Geek Ink Chats: Sultan’s Library

Sultan's-Library board game kick starter

I recently did an email interview with one of the South African designers of Sultan’s Library, an interesting board game that’s currently on Kickstarter.

Ryno Lourens is one of the creators of Sultan’s Library. We talked a bit about his background and how he got involved in creating the game.

GI: How long have you been playing board/table top games? 

RL: I started playing Magic way back in 1995 and ever since I have always had this crazy idea in the back of my head that I wanted to make games.

GI: What’s your favourite tabletop game?

RL:Twilight Imperium. It is an epic, massive sprawling board game that takes roughly 4 hours to play. However, there is nothing like the feeling of coming up with a plan of action, upgrading your technology tree just so, then making your move an hour later, and actually having it pay off!

GI: Are you into any other kind of games, like roleplaying, trading card games, or video games?

RL: I have always been an avid gamer of all kinds. In my youth this was mostly taken up by PC gaming, with late nights of Diablo 2 and Civilizations. More recently I started getting into tabletop role playing games, running a campaign of Dark Heresy (a Warhammer 40k affair) for a bunch of my friends.


Sultan's Library board game kickstarter
A mock-up of Sultan’s Library

GI: Let’s move onto the star of the show: Sultan’s Library. Did you have any experience with game design before you started?

RL: I designed a few games in my university years, printed them out and forced my friends to play. Some of them were great (like a Naruto themed fighting game) and others were basically just reskins of Magic.

GI: Who’s involved in the creation of Sultan’s Library?

RL: The two people involved in the project are Ryno Lourens, (that would be me) the game designer and project manager, and Zane Atkinson, the artist and graphic designer. The two of us have known each other since university and started hanging out because of a mutual love of anime. The game is being manufactured by WinGo games, a great company who have done multiple big gaming projects. We are looking for funding through Kickstarter, a crowdfunding website where you put up a creative idea and if you get enough support, you can then make your vision a reality.

GI: Are you and Zane formally educated artists/designers or are you self taught?

RL: My game design comes from years of playing Magic the Gathering, and an intense education on modern board games from a friend I met in South Korea. Zane has been sketching and drawing ever since I’ve known him, and he is an architect by trade. It really is a perfect fit, since there are tons of locations in the game.

Sultan's Library concept art
Sultan’s Library concept art.

GI: How did you get started or get involved in this project?

RL: I was living in South Korea for a few years, but I decided that it was about time to really jump in with both feet into my game design. After moving back to South Africa, I got in touch with Zane and pitched him a few projects that I had in mind. As soon as he heard about Sultan’s Library he was hooked on the idea, and started sending me sketches upon sketches of ideas for the characters.

GI: What was the inspiration for Sultan’s Library?

RL: I was watching a documentary about the middle ages around the world, how they were collecting and burning books in Europe, but meanwhile, in the Middle East, the rulers were collecting books and knowledge from as many sources as they could! I immediately thought about the adventures that those sent out into the world would go on, and Sultan’s Library started to take shape.

GI: I’ve played some games like Carcassonne and Dominion, but I generally consider myself a noob when it comes to board/card games (except for Magic: The Gathering which devoured my teenage years). Is Sultan’s Library aimed at hardcore players, or can a noob like me pick it up and get to grips with it quickly?

RL: Sultan’s Library is a very easy to grasp card game, with simple mechanics that can be taught in a couple of minutes. I wanted to make a game that you can play in 30 minutes or less, and something that anyone can pick up and understand. Definitely safe for noobs!

Sultans Library boardgame
Sultan’s Library promo art

GI: Can you give me a TLDR version as to the objective of the game and how it works?

RL: The Sultan has decreed that he wants to have the greatest library in the world. You play as one of the envoys he has sent out in search of books, and you will be exploring a vast array of locations in your adventures. There are two decks of cards, one filled with Action cards and resources, the other filled with Locations and Books. You use your resources to flip over cards from the Location Deck until you find three books and return them to the Library. Whoever comes back with the most points worth of books wins!

I’d like to thank Ryno for his time and wish the Sultan’s Library team the best of luck in their final week on Kickstarter. You can check out Sultan’s Library and find out more information on it here or enter the competition on their Facebook page here.



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