Every once in a while I like to step back and take a look at what I’ve been working on. Last night I was putting together some components with “final” artwork so I can make a gameplay video for Scoville and I realized that it had been a while since I made any prototypes. And that got me thinking I should step back and take a look at what I’ve been working on. Let’s start with the hottest Euro farming game ever…
This game is currently preparing to launch on Kickstarter. That means that art is being worked on with a feverish pace. I’m not really an artist, at least in these terms, so I can’t say how much work actually goes into it, but it seems to be a lot. There are so many different components that require artwork (orders, recipes, boards, player shields, bonus abilities, bonus point tiles, box, rulebook). Each of these is no less important than any others.
My work on Scoville has been pretty minimal. I am, however, hoping to receive more final artwork so that I can put together a prototype copy with that artwork and make a gameplay video for the Kickstarter campaign. When I receive more artwork I’ll see if I can give you all a little teaser or two!
I worked on this game one morning at BGG.con and made some awesome progress. I suppose it wasn’t progress as much as it was a breakthrough in the design. The game had previously been dry and lacking important decisions.
Brooklyn Bridge is a worker placement game where you send out your crew to obtain materials and build the bridge. You can also hire more crew. So far everything I’ve mentioned sounds like a re-theme of Stone Age. While elements of Stone Age are present in the design, the hook is that players not only place workers in a turn by turn order, they also remove workers and perform the actions in a turn by turn order. This adds a time dependence of when you activate workers each round. This is where the design differs greatly from Stone Age.
The breakthrough that I had at BGG.con was to incorporate public goals in the game, not dissimilar to the orders and recipes in Scoville. These goals would be for building different parts of the bridge. Pieces of the bridge should be built in a certain order and players earn bonuses for building them correctly. While Stone Age has it’s endgame scoring based on your game status (food track, # in tribe, etc.) Brooklyn Bridge scoring is based on how much your crew contributed to the bridge. I am plowing forward on this game and my goal is to have a playable prototype in January.
Dice Hate Me 54 Card Challenge
I am pretty excited for this contest. I know the awesome people from Dice Hate Me and it would be an honor to win this contest and get to work with them. For information on the contest itself go here.
Here’s the issue I have… knowing them they are seeking something that is awesome and has a unique and flavorful theme. I unfortunately currently have neither. I guess I had better start cooking something up!
A while back I mentioned that I would be putting this on The Game Crafter once I was happy with it. Unfortunately between BGG.con, Thanksgiving, and now the 54 card challenge I have not had time to work on this most awesome of games.
On the upside I have a plan for how to make the game better. Since the time after Christmas is usually a down time for a lot of things I should have time to finalize what I want the game to be. Then after I’ve played it at least 40-ish times I might feel comfortable posting it for sale on TGC. So those of you who love time traveling killer whales shouldn’t have too much longer to wait!
Ah, Conclave… what to do about you. We’ve had a love/hate relationship so far and I imagine that will only continue.
So Conclave is my game design about getting yourself elected as the next pope. The game includes manipulation of the Cardinals by persuading and influencing their votes. The problem with the game is that it is only pseudo-fun for one round and the game lasts 4 rounds or more.
I have a solution that could make the game fun and more interactive without adding any length to the game but I have been avoiding it. If I sat down for a day or two and worked away on Conclave I think I could have something enjoyable. I’m hoping to get to this during the long hours of nighttime in January and February.
That’s where I stand from a game design perspective. It’s always been fun for me to work on this stuff and I appreciate you reading about my design efforts. I hope to report back by the end of January with some awesome updates!
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.
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!
Today is the last day in September. Where did this month go??? Well, at least it is ending nicely by attending Protospiel-Milwaukee this past weekend! So I had the opportunity to play some unpublished games, including some that I really really enjoyed.
I have an opinion about writing about unpublished games. Here it is:
If you loved the game, write about it. If you did not love the game, don’t write about it. Negative press for any game that potentially could be published as anything other than the form you played it is just bad business.
So while there were other games I played that I enjoyed but the designer will be changing, I will not be writing about them. I don’t want to be unfair to any designers whose games may change for the better. But I want the games I played that I thought were awesome to be noted as such.
Alright, here’s the list of the Boards & Barley that I enjoyed this past week:
O’Fallon Pumpkin Beer: This beer has a lot of pumpkin attitude in it. There’s nothing subtle about the amount of pumpkin in this one. It was enjoyable, but be warned that it is heavy on pumpkin.
