It is with great pride that I announce the English language reprint of Lux Aeterna under the safe and honourable umbrella of Capstone Games:
The folks are running a pre-order during the last two weeks of July, should you be interested in getting it a bit earlier than the October retail release:
Slowly, but surely, I am getting the immense pleasure of working with the best publishers in the Industry!
P.S Keep an eye out for Lux promo cards doing the rounds too - you've seen them on this blog in the Past, of course!
Life and Games (but mostly games) from Tony Boydell: Dad, Husband and Independent UK Game Designer.
Archive for Game Design
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For a game designer with game designer pals, perhaps the harshest side-effect of the pandemic has been the inability to get ourselves together to eat and drink and push our collaborations forward. Some work has been possible via Skype/Zoom/whatever but nothing quite beats being crowded round a table with a bottled beer in one hand and shoving components around a taped, paper board mock-up with the other. This weekend just gone, long time gaming pal Matt Green (Miremarsh, Flicky Spaceships, Beyond the Gates of Antares: The Dice Game a.k.a Bugger t'dog) journeyed up from England's garden - the South East - for a few sunny days.
Showing him to the spare room, I assured him that the shelves of museum stock were secured to the wall and presented no potential crushing hazard in the middle of the night. Then into the garden for sunshine, a welcome cup of tea and his first attempt at Aleph Null. The six hour journey - it's really NOT a good plan to travel around the bottom of London on a Friday afternoon - had knocked the wind out of Matt and, after a cod-and-chips supper, he retired to his room for a short nap...which turned into a full settle-down-for-the-night, leaving Mrs B and I with a couple of hours in which to catch up with the usual Friday evening TV.
The day dawned gloriously and, over tea and coffee, we set to work on the business of the visit:
Matt had started on a sort-of Tokyo Highway-ish, String Railways-esque every-game-will-look-different-at-the-end scenery building game; he mentioned it, in passing, on a Tweet and I chimed in with an urgent desire to know (much) more. What has ensued, these past months, has been a Google Docs exchange of ideas, schemes and assorted noodlings. With no particularly-easy way of just moving things around while apart, the main goal of this first face-to-face was to do shit 'for real' and see if we could settle on some clarified rules, currency and flow.
Ninety minutes later, we were patting ourselves on the back having established some clear - and elegantly-lean - parameters for the game; quite a bit of rework to the original docs is required but that's a job for another
dayevening this week. Gerv, the third aspect of the gathering's Holy Trinity who'd have to be away again by 7PM, turned up on the dot of 10AM and we were straight into the first playable prototype of the day:
Gerv likes RSR very much; indeed, it was the last game he played at a Newent meetup before the World went Covid. Matt is more than comfortable with multi-use card card games - though his oversight in one particular area would have to be rectified the following day (see later) - and was soon settled and complaining about the quality of his draws It was a tentative first twenty minutes as we danced ourselves into comfortable positions then things began to kick off - and kick-off quickly - with Gerv achieving the TECHNOLOGY crown, me the POLITICS crown and Matt (in the same turn as me) the CULTURE CROWN. I took the laurels thanks to a well-stocked CATACOMB and a "two points per" crypt bonus.
In summary: use MAJOR or MINOR actions to progress up (and down) the four attribute tracks, build buildings for points and track-affecting abilities, survive EVENTS and seek out combinations.
From a test perspective, RSR flowed well enough but Matt's initial discomfort at his perceived lumpen start - and the slow, first twenty minutes - suggests I need to find a way of getting things moving much quicker: the solution is to start everyone further up the board tracks so they are closer to INCREMENT-ing into the meaty effects BUT ALSO able to DECREMENT on tracks to use any MAJOR or MINOR action from the beginning.
More drinks and to something already-published by way of a palette-cleanser; Matt taught us Fort. It has suggestions of all of your favourite complex card games - eg. Dominion, RftG, GtR - with a joyful 'gangs of kids playing through a long, hot Summer' theme. Pizza and Toys are your resources, building a better fort is one of the goals and scoring points along the way is essential. The turn sequence goes as follows:
i. cards in your YARD go into your discard pile (cards are friends; if you don't "play with them" in your turn, they may go and play with someone else instead - see iii.)
ii. play a card from your hand for an effect - possibly boosted with other cards of the same suit (or wild); resolve it and/or a 'only for you effect' (if there is one) then all the other players may follow the open action by playing equivalent card(s) of the suit.
iii. draft a card into your discard pile from the deck, a tableau OR the YARD of any other player
iv. cards for your 'board' are discarded to your discard pile; and,
v. all other 'unused' cards go into your YARD and you draw 5 new cards.
