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The Lead Up
About two weeks before Origins this year I got it in my head I'd like to go to pitch a couple of my designs. I searched for some friends to join me, eventually getting Jason and Matt, drove down from Indianapolis to Columbus. We left at 6am from my place, Matt after being out after midnight at a concert, and arrived a little before 9am. A shout out here to my buddy Chris Hahn who wanted to attend with us, but did the right thing by his dad instead. Chris had told me to register online and also pointed me to Panda Parking. Both were great pieces of advice. The parking was perfect spot and only $12. The registering online and then just scanning my phone was so easy. Gen Con should do the same thing.
Being all of our first time at Origins (hard to believe since we only live less than 3 hours away) we wandered around before the dealer hall opened. Everything I've ever heard about Origins from the podcasts I listened about seemed true. There did seem to be a lot of places to play, there were plenty of crappy wooden tables, and it did feel like a small Gen Con while being still very big itself. This wandering around showed us where the Board Room was, let us see some great miniature terrain (not a lot of people playing really at 9am), and meet a few of our Indy friends. We ran into the AJ & Travis from Kolassal. while they were setting up for the Dice Tower preview and also I got a chance to talk to Mike DiLisio at the booth and also thank Eric Summerer for all the years I've listened to him. About this time it was 10 o'clock or so and so Matt came with me to watch the pitch to the first publisher and Jason wandered off to the dealer hall.
I did get to play four games throughout the day though that weren't my own designs, so I wanted to talk about them a bit. The one game I wanted to make sure I got a play of was SteamRollers. I'm a huge fan of Railways of the World and I'd heard this reminded people of it. I agree. It is a roll and write game though, but still has that pick up and deliver feel. The increasing of your engine's power, and rushing to beat others to the goods. A very enjoyable game, but very expensive for what you get component wise. It is one I'll look to pick up in the future for a discounted price.
Then I played some Pioneer Days. I really enjoyed it! I like dice drafting, I love Western themes, and this game gives the Oregon Trail feel in a Euro board game. They had a great deal for $40 that day on it. I was on a strict budget and kept wresting in my mind back and forth, which resulted in me passing on purchasing it. I'm thinking I might regret that. Also, by the way, the lady who demo'd this game was great. I sadly can't remember her name, but she was super welcoming and it was such a relax play through of the game, despite new players rotating in and out while myself and one other stayed for the whole game.
After that the giant version of The Climbers caught my eye. I waited for the game to end, but then jumped in on a regular sized version with a mom and her two daughters that were slightly older than my daughters. I knew it was going to be a serious game when the younger daughter immediately said, "We've got to beat my older sister!" This game is very solid. I think I'd really, really enjoy it as a two player game. As a four player game it was good though. I was able to get the highest point and win the game after consulting with Clay on who wins if we are all at the same level. One I'm going to put on my wish list to play with my family.
After Climbers we went to dinner. First we walked over to the North Market because that is what everyone talks about at Origins. It overwhelmed us and we wanted a sit down experience. So instead we went over to Barley's. I got the Pizza Burger (I forget what they were calling it for Origins) which was excellent and hit the spot perfectly. We relaxed a bit longer then decided to walk back to the convention for one last game.
That game ended up being Concordia in the Rio Grande room. I say this every year about Rio Grande at Gen Con, but it is so awesome that they serve food for everyone and make it free to play in their room. We didn't partake of the food, but it was right by were we were playing and one of our players did. Speaking of those players, they were Nick and Abigail. Nick was very upfront that he had cancer and was working through that. He and Abigail actually got married earlier that day and both of them are long time Origins attendees. I really appreciated they let us join them for Concordia, I was the only one that had played previously, and I think we all had a good time. This is one of those games I keep telling myself I need to pick up. I know it is loved by members of my group and I'm sure my wife would really like it as well. After that we called it quits, got in the car, and drove back to Indianapolis.
The main reason I wanted to go to Origins was to pitch a couple games. I figured it would be easier to do so than at Gen Con. I won't go into the details, but before coming down I had two meetings scheduled with two different publishers. Matt watched my first pitch, just because he is new to gaming and thought it'd be interesting. It was a great experience. Even if nothing turns up from the pitch, after we were done with the game, we sat and talked about family, BGG.CON Spring, and what life is like on the road.
Throughout the day I tried to just walk up and talk to publishers that I didn't have meetings with. This worked less well. Origins isn't a Gen Con for sure, but it is still quite busy for them, much more so than say a Geekway to the West. I did have a fruitful conversation with one publisher who I had met before, but for the most part I handed out sell sheets. I've never done sell sheets before (this whole pitching a game is new to me), but I'm glad I came prepared with several for both games. I did talk to another publisher, which after talking to them and about their company realized my game wasn't for them because of player count, but found it very refreshing how up front they were, how they provided advice, and appreciated how they asked me to reach out to them in the future. Showing how great the industry can be.
My final meeting with a publisher went very well I thought. So well that I failed to show them my second game, because I was so excited how well the first game went. That makes me laugh. In my day job I have to present to Colonels, deal with large contracts, and mostly keep my head and be confident in my knowledge. In this hobby job though, where I'm trying to create something, I'm reminded of how much a rookie I really am. Really do appreciate all that took the time to talk to me, give me some pointers, and in general just listen to me. Maybe something comes of it, maybe not, either way it was a good experience!
