Thursday, July 16, 2009

Another month, another post...

I had resolved to post once a month on this thing, but I've clearly been slacking in that regard. So what's new in Seth's gaming life?

Recent Gaming
In the last month or so I played a lot of games, 66 in June, and 19 so far in July. So what have I been playing?

In Seattle I played a lot of Dominion with Jeremy and Aaron. I haven't played in a while, and it's fun - especially against those guys for some reason. I also played 2 games of Lost Cities: the Board Game (which I like better than Keltis for sure, but it's still mostly luck) with them and Amelia and Emily, a game of Citadels, and 2 games of Masters of Venice.

I picked up Masters of Venice knowing very little about it, but I thought Jeremy and Aaron might like it, I wanted to try it, and hey - at least it was only $35! After buying it I read some stuff online, all of which was mediocre and said the game was very fiddly. I'm happy to report that we liked it pretty well, had a good time talking about it and thinking about it after the first game, and for the most part our play improved in the second game. It is a little annoying to have to adjust a price every time a cube comes into the game, but it's actually not that bad - at least all the tracking makes sense with regard to supply and demand.

The game is one in which you can buy and sell shares of stock in companies, as well as bu, sell, or cash in resource cubes in order to make money or fulfill 'orders' - selling and fulfilling orders increases the value of the stock in the associated companies (there's 1 company per type of resource cube). The idea is to make the most money. There seems to be a lot of ways to go about that, so I think the game could be really interesting. I'd have to play it a few more times to know weather or not it has any kind of staying power, but it's certainly worth a few plays at least.

I also played a game or 2 of Race for the Galaxy while in Seattle... for the first time in ages. I don't like that game too much anymore, but it was still fun to play vs Jeremy. Race and Dominion have fallen by the wayside for me because I think Glory to Rome is simply a better game of the same scope. I got Jeremy to play a couple games of it, but he didn't like it too much. that surprised me, because I thought my Magic friends would really like GtR and take to it more easily than they did. Tyler and Mike like it, but they didn't grasp it as easily as I thought they would. Jeremy really didn't seem to like it that much at all - I think he prefers Race and Dominion.

At KublaCon in May I played a game of Small World, the remake of Vinci. I liked Vinci a lot, and played a bunch online a while back on In Seattle I played Small World 4 times... it's good, and fun - I keep going back and forth on weather I like it better than Vinci or not. Some parts yes, some parts no. I think the graphic design is pretty bad, but some of the other changes are good for the game. I don't think it's something i need to run out and buy, and if i were buying, I'd probably rather own Vinci (though I may not believe that as much as I used to).

I played a few other games here and there, but the main thing I've been playing has been unpublished prototypes. As head of development for Tasty Minstrel, as well as a game designer myself, it follows that I would play a lot of prototypes - and if you've ever read my blog before this should be no surprise. This is, after all, a game design blog!

It's been a long time since I have worked on any of my own games. I spent some time in June thinking about two games which I grabbed out of the KublaCon game design contest - one was called Streets of Cairo, which was like a heavy Carcassonne, and the other was called Tomes of Knowledge, which had a really neat theme but was in effect a "Take That!" style card game which I didn't think fit the theme (or at least, didn't fit the theme the way I thought it would and wanted it to). I wrote up a lot of comments on Tomes of Knowledge, more or less completely redesigning it the way I might go about it, and sent those comments off to the designers to use or not use as they see fit. If they update the game and want me to look at it again, I'll be happy to, but until then there's really no reason for me to think about it anymore.

That's especially true since Tasty Minstrel has 2 games "on the list" for next year which I have prototypes of and need to work on...

Cow Tipping is a rummy variant which, currently, has a sort of disconnect between complexity of scoring and complexity of game. It's a very cute them, and the designer has done a beautiful job with the prototype (and would be doing his own art for the game, I believe). I'm also exploring ways to make it feel more like you have the opportunity to build a set - that may or may not pan out.

Belfort is a Worker Placement / Area Control game which is really good and also has a really cute theme. Well, the theme itself isn't anything unusual, but the characters in the game are super-cute :) My main challenge there is to make sure that a certain part of the game (a part that is different every time and therefore makes for a fun, replayable game) works right and is all balanced and everything, and maybe (though it's not clear if it's necessary) to make sure the worker placement portion of the game is strong enough... or at least that the different parts of the game are appropriately involved and interesting, and anything uninteresting gets cut or streamlined out of the way so as not to drag the game length out.

I feel really good about Belfort, as it's the kind of game I like to play, and it's a solid design that is fun and not just like other games out there. I've played it twice since Friday, and I've been giving it a lot of thought and corresponding with the designers. It feels good!

Th art is almost done for Terra Prime, and frankly I can't wait to see it! I want to get some posted on the Tasty Minstrel website as soon as possible. The art for Homesteaders is largely complete, and I think Ariel did a fantastic job with it. After the TP art is done, there's not much to do except sit and wait for the manufacturers to do their thing... I'm getting a little antsy!

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