New Glarus Totally Naked: I used to dislike this beer for some reason that I cannot remember. But when I had a bottle of it that was leftover after the latest game night I found that it was quite enjoyable. It’s just an enjoyable brew.
Milwaukee Brewing Sasquash Pumpkin Porter: Wow. Now this was an enjoyable beer! I was glad my friend Ben brought it over for us to enjoy. Want to learn more? Check out this article by Chris Drosner of the Wisconsin State Journal.
New Glarus Staghorn Oktoberfest: I enjoyed two of these excellent beers while attending the New Glarus Oktoberfest celebration with fellow game designers: Brett Myers (@Brettspiel), Chevee Dodd (@cheveedodd), and Dave Ross (@ddgdrs). The pretzel bigger than my head and the delicious brat were excellent as well!
Pearl Street El Heffe: This was enjoyed at Protospiel, in a glass, because we bring glasses to Protospiel because beer is better in a glass than the bottle. It was a fine wheat beer, though my attention was more on games than beer.
X-Wing: I played my second game of X-Wing while brewing a Scotch Ale on a chilly Wedndesday night. It was beautiful! However, my experience was enhanced by my ability to roll only hits and critical hits. I think I only had three dice results all night that were misses.
Scoville: While at Protospiel I was able to teach a 4 player game and to partake in a 3 player game. The 4 player game had three first timers, so it took a little longer than I would have liked, but afterwards one of the new player said they’ll be backing it when it goes up on Kickstarter! So that was pretty awesome. And in the 3-player test I got a lot of good feedback which I will be mentioning to the publisher.
Quantum Orcas: Yes, this is the game that I made up last Friday in my Design Me article! I mocked it up and it actually got played 4 times during Protospiel. That was partially due to it being about a 10 minute game. It got comments like, “It didn’t suck,” “It was playable,” and “It was really interesting.” So I’m pleased that a game that was less than a day old was not broken and actually worked pretty well.
The City Beneath: Designed by my friend Adam Buckingham (@adambuckingham) this is a game about a heist crew who has stolen some stuff and now are trying to get away. In the game players begin with limited skills. Throughout the game they can increase their skills and be able to elude the police more efficiently while placing the blame on the other players. There are some really awesome social aspects to this game that make it quite enjoyable. Adam has put in a lot of effort and this game keeps getting better and better!
Hedeby: Chevee Dodd cut my first play of this short when he taught it at Protospiel-Milwaukee back in March. This time around, with the game being an insane overhaul of awesomeness, we were able to play the game without him ending it. This game is really fantastic! You are Vikings who are trying to raid and build a town. The engine building portion of the game is totally awesome and it gives you the means of decreasing the luck of the dice as the game progresses. I will be owning this game when it comes out!
Baron Age: By the designer of Coin Age, Adam McIver (@ad7m), this game has some of the feel of Coin Age, but it is ramped up in a most amazing way. In Baron Age players try to control areas to earn points. On it’s own that doesn’t sound that different or unique, but the way it is utilized in the game is awesome. Players each have their own scoring condition that is secret. Throughout the game you are rolling and placing dice onto a map with distinct regions, each with a different number of sections. Three dice can be placed in each region. But depending on what the die results were the player gets to do different things. I won’t give more details here, but like Hedeby, I will be owning this game when it comes out!
So that’s the Boards and Barley that I enjoyed this week. What did you enjoy this past week?
Ladies and Gentlemen. I am pleased to announce the latest update to the Scoville Print and Play files!
You can find the files on Board Game Geek:
On that page you can also find Versions 1 and 2 of the PnP. In case you are interested, here are the things that have changed for Version 3:
- The “Pay $6 to plant an extra pepper” rule has been removed.
- Three new “Bonus Abilities have been added: +1 Move during Harvest, Plant one extra pepper, Double Back Once during Harvest
- The recipes have been revised to be more balanced in terms of cube distribution.
That’s the current update. These changes have an interesting effect on the game play, but do not change the overall feel of the game. Bidding will likely be higher since coins can no longer be used to plant an extra pepper. The coins are now only for two things: bidding and end-game scoring.
I would love for you to test this new update. If you do, please let me know how it went! Thanks for checking out Scoville!