Peter Struijf
Netherlands
Zoetermeer
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
mbmbmbmbmb
This is the fifth part of my series, describing the amazing experience of a small self-publishing game designer at the mega-fair Essen 2008. None of the characters and events in this story are fictitional, although that is sometimes hard to believe.

Public Safety Notice (Europe): The operation of heavy machinery, the driving of a motor vehicle on a public road and the use of kitchen equipment, while reading this post and its possible responses from BGG members, is highly recommended against.
US version: as above, but add: The author of this story will not be held liable for any damages resulting from failure to observe this warning.

Ok, back to business. We have been waiting for the Reviewers to enter the stage for a long time. They had made an appointment to play the game at Essen after a preview was written on Boardgamenews by Eric Martin and some posts on BGG. They have been mentioned several times now, we know their names (Dale, Valerie and Frank) and it seems their part of the story just keeps getting postponed. What is wrong with the writer? If I were one of them and following this story, I would really start pacing the room and asking myself: when is my part of this story every going to appear and what will this guy say about us? I hope he is nice and objective, at least ? Get on with it man !

My experience with reviewers in the boardgame world was, obviously, very limited up to this point. The final prototype had been played by a few Dutch boardgamers, one of whom wrote a nice review on his blog, the other (Jas) actually reviewed the game for BGG after three playings - one with me, the other two with other people.

However, a preview of the game had also been recently printed in the Dutch boardgaming magazine, Spel. And it had been a slightly mixed experience, I could say. We went over to the reviewer's house, he was really well prepared (I had sent the printable rules), we had a very pleasant evening, I enjoyed the game quite a bit. But it all ended a bit depressing, when we did the wrap up. After the two-year game was over, our reviewer (let's call him Hans) said that a) he thought the luck factor was too high, as one's options all depend on the cards you draw, and you "only" draw 72 (8 hands of 9) and b) that he just doesn't like the mechanic of playing cards, where you have to remember which cards are in and out, depend on your partner's support, etc. In his subsequent article, he had been highly enthusiastic about the artwork, but gave a fairly average review in terms of gameplay.

At the time I read that article, I was not as happy as I am today. I know I am happier now, because I understand better (after the responses of so many people at Essen) what the game really is (and by elimination, what it is not). Therefore I can now accept much easier, that some people might just not like it. Because that is very much OK and good - we are all different, all have own our tastes and preferences, and not everyone is an ASL player or bought Duck Dealer or wears a storm trooper outfit at Essen.

Right, back to the action. Dale and Valerie arrive exactly in time around 1430 and get in their seats for the big event of the day. Frank arrives a little later, also in time. But time is precious, this afternoon. I know these guys only have one hour available. This is fairly short for an explanation (especially my convoluted blabber) combined with a one-year game (which is the least you need to get into the game and see the scoring). I join the table in the last seat, as I expect that I can help the game along better if I take part. Jack and his guys will deal with any customers.

What are my expectations? I really am at sea. I know these are the Big Reviewers, these guys and girl might crush me and my game underfoot, leaving just some wreckage and a "foreclosed" sign. But they seem so nice.....and almost just regular boardgamers. Am I naive, AGAIN ? Are they really a Pack of Wolves, roaming the wastelands of Essen to kill off the weak, the old and the weary? That would be very healthy for the ecosystem, I am sure, but how much one can appreciate this valuable role depends quite heavily on one's own part in nature's little drama.

Just after we sit down, there is the first really great surprise. These guys have all read and understood the entire downloaded rules. They are ready to play.

Scratch the dreaded 20 minutes of stammering and sweating, in which one part of my brain laughs madly at another, firing off angry brainwaves that cackle: "But You Made The &^%* Game So How Come I Can Not Say The Right Words !!"

We start playing and I see their grasp of the game is outstanding. I start to focus on the game, trying to play my hands right and show these guys there is some skill involved (or at least, my advantage of knowing all the cards should count for something). After one Season (card game), we all seem to enjoy ourselves. These are actually really nice guys! In the second season, Dale takes out his notebook and asks to fire off some other (game-development related) questions while we play. And he does so, but he also keeps playing the game fast and well, while we are conversing about the print run and the artwork. Before you know it, the game is over and we are counting Victory Points.

My memory tells me I might even have won this game, but this might just be wishful thinking. Then comes the moment of truth, the CSI moment: I have to ask them what they thought of the game. I explain that the one-year game is really too short - it should be used to teach the game and it is not The Game. In two game years, you get a lot more cards and the overall distribution of good and bad hands should be more balanced. And there are changing group dynamics, as one secret group has now taken a scoring lead over the others. That's my final remark, let's hear it.

