Monthly Archives: August 2013

Design Me: Worker Placement

I’m starting a new feature on Boards & Barley called “Design Me.” These features will allow me to let my brain spew words onto this site in an effort to come up with a random game design. The idea here is to “exercise” my game design brain and “flex” my game design muscles. Consider it like practice. Athletes go and work out, lift weights, and other things like that. So as a game designer I think we should do the same thing. Bear in mind that this is an exercise and exercises are not nearly as elegant as actually seeing an athlete perform.

Normally Friday’s are review days here on Boards & Barley, but reviews aren’t very fun to write. So I’m switching to this design feature. Now there will be two review Fridays per month and two Design Me Fridays per month. I tweeted a request for a unique theme on which to apply a worker placement theme. The first person to reply wittingly mentioned castles, farming or railroads. Then they mentioned Smurfs. Then someone else mentioned smurfs. Who knew there was so much love out there for the little blue guys. However, the idea I found most interesting came from Tasty Minstrel and I’ll be going with this:

The Rolling Wort Boil

Not a very rolling boil. Hopefully the design rolls better!

Not a very rolling boil. Hopefully the design rolls better!

First of all, I really enjoy the idea of dice drafting and using dice as workers. It works really well in both Alien Frontiers and The Castles of Burgundy, the latter being one of my favorite games. Granted, they don’t necessarily use dice drafting, but the general concept is there.

So let’s start designing this game…

Brewing beer involves a few different things. You need to gather the right ingredients, gather the right equipment, have a facility, and possess skill in brewing. So let’s break each of those down into different parts of the game.

Here’s the grand concept, a thesis statement of sorts, for the game:

In The Rolling Wort Boil players must utilize the best dice for gathering ingredients and equipment, upgrading your facility, and perfecting the art of craft brewing.

Dice will be used for each of those things. There will be two types of dice. One type will be used to gather the right stuff. The other type will represent people and their skills. Let’s explore the former type first.

The Gathering Dice

Trying to exercise my art skills as well. The top is supposed to be yeast.

Trying to exercise my art skills as well. The top is supposed to be yeast.

I would design the game to be played where each round had a gathering phase and a brewing phase. In the gathering phase each player would roll a number of gathering dice. These dice would have different symbols on them. Those symbols could be grain, water, hops, or yeast.

Each player would roll their gathering dice. Then they would choose one die and pass the rest. They would then choose from the dice that were passed to them. This drafting would continue until all dice were chosen.

These gathering dice then form your team that you can use to go claim ingredients and equipment. What you’re trying to do while drafting is create combinations of dice that you can use. Players could, for example, collect three hops, which would allow them to harvest hops. If someone only gathered two hops, they’d still be allowed to place those on the worker placement spots on the board, but they would go second and get worse hops.

So the way it would work is similar to Alien Frontiers. You need certain combinations of dice to be able to harvest certain things. For hops it could be that you need at least three hops. For Yeast you might need three different symbols, one of which is yeast. Once everyone has drafted, then people could start claiming the worker placement spots with their combinations of dice. As dice are allocated to the board, the players would immediately harvest whatever their dice allow.

So through the dice drafting you are trying to create the best set of dice that will allow you to maximize your combinations, and thus harvest the best/most ingredients. I imagine the gathering of equipment would work the same way.

The Employee Dice

Here’s where things can get a little more interesting. Now we’ve got resources and equipment. We’re homebrewing in our garage. But we have a basic homebrewer with little skill. The employee dice will serve a few different functions. These include increasing skill, increasing quanity, and increasing efficiency. The trick here is that a pool of employee dice are provided by the game based on the locations where people placed their gathering dice.

So the depth of the strategy is not simply in gathering and using resources, but gathering resources so that you can get the employee die into the game that you strongly desire. Turn order would also matter in this case.

Let’s imagine you used three hops dice in the field that provided a “skill” employee die face. If that’s what you really wanted you would have to make sure you go first during the brewing portion of the game so that you can choose the skill die. Perhaps you knew you would not go first when choosing the employee dice. Then maybe you would have put your three hops dice into the fields on the spot that provided a “quantity” employee die. So there’s control over what your gathering, and the resulting employees.

These dice would then be drafted and utilized after the harvest.

