Monday, June 24, 2013

City Hall avatars!

The Kickstarter for City Hall will only be running through Friday, and we've got a ways to go before we fund.

Here's a heartfelt video from the designer Michael Keller, thanking you for your support thus far.

In an effort to help spread the word, I've got these handy dandy City Hall avatars - if you could spare the effort and change your FaceBook/Twitter/BGG/etc avatar to one of these just through Friday, that would help us out a lot!

City Hall is a great euro-style game, and I'm certain that fans of TMG eurogames will really enjoy it. I hope we are able to reach our funding goal so we can bring this game to our fans - and more selfishly, so I can play it myself!

Thanks for your support!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Beyond EmDo

I played Eminent Domain again yesterday - teaching some new players. I continue to be very pleased with how that game turned out! I'm excited for the upcoming Escalation expansion, I'm happy with the following Exotica expansion thus far, and I look forward to working on the future (and final) "Agendas" expansion.

I mentioned before that I put some thought into an Eminent Domain Dice Game, and that came together quickly. I'm happy with EmDice, and I think it's likely to be published soon.

I'm very proud of the 'deck learning' mechanism, and while it's done wonders in Eminent Domain, I don't know if I'm done with it. I've had some thoughts on other ways to utilize this mechanism. Here are 2 examples of possible games I might try to make based on EmDo's deck learning mechanism...

Railroad Tycoon style train game
I played Railroad Tycoon today - first time in a long time. I really, really like that game. I've considered a game based on Railroad Tycoon, using a deck learning mechanism to drive it.

There would be a board with cities and hexes, like Railroad Tycoon. Using your deck of cards you would build track to connect cities, deliver cubes, upgrade your engine, complete specific routes, etc. Main strategies would involve expanding your network and making deliveries, and like EmDo, I envision that early game players will need to add cities to their network, then at some point players will have to decide if they'll concentrate on continuing to expand their network, or if they'll transition to making more deliveries for example.

Historical Civ game
EmDo is basically a civ game set in outer space. I had originally intended to set it in a more common, historical, terrestrial civ game setting. I can imagine doing a civ game in such a setting with deck learning in it, and a game board, perhaps similar to Eight Minute Empire. Or perhaps like Princes of the Dragon Throne, with colored regions and cities (or locations) of each color within each region.

I imagine 2 rows of "tech cards" - each row a display from a shuffled deck (like Ascension's center row). One row with a money cost, the other row with an Influence cost. Perhaps one of these rows has cards which go into play (like EmDo planets) while the other has cards which go into your deck. Or perhaps cards of each of those types are shuffled all together. Maybe both rows even come from the same deck.

Actions/Roles would be things like:
Recruit: Move units from "provinces" (general supply) to "court" (personal supply)
Place: Place units on the board
Move: Move units around the board
Get "tech" card type A (based on Money)
Get "tech" card type B (based on Influence)
Trade(?): Get money somehow
???: Get Influence somehow

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

City Hall - now by TMG - back on Kickstarter!

Last November I posted about a game called City Hall, by Michael Keller. I had a chance to play it at BGG.con while it was on Kickstarter and I really enjoyed it.

Unfortunately, Keller's Kickstarter project fell short of the funding goal. But we here at TMG thought it was a strong game, and deserving of publication, so we offered to publish it!

Here's a brief overview of City Hall:

Stakes are high in the Big Apple
In your bid to become Mayor you will send your staffers to the seven City Hall offices and auction off their benefits to build parks and buildings to secure the votes of the populace.
You can accept your rivals influence, or pay your own to keep the benefit to yourself. Leverage your money and influence to win the voters' approval and become the next Mayor of New York!

City Hall pits 2-4 players against each other in a bid to build a thriving city and gain the approval of the voters in order to win the Mayoral election.
There are seven Offices in City Hall. Each has a distinct function. Some of these offices help build up the city, while others only benefit the player who controls them.
On your turn you will choose any Office that hasn't already been chosen, and put it up for auction. Your opponents will bid influence, trying to wrest away control of that Office. You can accept the highest bid, or pay that much of your own influence to the bank and maintain control of the Office and use its power for yourself.

The Offices in City Hall are...
Tax Assessor: Collect money according to the population you have brought to the city
Campaign Manager: Pay money to increase your Approval Rating
Surveyor: Purchase a plot of land
Lobbyist: Convert money to Influence and vice versa
Zoning Board: Build property on a plot of land you own
Deputy Mayor: Advance in turn order
Health Commissioner: Bring new population to the city

The game ends when one player's Approval Rating is high enough, or when enough properties have been built, and at that time there's an election for Mayor! You'll multiply your Approval Rating by your Population to determine how many votes you get - the player with the most votes becomes the Mayor of New York and wins the game!

After a thorough rules rewrite (not rules changes, just clean-ups), TMG has now put City Hall back on Kickstarter - effective TODAY! We're trying another short run "Quickstarter" with this title, so the project only lasts 9 days. Since the game was already done, we do not have any stretch goals planned, we just want to see the game published. But we'll need your help if we're going to be able to afford it.

As a backer of City Hall, you'll get a significant discount compared to MSRP (20%, comparable to some online prices), including shipping inside the U.S. Unfortunately Canadian and overseas shipping costs more, but we do have the usual bundle prices which make it more cost effective outside the U.S.

We're not big fans of exclusive game content, however for our backers we will have a special limited edition  box, and we'll add some wooden star bits to use in lieu of the normal cardboard ones.

Perhaps the main incentive to get in on the Kickstarter this time is because TMG won't be publishing the game without sufficient support! Unlike some of our other projects, we're not planning on just doing this game anyway. So by pledging your support you will...
* Help ensure the game is produced,
* Get a copy at a reasonable price,
* Be among the first to receive the game once the production run arrives.

