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Board games that tell stories

You can follow me on Twitter at @trzewik I update this blog every Wednesday. This is BGG copy of my blog BoardgamesThatTellStories.com

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How Bruno Cathala helped me with First Martians

Ignacy Trzewiczek
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It was a sunny day. We were going to Bruno's Faidutti Gathering of Friends. It was me, Fabien, Sabrina and His Majesty Bruno Cathala.

You may know Bruno from his amazing games. You might know him from his funny photos. You might... Well, in case you didn't know, he is the funniest designer I ever meet. And he talks a lot. If you combine two Eric M. Lang's and add a bit of Steven Avery, you'd get Bruno. That's how much he talks.

(I heard people calling him 'radio Bruno'. It wasn't me. I just say what I've heard).

Anyway. We are in the car. Bruno talks. There are 3 people speaking French in the car and me. For a good five minutes, everybody is very kind and polite and speaks English. And then radio Bruno changes into French.

So we are in the car. 4 hours drive from Geneva to Etouvry, three French-speaking gamers and me, in the back seat. I take notepad and pencil from my backpack and I start to work. I draw a tile for Robinson Crusoe, I list all features of the tile - that is Terrain type, Source type, Discovery token, Beast icon and Totem icon. Then I draw tile for First Martians and I start to compare them.

Regions in First Martian gain discoveries, just like in Robinson Crusoe. Remains of crushed Russian probe. Remains of landing parachutes. Especially interesting samples of rocks. All kind of boring stuff you could find on Mars.

Then regions gain Samples. First Martians is a game about scientists. They are here to examine the surface of the planet. I needed samples in the game, I wanted players to find strange rocks and minerals, I wanted players gather them and then examine. This was different from Robinson Crusoe and actually, that was a huuuuuge step into past, to the very first prototype of Robinson Crusoe. Back then, in the early versions of the prototype each Island tile came into the game with few cubes that represented wood and food. Players were gathering them and then, at some point, the source ended. Finally, in the game, we changed it into an unlimited source, a place you can use as many times as you want - but here, in First Martians, I came back to this idea. From one particular region, you can have only a few interesting, exciting and new samples. To find new scientific discoveries, you will have to go to new regions. Made sense.

And then something amazing happened. Suddenly I got this cool idea. It was this very moment when Bruno said something in French. I am pretty sure it was this exact moment when he said something in French because for the whole 4 hours he was saying something in French.

Anyway, I draw a small arrow on the tile. Those of you who played Robinson Crusoe know what that means. It means 'morale drop'. I wrote - 'Volcano. Stress goes up. They are afraid when visiting this tile.'

And then my eyes opened. That was an ocean of possibilities. That was a door I accidently opened. Bruno was saying something with excitement in his voice. I think he felt the moment, even though nobody in the car had any idea what I was scribbling in my notepad.

Each region in First Martians has a unique feature. It leads to choices. It leads to discussion. It makes players debate which path they will take to reach the destination tile. They plan, like in a real situation, they plan the path they should take. They wonder if it is better to risk driving through the tile with '?' (adventure), or an arrow (drop morale) or just sacrifice more action pawns and go through mountains (additional action pawn needed).

That was it. From the very first moment, it was ready. Never needed to change it. It is in the final game, just literally copied from my notepad.

This is how Bruno Cathala helped me with First Martians. We all know he is a genius. He didn't even realised he is helping. He just did.
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Wed Mar 8, 2017 4:53 pm
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It's never done

Ignacy Trzewiczek
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It was a couple of days ago. I was driving home and thinking about Crazy Karts. No idea why. Just the random stuff that comes to your mind when you are tired and drive a car.

The idea of introducing a change in the rules came naturally. Instead of two races with a trophy after winning the first race, we could have one longer race with a small trophy after finishing each board. Each board would have a checkpoint line, and when you pass it you get a small trophy. The race then continues. Instead of racing through 3 and then 4 boards, we would do one 5-board-long race. This means 4 chances to grab a trophy and the game would be even better!

Why haven't I come up with this idea back in 2015, when we were developing Crazy Karts?

Because it doesn't work like that.