Dale and Frank say they really liked it, which is exhiliarating and nice. Warm fuzzy feeling inside.Valerie is less convinced and says that she would need to play it again. She finds the game mechanics interesting, but needs to find out how balanced and how much replay value there is in the game. In other words, she says to the game: "I would like to go out on another date with you, but we are not having any coffee up at my place tonight, buddy." For a moment, my stomach freezes over, cold sweat breaks out, I frantically look under the table in search for a dark and soft hiding place, far away from this Essen thing...but then Mature Rational Me takes over again.

As far as I can tell, this was a great review game. These three guys enjoyed it and played their hands well. Whatever they will write, that is their job and it is their right to say what they like. The Reviewers have to rush off to their next appointment, so we say goodbye and I thank them for their time and interest to play my small little game on one table at stand 4-415.

"So what did these reviewers write about that game of yours? ", the readers of this story may ask. Well I am surely not going to tell you that, because I had no idea at the time, did I now ?

During our game, I have noticed that sales of Kraków have been doing quite well and there have always been some people watching the game over our shoulders. The time nears 1600, there is two hours to go (or so I think).

Straight from the rush of the playtest I have to rush off to another appointment with a big German boardgame publisher. We have been in touch by email - they wanted to trade games or buy a copy of mine. I responded I would love to talk about the possible production of a German version of the game. This is very optimistic, of course, but who knows ? This meeting is also interesting: I am basically explaining the entire game mechanics, after which the publishers buy a copy off me. They will take it home to D., play it with their play groups and get back in touch if there is a need.

That sounded cool, right ? "Taking it home to D." I used to read this in certain books, which pretended to be real but were also fiction. Did the name of this town really start with a D. ? Good question.

After I return from this last meeting (Chris was at the stand running his second German-language playtest, he is saving my beef big time here in Essen today) The last few hours of the day fly by at stand 4-415, as sales shoot up. A good number of the pre-order guys show up to buy their copy of the game. Many are excited to meet me (which is fairly hard to fathom, from my side) - and several of them ask me to sign their games. This does not cease to amaze me: I am a boardgame designer now. Seeing people buy my game, proudly hold their box and comment on the artwork and why they wanted it etc is a priceless experience.

Time flies and it is soon 1830. I find out from Jack and his guys the fair only closes at 1900. So we sell and explain and summarise for another 30 minutes. No more demos for me, my game takes too long. But Jack's game lasts only 15-20 minutes, so these guys keep it going until the final whistle....or should I say he final, blurred shout of "It's Alive !" which signals the end of a game.

As all customers have vanished and lights are dimmed a little, I sit down for a few minutes with Jack, his friends Mal, Duncan and Lucy. We are all very tired but very satisfied; we have a good spot in the fair, we got along really well, we have had people at our stands all the time (which does not apply to all of our neighbours, some have done a good bit of reading).

We count the empty Krakow boxes and find out we have sold over 50 copies today. My mind boggles at this: this morning at 0800, I was driving towards Essen from my friend's place. All these Krakow games were in brown boxes, no one owned one except me. Tonight, just 12 hours later, over 50 people are the owners of this game. Those games are out of their dreary brown cardboard master boxes and will never have to go back inside them.

But most importantly: some total stranger, be it the Bag Man, the Reviewer or any of the pre-orderers, is going to look after it from now. Hopefully by playing it as often as possible. I hope they will laugh a lot.

I drive to my friend Michael's place through the now quieter streets of Essen. Memories of the day rush through my head, it is all too much to take in. Michael waits at the top of the stairs after he opens the door for me, a big question mark on his face ? "So ????" I look forward to telling him and his girlfriend Babsi all about my adventures at Essen. I don't think I have the energy to start a game of ASL, though, as we had planned.

Tomorrow is Friday. Maybe tomorrow night.

Don't go away now.

The previous chapters can be found here:

Chapter 4: Bag Men, Essen Meetings and Reviewers

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/351662

Chapter 3: Baptism of Fire

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/351368

Chapter 2: D-Day

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/351060

Chapter 1: Facts and Fable

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/350745



(note: I will take a small weekend break from writing this series, but will be back with the next episode on Monday morning. Enjoy your weekend. Play some boardgames !)
41 
 Thumb up
2.52
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Kevin Iacoucci
Canada
Burlington
Ontario
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Keep them coming! I can't wait for the next one!!!
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Tom Rosen
United States
Arlington
Virginia
flag msg tools
admin
mbmbmbmbmb
Alright these posts are just too good! I finally caved and ordered the game from Boards & Bits.

