On the airfield of a former airport in the north of Cologne there is a small board game publisher that was founded by Stefan Scheidtweiler and Christian Peter Schäfer-Scheidtweiler. The two of them have everything in their own hands here. From the game ideas to development and production to sales, everything runs according to the wishes and ideas of the two. After being founded in 2021, two games have already been released. A third game is about to be released. In this publisher presentation you will find out everything you need to know about the publisher, the people behind it and of course the games. For this article we conducted an interview with Stefan.
The Rhineland is home to many board game publishers, from large to small. There is also diversity here. From pure localization publishers to publishers that only publish self-developed games, everything is on offer. After last year shortly after the SPIEL fun tails the Inside series is now heading back to the beautiful Rhineland shortly before the big board game fair.
This time we're going to the megacity of North Rhine-Westphalia. Ornament Games are located in the north of Cologne. The two founders of the publishing house take care of everything themselves. So far they have released two of their games. A third, scheduled for release in spring 2024, is already in the starting blocks. They develop their game ideas together. The theme always comes first in this process and inspires the game mechanics. In this publishing presentation you will find out how it all began, what it looks like today and what will come in the future.
The “classic” development of the love for board games
It was jokingly said in conversation that I could simply quote from old articles for this point. There was a lot of playing in childhood. Stefan often played games with his grandparents. At the time of his high school graduation it was then Catan in board gaming focus. During my studies and afterwards, analogue games gave way to digital ones.
The limited social interaction then led Stefan back to analog games in the long term. The further development of the board game scene and the general visual and haptic presentation of “modern” games also made the analogue medium more interesting. A game that both he and Christian enjoy playing and, among other things, paved the way back to board games is Days of Wonders cooperative game Shadows over Camelot.
A good presentation is also important to Stefan and Christian for their own games. The name “Ornament Games” alludes to this. Aside from the fact that it fits thematically well with their first game, it also reflects their general love of art in its various forms. The name of the publisher should contain a term that has a positive association, stands for art and aesthetics and can be used worldwide. So the choice fell on “Ornament”.
However, before the publishing house was founded, the two had already developed a few game prototypes, which were never found by a publisher. So the idea of publishing the games independently grew and the publishing house was officially founded in 2021. Published in the same year The builders of Cologne the first game at Ornament Games.
The two of them started working on their first idea while on vacation. As with all subsequent games, the theme came first. The players take on the role of master builders in the High Middle Ages and work together to build the cathedral city's twelve Romanesque churches against each other. The Cologne Cathedral itself is Gothic and is of course not built in the game.
The pair's local connection to Cologne also meant that a lot of energy was put into the topic. Together with the “Förderverein Romanische Kirchen Köln e. V.” an attempt was made to depict the topic as historically correctly as possible. In addition to historical street names, this also had an influence on specific illustrations, for example. The mayor initially wore a green and blue robe on his encounter card. Since it was customary at the time for the robe to show the colors of the city, the map was revised again. Now the mayor wears the appropriate colors red, black and white.
After around two years of development, the first edition went on sale at the end of November 2021 and was sold out after less than two months. Encouraged by this, the next edition was of course printed straight away.
With a successfully completed project behind us, we moved straight on to the next project. It's like the first game between the two Influencers! #fame #shame #game In terms of its complexity, it falls right in the middle of the family game category.
During the entire production process The builders of Cologne There were points of contact with topics that would otherwise not be encountered on the consumer side. The various possibilities that exist when making games were one of the inspirations for the new project. Where a lot is possible, a lot needs to be tried out.
Thematically it goes in a completely different direction. We are now about a millennium after the construction of the Romanesque churches. Instead of churches, players now build a community of followers. The satirical character of the game cannot be overlooked in the game instructions. The general rule for both of them is that all games are created for the fun of the game. Having your own publishing company as a part-time job offers the freedom of not being dependent on sales figures or other purely financial measures.
