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Monday Brews – Kickstarter Shout Outs

Hi everyone. Welcome back to Boards & Barley! I hope you had a great weekend. On Mondays I normally post about the board games and beer I enjoyed over the past week or two. But today I’m going to do something different.

Why am I changing things up? Well, my budget has precluded me from backing KS projects lately. But there are several projects, designers, and publishers that I would have supported had the budget allowed it. So since I can’t back the projects I decided I can at least promote them a little! So I’m listing four current Kickstarter board game projects that I believe in. I recommend you check these out.

We’ll start with a game from a friend and local game designer Seth Van Orden…

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Stockpile

Do you have what it takes?

Stockpile, by Seth Van Orden and Nauvoo Games, is a stock market game where players have high control over manipulating the market.

In the game players are trying to maximize the market value of the stocks they own. This is done by choosing which cards you want to place face up and which cards you want to place face down. Once all players have placed they will bid over which pile they want. Eventually all players will receive a pile of cards. The cards are now reconciled by manipulating the market or dealing with a negative event.

The ultimate goal is for players to best manage the market in their favor.

This game has three days left on Kickstarter and is sitting at about 90% funding. Go help them out! $39 gets you a copy.

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DragonFlame

Burn, baby, burn!

DragonFlame was my favorite game played at the recent Protospiel-Madison. Designed by Matt Loomis and being published by Minion Games, this game is packed with amazing artwork and fun gameplay.

In DragonFlame you are a dragon and your desire is to burn down the towns! To do so players will have a hand of cards. Then they will take turns placing cards either face up or face down onto one of the castles. Once all cards are played then in turn order each player claims a castle and its cards. This determines the player order for the next round.

Players will score points for burning the villages, which they can do when they receive DragonFlame cards, or for collecting treasures and avoiding knights. After six rounds, the player with the most points wins.

Rob Lundy did the artwork for DragonFlame and it really looks amazing. I’ll be buying this game when it comes out (and my budget allows for it). Go burn some villages!

It has 17 days left and $25 gets you a copy.

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Steampunk Rally

That’s no bored European!

New publisher Roxley Games has their first Kickstarter project up and it looks fantastic!

Steampunk Rally is a race game involving great inventors from Edison and Tesla to Marie Curie and George Washington Carver. These are some of the greatest minds of the past and they figured the best way to find out who is the smartest is to have a race through the Alps. So each of them is set to build the best machine to win the race.

Using card drafting and dice placement players will build their machine and then operate in the hopes of winning the race.

The artwork for this game is astonishing and I would back it for that alone! Go grind some gears and check it out!

Steampunk Rally has 10 days to go. $49 US gets you a copy!

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New Bedford

A Whale of a Game! (Couldn’t help myself)

New Bedford is the game I most regret that I’m unable to back. I played this for the first time a year ago at BGG.Con with Chris from Dice Hate Me Games. It is a truly great and enjoyable game.

Nat Levan is the designer and you can check out his blog here: Oakleaf Games. He has written extensively about his design process for New Bedford.

In the game you are helped to develop the town of New Bedford. You can utilize resources and send ships to see to capture whales, which provide income. This is a worker placement game that is streamlined and efficient. It is really enjoyable to play. So much so that I made my own copy with the PNP files from the Kickstarter page.

Also, they do a great job dealing with what some people consider a controversial topic. I applaud Dice Hate Me for that.

Go grab your harpoon and hit the open seas!

New Bedford has 27 days left and is 50% funded. Grab a copy for $40.

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Scoville and Me

Scoville - Where dreams come true!

Scoville – Where dreams come true!

I was thinking the other day about how strange all of this Kickstarter stuff is and that people are pledging money toward a game that I designed. It’s all been a really wild ride and it’s awesome to see a dream come true like this. If you are reading this, you are likely a backer, and for that I thank you.

On the flip side, I run this blog and it hasn’t exactly been running like normal while Scoville has been on Kickstarter. For that I apologize. Today won’t be like normal either. I realized that the truth is I may never have a game on Kickstarter again. So I’m trying to enjoy all of the stuff going on around the campaign, both good and bad. I’m taking the perspective of just enjoying it.