The Wrap Up
Our one day trip to Origins was great. Both Matt and Jason already said they'd like to do it again next year. I got out of it what I was looking to get out of it on the game design front and still had time to play some games myself. There were a few more things I didn't mention above that I thought might be fun to mention. First, I recently switched to Sprint and their cell service on my phone SUCKS. My data wasn't working at all. So I was texting my wife asking game prices, didn't get messages from Matt and Jason, and the most funny part though was that Matt set up a hot spot on his phone for me which would work throughout the day as we happened to get close to each other in the dealer hall. Even though we weren't walking around together. Second, Matt who is relatively new to board games used to play Battle Mechs (I think that is the miniatures game). He happened to meet an author of that game and was super pumped to get a book signed at his first convention ever! Third, probably the best demo I received was on Gorus Maximus. They really are proud of that game and it showed in the fun, funny, and exciting demo. If you are going to demo your game, that is how you should do it! I'm glad it has succeeded on Kickstarter.
So there you go. My first trip to Origins! A big thanks to Matt and Jason for going and splitting gas and parking. It was good to get away from real work, have a huge conversation about parenting & reading, and game together!
I love that my kids are getting to the age that I can play games with them. For that matter I love that my wife enjoys gaming with me. It is special to have a gaming family, but my favorite kind of family game night is when we all don't play together. That's right. Let me tell you about it.
Several times over the past year we've had family game night where all my family plays a two player game with me. Usually in order of age, starting with my 4 year old and working up to my...well...let's just say working up to my perfectly aged wife. On Wednesday night this past week we did it again. I played My First Carcassonne with my 4 year old, played Crokinole, played the Omaha Beach scenario of Memoir '44 with my 8 year old and taught her a bit of WW2 history, and then finished up the night with Krista on the patio playing The Fox in the Forest.
I like these night for a lot of reasons. First, there is less fighting. Don't deny it, you know how some family game nights go. "I WANT TO GO FIRST!" "TAKE YOUR TURN!" "SHE TOUCHED MY PIECE!" With just one kid at a time there isn't that. Second, it is easier to pick a game at the person's level with whom I'm playing which makes them more interested in the game. Charlotte, the youngest, doesn't have the attention span for War of the Ring (First Edition), but pull out Slide Blast and she is all about it. Third, it provides some opportunity to have some one on one time with my kids and my wife. Discussing how the day was, what the princess in Kids of Carcassonne is doing, or what we're going to do tomorrow.
I love playing games with my family all together, but I think I love it even more playing with them one on one...at least for now.
Krista (my wife) and I have committed to playing games three times together and then I (or she) or both will post here about the games. We rotate picking games, they must be playable as 2-player games, and then we'll finish with our ratings as a 2-player game.
Terraforming Mars is a game for 2-5 players of strategic card play, claiming areas on Mars, and trying to build the best engine of your resources. In reality I think Terraforming Mars is first and foremost a card game that happens to have a board. There are a ton of cards in the game with a lot of icons. Most of the time these icons aren't telling you what you can do, but instead are resources themselves. The game is made up of "generations" which are rounds where players take actions in groups of 1 or 2 until they pass. Once everyone passes production of your credits, energy, and other resources happen, then you get more cards and do it again. The board starts of empty, but by the end of the game you've turned Mars into a lush green and blue planet with major cities.
How We Obtained It
This is actually an interesting story. I recently met a guy named Matt who had just moved to Indianapolis. I invited him over to our game day, he loved the games, and you know probably know the rest of the story. He started buying games. Well, turns out when he bought Terraforming Mars they sent him two copies, he reached out and they said not to bother sending it back, and so he reached out to me. I told him I'd love to have it, he wanted a deck builder, and so I bought him a brand new copy of Eminent Domain and he gave me Terraforming Mars. We both got a great deal!
Our Three Games
Both Krista and I had played this before, but it had been awhile, so we went with the standard game. I as Credicor and Krista played as Ecoline. It turned out to be a very tight game. We didn't do the final production, but then realized we needed to do so as the tie breaker, and so went back to do it. I won the tie!
We were in it for the big time this one. Played the Corporate Era (we've been drafting the whole time). This was a long game of 17 generations, but we had a great time. I had a ton of animals including 10 of them on my Livestock card which combined with some microbes got me the dominant win as Ecoline against Krista's UNMI.
The evening of the Saturday we played our Game 2 we decided to play Game 3. This time we just chose corporations so we could get one that we hadn't played yet and we again did the Corporate Era variant. Krista was the Interplanetary Cinematics and I was Saturn Systems. I really quickly pumped my steel and titanium production and we both ignored animals. I raced ahead to grab two of the milestones, but Krista was way ahead on the TR by the last generations. Thanks to a lot of points of cards and two milestones and two awards though I came roaring back - however it wasn't enough and she got the win!
We played this game for nearly 6 hours on Saturday. So we got to like it a bit. Krista really enjoys how the cards interact and can really start to combo together towards the end of the game. We both enjoy how Mars grows and becomes something new. This game is no light game though. There are a lot of interactions, lots of strategy, some luck, and plenty of tough decisions. Krista sometimes surprises me on some of the crunchy Euros she likes and this is another one that she does seem to enjoy quite a bit and is quite good at. My one complaint of the game play could be length. Our three games averaged about 2.5 hours for two player games. An interesting point here is that when I've played multiplayer games they also take 2.5-3 hours, so two players doesn't really change the length.