Even with two games in their own publishing portfolio, Stefan and Christian are far from satisfied. The development of the next game, whose release is already on the horizon, took a good seven years. At first it seemed to end up in the family game area again, but over time it develops into a game that, in the upper connoisseur range, borders on being an expert game.
The general development, especially in the area of complex games, has caused the complexity to increase so much. To put it into perspective: expert games like Spirit Island, Brass: Birmingham, Anachrony, Gaia Project, Gloomhaven, Underwater Cities or root, that are in the top 50 on BGG were all only released in 2017 or 2018.
Here too, the sci-fi theme was already clear at the beginning of development. It became concrete when the important mechanics surrounding influencing the future had developed. Exactly how you can manipulate the future is explained in the third section.
There will be a hot-off-the-press prototype of the new product at SPIEL Chrono case to admire and play with. Ornament Games can be found in Hall 2 at stand 2E136. For playing with Time travel theme Stefan and Christian once again sought professional help to present the topic as realistically as possible. With the help of astrophysicists from the Argelander Institute for Astronomy at the University of Bonn, it was ensured that as many facts as possible were correct. The exoplanets that you can travel to (more on that later) actually exist. For all of these planets, in addition to the correct names, there is also further information about the distance from Earth in light years, the period of rotation around the star, the mass of the planet in relation to the Earth, the temperature on the planet and the constellation in which they are found is.
For Chrono case A lot of work was not only put into the topic. The gaming experience should also be as accessible as possible for everyone. For this purpose, the color concept was revised again and symbols were added in order to be able to offer players with visual impairments an unrestricted gaming experience.
The next section deals more specifically with the gameplay of the two games that have already been published. Afterwards it will too Chrono case will be presented in more detail in the third section.
How do you build churches and followers?
The builders of Cologne
The name suggests it. In this game, the players take on the role of master builders in the High Middle Ages and help build the twelve Romanesque churches of Cologne. The builders commute with their two carts between the city gates and the church building sites, thereby transporting stones to their destination.
As befits a family game, the individual moves are simply structured and executed quickly. First the building block and city gate dice are rolled. You indicate whether and which building blocks will be delivered and where they will be ready for collection. No stones are provided for the card symbol. In this case, whose turn it is draws an encounter card. These can be played at any time during your turn and have various effects.
After resolving the dice, up to four actions may be carried out. There are five options to choose from. With the exception of the move action, all other actions end the cart's turn. Stones can be delivered to the appropriate construction site and stones can be loaded or unloaded at the city gates. If you have the appropriate encounter card, you can also visit the bishop, who distributes victory points.
Once a church is completed, the builder who contributed the most stones receives all the points for that church.
If a victory point value, which varies depending on the number of people, has been reached, the game ends after the current round. Whoever has the most points wins.
The game is recommended for ages 8 and up and takes between 2 and 4 minutes for 40-90 people. After the game you can read a lot of interesting information about the buildings that have just been built on the back of the game board.
Influencers! #fame #shame #game
Up to two more people can immerse themselves in the sometimes absurd world of influencers in 25 to 70 minutes. The players rush through the city and try to crack the magical 1.000.000 follower mark through their postings. On their way there, they trigger hype, break the law with their YOLO actions and occasionally attract a shitstorm.
Influencers! #fame #shame #game is again a family game, again contains a pick up and deliver mechanic and also has something printed on the back that can be used thematically after the game.
Until a person has reached one million followers, the moves proceed in such a way that an event card is always drawn at the beginning. Immediate effects are resolved directly. This can, for example, create megahype. If another effect is depicted, the card is added to the hand and, with the exception of the “Call the Police” card, can be played at any time in one’s turn.
Afterwards, the players each have four movement points that they can use to move through the city. To gain followers, you have to complete challenges, i.e. move from one place to another. There are between 100.000 and 250.000 followers for each challenge. A special type of challenge is the YOLO challenge. It only shows one location and contains illegal actions. Therefore, the police patrol is not allowed to be at the location of the challenge. Others can also unleash them on you with the corresponding event card.