I did my homework. I read the rules PDF cover to cover, looked at all the photographs in the photo gallery, re-read all five articles in this series, checked out your great website, and just couldn't take it any more. The final straw was finding out that you'd playtested the game while doing humanitarian work in Indonesia.

I can't wait to try out your game. Best of luck with your new publishing house! Have a nice weekend off and then be sure to write article number 6 in this series for us bright and early on Monday morning
7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Peter Struijf
Netherlands
Zoetermeer
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
mbmbmbmbmb
Thommy8 wrote:
Alright these posts are just too good! I finally caved and ordered the game from Boards & Bits. :D

I did my homework. I read the rules PDF cover to cover, looked at all the photographs in the photo gallery, re-read all five articles in this series, checked out your great website, and just couldn't take it any more. The final straw was finding out that you'd playtested the game while doing humanitarian work in Indonesia.

I can't wait to try out your game. Best of luck with your new publishing house! Have a nice weekend off and then be sure to write article number 6 in this series for us bright and early on Monday morning :)


Hi Tom,

that's great !

I guess there is another hidden reason why I am so happy to have this space and opportunity to tell a story. Originally, I made fairly long stories for each Intrigue Card. I knew I would have to cut them to put a few lines on each card, but I just enjoyed it. When I then had to do the actual cutting, it was painful and dramatic at times. So now I have space and I am really enjoying it !

What I mean is this, the original full story of the Angels of Hell Horse Riding Club:

"The Angels of Hell Horse-Riding Club is an exceptional Secret Society, as there are no attempts to hide members' identity or their premises. The Angels of Hell ride huge war-horses, grow extravagant volumes of body hair and wear leather armour, emblazened with the fearsome emblem of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. They gallop down forest tracks and country roads in small bands: marauding, vandalizing public property, loitering with intent and disturbing the peace. These are indeed rough riders, viewed by ordinary folk with a mixture of fear, loathing and fascination.

Less known is the secret side to the Club. Under the pretense of horsing around, Angels are involved in serious crimes: cattle rustling, arms dealing and illegal brewing. At their Horse Club Waterholes, they gather to drink beer and plan much bigger crimes: kidnapping for ransom, merchant robberies and prison breakouts. Fortunately, most plans are forgotten by dawn, when the Angels wake up with hellish hangovers, smelling of horse dung and stale beer."

And the Intrigue Card has space for:

"The Angels of Hell Horse Riding Club is involved in arms dealing, illegal brewing and cattle rustling."

Editing down to that size is tough. Very tough.

Enjoy your weekend !

Peter
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mark Hickernell
United States
Waltham
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Love the Brecht reference!
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jackson Pope
United Kingdom
Newcastle upon Tyne
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
mbmbmbmbmb
After spending four days sharing a stand with Peter I can confirm he's just as much fun in the flesh as he sounds in these chapters. Despite many sleepless nights and long days, Peter's enthusiasm ('Go Team!', high-5's & hugs!) helped keep me concious through the four days of Essen.

Great stuff Peter!

Cheers,

Jack
7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Peter Struijf
Netherlands
Zoetermeer
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
mbmbmbmbmb

Hi Jack !

really happy you like the story so far ! If I make any dramatic gaffes, do feel free to point them out. I partly got the idea to write this stuff from your own Boardgame Design Blog (you can put the link, I am sure guys who like this might also enjoy yours).....

After your nice comments, I will need to follow through on my plan to include a chapter/subchapter called "The Legendary Jackson Pope".

You and your team were legendary, you know ! I have no idea how I would have survived Essen without you guys.....

"Go Team !"

Peter
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jackson Pope
United Kingdom
Newcastle upon Tyne
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
mbmbmbmbmb
People can fiind my blog by clicking on the 'Blogger' microbadge.

I like the sound of 'The Legendary Jackson Pope' (I should - I coined the phrase!), I hope you describe me as 100 feet tall, with the ability to breathe fire

Cheers,

Jack
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jon Y.
United States
Fredericksburg
Virginia
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
CaptainJax wrote:
After spending four days sharing a stand with Peter I can confirm he's just as much fun in the flesh as he sounds in these chapters. Despite many sleepless nights and long days, Peter's enthusiasm ('Go Team!', high-5's & hugs!) helped keep me concious through the four days of Essen.