I hope you'll take a look at City Hall, and consider backing the kickstarter project to get yourself a copy!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Recent Gaming

What have you been playing lately?

Here's what's been hitting my table:

Tzolk'in: the Mayan Calendar
After playing Tzolk'in at BGG.con last November, I was excited to play it again. My friend knew I would likely pick up the game once it became available, and at the time people were really getting into painting the gears. He offered to paint my gears for me as a birthday gift when I got a copy. Unfortunately it took quite some time before he got a chance to paint them - but I finally did get to play my copy! I've played a handful of times now, and I have been enjoying it.

A couple of my friends think that buildings just aren't lucrative enough to be a winning strategy - they think the game is all about the God tracks. While it's true that the God tracks are good and should be ignored at a player's own risk, I have won my share of games concentrating on buildings. Last weekend I played a game where all I did was build! I maxed out the resource and architecture tech tracks and built a total of 11 buildings plus 2 monuments. One of the monuments gave me 2 points per building/monument for a total of 26 points! I ended up with 95 points, 25 ahead of 2nd place. That game I even begged for food 3 or 4 times, scoring NEGATIVE 3 points off of God tracks at midgame, and only about 7 God track points at the game end.

So it seems that buildings can be a viable strategy after all!

Bora Bora
I have played a couple games of Bora Bora recently. People have described games like Bora Bora as "victory point salad" - often using the term as a criticism, citing that a player can "just do whatever, get points for it, and see if they win." But anyone who's trying to win cannot simply "do whatever." The whole point is to find synergistic actions that maximize your points. The fact that everything is worth points simply acts as a way to evaluate actions and gauge how well you're doing. I for one enjoy games like that.

I've enjoyed Bora Bora so far, but I don't get to play it too often because my normal play groups don't have access to a copy.

Terra Mystica
Terra Mystica has been very popular lately as well, though I've only played it once - and I'm not sure if I liked it as much as I thought I would. Compared to Bora Bora, in Terra Mystica you have a bunch of options and none of them are worth points directly, so it's actually harder to tell how much progress you're making!

That's exaggerated a little, but it's kinda how I felt after my first game. I wouldn't mind playing again, but I haven't sought it out, maybe because it seemed to take a really long time.

The Manhattan Project (with Second Stage expansion)
I pledged for the Second Stage expansion to The Manhattan Project a while ago on Kickstarter, and the other day it arrived. Since then I've only gotten it to the table once, and we used all the different parts (each one is optional). ere's what we thought of them:

Role Selection: There are 7 "personalities" to choose from, and every time you vacate (use your turn to get your guys back) you must choose one. While you have a personality in front of you, you gain the benefit of that personality. These benefits are "immune to espionage," "Each turn collect a Fighter and a Bomber and take a free Air Strike action," "Once each turn you may use a Laborer as a Scientist, or a Scientist as 2 Scientists," and stuff like that. This aspect was pretty awesome, we all liked it a lot.

Hydrogen Bombs:  There's a new type of bomb, called a Hydrogen bomb. You can get one instead of a normal bomb, and to play it you'll need 8 or 9 workers and a handful of Lithium Deuteride - a new resource that comes from LD Mines (new buildings in the deck). The effect of the H-bomb is to double the score of one of your already made Plutonium bombs (not Uranium).

In our game, LD Mines didn't come up until very late, so nobody even thought about using an H-bomb. I guess I can see why the H-bombs aren't just shuffled into the bomb deck, but is that really necessary? I'm not sure. I don't mind playing with the H-bombs, but I wonder if anyone will ever really build one. I suppose it's efficient enouhg, as long as an LD Mine shows up.

Rockets and Rocket Factories: Also instead of a bomb, a player can choose to take a Rocket Factory. This is a building that creates a new kind of "plane" - a rocket. Like Bombers, Rockets can be used to load bombs and to damage buildings. In fact, rockets can damage buildings even if the target player has Fighters! I guess that kinda makes them strictly better than bombers...

One player in our game decided to go straight for those and he did so with a vengeance! He got 3 Rocket factories (no bombs!) and just damaged the crap out of all of us. He started with me, for no really good reason - that probably cost me the game. Then he moved on to Russel, even though Mandy was winning. Finally, Russel convinced him to aim his rockets at Mandy, which slowed her down enough that Russel eventually won (the turn before Mandy and I each could have). It made for a fairly interesting, if unrealistic game. The attacker wasn't really even trying to win. None of us were particularly fond of the added Air Strike abilities in the expansion.

Nations Expansion 2: There are new Nations to play. For some reason they have different backs than the first Nations expansion (what?). Most of the Nations powers don't seem all that great, some are OK, and a couple seem really, really good. This is how we feel about the first Nations expansion as well.

We've slowed down on this one now, but a little while ago we were playing Firenze pretty heavily. By the same designer as Hansa Teutonic (which I like, even if I haven't played it in a long time), Firenze is a pretty solid game about building towers. While it would fit in my self-defined category of "Mediocre Euro," it would be among the top of that genre. I feel like I used to be pretty good at that game, but my performance lately has been miserable.

Captains of Industry
I have been playing Captains of Industry pretty heavily lately - pretty much every chance I get. I've been finalizing a few aspects of the game for publication, as artwork is being done and the game will be hitting Kickstarter within the next few months.

I believe I've finally got a Progress configuration which I like. Adding a 10th card (6 City, 4 Recycle) seems to have made the probability of 4-round age acceptably low. I'm still finalizing the Advances, but I think they're almost done as well now.

TMG submissions
I have tried a few TMG submissions lately. Of those, we will be publishing at least one! There will be more info on that when the time comes.