Simple flow, simple actions: deliciously tricky little race game!
We wandered into a deserted and Sun-dusty Newent for lunchtime snacks and returned via The Shambles: the bijou retail courtyard home to the two potential Museum sites - both Matt and Gerv agreed that the 'Vape' shop site was, by far, the better option.
Bellies stuffed with salad, quiche, rustic breads and cheese, we moved onto the Patio for some train-based, Cluedo-inspired murder investigation:
BE has morphed from trad. worker placement to an Obsession-style WP: the train is now populated by a variety of workers who are allowed in some - but not all - carriages of the train. The WP replaces the roll-and-move but accusations must now be fueled by gathered resources: tobacco, money, wine, time, food and 'heat' (as in 'suspicion', rather than warmth). Workers gather resources and then convert them in to clues - accusations a la "PERSON in the CURRENT CARRIAGE with WEAPON" - that elicit card revelation in a Cluedo style (one or none, stop when someone has shown 'one' or everyone has shown none etc). There is another wrinkle in my design that allows you to reveal card(s) from your hand to gain a benefit for them being in play - as well as letting everyone else know what to eliminate from their investigations: the only feedback - after I'd Marple-d my way to the win - was that the card revelation effects should be less wordy and, if poss, more powerful. Excellent notes, gentlemen: I'm on it!
Not wishing to waste the gorgeous day, I took the boys - and Ziggy - for a medium-sized walk: toward May Hill and back again in a 75 minute tramp through tidal wheat fields (Gerv doing his best Maximus Decimus Meridius impression). It was more humid than we'd anticipated on 'set off' and, thus, arrived back at the house a little 'glowing': big, icy drinks please!
To let our brains relax a little, we played a couple of games of Res Arcana with Gerv dominating both.
The dart board attracted some attention until it was time to make fire and cook meat with pointed implements.
It was quite the palaver getting the sausages to brown but, in the end, everything was in place for the household to gather for a feast and, of course, the best garden game ever devised:
Everyone but Mrs B and "us lads" drifted off after my 3-0 drubbing of all-comers; Gerv had postponed his evening appointment to stay for just one more in the form of Rüdiger Dorn's SdJ nominee and aesthetically-pleasing Luxor:
It took just 60 mins to find our way into the central chambers and
lootpreserve the treasures for future generations; poor Matt was a little irked that he'd missed my mention of 'explorers score for the space they're on' as his last turn had him shunting a chap onto a 'gain a key' tile for '0' location points instead of any other for >0 location points: the difference, my friends between a WIN and THIRD PLACE! Gerv departed on a victorious high while we repaired to the Living Room.
Leaving LUXOR on the patio table.
For the overnight rain to despoil.
And my loverly cartoons notebook as well.
An even slower start for the Boydells on the Lord's Day apart from me. Matt and I got stuck into hot drinks and Fort, a teaching game of Glory to Rome (merciful heavens: how has Matt not ever played this before?!) and Gosu: Kamakor:
Gosu is a rather splendid shared-deck, tableau builder with plenty of CCG-esque combos and clashes to be milked from the six mini-decks (clans) that are shuffled to make the main deck. In summary: you play out, and sometimes pay for, cards into a virtual 3 row x 5 column tableau. The rows - Levels I, II and III 'ascending' - contain increasingly powerful creatures that support each other (part of the tableau-building rules) and provide strength for the 'Great Battle'. All of the tableau shenanigans are in preparation for this Battle: the winner, of which, gets a victory token. Reset tokens, leave the tableau in play and proceed to a new phase of preparations: the first to THREE victory tokens is the winner.
I enjoyed Gosu very much; it's chock full of 'I'm buggered...but, wait, no I'm not!' moments, lure plays, take that!s, exasperation and exhileration. Shame it's almost impossible to get your hands on in English.