***


I have a pretty bad memory, but this one stuck with me for a long time. I've just double checked it - it was a Polish review of The New Era published on a Polish website back in 2012. It really got me. The reviewer said: 'Ignacy released 51st State, playtested it on thousands of players who bought a product, then fixed the mistakes and released The New Era.'

It hurt. A lot.

From today's perspective, the reviewer should have later posted a sort of an appendix. It should be something along these lines: 'Then, a year later, after the global playtesting of The New Era, he repaired the product once again and released a patch called Winter. Those who bought Winter didn't know, however, that they were a part of a play testing operation. Ignacy was gathering worldwide results to build his Imperial Settlers...'

It doesn't work like that.

***


We are creative people. We are designers. We come up with new ideas on a regular basis. That is why I have so many cool promos and mini expansions for Robinson Crusoe - I live this game and come up with new stuff over and over again. That process is never finished. The game is never done. The mind, the brain is working all the time and attacks you with new rules, cards, and ideas without warning.

Like the one with a finish line on each board of Crazy Karts.

***


This weekend I talked with Charles, the designer of Crazy Karts. He liked the idea. I believe we'll come up with a few trophies and publish this variant here on BGG, so you guys can enjoy it. I hope you'll have a great time with this small rules modification. And with any other variant I created after releasing the game. Like the solo campaign for Imperial Settlers. Like King Kong, Dr. Livingstone, or Treasure Island scenarios for Robinson Crusoe. Like the 10 heroes for Stronghold. Like a ton of promo cards for 51st State and Imperial Settlers.

Don't blame designers for being creative.
Don't ask them why they didn't come up with that stuff a year before.

It doesn't work like that.

The designing process never ends.
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Wed Feb 15, 2017 7:43 pm
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Four seasons

Ignacy Trzewiczek
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The weather has been pissing me off lately. For the past few years there had been no real winter in Poland and although I felt like I missed real winter, well, it turned out, I didn't. I am not a big fan of low temperatures and all that crap that comes along.

Anyway, this weather thing made me think about the four seasons. The four seasons in a publisher's life.

WINTER
Winter sucks if we talk about the weather, but it is awesome at Portal Games. It is either the end of the year (if we talk about December) and that means a holiday season, great sells, our sales team is pumped out and everybody is super happy. Games sell like cookies and we know this is the month we were waiting for the whole year.

January and February are great, too. It is the beginning of the year. We have plans. We have new year's resolutions. We know that this new year will be bigger, better and more awesome than any other year in the past. We cannot wait to share the news about our new games with the world. We cannot wait to see new artworks and first samples of new products. Everybody is excited. This year, this January we know for sure, it will be a year of First Martians and we can feel it in the air every single day. The whole company's life revolves around the biggest release in our history.


SPRING
I love the spring season. There are longer sunshine hours, jackets go back in the wardrobe, smiles and energy are in the streets. I don't like the spring season in the company. It is time to finish up the projects. It is the time of stress and tension. It is the moment when our creative spirits must be reined by the chains of brutal reality, strict rules of rulebooks, final cards, final components, there is no space and time to be creative. It is the time to produce. I am no longer an asset to Portal Games, I am an obstacle. I am the one who wants to change something, to update, to make it better but my production department is cold as ice.

Spring is the worst. It is only stress and tension, no fun.

SUMMER
Summer is awesome. The weather is great. The convention season is at its peak, the releases will hit the market if we aimed for Origins or Gen Con. The hype for the games is highest than ever, fans discuss the games, I am super active on social media and I love it. My company is working hard on the Essen fair, so again there is a lot of tension, scheduling, negotiations with manufacturers and finishing some files, but for me this is the moment to promote, to talk about games, give interviews, and hang out with fans.

Summer is the best.

AUTUMN
Autumn is all about Essen. The weather sucks, days are short, the rain is an everyday friend and the temperatures are low. Every year it stirs in me the love for Warhammer Role Playing Game and dark fantasy games. Every damn year.

In the company, we are at our best. The sales department is preparing for the holiday season. Same with the warehouse. The production department is preparing for Essen and for all reprints needed for the holiday season.

