Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The last stretch

I have been rule editing like a madman. My wife has been helping me (like a madwoman?). We are getting really close to having the Citadel of Madness and Grab the Loot! ready. Terran League of Defense Robots might not make it this year - but perhaps it will. We are hoping that it does anyway.

I have also been making some movies for my submissions to the ION award. Here is the first one that I have completed.

My PlaytestHub is in a semi-open alpha state right now. It still has a few more things I want to do to it before I open it up for a public beta. Most notably, I want to see how it is that one user was able to make two copies of themself in the database.

I have also started working with Chauncy on Deception again. The new changes add some complexity to the game. I really want to retheme it as a sportsball game. The goal would be to either cause all of the opponents "ballmen" to have "career ending injuries", or to gain 5 points first. the game would still require 3 to 4 players to play, and it would still continue till one team was entirely knocked out or one team got enough points.

Friday, November 10, 2017

The lonely Citadel

I was a little bit bored. I was the only person awake, and I didn't want to edit my rules for The Citadel of Madness (formerly known as The Madness Place) any more. I wanted to play a game, but I don't own any solitaire games. I bought a pnp copy of Pentaquark, but have somehow never got around to printing it out.

I have also recently been listening to the Ludology podcast, and I liked their episode on solo games. It made me think I could make one. Given this situation I decided to see if I could come up with some rules to make The Citadel of Madness a solo game.

I came up with a few modifications that made the game into a pretty interesting (in my opinion) solo game:

  • Every action you remove a time token from the game. If they ever run out you lose.
  • Every time you pass do the following:
    • Return all time tokens to the pool
    • Build a new device that is not owned by you -or- modify a device that is not controlled by you (the rules are more complicated than that, but it amounts to that basically)
    • Score a room card for an imaginary opponent. You must win before he does.
I played a game, and it worked out. When I won, the opponent had 14 points to my 16. Additionally, I had only one time token left, so if I had done any worse I would have lost. In fact, if I hadn't won on that action, my opponent would have won after I passed (two actions later).

I know that I made The Citadel of Madness myself, so of course I would like it, but it really seems like I could get a publisher for this. I am thinking of trying to pitch it to a few publishers after I submit it to the ION Awards this year. If everything goes well, perhaps it could be signed before summer :).

Friday, November 3, 2017

We are all Mad here

The rules editing for the Madness Place is finally calming down. The only change to the game's rules during the entire process was making it so that if you do an action it has to have an effect on the game's state for it to be a valid action.

The Flavor test has greatly improved as well:

They called you Mad, but could a madman have created a revolutionary living-brain extractor? Yes! You could, and you did it for SCIENCE!Not only did the fools not understand you, but The Tyrant even called you a criminal and sentenced you to repair The Citadel. A harsh sentence considering your ‘crimes’ were all for the furthering of science. No one has ever escaped this capricious, maniacal, homicidal, and irrevocably evil sentient castle.But, you will show them! After all, you were born with The Madness - a gift of supernatural understanding of all sciences. Build as many twisted abominations of science as is necessary to get the castle repaired so that you can earn your release from this thinking death trap.After that, make them PAY for their insolence!You WILL rule THE WORLD!

I have also been testing out the recent changes to some of the room cards, and I am pretty happy with the balance. Here is the coolest new room card: 
It isn't technically representing a room to repair, but an in-universe action that you could take to almost guarantee victory. Apparently the Tyrant came over to visit the prisoners in the Citadel, and you can assassinate him and throw his entire empire into chaos. It won't get you out of the Citadel for sure, but it probably will (assuming that you have repaired a few rooms already.)

Alison and I have played a few games with the new room cards, and the changes to the balance have been good. The dual cost rooms are cheaper, and the single cost rooms are more valuable, and everything seems to be working in a manner that keeps scores really close.

We did discover that we had too many time rooms in the room deck - a player with a pretty good hand and a really really lucky setup of room cards could win the game on turn 1, which was super annoying. There was about a 48% chance of your hand being good enough, and about a 1 in 1,400  chance of the room draft being good enough (you had to have 3 of the top 9 cards come from a set of 5 cards in the deck), but I have made it so that 7 of the top 11 cards would have to be exactly correct, and pushed the probability down to about 1 in 5,200,000.

It is still possible, but the chances are vanishingly small, and even if it happened, it wouldn't be obvious to a first time player how to take advantage of it. I think that it will not affect that many players of the game.

The reason why we noticed that this was a possibility was that I got a perfect set of three room cards showing up in one of our games by about turn 6, and won because of it. Alison still had a chance, but I had a better chance because I built a time machine and scored all of the high value time cards. For this to happen with the rebalanced room deck would take not just 3 of the time cards showing up, but all 7. If all 7 of any type of card showed up, the player that could score those cards would win for sure, so Time is not unusual in this respect any more.

In other news: I am still making icons, and also still making a playtesting website. The website is almost done, and the icons are a never-ending task, so I will never be done with them :)


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Rules editing helpers FTW

I have gotten some great help on editing the rules for The Madness Place. They are looking much better now than they used to. I have yet to work on Grab the Loot and Terran League of Defense Robots, however.

I have also been spending a lot of time working on PlaytestHub - which is nearing feature-completion. I have only one major feature to implement. After that, I will probably do some refactoring, alpha test it myself, and then open it up to a 'public' beta test (perhaps first for the people that are supporting me on patreon, and then to BGG next).

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Extra life

I am nearing completion of an alpha version of the website, however I am not so sure that I will be able to work on it as often as I was planning originally, because I just realized that I need to get seriously involved in rule editing for the 2018 Ion Awards.

My documents that I am working on are Terran League of Defense Robots, Grab the Loot!, and The Madness Place. So far I still have a daunting amount of editing left on them. Fortunately the kind folks over at BGG are helping me out a lot, not to mention my kind wife, who is way better at this sort of thing than I am.

I am also planning on volunteering for Extra Life this year. I will be streaming board games (and some video games) for the local primary children's hospital. If you are interested in donating you can find information about how to support me here.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

A fix to the rooms of the Madness Place

Alison and I played a game of the Madness Place yesterday, and we had some changes to make after we were done. I am recording them here so that I remember them.

The game went well. We ended the game with me ahead by 2 points (15 to 13). Alison would have won in one more action, so it felt really tight. We played in about 45 to 60 minutes (we didn't record the exact times, but we put on a movie for the kids, and it ended about at the time that we were done discussing possible changes, which took about 45 to 30 minutes).

We agreed that the recent changes to the passing mechanism (the person that passes first gains an immediate +1 time energy on the following turn for every time they are skipped) seemed to be a good way to deter the player/players that are ahead from taking tons of extra turns.

We decided that the Citadel's Output mat should be double sided, and should have on one side printed a non randomized setup. This will help setup to be easier on the first few times playing the game.

We laid out the room cards and discussed possible ways of changing them to make the scoring work a bit better, and discovered that some of the card combinations were not actually represented the same number of times as others. This made building red/yellow or green/blue engines more powerful than any other combination. That might have been what Daniel was talking about when he said that the scoring felt "off".

We made changes to the rooms to fix this, and discussed the balance of the various room relative to each other. We also decided that the game should go to 16 points instead of 15 (if we changed the rooms like we said, since it introduced more high point cards into the game).

Friday, October 20, 2017

Oh Noes!

I just realized that with the ION Award coming up at the beginning of December, I need to work on my rules documents!

The games that I am going to be preparing this year (if I can get them ready) are: Grab the Loot!, Terran League of Defense Robots, and The Madness Place.

I expect that things will be pretty busy over the next few weeks.

