Thursday, September 20, 2012

Super busy + not feeling well = unfortunate combination!

When I started this blog post on Monday I was feeling feverish - my fingers were numb and I was shivering despite it being almost 80 degrees in here. I spent about 4 hours feeling this way, but then made a more-or-less miraculous recovery! I'm so relieved I didn't get sick (or, that I got better right away)!

We're inside 2 weeks from RinCon! That's both very exciting, and very hectic. I feel like there's so much to do, and everything feels like it's behind schedule - but at the same time I feel like it will all get done, and the convention will be awesome! I'm learning a lot about what I'll want to do differently for next year - making plans for that already.

In addition to RinCon planning, I've been finalizing the rules for my Eminent Domain expansion: Escalation as the illustrations for tech cards roll in. I believe we're down to the last two! [EDIT: We've got them all now!] Then the whole shebang gets sent to the excellent Graphic Designer Gavan Brown who worked wonders with the base game. I haven't heard if the cover will be done by him again, or if we're going to get an illustration done this time.

On top of that, the final pages of the Kings of Air and Steam rulebook have been popping up like wildflowers, and approvals have been fast and furious. As usual Josh has really hit this one out of the park... again! Perhaps Kickstarters will get a peek at a rules spread in an upcoming update. The rest of the graphics look as good if not better than the rulebook - with my favorite being one of the player board images - but I'll keep that to myself for now - you can place your wagers when they become public as to which one is my favorite (hint: they're all fantastic, but there are 2 I like best, the "favorite" wins by a nose, so to speak).

In case you haven't heard, the big news is that Michael and I are headed to Essen next month! TMG will not have a booth, but you can find TMG titles Ground Floor, Belfort, Eminent Domain, and Martian Dice at booth 4-230 (LocWorks). I will be in the LocWorks booth signing copies of Eminent Domain for a couple of hours each day, so if you are at the show (especially if I have any European readers who I may not otherwise meet in person), please come on by and say hello! It would make my day to hear that my humble blog is being read on the far side of the world :) I'll try to post more information (such as, I don't know, some kind of schedule maybe?) as it comes to light.

In actual gaming news, I finally got a chance to play the copy of Trajan that I picked up at GenCon. I think I like the game, but I do find something about the Rondel mechanism to be overwrought... I think I might like it better for example if instead of 6 colors, the action tokens were monochrome, and instead of a particular combination of colors, the Trajan tiles simply had a number on them, and you scored them by landing in that action bin and having exactly that number of tokens. Trying to plan ahead which color you'll want where is largely impossible, and introduces my least favorite dynamic to the game - analysis paralysis due to simply not knowing which of 2 choices could possibly be better (and trying to find some reason to pick one over the other).

Playing Trajan mostly made me want to revisit my own game idea using a "Rond-cala" mechanism... For those just tuning in (and for those who read my blog all the time, since it's been a while since I talked about this), here's how my idea came about:

When I first read some teaser information about Trajan, I only heard that it used the Mancala mechanism to distribute markers around a Rondel. I thought that idea was brilliant, and made some assumptions on how that must work. My guess was that on your turn you would choose an action to do, resolve that action based on the number of action tokens in that space on the Rondel, then distribute those tokens around the Rondel a-la Mancala. This sounded fantastic, as each action would sort of grow in power until you take it, then it would revert back to zero, and you'd have to build it back up again or settle for it being weaker the next time you take it. I was really excited about this idea, and waited with baited breath for Trajan to come out... only to find that I'd guessed wrong! Trajan did not work the way I thought it might, instead that game has you choose a bin, distribute the tokens around the Rondel, and then perform the action associated with the last bin you land on.

Trajan's mechanism is also interesting, but as I mentioned above, I find it annoyingly difficult to plan ahead, and a small mistake seems to not just set you back, but force you to drop all of your plans and start again (because all the bins have the wrong number of tokens now, meaning all of your available actions are different than you may have expected). I think my guess would make for an entirely different mechanical experience, one well worth pursuing. Playing Trajan has encouraged me to start thinking about this again, and so I brought my 1/2 prototype (more like 80%) to Monday's Gamesmiths meeting where I described it to a few people and got some feedback from them. One of these days I'd like to actually play the game and see what needs fixing! My next blog post will likely be new and ongoing thoughts about that game (the title of which I'm now leaning towards Templar).

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