So today I thought I would share with you all the awesome opportunities that people have presented me with. These are the interviews and podcasts that I’ve had a pleasure of being a part. But first, for those who have not seen it, Undead Viking has a video review of Scoville for you visual and audible pleasure.

Undead Viking Video Review

Interviews

I had the pleasure of being involved in three different interviews. The #BoardGamersAsk was a live interview on Twitter where anyone could ask me anything. It was pretty awesome!

indiecardboardIndie Cardboard: January 26, 2014

#BoardGamersAsk via Ministry of Board Games: January 31, 2014

Cardboard Republic: February 14, 2014

Podcasts

It turns out that the guy who runs My Board Game Show lives in my town. So I was able to go over to his house and record the podcast live with him. And I had the pleasure of joining the Dice Hate Me crew, who are always fun to chat with. Here’s the four podcasts I had the privilege of being on:

My Board Game Show – Scoville & Mob Town: February 4, 2014

Dice Hate Me State Of Games: The one about the hot games of 2014: February 7, 2014

Let’s Level Up: February 11, 2014

G*M*S Magazine Boardgame Review Room: February 11, 2014

In the meantime…

Thanks for checking out Scoville on Kickstarter! It really means a lot to me. I’ve got other games I’m working on that I hope will end up as awesome as Scoville.

2013 in Review

Welcome to 2014! Today I wanted to look back on my experiences in 2013, point out some highlights and mention some stats from the blog. (Unfortunately WordPress won’t send me one of those fancy Year In Review stats thingies since this blog is not quite 1 year old).

January 11th: Scoville Playtest #1

It was nearly one year ago that I playtested Scoville for the first time. I had been working on it a lot and had just had a breakthrough that made it ready for testing. At the time I had no idea that Scoville would make 2013 what it did.

The playtest went really well. Of course there were tweaks to be made. But the overall feeling coming out of that playtest was, “Holy cow… there’s a lot more game here than I thought!” I playtested Scoville 6 more times in January.

Protospiel-Milwaukee

I took Scoville to Protospiel-Milwaukee and it was well received. I even got Ryan Metzler to play it! I also got to meet Grant Rodiek, Matt Worden, and Chevee Dodd. If you like game design at all you should be following those three awesome gentlemen on Twitter.

If you want to learn more about my Protospiel experience check out my article: Protospiel Recap

Shortly after Protospiel Tasty Minstrel Games requested a copy of Scoville for evaluation. I obliged, of course, and sent them a copy ASAP. Overall it seems it was definitely worth it to attend Protospiel! Special thanks to Chevee Dodd for his kind words in his recap article: Weekly[ish] Update – 3-15-13

Bellwether Games Interview

One of the highlights of 2013 was being interviewed by Bellwether Games. They interview a designer a month and it was a privilege to join those ranks! You can read the article here: Ed Marriott Interview

TMG Announces Scoville

By July I had signed a contract with Tasty Minstrel Games for Scoville. They announced the deal on July 21st and I was so happy to be able to tell the world! I wrote this article, which includes an awesome logo revision for TMG, about the contract.

Boards & Barley Stats & Stuff

I started Boards & Barley last January with the intent of writing about home brewing and game design. It ended up being heavily tilted toward game design, but I don’t think that’s a problem. Here are the monthly viewership stats:

BnB2013Stats01

Overall the site was visited by 90 different countries (that still boggles my mind!). Here’s a look at the map:

22 countries viewed B&B once in 2013.

22 countries viewed B&B once in 2013.

The top five most viewed articles were these:

Apparently people really like reading about prototyping. I’ll definitely write more about that.

The most clicked items were these:

And the top referrers (other than Twitter and Facebook) were:

But 2013 Was All About the People

While it was great that I signed my first game contract and wrote a bunch of stuff and got some people to read it, the real highlight of 2013 was getting to meet so many awesome people in the game design community.