I have also almost finished my playtesting website. A few more features and it will be ready for an alpha release.

Here's to hoping that I can get it all done.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Grab the Loot... again

More work has been done on PlaytestHub, and it is coming closer to completion. I have about 20 open issues with it in my bug tracker, so I am coming to a close. That being said, Google just announced a new database technology for firebase, so I might wastespend some time converting it into a newer technology.

We have been playing Grab the Loot at work some more, and the new changes are solidifying into a better form. I have been trying to figure out what changes would allow the game to play the same, but have the scores tighter. I am taking pictures of people's end game situation after most games now, so that I can keep tabs on what any given change will do to the scoring.

I think that I have found a scoring method that will work pretty well:
Items are worth 2 points each.
Coins are worth 1 point each.
3+n bonus points are awarded to the player with the most of any given item, where n is the number of cards in the Greed matching the item.

In the game that we played today a degenerate strategy where a player takes the first action every turn and gets 2 points a turn was discovered. It was surprisingly effective, so I am going to nerf it (it would lead to boring play). Other than that player, everyone was pretty close to each other score-wise.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Start cards and avatars

I played Grab the Loot at work with the changes that Daniel and I talked about, and then the next night at the Board Game Design Guild without them. They definitely need some balancing, and I am not sure if they make the options less interesting, but I am going to work on fixing them up. My notes from the game at work were as follows:
  • more money gain - things cheaper - top one is free most of the time. 
  • add a few more greeds for 2 players
  • Captain should give 2 coins. 
I have implemented the first and last, and I am not sure if I am going to make the second one happen. I need another playtest before I continue with the new changes.

I also made a new mat for The Madness Place taking into the feedback that I received from Daniel. Here it is in all it's glory:

I also made some start cards for TMP - cards which guarantee that you start with a level 2 device, and a time card, so that removes a little bit of the fiddlyness of the setup, and balances the possibility of one player getting a time card in the draft and the other player getting no time card in the draft.

It should also encourage players to use the swap action (which among players that are first timers is a good thing, because it is an advanced technique that only my wife and I use, but it is really powerful).

Alison and I played a game of TMP tonight with all of the new rules, and it was fairly broken. We jury-rigged it into working and finished the game, and then had a long discussion about what needed to change to make it work for real.

The problem was making storing energy free. It made all energy automatically stored (because once you ran out of useful things to do you could just end your turn by storing all your remaining energy one unit at a time.) Why have a rule that energy is lost between rounds if storing energy is free?

We decided that the rule should make it so that once one player passes, for every turn that they miss, the can start the next turn with one time energy. This will make other players have to not take too many turns after someone passes because they don't want to give tons of free time energy to the opponents.

After the changes were made mid game, we went on to having a fun game. I built a time machine, and a green/red generator (red was balance, and green was everything except for draw, balance, and stealing a device). Alison built an infinite blue machine and a blue to green converter. We liberally stole each-others devices and finished so close.

Here are some notes from the playtest:
  • Dual cost rooms should be valued higher.
    • Perhaps +1 point will do it?
    • I could imagine them even higher if you were considering the difficulty of getting two devices to make the energy, but the random chance of the universal machine providing just what you need makes me hesitant to do that. In some games they would be easy, and in others they would be hard.
  • Rooms that cost Spark/Madness are windfalls when they are late in the game.
    • Just remove them. They should cost time, and be valued the same as other time rooms.
  • Time when used should allow the machine that it is used on to be run action free one time.
    • I know that this is in direct opposition to the discussion I had with Daniel, but we played it his way, and having your entire turn be to pay an energy and remove a meeple is so boring when the other player is doing real things that we felt that this is necessary.
  • When you pass, gain 1 time every time you miss a turn.
    • This forces players to consider how long they want to keep going after someone passes - it gives them the option to choose, but makes sure that they are not wasteful.
    • This could also serve as a catch up mechanism - if someone got behind an infusion of free energy could be helpful for them.
  • When using another player's device, pay once per use.
    • give the cube
    • activate the device action free - pay cost and place special (colored) meeple.
    • special meeple does not block other player from using the device.
      • This is critical, since the I felt that Daniel really hated me stealing his device, and that is not a good play experience.
    • Thematically, special meeple is your mad scientist?
  • Remove player abilities. They are forgotten more than they are used.
  • Does more players necessitate more draft cards? 2 per player +1?
So, with these ideas, I hope that all of the changes that were envisioned with my play with Daniel will be realized an balanced. Playtesting, however will be the only thing that can ensure that.

The game ended with a 1 point spread, and I would have won if I had been given one more turn, so it feels pretty tight at this point. I think that allowing every player to use other players devices is the real reason for this. You can't get so far ahead if your opponents can access the same things that you can. The bonus energy that you get when someone uses your device is also nice.

I have also been working on my PlaytestHub website, and have made definite strides. I need to do more things, but it is moving along nicely. Perhaps by the end of next month I will have finished it.

Friday, September 22, 2017

The result of the feedback.

So, now I am ready to figure out how to incorporate the feedback of yesterday:

 Madness Place:
  • I have already removed the discard a meeple for a energy, and add an energy to the output.
  • I have already lowered the number of free actions to 2: access device, and balance.
  • I have made the person that steals a device pay an energy to the person that they stole from. This should make stealing still a deterrent to building awesome devices, but not as powerful as it used to be.
  • Storing resources is now energy cost free, however it does cost a turn.
  • I also have to figure how the scoring is off. Daniel said that he felt that it was off, but didn't elaborate. 
Either way, these should not be horrible changes to make, and I should be able to test them fairly soon.

I think that the changes to Grab the loot will be as follows:

First changes (try these immediately, keep the ones that I like)

  • Split the different finishes into setup choices: nice captain that doesn't shoot people, or mean captain that shoots one or more people
  • Revealing (1 or 2) new behavior card each round (not turn)
  • Revealing fewer behavior cards with fewer players
  • Having multiple meeples and only getting them back when they fall off
  • Placing captain meeples every turn, not just turns that have net gain
Another set of changes that I will try:
  • Rotating the first mate each round
    • clockwise? counter?
  • Making fewer treasures for fewer players and more for more.
  • Make coins cheaper, and a more generic currency. Grab them all the time, or spend them to gain abilities. Weak abilities give coins as well, and expensive ones cost coins.
  • Cards should also each have themes.
  • Possibly block row and column both with meeple
  • Split nice and mean cards to remove actions that are mean.
Some new abilities should also exist:
  • Grab a coin as a noop. (always available)
  • Pay coins to see the bottom of the deck. (always available)
  • Show the bottom card to another player (if playing cutthroat)

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Feedback braindump.

I met up with Daniel Peterson from Mayday Games tonight to show him some of my games. We ended up playing two games before we finished. He liked some things about them, and provided a lot of helpful feedback. To get it down before I forget it, here is a brain dump:

First we played Grab the Loot. It didn't really play well with two players. I need to play games to balance it at that point.

