Monday, October 20, 2014

Essen 2014 - notes for next time

I'll probably write up a bigger blog post about my exerience at Essen this year at some point, but in the meantime, I wanted to jot a few things down that I will want to know this time next year!

* Best Western Ypsilon on Martinstraub (3 stops south of HBF) was a decent place to stay, but the room was kinda small (especially for 3 of us), and it was about a mile walk to the underground (though bus access was good).

* According to Patrick Nickell, Motel One was only 69 Euro per night. It's a really nice hotel, right by the underground station, like 1 stop north of Essen HBF (Messe is stops 4 and 5 or so south of HBF). I think he said breakfast was only a few euro there.

* There's a sweet Chinese place on the corner by Martinstraub station where I ate with Sebastian. 16ish euro for all you can eat Buffet AND Mongolian BBQ. And it was delicious. Also, they had Kangaroo, which tasted kinda like beef.

* TMG might have a booth next year, so that will be cool. Exhibitor badges get you free publc transit all week long. If we don't have a booth, the first thing we should do is talk to a friend (such as Patrick or Phil Eklund) to see if they have extra Exhibitor badges they're not using... That would have saved us quite a bit on admission to the fair as well as train fare.

* German McDonald's has awesome breakfast sandwiches, and German Dunkin Donuts is pretty tasty (though different than here). Both are in Essen HBF.

* The Delta flight was surprisingly comfortable, even flying coach. However, it was $1400. Patrick said he got his ticket for ~$800 (flying from San Francisco). Maybe that was due to booking early, I should check on that.

* It was mugh nicer having a German speaker with us. Last time we didn't, and everything was much easier to navigate this time.

* We got a cab from the hotel to the airport on Monday, rather than walk/bus/underground/train with our bags (including a box of games that we obtained). The hotel had a deal which was like 42 Euro (normally like 60 or something). We paid for a larger car (47 euro) just in case (we didn't know how large the cabs were, and we didn't want to risk anything -- I think that was a good choice), and just gave the guy a 50. Train tix would have been at least 40 euro I think. So cab was definitely the way to go, we should plan on tat next time. Maybe on the way in as well?

* Uwe (sp?) from Academy Games was on our flight, and hooked us up with some discount on train tix on the way in... he paid 32 euro for 4 of us (Tom Vasel paid 33 euro for just himself and Ryan Metzler at the kiosk). We should randomly get on his flight again next time :)

* Uwe also mentioned staying at some university, which he swears by. He said it was cheap, and had lightning fast internet, and good breakfast (though not included).

* We ate breakfast at a grocery every morning (some salami and cheese mostly). It was good, didn't cost much, but they're closed Sunday (go go gadget McD's Chicken Bacon, Egg, and Cheese McMuffin!)!

* Terminal E is the place to be in the Atlanta airport. Tons of tables, food court with lots of options (including McD's and Aarby's), and free WiFi.

* Essen Warm-up event requires signing up ahead of time, and apparently it sells out. ~25 euro for dinner and entry - basically all day if you want to stay there, and you can eat as much as you want (I didn't always like their options though).

* Regarding a booth, I THOUGHT sharing with someone like Stronghold would be awesome, but Ted Alspach says they charge you up the wazoo for sharing space, and he recommended getting our own space. I just don't want Michael to overdo it the first time out.

* Meetings: Unless we have exhibitor badges, maybe we shouldn't schedule meetings right at 10am. 10:30 or 11:00 would be better, so we can get into the hall in time.

* Meetings: When requesting that Mischa set up a meeting with someone, we should really give him an agenda so that he has some idea how much time would be needed, and can schedule appropriately.

* Mischa made a great schedule spreadsheet. Next time I'd like to see multiple columns or something on the same sheet, so that for example I can see a meeting for me as well as a meeting for Michael.

* Remember to change dollars for euros in the states, at a bank, before leaving. It costs a lot to exchange currency there. Also, do a lot at once, because there's a fee to make the transaction.

* I brought a camelback so I'd always have water, and that worked pretty well. Though obviously it would be nice not to have to carry it. And this time water seemed more available in general (though it's expensive!)

* Next year I should schedule time to meet with people like Matias (playtester) and Sebastian. Maybe also schedule time to check out new games (like Staufer Dynasty this year).

* T-Mobile apparently has data roaming included, so I had full access to the internet on my phone all week, which was AWESOME. Last time I was disconnected, and it was awful. This time I could text Mischa to find him, I could look up our games on BGG to show people in meetings, I could communicate with people who were looking for me, and I was able to stay in touch with the rest of the world as well (for example the Microcosm kickstarter project).

