It’s Monday and there are two inches of fresh snow on the ground in Madison this morning. But I am back from BGG.con and am happy to provide a special recap version of The Monday Brews for you! My BGG.con experience was awesome, so let’s not delay in the telling of tales and sharing of stories in the Monday Brews.
While I was at BGG.con I only had a few brews. The hotel bar had a very small selection so I basically skipped the Barley portion of the week. I did sneak in a few brews and here they are…
Shiner Bock: This seemed to be the staple both at the bar and available in the coffee shop. So I had a couple of these. Unfortunately the $7 per bottle price tag was a little steep for me so I didn’t have more. This isn’t what I would consider a great beer, but it’s from Texas, so that counts for something, I think.
Sierra Nevada IPA: This was the on tap beer for the “Cash & Carry” food section offered at the convention hall. My awesome publisher was kind enough to purchase one for me while I was demoing Scoville. I’m not an IPA guy, but it hit the spot.
Some Texas IPA: While having an entertaining evening at the hotel bar before heading to a party I was able to enjoy some other Texas IPA. I have no idea what brand it was and neither did the waitress. Oh well.
In a typical week I play between 2-7 games. In last week’s BGG.con week I played or taught 36 games! I’ll be recapping each BGG.con day with the games I played.
On my flights I got in my first two games of the week. Those were Ascension and Le Havre. I can’t sleep on planes so having these games helped pass the time. I arrived in Dallas around 2:15 and headed straight to the convention. Since I was there to demo Scoville I immediately went to the demo area and set it up. Table D6 in Demo Land would be my home base for the next four days.
Scoville Demo x4: Wednesday afternoon/evening I was able to run four demos of Scoville. I had already visited the exhibit hall and snagged one of the last five copies of Glass Road. I’m glad I didn’t wait to get one. My big mistake while running demos was not documenting who played them. Gil Hova has a great recap article on BGG where he links to all the players who he played with and I wish I could have done the same. At least I learned something. After four demos it seemed people were liking the game. I was pleased with that.
Glass Road: After leaving the demo hall I found the Tasty Minstrel guys in the Jonsson room and we sat down to punch and play my copy of Glass Road. Seth had already played so he was able to teach us. I was already a little brain burned from the 4 Scoville demos so I didn’t play a very good game, but I’m glad to have bought a copy since I think it is fun and interesting and short enough to make regular visits to my gaming table.
Bang! The Dice Game: I like Bang and think it’s a fun game, but with player elimination I think it’s a little too long. Enter the dice version. I played this with Chris Kirkman of Dice Hate Me, Darrell Louder of Compounded and UnPub fame, Michael Mindes of Tasty Minstrel, and Scott King of game photography awesomeness. I’m not typically much of a social gamer and my face usually gives everything away. But since this is a dice version I was able to help my team lose quickly instead of dragging things out. I’m tempted to pick this up.
One Night Ultimate Werewolf: I had never played Werewolf before. In fact I feel really bad that I always thought people looked really goofy when playing. I blame that on ignorance. The new One Night Ultimate Werewolf not only has really nice looking artwork, but it’s a lot of fun. With the same group as Bang The Dice Game we had one particularly funny moment when the reader, who shall remain nameless, was reading the part about the “Troublemaker” and instead of reading down into the rulebook like for the previous players he lifted his head while reading the troublemaker portion and gave himself away. It was really hilarious when we all lifted our heads and started laughing.
I woke up early to head to the coffee shop and grab a strong caffeinated beverage and worked on some game design until the exhibit hall opened at 10. After a quick walk through the hall including purchasing the new Ticket to Ride: Nederland, I was back in Demo Land for more Scoville. Here’s what the gaming hall looked like:
I was able to run 4 more Scoville demos before I realized that I was hungry. After snagging some food I joined up with the awesome Benny Sperling and his wife Jax for some non-Scoville gaming. It was a nice break.