And the creative team? Sometimes during Autumn they have a few days off. Because all they needed to create, is already at production. They need to recharge. They need to get some fresh energy. They need to play some games.

Because Winter is coming. And all the fun will begin again...




What's your point of view on seasons and games?
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Wed Feb 1, 2017 2:48 pm
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The experience

Ignacy Trzewiczek
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We grew up reading Tolkien, Howard, Herbert, Dick, Lem… We were watching Willow, Blade Runner, The NeverEnding Story, Robin Hood… And yet, we don’t write books… we don’t make movies. We don’t make those things, because we make games. We make games that tell stories.

Books and movies are a perfect chance for us to escape to new, different worlds. They fuel our imagination and dreams. They let us walk in the shoes of great heroes and have exciting adventures. With games, however, we can go further. We can experience these stories together with our friends. Gather around a table and fight enemies together. Survive or die as a group. Together, we can tell stories.

This is what we do. This is what we believe in. Do you want to defend a castle? Do you want to build an empire? Survive on an uninhabited Island? Call your friends, sit at the table and get ready for an amazing story you will all tell and share this evening.

***

That's what I wrote about Portal Games a few years back. That's what I believe in. Lately, I am even more committed to my belief. The games, the best games we play these days, are truly amazing and provide experiences you cannot compare to anything else. No movie can do this. No book can do this. No video game can do this.

***

A two hours' challenge when I play Twilight Struggle leaves me always exhausted but happy. I don't care if I won or lost, I don't care if the game was hard for me or if I got some good cards. I don't care because the only thing that matters is the experience. I always feel like I was in the middle of a cold war, like I was fighting for control over the world, like I was there, in the White House with my advisors. This is the experience, this is me being there and trying to solve a political crisis.


A five-hour-long investigation I conducted when I played Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective for the first time remains one of the most vivid memories of a gaming night I've ever had. It was back in December 2015, many months ago and yet I can remember precisely every moment of the game. I was there, looking for clues, investigating the crime scene, interrogating suspects. I was discussing with Merry many possible theories, we were browsing through the booklet looking for things we might have missed, we were totally immersed. That evening, Sherlock Holmes offered us The Experience. During these five hours, I really was an investigator. It was amazing.


I am writing about this, because a new edition of Robinson Crusoe was recently released and so many of you had a chance to live the adventure for the very first time. Robinson is a tough beast. It punches you in the face and knows no mercy. You will lose again and again. You'll get killed by a puma. Starve to death. Freeze during a harsh winter. There is a million ways for you to die in Robinson.

But one day you will win. One day you will build this damn wood pile and get rescued.

And that, my friends, will feel fucking awesome. You won't belive you actually did it. You won't believe you won and you got rescued.

That's The Experience. That's board games.
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Wed Jan 18, 2017 1:52 pm
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The New Year's resolution

Ignacy Trzewiczek
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My New Year's resolution was super simple: I need to get back to writing regularly. I need to write every single Wednesday as I used to write in previous years. I need to make Board Games That Tell Stories blog active again.

So here I am. Writing about New Year's Resolutions. Here are the five more I am going to fulfill this year. Perhaps I could inspire you to do it with me!

1. Write a review
Playing games like Pocket Madness or Millenium Blades gave me a ton of pure fun and joy this past year. Designer's talent and hard work resulted in a masterpiece and let me have a great time with my wife and friends. My resolution? This year I will write a couple of reviews and publish them here on BGG to help spread a good word about games that made me happy. Such a review will be my "thank you" to the designer.

2. Donate a game to charity
I have a ton of games I no longer play. We all have. These are some great older games I got bored with like Escape or Spot It. These are the family games my kids no longer want to play. These are the games that were replaced by new and better versions. I have an entire cabinet of great games I will never again play in my life. Resolution? Instead of going to Math Trade or ebay I will give them to charity. I will send them to schools or libraries that organize board game events. Let somebody else enjoy the games I no longer play.

3. Play a game I don't like
We all have been there. There is this game we don't like that our spouse loves. In my situation it is Ingenious. Merry likes the game a lot, I actually don't like it at all. Resolution? I will play with my wife the game she loves. I will not complain. I won't keep rolling my eyes and I will not give up the game. I will do my best to enjoy it, I will find a piece of the mechanism I enjoy in the game and we will both have a great time.

