Friday, December 26, 2014

Space Cadets and Chess Variants

I recently got a copy of Space Cadets: Dice Duels. I played it a lot at SaltCon last year and enjoyed it so much that I got it for Christmas. It is a frantic team game where you attempt to quickly (since there are no turns) maneuver your spaceship around a board and shoot the other spaceship. Each player controls different ship functions (such as weapons, movement, or sensors) and the team must coordinate their efforts in real time to effectively combat the other ship.

The core mechanic is rolling dice and placing them on mats that control the various ship systems. For instance, a player that has control over the weapons will roll red dice that have missile part symbols on then in an attempt to get the three parts that are necessary to build a missile and then he places them on the missile bay that corresponds to the direction that he wants to shoot.

At the same time the shield player would be trying to move the shields to point in the direction of place that the opponent ship is located at and possibly prepare to move them to the place that the enemy ship is planning on moving to.

It takes four players to play the game, but it can go up to 8 players according to the rules. The sweet spot is probably 8 players since then you can have a full crew on each ship including a captain.

In other news we have been playing and making chess variants at work. One popular one was Alice Chess, where there are two boards and once a move is done the piece moves to the other board (to the same location as they were). It is interesting to set up defenses that actually defend pieces (a naive defense will not do anything at all) and to attempt checkmate the opponent.

To deliver checkmate you have to have the piece that is delivering the check on the same board as the king being checkmated and the pieces that prevent the king from moving out of check on the other board.

This means that a king and any piece can checkmate a king who has a pawn that is not locked by pushing the king against the wall with your king and then delivering the checkmate while the player being mated advances his pawn. (This happened in a few games, so it was of interest to me.)

The most interesting variant that we made (in my opinion) was a variant where the pieces all move in the normal manner, but they capture by occupying all of the four squares directly adjacent to the piece in the four cardinal directions. If a piece is surrounded on all sides by friendly pieces it is not captured (however one enemy piece is enough to capture it), and if it is against the edge of the board it is considered to be surrounded by friendly pieces on the sides in which it borders the board.

To win a player either must capture their opponent's king (there is no check or checkmate) or get their king to the 8th rank.

We are also considering torus chess as well as benedict chess, though we have not played them yet.

Thursday, December 18, 2014


I brought a second chess set to work. We often play chess variants, and are now playing Bughouse Chess.

For the uninitiated, Bughouse Chess is a variant where there are two games going on at the same time and the players of opposite colors on opposite boards are allied with each other. When a piece is captured it is given to the teammate of the player who can then drop the piece on his (in our case the only players that choose to play Bughouse are male) board instead of taking a normal move.

This allows coordination between the players who are on a team because you can request a piece from your ally and if they can reasonably get it then they will probably get it for you.

I love playing chess variants, but of all chess variants I have tried this is a really fun one.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Dice Duel

This week I have been submitting games to be judged for the Ion Awards. I am going to submit four games probably. I am also thinking about reviving Polynesia and making a new game out of it.

We played some Moar Moai as part of finalizing the rules, and we had a fun time. Perhaps I will play more at work. It is a pretty good game.

We also just bought Space Cadets Dice Duel. I played it at saltcon last year, and our was pretty fun. Hopefully Alison likes it as well.

Monday, December 8, 2014


Since coming back from our vacation in California I have continued to work on Hungry Oni and Deception.

I entered Deception in a microgame design contest and have gotten a pretty good review on it here. Hopefully more people play it and it does well in the contest :).

I have also rewritten the rules for Dancing Robots in preparation for the SaltCon Ion Awards. I am planning on submitting four games (dancing robots, moar moai, witch hunt, and hungry oni) this year to the awards, but I have not yet finished the rulesmithing for them.

I also found a new game that I want to try out. It is named Comrade. I have printed it out and plan on shanghaiing my coworkers into a game this week.

Friday, November 28, 2014

NagaDemon day 28: Deception

We played a game of Hungry Oni with new people and they thought that 5 actions was too many. I agree that it can be a little daunting for a microgame, so I have reduced the action counts to 3 (the three that were used the most often). I have made no changes to the artwork.

The current rules for Hungry Oni are here.

Yesterday we also made another 18 card game on a whim. We are currently calling it Deception. It was based on Diplomacy. Our first game took 2 hours (Which is unusual for a 18 card game), and had a lot of the same sort of play as Diplomacy. Making a PnP copy of the game is massive overkill, but I did it anyway. Here is the result. Print one copy of the attack and defense cards and then 2 of every other card.

We changed the rules after the first game to reduce the length of play time. Perhaps we will play another game tonight to see if it is down from two hours to a more reasonable play time.

My brother in-law Chauncy brainstormed it out with me. He also drew the name in inkscape (as seen above).

The current rules for Deception are here.

We have modified the rules for Moar Moai a little for balance sake. Perhaps I will submit it to the ION Awards.

Finally, we played a bunch of games this week, including Moar Moai, Hungry Oni, Avalon, Witch Hunt, and Masters of Commerce for the first time today.

Masters of Commerce is a pretty interesting game. Some people own stores and others rent them to sell things. I was selling apples. We played with 6 players and the game was fairly easy to understand and it had really interesting mechanics.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Nagademon, Day 25

After having played eight or nine more games I have changed Hungry Oni a bit more.