The only prototypical treat was Matt's run at the third in my solo game trilogy: Triskaidekaphobia. I sat back and watched him wrestle with the ebbing and flowing of the zombie hordes; his stress level slowly increasing. He managed to survive the full 13 rounds of relentless, undead attacks - amusingly spending one long turn agonising over what to do about an 'Overlooked Doorway'. Matt, alone (one survivor point), walked away from the horrors of that long night: his mind haunted by the loss of the other 39 survivors in his community.
Ah, but all good things must come to an end; Matt departed, as he had arrived, in glorious sunshine. What a bloody fantastic working weekend!
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What with there being no conventions and no game club meets and only the (adequate, at best) digital medium to provide respite, the last year has been sphincter-quiveringly poor WRT honest board game play and evaluation. Anything and everything I've managed to escort from the Postman's ample sack into my Library room is still awaiting some kind of first proper play.
Yet - and without missing a heartbeat - the Spiel des Jahres jury have found it in themselves - and their no-doubt malnourished Bank Account - to botty-cough out a confusingly-unrecognizable selection of nominees for this year's 'Best'.
The usual process is for us to all have had a good run at checking this shit out in the months following the previous Essen Spiel/Nuremberg; the nominations then appear to a mountainside's worth of vigorous nodding and a deep valley's worth of apoplectic howling. Not so for 2021; oh, no - this time it's a web page listing some stuff you have no experience of (apart from the game that's been out for 3 years already). For those of you that HAVE played these games: good for you; well done; congratulations and so on: you are in quite the vanishingly-small minority. Thus, the 2021 parade of exemplaritudity is more akin to a hushed betting tip from a total stranger in a Pub.
Three more games that no-one in the real world has played. Or even seen a picture of. Ever.
Apart from Fantasy Realms: that's proper boss and I hope it wins.
Does anyone else feel like they’ve been conned?
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15 May 2021
My Newent contact re: possible home for Version 1.0 of the museum is on holiday for a couple of weeks so I thought I'd (finally) get round to sorting some Patreon levels.
To keep things simple, I've gone for CHEAP and EXPENSIVE ends to the Bell Curve with a couple of tweak levels in-between:
One has to strike a balance between getting the patronage to make the enterprise work and not then have those funds immediately gobbled up by the benefactor benefit obligations. Do these sound reasonable?
As for the site: the properties that could work in the Town run at around 60 quid per week (plus electric) - roughly £300 per month - which translates into the new currency as 100 'Crowdies. Here's a peek at the smaller of the two Lots (the other is currently out-of-bounds with a self-isolating, Covid-worried Survivalist):
More news, hopefully, as we move into June.
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Ok, so I mentioned this is my rambling ramble the other day BUT I thought I'd take a slower - ie. static - approach to telling you about it by way of belt-and-braces.
I'm a bugger for the fringe items in the boardgaming eclectica world and a boat-racing game based in a matchbox tickled my fancy no end:
I can't find any evidence of this curious relic anywhere - not here nor, indeed, the wider webs of the world and, with just a box and two illustrated tickets and a pair of wooden standee bases, it would've been a relatively expensive piece to adorn a glass cabinet nook...were I not a game designer!
No, indeed; I have no excuse to ignore the lack of rules/missing extra bits and must come up with my own solution: thus, Buoy Racers is born:
This re-implementation requires the following, if you'd like to play along at home:
1 x Matchbox with inner tray
6 x Match per player (preferably de-clawed)
1 x Small boat piece per player (different colours are essential)
The rules are simple:Quote:Setting up:This type of bijou trinket is, of course, perfect for the Museum's gift shop!
Give each player a boat piece and six matches.
Place the matchbox inner at one end of the playing area as the START/FINISH and the outer, with the BUOY picture facing the START/FINISH, at the other end.
The aim is to be the first player to sail down to - and around - the buoy and back passed the START/FINISH.
Playing the Game:
Simultaneously - and in secret - players choose zero or more matches as a blind bid from the matches they have available.
All players reveal their ‘bids’ together:
- any player who shares the same, non-zero bid as one or more other player(s) does not move this turn.