Trains: I’ve played Trains a few times so far and I think I enjoy it. I like that it has similarities to Dominion, which makes it accessible. But I dislike that it is so similar to Dominion. While having the board gives an extra dimension, there are often turns where you can’t do anything. And that’s not due to having a lot of waste in my hand because I ended with only 4 waste cards. I’m hoping that upcoming expansions pull this game further from Dominion.
Mai-Star: This is a game about geisha and guests by the designer of Love Letter. On your turn you can either place an advertiser or a guest. Advertisers let you entertain better guests. Guests let you have special abilities when played. This is a light and interesting game that’s played over three rounds. I’d play it again but it’s not something I would buy.
Scoville x3: After Mai-Star I hustled back to the demo table where people were waiting. I not only taught them the game, but also two other groups after them. Overall I demoed Scoville 7 times on Thursday.
New Bedford: I was fortunate to know someone who had brought a print and play version of New Bedford by Nathaniel Levan and Oak Leaf Games. It is a game about a whaling town, which is a cool theme. Your goal is to send out boats to capture whales. But the coolest part about the game is how the town itself actually gets built. Players have worker placement spots where they can gain resources or money, or build buildings. Buildings can then be used as worker placement locations. Head to the Oak Leaf Games website to learn more. My first impression was that it was a very entertaining game and I am looking forward to playing it again!
Embarrassing Moment Nominee: In case you are unaware there is a designer with the name Alan R. Moon who designed a little game called Ticket to Ride. You might have heard of that game. It’s the one in Target with the sticker that reads “Over 2 Million Copies Sold.” Yeah, the guy is sort of a celebrity in the industry. Well, he happened to be standing near my demo table and I had to walk over and introduce myself. That was the cool part. The embarrassing part was that I immediately mentioned how I had an awesome idea for the contest that they ran last year and I started to go on and on about my idea a new Ticket to Ride. Then in my head I froze and realized that the poor guy probably gets bombarded by hundreds of ideas all the time and he probably doesn’t want to hear one from some dude that he just met. I basically told myself to shut up, thanked him, and walked away feeling like an idiot.
Friday was a down day for Scoville with only 5 demos, but when I wasn’t demoing I was connecting with people in the UnPub Proto Alley or schmoozin with publishers.
Scoville x5: Friday’s Scoville demos were the first to have a repeat player. I thought that was pretty cool.
Compounded (With possible expansion): I love Compounded and I had the opportunity to play it with the publisher and a few others in the UnPub area. The designer was demoing it with a possible expansion that I thought made the game more interesting. I won’t mention any details about the expansion because there’s nothing official, but they wouldn’t go wrong by adding it to the game!
Double Impact: This was a prototype that I would PNP immediately if I could get my hands on the files. There was just something about the game utilizing worker placement and very interesting decisions that I found fascinating. I was also drooling over the brilliant iconography. The designer was at the table and the other player was annoyed with me fawning over the game. While the game needs a little tweaking, it has a very promising future.
Belle of the Ball: I backed this game on Kickstarter nearly on artwork and graphic design alone. I finally got to play it and I am very happy to report that it was also a very good game. The Belle cards add a lot of “take that” type of action to the game, but also allow you to increase the awesomeness of your party. I’m looking forward to this one arriving next year!
Round Trip & Enqueteur by David Short: David is a Tasty Minstrel Games alum with Ground Floor and Skyline having already been published. So it was a pleasure to meet him and play some of his prototypes. Round Trip is about getting yourself to your gate at an airport. It utilizes a mancala mechanic, but does so in a more interesting way because of the interaction between other players and the cards you are trying to score. I was pretty impressed with the state of the game considering it’s only a few months old. Then we played Enqueteur, which is a very nice step up from Love Letter. It plays similar to Love Letter but adds some interesting complications to the game. David is doing some awesome designing right now and I wish him the best!
Pitch Car: After leaving the gaming hall a few of us decided to play a quick lap of Pitch Car which was set up in the open area. The track setup is shown below. It was pretty epic. What wasn’t epic was how I played. Despite that it was a fun way to cap off the night!
I started Saturday early since I wanted to get in as many demos of Scoville as I could. But it would turn out that my gaming day would begin with something called Dart Gun Desperados a.k.a. Rubber Banditos.