How to Play

Each round of The Rolling Wort Boil (tentative name), would include the following phases:

  1. Dice drafting of gathering dice.
  2. Placement of gathering dice combos onto the board.
  3. Harvesting/gathering of ingredients/equipment based on placement.
  4. Pooling of employee dice from those placements.
  5. Drafting of employee dice in turn order.
  6. Usage of employee dice to brew and upgrade your facility.

How to Win

To win The Rolling Wort Boil, players must brew high quality or high quantities of beer. This requires them to maximize their ability to gather as many ingredients as possible, while also increasing their employee’s skills and upgrading their equipment. Each batch of beer they produce would be worth points based on the ingredients used, the skill of the brewer, and the level of the facility. I imagine the game would take 30-45 minutes, have a light-ish feel, and be best played with a Hefeweizen of IPA.

So there’s our first “Design Me” Friday. Any thoughts about the game design? What would you do differently? And most importantly, does the game sound like it’s any fun. Thanks again to Tasty Minstrel for the idea. I’m looking forward to the next Design Me in two weeks.

400th Twitter Follower Giveaway!

Can you win the awesomeness?

Back in March I hit the 200 follower plateau on Twitter. At the time I gave away a copy of Love Letter. This time around, since there are twice as many of you, I’m making the prize that much better! This time I’m going to give away a copy of Smash Up.

Why Smash Up? Because all you Twitter Followers are a smash up of awesomeness with people who write blogs, manage Ludological Portfolios (I’m looking at you, Brian!), design games, playtest games, love games, and even some of you who succumb to the desires of the barley!

Here’s how it works. All you have to do to qualify for the prize is this:

  1. Live in the US (Sorry international readers. Shipping is expensive)
  2. Tweet @ me (@EdPMarriott) your best made up smash up deck of beer or board game related factions. It’s doesn’t have to be both. Add #BnBSmashUp to your tweet.

In the game each player has a smash up of two different factions. So one player may be Wizard Ninjas while another player is Robot Dinosaurs. So tweet me your best smash up that’s related to beer and board games! The more creative and interesting, the better chance you have to win!

I’ll choose a winner tonight at 8pm Central. So make sure you have your tweet in before then!

***

UPDATE (8:30pm): The winner has been chosen! Congrats to Eric Leath of Games & Grub for the Smash Up deck that made me laugh and cringe at the same time:

And two honorable mentions go to J. Alex Kevern for his nice, rhyming Smash Up Deck and to Todd Edwards for this Specific Gravity Paralysis:

Unforunately only Eric wins the prize. Thanks to everyone who participated. I hope you enjoyed the giveaway contest. My next giveaway will be when I hit 600 followers. I’m hoping that giveaway will be a prototype of Scoville!

***

And just for fun I made my own base:

Not very playable, but it helps me celebrate 400+ awesome followers!

Not very playable, but it helps me celebrate 400+ awesome followers!

The Monday Brews: 8/26/13

Here we are… either recovering from con crud (thankfully I wasn’t struck by that beast) or desperately looking forward to Spiel (alas, I will not be able to attend). Never-the-less we keep pushing forward in our consumption of barley-derived beverages and cardboard creations.

It’s Monday, so it’s time to recap the Boards and Barley that I enjoyed last week:

The Barley:

Leinenkugel’s Honey Weiss: With the summer coming to an end since I live in Wisconsin, I have to finish off the Honey Weiss that I have. So I enjoyed one of these while participating in a Fantasy Football draft. Unfortunately it doesn’t appear to have helped my draft choices.

Leinenkugel’s Oktoberfest: I know, it’s a little early for Oktoberfests. But it’s one of my favorite beer styles, so I enjoy it when I can. I liken it to drinking Egg Nog in November even though it’s really a Christmas beverage.

New Glarus Spotted Cow: This one is a staple for many Wisconsin beer enthusiasts. It’s technically a farmhouse ale, but I would almost put it in a class with cream ales. It’s easy to drink and it’s delicious.

That’s it for the Barley this week. Let’s see what I played:

The Boards:

Hanabi: My level 1 friend Jeremy and I taught Hanabi to our wives. Mine was bored with the game. But she admitted she’d be willing to play it again. I think we ended with 19 points, though, which is pretty decent.