4. Create a card for a game I love
There are so many examples of fan-created content which was eventually published. That's how the Dancer army for Neuroshima Hex was published. That's how the HMS Beagle expansion for Robinson was published. That's how the new edition of Citadels came to life. Fan-created content. Resolution? I will create some content to one of games I love and I will post it here on BGG. I won't do it for the sake of being published. I'll do it to show my respect and love for a particular game and add some value to the project. Make some variant or suggest a rule change that will increase replayability and fun. That's a cool contribution.

5. I will share good content
There is a ton of great content written or recorded by bloggers and vlogers. When I see a number of views or comments under their work, I know the authors deserve better than that. Reviews by JonGetsGames or SpaceBiff are one of the best in the industry. I admire their work. Resolution? I will do more to help them win more audience. I will share the best content I find on the Internet - I will do it more often and show my respect to its creators.

What do you think? Wanna join me in some of these? Or suggest something?
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Wed Jan 11, 2017 3:06 pm
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Marketer with a downtime

Ignacy Trzewiczek
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The six most important weeks for the games industry have just began. The whole year of building our catalog and position on the market is now concluding. It’s time for our games to shine and to show up on as many shopping lists as possible. It’s the time when all good reviews of our releases will make a difference. Quarter 4: The few weeks the entire toy industry is waiting for!

Q4 is a time when our classic titles, the so called backlist games are working hard. Our evergreens that for years have been the company’s strong sellers will prove once again that they are the backbone of our budget. For Portal Games it is obviously Imperial Settlers. It’s sure to be a perfect Christmas gift for many gamers. It’s Love Letter for AEG, it’s Survive for Stronghold Games. Publishers better have their backlist games in stock now.

Q4 is a time when the year’s big releases make another great impact. The games that were discussed earlier, games that were reviewed, games that were on the BGG hotlist for most of the year, games that you were waiting to buy and now, at the end of the year, you are ready to pull the trigger. For us it is obviously Cry Havoc, the huge release and a monumental success for the company. Never before did we have such a massive hype in the summer and so positive feedback. It’s been a winner for us this year and it will most likely be strong during the Christmas season too. Stonemaier Games had their Scythe, Stronghold had their Terraforming Mars, we had Cry Havoc. Publishers, you better have your bestsellers of the year in stock in Q4.

Q4 is a time when the last-minute releases, shiny titles that just pop up in November, can grab some last-minute attention! They land in shopping carts of many gamers who like shiny new stuff under their Christmas Tree. For us it was supposed to be the brand new edition of Robinson Crusoe, but it got delayed, got stuck on customs and will reach game stores in mid-December. I am afraid it is too late, even for a 'last-minute release'. This category will be, no doubt, dominated by Arkham Horror, Cottage Garden, or Adrenaline. Publishers, you better have your last-minute releases ready in November...

Anyway, this is the six weeks that matter the most, the six weeks that will make a lot of sells in our industry. Our Imperial Settlers, Cry Havoc, Tides of Madness, and even the belated Robinson Crusoe should fly off the shelves and land in your collections. And I? And I should work my ass to promote them. I should now be at the peak of my abilities to promote these games and convince you to put them in your shopping carts. It’s like in sports, when a sportsman needs to be in his best shape exactly during the Olympics. You train for four years to be fit in these few days. For me, Q4 is the time perform best.

Well, let's face it. I am fucking losing it. I am doing nothing. I am the worst marketer ever. I am out of shape at the moment when I should be at my best.

I haven’t been talking about Cry Havoc too much lately. I haven’t posted a thing about Aztecs or Imperial Settlers for weeks. Tides of Madness? Anybody heard of the game lately? Me neither...

I did my best earlier this year. I posted a ton of content in the summer when we were promoting Cry Havoc and Tides of Madness for Gen con. I was posting articles, videos, I was at my best earlier this year. Now, a few meters from the finishing line, now, when I should do one more step, one more punch, now, when the crucial six weeks came, I have no ammo. I am done. A few weeks before the finishing line.