* Reiner Knizia took meetings in his hotel room, which was a neat idea. Much more quiet and peaceful (though less convenient).

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

I'm leavin' on a jet plane... (cue music)

In a minute I board my flight to Atlanta, where I'll meet up with Michael and Mischa from Team TMG for a connecting flight to Dusseldorf.

Yes, that long, silly city name means I'm headed to Europe :) Germany in fact... for Essen Spiel. I attended Essen with Michael 2 years ago, and it was really fun and interesting (despite coming home to a missing washer and dryer). I look forward to seeing the spectacle that is the Spiel again.

This time I won't be playing in the Euromasters Challenge, but I do have some meetings with designers set up to see their games. I don't feel too optimistic about some of them, but there's at least 1 that I suspect I'll ask them to submit if they want.

I also have a scheduled time to meet up with my friend Sebastian, who I kept missing last time. I met him online at about 10 years ago, and met him in person 8 years ago when I went to London. Now he's had several games published under his own name (Prosperity, Keyflower, and the new Black Fleet), and I believe Facebook told me hee was about to be a father as well.

Someone hooked me up with a ticket to the sold out Essen Warm-Up event, so I'm looking forward to that. I'll have to figure out how to get there...

Well, time to board. See you on the other side (of the Atlantic)!

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Eminent Domain: Microcosm - on Kickstarter through October 17th!

Two months ago I presented Eminent Domain: Microcosm, inviting you to play the game with full art prototype copies at GenCon in the TMG demo room.

Now I'm happy to announce that as of this morning, Microcosm is on Kicksarter!

* For a mere $10 you can pick up a copy of my newest game.
* For only $6 more you can get a 2nd copy!
* While you're at it, you can acquire Eminent Domain for just $30...
* And Escalation for only $20...
* Or both for only $40! what a smokin' deal!

In addition, there's a pledge level where you get 2 copies of Microcosm, as well as a limited edition (Kickstarter version) of Dungeon Roll, complete with the Mimic box and all the Kickstarter extras. That pledge level is $46.

Why is there a Dungeon Roll pledge level? Good question! And I have an answer for you...

Inside the Microcosm box you'll find not just the 34 cards for the game, but several TMG promos as well:

* 5 New Base Game Scenarios for Eminent Domain + 3 Politics cards
* 5 cards for the upcoming Eminent Domain: Battlecruisers card game by Philip duBarry
* And 1 Time Traveling hero for Dungeon Roll!

Is this a sneaky way to sell more copies of Dungeon Roll? Well, maybe... but isn't everything a company that sells stuff does really just a sneaky (or not-so-sneaky) way to sell more stuff?

I prefer of it as a sneaky way to sell Microcosm to people who like Dungeon Roll :)

A word on shipping...

As everyone knows, shipping is very expensive. The additional charge to ship Microcosm internationally (anywhere non-US) is just $4, which sounds like a pretty good deal to me. Unfortunately, due to logistics and shipping, the add-ons of EmDo & Escalation, and the Dungeon Roll pledge level, are all US only.

The good news is that the existing games (EmDo, Escalation, and Dungeon Roll) will ship just 4 weeks after the close of the kickstarter project! Only Microcosm needs to go through the manufacturing process.

So check out the Microcosm kickstarter project, and if it looks good to you, back it! Heck, those promos by themselves would cost $15 or more, and for $16 you get 2 sets of them AND 2 copies of Microcosm! It's like we're just giving it away!

But you better hurry up - we're using that Quickstarter format again (I really do like that format), so the project will only be live for 9 days. So tell your friends to check it out!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Rincon T-Shirts!

We've got a great artist who does our Rincon art for us, and I'm always getting compliments on our images. I have made some shirts for myself with these images on them, and people have said I should sell them at the convention, or that they'd love to buy one of those shirts.

Well, this year I'm giving people a chance to put their money where mouths are! We've got 2 fantastic illustrations for this years con, and a favorite image from last year as well. I can't afford to pre-print a bunch of various sizes, and I don't want to take a pile of shirts home with me after the fact, so they're only available as a pre-order. You can get as many as you like by ordering them from the Rincongames web store for pick up at the Registration desk at Rincon.