Giving new meaning to “Push Your Luck!”

Via Appia: This was a GenCon purchase of Jeremy’s and I was particularly excited to play it. There is a really cool pusher mechanic where you can try to push stones off and earn the corresponding stone tiles. This game wasn’t a very complicated game, but I had fun with it. I’d like to try it with 3 or 4 players rather than just two. Image from BGG.com.

Scoville: On Saturday I visited with some friends in the Chicago area and they requested to play Scoville! So it hit the table and I was able to try out a newish variant with bonus abilities. They enjoyed the game though one player ended with a really low score. And the bonus abilities worked well enough for me to add them into the rules as a variant.

The Little Prince: If you read my review of the game last Friday then you already know that I really enjoy this game. It is so much fun and I love the little intricacies of the strategy.

Dungeon Roll: I went on a nice solo delve for the first time and was pleased with my result. Using the Archaeologist I was able to score 26 points. My big success was slaying a dragon in Level 2 of the dungeon. I love the whole presentation of the game. It felt like I was actually delving a dungeon and using my heros to defeat enemies. I’m looking forward to my next delve.

So that’s the Boards and Barley I enjoyed last week. But I need to mention one other thing today…

It’s Time for a Giveaway! Almost…

I hit 400 followers on Twitter over the weekend. I can’t believe so many people follow me and read my blog. You all are awesome and I’m inspired by you guys every day. So as a way to show my appreciation for the Twitter game design community I’m giving a game away. I haven’t decided which game to give away, or how I’m going to do it, but later this week I’ll post an article all about it. That will likely be on Thursday. So keep tweeting and enjoying the boards and barley!

Thanks for reading!

The Little Prince: 16 Tiles of Awesomeness

Don’t be fooled. There’s awesomeness inside!

In case you missed it, last week was GenCon. That meant thousands of people (49,000+) visited Indianapolis for the convention and nearly all of them bought board games. One of the games I picked up, despite my lack of interest in the artwork, was The Little Prince, co-designed by famed designers Bruno Cathala and Antoine Bauza.

I love tile laying games. So when I watched W. Eric Martin’s video preview of the game I thought it could be really interesting. And since Bruges was sold out before I even got to GenCon I had a little extra money to spend on other thingsFor $28 this seemed worth it.

In The Little Prince you will play 16 rounds of the game. On any given round, whomever went last during the previous round gets to choose a type of tile. There are four types of tiles: Characters, Left Curve Edges, Right Curve Edges, and Centers. So the player will choose one type and draw as many tiles as there are players. They are placed face-up. They will then choose a tile, and then they get to choose who gets the next tile. Once all players had chosen then the next round begins.

Here’s a look at the setup (note that you do not actually need the scoring track on the box, but it’s kind of nice to look at):

Here’s the setup. Could it be simpler? (Yes, but not by much)

With fewer players you’ll use fewer tiles, but the gameplay is the same (except for with 2 players). There are also a few things to watch out for in the game. Baobab trees are awesome! Unless you have too many. If you ever get to the point where you have three baobabs on your planet then those three tiles will get flipped over. That’s bad because then you cannot use them for your scoring condition.

Also, volcanoes are no good. Whoever has the most volcanoes on their planet at the end loses a number of points equal to the number of volcanoes.

At the end you will have four scoring conditions that give you points for the things you have on your planet (roses, sheep, lamp posts, etc.). Your goal is to have the most points.

The Upside:

Simplicity: 16 tiles doth a planet make! That’s such an easy thing. It is very simple to play. Just choose a tile and place it down. The location doesn’t even matter so long as you are forming the shape of a planet.

Complexity: 16 sounds like a light game, but there is a lot of strategy in this game. The more players, the better off you’ll be. There are interesting choices of taking a tile that may not score you as much, but could cause another player to lose even more points. There are interesting choices about trying to get in the right spot in turn order. And then near the end of the game there are interesting choices. This game is filled with interesting choices.

The Downside:

Artwork: Originally I was not a fan of the artwork. I’m not familiar with the French story so there is no nostalgic connection for me to the artwork. While I can understand that others may enjoy it, I would definitely be on board to re-theme this one. I could consider myself a fan of the artwork on the basis of others enjoying that nostalgic feeling.