It is all not sunshine and roses though - because you have to actually terraform this game. The cards are very thin. The art has no cohesion. The player boards, while they work they barely work, they basically do have to be replaced. This is what kept me from getting this game earlier than I did, because I knew I'd have to spend another $25 on player boards (which I did from Mind Warp Games on Etsy). Also, after a total of 4 games, I'm also noticing chipping on the resource cubes and our board is still warped. In other words, quality game, but not quality components which makes me glad I got it at such a good deal!
I was recently in St. Louis for Geekway to the West. Each year I try to buy something from Miniature Market for sponsoring such a great event. This year it was The Fox in the Forest. I picked it up when I stopped at their retail store on the way out of town.
I love trick taking games. Tichu is on of my favorite games of all time. The Bottle Imp has been a staple in my collection for years. Playing Diamonds with Mike Fitzgerald at Gen Con is still one of my favorite gaming memories. I grew up in Indiana where Euchre is a main stay of Super Bowl parties and lazy evenings on the porch. I'd heard good things about this game on Twitter, had met the designer once, and though I questioned the viability of a two player trick taker - I had hopes for this small game.
Fox is played in the normal manner of trick-taking games. A player plays a card, the next person has to follow suite, and there is a trump. There are 33 cards in Fox numbered 1-11 in three different suites. All the odd numbered cards have special powers on them. The 1 lets you lead even if you lose the trick. The 3 lets you switch trump up. The 5 lets you draw a card (only 26 of the 33 cards are played with each hand), the 7 gives a point to whoever wins the trick. The 9 becomes trump. The 11 makes the opponent play their 1 or if they don't have it the highest card they do have in the suit. You score points at the end of the hand based upon how many tricks you get. Don't get too many that is zero points, but if you get 7-9 that is 6 points. The best possible scenario is if you get 0-3 which gives you 6 points, but leaves your opponent with zero. Once someone hits 21 points the game ends and whoever scored the most wins!
Wow! This game is good! I'm seriously impressed with the smartness of the design and the fun I have when playing it. One of the biggest problems I can imagine with designing a two player trick taking game is that one person runs the whole hand. This was solved in two ways. First, if you take 10+ tricks you get zero points. Second, the 11 and 1 powers. I LOVE that you can play the biggest card in the suite, but can be giving up your lead. This leads to some intensity in the game, because you don't know if they have that 1 because there are 6 unknown cards.
This is the best $10.50 I have spent on a game in a long time. I know this one will remain in my collection for a long time as well. I've played about 30 "New to Me" games this year so far and it is in the running for my personal game of the year. The footprint is small, the fun is big though. I probably am going to finish writing this blog and go play another game of The Fox and the Forest right now.
Old School Trick Takers - I think this game is for you! As you can tell from above I like me some trick-taking games and this one won't disappoint. I can't wait to play this one with my dad who has played Euchre for so long.
That Special Someone - This is a great one for couples. There isn't any of the attacking that can occur in other two player games, so probably less likely someone walks away with hurt feelings. Plays in less than 30 minutes and can be played at a booth at a restaurant. I've done it.
Crazy People (You know, the ones that don't like trick-taking games) - I'd still steer clear of this one. It is absolutely a trick taking game and while the odd numbered cards do change some things up for you during the hand you'll likely feel the same way about this game as you do about the other ones. I mean you'll still be forced to follow suit and I think that tends to be the thing people either hate or love in trick-takers.
For those of you who follow the blog, but do not subscribe to me, I wrote about my Geekway to the West here: My Geekway 2017 Experiences - With Pictures!. Here I thought I'd go into a little more detail on the Game Design Contest. This was a contest put on by Indie Boards and Cards. The winner will have their game given away at Geekway 2020. The game everyone received this year at Geekway (Shogunate) was a previous winner - which is really cool!
It did start off a bit slow, I probably stood there for about 30-45 minutes before I got my first play testers, but other than that it went well. People started coming in and playing the games. I submitted Pyramids and got some great advice. They had everyone fill out feedback forms and for the most part all mine were really positive. I had two different players come back for a second play which was really cool. Even though I didn't win the contest (figured it was a long shot since IBC tends to make more social games in the 30-45 minute range) it was great experience and I'd encourage others to attempt it in the future.
My two main design focuses right now (Pyramids and Hexcellent) are really coming along and the amount of play Pyramids got at the design contest really encouraged me that it is almost there and I just have to find the right publisher.
Last Saturday all I was expecting to do was go participate in the opening day ceremonies for the 8U girls softball team I help coach, then coach a scrimmage game, and then maybe make it home in tie for dinner later that evening. Instead it rained. Then it rained some more. Eventually it rained enough that opening day was cancelled and I seized on the opportunity to go play test with a local group.
I've probably been to maybe half a dozen meet ups of the Indy Table Top Creators in the past few years, but each time I go I really appreciate them. Often I get good feedback, even more important maybe being that feedback comes from someone I do not know really well, and also I get a chance to meet some new folks. This time was no different.