Rubber Banditos: This is a crazy cool game by Steve Avery, who co-designed Nothing Personal with Tom Vasel, who you may have heard of. The idea of the game is you are trying to gain money with your people. But you’d better beware or you’ll get shot by an opponent. And the shooting was done with real rubber band shooters. You would actually shoot rubber bands at your opponents figures. While I ended with no money, the gameplay itself is what made the game for me. The best part is the gun fight where you duel with an opponent. Steve was awesome to meet and talk with and I look forward to enjoying a brew or two with him in the future!
Scoville x5: One of the highlights of the convention was that I got to play Scoville with both Seth and Michael from Tasty Minstrel. It was interesting to see the strategy of how they played. And it was also very nice after the closing ceremonies when TMG gave me the okay to wrap up the demos. With 22 demos under my belt I increased my number of plays significantly. And I can honestly say that I did not get sick of the game. Thank you to all who played the game. I am honored and humbled by your kind words.
Going, Going, Gone: Appropriately enough the very last game I played was Going, Going, Gone. This is an action auction game where players try to bid on five different auctions at the same time. We were playing an adult version that featured some of the Shiner Bock that I mentioned above and we were taught by the spunky Betsy Ross. It was sheer fun, unless you kept getting beer spilled on your arm.
Embarrassing Moment Nominee #2: I have an issue with dragging out stories and Saturday night was one of those moments. I was trying to tell the story of how I met a publisher at GenCon 2 years ago and failed to pick up the check and then how I met another publisher 2 years ago and submitted a crappy game, and how ultimately those are the two publishers I am now closest with. It’s actually a really cool story but should only take about 5 minutes to tell instead of fifteen. Afterword someone with clout in the biz said, “That was the longest story ever!,” but with mildly stronger language. I felt bad about wasting their time. If you ever want to hear the story I’ll be happy to practice a short version before telling you the story.
My BGG.con experience wrapped up with the I’m Board With Life crew who were throwing a party in their rooms. We had an exceptional bartender for starters, but I was also able to meet Quinns from Shut Up Sit Down. That was pretty cool, especially since he said Scoville sounded interesting! I also had an inspirational moment about greater stuff in life when chatting with the wife of one of the I’m Board With Life guys. She helped me gain perspective on life in Central America and I am afraid to say that we in the US don’t have the right understanding of Latin American culture. If I took nothing away from BGG.con other than that conversation, then it still would have been worth it. I couldn’t thank her enough for her honesty.
BGG.con is a fantastic convention. I love that it is singularly focused on board games. I love the intimate feel where it’s like you’re all part of a family. And I love that there are so many amazing people who attend. I met so many of you and I’d love to list you all but I know I would forget some. Needless to say, BGG.con is great for networking and socializing with really awesome people.
I also enjoyed the exhibit hall since it wasn’t like fighting for survival the way the GenCon exhibit hall can feel at times. It’s so casual and you can just chat with people and make lasting connections. I particularly enjoyed my conversation with the awesome couple behind MeepleSource.com. They had a great booth and they offer awesome stuff to spruce up your games.
I specially want to thank Darrell Louder for his time contributions to run the UnPub Proto Alley. While I did not have the chance to participate, I understand what an awesome venue it can be for aspiring game designers. It offered the chance for designers to get and give feedback for prototype game designs. That’s the same way that I first got Scoville to the table in front of other designers. I’m not sure if there is a better way for networking and bettering your designs than things like UnPub. So make sure you thank Darrell when you get a chance. He’s an awesome dude.
My only regret of the convention is that I did not get to play most of the Hot Essen Releases. These included Amerigo, Lewis & Clark, Machi Koro, Concordia, Caverna, Nauticus, Russian Railroads, Nations and Madeira. They were sitting so tantalizingly close to my Scoville demo table.
Thanks to everyone who took the time to play a prototype of Scoville. I am humbled that so many people were willing to sit at a table and play a prototype when all the Hot Essen Releases were just mere feet away. BGG.con was a fantastic experience and I’m very much considering going back next year.
