Author's Notes

The author tells the inside story about the development of the Euro-Game Aelderman.

Until two years ago, I would never have dreamed that a game I developed would be just before release today. And yet we are now very close to achieving this incredible goal as a publishing group.

Ten years ago, I was already developing ideas for a Hansa game with my brother to pass the time during summer vacations. In hours of painting and cutting we created lovingly overloaded prototypes, which were enthusiastically tested - and quickly discarded again: too complex, too confusing and provided with one or the other logical gap.

In the following years, there was not enough time to pursue the game ideas further, but then Covid came along. It felt like people were almost forced to bundle their creative energy in some project in a meaningful way – for me, this project was Aelderman.
I went out of my way for some research: I took pictures of each and every information board and exhibit in Lübeck’s Hansa museum. In addition, I signed as crew on sailing boats for several months to recreate the spirit of the old sailors. To be truthful, research for the game played a rather secondary role in my sailing expeditions. But I'm sure that even in the days of the Hanseatic Trade League there was a very special magic to sunrise and sunset on the seemingly endless ocean. It was less magical to be haunted by another certain spirit, which made me hang over the railing, greenfaced and rigidly staring at the horizon for endless minutes. But all that was probably just a glimpse of the tribulations of life at sea in past centuries.

During the long days at sea there was a lot of spare time to work on the game and the design of the game mechanics was finalized. I was very critical with myself during the development of the game, especially because I have high standards for expert games as I’m a passionate Euro-Game player myself: The game mechanics must be innovative and yet well balanced. Building elements always make a game appealing to me - but the right degree of interaction between the players is still important. Luck is a tricky thing: On the one hand I don't like it when chance decides a game, but on the other hand players shouln’t be able to calculate all their moves right to the end. Finally, essential elements like high quality of material, an attractive design, a high replay value and, of course, fun must be given!

There will probably never be a game that fully meets all these requirements. But I myself was quite surprised, how many criteria were realized in this game.

To give you an insight on the aspects that make Aelderman unique, I would like to present the most important ones:

Aelderman offers

  • easy access to the game through a beginner's version: this shortened version of Aelderman includes all important game mechanics and can also be used as a separate game mode if there is not enough time for playing a full version.
  • an innovative game mechanic to simulate medieval ship trades. On the one hand it represents certain cities‘ constantly changing supply of goods by a wheel system. On the other hand, the availability of special goods in certain regions is anchored at the same time.
  • various possibilities to specialize during the game: Each player decides individually whether to focus on establishing production, trading goods, securing advantageous privileges, expanding his sphere of influence or increasing the efficiency of his own actions with improvement tiles.
  • random elements that have a lasting impact on the game, but affect all players equally. This ensures equal possibilities for everyone.
  • interactive game elements: Openly displayed orders promise advantages for the first player to fulfill certain requirements. Players must prevail over their competitors, both in the trading zones at sea and in the districts of the city of Lübeck. And last but not least, the auction mechanism sets the course for the ongoing game and you will quickly be left out if you misjudge your fellow players!
  • a high replay value: various starting bonuses and a sea map that varies from game to game always promise a new game experience. Various privileges and improvement tiles also open up different paths to victory in each game.

We are currently having our game professionally illustrated by the British artist Ryan Lowe ( and I hope that you will soon be able to see the material’s quality for yourself.

Johannes Rogoll, Game designer


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