So guys, help me, tell your friends about our games and help me here, at the last moment of the run. I need your help this year. And for the next year... For the next year I need to hire another marketing person in Portal Games. The guy with a downtime. The guy who will get excited about our games a few months after we’ve actually released them. I need a guy like Internet Explorer. Dedicated, but a little bit late to the party. Anyone?


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Wed Nov 16, 2016 11:07 am
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My best Essen so far

Ignacy Trzewiczek
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Every Monday I play football. If you are a boy and if you ever played any sports, you know that locker room is basically a room filled with morons. Mean jokes. Bantering. Trash talk. Boys having fun. Some psychologist could probably precisely explain why 10 dudes closed in a one room start to act like a bunch of jerks.

Every Monday I hear jokes about Portal Games.

Hey, Ignacy, how's your new rulebook? Working already on a FAQ?
Hey, Ignacy, how's balance in Cry Havoc?
Hey, Ignacy, I heard you didn't finish First Martians in time. Perhaps you should stop playing football on Mondays. You are not that good player anyway.

Every damn Monday. Festival of jokes.

I literally believe these morons are spending a significant amount of time every Monday browsing forums just to find a new topic for mean jokes about Portal Games.

This Monday it was my first game after Essen.

'You did amazing at Essen, man. Congratz.' I heard when I entered locker room. I knew this was some fucking preface for another mean joke about Portal Games. I looked at the guy and waited for a punchline.

'I mean it, man. Congratz. You did great.'

That was it. No trash talk. No stupid punchline. Just respect from a fellow jerk.

Felt freaking awesome.

***


Essen 2016 was for Portal Games show like no other ever was. After those years of releasing strong titles like Imperial Settlers, Robinson Crusoe, Tides of Time or this year Cry Havoc we felt amazing. The whole booth was a demonstration of that feeling. Our booth was big, it was beautiful, it was full of fans, cookies, people from all different countries and continents. Crowded all the time, with fans asking about First Martians, saying nice things about our new releases, shaking hands with us and taking selfies. It was amazing four days. Surrounded by fans and by Portal Team volunteers (these guys are hardcore fans) I felt proud and happy. And my whole team felt exactly the same. That was our moment. That was Essen to remember for years.

I will never forget this Essen.
Thank you for being there with us.
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Wed Oct 26, 2016 11:18 am
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What does an editor do?

Ignacy Trzewiczek
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In the last #askboardgames show I asked you, guys, for some new topics for the BttS articles. The today's one has been suggested by Ben Nicholson. "Rulebook Editing with Paul Grogan." Sounds like an adventure? Oh yes, it was!

***


This Fall Portal Games is releasing a new edition of Robinson Crusoe. Well, I don't really want to call it a new edition since this is the same good old Robinson without any major gameplay changes, but at the same time everything is new in the game in terms of production. We have new wooden pieces, we have a new scenario (well, it's King Kong, so it actually is not that new), we have a new First Player token, we have nice-looking discovery tokens, and most importantly we have a brand new rulebook. It is indeed a good moment to talk today about rulebooks, Paul Grogan, and my adventures with rules for Robinson Crusoe!

It was all very simple at the beginning. We took the previous rulebook and threw it into a bin. Then we contacted Pegasus Spiele and asked them if we could use their German rulebook as a base. They agreed. So we had it translated into English. And then we contacted Paul Grogan. We told him that we had a rulebook based on a very good German rulebook, and we'd like him to take look at it. I thought we were talking about a job that would take no more than a week to complete, a piece of cake.

No such luck.

***


With Robinson Crusoe – the game already released and one that has been available for years – Paul had a chance to fix the problems pointed out by our fans. The forums and rules threads can be of great help to an editor. But with Robinson Crusoe, browsing through hundreds of BGG threads was quite a challenge. There is a ton of questions about the rules at BGG. And there is a ton of answers.

Paul Grogan: I found your official answer at BGG about moving camp.
Ignacy Trzewiczek: Great!
Paul Grogan: And then I found another reply from you in other thread about camp.
Ignacy Trzewiczek: I was pretty active back then!
Paul Grogan: The point is, they differ.
Ignacy Trzewiczek: You insidious bastard.