My brother in-law told me that the game seemed a bit too simple, so I have added rules that allow players to make more strategic choices. It seems to have improved the game a bit.

New rules are posted here.
The artwork is also changing as well:

Monday, November 17, 2014

Updated NagaDemon rules

I have changed the rules a little to account for a few three player games.

The current rules are as follows:

Each player places their colored point token on the score track in the n first slots (where n is the number of players). The player with the most points goes first followed by the player with the second most etc.

Place one value token on each row of the value chart in the 1 place.

Players start with 4 cards if playing with 2 players, 3 cards if playing with 3 players, and 2 cards if playing with 4 players.

Discard the top card of the deck if playing with three players. Place the discarded card face down and do not look at it. That card is out for the remainder of the game.

A turn consist of:

  1. Draw the top card from the deck or the discard pile.
  2. Play and resolve two action cards, one after the other.

Drawn cards are added to the players hand. Hands are kept face up in front of the players at all times.
Played cards are resolved like this:

  • Determine the value of the card by finding the token on the row of the value chart that corresponds to the card that was just played.
  • Gain points equal to the value of the card. If you would share a space on the score chart with another player instead jump over that player. You just gained a free point.
  • The token that corresponds to the card you played is moved left one column on the value chart. If the token is in the 1 column then do not move it left but instead move all other tokens one to the right.
  • Discard the card to the top of the discard pile.

If the deck is empty then you must draw from the discard pile if you are able.

If you ever start your turn with no cards do not draw any more cards. You are out of the game. When all of the players are out of cards the game ends.

The player with the fewest points gets eaten first and the player with the most points got eaten by the ogre last.

I also added some colorblind friendly colors to the artwork, made the score card reflect the actual point gains in the game, and added my daughter's purple ogre.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

My NaGaDeMon game: Hungry Hungry Ogre

I have started on a new national game design month game. I am considering calling it hungry hungry ogre, or hungry oni. I originally considered the name Naga demon, however I decided that that name has probably already been taken.

As of this moment it is a 18 card micro game with 8 tokens. there are 16 cards which denote behaviors that the player takes. They are divided among four categories evenly. The other two cards are a score card as well as a valuation chart.

Behaviors which are performed the most often are valued the lowest and the other behaviors values are raised by over playing a behavior.

No two players may have the same score at any given time. If a player arrives at the same score that another player is already at then that player adds one to his or her score to make it different from the player that they were supposed to be tied with.

The theme is that of a bunch of captives attempting to not be eaten by an ogre.

The game ends when the cards run out and all of the players get eaten by the ogre.

The current rules are as follows:

Each player places their colored point token on the score track in the n first slots (where n is the number of players). The player with the most points goes first followed by the player with the second most etc.

Place one value token on each row of the value chart in the 1 place.

Players start with 4 cards if playing with 2 players, 3 cards if playing with 3 players, and 2 cards if playing with 4 players.

A turn consist of:
  1. Draw the top card from the deck or the discard pile.
  2. Play two cards, one after the other.
  3. Draw another card from the top of the deck (if playing with two players)

Drawn cards are added to the players hand. Hands are kept face up in front of the players at all times.
Played cards are resolved like this:

  • Determine the value of the card by finding the token on the row of the value chart that corresponds to the card that was just played.
  • Gain points equal to the value of the card. If you would share a space on the score chart with another player instead jump over that player. You just gained a free point.
  • The token that corresponds to the card you played is moved left one column on the value chart. If the token is in the 1 column then do not move it left but instead move all other tokens one to the right.
  • Discard the card to the top of the discard pile.

If the deck is empty then you must draw from the discard pile if you are able (the second draw is skipped in a two player game when the deck is empty)

If you are ever supposed to play a card but have no cards in your hand then you may no longer play any cards for the rest of the game. Do not draw any more cards, you are out of the game.

When all of the players are out of cards the game ends.

The player with the fewest points gets eaten first and the player with the most points got eaten by the ogre last. If that aint winning, then I don't know what is.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Dealing out the cards

I made a website to set up Werewolf type games. Currently it can deal out the cards for 8 games including:

  • Two Rooms and a Boom
  • Avalon
  • Resistance
  • Templar Intrigue
  • Cook the Books
  • Witch Hunt
  • Dr. Boom
  • Werewolf/Mafia

It also decides who starts in games where a starting player is necessary.

The website is here for those who would like to try it out. I am currently talking with the owners of the games to get permission to use their artwork, but I don't really think that I will get it.

As part of making this website I created a new character for Avalon. It is the Green Knight. He shows up as evil when Merlin and the lady of the lake look at him, but he is actually loyal to Arthur. He is best played when the good characters are too powerful (like at 6 players in our play group for instance).

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Dead Drop

Dead Drop is a 2-4 player micro card game. It takes 2-15 minutes to play and could have been named "Clue - the good parts" were it not for copyright reasons.

That last statement is not entirely accurate. It has a similar deduction requirements, but the mechanics are different.

I have played about 30 games so far (given that I printed it on Friday of last week this is a pretty decent amount of games). About 8 were 2 player, 8 were 3 player, and 14 were 4 player.

