Wednesday, November 28, 2007

BGG list of games worth publishing

There's a geeklist on BGG about unpublished games that are worth publishing. If you've played All For One, Wizard's Tower, or Terra Prime and think they're worth publishing, please feel free to add it to that list with your comments!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

BGG.con geeklists

I posted a series of geeklists at BGG about my convention experience, broken up day by day. Much of it is a repeat of what I've said here, but if you're interested then go look, thumb, or comment!


Well, both Terra Prime and Wizard's Tower were not accepted into the next round of the Hippodice contest. However the response has been so good on those games that I almost don't care - I'm going to pitch them to Jay at Rio Grande and Zev from Z-man rather than send them to Germany for months.

I do have some friends that made it, most notably Scott's game Sir Reginold's Fabulous Country Estate. It's costing him $117 to ship the game to Germany - I hope that investment turns out to be worth it. the game is a really cool idea!

1 post about Magic and now I'm a resource?

I posted a few initial thoughts about Llorwyn constructed after playing around with the cards a little, then promptly forgot about it. Lately Internet searches for Llorwyn Constructed have been generating hits on my blog left and right!

Well, if you're coming here for Magic info, you're probably in the wrong place. I haven't played much except a little limited Llorwyn, and outside of that I haven't played Magic in forever. But if it helps, here's what my little Llorwyn Constructed experiment taught me:

Play Black/Green. There are tons of good creatures, there's tons of good removal. It's a solid, solid deck I'm sure. If there are Llorwyn Constructed tournaments, I fully expect to see B/G decks at the top tables. And I'm saying this without any real clue as to what the format looks like.

there is one other deck I'd like to try sometime. A deck with the Seige Tower guy, 3cc 0/5 Legend who makes creatures deal damage according to their toughness instead of their power. That along with the Treefolk Harbinger seems pretty freaking amazing, and in general defensy creatures are undercosted, so I'm sure there's other good stuff that can go in the deck. Oh, and of course it's the right colors for Oblivion Ring and Nameless inversion, the 2 best spells in the set. I drafted a Deathrender the other day, and it seems that might be good in he deck (though probably unnecessary) - maybe to replace a Legendary Siege Tower when they kill one, or else to crap out a 5/7 Trample, Vigilance monster once in a while.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

BGG.con report - Events

Puzzle Hunt
The puzzle hunt last year was very cool, but took way? too long. This time was much better time wise, even if the puzzles weren't necessarily as cool. I was recruited onto a team before the con by Stephanie K along with Chris Johnson and Edward Roske. I felt like we had a really good team and I was looking forward to solving puzzles.

We ended up 6th behind some really accomplished puzzle solvers - tanga regulars, people who construct puzzles and crosswords for a living, and generally really sharp people.

The puzzles each indicated some item, which was to be placed into a box and brought to the judges. The highlight of the entire puzzle hunt was when one of the clues indicated "underwear," so I turned to Steph and said "Ok, strip 'em off!" I mean, she was wearing a skirt, obviously easier for her than anyone else, right? She balked at first, and Edward said "C'mon, take one for the team" and then she shrugged and said "Alright" and ran off to the bathroom. At the end of the event I told the guy running it (Dave Arnott, a good friend of Steph's) "That puzzle hunt was a lot of work to get Steph's underwear off!" - something which amused me to no end.

Game Show
For the last 2 years the Game Show has been based on the Family Feud. This time they based it on The Match Game, a show I'm not entirely familiar with. I didn't like it at all though - the questions had multiple answers, and the idea was to match what the panel of 6 said. It seemed so impossible to score. Every time we had 2 options to go with, we'd pick one, and invariably the other would have been right.

I could have done without the Game Show this time.

BGG.con report - Publishers

One of the main things I wanted to do at the convention was connect with Zev from Z-man and Jay from Rio Grande, to show them my games and talk to them about the possibility of publishing them. I've heard that both Zev and Jay are extremely nice and approachable. I had met Zev once at KublaCon over a year ago, but I'd never met Jay.