At Protospiel-Milwaukee I met a bunch of awesome designers. I owe them all at least two PBRs each!

At GenCon 2013 I met about 30 designer/publisher people I had not already known. Thanks to everyone who was willing to sit down and spend their precious time playing my Scoville prototype. Also thanks to Matt Worden for inviting me to speak on the Protospiel panel.

At BGG.con I met another 15 people I had not already known. Thanks to all those who were part of the 22 Scoville demos that I ran during the con. Thanks for taking the time to play my prototype when all the hot Essen games were only a few tables away.

Here is a big list of awesome people I met throughout the year (or that I had previously met and got to hang out with again during 2013) (I likely missed a few of you. For that I am terribly sorry!):

Chevee Dodd, Grant Rodiek, Matt Worden, James Mathe, Scott Metzger, Matt Loomis, Carl Klutzke, Eric Jome, JT (The Game Crafter), Brett Myers, Kane Klenko, Espen Klausen, Ryan Metzler, Steve Dast, Peter Dast, Francois Jolie, Neil Roberts, Scott Starkey, Michael Mindes, Seth Jaffee,Ken Grazier, Jason Tagmire, Nolan Lichti, Kevin Kulp, Tom Vasel, Eric Summerer, Chris & Suzanne Zinsli, Jay Treat, Cole Medeiros, Robert Couch, AJ Porfirio, Eric Leath, Mike Mullins, Jeff Large, Kevin Nunn, Don Beyer, Patrick Nickell, Adam MacIver, David Chott, Darrell Louder, Ted Alspach, Ben Rosset, J. Alex Kevern, Benny Sperling, Jax Sperling, Matthew O’Malley, David Miller, Rob Lundy, Michael Coe, Corey Young, TC Petty III, Andrew Tullsen, Chris Kirkman, Jamey Stegmaier, Ben Pinchback, Matt Riddle, Alan R. Moon, Gil Hova, Andy Van Zandt, Dan Manfredini, Rael Dornfest, Scott King, Matt Leacock, Matt Wolfe, Randy Hoyt, Scott Morris, Quinns (SUSD), Colby from Plaid Hat, Norman from Big Game Reviews, Mike Eskue, The I’m Board With Life crew, Brian Frahm, Chris Darden. And there are some many more of you on Twitter that I am looking forward to meeting in person!

Special thanks to Chris Kirkman of Dice Hate Me games for being willing to evaluate a game from an unknown designer.

Special thanks to Michael Mindes and Seth Jaffee of Tasty Minstrel Games for being willing to accept a game from me and for the contract.

Special thanks to Grant Rodiek, Matt Worden, Chevee Dodd, and Brett Myers for your awesomeness at Protospiel-Milwaukee and your willingness to share so much info on the game design community.

Special thanks to my level 1 friends Jeremy Van Maanen, Adam Buckingham, and Ben McQuiston for being willing to playtest my games, whether good or bad, and for telling me the truth about how good or bad they are.

Most special thanks to my wife Erin for putting up with my piles of chits and cubes and cards and paper scraps all over, and for submitting to the earliest and worst playtests of all my game ideas. Love you babe!

2013 was an amazing year and I can’t wait to see what 2014 will bring! Tomorrow I will post an article about my designing and brewing goals for 2014. Thanks for reading!

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…

Scoville

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!

Conclave

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.

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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!

Oxides and Acids: A Review of Compounded

A game that I received via Kickstarter that has brought enjoyment to my gaming group recently is Compounded. This game was designed by Darrell Louder and published by the excellent Dice Hate Me Games.

In Compounded you are essentially a lab manager taking care of different experiments. Your objective in the game is to earn the most Atomic Points (AP… Note: this is the type of AP that you want!). Atomic points are earned by completing compounds. Each round consists of the following four phases:

  1. Discovery Phase: Players obtain new elements from the draw bag based on their Discovery research level.
  2. Study Phase: Players place or move their claim tokens, which indicate the compounds that they are claiming.
  3. Research Phase: Players take elements from their workbench and place them on compounds.
  4. Lab Phase: Players score any completed compounds and deal with any lab fires.