In the game one card (the drop) is placed face down in the middle and all players attempt to deduce what card that card is by finding out what cards all the other players hold.

There are cards that are visible to all of the players (one per player), and cards that each player holds (1/nth of the remaining cards).

There are three possible actions that players have allow them to swap cards with other players, with the visible cards, and to ask other players if they have specific cards.

A round of the game could end on the first turn no matter how many players there are with bold enough players, but with two players a round can reasonably end in one turn. It seems that this happens 25% of the games. Since the game takes three rounds minimum this means that the game is actually 25% shorter than it should be with two players.

Additionally in the two player game the action that allows you to trade cards is weaker (since it only really works once and gives the opponent as much info as you get).

With four players you have only two cards in your hand, so the sell secrets action reveals all of your cards to the player that you sell your secrets to. This weakens the action, but as it was already a powerful action it is still sometimes a good idea to use.

The game is fun with two or four players, but it really shines with three players. With three players you have the ability (through careful play) to prevent other players from seeing one of your cards, and so you can keep people guessing about what you really have.

Since the stretch goals for the kickstarter campaign add more cards to the game box I expect that the four player version of the game can be just as awesome as the three player version (just add four more cards when playing with four players). If you wanted to play with five players, adding 8 more cards would allow for that as well. Hopefully they will include rules for that so that we don't have to make a house rule.

As I have never been sad about buying Council of Verona, and this game seems to be just as versatile I am supporting this kickstarter campaign.

In other news: We have started playing Dr Boom at our work, and it is pretty fun. I am sad that I did not support the 2 Rooms and a Boom kickstarter campaign.

Finally, some people are currently blind playtesting Dancing Robots. Hopefully they either give good reviews or come up with good feedback.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Two rooms and a zombie boom

We played a memorable game of Two Rooms and a Boom today.

There were fourteen players: five red, one bomber, five blue, one president, one zombie, and one nuclear tyrant.

The zombie plague took the other room on the first round sparing only the president (who had held out when the initial infection occurred).

Most of the blue team was infected before the first swap as only one blue guy was in the other room.

During the first round the red team successfully found the nuclear tyrant and partially treated him (which also allowed him to know the bomber's identity), and cast him to the other room so that the president could finish him off.

The first swap occurred: one zombie traded for one nuclear tyrant

The second round the tyrant zombies up (instead of being fully disarmed by the president), and the zombie infects the bomber and the remaining blue team member through confusion.

The third round the tyrant goes back to try to infect the remainder and takes over the first room with help of all the zombies there.

One non zombie is sent to the other room.

Threat of blowing them all up convinces the three remaining non zombies to join the zombie team, and the room plots to send over an ambassador to the other room to convince them to keep all non zombies over there on the last swap so that the bomber can come over and blow them up.

The final swap approaches, and everything seems to be working out, but when the swap occurs the non zombie president comes back...

I don't know how he managed to convince a room full of zombies to send him away, but somehow he did it.

In the end, the president was the only winner since all of the other players were either red or zombies at this point.

I am going to have to talk to him tomorrow to figure out how he did it.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Sandy Board Game Design club 3rd meeting

I went to a meeting of the Sandy Board Game Design club last night. We played Ryan (of Red Raven Games) Laukat's new game, which is based in the same universe as Empires of the Void.

It was a 4x game which combined mechanics of area control, drafting, and combat similar to Cosmic Encounter, and it was pretty fun. Alison liked it, which is surprising since she has never liked a 4x game before this.

I tested the combat of the game (every time I design a game like that people never really fight enough to test the combat fairly well, so I thought that would be a good thing to do), and it was pretty easy to understand and seemed balanced fairly well (with a slight bonus to the defenders that made them have enough of a boost that you had to think about attacking a planet).

We also played a game of Dancing Robots, which went fairly well. After the game was over there was a short brainstorming session and we discussed how to speed up the game. A drafting mechanic was discussed for building robots (every player getting a draft hand and passing the hands around like in 7 Wonders) which might speed up the game, as well as the option of dancing simultaneously (which is done with more experienced players anyway). I thought that the drafting parts mechanic was a really good idea.

They also said that my recent change to make all of the parts double sided was way too confusing when building a robot. I still like it, but understand how it is confusing. One option that they came up with was drafting without knowing the back side of the card. I like that idea. I will definitely try out both new ideas.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Oliver with a Twist

I entered my creative accounting game into a game contest. I rethemed it again as an Oliver Twist game, but the rules did not have to change at all. I look forward to seeing the results.

Also, I ordered a high fidelity version of dancing robots to be printed up. I wanted to order it at the game crafter, but they had a wait time of a few months and so I ordered it at drive thru cards instead. Hopefully everything will go well, and I will have cool cards soon.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Street Savoir-Faire?

I have been spending a lot of time in gimp preparing the dancing robots cards to look good for my printing. I have the following to show for my efforts:

They seem to be getting closer to correct, but I still am working on them a bit.

Also, I am considering entering cook the books into this contest. I just need to retheme it as an Oliver Twist game.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Getting ready for the blind testing.

I just got my copies of Burgoo, Templar Intrigue, and Coin Age. They were excellent quality, and I am very happy with all of them.