***


Over the years, the number of FAQ, threads, and local editions grew; the German edition had some small changes introduced to the rules. And let's face it, me answering the rules questions on the forums has never been a good idea. For weeks Paul was browsing through them, thread after thread, and finding all those small details, the small problems, the small inconsistencies, and he was fixing them. One after another.

Paul Grogan: protective amulet
Paul Grogan: old card says "remove any token from the board"
Paul Grogan: EN rules are very specific on what is a token, and what is a marker
Paul Grogan: so tokens are cardboard bits, not the cubes
Paul Grogan: but on a polish forum, back in 2012, you ruled that it was actually markers (cubes) that it should remove, not tokens
Paul Grogan: so just want to check your final ruling. Only cubes? So it can remove exhausted sources, volcanic ash, fog, etc.
Ignacy Trzewiczek: I'd like it to help players to remove any piece of shit that pisses them off on board
Paul Grogan: ok, replacing "token" with "piece of shit"

***


With every passing week, with every hour spent on the game, an editor – Paul in this case – is able to see more. He can see the inconsistencies in the rules. Not because they were written this way, but because they actually work like that! He sees the unnecessary exceptions where the game doesn't really need them. Take a look at this:

Paul Grogan: When you take an Explore Action on a card (like the Treasure Map Treasure Mystery card) and get an Event (e. g. Signs of Fire) that instructs to cover a source on the Explored tile, what do I do? nothing? take a Wound because I cannot cover a source? or cover a source on the Camp?
Paul Grogan: the german rules say something about the explore action can be carried on on the Camp tile or an adjacent one.
Ignacy Trzewiczek: Sounds legit in terms of making things simpler, but it is bullshit in terms of theme. You found a treasure map and you look for this treasure in your camp? And you draw adventure "Lost" and you will get lost in your camp? That's bullshit story.
Paul Grogan: I know
Paul Grogan: hence my suggestion about saying it is either mandatory 2 pawns so auto success. Or, you dont roll the adventure die or something.
Ignacy Trzewiczek: OK, 2 pawns will cut all bullshit. I agree

***


Sometimes Paul was mean to me:
Paul Grogan: oh, I also found that effect which you said didn't exist

***


Sometimes he was telling me that fans says I am dumb:
Paul Grogan: The Ballista (in scenario 5)
Paul Grogan: there is a lot of people apparently who say that it is pretty irrelevant for the scenario and a lot of people think it is a misprint, and should be 1 palisade and 2 weapons.

***


Sometimes I was not able to accept his suggestions of changes though:
Paul Grogan: Last time I played, I wanted the bear! I had 6 weapons and needed food and fur.
Ignacy Trzewiczek: Fur?
Paul Grogan: and guess what I drew. Bloody feckin stupid birds.
Ignacy Trzewiczek:
Paul Grogan: 1 food, no fur
Ignacy Trzewiczek:
Paul Grogan: I'm renaming the card to "bloody feckin stupid birds" btw

***


That was much more work than I had expected. And the only reason for it was because Paul Grogan is a freaking awesome editor. He has a skill and a natural talent. He is a hard-working bastard who won't leave any single sentence alone. He is a passionate gamer with only one goal on his mind – make sure you can enjoy the game. This fine print at the end of the rulebook that says "Editor: Paul Grogan" (or any other name in any other game) is quite an important line. Thank the editors for their work!

P.S. I have exactly the same respect for the team behind the German rulebook, with Simon being as super devoted to work and super precise about the rules as Paul. Kudos!
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Wed Sep 14, 2016 3:50 pm
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The opposite

Ignacy Trzewiczek
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In 2011, Castles of Burgundy, Trajan, Ora et Labora, and Kingdom Builder were released. With Agricola and La Havre released in previous years, we had eurogames stronger than ever.

Me? I did the opposite. I started a little blog called Board Games That Tell Stories and I started to work on Robinson Crusoe.

Luckily, it turned out, I was right.