Grab the Loot:

  • Coins should be used as a cost and should prevent you from taking better actions.
  • Grab a coin as a generic space.
  • The being forced to move your meeple to a different card makes for interesting decisions
    • I just had an idea to block the row as well as column.
  • The randomness of the finish is not well beloved.
  • Cards should come out faster.
    • Talked about revealing new card each turn.
    • I think perhaps each round could rectify the problem also.
  • Modifying greed was very cool
  • Exponential should stop at some point.
  • Focus on the cutthroat element of the game if that is what people like.
  • You should have cost to get effects.
  • Placing captain's meeples are cool. You should place more of them
    • perhaps once a turn
  • Talked about having multiple meeples, and you get them back when they fell off the end of the board.
  • new abilities:
    • Show bottom greed card to another player
    • look at the bottom 2, or 3 for a coin cost
  • pull out cutthroat cards when playing more euro style
  • add in cutthroat cards when playing more take that
  • Another idea I just had was reducing the treasure count for fewer players

Madness place:

  • Streamline it
  • The timing is weird
  • Turns after someone passes should be limited
  • Remove all or most free actions
  • Some abilities (storing, sacrificing meeples) should be "free", and only cost a turn.
  • This game is the "right depth" for Mayday game's current direction.
  • Think about turns as a resource.
  • Building machines are fun - the game has real potential if it could be smoother
  • Powerful machines seem to break the game - no matter who plays them
    • Idea: when you steal the ability to use a machine, pay the energy to that player.
  • The scoring felt like it did not work for him - he thinks that the math is off.
I am happy with the feedback, and I am going to sleep on all of it and write more about it tomorrow. I will certainly be making some more changes to the games in the near future. 

Thursday, September 7, 2017

More work on Grab The Loot

I had the guild look at Grab the Loot again. We played with 4 players, and had a good feedback session afterward. Here are my notes:


  • Not enough treasures changed hands - I need to up that!
  • Have a player that gives an extra blocker/worker?
  • Use a cube for the extra guy
  • Player that steals more?
  • More swaps to fix the treasures changing hands problem
  • Double your lowest item value as a player ability?
  • When cards fill up, discard them
  • What happened to the card that removed one person's meeple and gives one coin to that person?
  • Are coins too powerful? Perhaps 4 is a better scorepoint?
  • Cards that pay a coin to gain 2 items, or the reverse

All in all, I am ready to make some changes. I will likely have new PNP files ready in a day or two.

I have also made a lot of progress on playtesthub. It has the ability to add games, look at games, and mark games for playtesting. You just now need to be able to actually playtest them and give feedback.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

My latest idea

Not too long ago I made a survey about what people were having a hard time with when it came to designing great games. I have collected the results, and decided to make a website that connects playtesters to game designers.

The biggest things that people complained of was not having enough time, not having enough playtesting, and preparing to submit games to publishers or put games up on kickstarter. This website should directly help solve the second problem, and if I make it correctly, it should also address the first and third problem as well.

Designers will have to spend "points" to get their game to sort to the top of the list of games to playtest, and the only way that points can be gained is by playtesting other designers games and providing feedback. Once you have points, you can apply them to your own game, or you can sell them in a marketplace to designers.

Thus people that just want to get their game playtested without helping other people out can pay for that privilege. This addresses the time issue. Additionally, people that want to just play games can even make money off of playtesting as long as they are willing to sell their points.

The third problem: preparing to submit games to publishers or kickstarter them is also helped by this website, because the feedback that players give to designers is visible to anyone that wants to see it, so the player will be able to point to the feedback that their game has gotten and use it to help convince people that it is worth looking at.

I think that it has a good chance of working out.

In other news - two of my games made the cut in the 2017 Iludo game design competition: Moar Moai!, and The Age of Vikings. I am preparing to send out prototypes this week so they can be further judged.

Additionally, I am entering "Grab the Loot!" into the Mint Tin game design contest. I just need to pare it down a bit so that it fits into the tin easily.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Wanted: a faster infinity

I tentatively made changes to The Madness Place recently, but haven't tried the game out until tonight. Here are the new rules:

  • Turns are now one action each (With the exception of balancing a device, which happens as part of modifying the device)
  • After players pass, the player who passed first goes first the next round.
  • Get energy from the castle only at the start of each round.
  • storing keeps energy between rounds.
  • draft and rooms repair refill every round.

We tried out the new rules at the BGDG meeting, and it went fairly well. Here are my notes from the playtest:

  • Make sure to note that Any modify requires balance
    • Balance only the worst balanced device on a swap
  • Using time should be a free action
    • Gain access to another player's device too?
    • Store energy too?
    • Add energy to the castle's output too?
    • Balance a device too?
  • Turns are too small
    • Perhaps group actions?
    • Perhaps spark increases actions per turn?
    • Perhaps minions left on your mat increase actions per turn?'
  • Make a connection between Modify and Balance on the randomizer.
    I thought that the playtest showed some really cool emergent behavior that came from the new changes. The players were worrying that the other player would grab things before them, and this was really fun to see happen. It made the game less of a multi player solitaire, and more of a dynamic interactive game.

    Additionally, there are better and worse flavors of infinite. The player that won had a better infinite engine than the other player. Making something that can net 1 energy of any color in 6 actions is worse than something that nets 1 energy of three different colors every action.

    I think that I want to try and increase these aspects of the game even more.

    Other thoughts:
    • Double color cards? now that all of the effects are on the randomizer, do the cards need effects at all?
    • I need to change how using another player's device works. Perhaps the player can place a pawn on the device to mark it as their own, and then activate it with a meeple. Perhaps the pawn can be moved with another use of the "mind control" ability? Now that infinite speeds matter, this might be fair.
    • Do I want to limit the number of minions that can be drafted a turn? Everything else is limited
    • Should the room cards replenish all the time? NO.
    • Should storing stuff be time always?
    • We played that creating a device created three cards of the device... is this good?
    • Should players be able to pass as their action to only reset their personal stuff? That might be fun to try out.
    I am really happy with how this game is working out. I hope to get it ready for a contest soon. Perhaps even this next Ion award.

    I was planning on playing a 6 player game of Grab the Loot instead of The Madness Place, but we didn't have 6 extra people at the meeting, so we ended up with TMP.

    Finally, I am about to retheme the game as a generic mad scientist steampunk game because it has been nearly a month, and the Foglios have not replied to my email asking for permission to use their setting.

    Friday, August 4, 2017

    Busy times

    I have been doing so many thing recently that I have forgot to write any blog posts.

    For one thing, I have been playtesting a new game that Seth Jaffe (creator of Eminent Domain and other fine games) is designing. The game is called Automatown, and is about building robots that build more robots for you until you have enough robots to take over the world. For an early prototype it is pretty fun and well balanced. I have had an idea that I have been sitting on for a few years about building snowmen that build more snowmen. This ends up being thematically really similar, but my ideas for mechanics were way different than his.

    We have played it at work a few times, and the people are interested in seeing his new changes. Being that today is Friday it might end up being a skateboarding day, so perhaps we will not get to play it, but perhaps we will.

    In terms of my games, I have gotten a few games of The Fatal Flaw in, and also played a game of the Madness Place. I am thinking of giving the BGDG a final look at Grab The Loot before I try and pitch it to Mayday Games. Perhaps Daniel will like it more this time (now that I have made it have more moving parts).

    I have some changed to the Fatal Flaw based on playing it with more than two players, and I expect that more play will lead to more changes. I have also been working on a new game that doesn't really have a name yet. It is another re-creation of the support mechanic.

    I have also submitted games to various contests (I don't really remember which ones right now, but needless to say I have submitted them).

    I need to finish cleaning up Terran League of Defense Robots, but I have been waiting for the results of the "Survival" contest, and they are overdue. Perhaps this means that I am not a finalist in it :(.

    Finally, a new dominion expansion has been announced. I look forward to hearing more about it.