A game that I received via Kickstarter that has brought enjoyment to my gaming group recently is Compounded. This game was designed by Darrell Louder and published by the excellent Dice Hate Me Games.
In Compounded you are essentially a lab manager taking care of different experiments. Your objective in the game is to earn the most Atomic Points (AP… Note: this is the type of AP that you want!). Atomic points are earned by completing compounds. Each round consists of the following four phases:
- Discovery Phase: Players obtain new elements from the draw bag based on their Discovery research level.
- Study Phase: Players place or move their claim tokens, which indicate the compounds that they are claiming.
- Research Phase: Players take elements from their workbench and place them on compounds.
- Lab Phase: Players score any completed compounds and deal with any lab fires.
The game lasts until someone reaches 50 atomic points or when someone has 3 of their 4 research levels topped out or when the research field can no longer be filled.
Throughout the game players are trying to complete compounds that will be beneficial for them. Beneficial refers to the type of research that they will gain when completing a compound. Let’s take a look at the examples in this image:
The compound in the middle, Hydroxylamine, will award 6 atomic points (upper right corner). The player completing the compound will also be able to increase their “Discovery” experiment level (Blue indicator next to the score). Also, the player completing the compound would receive a Lab Key token, which they could use later in the game to obtain the first player marker. The compound on the left awards 5 points, a bump in the “Research” experiment level, and causes volatility in the lab (red flame icon in the lower right corner), which is like a lab fire. The compound on the right awards 6 atomic points, a bump in the “Study” experiment level, and safety goggles, which can be really useful!
As players complete compounds their abilities will increase. That nature of the game allows things to ramp up really well throughout the game. Here are my thoughts:
Here’s What I Like:
Science and Theme: You’ve gotta give it to the designer and publisher. This is not a typical theme and I imagine some people would find it dry because there is no boring looking renaissance man on the cover. However, the theme is so perfectly integrated into the game that you almost forget that don’t realize Hydrogen Oxide is, in fact, water! Everything thematically works really really well in this game.
Graphic Design: Normally I list that I enjoy the artwork in a game. This game is a little different. There is actually very little artwork. Rather, the game is nearly all graphic design. Even the box cover isn’t your typical fully painted work of art. So why is this in the section of things I like? Because they pulled it off beautifully. In a game like this there’s just no need for gaudy, over the top artwork. This is a streamlined product that looks really nice.
Gameplay: I really enjoy how this game works. It is similar, in some respects, to Scoville in that each round of the game is made of different phases. I enjoy that each round is discrete and you have to work to maximize what you can do during your turn while hoping you’re doing a better job than your opponents.
Here’s What I Dislike:
Luck: Since drawing elements during the discovery phase is a luck mechanic, it can make things a little frustrating if you are unable to draw what you need. This issue is minimized, however, by your abilities as they increase throughout the game. While luck is present, it becomes less and less as the game goes on, which is good.
Flame Token and Draw Bag Components: This is more of a gripe than something I dislike. I wish the flame tokens were slightly larger so they would be easier to grab. I understand that their size makes them fit really well onto the compound cards, so I can forgive that. The draw bag is also slightly too small. We swapped it for a draw bag from VivaJava and the VivaJava draw bag worked much better.
Designer Perspective: What Would I Change?
First, you should be aware that I have not yet played the game with the Chemical Chaos or Journal expansion cards. As a designer I would like to drop some of the symmetry from the game. I’m not sure how it would work, but I like the idea of having different starting conditions or abilities for each player. Perhaps Player 1 could start with a bumped Discovery level and fewer elements. Perhaps Player 2 could start with a bumped Research level. Those options for asymmetry wouldn’t work very well. A better option would be hidden objectives. Like someone could be an Oxide collector where they try to get a set of three different oxides for bonus points. I think that could be fun as it helps to steer your long term strategy in the game.
According to the website, Dark Element is strikingly viscous and creamy on the palate with citrus fruit and chocolate cream. It sounds like a delicious beer that would pair well with Compounded!