When I arrived we asked what people had. Corinna (in my regular game group) had her prototype, but it wasn't quite done, so we pulled out Pyramids. I asked if they minded trying something brand new with it, which was two have the number of cards available each turn rotate from 1 to 2 to 3 instead of remaining at one. The idea being that it'd make decisions a bit tougher because you might not want one of the cards, but might really want another of the cards. Turns out it did, perhaps too hard, also slowed the game down from moving on to the next turn as we waited on the previous person to put the cards in their pyramid. Corinna then went off to finish her prototype, so we played a five player game of Pyramids again. This time back to the regular way of only one card coming up each round. However, at Corinna's suggestion, we did limit the base of the Pyramid to five cards across. This was an interesting result of Carl taking two cards he just couldn't place. The scores then varied a whole lot. The winner did have a very small pyramid, which was interesting, because he specifically avoided cards seeing 3 of the 5 players taking a lot of them. Some solid feedback for this one.
Next up was the first play of a space game by Justin. He just wanted to play it for a while, get a feel on how it worked, and take that feedback. That is exactly what we did. This is going to be a BIG game, but with a smaller story arc. So don't imagine a big huge fleet of ships like Twilight Imperium: Fourth Edition, rather imagine you are the crew on Firefly going about, doing cool stuff, and scoring points that way. You get around by deck building with more control than general deck building. I think Justin got some good feedback and information on how to iterate.
After that with Corinna and others involved in her game we pulled out Hexcellent as Justin had only brought his big space game and Austin was so awesome to just come and play games without bringing anything to test himself. I tried out a new set up rule with them that went really well and I think will provide more consistent fun at the beginning of the game. I also tried out a new power, the Vault, which was fun as well. It added some tension to the game because it made obvious so very high victory points that were available for the taking if we could just do it. At the end of the game one of the players said, "I really liked this. I want to play it again." That made me feel real good inside.
So that was my surprise chance to get over to the Indy Tabletop Creators meet up. Carl, who runs it, is also running the Protospiel Indy (found here: https://tabletop.events/conventions/protospiel-indy-2018) the first week of May. I won't be able to make it - though I'm doing everything I can to perhaps go on only Friday - but if you are around Indy you absolutely should. Even if it is just to play a few games. It'll help out the creators a lot and I'm sure you'll have fun impacting their creations!
Just a quick update on other designs I'm working on.
1. Heptarchy - I have updated rules, map, and cards, but still need to print it up. Focus has been elsewhere right now - though this is gonna be the big one.
2. I started another design! I know too many. A friend though asked me if I'd work on something with specific goals they had in mind. A couple of those goals really intrigued me. I've made a prototype, played it twice, have one idea on the currency in the game that seems so cool if it works out.
3. I had another idea - calling it Fish Flip - but I'm going to put it in my back pocket. Wrote the rules out. Made a prototype file, but stopped there. Work is ridiculous right now, I have all the above going on, and so got to pick and choose. That means this two player card game will just have to wait.
Wed Apr 18, 2018 11:01 pm
Charterstone has become the 4th Legacy game that I've played to completion. I first played Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 with my wife and we loved it. Up next was the long awaited SeaFall with Jeremy & Annie which didn't go over quite as well, and then we last finished Pandemic Legacy: Season 2 which would fall somewhere between the two. Jeremy had told me that he preordered the game, along with Stuffed Fables, and so we expected it in early December of last year. However, Stuffed Fables took longer than expected to arrive, which delayed him getting Charterstone and thus our holiday gaming expectations. Starting in early January though we got going!
A quick overview of the game for those who do not know. In Charterstone you are building up a village over 12 games for the Forever King. Up to six players has a little section of that village called a "charter" where they'll put buildings (aka stickers) on the board as the village grows. As buildings are built their cards have crates on them which players can unlock by going to the Charterstone (a building in the center of the board) to open packages in the game and get new cards and buildings. At its very basic level Charterstone is a worker placement game where you use workers to gather resources to build buildings to gather more resources. The components are all top notch.
We started off by selecting our colors. Normally, I play green, Jeremy plays blue, Krista plays red, and Annie plays yellow. However, for some reason Annie went with purple this time around. We then jumped into the game naming our characters (I named my Arwen) and our Charters. I called mine the Edge. This was probably the funniest point of the whole campaign as Jeremy wanted his to be called The Iron Empire, since he had the iron building. For some reason Krista (who was doing the writing of the names for us) heard "Irom" and for the campaign Jeremy was running the Irom Empire! It was a good joke. Just for posterity's sake, Annie named her charter Humility, and Krista named hers Heaven's Song.
I figure, since I have the stats, I'd list the games and scores for you below and make any notes of them games if anything stood out.
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Note: Annie's one and only victory for the whole campaign.
Note: This one really annoyed me. There is a guidepost in each game - in other words ways to get an extra star and score bonus points for that game etc. This one happened to be score your buildings on the board, but it didn't tell us that until the end of the game. I worked so hard that game to win that specific game and Krista and Jeremy (who had better buildings) just came roaring back by pure chance with no way for me to mitigate it or even make the decision knowing I needed to mitigate it. This was by far my LEAST favorite game of the campaign.
Note: I remember us being surprised to score so low again - but I guess it makes sense since the guidepost wasn't the ridiculous score your buildings. Also, I remember stating that I am convinced Annie or I couldn't win the campaign.
Note: I got a win!
Note: After this game was over we had to log our score to see if we were above average online. We weren't. One of Annie's pieces then got changed into a ghost which is one of the minions you get in the game. Basically a ghost lets you move up on the reputation track and so be in a better position to score more end game points. I really liked this part of the legacy aspect comparing us to others!
