Episode 42

Faith, religion and board game design with Shem Phillips


November 5th, 2023

46 mins 13 secs

Your Hosts

About this Episode


Shem Phillips is a board game designer from New Zealand. He founded Garphill Games in 2009 and is known for his medium to medium-heavy Euros such as the medieval trilogies (North Sea, West Kingdom, South Tigris) and Ancient Anthology series. He often works with S. J. (Sam) Macdonald.

The use of trilogies in game design

  • In your sermon online, you mention how game testing is like prayer: “look for feelings not suggestions.”
  • How do you relate today to the loss of your father?
  • In Ezra & Nehemiah, you explore your first explicitly Biblical theme. What went into the decision to design a Bible-themed game? Why Ezra and Nehemiah?
  • You mention a kind of “leap of faith” moment for yourself when you decide to go into board gaming. It was so encouraging. Would advice or encouragement would you have for any listeners who are maybe facing their kind of “leap of faith” moment?

the place of music and lyrics

  • You think about life and faith a lot through lyrics (you’re in church band, and you describe yourself as a “lyrics nerd”). What are some bands or artists that you think especially excel at good lyrics?

The facing of personal tragedies

  • How did religion help you grieve the loss of your dad?


Episode Links