Leder Games Cancels 'Deep', Sparking Plagiarism Controversy with Designer

Behind The Scenes Kickstarter

Author: Sam Packer

Published February 27, 2018

Deep, Copyright of... I'm not sure.

Leder Games has canceled Deep: Enemy Frontier, a game that had similar cave exploration aspects to Vast: The Crystal Caverns.

Last Spring Leder Games announced Deep: Enemy Frontier, designed by Samuel Bailey. However, this week the publisher announced that the game will not be coming out, but they do have plans to use the name, concept and theme for another game, which will not use the mechanics designed by Bailey.

However, when the announcement was made on the BoardGameGeek website, Bailey responded by stating that his contract allowed him to retain tights to the entirety of the game, including the theme.

This conversation was very publicly continued, as Bailey accused Leder of plagiarising his design ideas, for use in their upcoming game, Root, which had a successful Kickstarter campaign late last year. It is unclear whether he meant that Root used the mechanics designed for Deep.

The credited creator of Root, Cole Wehrle, commented to defend the company and his game. He accused Bailey of misrepresenting the facts, and added that no element of Root was taken from Deep. His comment read:

Both Root and Deep are asymmetric games in the house style of Leder Games (that is, very asymmetric), they are also both strategy games that deal with power and empire. I can think of dozens of games that engage with the subject. Cole Wehrle

I can certainly agree that there are many games, which pit asymmetric factions against each other for resources, so if Bailey has been plagiarised, it will be difficult to prove it.

Wehrle went onto explain that he had played Deep before designing Root, even being inspired to take an opposite approach to the asymmetric games by circumventing 4X gameplay, and designing a more geopolitical, card driven game.

Later, on Reddit, Bailey commented that he was tried to "handle this in private for 7 months now," when asked about why he made the conversation so public. In my opinion, this situation will not look good for either Bailey or Leder Games. Sadly for us, it is unlikely we will see a release of Deep as it was originally intended.

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