Monthly Archives: February 2015

Monday Brews – 2-16-15

Welcome back from a busy Valentine’s day weekend. I hope you all treated each other with love! My wife was out of town most of the day Saturday so I took part in a local Math Trade (where I received a Dixit expansion, Splendor, and Cinque Terre). Then we grabbed a pie from a local diner as a gift for my wife. Then some friends came over and we played Deus, which is inspiring me to build a deck-based engine builder game utilizing similar but unique mechanics.

Then yesterday I had the privilege of demoing Scoville at a local game store. A 13 year old loved Scoville and his grandpa ended up buying it for him. I hope it inspires him to become a gamer!

But you aren’t here to read about my weekend. You’re here to see what awesome Boards & Barley I’ve been enjoying! So let’s begin with the Barley…

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The Barley:

Dubbel-y delicious… compared to my previous homebrews, at least.

Homebrew Belgian Dubbel

Despite having several new beers this past week I had to make my homebrew the spotlight this week. It is by far my best homebrew yet and finally one that I’m not at least mildly gun-shy about offering to people. It is really excellent. My colleague requested the recipe after I gave him a six-pack. And my friends actually enjoy it.


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The Boards:

Sort of fun.

NEW! Madame Ching

There is a neat and interesting card mechanic where you utilize the cards in your hand to move your ship across the sea. Using a similar color as your previous card moves you straight across. Using a different colored card moves you diagonal down and across. The goal is to earn points, which is done most regularly by completing objectives, which are earned based on how far your expedition traveled across the sea.

I thought the artwork was nice and colorful. But the gameplay seemed really dependent on the cards you were able to procure. I found it difficult to put together a nice expedition. But I’d like to play it again to see if it was just a case of bad luck.


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So what Boards & Barley have you been enjoying? Are there any games or brews you would like me to try? Just let me know!


Aether Magic Kickstarter by Happy Mitten Games

NewLogo250Today we have a guest post by the fine folks at Happy Mitten Games in conjunction with their new Kickstarter campaign for their game called Aether Magic. The game is designed by a friend of mine, Matt Worden. But I won’t make you listen to me ramble. Here are some important links:

Kickstarter Link:

Happy Mitten Website:

And now the guest post from Kyle at Happy Mitten about working with an illustrator…

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Aether Magic and its Beautiful Artwork


We are in an exciting time for the board game industry. An industry often incorrectly perceived as old-fashioned, has embraced new business models, social networking, and a positive community to see new growth and ambitious products. Crowd funding sites have made it easier for game creators to get the funding they need to publish unique games, and the internet has made it easy to introduce yourself to talent from all over the world.

Before our game, Aether Magic was able to launch on Kickstarter today in its current form, Jeff, Lee, and I explored social media, Kickstarter, and art blogs for an illustrator that could accomplish our vision for the game, while complementing Matt Worden’s terrific foundational mechanics. We were fortunate to have a few options after reaching out to many artists via email, but easily selected UK artist Jacqui Davis for her use of bright colors and style we were looking to achieve for Aether Magic’s fantasy environments.

Working with Jacqui has been a treat, and to prevent myself from doing her life story injustice, I encourage you to learn more about her and her previous board game work on Stonemaier Games’ “Euphoria,” and Dice Hate Me’s “Belle of the Ball,” on the forty sixth episode of the Happy Mitten Games Podcast. There is no reason you can’t find a great artist for your own game, but I feel it’s important to do your part before ever reaching out to illustrators.

Master Spell 1

Stunning artwork for Master Spell 1.

In courting an illustrator it is crucial to lay out exactly what you need by creating an organized and unintimidating art asset list. Google spreadsheets are great for this task by ensuring your format is clean, and being flexible in their ability to be shared and edited by multiple parties in real time. For Aether Magic‘s art asset list, I detailed each art deliverable, dimension, deadline, and overall description using four columns. Our description included specifics on color tone, emotion, and appearance, with complimenting examples of illustration that embodied what we were looking for next to each description. Here’s an example of an Aether Magic art asset line item coming to life.

Reflecting back on my initial thoughts for illustration, I originally felt that illustrators would enjoy less structure on their projects. I love to listen to interviews and I often hear from entertainers that company executives get in the way of their original ideas, which often result in uninspiring versions of their initial intentions and a hostile environment for free expression.  Being sensitive to that, I wanted to apply that point of view to how we were initially approaching our art asset list, but was met with resistance from Jeff, who believed in having more structure. So who was right? In our experience of going through the process and interviewing multiple illustrators, it has become clear to me that Jeff’s point of view is widely preferred among board game artists and has likely saved us a lot of time. Though I am still curious to explore ways in which we could mold the two points of view together, I would now recommend having as specific instruction as possible in your own art asset list.

All the beautiful components for Aether Magic

While the artist is working on the illustration, be sure to communicate that you would like to see the progress of the illustration through each stage of the illustration’s development. The three of us reviewed what Jacqui was doing about four times during this process and Jacqui was able to make the small tweaks we needed without having to completely redo what she already invested her time in. While it’s true you should get what you want when you hire an artist, you should be sensitive to the fact that any contractors time is valuable and you should be doing your part to make sure you are not wasting it!

Be sure to check out Jacqui Davis’ final illustration for Aether Magic, on Kickstarter February 10th.

– Kyle Hogendyk

Monday Brews – 02-09-15

It’s Monday. The day that always gets people in a grumpy mood. So you’re back at work… sipping your coffee… thinking about all the fun you had over the past weekend. Maybe you tried some new-to-you craft brews. Perhaps a new-to-you board game hit the table. Well, the weekend is over, so get to work (after you finish reading, of course).

Before we jump into the Boards & Barley I needed to share this with you. It’s Tom Vasel’s Dice Tower review of Scoville, and it ends with a bang!

It already has been viewed 6500+ times since being posted on Friday! I will not admit how many of those views are from me.

And now let’s check out the Boards & Barley I’ve enjoyed over the last couple weeks…

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The Barley:

Beautiful can art – Image via

NEW! Destihl Abbey’s Single

I cannot recall ever drinking a Belgian Single before. I’ve had Dubbels, Tripels, and Quadrupels, but never a single that I’m aware of. So when a friend cracked a can of this I thought I would enjoy it as well. It tasted very nice and had a more crisp character than the other Belgian beers I am used to. It was light in color and simple in character while possessing a Belgian flavor and style. I’d drink it again. Also, the can looked beautiful!


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The Boards:

Makes me wish I had a beer!

NEW! Brew Crafters

My friends and I played this one in prototype form at Gen Con 2013 and really enjoyed it. It has an Agricola feel without the stress of feeding your family. The other main difference is that each round has two portions. The first utilizes workers to gather ingredients and the second utilizes brewers to brew beer or upgrade the brewery.

The thrust of the game is about brewing beer. Each game has nine different brews available, but they are different every time. Hooray for replayability! Players try to obtain ingredients so they can brew those to the best of their ability. Each brewed batch of beer provides the player with points. The winner is the player who brewed the most points!

  • NEW! Legacy: The Testament of Duke de Crecy  – I really enjoyed the game. The engine building was very interesting because rather than being a game-long engine I found I built a few round-to-round engines instead
  • NEW! Deus  – Another “engine builder” of sorts with interesting use of cards. I thought the game was good but I didn’t love it. I’m not sure why. I’ll have to play it again to get a better feel for it.
  • Qwirkle
  • Kingdom Builder
  • Imperial Settlers
  • Le Havre


Horizontal RuleSo what Boards & Barley have you been enjoying? Anything new that really hit the spot?

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