Over lunches recently I have been not playing games because I have been working on my dancing robot cards. They are coming along quite nicely.

Here is a sample of what will probably be the final look of the cards. I have a poll running to choose between a few final versions of the cards. The poll is here.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Burgoo, Templar Intrigue, Coin Age

I have received word that my rewards from my first Kickstarter campaigns will arrive soon (probably Monday). This is exciting because I have been waiting for them for a while.

With the small time frame between now and receiving Burgoo we have seen a resurgence of interest in it at work. It is a really fun game, especially for the small size that it is, and the simplicity of the rules.

I have been working on an android app for my daughter. It is a really simple application, but since I have never created a real android app before I am still learning things. Hopefully I will be done soon so that I can focus more on finishing up all of my Dancing Robots cards.

I figure that my next step is to get some high fidelity copies made up and  send them out to a publisher and some reviewers. If the publisher doesn't respond in a reasonable amount of time, then I will send it to another one while setting up a kick-starter campaign (and sending it to more reviewers). If the second one doesn't respond then I will send it to a third while drumming up support for the unlaunched campaign. Finally I will launch it on kickstarter and hope for the best.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Dearth

I did not post for a week because I was at a technical conference, and did not get much gaming in.

Since I have come back we have mostly been playing Resistance with the Lancelot expansion. We also played some Love Letter as well, but nothing other than that.

I am thinking of starting to review some games (just for fun).

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


I have played a new game that is in the PnP stage. It is entitled Avignon (by John duBois), and the rules/parts are available here. Considering the length of the rules and the amount of parts that are necessary the game is really fun. It has rules that are simple but allow for a lot of strategy. (Edit: I got permission to link to the rules, so Try it out everyone :).

I also found an interesting kickstarter campaign too. Here is a link to it. I was surprised to not have been notified of it by Indie Boards and cards (I am on their newsletter). Either way, I found out about it before it ended, so that is good.

Friday, July 18, 2014

First Sandy Playtesting Group meeting report

We had six people show up (not counting my three children whose babysitter was absent).
Two games were played:
  1. An unreleased expansion to Eight Minute Empire (I think out was called Lost Lands), which improved the already good game a great deal in my opinion.
  2. An unreleased dungeon crawl called either Venture or Entrada.

Both games got some feedback, and we ended at about nine (it went about two hours).

It seemed to be well enjoyed by all (I personally had fun).

We arrived to the group late because when we tried to drop our children off at the baby sitters house they were entirely absent. This was sad because it was our first meeting and I was hoping that it would go really well.

I didn't get to show off any of my games, but hopefully at the next one we will arrive on time and be able to. 

Friday, July 11, 2014

Move cards first draft complete

I have completed a first draft of my Dancing Robot move cards. I am still missing some artwork for the parts (the Portuguese guy who is drawing it is taking some time finishing the last three parts). I have made do with a hand drawn "Stand" card as well as a small version of Dave's "Droid" card (since the third card is a antigravity device it is technically not necessary for any given move).

Here are some samples:

Here is the full gallery.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Dancing robots cards updates.

I have recently been working on the format of my dancing robots cards. I have been changing the way that all of the cards are laid out to put heat and electricity values in the upper right hand corner. This will allow the cards to be more easily read by just looking at the top half of the card. With these changes all of the rule text at the bottom has also generally become shorter.
I also went through and fixed up the judges with actual art.
Now I am starting to working on the move cards. When I am done I will be ready to make some more efforts to get some Playtesters to play it.
Over the weekend I got some players to play witch hunt. They liked it fairly well. I will continue to play test it and post updates.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

The new face of a witch

I have been playing some more games of Witch Hunt recently. I have changed the rules to be a bit more simple and to not require as many components. It seems like the entire game for 3 to 7 players could fit into a 54 card box. This is sort of exciting since if the game were under $10 then it would be really cheap for the amount of enjoyment that you could get out of it (and it feels like $10 is a reasonable price point for a 54 card game.)

I have also been working on the artwork for the game. I totally contacted Kit Cox and got his permission to use his artwork for the cards (just for prototype purposes, not for actual production of the game), so now I am in a position to send out some play testing decks and see if I can get some reviews that will help to clean the game up.

I think that his artwork fits the theme of the game really well, and doesn't detract from what the cards do be being too bad (like any artwork that I would create if I were to do it myself.)

Here is the new Card Gallery as well as the new Rules.

Harbour (which I playtested right before it launched on kickstarter) has been blowing its stretch goals out of the water. It is currently approaching 110k in funding (the original goal was 15k). I really hope that it gets to the 150k stretch goal mark as that would allow the game to include everything that I play tested and then some. If you have not supported it, it is a fun one. The art alone is worth buying the game over, and the market mechanic is of similar quality (it is a really cool mechanic that makes the game so interesting.)

I have also been asked again to do some blind playtesting for another game. Apparently people are interested in hearing what I have to say about their games. :)

This is the third time that I have been asked to do this (two people have even quoted my review in their successful kickstarter campaigns). I really enjoy playing other people's games, so I have a hard time not accepting any offer like this. Either way. This guy wants me to not release too much info right now, but when I write up my review I will ask him if I can post it online. Probably he will be fine with that.

