I’ll give you $1 if you can pronounce the name Corey Konieczka. I’ll give you $2 more if you can tell me who he is.
Actually, I’ll just spoil it: it’s “Koneska” and Corey is the in-house board game designer for Fantasy Flight Games. He’s also arguably the very best designer of the past decade.
The gamers of yesteryear didn’t associate a name with a game. Ask your grandma who designed Monopoly for example. She might be able to guess either Hasbro or Parker Brothers, if she could get that much. But modern board gaming is very aware of individual creators, often ascribing nerdlebrity status to them.
Still, Corey Konieczka gets overlooked, largely because he is an in-house designer. Working for Fantasy Flight Games, I think most people simply assume that their games are designed with some sort of impersonal hivemind. But that thinking really overlooks the distinct contribution that Mr. Corey K has made to the gaming industry over the last decade.
So let’s look at what makes Corey K special. First, he has a string of hits. In fact, I should’ve typed that as HITS and ended it with excessive punctuation such as this: !!!!. Here are a few of them:
- 2008’s Battlestar Galactica. This is a game that has held up very well, despite the popularity of the show having faded. It is known as a semi-cooperative game, something that was wild in 2008. Players are working together but they are also dealt a loyalty card at the start of the game to determine if they are a human or Cylon. Cylons are obviously working against the humans on the sly.
- 2010’s Runewars. This is a game that puts a ton of miniatures on a board for adventure and conquest. But despite the ‘wow factor’, Mr. K absolutely nailed the game, as it’s a heck of a lot of fun.
- 2012’s Descent. Although games like this may seem commonplace now, the idea that one person played as the “overlord” while the other players completed missions using modular game boards was a huge deal. And it’s held up incredibly: Descent is still getting expansions to this day.
- 2012’s Star Wars: X-Wing. Released in the same year, Mr. Konieczka had another SMASH hit in X-Wing. Every Star Wars fan dreams of X-Wing and Tie Fighter dog fights and he delivered it. Most FLGS (Friendly Local Game Shops) still host X-Wing tournaments.
- 2013’s Eldritch Horror. I’ll admit that this is the one game on this list I haven’t played, but I’m smart enough to know what a hit it is.
- 2014’s Star Wars: Imperial Assault. An incredible game. We reviewed it.
- 2016’s Star Wars: Rebellion. An incredible game. In fact, it can be considered Corey Konieczka’s magnum opus. We reviewed it.
Second, he has shown great diversity. If the above hits aren’t enough to impress you that Corey Konieczka is vastly underrated for his contribution to tabletop gaming, I’d also like to point out the diversity of the types of games he produces. Not only is he prolific, cranking out hit after hit, but they’ll often live in different genres and exhibit wildly different mechanics.
It would be remarkable that the same person worked on only two of the above games, but the fact that it can be something like X-Wing, then something vastly different like Battlestar Galactica or Rebellion is remarkable.
Third, he can deliver under the biggest spotlights. Owning the Star Wars license carries a heck of a lot of pressure. But he delivered not just one great Star Wars game, but a whole string of them, all vastly different from one another. Mr. Konieczka eats nails for breakfast and by lunch he has spat them out into a work-of-art miniatures game.
It’s a shame that Corey Konieczka has to walk anywhere. Nerds should surround him wherever he goes and hoist him up on their shoulders, carrying him around like he’s the Queen of Sheba or something. Hopefully this article will shine a bit of a light on what a great creator he is.