    Wednesday, July 12, 2017

    Another playtest of "The Madness Place"

    We played a four player game of The Madness Place at the Board Game Design Guild meeting last night. Here are my notes (with my current thoughts in bold):
    • Perhaps the current draft mechanism should be revisited.
      • Should we keep all of the untaken cards from the draft? (instead of wiping them each turn)
      • Should each player have their own draft which they can work on during other player's turns?
      • Both? I think that the mechanism definitely wants something to change. Having two players makes the down time pretty small, but with four players it was too long. Having cards to think about during other player's turns would help, but the real problem (I think) is that a turn might take too long.
      • Perhaps I need to restructure turns to make one action per turn? that would be a huge change
    • Why are "green glowy things" yellow? Hmm that has to change. They should perhaps be green.
    • How does using another player's device work when it comes to meeples? This was not well defined, but I have decided that the player that is using the other player's device should provide a meeple in order to do it.
    • Turn order should be nailed down on the randomizer mat. Agreed. What is possible when?
    • Empty hand should perhaps trigger a draw or two. I am fine with that. Slim games would be faster if that were the case.
    • Should the back of the cards also tell what is on the front? Seems like a lot of info to me. People rarely want that info from the back of the card. If other people bring it up I will consider it.
    • Infinite loops are fun. Yay! I think so too.
    • Make it very clear that you don't have to balance every turn or every run - only when you modify. This is a persistent problem.  I need to do this even more so than I have done before.
    • Perhaps a new character that can freeze certain draft cards as an ability. Consider it done.
    • Revisit building and activating in the same turn. I have given this a lot of thought in the past, but perhaps the game has changed so much that this is viable now. I am willing to give it a try.
    The other people liked the game - it is becoming pretty good. I just need to make sure that the rules are easy enough to understand, and that the new cards do not break the balance. If I decide to reduce turns to one action, then I will have to do a lot of balancing, but perhaps that would be better than what we currently have for four players (when turns are thoughtful, and take some time.)

    Friday, June 30, 2017

    The Fatal Flaw

    It was announced that "The Perfect Moment" won the Button Shy wallet game design contest. I have had an idea about making a 18 card standalone expansion to the game.

    I spent a little while brainstorming ideas, and made up some of the cards. I just printed it up and played it with my wife, and it was definitely playable. We had some problems with it (like any first time game), but the game worked fairly well. 

    The expansion is right now named "The Fatal Flaw". My original ideas for card abilities were fairly good (in terms of what would make the game playable with those cards), however I had to change some of the abilities after the first play through to balance them, and to make them more able to modify the state of the game. I also had to make a few changes to the original game to work better with the expansion.

    One change that I had to make was to the original game colors. I needed to change cyan to blue so that I could make the other game the secondary colors (purple, orange, and green.) I also changed Keys to draw a card first, because that makes it work differently than tent, which was pretty similar to keys. Another change was that I made the love story cards red - because people really wanted that. 

    Here are the original cards from the original game, and the cards from the expansion:

    I haven't yet drawn icons for the expansion, so I am just using icons off of the Noun Project right now.

    The expansion plays pretty much identically to the base game, but with different abilities. The real magic is when they are both combined together: instead of just building a bigger deck like in most expansions, in this game both decks are set side by side, and you can draw from either one during any draw. The cards are both used, but they are kept separate, and so the players still have the same chance of drawing a card of the color that they want.

    When players discard, they can discard to any deck, and so the decks will get jumbled up throughout the course of the game. This should be fine, since the backs of the cards are going to be different for each deck.

    The expansion has two new ideas that the base game did not have: one is cards that modify the public objective (which, with the expansion there are two of - the Anomaly, which is the base game public objective, and the Paradox, which the expansion adds).

    The other new idea (and the more interesting one in my opinion) is cards that can score other cards directly as part of their ability. This allows players to either focus on building a good setup to score cards for a lot of points, or it allows them to try to quickly win by flooding their score pile with repetitive small points.

    It remains to be seen if a player with shoes and matches both can defeat a player that is playing without any of those cards. I think that it is possible (likely?) that I will have to do more balancing.

    Wednesday, June 14, 2017

    Burying treasure and removing the Hold In

    I brought Grab the Loot! to the Board Game Design Guild again. This play was testing out buried treasure and coins being valued at 4. We played a game, and then had an excellent discussion about it. Here are my notes (and what I plan to do about them).

    • Some cards need to be reworded: (so, I am going to reword them)
      • Trevyn- should say "to the captain", so that it doesn't affect stolen treasures
      • Gripe- should say "gain an item", so that you don't just shuffle coins around.
      • Sophia- should say "gain from the captain", so that it doesn't affect stolen/donated coins.
      • Bribe- should say "gain an item" like gripe
      • Trick- opposite order is more common for wording?
    • Buried treasures should not get players shot. (This is a great idea. I am going to do it.)
    • Do not "Texas Hold'em" in all of the Captain's greed cards. This spawned a large discussion, and more people were on the side of not "holding in" the cards. The arguments for the holding in were: simplified math, however the arguments against it were: one card was worth 25 points which was the most valuable card in the game by far, and the scores in our game were tighter with the holding in removed. (I did not originally have all of the cards "held in", but added that because Daniel Peterson said that it would make the math easier. With the results of the debate in, I am ready to do a lot of math after each game to determine if the scores are really tighter, but I do agree that that one card being worth 25 points is a smoking cannon which indicates a problem. I will have to fix this either way.)
    • Coins should be worth five points to make math easier (I am sort of scared that this might make them too powerful, but I'll give it a go and see if it works out.)
    • Game wants more interaction (I am always up for that.)
      • Make more cards affect the captains greed.
      • Put player abilities on player cards which can be activated by meeples and give benefit to the player as well as the player that placed their meeple. (I will try it out. It sounds interesting.)
    • Perhaps make some cards that always are available (I am up to try this out)
      • Add an ability to the "Captain Standee", so that players can visit that location no matter what.
    • Player's abilities should be secret until they are used (this sounds fun. I will try it out.)
    • Abilities that can be only used when revealed (this is a combination of the prior idea and putting placement slots on player's cards.)
    • Coins should not be in the greed. (This spawned a debate, and more people were in the "Coins should be in the greed" camp than the "coins should not be in the greed." The root cause seemed to be the following point, which I think that I can fix (even if I make coins still in the greed.))
    • Players should be able to make themselves safe from getting shot without losing all of their treasure. (I have seen three or four players that have (in the quest to not get shot) lost all of their treasure, so I feel for this point even if I have always "gone big" instead of "going home").
      • Add cards to allow players to bury more treasure -which is immune to getting you shot. (I think that this is the solution. Players that are getting antsy can bury their treasure and not lose it all. It wastes their turn, and perhaps is less advantageous to them, but it also prevents their treasure from getting stolen, so it might just be worth it.)
    After the play session was over and the discussion ended I had a few more ideas while driving home.

    • Card abilities to add:
      • flip up top card without having to place on it by paying money.
      • peek at the next greed card.
      • look at all the greed cards that are out of the box (by paying money).
    • Perhaps some characters should have abilities that let them score loot differently?
    All in all, I am going to be doing some more modifications to the game. I really like the way that it is heading.

    In other news, I have been working on "The Madness Place" again (finally). It needs some more polishing up before I print it up again and try to play it, however it is actually going somewhere. 

    Here are how the cards are now looking: There are  fewer energy types, which should alleviate the problem with getting the right energy types, and there are also now scoring rooms, which should alleviate the "one winner and a ton of losers" feel that the game had in the past. I still need to figure out what cards have what on the back sides, but I think that we are practically ready to play it.


    Monday, June 12, 2017

    Making games for kids

    I joined the Haba kids game design contest this week. As part of the contest you get a bunch of parts that they had lying around and have to make a game that uses the parts. I got the following:
    I have tried out two designs so far. The first (which the younger kids liked the most) was a game where you visit the zoo and try to become brave enough to befriend a spooky shirt that is also at the zoo.