The game lasts until someone reaches 50 atomic points or when someone has 3 of their 4 research levels topped out or when the research field can no longer be filled.

Throughout the game players are trying to complete compounds that will be beneficial for them. Beneficial refers to the type of research that they will gain when completing a compound. Let’s take a look at the examples in this image:

The compound in the middle, Hydroxylamine, will award 6 atomic points (upper right corner). The player completing the compound will also be able to increase their “Discovery” experiment level (Blue indicator next to the score). Also, the player completing the compound would receive a Lab Key token, which they could use later in the game to obtain the first player marker. The compound on the left awards 5 points, a bump in the “Research” experiment level, and causes volatility in the lab (red flame icon in the lower right corner), which is like a lab fire. The compound on the right awards 6 atomic points, a bump in the “Study” experiment level, and safety goggles, which can be really useful!

As players complete compounds their abilities will increase. That nature of the game allows things to ramp up really well throughout the game. Here are my thoughts:

Here’s What I Like:

Science and Theme: You’ve gotta give it to the designer and publisher. This is not a typical theme and I imagine some people would find it dry because there is no boring looking renaissance man on the cover. However, the theme is so perfectly integrated into the game that you almost forget that don’t realize Hydrogen Oxide is, in fact, water! Everything thematically works really really well in this game.

Graphic Design: Normally I list that I enjoy the artwork in a game. This game is a little different. There is actually very little artwork. Rather, the game is nearly all graphic design. Even the box cover isn’t your typical fully painted work of art. So why is this in the section of things I like? Because they pulled it off beautifully. In a game like this there’s just no need for gaudy, over the top artwork. This is a streamlined product that looks really nice.

Gameplay: I really enjoy how this game works. It is similar, in some respects, to Scoville in that each round of the game is made of different phases. I enjoy that each round is discrete and you have to work to maximize what you can do during your turn while hoping you’re doing a better job than your opponents.

Here’s What I Dislike:

Luck: Since drawing elements during the discovery phase is a luck mechanic, it can make things a little frustrating if you are unable to draw what you need. This issue is minimized, however, by your abilities as they increase throughout the game. While luck is present, it becomes less and less as the game goes on, which is good.

Flame Token and Draw Bag Components: This is more of a gripe than something I dislike. I wish the flame tokens were slightly larger so they would be easier to grab. I understand that their size makes them fit really well onto the compound cards, so I can forgive that. The draw bag is also slightly too small. We swapped it for a draw bag from VivaJava and the VivaJava draw bag worked much better.

Designer Perspective: What Would I Change?

First, you should be aware that I have not yet played the game with the Chemical Chaos or Journal expansion cards. As a designer I would like to drop some of the symmetry from the game. I’m not sure how it would work, but I like the idea of having different starting conditions or abilities for each player. Perhaps Player 1 could start with a bumped Discovery level and fewer elements. Perhaps Player 2 could start with a bumped Research level. Those options for asymmetry wouldn’t work very well. A better option would be hidden objectives. Like someone could be an Oxide collector where they try to get a set of three different oxides for bonus points. I think that could be fun as it helps to steer your long term strategy in the game.

Beer Pairing:

While I have not had this particular brand of beer, I cannot think of a better partner for Compounded than Element Brewing Company. And the beer I’ve chosen for this pairing is the Dark Element.

According to the website, Dark Element is strikingly viscous and creamy on the palate with citrus fruit and chocolate cream. It sounds like a delicious beer that would pair well with Compounded!

Overall Rating:

I really think this is a fantastic game. The game flows nicely, minimizes downtime, maximizes strategic decisions, and, most importantly, is a lot of fun. But then as a bonus you can learn stuff while you’re playing! I can’t wait to play Compounded again. I’ll rate this game a 9 out of 10 on the BoardGameGeek scale:

Excellent game.  Always want to play it.

Excellent game. Always want to play it.

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