Zev Shlasinger (Z-Man)
I talked to Zev via email before the convention, and despite his being extremely busy he said he'd try and make time for me to show him All For One and Wizard's Tower, which he said he'd read about a bit on either BGG or BGDF. I thought that was really nice of him, and I intended to take him up on that. In addition I was supposed to be delivering Lost Adventures to him for Steve and Jeff.

I had hoped to play some games with Zev over the course of the weekend. He had one that I saw just as they were packing up which looked really good (and they said it was really good), I was sorry I missed out on that. I saw Zev and Simon Hunt playing a submission that I recognized from the BGDF, so I really would have liked to get into that game, but i was about to start a game of Kingsburg which I was waiting all weekend to play. In retrospect I wish I'd bailed on Kingsburg in order to play Genji with Zev and Simon.

I never got a chance to play All For One with Zev, but I did play a game of Wizard's Tower with him when he had half an hour before the dealer rooms opened on Saturday. Later that day I handed off Lost Adventures, and showed him All For One. He even recognized the board :) I briefly described the differences, but it would be difficult to glean the details without playing. He took the game with him, and hopefully he'll try it soon and I'll see if he likes the changes that have been made since the last time he saw it (which are significant). I advised him to play with 4 first, as that's the best player count. First time players sometimes complain about chaos in the 5 player game.

Finally, I showed him the bits and described Terra Prime. He didn't seem turned off by it, and I think I'll be emailing him about sending that and Wizard's Tower for further consideration.

Jay Tummelson (Rio Grande)
I didn't see Jay all weekend, which disturbed me a little. I guess it wasn't rocket science, he was in the Rio Grande booth all the time. I had a few different friends that know him and they were going to introduce me - I was iffy about just walking up to him out of the blue even though I've heard he's open to that kind of thing. I was telling this to someone on Sunday, and Jay walked nearby, so the person I was talking to called him over and introduced me. It turned out Jay wasn't leaving until Monday, so he said we should get together after the convention officially closed and I could tell him about my games. Later I went to approach him about it, but he was engrossed in conversation with Derk and Aldie. When I mentioned a meeting, he suggested wqe do it later. At the end of the day I was (finally!) playing a game of Cuba, which I had thought would be my favorite game of the con, and Jay came back from dinner and started teaching Cuba at an adjacent table. Sadly, when Cuba was over it was pretty much time to go, and Jay was still in the middle of his game anyway. I told him it was nice to meet him and asked if he didn't mind my emailing him about the games, to which he said that was fine. I'm a little bummed I couldn't manage to meet with him. I guess I'm just not aggressive enough.

I guess I'll be sending him email as well.

BGG.con report - My games

Terra Prime
I believe Terra Prime is about as done as it's going to get except for whatever fine tuning a publisher might require. I wouldn't mind the game end trigger being a little better defined, but I think I actually know how to do that with components - basically an Exploration track which advances whenever a Yellow or Red tile is explored (the Red tiles are worth 2vp to explore, the Yellow tiles aren't). When it hits a certain number (currently 12) then the game is over.

On the one hand, the game has a space/Sci Fi theme, which could be a difficulty for a publisher since at least in the Euro market, I hear Sci Fi doesn't sell well. On the other hand, Race for the Galaxy, Galaxy Trucker, and Starcraft came out this year, which are all Sci Fi themed. Last year there was Space Dealer and Battlestations. Does this mean the market is flooded with space games? I personally don't think so, but then I'm not the publisher. Does Terra Prime provide something that the other space themed games don't? I think it does - a solid, medium/heavy Eurogame that encompasses Exploration, Colonization, Alien combat, and Resource delivery, all in under 2 hours. It has proven to be a good mix of theme and euro-style mechanics. Some will discount the randomness of the die rolls for Alien attacks, but you can better your odds by preparing, and you can play the whole game without rolling a single die. Some will discount the swingy scores as you score 13 or 15 points at a time, which is why I refer to it as medium weight (if it were heavy then people would expect 2 point victories) - its a silly point, but people argue it. From my perspective, if you win by 1 colony, or 1 delivery, or 1 Alien kill, that's a close game, whether it's 4 points, or 14.