    In the second game the players are trying to catch a bunch of gnomes. The older kids liked that one better.

    I might combine them into one game - perhaps you are going to visit a fantasy zoo and need to gather all the small magical animals so that you can return them to the (scary) warden.

    My two year old son is about to have his birthday, and he asked me to design him a game for a present. We got into discussing the theme, and from this was born "Robots fighting Aliens and saving Princesses". His design considerations were the following:

    • Has to have good robots
    • One robot has to be a hero with a gun
    • Has to have evil aliens
    • One alien has to be good
    • There have to be princesses that got stolen by the aliens
    • It needs a map for them to move around on
    I'm thinking right now that the rules will involve placing aliens all over the map (multiple to a tile), princesses in the center, and allowing the players to start in the corners. Players move their hero robots around fighting Aliens and eventually save the princesses.

    If the heroes are outnumbered, the heroes have to go back to the corner to pick up reinforcement robots to successfully clear out a square. The aliens also will slowly move around.

    I have a week until the design is due, so hopefully it all works out and he loves it.

    Tuesday, June 6, 2017

    An idea is budding...

    I just had an idea (which I totally didn't steal from Carl Chudyk (not really, I pretty much stole it from him)) for a new game. I think I am going to polish off the old Polynesian theme and mock something up some time.

    I should be working on The Madness Place, but doing what I feel that I need to do to it will be hard. I really dislike simplifying games, and always worry that I will simplify them too much.

    Friday, June 2, 2017

    Done with TLDR for a while

    I finally finished working on Terran League of Defense Robots and submitted it.

    Phew.

    Since then I have come up with a few modifications Grab The Loot. The first is adding hidden treasure cards to every player (which makes it less of a perfect knowledge game), and another is making treasures have an effect (like you can return them to the captain to do something).

    We played today at lunch, and had a few ideas: one was to make coins worth more, another idea was to make the player that loses a treasure places the captain meeple instead of the player that gains the meeple.

    I should probably also spend at least a little time on the art work some time.

    I have also been making a whole bunch of icons for people on BGG as a means of giving something back to the community. It has been going fairly well so far, and I have had a lot of people request icons.

    Tuesday, May 16, 2017

    A brief post.

    I have been working on TLDR more and more. The rules are getting closer to being complete, but they haven't yet arrived there.

    I also played The Dwarf King for the first time yesterday, and Rock Paper Wizard today. Of the two I liked The Dwarf King more. I am a bit of a Bruno Faidutti fan.

    The Dwarf King is an interesting take on a Trick taking game. I like the changing rules, and the special cards. They often add an interesting twist to the game.

    Rock Paper Wizard was a really simple game that can be explained quickly. I didn't love it,  but with how fast it went,  the game does definitely have a place. The "take that" without player elimination ends up being fun. I hope that we play it many times when other people are voting for Bang :)

    Wednesday, April 26, 2017

    Another TLDR post

    We played TLDR at the board game design group meeting last night. It was a solo game against three motherships. By the time that the guy ended the game, he had a robot that could defeat nearly any mothership that could exist. It was fun to watch how he built his robot (he had way more healing than I would have expected any robot to ever need, but he made serious use of it, as he also had a ton of damage providing parts).

    The game took about two and a half hours, but he beat the first mothership at about two hours. He said that he had had a fun time, and that the game seemed well balanced, but he did have a few ideas:

    • Make a draft for a one player game (with starting cards). (Not sure if I will do this before the end of the contest)
    • Figure out how to get trade working in a one player game. (Not sure if I will do this before the end of the contest)
    • Make foes that move at different speeds? (Not sure if I will do this before the end of the contest)
    • The ability to repair cities might be nice (I could modify the construction worker card to do this, and it would make more sense than his current ability.)
    • Remove auto-repair action - your robot can repair inside of combat, or take an action to repair. (I might do this - I will have to consider the effects of it)
    • Remove normal repair action (probably I will not do this, this action is useful to people that don't go all out on repair parts)
    • Battleship looks like it most be a mothership (Perhaps I need a symbol that denotes "This is a mothership")
    • What order do you place your new foe columns? Do you know where on the map the alien figurine will go before you select the card? (we played yes, but I have since decided no.)
    • Neural implants and Multitask drivers need to be changed (I need to do this before the contest - the last change to the tech draft really messed up these cards)
    • Mothership corpses should be worth more as a corpse (1 wild corpse? I can probably do something)
    • Escort ship is not an "escort". Either the card needs to be renamed, or there is a game term that needs updating. (I can easily rename the card)
    • Need to be able to cycle through the tech cards faster. Perhaps as an action (this is really good, so I probably will do it.  I just have to make sure that the balance remains the same.)
    • The mothership moves to which tied column? (This is already in the rules. We just had to remember what the rules stated)
    • Rules need to be written out clearly and lots of hand holding has to happen for this to work for a player that doesn't know the game perfectly (This is a point well made. I need to do this.)
    Now, I only have so much time before the contest ends, so I can't do all of these things right now, but the ones that shouldn't affect the balance of the game seem totally within the limits of what is reasonable.

    We reached a point in the game where he was supremely confidant about his ability to defeat every possible opponent, and because of that, I told him to enter the Alien Dimension, and take the fight to the aliens. That is when he faced the final mothership and won the game. This was the first time in a game that that happened, but it worked out fairly well.

    Probably the biggest thing that I still need to do it clean up the rules and make them much more easy to understand, but I am also going to fix the two cards that need work based on the new rules, and I will probably also incorporate as many of the other fixes before I am done.

    Sunday, April 23, 2017

    Working on TLDR again

    Last night I played a game of Terran League of Defense Robots with Alison for our date night. We turned up the difficulty and included two Motherships in the game, and I found it to be a very satisfying victory. We are getting quite good at that game.

    We added in ideas from last playtest, and found them to mostly work well. Here are what we changed, and what we thought about it:

    • The minions are now integrated into the foe cards - They are on play abilities that add a "Minion" cube to the tile. Minions fight as a block, and deal (and require) damage equal to their count. They take any damage type as full damage (even generic).
      • This felt pretty good. The minions were hard to fight, but not overpowering. The real game will want minion tokens that are like coins with a pow symbol on them.
      • The mothership's minions and her escort's minions combined to make a stack of 14 minions. That is practically unkillable. We decided that the mothership should summon minionless escorts. 
    • Technology cards are now a draft that slowly cycles if you don't pick them. You can pick each turn the card that leaves the draft, so you can hold a tech indefinitely if you like it but can't afford it. Having scientists in your lab lets you have more cards in the draft (you start with three), and you still spend scientists out of your engineering bay to build techs.
      • This worked fairly well. Some of the cities and characters don't make sense any more. I need to fix that.
    • We also decreased the space that each chassis provides - basic lost 2, normal lost 1, and tech didn't lose any.
      • This made me personally feel the space requirements more keenly. I think that it worked out.
    We decided that the aliens should still be able to damage a city if you are not properly defending it, which means that you need to engage the entire stack if you don't want the city to slowly get destroyed.

    I have also been working more and more on Grab the Loot. I am really excited about that one (mainly because it is so easy to playtest it, since it can be played twice at work during lunch.) Multiple times my co-workers have specifically requested that game as the game that we play at lunch, which is pretty rare. Once the survival contest is over, I will probably work on GTL for a while.

    I have also been working on The Madness Place a bit, and it is nearly ready to playtest again. I hope that this time I have made the game work better, and not be so fiddly.