If the shitstorm hits you, you immediately lose 100.000 followers and get 50.000 fewer followers per challenge. You can escape the shitstorm with the right event card or a visit to the café for a digital detox.
The most influential influencer can then pose with the back of the game board and celebrate the victory.
Both The builders of Cologne as well as most Influencers! #fame #shame #game are clearly in the family game area. With their project, which is currently in the home stretch, they prove that Stefan and Christian can do things differently.
In the future you can play with the future
Chrono Fall: At the End of Space and Time
The big news that is already casting its shadow is Chrono case. The game is expected to be released in early 2024. The game is currently in the final stages of its development. Everything, from the rulebook to the artwork, is now finalized and beautifully done. We already got a rough overview of the game in conversation with Stefan, which we would now like to pass on here.
The players fly their spaceships over a 20 x 20 coordinate system of hex fields and have to prevent the impending collapse of the space-time continuum (the Chrono Fall). It could only come to this because humanity experimented too much with time. But the collapse can be stopped. Together, the 1-4 players steer their spaceships, equipped with asymmetrical abilities, to the most distant planets in space.
Rifts appear again and again, more precisely at the beginning of each turn, which are a sign of the impending collapse. They block the important hyperspace tunnels through which the freighters transport resources to Earth. These resources are needed to complete the Protector space station. If the players have gathered enough knowledge, the technology of this space station can prevent the collapse of reality.
As in the other two games from Ornament Games, there is also in Chrono case again a central pick up and deliver mechanism. However, without exploring the rifts, the players cannot progress further on the shared tech tree. Only those who master both mechanics will have a chance of preventing the end.
If the appearance of the rifts wasn't enough, new events continue to threaten to undo the progress. The event cards are on the Chrono Matrix. With the ability to see the future, players know when each event will occur and can even change the order. But since changing time was the trigger for the Chrono Fall, this action does not come without a negative effect. More rifts are formed. How far into the future can be seen is determined by the progress of the Tech Tree.
There are three ways to lose. If the 100th rift occurs, the space-time continuum will finally collapse. The collision of rifts should also be avoided. Whenever this happens, the room integrity drops by one. If it is at zero, everything collapses too. Fittingly, there is also the expiration of time as a defeat condition. If the final event card, “Chrono Fall,” arrives in the present, the game is also lost.
The game for 1-4 people aged 14 and over lasts around 45 to 150 minutes and is expected to be released in spring 2024. At the Ornament Games stand (Hall 2 2E136). GAME in Essen a prototype is ready to test the game.
And what if the future is here?
There is no concrete new project yet. Many basic ideas that could one day become a game are available as notes. But it will take some time before energy and time can be invested in this. Since Ornament Games is “just” a part-time job for Stefan and Christian, every free minute is currently being used to complete it Chrono case. In addition to Stefan's freelance work as a conductor of various choirs and singers and Christian's work as a technical program manager, there are not enough hours in the day to work on several game projects in parallel.
Two points will continue to accompany Ornament Games' games in the future. On the one hand, the games will not be produced in China, but on the European continent. Their first two games were made by Ludo Fact in Bavaria. Where the production of Chrono case will take place has not yet been finally clarified, but here too there are concrete plans with a European producer. In addition to the obvious advantage of the short transport routes, there are also other advantages for both of them. The proximity allows for faster and more predictable delivery times and saves the time-consuming process of planning and tracking transport by sea.
As a small publisher, it seems to be almost standard these days to use crowdfunding to publish your own games. But you won't find games from Ornament Games on the common platforms here. The two of them prefer to spend the effort that would have to be put into a highly polished crowdfunding campaign on the design of their games. Something that is finished should also be available when it is completed and should not be held back and blocked by the time-consuming process of crowdfunding.
Thematically, you can and must expect anything for their fourth game. When it comes to complexity, Stefan and Christian are also on board Chrono case set new standards. It will be interesting to see what kind of game Ornament Games will develop next.
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