Players with unique bids then lay their bid matches end-to-end in a line from their boat and then move their boat to the other end of the line.
All matches in bids - the same or different numbers - are discarded to a central supply.
A bid of zero means a player must top up their personal supply of matches to the maximum of SIX matches, taken from the general supply.
Repeat until someone has 'sailed' from the start(/finish) and around the buoy and back over the (start/)finish line.
Obviously, more players equals more chance of duplicate 'bids' which makes for more shenanigans: I recommend between 4 and 6 players.
Now, please DO let me know how you find it / get on!
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My wife's Grandfather was quite the act to follow: an engineer, an inventor and someone for whom the extended family - a large and vibrant one - was his most important concern; he was also a keen woodworker and conservationist:
In the late 1990s, John bought an ancient woodland on the side of May Hill: visible from our home in Newent and part of my extended countryside ramblings. We had a family gathering there to celebrate the grand-and-great grand-childrens' legacy; we saw thousands of new trees planted in the bare fields. A year-or-so later, John died and his ashes scattered at the base of a particular tree; subsequently, the ashes of his wife and sister-in-law joined him.
It was over a year ago when I was sent the files for Agricola: Dulcinaria Deck to check over / add rude names to etc. The mechanisms for one of the cards struck a chord with 'the Family'; though, back then, it didn't have any Art. I suggested - rather cheekily, rather hopefully - that Klemens might use John as the inspiration for the card's character art. Soon after, we retreated to our lockdown shelters and only this week did I finally get my hands on a copy of 'the D deck': to my absolute DELIGHT, Klemens was as considerate and generous as he always has been:
While John would certainly have been befuddled by the complexity of the Best Board Game Ever Designed, he would be tickled to chuckling pink by this gesture. John would've been 101 last weekend: we all went up to the May Hill woods to pay our respects.
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I think we've all seen quite enough of this meme:
So, I propose we start a new one:
(The raw image is no.6073711 in this 'ere Parish, BTW)
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I just CANNOT shake this railway addiction and no amount of wooden pigs or cork-firing toy rifles is going to distract me: I am in love with steam and iron.
Spending some shop credit with my good pal Jimmy, naturally I have rectified my frankly-ludicrous decision to NOT back the recent Deluxe Age of Steam edition - the one with the remarkable art from Ian O'Toole - and went in, all gung ho!, stacking the Cart with base set, expansion boards and special wooden trains. If they'd had a limited edition Stationmaster's Whistle Start Player marker, I'd have had one of those too. I am a lost cause.
Mini Express from Mark Gerrits (and Moaideas Game Design) is a wonderful thing made entirely MORE wonderful being something to do with trains. Having already cwtch-ed with it's little brother Mini Rails, it wasn't long after playing pal Richard's PnP that I mocked up a map of my very own design:
I can't help myself: it's got ferries, long route connection bonuses and the London Underground as well.
And don't even mention the thick(ening) sheaf of Dampfross/Railway Rivals maps under my green cutting mat: flattening out under the weight of me working on all the other railway shizzle that storms my life. Actually, that reminds me: I should really pull out the notes for my Power Grid meets Paperclip Railways mash-up: Funkenbüroklammer.
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More so than usual, I'm having trouble switching my Mind off - even after a busy work day. I can happily scoff some supper in front of a daft piece of programming but then, after an hour or so - if it's not a full movie immersion experience - I begin to feel restless. Oftentimes, I'll prod about the Museum stock for a bit: making one good copy of something out of two incomplete editions, updating the Game Library Database spreadsheet, balancing the shelves/watching for 'squashing' and/or just fingering something consierably older than me. Authoring and auto-scheduling the next day's blog post will hog 30 minutes or so (as this has done). Fingernails might need snipping/beard trimming or, perhaps, a timely gathering of the cardboard and paper recycling from the spare room (workshop)? Surfing Apple music for something new and chill: a bit of Eno here, a bit of Weber there. Doodling? Maybe...but I do a lot of that while subjected to the interminable honking of Teams conference calls. Sometimes the urge to do something 'else' is so pervasive that all I can do is go to bed and turn out the light.