    I have been wondering if I should reduce the number of energy types in the game. It would make the problem of always drawing the wrong thing less likely to occur.

    Finally, I have submitted The Perfect Moment - my entry to the Button Shy wallet games contest. I think that it is pretty good, and like how it turned out. Hopefully Jason feels the same.

    Monday, April 10, 2017

    Grabbin' more and more loot

    I have been splitting my time between Grab the Loot, and The Perfect Moment right now. I showed both of them at the BGDG meeting last Tuesday, and got some good feedback.

    I have implemented nearly all of the feedback that I got from the week before, and I also implemented most of the stuff from this last week. The game is working really well right now. The guys at work prefer it to published games on most days. Adding to the Captain's greed is really working out well.

    I think that the next change that I make is going to be the ability to have hidden treasure(s), and also the ability to look at some of the greed cards that were removed from the game. Perhaps I will add in a sixth player (because more players is always fun, and the game seems to scale well).

    I need to however re-balance the amount of loot you start with with different player counts. The captain having 8 loot at the beginning is too many with 2-3 players, and too few for 5 players. Perhaps the captain gets 2 treasure per player in the game?

    The Perfect Moment went through a major change to the terminology this week, which didn't really change the way that the game is played, but makes understanding the game much easier to first time players.

    I hope.

    Really I should post a poll to BGG and see if it does the job that I was hoping it would. I need to finish this game soon, as I have to submit it in 2 weeks to the contest. Here's to hoping that I get it done on time.

    Finally, I played some Skylines today, and won with vengeance. It was super fun.

    Friday, March 24, 2017

    Too many cooks and another BGDG meeting

    On Tuesday I went to the Layton BGDG meeting a bit early and played a few games before the meeting started. I got some good feedback, and thought that I would record it here.

    Deception:

    • The game should be bigger.
    • When you lose armies, you should gain things to offset the loss of armies (abilities?)
    • Secret goals?
    • More players? - attack the people near you only
    Grab the Loot:
    • Calculate scores differently - add greed cards into everyone's loot to simplify it.
    • Make a game over card to add to the bottom of the greed deck.
    • Add to the rules the "do everything that you can" rule, so that when an ability is impossible, you still get to use it
    • Double sided greeds that are rotatable
    • Record scores to see if they are too swingy, and recalculate to make them tighter
    • Slots should not be the same
    • Make players have a secret treasure (or greed) that other players do not know about.
    • Spend your loot for abilities.
      • Spend treasure to flip up a card?
    • Break the scoring to add in options for other scoring methods.
    Since I am grooming Grab the Loot in the hopes that it will one day become a game that Mayday Games would want to publish, I think that that will be the first one to work on.

    My two contest entries are feeling pretty close to complete right now, so I don't need to work on them in a pressing manner, however I think that it would be good to work on them in the near future as well.

    I also started to work on a new game - tentatively called "Too Many Cooks" (I know that there is already another Reiner Knizia game named that - I am just going to have to figure out a better name some time before it becomes complete) - which is like a boardless version of Tigris and Euphrates  right now. I am going to fool around with it some more before I playtest it to make sure that there are rules which cover all of the basic situations that could occur.

    Finally, I played "Lanterns" for the first time recently. It was pretty fun. It had a lot of player interaction given that the premise of the game made it seem like multi player solitaire.

    Wednesday, March 22, 2017

    A new idea

    I just played Akrotiri for the second time, and I think that I should write a review of it.

    Akrotiri: 2 players, about 30 minutes

    This game combines multiple mechanics: tile laying, pick up and deliver, and secret goals. During the game you are playing as ancient Greek explorers who are trying to discover the locations of forgotten temples based on clues that you were given in ancient maps.

    I first played the game right after it came out, and told myself that my wife would enjoy it. I never saw it in a store, so I never got it until a recent BGG math trade.

    The game starts with a large tile (the island of Thera) being placed in the center, and everyone receiving starting maps and goals. The maps are cards that give you requirements for building temples (I will explain more about that later - it is the coolest part of the game to me).

    Goals are things like "Score 2 points for each of your Temples that are on an island with a volcano", or "Score 2 points for each of your Temples that are on islands that are not completed". Throughout the game you will gain more goals, and you don't reveal what goals you have until the end of the game.

    The points associated with goals can give quite a few points to players: You can get 78 points from perfectly completing the best goals in the game, however you can only get 42 points from discovering all six temples using the most difficult maps. Since the only other source of points in the game in having lots of money, the max score possible is 126. That being said, you can't really expect to score over 100 very often because the right combinations of secret goals cannot be guaranteed.

    The map mechanic of the game is by far the most fun part of the game to me. The maps define where the temple has to exist relative to what terrain icons. For instance: if a map had a temple with a volcano above it, a tree to the right, and a lake below it, then that means that you have to place your temple on the map south of a volcano, north of a lake, and west of a forest. This boxes you into a specific place on the map, and often makes it impossible to place a temple unless you add new tiles to put the terrain icons that your map requires on the side of the map that you care about.

    The game is a competitive game for two where you are not directly attacking each other. It is an excellent game for a couple that likes multiplayer solitaire games, but it also has a fair amount of player interaction. On BGG I have rated this game an 8 of 10.

    End of review.


    In other news: I just opened up the copy of Temporum that I got at the math trade and played it for the first time today. We had a pretty fun time, but some players too way too long for their turns. After we have a game that moves at a reasonable speed, I will probably review that one as well.

    Tuesday, March 14, 2017

    Another day, another complete rewrite


    We played "Grab the Loot!" at the BGDG tonight. The feedback I received was excellent. Since I just redesigned it from the ground up, I was really expecting big changes to come from this playtest, and I got what I was expecting.

    Here are my notes - and what I think about them right now:
    • "Swap with another player" fix verbiage - Swap with the captain, swap with a player, and trade with a player are all possible actions. There should be three verbs, not two.
    • There are not strategic decisions (all are tactical) - This one hurt, however I took it graciously and considered it as a call to increase the strategic decisions that are available in the game. Taken that way, it gives me something to work with, and I will do it.
    • Treasure scarcity is not felt - I can easily fix this by making fewer treasures.
    • Swapping between players should be more common - This is also an easy fix, and a great idea. Player interaction is king in this type of game.
    • Later revealed greeds are worth more points than early revealed ones. - this seems to complicate scoring, but add to the "press your luck" element. I like it, so I will probably go with it.
    • Flip up a card and take the top action and make good actions in random location as an action if you like no actions. - This was to make the "all my options suck" less likely - it replaces it with a press your luck action.
    • Add in multiple copies of each card to greed, if multiple cards showed The latter card pair gets shot - again, adds complexity, but takes away the "walking deadman" when a player realizes 2 turns from the end of the game that they cannot possibly win.
    • Add to the "chest" to make cards better and more dangerous, make a player action to do that. - This would increase player interaction, and allow for players to try to kill other players or to improve the value of their cards. This is a huge change, and it is probably one that I will try because it sounds interesting.
    • rolling actions - Make only 6 or so actions visible at a time, and if new actions come out the oldest ones are discarded (including all meeples on them)
    I also had an idea - make it so that there is only one action per card - with three slots per action still. This would make for less reading.

    After I got home and read my notes, I think that I will end up implementing all of the ideas, however the "chest" idea is the one that I am the least confident of. I will definitely try it out, however I think that the other ones have practically no chance of backfiring. The "chest" idea could backfire, so I will watch it carefully when I playtest it to see how it goes.

    Also, I finally came up with a new action for armor in "The Perfect Moment".


