Monthly Archives: June 2014

Monday Brews – 6-30-14

Another week gone by. And another summer weekend in the rear view mirror. And another tornado warning where I live. What a summer this shall be!

It’s Monday, so let’s take a look at the Boards & Barley that I enjoyed this past week.

The Barley:

BARLEY SPOTLIGHT: Lake Louie Mosquito Beach

This is a beautifully tasteful beer and perfect for warm summer evening enjoyment. Lake Louie, a local brewer, makes some excellent brews. This particular beer, a “California Common,” is Lake Louie’s first lager beer. It weighs in at 5.8% abv and possesses 30 IBUs. And it is really tasty!

  • Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy
  • Leinenkugel’s Honey Weiss
  • Smith & Forge Hard Cider

What brews have you been enjoying?

The Boards:


I made a change to the brickyards based on a suggestion for a local world-class game developer and it took the game from “This is a game” to “This is special!”

It worked really well, increased player interaction dramatically, added a slightly more cut-throat nature, and most importantly made it more fun and enjoyable. I can’t wait to get it to the table again and keep working on it!

The only other game I played last week was Mutiny, which I should be able to write about in the near future. I’ll keep you posted on that.

What board games have you been enjoying?




Design: The Grand Illusion

Preliminary Logo

Ladies and Gentlemen, I welcome you to the big show. Tonight I will be performing a series of illusions of the highest grandeur. You’ll see things that no human has ever seen before. And then you won’t see them! Tonight it’s all about the magic. For my first trick I’ll need a volunteer…

I came up with a new game design theme a few weeks ago and it’s still rattling around in my brain. So I figure I should try to turn it into a real game design. For some reason I’ve decided to do all the design publicly on this blog. I think this will be a fun way to show people what is all involved with the game design process and I’m also looking for involvement from all of you!

So these design articles, starting today and continuing on Thursdays, are meant to be an open source forum of sorts where I welcome your comments, ideas, suggestions, etc.

Game Theme

I love the look and feel of vintage magician posters from that era.

I love the movie The Prestige. It’s a fascinating movie about competing illusionists in the early 1900s. If you’ve never seen it, I highly recommend it. For me magic has always been an intriguing thing. Last year I had the chance to visit the Harry Houdini museum in Appleton, Wisconsin. It was neat to learn about his story and more about the era as well. It seems like an interesting time to have lived.

So I want to make a game about competing illusionists from that time. Therefore The Grand Illusion is all about magicians and their competition to earn the best reputation.

You are a street magician in the early 1900s beginning your career. You’ve got a few tricks up your sleeve that no one else has mastered. It’s time to build a reputation and become a household name in the field of magicians.

You start small doing a few tricks for small crowds on the street. Do them well and your skills will increase, as will your reputation. When you’ve got enough of a following then it’s time to take your show to a real stage. But beware, the crowd will always be expecting bigger and better!

If you can find a way to continually master new tricks and perform them flawlessly, then you may end up as the greatest magician of all time!

Basic Concepts and Components

My original thoughts for the gameplay involve card drafting and set collection. The concept is that you have to collect sets of cards that allow you to perform certain tricks. The bigger the set, the more likely you are to perform the trick flawlessly.

But there’s a catch. You know the old “Ball and Cup” trick? The idea of the trick is that there will be a ball under one of three cups. Then the magician will move them around and try to get you to lose track of which cup the ball is under. I want to utilize this as a mechanic in the game. If players each contribute a card to a common hand these would represent the cups. Then if there were a special card added to that hand it would represent the cup with the ball. Then players would blindly draft and whomever pulled the cup-ball card would get to perform the best trick. That’s my basic original concept for one of the mechanics in the game.

What I want players to feel throughout the game is a sense of accomplishment while teetering on a sharp edge. Players should attempt tricks and illusions throughout the game but always with some risk of failing and letting down the fans.

