not as often as I’d like because there was only one stand in the gangneung village and it was a 38min ride from the Pyeongchang village. It was definitely worth it because you could order as much food as you wanted.


Q:

gangbang village

A:

Damm autocorrect


Q:

Autocorrect learns what to say based on what you have previously typed.

Into gangbang porn?

A:

I should clean my internet history then.


Q:

Did you get a lot of attention from fans/locals?

A:

Hmmm... This may reveal my identity


Q:

Did you meet Pita, the Tongan athlete? Was he nice and authentic?

A:

I did meet Pita! He was nice.

Honestly, he posed for the camera and with other people, but he's a kind of fraud like Swaney. Most of his delegation members were very snobby and kinda had this high glory vibe around them.

I think it's cool and all what he did, but now he's going on and loathing up all the media attention after he said ”he would be return to Tonga after the games to help repair the damage after the storm”. He's currently in LA doing more self-promoting. I don't think he's as genuine as people perceive him.


Q:

since olympics is a huge sex fest. What country's olympians are the most 'popular' and 'unpopular'? I know this question is probably messed up and I asked it in an inelegant way, but I still would like to know. thanks!

A:

USA, Italians and Australian athletes are always DTF!

Germans were unpopular