    The retheme that went right

    On Friday my wife and I played Akrotiri for the first time in a few years. It is a really fun two player game. We were both doing well until the end when I pulled ahead to win by a large margin. I usually lose to my wife in such games, so this was a surprise ending. We had a fun time, and will probably play more in the near future.

    Yesterday we played Hanabi at lunch, and we lost all three games. It is fun to play a cooperative game with these guys (since they usually love traitor mechanic games). They liked it so much that we played a game at lunch again today.

    We played another game of "Grab the Loot!" last night, and also today at lunch. The game (at lunch) took 23 minutes, and people seemed to like the new changes. Dwayne (who is usually not happy to play one of my games twice in a row) even wanted to play a second game immediately. That is a win if I ever saw one.

    In this retheme I made changes that were much larger than I usually do when I am retheming things. I would almost even call this an entirely new game - though I completely retained the scoring mechanism from "The Dragons' Game". The number of choices available to a player is pretty high during the game, and the game is not nearly as complex as it used to be. I think that it is moving in an excellent direction.

    I also just found some notes of mine that I took while playing "Terran League of Defense Robots" at SaltCon. Here are the notes:
    • Tech tree?
    • Tech is too complex
    • Lower the space on chassis until it becomes a difficult constraint
    • Make the market a draft?
    • Make the research a draft?
    • Divide the decks into tiers
    I was playing with Glen Dresser (Ion award winner 2016), Charles Allen (Ion Award Finalist 2015), and Nick Keil (a BGDG admin). They thought that the tech could be simplified, and that the puzzle aspect was not difficult enough when fighting easy monsters. They also talked about changing how foes come out so that the alien's turn can be played faster.

    I need to create and incorporate these changes, but I don't have that much time until the contest ends, so I won't update rules with the changes from this until I am sure that they are working well.

    Before I do that, I am going to the BGDG meeting tonight to probably play another game of "Grab the Loot!", and get more feedback on it.

    I also need to reprint a new version of "The Perfect Moment" with my last changes to the cards. That game is coming along quite nicely. 

    Tuesday, March 7, 2017

    A lot of numbers

    This last weekend was SaltCon. It was pretty great. I got 11 new games, played about that many games which I hadn't played before, and met a lot of great people.

    Thursday I presented The Age of Vikings to the judges for the Ion Award. It didn't go very well, so I wasn't surprised when (on Saturday) it was announced that I didn't win. I went into the finalist judging with presentiments, because Dan announced that the highest scoring game scored an average of an 8, and that matched my highest score (which means that my average was lower than that).

    I had also talked to another of the finalists, and he said that he had gotten calls from two of the judges asking for more info about his game.

    Fortunately I held back on submitting Terran League of Defense Robots this year. I have made so many good changes to it since I submitted all of my games that I know that it will have a much better chance next year.

    I got to play the game that won the Ion Award this year - Palooka Precinct, by Glen Dresser. It was quite a fun and interesting game. It was a deduction game with a campaign and character development.

    Another finalist was Zodiac Dice, which I played before in the Sandy Board Game Design meetup, so of the three finalists that showed up I played them all.

    I noticed today that Palooka Precinct is also a finalist in the Cardboard Edison, so I am gonna be going up against it again. That is fine by me, since it is a really good game, and if it wins it would be better than if a random game I had never played wins.

    Though I didn't go out of my way to talk with publishers, I did end up talking to a few. That is something that I should be more proactive about, but it is hard to make the time to do it when I much prefer playing games with people to trying to sell my games to people. Making games for me is more about the love of games than it is about trying to make money.

    I tried out Flip City during the convention for the first time, and it was pretty fun. I liked the backwardness of turning residential areas into apartments, and the way that it built up to victory smoothly. My wife beat me handily, so that was also good. Whenever she wins the first game it is much easier to play a second one.

    I didn't get to play Tigris and Euphrates, however, which I had hoped to play. It is such a fun game.

    Finally, I just looked over my game design page, and noticed that I have made 19 games so far. That is amazing. I never realized that I have worked on so many.

    Tuesday, February 28, 2017

    More things than expected

    Much of my time recently has been spent gearing up for SaltCon. If you don't have tickets yet buy some now, it starts on Thursday!

    We played a game of The Perfect Moment, and also Avalon at work on Friday. Avalon is a fun lying game. I like it much better than the other lying games that they all love, because you can actually deduce things. I was the Assassin once, and we totally aced the entire game, and then I guessed Merlin as well (though we won the game). On the second game, we won as the good without them guessing Merlin, and then on the third game the good guys won hard core until the Merlin guess, which made the bad guys win. So, I won two out of three games.

    On Friday night we had a local game group get together, and we played The Perfect Moment as well as Age of Vikings. I practiced teaching it in preparation for my presentation on Thursday. We figured out some parts of the presentation that need more work, and my wife engineered a killer game engine that blew the competition out of the water. She won with about 80 points (which is more than 20 points higher than I have ever seen the game go before), so that was pretty cool.

    I could have built the same engine to mirror her, but I wanted to see how it would fare if she was unopposed. It was really powerful. I haven't yet decided if it was brokenly powerful or not, but I think that I will probably modify one of the cards involved to make it lose some of its speed (which would probably still leave it as a viable strategy, but not allow it to get as out of hand.)

    The game is really about finding those power combos, though, so I don't want to nerf it that hard. It is not like all of the other players do not have access to the exact same abilities (since you can worship any player's god that you want.)

    Here are my notes from Saturday night:
    • Armor - make it better
    • Gimp the god of trading tokens? Multi deity?
    • Fix the helpful card - make it have the new costs.
    • Clarify how to draw leaders order in rules
    I am feeling more ready for the presentation than I was a week ago, but I still want more time practicing. I have been playing the game at work a fair amount, and it is helping out, so hopefully I am ready on time.

    I am also making some changes to Terran League of Defense Robots - I need to arrange another play session to test all of them out to make sure that they work. I should do that some time in March.

    Also, I just set up a page on Patreon to get funding for my various creative projects. If you like any of my games, and want me to continue working on them, feel free to support me and tell me which game you want me to work on. Right now I tend to work on whatever game is interesting to me at the moment, but I wouldn't mind having direction from the masses.

    Finally, I have some exciting news: Polynesia was just declared to be a finalist in The Cardboard Edison. I have been working on it for quite a few years, so it is not entirely surprising to me that of all the games that I submitted it was chosen.

    Thursday, February 23, 2017

    Two playtests, One day

    At work we played The Age of Vikings at lunch. It went fairly well. We nearly finished the game in an hour (which is quite a feat). If we had finished I think that I would have won, however that is not guaranteed.

    The game is getting its final polish before I present it to the judges for the Ion Award. It seems to be going well, however I have two more test presentations at least before I consider it all done. When I play against the judges, I want them to be able to understand the game, but not have any real hope of winning (because I know the strategy, and they don't). Here's to hoping that I strike the right balance.

    We also played a game of The Perfect Moment tonight, and had some things that we wanted to change and or try out. Here are our notes:
    • Flowers should say "Swap a face up card with a card from your hand. Do this once or twice."
    • Add 1 (or more) face up card to simulate another player.
      • Everyone can use the ability on it that is facing the center of the play area?
      • Players may also score the card for points?
    • Post the new artwork to the internet. (done)
    • Update the rules to match the current way of playing.

    Wednesday, February 22, 2017

    Somehow, nothing of interest has happened.