I really think this is a fantastic game. The game flows nicely, minimizes downtime, maximizes strategic decisions, and, most importantly, is a lot of fun. But then as a bonus you can learn stuff while you’re playing! I can’t wait to play Compounded again. I’ll rate this game a 9 out of 10 on the BoardGameGeek scale:
Hi Everyone! I’ve been having a bit of writer’s block lately and I finally realized why. It’s because with the Scoville Kickstarter launching soon my brain has been floating in hyperspace. I completely missed October. And I don’t think there’s been a night so far in November where I haven’t dreamed about the game of the Kickstarter or the artwork. I might be losing my mind.
Today is a Friday which would normally be a Review day or a Design Me day. But I’d rather write about Scoville and give you an update.
Art by Joshua Cappel
I couldn’t be more excited with the artwork choice by Tasty Minstrel. If you’ve read my board game reviews then you know I commonly list artwork as either a positive or negative for games. That’s because artwork is a big deal for me.
So when Tasty Minstrel told me that Joshua was on board I was elated. I love his style and the flavor that he adds to the game. Here are a couple of samples of his artwork. These are not images from Scoville. The first is from Garden Dice and the second is the board for Belfort:
That’s some awesome stuff. If you haven’t played Belfort you should really go check it out. And make sure you look for all the cool easter eggs on the main board!
While the prototype is basic and I have not added much artwork to it, I have had a vision for the artwork basically from the start. And if the funding hits a certain level then that vision will turn into reality! I’m so excited to see what Joshua does with the game!
Well, unfortunately I can’t really say very much. But I’ve seen the KS preview and I can tell you things are moving along nicely! We’ve got a great lineup of stretch goals. I’m probably not supposed to say this and I might get in trouble for it, but Pepper Farming Meeples may or may not be one of the stretch goals. *wink wink*
I’m also probably not supposed to share this potential stretch goal (peppers instead of cubes). So don’t tell anyone! (or tell the world – this awesomeness should be shared!). Here is a quickly done example of what the peppers could look like. The colors aren’t perfect and I believe the platinum pepper may have a nice shiny coat, but don’t hold me to that!
So that’s all I can share today. I’m hoping to be able to tease you with some artwork next week, but let’s not count on that. But for those of you who are attending the Board Game Geek Convention from the 20th to the 24th I will be there demoing the game basically all day and all night. If there are other games you are interested in checking out, then let me refer you to this geeklist:
So if you want a demo I’ll probably be running them every hour on the hour. But if you miss the top of the hour, don’t let that stop you from checking it out! It’s gonna be an awesome time!
It’s been a couple of weeks off on Friday’s for me, meaning I haven’t posted a review or Design Me article since life gets in the way sometimes. But I’m back! And today we’ve got an interesting Design Me Challenge. Here’s the result that I liked best from Boardgamizer:
In the game Moon Rattler you are in command of one of several military space fleets sent from Earth to destroy the moon. Little did we humans know that the moon is actually a giant rattlesnake. It has laid some eggs and it’s getting really feisty. We humans need to prevent those babies from hatching. It’s time to save the world!
Moon Rattler is an action point allowance game where players are moving around a rondel throughout the game trying to defeat the moon rattler. The player who accumulates the most points during the game will be the winner. Points are obtained by contributing to the destruction of the moon rattler, which can be accomplished in several ways, shown here:
- Main board
- 6 Space ship meeples
- 6 player mats
- Numerous cubes in each player’s color
- Point tokens
- 18 Wooden egg tokens (3 per player per game)
- Health cubes
How To Play
Players will be flying their ship around the circle in clockwise fashion. At each location they will have 4 action points to use. In any turn the player may save two of their unused points for a later turn of their choosing. So on any given turn a player will have 4-6 action points available.
At each location the player may charge or obtain the item listed. This means that if they spend action points, then they would place a cube onto their player mat in the appropriate location. Charging their weapons or clock or obtaining a bomb require different amounts of action points. Here’s a tentative list:
- CHARGE LASER: 1 AP = 1 cube
- CHARGE CANNON: 2 AP = 1 cube
- CHARGE BOMB: 3 AP = 1 cube
- CHARGE CLOAK = 2 AP = 1 cube
Here is a look at the player mats, showing the maximum goods a ship can possess:
Therefore a ship can hold 2 bombs, a charge of 3 for their cannon, a charge of 3 for their cloak, and a charge of 4 for their lasers.
