Category Archives: Quantum Orcas

Quantum Orcas is a two player game that takes 10 minutes to play. Your objective, as a killer whale, is to eat the most boats! So get chomping away and check out Quantum Orcas!

Monday Brews 1-13-14

Welcome back to Boards and Barley! I’m so glad you’re here. Every Monday I write an article that let’s you know what beer and board games I enjoyed over the last week. I also give a little insight into my design ventures of the past week. It was another slow week in terms of beer and games, but the game design portion of my life picked up a bit.

Let’s start with the Barley…

The Barley:

That’s a chair I could sit in!

Gray’s Busted Knuckle Irish Ale: I enjoyed this Wisconsin brew while my brother visited. We got some amazing fried cheese curds and a beer. This was an enjoyable Irish ale that I would get again.

Fleming’s Scotch Ale: I had another of my homebrews. I think it is now stronger than the original 6.6%abv. I might have to measure that again. This one really packs a punch.

New Glarus Spotted Cow: Another Wisconsin beer was enjoyed while a friend was over. We watched some football and enjoyed a beer and some ranch pretzels. That makes for a pretty good evening.

Deschutes Red Chair Northwest Pale Ale: I am not an IPA or Pale Ale guy in general. I don’t care that much for hoppy beers. But this one was quite good. It wasn’t too hoppy overall and it had a hint of a sweet finish with a mild floral aroma. I would drink this again and I think it could be my gateway to IPAs.

Capital Winter Skal: I enjoyed this while playing Nothing Personal. This is a mighty fine brew from a local brewery.

The Boards:

Nothing Personal: My friends played this at GenCon while I was on a panel about Protospiel. They have played it several times since then. I finally got to play it last night. And it was awesome! Nothing Personal has an amazing level of back-stabbing, promise-breaking, deal-making interaction that I haven’t seen in any other game. There is a lot to keep track of in this game and it would be easy to make mistakes and get left behind. I’m glad I finally had the opportunity to play it because it was a lot of fun.

Tenzi: I got my friends to try this out last night. Each player has 10 dice. You roll them and try to get all of your dice to be the same number. The first player to get all of theirs the same is the winner. There are a bunch of variants in the rules that you can try out. But this was a thoughtful Christmas gift from my mom because she knew I wanted dice for game design purposes and she got me dice that are also a game. Thanks mom!

Designer’s Corner:

This prototype box will suffice for now.

This prototype box will suffice for now.

Last week I worked a little bit on Quantum Orcas. I want to put together a version that I can purchase from The Game Crafter. It is amazing how much artwork really goes into a game. Not only do you need art for the cards, chits, tiles, etc. You also need artwork for the box and the rulebook. Then if you want to have a nice sales page on TGC you need artwork for that page. There is a lot of behinds the scenes artwork that is needed to complete a game.

So last week I put together a bunch of art and Quantum Orcas is getting closer. I still need to do more playtesting to make the game go from playable and “not bad” to something that is enjoyable that people will want to play. I’ll keep you posted.

The other progress I made last week was to come up with new mechanics for Brooklyn Bridge. I have shared the concept of the mechanics with several friends and none of them said it sounded awful. So I might have something there! I am pretty excited about the new utilization of workers. Brooklyn Bridge is a worker placement game, but it uses workers in ways I have not seen before. So I’ll plow forward with this to make it playable in the near future. My goal is to have tested it several times before Protospiel-Milwaukee in March.


So that’s the Boards & Barley I enjoyed and the game design progress I made last week. How was your week?


Monday Brews 12-30-13

Welcome to the final Monday Brews of the year! Oh what a year it’s been. Last year this blog didn’t even exist. And now I have tens of readers a day. The three of you who keep refreshing the page are awesome!

But seriously, this blog has been a lot of fun to write and I sincerely thank you for taking the time to read it. I only hope that you’ve learned something about board games and beer. I’ll have a “2014 Goals” article later this week which will cover my big plans for 2014. But today is Monday, so let’s see what Boards and Barley I enjoyed in the past two weeks (I was traveling last Monday):

The Barley:

Have you ever had a smoked beer?