Designer Perspective: What would I change?

Other than re-theming there’s only one change I would make. I would add more scoring characters so that there are no duplicates. In my first game I had both lamp post scoring characters, and I had 13 lamp posts on my planet. With duplicate scoring characters there is a potential for making a huge killing. While I understand that there is also strategy inherent due to the duplicate scoring cards, I’d prefer there be no duplicate scoring cards.

Beer Pairing:

Parfait! (That’s French for “Perfect”)

What we have here is an interesting conundrum. First, the game is based on a French book, so I’m inclined to choose a wine pairing instead of beer. (No worries, that sort of blasphemy won’t happen here!). Second, the game itself is so simple and light, yet so deep with strategy. I have to choose a beer that fits that characteristic. I’d like to choose a French beer, but unfortunately France just isn’t known for it’s beer. So my preferred beer pairing for this light yet deep game is Stella Artois. (It’s close enough to France!) This beer meets the characteristics of the story and the game. It is a lighter beer but has a beautiful depth to it. I think with it’s hoity toity glass with the gold rim (not pictured), it would be a very nice fit with The Little Prince.

Overall Rating:

Disclaimer: I’ve only played the game twice, but I think it was a lot of fun. My wife played it with me and immediately afterward wanted to play again. That makes me bump the rating up a little bit. This game is very accessible. It has some awesome depth to the strategy. And it plays quickly. This will hopefully become our group’s go-to filler for a while. I know that I won’t turn down a game of it! For now I’ll rate this a 9 on the BoardGameGeek rating scale.

Excellent game.  Always want to play it.

Excellent game. Always want to play it.

My 2013 GenCon Experience

Yesterday I posted a gallery with 40 pictures from GenCon. Today I am giving a more prose-y account of my experiences at GenCon. But with having only 15 hours of sleep total during GenCon I may not remember all the details. So bear with me as I blab through this.

Scoville and my approach to GenCon 2013

Ahead of Schedule!

Ahead of Schedule!

When the calendar flipped from 2012 to 2013 I made a list of goals for the year. One of those goals proclaimed this year the “Year of Manliness,” which we won’t get into here. 🙂 Another goal was to design and playtest Scoville so that it was ready to pitch at GenCon. If you follow this blog at all then you likely know that I didn’t have to pitch Scoville last week at GenCon since it was already picked up by Tasty Minstrel Games. Yay!

So I figured I could try and get another game ready to pitch for GenCon. But that didn’t happen. Games don’t just develop themselves. While I brought a copy of Trading Post and a copy of Conclave, neither were to the point where I felt comfortable putting them on the table with other people besides myself. I showed Conclave to a few people who seemed to like the concept. But the bottom line was that since Scoville was signed and I had nothing else to show I was basically free of stress at GenCon 2013.

So my approach was to cultivate, enhance, and develop professional relationships with designers and publishers. Basically I just wanted to meet as many people as possible. That’s a pretty nice approach to be able to take. I always have to keep in mind that while board games and board game design are my hobby, they are the real-life day to day jobs of a lot of the publishing companies. It’s easy for me to just go up to them and joke around and have fun, but I have to remember that these are professional relationships and I should try to treat it as such. So don’t act like a jerk and do stupid stuff since these are the people that you could be working with in the future.

I brought along the business cards that I had made for Protospiel-Milwaukee. I think I handed out about 30 of those over the course of the convention. I also was able to gather a few business cards from other people. I’ve gained a few new Twitter followers as well, which is always great. So overall I’m pretty happy with the business relationships that I formed.

Thursday Recap

On the road to GenCon!

On the road to GenCon!

Our 5 person cadre hit the road from Madison around 5am. That felt really early, but we powered through and it felt great to be hanging out on the way to GenCon.

Our drive had a few highlights, and thankfully no lowlights. Along the way we made two pit stops. The first was in the beautiful small town of Tonica, Illinois. Unforunately we had to drive like two or three miles off the freeway just to find the gas station. But at least when we found it, it lived up to the expectations of a small town gas station in Illinois.