Finally, I have had vague ideas about a new game. Perhaps I will throw something together soon.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Witch Hunting for fun and profit

We have been playing more Witch Hunt recently. With the recent modifications to the rules (mainly reducing the amount of testimony cards that players have) the game is moving along much quicker. Perhaps it is even going too quickly now.

I might have to give a different number of testimony cards based on how many players there are. Probably the way that this will change is that the player will get all of their testimony cards and then discard down to the number of cards that is required.

Here is a possible chart
PlayersCards EachTotal Cards

I am also thinking that the persons are going to have to change (probably I will make fewer of them in total).

Finally, I think that this game is nearly good enough to open it up to blind playtesting. Once I get some functional artwork I will put out a call for playtesters. If anyone reading this wants to volunteer to playtest, send me a message.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Probably joining the BGDG

I have started on some artwork for witch hunt. It still is not complete by any means, but it is closer to what I want than the white paper with black writing that I used to have.

The cards were designed by me, and the art was drawn by Kit Cox. I found it on the Discworld Wiki. I am currently tracking down Kit and asking him permission to use it, but I have not succeeded so far in contacting him. (He is no longer active on the wiki, and the last time he posted there was 6 years ago). I think that I have found him on Facebook, but it remains to be seen weather it really is him or not.

I am trying to come up with ways to speed up the game, and I think that lowering the number of testimony cards will do that. Perhaps that will be enough, but perhaps I will have to do more.

I am being quoted on another Kickstarter campaign (this time by tasty minstrel games, so a bigger campaign than last time).

I have not gotten as many games of Harbour in as I would have liked recently. With summer vacations and conferences lots of guys are gone each day and it is harder to get a group together.

I have been trying to get my schedule set up in such a way that would allow me to join the Board Game Designer's Guild of Utah for a while. I finally gave up and tried to set up my own group (which was largely unsuccessful). After trying to go it alone, I was finally able to get my schedule changed to allow me to attend the BGDG's meetings. It meets on the 2nd and the 4th Tuesdays of every month. It looks like the 24th will be an interesting day :).

Also, I have some artwork for the Judge cards for dancing robots. Here are some examples:
Obviously they are not as good as Dave's art, but I am working with what I have. 

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Terminal Busyness

We have been playing more games of Harbour recently. I have been trying to get people to play it every day at lunch. One time they all revolted and asked to play Witch Hunt instead. This is funny because I was actively campaigning for Harbour, but they wanted to play my game instead. I cannot say that I am sad that that happened (having my game more popular than a game that a publisher is about to publish is a good step).

After playing more games (of Harbour) I am still not sure what the optimal strategy is. I was able to pull off some large point margin games by picking up only large buildings, but I have not won every game.

I just got a bunch of kickstarter updates (templar intrigue, burgoo, coin age, robots on the line) recently. I look forward to getting all of the games that I supported last year. Hopefully they all come in before the end of this year.

I have been too busy with other things to make much progress in any of my games recently, although I have been getting a group of game designers together to help playtest and to allow me to playtest their games. Here is the forum thread that I started for that purpose.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

More Harbour

After a few more days of playing, I have more thoughts about Harbour

For one thing I have played my first four player game.

Four player games:
Playing with four players makes the game a little more difficult to plan for, but not that much.

The pacing of the game is slightly slower in a 4 player game, but still not boring. Sadly enough you cannot fully plan for your turn during other player's turns since their turns have a high chance of changing your plans.

Some cards (tax office, and abbey) seem to have different power levels based on the number of players. The weakest point for the tax office card is at 3 players (where you get only two goods, but get to pick neither of them) The abbey card seems to be best in a 2 player game.

As I haven't played a statistically significant number of games I am in no position of authority to make the above statement, but that is the way that it feels to me.

Market Alteration:
If you use an action to change the market it is less likely with four players that the market will get back to you in an unaltered state. This means that you really have to focus more on getting lots of different types of goods than on controlling the market.

In a two player game with my wife she commented how the game is very different without a market changing card (which is true). I think that not having any cards to change the market in a two player game tends to make the game less fun, however having cards that change the market in a four player game seems less useful than it does in a two player game.

The base cards only have one market alteration card, so it is unlikely that you will get one unless the stretch goals get unlocked.

It seems like an especially good idea in this game to pursue one strategy to the exclusion of all others. Getting all of the coin cards makes your buildings cost so much less that you can buy a building every two or three turns. Getting all of the warehouses or anchors makes you able to get so much more out of each action than everyone else that you need fewer actions to prepare for a buy (warehouses are also good in helping your recuperation time.)

This is not, however, true when looking at getting multiple hats. I almost wish that you could get a bonus point at the end of the game for each additional hat that you have (because sometimes you have a hat and want to buy another hat building just to prevent other players from getting or using it).

Concerning Hats:
Players that start with a hat have a big advantage in the early game. They can visit other players action cards and force the other players to play on their home action at times. By the middle of the game that advantage wears off (and is replaced by the advantage of the guy that starts with an anchor, coin, or warehouse).