***

Today every publisher releases a few games per month, one announcement is followed by another, games are printed, released, forgotten, replaced by the new ones. No one can catch up, neither the distributors, nor the game store owners, nor the gamers themselves.

We? We do the opposite. We released 51st State in the Spring, Crazy Karts in the Summer and we will release Cry Havoc in the Fall. We curate our releases.

And yet, 2016 was the best year in the company's history. Luckily, it turned out, I was right.

***

These days all major publishers' Facebook pages have thousands of likes and their Twitter accounts have thousands of followers. Like our page to win the game. RT and follow to enter the contest. The numbers go higher and higher.

We? We do the opposite. We don't go for a number, we go for individual people. I know hundreds of my followers personally. I get cookies at cons, I get greetings for my wife when she kicks my ass in 51st State, I have some awesome deep relations with a small number of people. I chose to think deep instead of wide.

Every day I am reminded that I am right.

***

I have a pile of gold on my desk. It is called First Martians and is one of the most anticipated games of the year. Every publisher with at least a bit of sense would print it right now. Because of the Mars theme. Because of the legacy-style gameplay. Because of the Christmas season. Just push the Print button and collect the money.

Me? The opposite. Today, in the newest episode of the #askboardgames show, I announced we won't publish the game. Even though we'll miss the Mars-hype timing. Even though we'll miss your peak of interest in legacy games. Even though we'll miss the Christmas season.

I'll release it when it's done.

I hope I am right.
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Wed Sep 7, 2016 11:00 pm
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I didn't see it coming

Ignacy Trzewiczek
Poland
Gliwice
Slask
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'You made a mistake. You understimated it,' she said. She sees the hype growing and she knows I am not prepared for that. She knows I made a mistake. I didn't see it coming.

***


I signed Cry Havoc (Battle of York back then) in 2013. It was three years ago. Since then it's been an ongoing struggle. It meant months of work for Grant and Michał Walczak. Finally, when my disappointment with the results could not be contained any longer, I hired Michał Oracz to join the team and help with the development. More long months of testing came and went, long months of seeing the game on the table every week, and I would repeat one sentence to my team over and over again.

'I like Kemet better. Try harder.'

***


There was Grant working on the game. There was Grant and Michał Walczak working on the game. There was Grant, Michał, and Michał Oracz working on the game. Weeks became months. Months became years. Finally, they finished. It was ready.

I gave it to my small personal playtesting team. The few people I trust the most.

'It is not ready,' they said.

So Cry Havoc was back on the table. At that point, after two years of developement I was sick of seeing this game in the office again.

Step by step, my testers pushed it to its final stages.

In November we went to the BGG.Con and presented the game. The feedback was phenomenal. Grant himself was presenting the game and people loved it. We were ready to go. A few tweaks concerning the balance and we had a smash hit.

***


'Ignacy, you should play it,' he said. This was Marek. At that time I was struggling with First Martians and Aztecs, and Angry Ocean, and Crazy Karts, and one more secret project. Playing Cry Havoc was the last thing I needed.

'I have no time. Playtesters like it, people at the BGG.Con loved it. No need for me to play it anymore.'

'Ignacy, you should play it,' he said again.

'Why?'

'I don't know. Something is... I don't know. It lacks something. You have to play it.'

I did play it.

First Martians, Crazy Karts, Aztecs, Angry Ocean, and the secret project all had to wait for their turn. Cry Havoc was not ready.

***


It was six months ago and I remember this particular day as if it was yesterday. It was winter. We were in Paris. My wife and daughter were going to Disneyland. I stayed in the apartment and kept working on Cry Havoc.

I wholeheartedly hated this game. I hated every single minute I spent with it that day. I blamed it for ruining my vacations. I will remember this day forever. I had all the skills, buildings, and decks spread out on the table and I was tweaking this shit while my daughter was having a blast at Disneyland.

I so badly wanted this game to be ready. So I could never watch it again.

***


'You made a mistake. You understimated it,' she said.

I look at her. She is right. I didn't see it coming. I grew sick of this project. I hated it with my whole heart.

I didn't see that after all these years of extremely hard wok we finally nailed it.
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Wed Aug 17, 2016 9:23 am
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