At the second gas station we stopped at we were pleased to see 10 police cars with cops surrounding a car at a gas pump. We weren’t sure if we were safe, but we gawked for a while anyway.  But let’s keep going with this recap.

On the road we played one scenario of Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective. I had not played a game like this before but I really enjoyed it. It’s basically a thinky game where people talk through the scenario and try to figure out the Who-Dun-It type thing. We ultimately got the answers right, but we used way more leads than Sherlock did.

Another thing we did during the ride was design a game together. We even pitched it to a publisher later in the con, but I don’t think we were able to really portray the potential of the game. These are all the details I can give, but I think this game has a lot of potential.

We rolled into Indy around lunch time and headed to a restaurant called Yats. Ben had spoken so highly of it last year that we figured we should start our GenCon with it this year.  It was delicious.

Then we hit the hotel and then hopped in line for our GenCon passes in Will Call. The excitement was abundant! To the exhibit hall we went, ready to buy games and meet people!

Thanks Ken!

Thanks Ken!

The first person I met was Ken Grazier of Geek-Craft.com. He had made some Scoville buttons for me and so I traded a small amount of cash for them. They turned out great and I’m thankful to Ken for his button making prowess.

Then we headed to a few specific booths to try and snag some stuff. Thursday isn’t our main exhibit hall day, so we jumped from booth to booth.

An obvious stop for me was the Tasty Minstrel Games booth. I connected with the TMG guys and met the awesome Brian Frahm, who was demoing Dungeon Roll a ton over the convention. Brian is a great guy and it was a pleasure to meet him.

We also stopped at the Cool Stuff Inc. booth because they usually have great deals on board games. We then stopped at the Alderac booth to grab Trains. Then we jumped over to the Asmodee booth to snag Spyrium. And then we hit up the Queen Games booth where we got the new Kingdom Builder expansion and Via Appia. We also stopped at the Game Salute booth to grab Keyflower and The Little Prince and check out Nothing Personal. Overall we got a nice lot of games on our first day:

First Day Haul at GenCon!

First Day Haul at GenCon!

In the picture it should be noted that League of Six was obtained via trade.

Then we headed to our hotel room to unwind a bit and decided to head to the bar for a game. We played The Little Prince, which I’ll be reviewing on Friday. Then we headed to dinner where we got in a game of Love Letter.

Overall I was able to connect with a bunch of people on Thursday, which was awesome. Here are the games I played on Thursday:

  • Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective (The Cryptic Curse scenario)
  • The Little Prince
  • Love Letter
  • Piñata
  • Skyline
  • Spyrium
  • Super Awesome Thing (prototype)
  • Coloretto
  • Coup

As for the Barley side of things Thursday included a sample of the GenCon brew “Flagon Slayer,” a Rock Bottom Honey Ale, and the brown ale at the JW Marriott.

Friday Recap

Kings of Artifice by Wyrd Games

Kings of Artifice by Wyrd Games

Friday is our main Exhibit hall day. On the way to the exhibit hall we noticed a game called Kings of Artifice that none of us had heard of. This was being demoed in Hall C (I think) by the publishing company called Wyrd Games. It had an interesting mechanic of summoning people onto the land and using them to the best advantage. You could be conservative and focus on building your little part of a kingdom, or you could be aggressive and try to wipe out your opponents. It seemed like an interesting game but wasn’t something our group ended up buying. While we were demoing I received a message from the honorable Matt Worden. It was an invitation to speak in a panel discussion on Protospiel. My awesome friends had no reservations about me going to partake in the panel.

So I went over to the Crowne Plaza and joined some esteemed designers for the panel discussion. That was the awesome part. The downside was that there were only six attenders. We had as many people on the panel as there were people attending the panel. Apparently they had 45 attenders last year. I think that since it was in the Crowne Plaza, people weren’t willing to leave the convention center to come over and attend. But I was honored that Matt would invite me to come speak on the panel. Thanks Matt!

The other downside was that I was really looking forward to walking through the exhibit hall. I figured my guys were already halfway through it. But when I came back and found them in Hall D playing a game I was greatly pleased that they had not yet gone into the hall. They chose to play a game and wait for me instead. That was awesome!