Breaking the game:
I have been trying to break the game (as all playtesters should), and think that I have a pretty strong strategy. It would take more play to determine if the game is actually broken by it or not, but it seems as if the player that buys the more expensive buildings tends to win.

This might seem like a stupid insight, but if you ever have a chance to buy a decent building right now or a great building next turn you might be best to hold out for the great one.

A player that ends the game with four seven or less cost buildings has a maximum possible score of 27 points. The lowest score possible with three ten cost buildings is 26 points. The average score of three ten cost buildings is 29 points. The best possible score with three ten cost buildings is 31 points. You probably get the picture, but the game seems to benefit the player who holds out for a big buy a few turns later.

Relative card value:
The best card in the game from a purely cost to point ratio is the fish market. It also has a decent ability and a pretty good symbols. The other good cards from a cost to point value are:

ratio card
1.18 Fish Market
1.1 Traders guild
1.09 Abbey

Pub and ranch have the lowest point to cost ratio at .71 (which probably makes them bad cards to buy). Pub has a good ability, and ranch might have a good ability (depending on how many anchors you have).

Another conclusion:
The game is still a fun game after more plays. I will continue to post more updates as I think of more things.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

A review of Harbour (Currently a Pre-Kickstarter by Tasty Minstrel Games)

I received a playtesters copy of Harbour on Friday night. My wife and I already had a date planned, but I was able to convince her to try it out after we were done having sushi.

The rule book was not entirely complete, but was pretty good (I will sum up our questions later in the post). Some of the components did not look exactly as they did in the rule book (an accompanying letter explained most of the discrepancies, but the Market Board was set up slightly different than the rule book indicated that it would be).

Alison wants it noted that she found the rule-book by itself to be confusing. It explains everything on the cards, but because of the lack of context it is a bit overwhelming. We did not actually realize that we each started with a symbol (a coin for me and a top hat for Alison) until after the first game was over.

Andrea's favorite card was the Ranch
I expect the rulebook the be cleaned up a lot before the final release of the game (Eminent Domain's rulebook was pretty good), but right now it still needs some work.

The components were obviously not the final version, but I was pleased to find that they were still very high quality. The cards were perfect for shuffling. They seemed well coated, and made of decent card stock.

The artwork was excellent. The images were very thematic and also very funny. The iconography was clear and easy to understand. I liked that any complex ideas were explained in both icons as well as text. Some of the artwork was not yet entirely complete, but as long as they have the same artist complete it I have no worries about the game's visual appearance.

My personal favorite card in terms of artwork was the Bait Shop. Alison liked the Lumber Yard best, but we both also liked the Fish Market and the Architectural Society.

Game Play:
In terms of game play, the game seems (after only two plays) to be fairly well balanced. I will post another review after I have played it with more players and more times. There were cards that were more powerful than others, but they cost more to buy, so the player that was able to secure them for personal use was able to benefit only after having payed a reasonable cost.

The game setup is simple and takes almost no time. Some games take so long to set up that it makes you want to play them less, and this is not one of those.

Setting up involves:
Taking a character mat, a pawn, and a set of tokens, shuffling a deck and dealing out five cards to a communal pile, and placing four tokens on another mat.

Each turn involves just one action: moving your pawn to a open card and resolving its effects.

Common effects include modifying your amount of resources (more on that later), buying buildings, affecting the demand for the different resources in the market, and finally taking resources from other players (it seems that if you do this you always target every opponent and they decide what resource you get, so the attacks don't seem too personal).

During the game you will keep track of four types of resources: Stone, Lumber, Fish, and Meat. They all have a value of $1 each (always), but at different times there will be a different demands for each of them, so you end up only able to sell a certain amount of your goods. The demand can be as low as 2 and as high as 5. This means that unless you have the right amount of the right goods you are not able to buy the buildings that you want to.

Buying Buildings:
Here is how the game ended on the second game
The goal of the game is to buy the most valuable buildings, and the game ends when any player has bought four buildings. The max number of buildings that could theoretically be bought by any player are 7 (by using a library in conjunction with a clocktower) thought if this is possible in actuality I am not entirely sure.

We did end a game with me having 5 buildings, so the theory behind the multiple buy in the last turn is sound.

Both games that were played were fairly close.

It seems like the game provides a satisfying mix of strategy and randomness. I personally prefer games that are heavy on strategy and light on randomness, and Alison likes games that are more evenly mixed. Both of us enjoyed the game. The elements of randomness in this game only include which buildings are dealt out, and at what point in time in the game they are dealt out.

There is a bit of a random feel to the market, but it follows perfectly understandable rules, and it is possible to always know what state it will be in after any interaction given that you know what the player is going to be doing during that interaction.

Now, our questions about the rules:
Privateer Ship (& Bank): Can you move a marker that is already at the highest value (or lowest) (effectively moving nothing) just to get the other effect of the card?

Cartographers: Can you draw 5 cards and then buy a card that was already in play?

Clock Tower: if you move to a building owned by another player do you pay them twice?

Final Thoughts:
All in all it was a fun game, and I intend to play it many more times. I will bring my playtester's copy to work on Tuesday (Monday is Memorial Day) and play it with four players and see what my coworkers have to say.

Post Review:
Other gaming this week included some games of Love Letter, and a few games of Witch Hunt. The rules have been updated with the changes that we have made.