I ran 1 game of Terra Prime at BGG.con, and everyone seemed to enjoy it a lot. Here's what some of them had to say:

Gil Hova (IngredientX): I met up with my buddy Seth Jaffee at this point, and we were able to play his prototype. Why this game isn't published yet is a complete mystery to me. It's a space-exploration game with incredibly streamlined mechanics. You'll hear players say, "Oh, it's my turn already?" a lot. Seth puts a lot of thought into his games, and it really shows with this one.

One of the playtesters had a problem with the relative lack of player interaction, and it's true that you can't blow up another player's spaceship (though there are plenty of aliens willing to do that for you). I suppose that's a question of aesthetics. If you think a spaceship game should involve lasering other players into oblivion, then maybe this game isn't for you.

But there's plenty of interaction in picking up resources just before your opponent, or getting VP for having your opponents make deliveries to your colonies. If that sort of thing sounds like it appeals to you, then try this game if you get a chance. Spread the word and get it in print!

John Lopez (Godeke): My son and I then went over to try out one of Seth's prototypes. Terra Prime feels very much "feature complete". The action point system keep things rotating around the table quickly and there appears to be multiple viable paths to victory. Even though each player took different approaches to the game, the final scores seemed quite reasonable and reflected the success with those approaches to the game. With a nice rulebook and components would be an easy sale in our house. Recommended.

Kevin Felker (kevinfelker42): As space explorers on the outskirts of known space from the Terra Prime spacestation, one attempts to win by attaining the most victory points. The closer hexes are green, then yellow, then red. Green is mostly safe, with less hostile aliens and asteroids.

Your ship card has upgradable modules and starts with only a cargo hold/no weapons/no shields, so you'll have to earn some money to make your ship deep space worthy.

First, create some colonies by taking cryogenically frozen people to a planet (or asteroids which produce a unique good for the tech chart). These start producing goods. Pick up and deliver these goods back to Terra Prime to make money (or to go up on the tech chart for some special abilities like cloaking or increased revenue on deliveries). You'll have to weigh the options based on your strategy.

Combat is fairly forgiving as you roll again if your first roll is a failure, stripping of a ship component. There's even a political option to eject goods as an offering if your ship isn't combat worthy.

There are many ways to generate VPs. Money translates into VPs. The further out the created colony is, the more VPs generated. People picking up goods from your colony nets a VP. Being the first to defeat each Red tile nets 2 VPs.
I played the merchant strategy, and VPs were similar to someone on combat/colonize strategy.

Some tweaking is still needed as Seth noted to us in that by the time we got to the furthest Red hexes, the game basically ended.

Player interaction is distilled to being a race since all are on the same side (humanity), but the turns move very fast so there is little downtime.

As I typed this, I realized how multi-leveled this game is and kept bumping up my rating.
It feels like a Runebound in space, except better and more streamlined.

I would like to see this published, curious on how the final artwork would be...quirky/cartoony or serious.

All for One
I ran a game of All For One as well at the con. The reaction of the players this time was less enthusiastic than I'm used to. The thing about All For One is that it's pretty hit or miss. Either you love it or you hate it. The players said they liked it alright, but I got the impression they were just being polite. I still think it's a solid game, and looking at all the feedback I've ever gotten from players at cons, its been overwhelmingly positive. So that's good!

I sent this one home with Zev Shlasinger from Z-Man games, I'm hoping he'll have a chance to play it again. He's played it once before, and he had some comments, some things he would have liked to see addressed. The recent changes will hopefully serve to address those items, as well as improve the game overall.

Blockade Runner
In theory, Blockade Runner will be published next year by Shifting Skies Games, so I've got that to look forward to :) I ran two games of it at the con, and the reactions were positive. There were some comments with some ideas for variants or variations of rules I'm going to look into.

Wizard's Tower
Wizard's Tower was a big hit at the convention. I played it 7 or 8 times with a total of 8 different people, and I think they all liked the game very much. One of them explicitly said that it felt like a real game (or something to that effect).

One of the people I played it with was Zev, who said that abstract games aren't really his thing, personally. I believe he said I could send it to him for further review, so I'll be emailing him about that. I think the production costs would be pretty low for that game, considering it's got fewer (and similar!) bits than Masons or Carolus Magnus.