Alaskan Smoked Porter: I enjoyed this beer and the Paulaner while listening to bluegrass at an awesome local establishment. I think a full glass of a smoked beer is about twice as much smoked beer as I can handle. It was a pretty solid smoked beer, though.

Paulaner Salvator: I used to think I liked this beer, but I didn’t care for it during the bluegrass. I’m wondering, now, if the smoked beer beforehand wrecked my palate.

New Glarus Fat Squirrel: A local brew that was brought to a game night, this brown ale is an excellent cold weather beer.

Gray’s Bully Porter: Didn’t I mention a few weeks ago that I thought I was all Portered out? Oh well. This was also available at game night so I gave it a try. It was pretty good.

Central Waters Mudpuppy Porter: I love the name Mudpuppy. And the beer was pretty good, like the Gray’s. Unfortunately all these porters I enjoyed are all blending together and I can’t quite recall if one was better than the others.

Leinenkugel’s Snowdrift Vanilla Porter: Well, this one stands out from the other porters since it has the vanilla flavor. It also has a nice crispness to it. Or perhaps it stood out in my memory because I enjoyed it with my in-laws during our Christmas morning. Newton’s Oatmeal Stout: This homebrew of mine will sustain me over the winter. (4.2% abv)

I love the bottle label!

Fleming’s Scotch Ale: This homebrew of mine will make me tipsy over the winter. (6.6% abv)

Sierra Nevada Celebration: They love a good IPA or Pale Ale over at Sierra Nevada Brewery. But this IPA isn’t so IPA-ish. It doesn’t seem as hoppy as some of those hop-forward breweries who push the limits of the IBUs in their beer. I think I liked it, but I’m not sure I would drink it again.

Monk’s Stout DuPont: The typography on the bottle is awesome! The beer inside in interesting. Made in Blegium at Brasserie DuPont, this is the first beer I’ve had from the brewery. I think I need to try it again before I really form an opinion, but I think I liked it.

The Boards:

Too awesome to NOT make a game about them!

Sequoia Grove: This was supposed to be an entry into the Dice Hate Me 54 Card Challenge. The premise is that you are a researcher of trees, otherwise known as a Dendrologist. Your goal in the game it to grow the largest, widest sequoia tree possible. You can add height and girth to the tree during the game. My entry worked and was playable, but wasn’t up to the high quality expected in the Dice Hate Me line of games.

Backyard Astronaut: This is my friend Adam’s entry into the 54 card challenge and it IS up to the high quality of the Dice Hate Me line of games. It is a fantastic game and I believe it has a real shot in the contest. Nicely done A-Game!

Viticulture: Other than some cards being more valuable than others I think this is a pretty enjoyable worker placement game. It won’t take the place of Stone Age, but this is definitely a game I’ll play again. I like how you have to “save” some workers for the winter phase of the game.

Qwirkle: This game has made many a showing in 2013 and I imagine it will be the same in 2014. It is easy to teach and understand. It plays quickly. And if you have the travel size you can take it just about anywhere!

Compounded: I’ll write more about this game in tomorrow’s article. Over Christmas I was able to teach this to a new player and she won the game. It is easy enough to understand, it has a lot of awesome interaction and the theme is great! If you haven’t played it I highly recommend picking up a copy.

Dam It! Redux: You can learn more about my beaver game on it’s page. I tried reducing the game for the Dice Hate Me 54 Card Challenge and I succeeded… sort of. I successfully reduced the game to 54 cards. The game worked and the few playtesters that I played with said it was fun. But as a designer I knew it just wasn’t quite there. So I didn’t send this in. On the upside I do think this is something that I can finalize and put for sale on The Game Crafter.

Le Havre – The Inland Port: I received this for my birthday back in August and finally got to play it. It is a very interesting game of resource management that I royally lost. I’ll probably trade this game since it doesn’t get played very often. It just seemed like it was an abstract game in the Le Havre theme.

Agricola – All Creatures Big and Small x2: This game, however, had the awesome feel of Agricola. It was tight. It was nerve wracking. It was a nice mental battle. And it has the nice elements of Agricola without the fiddly cards and the need to feed your family. I’ll be keeping this one and I hope to play it again soon.