Mainly the recent changes are clarifications, however we have been vacillating between having -2 and +2 testimony cards.

Sunday, May 18, 2014


I played another game of Witch Hunt (this time with my monthly gaming group). They liked the idea of the game, but said that it needed more work. I already knew that it was a good idea that needed a lot of balancing, so I was pretty happy with the feedback.

We also played Dancing Robots (which I haven't played for a long time). They loved the judges and liked the difficulty that the game presented in balancing the various stats of the robots. The game went well, but I almost want to speed up the dance off. I need to figure out how to do that.

I also talked with Dave, and hopefully he will get me the last part card artwork soon.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

More Witches!

We have been hunting witches a lot recently. We have changed the game a fair amount, and are considering changing it more. The most up to date rules can be found here.

Some changes that have been made:

Balancing the Governor and Magistrate to make them give a standing bonus (+3) or penalty (-3) instead of making them kill players outright.
Changing the pastor to give other players point penalties for not helping him.
Changing the way that the roles gain points (almost all of them)
Removing 'Witches' from the game entirely. There are now 'hags', 'trollops', and 'crones', all of which still have effects that activate upon people looking at them.
Split up the Accomplices and the Witch Haters into more people (they still share common point gaining mechanisms, but they are quite different now.)

We have experimented with different values of claim cards (+2, +1, 0, -1, -2), and (+1, +1, +0, -1, -1). It remains to be seen which set will win out.

The action cards are still mostly the same as they were originally.

We are trying to determine what would be the best way to simplify the point gaining at the end of the game (It is often a chaotic mess).

Tomorrow I am going to a game night for some people in our ward (read neighborhood if you don't understand the aforementioned word). Perhaps we will play Dancing Robots, Perhaps we will play Witch Hunt. I am not entirely sure yet which one will win out.

In non-board gaming news I set up a RoboCode tournament at work, which went well. Hopefully next time we will have a larger turnout (only 8 contestants), and will have better robots (most couldn't beat walls at all)

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Burn her anyway!

We played two games of the witch game today. It went fairly well for a first play ever. There were some complexities that need to be excised and some power levels that need to be adjusted, but all in all it was a fun game.

The first game went as follows:
Mike: Gossip Pastor who loved Dwayne
Dwayne: Constable Witch Hater who loved Beret
Bob: Defense Attorney Martyr who hated Mike
Beret: Magistrate Witch
TJ: Clerk Recluse who loved someone (perhaps Mike?)

The game started off well with me trying to influence everyone into sharing identities with me under the guise of trying to find out the witches. I allied with bob to try to get him killed and told everyone that he was a witch, but Beret tried to defend him as an ally witch.

Dwayne thought I was on his side since I was a Puritan, but I lied to him about Bob to try to convince Bob to talk people into sharing cards with me.

TJ was discovered by some action cards, and I shared with Beret and got killed. The game ended with a huge slaughter.

I was killed by the witch, Dwayne was killed by the magistrate (who was also the witch), TJ survived, Beret was killed by Dwayne and my votes and Bob survived (to his dismay).

Game two was a 4 player game with the following setup:
Mike: Shy Prosecutor who hated Bob
Bob: Witch Hater Governor who loved Mike
Beret: Councelor Witch Hater who I don't remember the attitude of
Dwayne: Witch Hater Peeping Tom who loved Mike

We figured out that everyone was good, but it took a while. I lost horribly by the end of the game. We had to call it off a little early since we had a 1:00 meeting.

Take homes:

Hate and love cards were well received. People liked  trying to fulfill them, and found them moderately humorous.

We played with claim tokens instead of claim cards. They were not so well received - apparently the text was too small, and the minus 2 and plus 2 tokens seemed a bit powerful. We are going to try with having only +1 and -1 tokens in the future.

The action cards seemed fairly balanced. None stood out as too good. The Reevaluate card was well enjoyed.

The Magistrate's ability seemed to be very powerful. People didn't like the diabolus ex machina feel to the card. The Mayor's pardoning ability didn't receive nearly as much fire as the Magistrate's condemnation.

The Peeping Tom was popular, but the Constable seemed a little lackluster.

In certain games Shy, Witch Hater, and Recluse can be hard to fulfill. The Martyr role is really funny to play with (as random people who see your role can decide to lie for you and make an alliance without your consent.)

All in all it was a good $5 for me and my whole family (The game was not actually $5, it was free (Also I didn't play with my family as much as my co-workers)).

I have not yet changed the rules to fix the problems that we found, but they are posted online already. You can find them here.

Friday, May 2, 2014

First witch still unhunted

We played some games of Creative Accounting (which is currently toying with being called 'Space Scoundrels') at lunch on Wednesday. The games went well. Everyone seemed to enjoy them, and we got to test four players for the first time. We also played a five player game. We played about five games total.

We have some preliminary cards for the witch hunt game, and I have written some rules, but I am not yet done with the first draft of the rules.

When I finish it I will post here.