Note: I was again disheartened by this game. After two games in a row getting beat handily and not feeling like I had a chance. Also, I'm pretty sure it was somewhere in here where we got a companion that we had to either treat nice or not which ended up messing with how the Forever King treated us in the end. I named mine after my mother in law.
Note: We had our first tie! I believe (though I could be wrong) where the 2nd coolest thing of the campaign happened. They had included a little tea candle that we were to light and whoever's turn it went out on would face the wrath of the Forever King. As soon as Jeremy had his first turn I blew it out. Not sure if that is what was meant to happen, but I felt like he was winning too often and so wanted to put him back again. It didn't end up being too awful.
Note: It was finally over (at least that is how I felt). With by far our highest scoring game.
Final Campaign Scores
Jeremy - 915
Krista - 899
Adam - 807
Annie - 716
First, my non-spoilery thoughts. Charterstone is a light worker placement game that most of the time took us between 30 and 90 minutes to play through including the end game stuff. The art is really endearing, the game play simple using the Euphoria: Build a Better Dystopia bump a worker mechanic, and it makes sense. However, I didn't like it. I didn't like in the early parts of the games having 1/3 of my turns basically be a skipped turn. Sometimes folks would place where I was at, but most of the time they wouldn't. I would think that perhaps I'm just a poor player, but I'm normally not a poor player in many games and I believe my group would agree. Finally, we got some rules wrong, especially the first six games. This is just something that goes with a Legacy game. We didn't get any HUGE rules wrong that would've decided outcomes, just nitpicky type rules. For some reason this felt worse in Charterstone, maybe because we felt it should be so easy, but just a note.
Now, on to my thoughts about things that are spoilers.
Spoiler (click to reveal)
First, the minions. I actually quite liked them. You know you are getting them throughout the game, you just don't know what they do. Krista had the Gollum (gave resources) and Jeremy the Robot (gave cards) and got them early on. Both Annie and I unlocked our minions much later in the game - Annie really late in the game. I finally got my Butlers which I used occasionally to get some money. I then also got the Cats (gave you points) which I used quite well in the later games for more points. The Ghosts, as I said earlier, allowed you to get points on the reputation track and the Chefs, which allowed you to take back influence, both really came out so late in the campaign they weren't used a ton. Though the Ghosts did see some use by me in the game where you could only place minions in your charter.
I really liked how the rules just got you up and going in game, but again as I said earlier, because of all the piece-milling we did miss some things. It did feel like that getting a bonus circle at the end of the game for losing, while good, was not that good as most of us started our glory tracks in the circle row and could save a lot of things. I think we all maxed out our saving ability by the end of the campaign.
Then there is the mostly non-existent story. Basically you are building this village for a king that lives forever and sucks your soul out of your body to keep on living forever. There were a couple good points - like when Annie had her meeple turned into a ghost - and then end of the story was fine. However, I never felt nearly as invested in the story as I did in Seafall or either of the Pandemics. Mostly, I felt like I was playing Lords of Waterdeep (without the expansion) over and over again with each game slightly changing.
So to sum it up, I was not a big fan of Charterstone. I realize I'm in the minority here. Both Jeremy and Krista really liked it. Jeremy is talking about getting the recharge pack and playing it again with different friends. I wouldn't be surprised if Krista would like to do that. Annie was lukewarm on it at best. I come out on the cold side. There could be a few reasons for this, some described above, but one that a friend (who LOVES Charterstone) mentioned to me. That is perhaps I played it TOO fast. We played it in five total nights over about 2.5 months. Three games, two games, two games, three games, and then the final two games. My friend suggested that I wouldn't do the same with some of the lighter worker placement games like Waterdeep and that I like them just fine because I'm not playing them back to back on a single night. He might have something there. For Pandemic (or even SeaFall), I was more invested in the story and that is the thing that drew me in to playing through quickly, for Charterstone though it was just the playing.
Something else that might be an interesting thought. Perhaps I prefer...I can't believe I'm saying this...co-op legacy games. Perhaps the luck, the fact that I feel like I'm gonna lose (or gonna win) no matter what in the end plays a big part into my enjoyment and if I'm going to feel those feelings I'd rather feel them with others in a co-op way.
Anyways, deep perspective into my inner thoughts on Charterstone. I do suggest you try it out, because like I said, I am very much in the minority on how great this game is to play. However, I can guarantee you this, a recharge pack is not how I'm going to recharge from this game.
The past few weeks I have been putting all kinds of time into "finishing" a game design. I made a goal at the beginning of the year to either have it signed or at least a purchasable self-published version of Lunch Swap. As you can tell by that link, it now has a BGG Page, and you can now purchase the self-published version! I checked with a couple graphic designers and artists on paying to get the work done to make it look very nice. The quotes of approximately $500 was too much for my pocket book (after all I had to pay for Rising Sun this month!) and so decided to do it myself.
I used The Game Crafter, LLC to get this done. They have Component Studio, which is a $5 a month game design tool. I love it. As you can tell, I'm not the most artistically inclined, but this tool makes prototyping so much easier and efficient. It then automatically puts it into the correct Game Crafter format. Allowing me to change information in an Excel sheet, upload it, and automatically change the prototype. So after approximately 14 hours in one weekend just working on rules, art, and graphic design, plus several hours here or there in the weeks following that weekend, I finally had something put together that I'd feel great about showing to a publisher or at the very least have something presentable that others can play.