The game designing has (as I am sure you've noticed) taken a sharp upward trend on the progress chart and I decided to list everything that's in a box awaiting play first/subsequent playtesting - I was shocked:
All stages of development are represented in the list; from the still incubating Trinity and Jerusalem, the newborn and not-even-out-of-the-Meconium stage Day of the Triffids and Tiddly-Rails and Silks & Sulkies, through the seen a couple of plays and merits further exploration Triskaidekaphobia, Polygonia & Iron Almanac to the trepidatious physically with somebody else now-ness of Rome Sweet Rome and Attention All Shipping. Add in the 'gonna be available sometime in the (near) future for Aleph Null and a revamped Paperclip Railways and you'd be forgiven for thinking this was a full-time operation! But, of course, it's not...
I mused - the ridiculous list in front of me - as to WHY there is so much spinning around, and out, of my head and I came up with the following reasons:
i) I am co-located with all of my materials: paper, printer, blank cards and wooden pieces. Had I been working 'on site' somewhere, I'd only be exploiting this stuff at the weekends: a two-day window instead of an all-week window. At home, I can opportunistically take a couple of hours out to mock up a printable prototype. For example: 'Full Moon' - a childrens memory/card-matching game in three dimensions with disc magnets - was assembled during a particularly detailed (and dull) Summer 20202 Steering Group call.
ii) The boredom of staring at JIRA boards can be easily alleviated with a bit of distraction web-surfing - something frowned upon when in the main office. Everyone needs to take time out of the humdrum day but only certain channels are permissible eg. water cooler chat, 'the coffee run', "hot desking" in another part of the building etc. At home, no-one is judging your visible commitment - the only criterion by which good work is seemingly measured nowadays - except yourself. And the dog who huffs and sighs loudly at the lack of a decent walk until one slams down one's laptop lid, rants up and down the corridor retrieving one's coat and wellington boots and drags the anthropomorphised sulking teenage canine across five miles of fields...because he told me to.
iii) Reading, and box-set watching, is presenting so many inspirational themes.
I'm sort-of knocking it but I'm not: it's a nice problem to have, I guess, but the deprived opportunities for play-testing suck some of the Joy out of the process - oh, to have people round to try things out once more!
Anyway, today gives a glimpse of a later entry on 'the list': Belle Époque
Elevator pitch: it's Clue meets Snowdonia with hand-management.
Set in the 1920s, it's an Orient Express-themed murder mystery with some modern-day wrinkles:
there is no dice movement; the worker placement actions - in each of the 12 carriages - allow you to gather resources, spend resources for CLUES (the asking of 'questions') and do other things. Not having to rely on rolling-and-moving first means you get to 'accuse' more often than in its inspiration ancestor, which feels like you're doing more.
the Location, Passenger, Weapon and (new!) Motive cards are dealt out - after the SOLUTION set is put aside - and each card has an ability/effect should it be 'put into play'. You can choose to put a card into play (with a worker's action) to get the bonus - or be forced to by Events (qv) - but, of course, you're revealing information to the other players.
There's a deck of 12 Event cards - one starts each round - that acts as a disruptive influence (sometimes player penalties, sometimes boons, and always moving the tiresome Detective around) and as an end-of-game trigger if players take too long 'working out the Solution'. Indeed, it's possible for a player to be the murderer if they've taken too many risks during the game and the right Event pops up and the wrong time.
There is a detective who wanders around the train and blocks action spots from the players' workers; he also stops players asking for clues in his current location - he wants all the attention, you know.
Belle Époque got its maiden run on Sunday evening with a full five player count: Me, Mrs B, Alice, Daisy and Arthur.
We played a quick start version where all players had an equal number of starting cards and the excess were made public; this led to a quicker game and we were done - Mrs B correctly identifying the Aristocrat with the Knife in the Observation Car. The 'motive' remains unknown as I only added that element yesterday after a chat with a pal.
There were certainly 'card abilities' that needed tuning but the Cluedo bit is already well-proven, as is the worker placement; it's definitely going somewhere but, then, so is EVERYTHING in that first picture! Twelve months locked-down in a pandemic has freed me up in quite the most spectacular way: the Body may be trapped but the Mind is free!
I might knock this up on Tabletopia, actually; it would be dead easy to do and all I'd need next are a few testers...
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