Great stuff Peter!

Cheers,

Jack


And of course *you'll* be writing your own version of what went down on your side of the booth, right?

EDIT: Hah! that's what I get for posting a reply before reading all the way down. Can't wait to read your full report!
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David Larkin
England
Brighton
Sussex
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
peterstruijf wrote:


Originally, I made fairly long stories for each Intrigue Card.


Any chance of posting them? There is no word limit here
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Peter Struijf
Netherlands
Zoetermeer
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
mbmbmbmbmb
Zark wrote:
peterstruijf wrote:


Originally, I made fairly long stories for each Intrigue Card.


Any chance of posting them? There is no word limit here :)


I posted four stories (as teasers, you could say) on the Krakow website (www.krakowgame.com). I was hesitant to put many more, because I didn't want any site visitors to think these large stories were in any way "part of the game".

I think I might post all these stories on my website in future, next to pictures of each card, once I have some time and it more generally known what the game is like or about.....even the short clips on the cards are purely for entertainment, there is no need to read them of course.

Cheerio,

Peter
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Thomas Taylor
United States
Castro Valley
California
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Peter, I was curious and interested in your game before, and your posts here have pushed me over the edge to pre order your game from Funagain.

I can't wait to check it out.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
dale yu
United States
Cincinnati
Ohio
flag msg tools
admin
designer
If you're not part of the soultion...
badge
You're part of the precipitate!
mbmbmbmbmb
peterstruijf wrote:

What are my expectations? I really am at sea. I know these are the Big Reviewers, these guys and girl might crush me and my game underfoot, leaving just some wreckage and a "foreclosed" sign.


Do we really seem that vicious?
I mean, we have a spiffy green tag that says "Presse" on it, but other than that, I'd like to think were mostly harmless.

Quote:
But they seem so nice.....and almost just regular boardgamers. Am I naive, AGAIN ? Are they really a Pack of Wolves, roaming the wastelands of Essen to kill off the weak, the old and the weary?


Only if you're standing between me and my currywurst at the appointed lunch-hour


Quote:
My memory tells me I might even have won this game, but this might just be wishful thinking.


It is extremely wishful thinking...
My memory tells me that our team didn't have a successful intrigue until well into the third season!

Quote:
"So what did these reviewers write about that game of yours? ", the readers of this story may ask. Well I am surely not going to tell you that, because I had no idea at the time, did I now ?


Well, I'm not sure yet either... Once I play the game a few more times, I'll be ready to formulate a review.

Thanks again for the posts, they are quite entertaining.

Dale
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Matt Lindhout
Canada
100 Mile House
BC
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
haha i love the stories! they brighten my day! so much so, that without even checking out the rules, and gameplay, im going to purchase a copy blindly! Now which sellers in north america did you say had them....
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Tom Rosen
United States
Arlington
Virginia
flag msg tools
admin
mbmbmbmbmb
fbi_boy wrote:
haha i love the stories! they brighten my day! so much so, that without even checking out the rules, and gameplay, im going to purchase a copy blindly! Now which sellers in north america did you say had them....


Boards & Bits: http://www.boardsandbits.com/product_info.php?products_id=21...

FunAgain: http://www.funagain.com/control/product/~product_id=019836
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Dvonn Yinsh
Canada
Toronto
Ontario
flag msg tools
mbmbmb
Hi Peter!

I really enjoyed meeting you and Liz last Sunday morning (I was one of the 4 Canadians that played Krakow first thing Sunday). I look forward to introducing Krakow to gamers in the West Toronto area.

BTW, before you get dreamy about Halifax, I had recommended to Liz that you two spend January there yuk. You may re-think things.

Cheers,
Kin
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Peter Struijf
Netherlands
Zoetermeer
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
mbmbmbmbmb
yudp wrote:
peterstruijf wrote:

What are my expectations? I really am at sea. I know these are the Big Reviewers, these guys and girl might crush me and my game underfoot, leaving just some wreckage and a "foreclosed" sign.


Do we really seem that vicious?
I mean, we have a spiffy green tag that says "Presse" on it, but other than that, I'd like to think were mostly harmless.

Quote:
But they seem so nice.....and almost just regular boardgamers. Am I naive, AGAIN ? Are they really a Pack of Wolves, roaming the wastelands of Essen to kill off the weak, the old and the weary?