Brain Freeze
I always like to bring Brain Freeze along to play while waiting. The whole game takes about 1 minute to play, so it's the ultimate filler. On the down side, it requires a chess clock, so it's probably imminently unpublishable. The people who played it this time seemed to like it. Edward and Eduardo played for over 1/2 an hour straight!

I found a better way to handicap myself in that game - before I was giving myself less time, but that wasn't the best handicap, even if only because it meant resetting the clock all the time. This time I tried playing left handed. Now that is a handicap!

Rodeo Drive
The new prototype Rodeo Drive s still in its infancy, but I wanted to see how certain friends liked it, because I know they like Liar's Dice. We played a partial game just to see how the mechanics worked. I couldn't really tell if the players were into it or not. The auction works really well, I'm not sure about the scoring part yet. In any case, I think its a really good start, seeing as only a couple days thought has gone into it so far.

BGG.con report - Other people's games

Lost Adventures (Jeff Warrender and Steve Sisk)
I've mentioned that I like this game a lot. Steve sent me his fancified prototype - it's beautiful! It looks like a professionally produced game! The idea was for me to run a demo of it at BGG.con and then hand it off to Zev from Z-man to take home with him. Well, after nearly leaving it on the airplane in Las Vegas, the game made it safely to the convention, and at about 2pm on Saturday I did run a demo of it. I tried to do so in front of Zev's booth so he'd be able to look in on the game.

I ended up with 5 people wanting to play, and there's really no reason the game shouldn't work with 5, so we gave it a shot. I thought the game was dragging on a long time, so part way through I mentioned that we could stop at the temple phase, and was chastised heavily by the players! They wanted to see the whole thing through - some of them because they'd eschewed going for VPs in the map phase in order to prepare for the Temple, and some because they were just enjoying the game! All told, including the rules, the game took a little over 3 hours in the end. It felt longer to me, but the clock doesn't lie. That's pretty good for a 5 player game, all new players, in a convention atmosphere, and including the rules explanation!

The best news is that everyone had a really good time. Some of the players wanted to play it again right away (sadly, we never did due to time constraints). There were 2 episodes that were particularly exciting and noteworthy:

First, Jennifer dug up a relic, and used her free action to run to one of the cities it could be delivered in (lest it be stolen by John). She failed the challenge though, and was dragged all the way to Peking! This might have been a big enough deterrent to John, as he was across the board completely. But no, John spent his entire turn and every card in his hand to travel to Peking, pass the challenge there, fight for the relic (with 2 cards, Jennifer only had 1 left, so automatic win), use the free action to move to Bangkok, pass the challenge there, and finally deliver the relic. In that last challenge there was a 1 in 3 chance he would have failed, been dragged back to Peking, where Jennifer could have stolen the relic back and delivered it herself!

Later, on her very last turn of the game, Jennifer had 2 choices - she could reach either the grail room and then a Font, or she could reach John - who had already been to the grail room, and who had 2 checks in the True Grail category (potentially 50-50 info on the true grail) and then still reach the Font. Some players suggested she steal the artifact from John, since it was 50-50, and it would serve him right for stealing a relic from her... then someone pointed out that John never actually looked at the clue for the grail, meaning he only had a 1-in-6 chance of having the right one. The better odds were with the grail room (Jennifer knew exactly which grail was the right one). So going for VPs rather than retribution, and to stop the Nazis from finding the grail if nothing else, Jennifer moved to the grail room, grabbed the correct grail, then moved to a font and tested it, collecting 4vp. It wasn't enough to win, but it put her in 2nd or 3rd place, and it kept the world safe from Nazis.

As an "experience game" I think it's fair to say that Lost Adventures succeeds. Here's what some of
the players had to say about the game in their BGG.con reports:

Lynette Jagoda (Meerkat): Best gaming session. Proto-type play session for "Lost Adventures" and the total hilarity that sprang from one of the other players noting that rule that "reading" an artifact like a scroll took an extra action point, thus one could carry it around "not looking" at it was silly. "Oh I found this awesome scroll I have been looking for for weeks, but I don't think I'll read it just now". It is hard to convey the moment in words, but really we were in stiches, and we ended up in stitches again every time in the game a new artifact was found after this point.