Here’s the catch: Players have to balance obtaining/charging weapons with moving and actually using those weapons. Let’s take a look at the board so you have an idea of what’s going on here:
Let’s pretend we are the orange player. First of all, we are in a red region. The three red regions near the Moon Rattler’s head are the regions where the rattler can strike you. In the dark red regions you lose 1 AP if you are not cloaked. In the bright red region you lose 2 AP if you are not cloaked. Using the cloaking device does not cost AP, but the cubes must be discarded from your player mat.
So the orange player is in a region with CHARGE LASERS. The region also shows that only lasers can be used to attack in that region. So the orange player is basically deciding if the want to charge or attack with their lasers.
The green player is in the same situation in the image above with the exception that they are either charging their cannon or using their cannon to attack the eggs. They are also in a red region, so hopefully they had a cloaking cube to discard.
Here’s the other thing. Players may stay in a region as long as they like. Their ships will fly only when they use AP to move around the rondel. A player may use any number of AP to move 1 spot per AP around the rondel.
On a turn a player will use AP in any order. So let’s imagine we are the orange player again. We might have a bomb on board. So we could spend 1 AP to move into the bright red region at the head. Then we could use 1 AP to drop a bomb (and earn 5 points), then we could spend 2 AP to move off the head and onto the CHARGE CANNON region. That would be a great turn if we did not have any more cloaking cubes.
At the start of the game, an appropriate number of health cubes should be placed on the octants of the board. For example, the head region should begin with 3. Each time these regions are attacked, the attacking player will remove one of the cubes per attack. These regions can still be attacked but are only worth 1 point each. The game will end when all cubes have been removed.
My Thoughts: I think this could be an interesting concept. I like the balance of using AP to charge versus to attack. With the rondel in the game it makes it important where you are located. I think I may mock this one up and give it a try.
Your Designer Perspective:
What do you think about the design for Moon Rattler? What would you have come up with for the design based on the Boardgamizer criteria? Any thoughts about my design?
Thanks for reading! And don’t forget to exercise your brain by doing design exercises like this! Have a great weekend.
I’m not sure how many of you take the time to visit your local thrift store establishments, but every so often I find I enter the doors of the local GoodWill or St. Vincent dePaul’s. Why do I go to those places? I go there to hunt. I go to stalk the ever elusive find. I go to find board games for cheap!
And I’m not alone. A good friend found the game Tsuro for $1.20. We’ve played it at least 7 times. What a find! Each week there is a thread on BoardGameGeek where people list their thrift store finds. I love perusing the list to see what treasure people found. I have never been one to have a good find. Until now.
My wife and I stopped at GoodWill to look for cheap Halloween costumes for the kids. While she was looking through those racks I headed over to the game section with secret hopes of finding Agricola or something else awesome for cheap. Well, I found Farkle Party, which has six dice cups and 36 dice. For $3.99 I figured it wasn’t a terrible deal for the dice. My plan was to use the dice for game designs in my queue.
The tin was taped shut and I didn’t want to be that weird guy in the store that untapes things to check them before buying. So I bought it. At our next shopping stop I waited in the car while my wife went in. I figured it was as good a time as ever to open the tin and examine my new dice! However, there were no dice! Instead it was full of this:
Jewelry! At first I was really disappointed because I wanted the dice. But then I realized that there might be something of value in it. So I looked through it a little bit and picked out a few things that I thought might have value.
Yesterday I took those items into a local jeweler to get them appraised and see if they would be interested in buying them. Here’s the results:
- Sterling silver items and miscellaneous items: $35
- Diamond on a brooch: $90
- Gold on a brooch: $142
So my $3.99 purchase earned me $267! Now that’s a thrifting victory if I’ve ever heard of one! Have you had any thrifting victories?