Kingdom Builder x2: I was able to set up and play a 6 player game of Kingdom Builder. The house rule for this is to add two more kingdom boards so that it is a 2 wide by 3 high board. Since all the scoring conditions are shared there is no real disadvantage to anyone by bumping it to six players. I hope that Queen Games has a few more expansions up their sleeves for this one.

Missing 14 years worth of cards.

Ultimate Outburst: My mom got me this game for Christmas because 1) I don’t own it, and 2) it’s not like all those thinky games I have. We played it together as a family and it was actually quite fun. We played men vs women and the women won. The big downside to the game was that its from 1999 and the information on the cards reflects that.

Tenzi x20: A while back I bought Farkle Party at a thrift store but it had no dice in it. (It had jewelry). I wanted the dice for prototyping purposes. My mom bought me Tenzi because instead of just 40 dice, it is also a game. You must roll your dice so that they all come up the same value. First person to get all their dice the same wins. It was a very thoughtful gift and I am happy to have the dice for design purposes. Thanks mom!

Carcassonne – The Discovery: This is an interested take on the Carcassonne world. You only have four followers and you don’t get them back right away when something is finished. That’s because you can remove them before their thing is completed, or simply wait and never remove them. I’m not sure if I liked it so I’ll have to play it again.

Scoville: I played with my family and was able to play with “final” artwork that I had printed out. While I didn’t have all of the final artwork I had enough to realize that it’s gonna be awesome! Hopefully the art can get wrapped up so we can launch the Kickstarter campaign in January, but at this point I’m not holding my breath.

The Little Prince x2: This is one of those game I was happy to get at GenCon this year. The gameplay is awesome. However, I have no nostalgic connection with the book on which the game is based, so I would prefer a retheme. Make it about colonizing Mars or something like that.

Euphoria: The second Stonemaier Game on the list and another worker placement game. This time your workers are dice and their values matter. I’ll definitely play this again as the first play was steep with learning. Overall I thought it was fun and I think that will be the case after a second play.

Designer’s Corner:

Quantum Orcas is getting there!

I have recently been making excellent strides in the design department and I owe it all to the 54 card challenge. That challenge really lit a fire under me and I tried as hard as I could to come up with something worthy of the challenge. I now have a new mechanic that I plan to utilize to the fullest in a future game design. It may or may not be awesome, but it is at least innovative.

Also I designed a card game version of Scoville that plays quickly and has the feel of Scoville. I already have it prototyped and I’ve soloed it twice. The next step is to put it in front of my friends for their analysis. I’m really excited about it.

I also worked on Quantum Orcas. It is now a better game, which wasn’t hard to achieve. I added oceanic wormholes (think of them as eddy currents) that open up the game quite a bit. I also changed things up a bit to eliminate the All-or-Nothing nature of ties. I’m hoping to submit my friends to this one as well. This is a game I would probably put up for sale on The Game Crafter, but probably not pitch to publishers. We’ll see where it goes.

And I’ve got big plans for 2014. I’ll have an article on the 1st about my Boards & Barley goals for the year, so you can look forward to that.


There you have it… the final Monday Brews of 2013. What Boards and Barley did you enjoy over Christmas?

Design Update 12-5-13

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!

Brooklyn Bridge

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!

Quantum Orcas

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!

Design Me: Area Movement

It’s time to flex my brain muscle once again! Why? Because it’s a Design Me Friday! Every other Friday I do some exercise… of the mind! The idea behind these Design Me articles is to practice being creative and see what I can come up with in the spur of the moment.

In the last two exercises I designed a dice rolling worker placement game about brewing beer and a grid movement resource collection game about flying your aircar around a distopian world. What ever might I come up with today???

Once again I am using the tool from Boardgamizer for the inspiration for today’s exercise. Let’s see what it came up with:

Time traveling boats capturing other boats while only having 18 cards. This could be challenging to design!

Time traveling boats capturing other boats while only having 18 cards. This could be challenging to design!

Quantum Orcas

A little closer and that boat’s a goner!

Alright, where would one begin with a time traveling boat game based on capturing other boats all while having less than 18 cards?? Time Pirates is the first thing that came to mind, but I cannot compete with the Alan R. Moon version of that game. So I’ll go a different route. Whales.