Only if you're standing between me and my currywurst at the appointed lunch-hour


Quote:
My memory tells me I might even have won this game, but this might just be wishful thinking.


It is extremely wishful thinking...
My memory tells me that our team didn't have a successful intrigue until well into the third season!

Quote:
"So what did these reviewers write about that game of yours? ", the readers of this story may ask. Well I am surely not going to tell you that, because I had no idea at the time, did I now ?


Well, I'm not sure yet either... Once I play the game a few more times, I'll be ready to formulate a review.

Thanks again for the posts, they are quite entertaining.

Dale


Hi Dale,

thanks a lot for correcting my memory: we did loose on the board and I now seem to recollect it was Frank who won the game, right ? Mmm, that was truly wishful thinking, then. Maybe not loosing the whole board after our dreadful first seasons felt like victory....

You guys certainly are an asset to the boardgame community: I have read your reports from Essen and just to see how MANY new games you played and wrote about boggles my mind.

I hope you will have a good time playing the game a few more times (which is really needed to review it), especially with two-year games and people who are fairly familiar with the cards.

I will make sure not to stand between you and your currywurst !

Peter

 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Massimiliano della Rovere
Italy
Pisa
Tuscany
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
peterstruijf wrote:
Thommy8 wrote:
Alright these posts are just too good! I finally caved and ordered the game from Boards & Bits.

I did my homework. I read the rules PDF cover to cover, looked at all the photographs in the photo gallery, re-read all five articles in this series, checked out your great website, and just couldn't take it any more. The final straw was finding out that you'd playtested the game while doing humanitarian work in Indonesia.

I can't wait to try out your game. Best of luck with your new publishing house! Have a nice weekend off and then be sure to write article number 6 in this series for us bright and early on Monday morning


Hi Tom,

that's great !

I guess there is another hidden reason why I am so happy to have this space and opportunity to tell a story. Originally, I made fairly long stories for each Intrigue Card. I knew I would have to cut them to put a few lines on each card, but I just enjoyed it. When I then had to do the actual cutting, it was painful and dramatic at times. So now I have space and I am really enjoying it !

What I mean is this, the original full story of the Angels of Hell Horse Riding Club:

"The Angels of Hell Horse-Riding Club is an exceptional Secret Society, as there are no attempts to hide members' identity or their premises. The Angels of Hell ride huge war-horses, grow extravagant volumes of body hair and wear leather armour, emblazened with the fearsome emblem of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. They gallop down forest tracks and country roads in small bands: marauding, vandalizing public property, loitering with intent and disturbing the peace. These are indeed rough riders, viewed by ordinary folk with a mixture of fear, loathing and fascination.

Less known is the secret side to the Club. Under the pretense of horsing around, Angels are involved in serious crimes: cattle rustling, arms dealing and illegal brewing. At their Horse Club Waterholes, they gather to drink beer and plan much bigger crimes: kidnapping for ransom, merchant robberies and prison breakouts. Fortunately, most plans are forgotten by dawn, when the Angels wake up with hellish hangovers, smelling of horse dung and stale beer."

And the Intrigue Card has space for:

"The Angels of Hell Horse Riding Club is involved in arms dealing, illegal brewing and cattle rustling."

Editing down to that size is tough. Very tough.

Enjoy your weekend !

Peter

Are these stories reported in the manual?
If not, will we be able to download them from the krakow website?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Peter Struijf
Netherlands
Zoetermeer
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
mbmbmbmbmb

Hi Massimiliano,

a good question: I have put a few (just four) of these "complete" stories on the krakow website. I might add them all for those people who enjoy them, possibly also as a download (why not!).

At first, I did not want to put all this written stuff on the site because people might think you need to read the entire series of Tolkien books, War & Peace by Tolstoi and the collected works of Peter Struijf before you can play the game !

Peter
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Massimiliano della Rovere
Italy
Pisa
Tuscany
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
You could write:

Ever wondered how the text in each card was born and how it is really linked to the image? (yes, as in the game, there is a hidden layer of information).

Ok, Read on!

This short stories are for your amusement only and are not necessary to play the game. They are the original text that was condesed down to the few lines you can see on the cards.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Peter Struijf
Netherlands
Zoetermeer
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
mbmbmbmbmb
Hi Massimiliano,

That's an excellent idea, I will take it up when we next do some major work on the website. Thanks a lot !

Ciao,

Peter
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.