So we started walking aisle by aisle through the hall. It’s such an experience to do that. If you’ve never been to GenCon it’s hard to understand the massiveness of the exhibit hall. We bought a few more games before three of the five of us headed out for a talk on Evil Villains by author Brandon Sanderson. One of the fun things about the exhibit hall is sitting down and trying games. One of my favorite games to play was Weykick. It’s basically a magnetic take on air hockey, but it’s very enjoyable. I got owned by Jeremy. We also tried Crokinole, which is a game we’d like to build for ourselves. It’s a fun flicking game on a big round wooden board.

Brew Crafters is awesome!

Brew Crafters is awesome!

We finished in the hall in time to grab some food at Chick-Fil-A in the mall before a demo. We successfully avoided the two hour lines at the food trucks this year! Lunch in hand, we joined up with our guys at a demo for Dice Hate Me Games‘ upcoming game Brew Crafters by designer Ben Rosset. I’d go into a review of the game but I might save that for a session report on BGG. The bottom line is that this is a great game, and not simply because it is a perfect fit for Boards & Barley! It worked really well, the decisions in the game all seemed important and made sense, the theme was awesome, and, most importantly, it was a lot of fun! I’m looking forward to seeing this one on Kickstarter! Ben is a very nice guy and it was a pleasure to meet him. Check out his other game, Mars Needs Mechanics, available from Nevermore Games.

After that we went to the Rathskellar for an awesome time in the beer garden. There were German beers on tap, pretzels to consume, and a plate of sausage that tasted delicious. On top of there there was a really good band that had a great sound. Hanging in the beer garden was one of the highlights of GenCon 2013.

Late that night we headed back to Hall D with a latte. I had the pleasure of teaching Scoville to several new players. It seemed well received and I was happy to give away some of the buttons. It was also cool to have two simultaneous games running. At the same time we were able to chat with Michael Mindes, owner of Tasty Minstrel Games. I also had the privilege to meet Rob Lundy, artist/graphic designer for Dungeon Roll. He’s a home brewer, too!

After all was said and done I rolled/slumped into bed around 3:30am. I’ve been told that’s typical of GenConners.

Friday games I played were these (Not very many):

  • Kings of Artifice
  • Dread Curse
  • Weykick
  • Crokinole
  • Brew Crafters (prototype signed with Dice Hate Me Games)

And Friday’s Barley choices included two (large) Spaten Optimators.

Saturday Recap

Saturday is our last day of GenCon since we normally depart early Sunday morning. We started things off with a demo of Rialto by Stefan Feld. I had already picked it up from the Tasty Minstrel booth because of the great price ($30). It was nice to have someone teach us the game though. It was an enjoyable play and the game seems like a nice lightish Feld game. I was happy to have picked it up.

We then wandered the hall a little more to make sure we didn’t miss anything and to pick up a few other things. I snagged Targi for $20 which seemed like a good find. Then we had lunch and made our way to the GenCon Library room.

In the Library we had scheduled a demo of Francis Drake by Eagle/Gryphon Games. I was a little hesitant about trying this out because it seemed primed to be a 3 hour dry and boring Euro. Boy was I wrong. This game was really fun. There is a nice resource procurement track that worked really well. After goods are obtained you then ship off for a trip to central America where you can pick up trade goods, battle against villages and forts, and attempt to battle another ship. This game was very solid and was really enjoyable. I was very surprised by how fun it was and how not-dry or boring it was.

After dinner at Rock Bottom we made our way to Hall D again where we got in a game of Flick Wars coming soon by Andrew Tullsen and Print & Play Productions. I personally enjoy flicking games like Bisikle, Crokinole, and others. This was also a fun flicking game. I believe Andrew will be putting it on Kickstarter in the near future.

We also got to play Lagoon by David Chott, which should be coming to Kickstarter by his company, 3 Hares Games. While the fantasy theme wasn’t really my thing, the gameplay was very interesting and enjoyable. There are some really interesting combos you can do in the game, which make the decisions really awesome. There is a nice balance of trying to aim for combos to set something up for a future turn versus simply trying to score a tile on the present turn. I think this game was well done and I wish David the best with it.

After that I was fortunate to have a few more players for Scoville. And I was able to sit down for the game as well. It went well and I heard something that really humbled me. One of the players said after the play that it’s in his top ten games. That was amazing.