So what is Lunch Swap? It is a very light 3-8 player card game that takes under 15 minutes to play. Players are elementary kids trading their food each day at school and then declaring who was the best "swapper" at the end of the week. Instead of a bunch of nasty food, I chose to use food my kids eat all the time like Mac & Cheese, Apples, and Veggie Straws. I originally came up with the idea about 18 months ago, have had it played a lot since then, and now feel I needed to finalize it (as much as any game can be finalized) so that I can concentrate on other games I'm working on.
It would be great if it was picked up by a publisher and maybe by having it look a bit more professional it will help, but in the end I am not designing games for a living, but simply designing them as a challenge to myself to make and create something.
Speaking of challenges - I thought I'd mention one significant one that I had with this game. My ultimate goal of the game was to make a very short game. The game itself has been very short since that initial prototype hit the table, but the scoring after wasn't, which put a real downer on the game. I was able to fix this by first adding another color so their were five colors and lowering how high the cards went to only 10. You'd be surprised how much quicker people add numbers that are below 10 than numbers that are above 10. I also got some great insight from another designer buddy and moved the dessert bonuses from being something that all players compete for to something that only neighbors compete to get. This meant that instead of comparing my final tableau to all 7 other players around the table, I simply had to compare it to two other players, which sped up the end game scoring. I've now seen the game play and score in as little as 9 minutes, which is exactly what I wanted!
So if you are publisher reading this and are interested in a very short game that plays up to 8 players let me know and I can send you a copy to try out. If you are parent, have a spouse, and have 6 kids and they love food - then this game is just for you. Let me know and maybe we can work something out to get it to you. For everyone else, it'd be great if you wanted to order it and try it out or just look for me at IndyCon, Geekway to the West, or GenCon and I'd be happy to show it to you. You can order the game here for $14.99 plus shipping: https://www.thegamecrafter.com/games/lunch-swap?dept_uri=&de.... The rules don't come in the box, so you can download them Lunch Swap Rules 1.0 or download them from The Game Crafter. I make like $0.27 a copy - so I'm expecting to really live it up after this!
I'll leave you with a quote from a completely unbiased source (that is a complete lie, this is about as bias as a source you can get, maybe even more bias than I would be) - Krista Daulton: "I like Lunch Swap BETTER than Ninja Camp."
Sat Mar 31, 2018 10:00 pm
I've been meaning to write about this all year, but life is busy! Our church puts on a program for kids called AWANA (lots of churches do this) each Wednesday night. Six years ago when our oldest daughter started going to it Krista and I got excited for the time when all the kids would be attending - thus freeing us up for a weekly date night. Last fall this happened. All of the kids were in AWANA, we had a date night (don't worry, we volunteer in a lot of other areas at the church and aren't just free-loading here), and so of course we tend to spend these date nights gaming. There is a McDonalds near by, we buy a $1 coke, and then play some games with each other for 80 minutes or so.
So what have we been playing on these McDonalds nights? There is some limit here. We can't play anything that will take us more than the time we have. We drop the kids off at 6:30 and have to be back at 8:00 so it has to fit into that time frame. If there is too much physical components in the game, that can be a problem, because we're on the small McD's booths. We both gotta like it. Maybe I'll turn this into a weekly session report, but for now I thought I'd just do a quick rundown of each game we've played on these McDonald's Date Nights (MDN).
We started off the AWANA year with The Castles of Burgundy. This one barely fits in the components and time constraints. Though with two players it'll fit on the table and leave space for our coke and since we know the game we can get it in around the one hour mark. This is on the top of both of our lists when it comes to favorite games and we spiced it up by adding the BGG promos we bought at Gen Con last year. During the previous months we'd played it quite a few times and I kept losing so I remember pushing to keep playing it at McDonald's so I could prove to myself I could win against her.
Kingdomino got a single play throughout the year. It is about a perfect MDN game with the quick play, excelling at two players with the 7x7 grid, and size makes it portable.
For three weeks in a row we took Mystic Vale and got a total of five games in of it. This one actually takes up quite a bit of space on the table, but we managed. These five games with the Vale of the Wild expansion really increased my opinion of the game. I recently just did my Top 50 games of all time and though Mystic Vale didn't quite make it, because of these five games, it really pushed itself up there when I was doing the comparing of games.
By far our most played game this year at MDN is Codenames Duet. We've played it 10 times! We're terrible at it. Honestly it is probably mostly me, but it does show how different we think. For example, I remember the word "blues" was in play and I gave a clue relating music and Krista had boxed that card in her mind as feelings and never associated it with music. We've attempted the campaign and have made it through only 2 locations. Krista does keep requesting this one though - I'm enjoying it less and less because maybe I'm just a sore loser.
One night we forgot to bring a physical copy of a game. If you've ever tried to get three kids out the door within 15 minutes of arriving home from work and ensure they have everything they need, dinner is put away, and the dog is in the crate, then you have an idea of why. We still did play one game of Patchwork on our phones though, which is controversial with us because of the 7x7 tile in Krista's mind is too powerful.
One night we did get in both Traders of Carthage and San Juan. Both have been games we've played together for a decade and Traders specifically is one of our absolute favorite two player games of all time. I don't feel like I win that one often against Krista and so was pleasantly surprised when I got the win that night. Seriously, if you play two player games often you should pick it up.