John Lopez (Godeke): Lost Adventures (which I was pretty sure was in the database, but I'm not finding) is another prototype... but one *heck* of a prototype it is. The components are almost production quality. The secret information is hidden cleverly and the decoding of that information works as advertised. The game caused two fits of pretty long lasting hysterics. It isn't a traditional Eurogame and probably isn't all that balanced, but it feels like it would make an *excellent* family game that favors "experience" over "gameplay". It was a bit long with five players playing a four player game, but quite good. Recommended for family gaming, if it ever finds a publisher.

Homesteaders (Alex Rockwell)
I always enjoy this game, and the game of it played at BGG.con was no exception. Homesteaders is a heavier game, along the lines of Puerto Rico or Caylus in complexity. There are a bunch of different buildings, and you auction off the right to build one type or another, then you choose which building of that type you want to build. The buildings have a resource cost, and they have some income and or special abilities. There are 9 different resources to manage including cubes, cash, actions, and debt. Here are some comments from last weekends' players:

John Lopez: Another prototype, this combines Amun-Re's action track system with the Caylus bonus track and Puerto Rico's building purchases to make a very clever "victory point engine" game. Each part of the game flows smoothly until the end where the final points can be obtained. Here you may find yourself selling goods to the bank and rebuying them repeatedly to turn action tokens into victory points. It would seem that simply calling each unused action token a victory point would work, but you can actually make a profit in these transactions and thus obtain gold (which is also a victory point). A minor issue, but after the remainder of the game flowing so smoothly, it was jarring.

This may have been the first clue that I'm burned out of the more abstracted out victory point engine games: while enjoyable, I preferred Terra Prime for the "fun factor" during the game. This would probably have more replay value, but would also very easily allow an experienced player to run away with the game and never look back. Recommended for experienced VP engine builders.

Michael Cooper: Later Thursday evening, I wandered back into the secondary game room and was talked into playing Homesteaders. I'm not real good at evaluating auction games on first plays, as I usually have no idea what value to place on certain things, and it showed in my final score. I'd play this again once it was published, but I don't think I'd buy it.

Gil Hova: I wanted to try this game because I know that its designer is a huge Puerto Rico nut, and I wanted to see what kind of game he'd design if he had his druthers. This is a wonderful auction resource management game.

It's not the most original thing you'll ever play, as it plays like a direct cross between Puerto Rico and Amun-Re. And it's also overwhelming when you first play it, because the number of options available to you are quite large. But after your first game, you'll start to see its depth and charm.

The game isn't without its rough edges. Most notably, the last round seems a little fiddly, as you can convert some resources back and forth an awful lot of times, and it seems more of an exercise in point optimization than a game. But that's nothing that can't be tightened up.

Salvage (Dan Manfredini)
I played a quick (30 minute) game by Dan Manfredini (GameBot) called Salvage, which involved buying various tiles, and paying with resource cards obtained via card drafting, like MtG booster drafting or like Notre Dame or Fairy Tale. To me there didn't seem to be a lot to it. Then again, it's a 30 minute filler-type game. I'm not a big fan of that type of game usually, so I'm not too surprised it wasn't my thing. It certainly worked though, there were 4 types of tiles you could buy, and they each had their costs and effects. In discussing it afterward I started seeing some stuff I'd think about if I were to play it again.

Suitcases (some guy)
Mike Nickoloff had a prototype by someone I don't know called Suitcases. He was looking for any kind of feedback on the game. It was a Take That! style 2 player card game where you play suitcases of various size in front of you, and pack items into them. The items are worth positive or negative points and also have a 'size' number. Any case that isn't entirely full (it's capacity not filled by the size of the items in it) is considered "rattling" and if you pack it away you lose all of the contents (no score for that one). There are also "Magic suitcases" which flip the sign on everything inside them. SO you can play these Magic suitcases on your opponent when they have a big score coming, or you can put negative stuff in their cases, or positive stuff in your case.

It really wasn't very good. We tried pretty hard to find any redeeming qualities at all. I actually liked the concept of the sizes and fitting things into the cases, but past that there was nothing really good to be said about the game as far as I could tell. On the plane coming home I thought abut what I might do differently if I tried to make a game about that, and I came up with a much more Euro-style game which might actually be alright. The theme of "packing bags for a trip" isn't amazing though.