    I brought The Perfect Moment to the last BGDG meeting. It was at Demolition Games for the first time. The venue is nicer than the last place that we met at. We had 11 people, and only one person brought a game (which only supported two players). I presented The Perfect Moment, which received good feedback. We decided to change the Ring card to allow players to trade cards. I also showed off my new artwork for the first time. They liked the new look better than my original look.

    I have gotten the laser cutter working really well. It cut out all of the cards for The Perfect Moment. I should probably have it cut out tiles for Terran League of Defense Robots, but I have not spent the time to do that yet.

    I have, however, been preparing to present The Age of Vikings at SaltCon. The Age of Vikings was declared a finalist in the Ion Awards this year. That has been where a lot of my time has gone, but I have also been fine tuning my laser cutter, and cutting out cardboard Montessori materials for my wife.

    I have also fallen in love with Tigris and Euphrates recently. It is an interesting game. There are a lot of things that you can do, and the available strategies are pretty cool. I have been playing the android app, but I am thinking about buying a copy of it.

    Tuesday, February 7, 2017

    The Perfect Moment

    I have been making good progress on The Perfect Moment, my submission to the current Button Shy contest.

    My wife and I have played two more games, and it is still an interesting problem to resolve. The amount of choices that you have some turns is really high, so people prone to AP might not do so well when trying this game out, however we both love puzzles, so it works for us.

    I came up with a really good strategy last game. It worked well for me. The strategy was to play two cards that are the same color but have no overlapping abilities. Then you have access to score all cards of that color as long as you can rotate your cards freely.

    Getting cards that meet those requirements is left as an exercise to the reader.

    I think that I will remove more attacks. They still slow down the game and don't improve your position.

    As a sidenote, the rules can be found Here, and the cards can be found Here.

    Here are my notes from last playtest:
    Keys should say "draw a card"
    Cards that discard and then draw only draw if you discard?
    Swap out Rings ability for "Return a card to your hand, play a card from your hand."
    Add icons to cards in place of numbers

    The artwork is also improving. I spent about 15 minutes and made a card template that makes the cards look much better than the normal flat appearance. I also selected (With the help of the spirit of a co-workers wife) a font that looks pretty nice.


    Thursday, February 2, 2017

    Lasers and Wallet Games.

    Last weekend I built a laser cutter. I intend to use it to make higher fidelity hex tiles than I used to be able to make (and also square, and round ones as well.) I bought some cardboard, but haven't yet tested it against cardboard. It cuts through paper like nothing, so I think that it should work. Now I need to make up artwork for the tiles for TLDR.

    I have just also discovered a new contest, and hope to enter it (in addition to all of the other contests that I entered this year. It is the Button Shy Wallet Game Contest, and it looks pretty interesting. They limiting factors make it quite a constrained game design, which really tends to focus my mind and make things move along more quickly for me.

    As a side note, I really respect Button Shy for inventing an idea that I totally also invented (albeit a little after them). Also, the published Avignon (which I totally play-tested and provided feedback for). They are one of the companies that I would like to publish a game through, because I can get behind their way of publishing.

    I already have a first prototype even though I haven't known about it for three days. Right now it is about engineering the "perfect moment" through the use of time travel (righting a wrong, killing hiler, making someone fall in love, etc). Each player has four cards: two in their tableau, and two in their hands, and they try to make them match in a specific way in order to score points. The more matches you make before the game ends the better your score. The abilities that are available to the players are limited based on what cards are out.

    I hope that it goes well. The first playtest was a little bit complicated, but the game did end successfully, so I have a good start.

    Finally, Terran League of Defense Robots is moving along a little slowly right now. I have spent so much time on the laser cutter that I haven't really done much on anything else. Perhaps this weekend will remedy that.

    Wednesday, January 25, 2017

    Another post about TLDR

    Yesterday at lunch we played Terran League of Defense Robots again. We tried out all of the new rules that were invented in the brainstorming session that happened at the end of the last BGDG meeting. The game seems to have improved quite a bit because of it. The Aliens moved all around the mat, and attacked the cities, and the players had to chase them around.

    After the game, one of the players said that I should just use 2d4 to place the aliens, and also use 2d4 to determine which cities are face up. That was pretty good feedback. I have come to expect much more and much better feedback from the guild, so it is great to also receive good feedback from my co-workers.

    I am not entirely sure that I like the way that minions work right now in the game. They don't feel real enough, so I think that I will separate them from the cards that they are a part of (so that minions are associated with a stack of aliens, not just a card.)

    One player seemed to think that they made the game too hard, but I am not so sure. It seemed to me that they make it just hard enough.

    I also need to add parts that allow for more movement, and fix up all of the character cards to make sense again, since some of them didn't survive the move very well.

    Finally, I am thinking of beefing up the cities to make them easier to defend, adding more cities to games with more players, making it so that the aliens can attack cities even if they are defended, and making it so that if you lose a certain number of cities you lose (not all of them).

    Either way, the game is moving along.

    Wednesday, January 11, 2017

    TLDR; BGDG meeting successful

    I have made some of the movies that I needed to for Cardboard Edison, however they are pretty hard to make. I don't have any skill in movie editing, or in movie filming for that matter.

    At work we have been playing a lot of Bang: the dice game, which is not my favorite (even if it fixes a lot of the problems with the original Bang. I just can't get behind games with player elimination.

    I went to a BGDG meetup last night, and we played Terrna League of Defense Robots. They had a lot of good feedback (which I will include here, and then sum up some ideas of ways to change it.
    • Mechanic/theme disconnect: the idea with this comment was that the game feels puzzley, but should feel frantic. Build the perfect robot through engineering, when it should feel like "crap! why is aliens all over my face?!"
    • Aliens are inactive: Aliens should do stuff when the come out. They just sit there.
    • the aliens should deal damage to cities based on attack level: This is a possible solution to the point above - make cities that can be damaged, and then make the aliens damage them. If you lose your cities you lose the game.
    • the self destruct seems too powerful: It won us the game. Perhaps it should be 3 wild instead of 6 specific parts? perhaps it should cost a lot of space? perhaps it should cost power as well?
    • 5 parts of a city / map of the world: change the alien pyramid to a world map, and then you can add minis to the game - robot minis as well as alien minis.
    • Associate map: Have the map parts correspond to bonus actions or actions, and then you lose abilities when the map gets damaged. Also, to perform bonus actions you have to be at the right place perhaps?
    • speed: robots gotta move around the map, some could be better than others
    • specific aliens go to a specific part of the map: to remove dice? (other option is dice roll to place them)
    • split out a separate alien turn and make humans simultaneous: to speed up the game.
    • combined attacks: having a human turn could allow humans to combine their attacks against the aliens (not sure if I love this, because it makes defeating hard aliens that much easier)
    • The aliens should get the jump on humans: Face down aliens were cool - thye made the game that much more exciting. Make the aliens do stuff like that more often.
    • Human turn , Alien turn, Fight: previous idea expanded - you plan out your normal actions: build, rearrange your robots, research, purchase, repair, and then commit to attack. Then the aliens throw up more aliens, and then the fight occurs. The aliens would suprise you more then.
    • moving parts breaks game immersion: perhaps sharing parts should be curbed a bit, since they are being bolted onto giant robots, and that can take some time.
    • more weaker monsters help make it feel more epic: make bosses and minions. minions are easy to kill, bosses are really tough.
    • make aliens give damage/minions: in addition to attacking cities, the aliens can spawn minions that are easier to kill, but have to be dealt with before fighting the boss
    • what if aliens are coming to earth from space?: a thematic change. Then you could go out to outer space and fight them.
    Likely with all of this feedback I am going to be making some hefty changes to the game. Hopefully it ends up awesome because of that.