The T-Shirt mockups are small, so here are the images in their full glory so you can check them out:

First, our program cover for 2014 - a car chase scene featuring Our Hero, Leading Lady, and no fewer than 11 game references:

The other image from Rincon 2014 is the basis for our con game - The Case of the Maltese Meeple. 4 master thieves each attempted to steal the famous Maltese Meeple from the museum, but only 1 succeeded. Our Hero and Leading Lady have gone undercover at the thieves' game night to try and figure out whodunnit. Rincon attendees will help them solve the case!

That one's available with and without the Rincon logo.

Finally, we have last year's Indiana Jones parody from the Quest for the Golden Meeple (also available with or without the Rincon logo):

They look pretty good, right? I have one of each of these, and I love them! I wear them all the time. If you would like any of these for yourself, now's the time! Check out the Rincongames web store, get your orders in, and game in style come October 10th!

Monday, September 29, 2014

EmDo 3rd expansion... what's in a name?

I've been getting back into Exotica lately, soliciting outside playtesting to help finalize and wrap that expansion up. Pretty soon I'll dig up the ideas I've had for the third (and final?) EmDo expansion - the one with the Politics role, Agendas, and Clout tokens.

That said, I might as well choose a title, or at least a code name, for this final expansion - that'll help me refer to it later. I'll ask for feedback on the following thoughts:

1. Eminent Domain: Oblivion

2. Eminent Domain: Corruption

3. Eminent Domain: Despotism

4. Eminent Domain: Agendas

5. Eminent Domain: ??? MAKE A SUGGESTION!

Remember, the thrust of the expansion is the Politics role, through which players will bring global effects (Agendas) into play, and they will use "clout" tokens (I imagine this as throwing around your political clout) to help boost roles.

I kinda like Oblivion ("the state of being unaware or unconscious of what is happening") as a bit of a joke or comment on politics, and it sounds ominous and cool.

Despotism ("the exercise of absolute power, especially in a cruel and oppressive way") sounds cool for an EmDo expansion, but maybe not one about a Politics role...

I'd love to hear what you think about this, and I'm excited about the prospect of working on new EmDo stuff!

Friday, September 19, 2014

More Deck Learning?

I've mentioned before that I've wanted to explore more uses of the Deck Learning mechanism from Eminent Domain, and I've had a couple of general ideas as to what kinds of game I'd like to try with it...

The other day I started putting some real thought into how a Railroad Tycoon style network building/pickup-deliver game driven by a deck learning mechanism might work. I ended up with some interesting, maybe clever ideas as to how to do cities, connection costs, and deliveries in a certain way, and on the airplane yesterday I fleshed those ideas out pretty well, but I did run into an issue. More like a question, really...

Does the Deck Learning mechanism necessarily require Role Selection? Or is it enough to use the stacks and card drafting outside of a Role Selection game?

I'm not sure I know the answer to that yet, but my first thought was that the Role Selection provided almost all of the interaction in EmDo, so the only way I could use the deck learning in a non-RS game would would be to use some other form of interaction.

So with the ideas I have right now about this rail game (what should I call it? Manifest Destiny... ha ha... Or how about Eminent Do-Train? EmTro? EmTrak? Man, I amuse myself!), my first thought was to use the Role Selection, and each player would build up their own little mini-map. But my current thought is to have a common board where players compete to build cities onto the map and deliver cubes from city to city, and try it without Role Selection.

As a player, would you expect a deck learning game to work more like Eminent Domain (using Role Selection)? Or no?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Holy Stretch Goals, Batman! Bomb Squad blows up!

Michael just released Update #4 for the Bomb Squad kickstarter project, announcing the new stretch goals plan. I'm sure everyonw will be very happy to see what's in store!

Here's the list:

$40,000 - Bomb Squad FUNDS!

$45,000 - Additional 7 Role Cards for Bomb Squad (moved up from $60,000!)

$50,000 - Additional Missions, 2 More Robots, Additional Floor Tiles

$55,000 - App Upgrade - Professional voice actor will read each mission briefing to help set the mood.

$60,000 - Bomb Squad Academy additional game for all backers! ($20 MSRP, one per copy of Bomb Squad ordered)

$70,000 - App Upgrade - Annoyance Option with multiple levels (0/1/2/3) where BURN infiltrates the timer audio to distract you while playing.

$80,000 - Community created missions will be solicited, curated, and made available via PDF after the campaign ends.

$90,000 - App Upgrade - Additional soundtracks for the ambient app music

$100,000 - Robots get upgraded to be plastic miniatures

$110,000 - Bomb Squad gains wooden hostage and bomb tokens