We played most of a game of cosmic encounter at lunch today, but I had a meeting so we had to quit before the game ended.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

My first attempt at a Dominion storage solution

I used a rolling pin on the divider segments of my dominion box insert, so now all the cards fit in without having to be diagonal.
I also can fit in my extra euro sized card protectors that were just sitting around in a bag.
Next I plan to make some dividers for the cards.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Witch Hunt

We played a game of Eminent Domain at work. They would play it again, but I have not brought it back yet since I have been working on one of my goals for the year, and I have not been playing lunch games for this last week. The games continue without me (I made the group, but it has taken a life of its own, so even when I am not there it continues).

I did publish a new version of Dancing Robots online (with the mostly completed artwork), but haven't done much else on that front recently.

I finally got my Dominion base set cards sleeved, and I decided to put all the cards from all the dominion expansions that I own into one box. The expansions that I own are: Dominion, Intrigue, Hinterlands, and Dark Ages (Also a copy of Platnum, Colony, and Walled Village).

I measured that I could just barely not fit three rows of cards into the box (the box is 1mm too narrow), but I decided that I would build it as if I could fit all the cards in anyway, and perhaps try to compress the foam core board that I am using to make the insert by 1mm and not have to do anything tricky to make it work.

After building the thing the cards all fit into the box, but the ones in the middle row need to go in diagonally. It is a good temporary solution, but I will probably end up compressing the insert at some time.

I had an idea today that since I am having trouble with my current game due to a theme incompatibility, I should come up with a theme first and then try to make a game around it (Moar Moai is a game like that). I thought that a witch hunt could be a fun theme, so I asked started asking Alison for advice about characters in a witch hunt setting, and their motivations. We came up with some fun ideas, and think that we might have another game in it's infancy.

So far it goes like this:

1 player is a witch
n players are townsfolk
(there is the possibility of more characters, but for now let's leave it at that.)

Everyone has cards that allow them to cast blame on people or exonerate people (each player has 2 blame and two exonerate cards as well as an 'I don't know anything' card). The cards have a range of values on them (-2, -1, 0, 1, 2), and they are played face down. Everyone knows who played what card on who, but not the value of the card until the end of the game.

One card is played a turn, and at the end of the game the cards are all revealed and the players with negative scores all die. If the witch dies the townsfolk gain 1 points each, and anyone with their -2 point blame card on the witch gets an additional 1 point. Players who die all get -1 point, and if the witch doesn't die she gets +2 points.

During a players turn they should also be able to gain information about the other people in the game (either through mutual card sharing, or perhaps a deck of cards that they draw from and play.)

An option that we discussed is to give each person a public persona that is merely a name, and also give them cards that dictate which persona they like or dislike. If the person that they liked or disliked was eliminated or not eliminated (as would make sense) at the end of the game then they get a bonus point.

It is possible that these public persona also give special abilities that would effect the way that the game goes (like a church/law person that controls the threshold of death, or an investigator that could look at one persons card one time.)

We need to put more thought into the game, but it sounds sort of fun already.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Space Scoundrels

Apparently I have not posted for a week. I am still alive. Work on the new game website is still coming along.

Alison and I played some Eminent Domain last night, and we also played some more Oceania.

At work we have been mostly playing Avalon, but we have played a few games of Love Letter.

Perhaps I will turn the new website into a Creative Accounting website instead of a Collusion website.

The game (Creative Accounting) is undergoing a possible retheme. With all of the people that are scared of math, it seems like space pirates or something like that would be a better theme.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The visual way to track space

Dave got me some new artwork for Dancing Robots. I have updated all of the previously generated cards with the new artwork. The only part that has yet to be drawn is the spring (which is still sporting my trendy artwork).

Here is a gallery of the current look of the cards.

With the new artwork I am more excited about working on dancing robots some more (I have been much more excited about Creative Accounting recently, but that hasn't prevented me from working on Dancing Robots and Collusion as well)

Tonight I put together a simple example of a visual way of displaying the amount of space a card provides or takes up. Here are some of the example cards I made:
The cards that provide space have the space that they provide graphically represented on the right side of the card. The cards that use up space have the amount of space that they use up graphically represented on the left side of the card. You stack the cards up until the dark brown bar is as tall as the light brown bar and then you know that you are out of space. 
An example follows. The robot on the left has used 8 of 12 space and has 4 space left. The robot on the right has used 7 of 14 space and has 7 left.
I don't know if this is a good idea, but it seems like it would make keeping track of space a bit easier. I would love to hear any feedback anyone might have about this idea (and about the cards in general).

In other news: We have played a lot of games of Creative Accounting recently. I have not yet committed to a retheme, but I think that it might help the game catch more people's interest. Really I don't want to put work into the retheme until the game work well for perhaps a month without any large changes.
I tried the game out with a group of people from the church, and they liked it. They wanted to play more and more games even though we were supposed to be going home. That to me is a very good sign :). We tried out the rule that prevents anyone from being kicked out two turns in a row, and it seemed to be popular. Also, we tried out allowing the disgruntled employee to know who the accountant is. I am entirely sure both of those rules shouldn't be in at the same time (perfect play with those two rules would guarantee an auditor victory no matter what), but we played them anyway.
We also played some Bohnanza, which was pretty fun. It has been a long time since I played that game.

I have been writing a website for Collusion. When it is playable I will post it here, and explain how it works.