This is only my third Design Me article, but all of the names of these fake games have been terrible. So there’s no reason I can’t call this game Quantum Orcas. But I admit, it is a pretty lame title.

In Quantum Orcas you are a killer whale that likes to eat boats. You also possess the awesome ability to jump through time. Okay… you can’t really jump through time. You can merely freeze time to make it appear that you are jumping through time. I guess the whales realized that swimming was too slow so they had their scientists (Beluga whales) design time jumping suits for them to wear so they could eat more boats.


I’m designing this as a two player game of epic boat munching awesomeness. Here are the components:

  • 48 Cards (16 for each player and 16 for the grid)
  • 8 Number tokens to mark the grid (4 gray and 4 blue)
  • 2 Four-sided dice (one gray and one blue)
  • 2 Whaleeples
  • 6 Large boat pawns
  • 12 Small boat pawns
  • Rulebook

The objective of the game is to chomp the most boats. To set up the game, shuffle and randomly place the 16 grid cards into a 4 x 4 grid. Then line up the blue and gray number tokens along the top and left edges of the grid as shown below. Then each player will roll the two 4-sided dice to determine their starting grid location. In the image below Blue rolled Gray-4 and Blue-1 while Green rolled Gray-2 and Blue-3.

Each player has a hand of 16 cards that represent the grid locations. Throughout the game you can only play each card once. The game is played over 10 rounds, so not all locations will be visited by both players.

At the start of the game each player will roll the two dice to determine the location of a small boat and a large boat. Therefore there will also be 4 boats out on the water. Note: Boats cannot be placed on the whale locations, so if that happened, the dice should be re-rolled until the boat can be placed on a vacant spot. Here’s the game after initial setup:

The orcas are getting hungry!

The orcas are getting hungry!

How to Play

In each round (except the first) players will each roll the dice to determine where to place a new boat. Once rolled, players will choose whether to place a big boat or a small boat at that location. At this point it does not matter whether or not a whale is already at that location. Place the boat there anyway because the whale will be moving off of that spot.

Once the boats have been placed then the players will choose a card from their hand, which represents a grid location. Each player will reveal their card simultaneously. Players will then move their pawns onto the corresponding grid spot.

If there is a small boat at that location, players will “EAT” the boat and move it to their area on the table in front of them. If there is a big boat at that location, players will “EAT” the boat and move it to their area on the table in front of them AND randomly discard one of their remaining cards. Over time a whale may come to a spot where there are more than 1 boat. If this is the case, the player may discard cards from their hand equivalent to the number of boats on that location and then eat them all. For example, if the green player moved to a spot where there were two small boats, that player may discard two cards and eat both of them. A player may choose to not discard any more cards and then would get to eat only a small boat from that spot. Big boats always require the discarding of a card, so if a whale came to a spot where there was a small boat and a big boat, it would cost three cards to eat them both.

Note: discarded cards are removed from the game.

Once each player has moved their whale and eaten a boat if possible, then it’s on to the next round. Note: this movement mechanism represents the whales jumping through time to come up on the boat without the boat being able to flee.

If, however, both players chose the same location then it becomes a Whale Duel! Players check to see how many boats they have eaten (Big boats count as 2 small boats). If one player has eaten fewer, that player wins the duel since their voracious appetite would cause them to womp on the other whale and win the battle. If both players have eaten the same number of ships then each player will choose and reveal a card from their hand. They will add together the blue and gray values. Whomever has the highest total will win the battle and will have to discard their card. The loser does not have to discard their card. If there is still a tie, no player eats the boat and the bosun and captain grab a bottle of rum and celebrate!

After ten rounds each player will total their value of boats eaten, keeping in mind that big boats count as 2 small boats. The player who has eaten the most boats wins the game!

Your Designer Perspective

So what would you change about this game design? Did I miss anything major? Are there holes in the design? Anything seem broken?

Those are all excellent questions that designers need to constantly be asking about their designs. I challenge you to use the Boardgamizer tool to try and come up with something on the fly. It can be a lot of fun!

Today’s Design Me exercise was actually a lot of fun. I think I could mock this game up relatively quickly and see how it plays out. Thanks for reading today, and don’t forget to exercise your game designer brain!

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