Prolix (Gil Hova)
I first played Prolix at the Spielbany thing in New York, and I was excited to play it again at BGG.con. I enjoy this word game very much - I like word games in general, and this one has some nice tactical gamery involved, as well as flexibility for using whatever word comes to mind. In Prolix there are some letters on the board, and you can use whatever word you want, and you score for the letters you use that are on the board. So the more you use the better. The letters have a point value depending on which column they are in on the board, and some of the more rare letters also have a bonus point or two on them. I commented during the game that I was averaging 13 points per word, and another player said their largest score was about that, so I guess I was doing well :) I interrupted maybe 1 time too many, and actually had to reduce my score a bit because of it. The interrupt system is very cool, if you see a word on another player's turn, you're allowed to interrupt them and take it. Each time you do that after the first, you get 1 fewer points than the last time (-1, -2, -3...) so after a while it had batter be a really good word if you're going to come out ahead. you only get to count 5 words, and you MUST count your interrupts first.

Prolix is excellent and I hope it gets published ASAP so I can get my own copy!

Wag the Wolf (Gil Hova)
Gil showed me Wag the Wolf when I was in New York, and gave me the rundown on it. I didn't have time to play, but I was interested to hear about it. The basic idea is that you auction for media outlets, you run money through the outlets to get Media Points, and you "cry wolf" with the outlets to get income - which means you 'turn them off' so you can't use them for media points anymore, and instead you get some money and VPs. For his birthday, Gil's friend coded an online implementation of the game which is quite good, and I've been playing Wag the Wolf online for a little while now. At first I thought it was pretty 1 directional, but the more I played it the more I found to like. This isn't the best game ever by any means, but I'm very much enjoying playing it online. There's not much that is wrong with the game, just that some people will want more variety in strategic options. I was happy to play this in real life at the convention.

BGG.con report - Old Standbys

Puerto Rico
I played Puerto Rico twice at the con, because Brian hadn't played it and it's one of the classic games that I thought he should play because it's generally considered the best multiplayer strategy game, ever. The first game was me, 1 newbie, 2 that haven't played much, and 1 other person who'd really played before. That person did something unusual, going for turn 2 Coffee, which paid off for him pretty well. He ended up in second (to me).

The second game I played of Puerto Rico was cool because I got to see how much Brian had learned and understood the game already. He had a couple of inspired plays, and only 1 or 2 questionable ones. I believe he finished 2nd in the 2nd game, but I may be misremembering.

I feel like a lot of people, at least in my game club, don't play enough Puerto Rico. Either because they played it a lot when it came out, or on BSW, or they play it every couple of months and thats enough for them. I'd like to see people around here play this more often and actually get good at it. I'm trying to push that at my game club.

Railroad Tycoon
I really like this game, more than I let on sometimes. I thought Brian would like it, so I suggested we play it. We ended up playing a 5 player game where I was the only one who'd played before. It was an exciting and close game, and I made a fatal mistake that cost me any hope of winning the game. It was cool to see the top 2 scores, only 2 points apart, 1 player only having 3 shares of stock and the other having 13! Brian picked this one up quickly, and except for a few shares he may not have needed, he played a great game.

I taught this one other time during the convention as well.

Times Up!
This is my favorite party game, and its fun to play with Steph and Chris and their friends from L.A. I was on Chris' team with a guy named Kevin. I think we ended up 2nd or 3rd. Steph's team won, as usual.

Guitar Hero
Steph talked Aldie into bringing his Xbox and Guitar Hero 3 - so I finally got to play this. I'm not all that great at Guitar Hero. I have 1 and 2 for playstation, and I play on Hard and do OK. Steph plays on Expert and kicks ass. She humored me with a Pro Face Off (Freebird on Hard), and did worse than usual while she did better than usual.

BGG.con report - Essen Releases

Pretty good, would like to play it more. I worry that often it will come don to who got the most powerful card combination, but then there are so many combinations that there's probably not a big difference in them. I definitely want to play more of this, as soon as the English version comes out (thanks Z-man!)

I was very, very excited about Cuba. I went into the con fully expecting Cuba to be my new favorite game. People compare it to Puerto Rico, Caylus, Pillars of the Earth - three of my very favorite games - What more could I hope for?!?