Each set of cards used for performing tricks will have several different symbols on them. These symbols represent different illusionary skills such as sleight of hand. When you complete a trick you can increase your skills in any or all of those categories. One emphasis for that decision making process would be that each player has a Grand Illusion that they are working toward completing.

The Grand Illusion

Like a private scoring condition, the Grand Illusion card that each player holds is a trick that could provide a huge boost near the end of the game. It is a trick that can only be attempted once, so players will want to make sure they have a skill set that will help them perform the trick with high success.

The idea is that as players become better magicians and build an audience and a reputation they realize that they have to keep increasing the awesomeness of their tricks or else the audience might go to another magician. So by performing their Grand Illusion it could put them at the top.

What’s Next?

So that’s the current state of the design. It is just a bunch of basic concepts. But that’s where you all come in. What would you like to see in a game about Victorian era magicians? What mechanics, themes, components would you like to see?

Let’s design this together. Please comment on this article or reply on Twitter.  I’m looking forward to designing this publicly with all of you. Thanks for reading!

Monday Brews – 6-23-14

I’m Back! My paternity leave is over, my baby is a month old, and I am ready to jump back into game designing, blogging, and brewing.

As usual since today is Monday I recap the Boards & Barley I’ve enjoyed. But it has been a long time since I posted so I have an extensive list today. We’d better get started… (So many beers means I won’t be linking them all. If one sounds interesting, just do a search for it.)

The Barley:

Oh Baby!

I can’t pick a Barley Spotlight beer since there were so many good ones. Here’s what I’ve enjoyed over the past few weeks:

  • Bell’s Oberon
  • La Trappe Quadrupel
  • Anchor Old Foghorn Barleywine
  • Leinenkugel’s Lemon Berry Shandy
  • Capital Amber
  • Grand Teton Sweet Grass American Pale Ale
  • Vintage Sasparilla Killa
  • Capital Supper Club
  • Delirium Tremens Tripel
  • Konig Pilsner
  • Solemn Oath Snaggletooth Bandana American IPA
  • Leinenkugel’s Honey Weiss
  • Tyranena Down & Dirty Chocolate Oatmeal Stout
  • Capital Lake House
  • 4 Brothers Prodigal Son
  • Labatt Blue
  • Southern Tier Creme Brulee
  • Breckenridge Nitro Vanilla Porter
  • Kostriker Schwarzbier

Wow… what a list. Probably could have done without the Labatt Blue, but otherwise it’s been an enjoyable few weeks on the Barley front!

The Boards:

No Boards Spotlight here either. We’ll be back on track next week with the spotlight items.

  • Qwirkle
  • VivaJava Dice x3
  • Le Havre: The Inland Port
  • Nauticus
  • Feudality
  • King of Tokyo
  • Mutiny

That’s not as many games as I thought. Maybe I forgot some. I guess I was pretty busy painting the baby’s room, hanging curtains, putting mulch around our house, playing with the two older kids, watching the World Cup (Pretty good timing for my paternity leave!), and sleeping. But it’s good to be back!

Designer’s Corner:

It’s time to make a strong push to get Brooklyn Bridge ready to demo for people at GenCon. I’ve got just under two months to refine the game to a point where it is fully enjoyable without any gaping holes. There’s aren’t really any gaping holes right now. It’s just not fully enjoyable. But I have a few tweaks that I want to test this week that my Level 1 friends have said sound like good changes.

Also, I have a new game design idea that I really like. The theme is totally fun and interesting to me. I’ll give you more information on Thursday when I plan to share the concept with the world. The cool thing is that I will be doing all the design publicly on this blog. Each Thursday for the next few weeks I’ll be posting design articles about the game and I’ll be wanting your feedback for it. We can all design it together in a sort of crowd-sourced design thingy. That should be pretty awesome.

So progress is being made on Brooklyn Bridge. I’m going to tweak a few things with Quantum Orcas and make it more flavorful, which hopefully will increase replayability. And it should be a fun 7 weeks leading up to Gen Con! Will I see you there???

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