Posted Tuesday, 26-May-2015
Alan R. Moon is a top American board game designer who has been in the board game industry since the late 1980s. His biggest success, Ticket to Ride, gathered gamers and families around the gaming table, introducing many new players to the hobby.
A huge contributor to the gaming revolution of the past twenty years, Alan R. Moon has crafted such favorites as Union Pacific, San Marco and Incan Gold. He is known for combining Euro-style mechanics with classic American game-play.
Moon’s games have won 2 of the prestigious Spiel des Jahres awards (see 2015 Spiel des Jahres Nominees).
Ticket to Ride is the most popular of Moon’s creations. The game is among the best selling board games of all time, with over 3 million copies sold and retail sales of around $150 million.
Moon typically forgoes a buyout fee from game publishers in exchange for a higher percentage of sales revenue.
Before being an established designer, Moon grew frustrated with the game publishing process. He decided to open his own publishing company, White Wind, to print limited editions of his own games.
While he considers this venture a failure, his self-published version of Elfenroads was used as the base for Spiel des Jahres-winning Elfenland.
The Ticket to Ride prototype was basically sold to board game publisher Days of Wonder in under thirty minutes.
Days of Wonder representatives liked the game so much that they still wanted to play when Moon started packing the prototype away halfway through the demo game.
Alan Moon has also contributed heavily to the creation of the board gaming community in the US. He created the Gathering Of Friends in 1990, an invitation-only annual gaming event that takes place near Niagara Falls.
The Gathering of Friends went from 23 attendees in its first year to 366 people in its latest edition this past April.
Ticket to Ride is neither the first nor the only train game created by Alan R. Moon. Actually, the train theme is a recurring one in Moon’s designs, so common that he has a generic name for his train prototypes: Thunder On The Tracks.
This means that even before production, Ticket to Ride and Union Pacific both had the same name!
Moon has won the prestigious Spiel des Jahres award twice. His first winner was Elfenland in 1998, a redesign of his self-published game Elfenroads. A reprint has been announced for 2015.
The second award-winning game was, unsurprisingly, Ticket to Ride in 2004.
Moon is intent on creating games that appeal to the widest possible audience. He makes an effort to insert familiar gaming mechanics into his games to make them inviting to those who are not so familiar with the hobby.
For example, he often cites rummy as inspiration for Ticket to Ride.
Moon’s other big hobby is collecting non-sports trading cards. Although he collects cards on any subject,
Moon is particularly fond of vintage tobacco or chewing gum cards that he shares on his Picasa accounts.
While working for the war-game publisher Avalon Hill in ’80, Moon also moonlighted as a waiter to help pay the bills. In fact, he was a waiter for about 20 years! Every year Moon takes a large group of friends out to eat during his Gathering of Friends game convention –we’re sure he treats his servers well!
Moon hasn’t stopped being involved with the gaming industry ever since the early ’80s. Play-testing with old friends and keeping in contact with publishers has helped shape his career as a professional board game designer.
Although Moon began his career in the board game industry working with war games, he ultimately became famous for his Euro-style games.
But not everyone knows that he also designed an award-winning series of educational games, the “10 Days In…” series, often used to teach geography.
Some popular ’10 Days in’ titles include:
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