Last week we played two games of Arcane Academy. I got this game for around $10 last fall and it was a great purchase. Again, just about perfect for MDN beause of size and timeframe. This game also really is best with 2 players I think. Krista smoked me both games we played. Last week we also experienced our first spill! A cup of water was spilt all over Krista's lap and barely missed most of the components, with one card being a little worse for wear now. The dangers of drinks and games combined! I'm sure this will see more table time in the future as we both like it and as I like to say, "it makes me feel clever."
So there you have it. MDN has been really great for us as a couple and us as gamers! I've drank way too many Dr. Peppers and Cokes, we've shared some salty fries, and have been able to get a mid-week recharge together.
Mon Mar 12, 2018 10:41 pm
We're back for Part 2 of my Top 50 GAMES OF ALL TIME and what I think my wife thinks about them. You read that right. Not what my wife actually thinks of them (I'm hoping I can get her to comment), but what I think she thinks of them. If you missed Part 1 go back and read it now and then come on back. If you didn't go back - I applaud you for your self-control - and want to point out a few things: 1. This is a list that I enjoy doing and is just my opinion. 2. I used www.PubMeeple.com to sort my list - you should check it out. 3. This year I'll cross the 1,000 unique games played mark which means this is the top of the top! 4. The thumb and number next to the game tell how much it went up or down since last year. On to the games!
1. War of the Ring
What I Say: I'm not sure if it is possible that this one ever comes off the top spot. I absolutely love LotR - I have a whole room dedicated to it - and this game is the LotR story. If you are a LotR fan at all you should play it - even if it might be a bit more in-depth than you normally go in games.
What My Wife Would Say: Adam has asked me several times to play this - I haven't. The other day I was an awesome wife and asked him to play it - we didn't. One day it'll work out and that day will be one of the best days in Adam's life.
2. Blood Rage
What I Say: There are lots of things that I love about this one, the minis, the drafting, the combat, Ragnorak, and RAGE! This one fits well with a lot of groups as well - American-style and Euro-style.
What My Wife Would Say: I like Blood Rage! I was hesitant at first, but it really became one I enjoyed. I like the fact that you can win the game and lose every battle you are involved in. I'm actually painting the box art right now for a picture for the game room!
3. Sid Meier's Civilization: The Board Game
What I Say: I got a chance to play this 3 times over Geekway last year and it just cemented even more into how great it is for me. I love all the content (I have two expansions) which gives me the Civ Rev experience on the the table.
What My Wife Would Say: I've played this a couple times two player. I don't have anything against it, but I will never attempt a military victory.
4. Millennium Blades
What I Say: Of all my games in my Top 50 - with the exception of Mottainai perhaps - I'm not sure there is a game that is more "not for everyone" than this one. I love the game, it scratches my CCG itch, it is crazy, ridiculous, and absolutely fun!
What My Wife Would Say: I've played it. Didn't go over well, but I always say I'll play a game at least twice.
5. Railways of the World
What I Say: After many years I still enjoy this one. It was a former number 1 and while there are obviously a few games that have come out above it - I'll still play this one anytime. Europe is my favorite map and I really need to the Mexico map for playing with Krista. I'd also like to try the Nippon map.
What My Wife Would Say: This is a good game. I like it. I don't ever suggest it, but enjoy it when we play.
6. Warhammer: Invasion
What I Say: Every year I never know if I should include CCG/LCG like these. However, I've obviously included it and this is the best. Part of the reason is that there is a good chance I can get this played each year, it plays very quickly, and it feels "boardgame-ish".
What My Wife Would Say: I like this better than Netrunner.
7. Chaos in the Old World
What I Say: The theme is dark. The game is awesome. I absolutely love the asymetrical play, how the cards interact, and how important it is as a group to not let Khorne just kill you all.
What My Wife Would Say: I'm not a fan. However, I do play it occasionally as the other three people in our regular Friday night group like it.
8. 7 Wonders
What I Say: I've come to the conclusion this is just a great game. We have in the past few years played it a whole lot with our community group at church using all the expansions and I just find myself wanting to play it again and again. One of the few games I've ever played over 100 times.
What My Wife Would Say: This game is absolutely great. I think science and military are the most important and if you don't do those you'll lose. LOSE I tell you!
9. Age of Empires III: The Age of Discovery
What I Say: This game has so much that hits my buttons. Plastic dudes on a map, worker placement, evolving player powers, and a theme that I've enjoyed since high school playing Colonization on the computer.
What My Wife Would Say: Again, one I'll play, but I just know I'll lose, especially if we are playing with Jeremy.
10. 1960: The Making of the President
What I Say: A great tug of war game that in my opinion is way better than Twilight Struggle. The historical flavor of the game, combined with some great tactical and strategic play really makes me love it. It gets even better the more experienced the players are!
What My Wife Would Say: Bleh. I've played it. I'd rather not play it again. Frustrated me that Adam would just undo what I'd spent my turn doing.
11. The Castles of Burgundy
What I Say: I played this game 10 times last year - which is quite a bit for a game of its set up and length - and over those 10 plays I realized that there really isn't a better Feld out there. When we've been playing it we set out the next round tiles so we can have an idea what is coming, which adds more strategy in a two player game.