The night ended with a play of Alex Kevern‘s Gold West prototype. And I had the privilege of playing it with him, Ben Pinchback (Co-Designer of the award winning game Fleet, currently with an expansion on Kickstarter), and the honorable TC Petty III (Designer of the awesome game VivaJava). It was great to meet them and game with them. They are all outstanding people.

Alex Kevern's Gold West

Alex Kevern’s Gold West

Gold West is a great game. There is a really cool take on the Mancala mechanic that you really need to think about to maximize what you can do on your turns. In the game you are helping to develop a western town. You obtain metals and building materials that you have to figure out how best to use. Each turn you can place a building onto the territory and claim the goods from that piece of land. Once you have the goods, you need to place them into one of the Mancala spots on your player board. This is the tricky part of the game. On any given turn you can only use the resources that are placed into the last spot after taking a Mancala action. So you have to plan accordingly. This is a sweet use of the Mancala mechanic and made the decisions in the game very interesting.  The other part of the game that I really enjoyed was how to use the resources once they are available. You can ship off the metals, use them to develop the boom town, or fulfill investments for big points. Each of these mechanics works really well together and I was happy to be able to play the game. It was fun and strategic while also being accessible and easy to teach. And it only took about 55 minutes for four players to finish the game. That’s awesome!

The games I played on Saturday were these:

  • Rialto
  • The Downfall of Pompeii
  • Francis Drake
  • Love Letter
  • Flick Wars (prototype)
  • Lagoon (prototype)
  • Scoville
  • Gold West (prototype)

The barley I consumed were a pair of Rock Bottom brews: Red Ale and Kolsch.

Saturday was over and Sunday meant waking up early and hitting the road. So here are my final thoughts from GenCon 2013:

Top Games Played During GenCon:

My favorite unpublished games were Brew Crafters and Gold West. Those games are both games I would have bought at the convention if they were available. I’ll definitely be watching the development of both of them.

My favorite published games (or soon to be released) were The Little Prince, Spyrium, and Francis Drake. These three games were my most enjoyable plays of the convention.

I also reconnected with or introduced myself to about 50 people. That was great since I had only previously known people through online connections. For aspiring designers who want to get in the game I highly recommend getting on Twitter and starting to develop relationships with the awesome people in the industry. I’ll see you all next year! (Hopefully sooner)

Biggest Disappointments:

I was really hoping to pick up Bruges at GenCon. But Z-Man games only brought a few copies and it was sold out after a half hour. That was well before we arrived on Thursday. That was really disappointing.

The other disappointments had to do with prototype games that I didn’t have a chance to play. I really wanted to try Gyre by Eric Leath (and I’ll likely PNP it), VivaJava Dice by TC Petty III (but it was 3am by the time TC had a chance to show me), Belle of the Ball by Daniel Solis (I think Dice Hate Me had a copy available), and Pay Dirt by Tory Kniemann (designer of Alien Frontiers). Those are all games I had hoped to play but didn’t get the chance.

Next year I think I’ll try and schedule more appointments with people so I can try out their games rather than simply trying to connect randomly.

Overall, though, for these to be the big disappointments means that my 2013 GenCon experience was pretty awesome!

Oakleaf Games

Board Games by Nat Levan

Kevin G Nunn

Mechanisms and Machinations

play without fear

on game design and play

Formal Ferret Games

Gil Hova designs, publishes, and plays board games

Boards and Bees

buzzing about board games

Go Forth And Game

The People Who Make The Games Talking To The People Who Play The Games .... with Tomgurg

Hyperbole Games

Blogging about designing games and brewing beer!

Stonemaier Games

We believe in creating memorable, beautiful, fun games

Cumbersome

Blogging about designing games and brewing beer!

Purple Pawn

Game News Across the Board

iSlaytheDragon

Board game reviews, previews, guides, and interviews

Daniel Solis

Blogging about designing games and brewing beer!

Board Game Reviews by Josh

Blogging about designing games and brewing beer!

Giant Fire Breathing Robot

Blogging about designing games and brewing beer!

Inspiration to Publication

News from the Game Lab of the Bamboozle Brothers

Theology of Games

Two Geeks, Hundreds of Games, One God.

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