When I played Cuba I was on 30 hours without sleep, and only about 4 hours of sleep before that, and 3 or 4 hours the 3 nights before that... so maybe I wasn't at maximum capacity. I'll certainly play the game again, and I'm kind of sorry I didn't buy it at the con so I could play it this weekend, but I think I may have to reconsider crowning it my new favorite game.

I thought I'd really love this one. It played pretty much like I thought, and I did like the game... but not quite as much as I'd hoped. I thought there'd be more to the decision to split up your roll - but there's really not. Often you get 3 resources if you place them all together, and 2 + 1 if you place them separately. It seemed pretty equivalent, all the rewards felt sort of samey-same. Most of the time you pretty much just want to place the dice on the highest number you can.

I'd still like to play this some more, and I might buy it just so I can, but I'm a tad disappointed.

Race for the Galaxy
I wasn't sure if I'd like this one or not. I'd heard some good things, and while I don't like San Juan, I like the idea behind it. The thing that made me really want to try this game was based on this paragraph:

Reverse reverse psychology
The game can get somewhat boring if each player just plays the action that they themselves want to execute. It gets a lot more interesting if you start paying attention to what other players are going to do. If you suspect some other player is going to Settle, and if you do not need the special bonus, you may be better off selecting some other action. Of course, this can lead to situations where two players both expect the other to take a certain action, resulting in that action not being picked at all.

In this review. I tried the game and was a little confused by the iconography at the outset, but I figured that out quickly enough. I would like to play this game a bunch more times to get good at it, but I certainly like it much better than San Juan - to which it's often compared. I'm not sure it's "all that" though.

Wurfel Bingo
My friend picked this up at Essen for relatively cheap. In the box there's 2d6 and some dry erase scoreboards and markers, which is all you're paying for. You could play this with a paper and pencil if you wanted to - which we did, at a restaurant while waiting for food. It's cool for a filler, sorta like Take it Easy or Take it to the Limit. I thought I was doing terribly, but ended up winning the game I played. I don't know that I'd pay money for this game, but it's a fun game!

Someone described this as being a bit like Medici. I guess the drawing mechanic is similar to that in some ways. It was an alright game, but it needed to be longer - I felt like it ended just as I was building my score up.

So all in all the games I was looking forward to were something of a disappointment. They were all decent, but not amazing. I guess Agricola wins the prize for "best new game I'm interested in," but this time that's not saying all that much. Hey, at least this time I got to play all the things I went to the con intending to play!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

BGG.con report - outline

I went to BGG.con last week, and had a great time. I plan on expounding on this topic, but I'd like to break it up into multiple posts. This post will serve as a sort of outline for that.

Essen releases:
Race for the Galaxy x2
Wurfel Bingo x2

Old Standbys:
Puerto Rico x2
Railroad Tycoon
Guitar Hero
Times Up!

My Prototypes:
Terra Prime
All for One
Blockade Runner x2
Wizard's Tower xlots
Brain Freeze
Rodeo Drive

Other people's prototypes:
Lost Adventures (Jeff Warrender and Steve Sisk)
Homesteaders (Alex Rockwell)
Salvage (Dan Manfredini)
Suitcases (some guy)
Prolix (Gil Hova)
Wag the Wolf (Gil Hova)

Puzzle Hunt
Game Show

Zev (Z-Man)
Jay (Rio Grande)

I managed to not play any Werewolf this time out. I was a little disappointed about that.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

2-player Rodeo "Test Drive" (heh)

I played Rodeo Drive with Eric tonight, and we both agreed that the game would be better with more than 2 players. However it certainly worked with 2, and it worked better than it had before because I incorporated all the things that came up in earlier playtests.

The game lasted just over an hour not including the rules, which was only about 5 minutes more. It seems the 3 player game took about that long, and that stands to reason because there are about the same number of bids going on in the auctions in 2 or 3 player. In 2 player we used 4 bid tokens each (bidding on 4 of the 6 auctions), while in a 3 player game we'd use 3 each. Actually, last time we used 2 each, but we should definitely make that 3 - there absolutely needs to be more bid tokens than there are auctions in order to make people contest things.

