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Digital Subscriptions > Tabletop Gaming > January 2019 (#26) > Trade on the Tigris

Trade on the Tigris

It started as a joke, but then it stopped being funny. Ryan Sturm looks back on his emotional six-year journey to redeem gaming’s punchline with Trade on the Tigris


Trading in the Mediterranean. It’s one of board gaming’s punchlines: the hackneyed sub-genre of drab games about tediously dealing in basic resources in the coastal region that rode to infamy on the back of particular scorn from video personality and podcaster Tom Vasel.

“There was one Dice Tower episode in particular where Tom got on his soapbox about how much he disliked trading in the Mediterranean,” Ryan Sturm recalls.

At the time, Sturm was “really starting to think” about making his own game. He decided to turn his debut into a defence of the beloved cliché.

“I remember when he was talking about this, all I could think of was, ‘Trading in the Mediterranean is exactly the kind of game I want to design,’” he continues. “I got this idea that, hey, what if we just called a game Trading in the Mediterranean?”

Sturm turned to Geoff Engelstein, his co-host of the Ludology podcast, where the two would regularly discuss game design. Unlike Sturm, Engelstein had already designed and published several games; his co-op smash hit Space Cadets was released the year that work began on Trading in the Mediterranean.

“I got the idea, ‘Hey, what if we design the game together on the air and sort of did it as sort of a live process?’ flat was a really exciting idea for me,” Sturm says. “I remember I called Geoff immediately and I pitched this idea to him. I think he laughed at me at first, and then he started to come around to the idea and we both started to take on this project.”

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About Tabletop Gaming

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