What My Wife Would Say: I love Castles at any player count! I often suggest this one and will always play it. Along with Trajan probably my favorite by this designer who I don't remember his name.
12. The Resistance: Avalon
What I Say: This game continues to be a hit wherever I bring it out. I'm hesitant on using Merlin in lower player counts, but when playing with 8+ I think all the roles in this really make the game.
What My Wife Would Say: I love this one! Especially, because I have Adam's number in it. I know every time when he is lying and he can't stand it!
13. Android: Netrunner
What I Say: My most played game of all time by far. Had so much fun with this in the "tournament scene" around Indianapolis. Just had to give it up for the time drain it was for me away from family and other hobbies I had to pursue. The most thematic CCG I have ever played.
What My Wife Would Say: I really didn't like this one. It felt random to me and frustrating.
What I Say: A very thematic Euro game. Everything makes sense to me in this one, which makes it easy to explain to folks for a game of its depth. Still my favorite Rosenburg game after all these years.
What My Wife Would Say: I still enjoy Agricola, but I like Caverna: The Cave Farmers better. Agricola can be a bit too mean for my taste sometimes.
15. The Lord of the Rings Trading Card Game
What I Say: I've actually played this a couple times in the past year. This one (along with Invasion and Netrunner) are so hard for me to compare with other board games. Still one of my first loves and I'm always willing to play a game. I would love it if FFG decided to make an LCG based on this game.
What My Wife Would Say: Another one of Adam's obsessions - this one going back to when we first met. I tolerated it, if I remember correctly, but would be fine if I never played it again.
16. Small World
What I Say: An absolute great game. Most of my plays recently have come face to face on the giant iPad with my buddy while watching the kids on game day. This year will be the year I introduce it to my oldest daughter who I think will love it!
What My Wife Would Say: I've changed my tune on this one a bit. The other day I even said it was a good game, though still no where close to my favorite.
What I Say: My favorite Chudyk game! Absolutely love it and wish more people around me did. Glory to Rome gets all the love, but this one deserves just as much!
What My Wife Would Say: Adam and his tuckin' games. I always turn down a play of this one.
18. Eminent Domain
What I Say: I have both expansions which take this game to the next level. The base game is fine, but add in either expansion and you really have something with the scenarios especially. The biggest draw back is the set up time for this one with that much stuff.
What My Wife Would Say: When I play it, I like this one, but I don't often play it. It reminds me a bit of Adam's tucking games, just without the tucking.
19. Star Wars: Rebellion
What I Say: A celestial rise for this one this year. I always compare this to WotR above and for good reason. It is the movies in a box. I played the expansion this last year and the combat is now better which was my one niggle with the game. Can't wait to play this with my Star Wars loving buddy who recently moved back to Indiana.
What My Wife Would Say: Adam keeps saying he think I'll like the "cat and mouse" of this game, but we still haven't tried it. I'm open to it though.
20. Founding Fathers
What I Say: 1960 for multiple players. What I really like about it is the cards give you information of what your opponent has without giving it all away. For example, you see a Federalist from Viriginia in my hand? You better be prepared that it is GW himself and I can end the round. So don't give me incentive to do so!
What My Wife Would Say: I like this better than 1960. It is shorter, doesn't feel so tug o' war like, but playing with Adam who knows the cards so well isn't as fun. Also, the theme is really boring.
What I Say: Sim City the board game is how I describe this one. We've added in the INC expansion and I really like playing with the borders. This is one of those games that I feel like I'm good at and have enjoyed with 2, 3, or 4 players. I think I like it best at 2 though.
What My Wife Would Say: I love this game. I love seeing my little city grow and trying to figure out the best place to put everything!
22. Omen: A Reign of War
What I Say: This is a CCG in a single box. All the cards feel completely over powered, they probably all are, and I love it! The art is very unique and whispy. My edition as the metal coins. Excited to see Kolossal put this one out again soon so that more people can get to know its greatness!
What My Wife Would Say: Just not for me. Everything Adam loves about it, such as the crazy overpowered cards, makes me frustrated!
23. High Society
What I Say: I'm not sure why this one jumped so much. I've played it a few times this year though and it is just that good. So simple, yet so agonizing each turn. This one has been a success in many situations and one that still consistently sees play over a decade after I first bought it.
What My Wife Would Say: I like this one a lot. A lot of laugh out loud moments in it.
24. Puerto Rico
What I Say: One of the games that really sucked me into the hobby. A highlight of my year is the annual Puerto Rico tournament we hold at my house in October.
What My Wife Would Say: I love this one. I always like to remind friends of how Adam badly screwed up the rules when we first started playing this one making the games go very quickly because we ended when someone's island filled up!
What I Say: The best pure abstract game there is out there. I love the battle of wits in this one, love how when you first play the game it takes a short amount of time, but the better you get at it that time stretches out as you prevent the game ending. Also, one of the few games that I've played 100 times.
What My Wife Would Say: I hate the bugs! We play it occasionally, but I'd be much more open to playing it if it was anything else than bugs!
So there you have it! That wraps up my Top 50 Games of All Time list. I'll be tagging Krista to see if I can come entice her to tell you all how wrong I was about her thoughts on these games. Obviously, these lists are arbitrary, but I do enjoy putting them together. Thanks for reading!
Sun Mar 11, 2018 10:06 pm
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