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.


  • 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.