Eric liked the game. It went well, the updated privileges were good, the scoring was alright, the auction mechanic still works fine. All in all a good playtest.

The main thing I'd like to work on for the game is the specifics of the scoring system/incentive for players to care which auction they are winning. I definitely think there needs to be a geographic element that ignores the colored regions, in order to relate the different auctions to each other. I think the best idea might involve "groups" rather than chains of buildings in a row. That's the direction I'm going to explore next.

The actual rules of the game are solid, just tweaking the scoring to drive decisions - I think this game might be ready for more widespread playtesting soon!

Monday, November 12, 2007

To Dallas for BGG.con!

Wednesday morning I leave for Dallas for BGG.con, 4 days of gaming goodness! I'm actually trying to stretch that out a bit by going the day before it actually starts, and leaving the day after it ends (though that was mostly because of plane tickets).

As for game playing, I'm really looking forward to playing the following new games:

Race for the Galaxy

...and I know for a fact I'll have access to a copy of Agricola, because Stephanie loves it and is bringing her copy. I had made a geeklist at BGG in which I listed a number of new games I was interested in, but the 4 above are my tier 1 choices.

In addition, I've set up a sign up list for playing prototypes at the convention. I've got a number of people signed up to play:

Terra Prime
Blockade Runner
Lost Adventures

And some other designers have posted games to the list as well, such as IngredientX (Gil Hova) and his cool word game Prolix, as well as his media game Wag the Wolf (which I've been playing online, and it's pretty cool).

Jeff and Steve sent me a sweet prototype of Lost Adventures to use at the con, and then leave with Zev Shlasinger for consideration. Zev also said he'd try and make time for me to show him All For One and Wizard's Tower. That's pretty exciting! Jay Tummelson will be there, and I'm going to try and show some of my stuff to him as well.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Rodeo Drive - first playtest

Without saying too much about the game...

We had a full length 3-player test of the "top secret" Rodeo Drive tonight, and it went pretty much the way I thought it would. The auction mechanic worked well, though it lacked some tension - easily solved by giving each player an additional bidding token. The same thing happened in our initial 2-player test, not enough bids to make it interesting. So in 2-player each player will be placing 4 bids on the 6 auctions, in 3-player there will be 3 bids per player, and in 4 player there will be 2 bids. If the game works with 5 players each player will also get 2 bids. It may simply not be a 6-player game, or maybe 6 players with 1 bid each (maybe 2?) would work out. Not sure about that.

The least satisfying thing about the game was that the Privileges were uninteresting and for the most part nobody used them. I figured that would happen, because their power level was low in comparison to the point value of playing the tile to the board. We're going to try increasing the power of the privileges as well as decreasing the VP rewards to bring them more into balance.

We're also going to try a variation on how tiles come up for auction (though the game will not change much from that), and another way to consider the "chain" scoring.

What worked really well was the cool auction mechanic (as expected), the diminishing return for winning the same auction over and over, and I think the chain scoring worked well that game also, but we're going to try another version to see how it feels.

Hopefully soon I'll be able to talk about the game more, when more stuff is finalized and the game is closer to being "done."

Thursday, November 01, 2007

I'd like to design a "bigger" game

I've noticed that all the games I've designed or worked on are "quick fillers" or "medium weight" games. I like to play medium weight games, so it stands to reason that my designs might fall into that category. But I found myself thinking recently that I'd really like to make a game that is heavier and deeper.

I'm not really sure how to go about that. A friend of mine designed Homesteaders, which I find to be pretty deep, lots of emergent strategy. Not really any luck element. That's a really good game, and it's the kind of thing I'm talking about - but I didn't have anything to do with that. I wasn't even involved in playtesting until the game was already mostly finished.

I don't know if any of my current ideas would make for a good heavy game or not - my guess is no, as they are all from before I started thinking about it, and therefore were probably conceived with a 1 hour time frame and "middle weight" in mind. Maybe the Time = Money idea could be interesting enough to warrant a heavyweight game built around it.

I'll have to give it some thought and figure out what exactly I mean by "bigger" or "deeper" or "heavy weight as opposed to medium weight" - then decide how to go about it.