Gray Wolf Games was born out of a tight-knit group of gamers with a passion for creative projects. Most of the people in this group not only play games but are active in the theatre and web series communities. We’re a colorful collection of nerds with a variety of skills that we utilize for those dreaded survival jobs. I always had an affinity for board games and role playing games but I never thought I’d be designing one of my own. To say that Lineage (the board game I invented) is a passion project is a bit of an understatement.

Every journey has a beginning and mine began four years ago when I washed up on the shores of a school called the Taoist Institute. They took me in with open arms and started teaching me the mysterious arts of Kung Fu, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, and various other disciplines. I was immediately struck by the ordered nature of everything we were doing and in an effort to make sense of this new world, I began cataloguing the common themes between these related disciplines.

Flash forward two years or so and I am still extremely busy absorbing all of this new information. And then one morning I woke up as if hit by a bolt of raw inspiration. As I wiped sleep from my eyes I tried to jot down as much information as I could about some kind of board game I was supposed to develop. Believe me when I say that I had no intention of traveling this path. It just came to me and I felt an obligation to see it through.

All of the lessons I had been absorbing about Shaolin and Taoist martial arts started to come together. I thought about the four directions, the changing seasons, the five elements, the different animal forms and it all started to fit together into a beautiful lattice-work. These concepts are thousands of years old and I know I’m not the first one to draw conclusions about their significance or their interrelated natures but I may be the first one to try and turn them into a board game!

After putting together the basic parameters of the board I quickly spiraled out into a game mechanic quagmire. Everything was precious. I didn’t want to leave any concept out. That’s when I realized that simplicity and conservation of energy were the hallmarks of all of these arts. From that point forward I began cutting away and modifying the game so it became simpler and easier to understand. I think the whole reason this idea came to me in the first place was to offer people an opportunity to understand and embrace the simple beauty I had the fortune to receive in lessons from my martial arts teacher Sijo Carl Totton.

Flash forward another year or so and every precious piece and game mechanic has been tested, adapted, changed, or thrown out. The underlying concepts have settled into a comfortable stillness just beneath the surface and the game art has jumped to the forefront. I’m hoping to talk further on all of these concepts as this blog develops.

My martial arts education continues and I have no doubt that there are lessons buried in this game that have yet to break the surface. I’m hoping that people playing Lineage will have their own unique experiences and get inspired to learn, create, adapt, and share! Above all, I hope the game will give folks an opportunity to become one with the Tao and experience the wonder of effortless action. Until next time!

Justin Waggle
Inventor, Designer, and Founder of Gray Wolf Games