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I’m Pulling for Him – An Interview with Chevee Dodd

Available via Kickstarter!

Today we have the first ever interview on Boards & Barley and I’m happy that it is with the magnificent Chevee Dodd of West Virginia fame and folklore. Chevee currently has a Kickstarter campaign for his awesome trick-taking card game, Pull! I played it in March at Protospiel-Milwaukee and I recommend it!

Chevee is the designer of Scallywags by Gamewright. Has has also designed several games that are for sale on The Game Crafter that are worth checking out. My personal favorite is Tuesday Night Tanks.

I have had the privilege of enjoying an Oktoberfest celebration with Chevee and consider him a good friend. If you have not had the pleasure of meeting him, seek him out some day. Or twitter stalk him. (@cheveedodd). But enough rambling… let’s learn about him and his campaign.

Interview with Chevee Dodd

Boards & Barley: Why did you start designing games? Why is this one of your passions?

Chevee Dodd: I’ve explored dozens of creative outlets in my time. Typically, I try something new and then get bored with it and move on. Games have been the one constant in my life since early childhood. I started designing because I found inspiration in James Earnest and his then startup, Cheapass Games. Suddenly there was a way for the little guy to do something on his own and succeed, so I went for it. I found that the creative outlet was extremely satisfying because I get to flex all sorts of skills: writing, design, crafting, and art. It encompasses so much of what I love to do.

B&B: We first met at Protospiel-Milwaukee last year. What do you think are the biggest benefits of designer conventions like Protospiel and UnPub?

CD: Meeting people like Ed P Marriott.

Seriously, there is a great bunch of people at these shows that are more than willing to help test and refine. They love being creative together and some awesome projects have come out of that community… but for me, it’s the people. In fact, I generally have to be coerced to test my own games at these shows. I’m there to form relationships. We are all building something much larger than a few games. We are building a collective that will herald each others efforts for years to come.

B&B: What is your favorite non-Chevee game that you love playing more than anything else?

CD: Acquire is my all-time favorite. I would play multi-day marathon sessions of Acquire and never get tired of it. Also, Tichu. Oh my Tichu. With the right teammates, we’ll run it back to back to back. Best of 7? No problem!

B&B: Other than Pull!, which is your favorite Chevee game and why?

CD: Leathernecks ‘43/Princess Fairy Rainbow Unicorn dice is the only other Chevee game I’d actively ask someone to play. I generally don’t enjoy playing my own stuff but that design, and PULL! have both surprised me. I feel like I was able to inject just a touch of interaction into press-your-luck that makes the game something more without tacking on a bunch of thinking. I’m pretty proud of it.

B&B: If you could have a PBR with any two game designers, who would they be and why?

CD: Michael Schacht and Antoine Bauza. I’d love to have a PBR with Sid Sackson, but I don’t think that’d go over so well. Bauza and Schacht both design the types of games I love: simple rules with deep decisions. I’d love to talk shop with them… but being that they are both from more cultured areas of the world, I have a feeling they’d balk at my PBR.

B&B: What are your three favorite pieces of advice for new game designers?

CD: 1) Fail. Fail often. We learn so much more from our failures than we do our successes. It’s hard to know why something works, it’s easy to spot why it’s flawed.

2) Try. You can’t fail if you don’t try. Talking about designing games is way different than actually doing it. Just try. Get out the pen, paper, and scissors and go at it.

3) Ask. Get help. You can’t do this alone, no matter how great you think you and your idea are. You WILL need people to help you with the design and it’s better to start early than late.

B&B: I love your “Open Source” game design approach where you utilize open source software and like involving other people. Where did this philosophy come from?

CD: I’ve been a hacker of sorts all my life. Not a hacker in the movie sense of someone that breaks into banks security systems and steals money… a hacker that makes things by learning and deconstructing. I started writing software when I was about 8 years old… that was before the Internet as we know it today… and I relied heavily on books to teach me what I was doing. When services like American Online, Prodigy, and CompuServe came along, it was like opening a floodgate for me. Suddenly there were all these free references and resources available for me to learn from and my progress with software increased rapidly. I like giving back for this same reason. If I can help someone else through my stories and tribulations, I’m all for it.

B&B: You utilize The Game Crafter for prototypes and components quite a bit and I know you have a few games available on the site. Do you have any other “go-to” resources for game design components?

CD: The dollar store. Most of what I work with outside of printed components are things like sharpies, tape, paper, pens… all the stuff that’s readily available at a dollar store. But also, you can find stuff you didn’t think about there like glass beads and other trinkets that make great game components. I like to look everywhere I go for things that inspire.

B&B: What was the inspiration for Pull!?

CD: PULL! came about during a lull in my creativity. I asked the Twitter community to give me some ideas and it was the one that stuck out. I tried working through some of the other concepts, but this one just wouldn’t’ leave my head and I had to make it.

These awesome duck tokens are only a $5 add-on! Bump your pledges, people!

B&B: What sets Pull! apart and makes it awesome?

CD: It plays like a trick taking game, but not like any you’ve tried before. There is a deck of cards driving each round instead of the players winning the lead and those cards also score you points. On top of that, there are two tricks each round instead of just one. There are many different levels of decisions that go into each card play but it’s not so complex that you can’t just sit down and enjoy it. In fact, I’d say it feels less challenging than most trick taking games even though it offers significantly more decisions.

B&B: What are the best ways for people to share the Pull! campaign so that we can get it uber-funded?

CD: Facebook has brought me the most backers. Simply hitting the Facebook “Like” button under the Kickstarter video has had a great impact on the campaign, but also unlocks a stretch goal! For all of Facebook’s reach, however, there are more communities that are actively involved in gaming like Reddit and Google Plus. Sharing there and talking about the game all over the internet is going to help bring backers our way. So far, I’ve been extremely humbled by the support I’ve received from the backers.

Some cards and the game box.

B&B: What have been the most challenging aspects of putting together a Kickstarter campaign?

CD: Simply the sheer volume of work. Putting together all the graphics. The copy. The videos. The art. I started months in advance and I’m glad I didn’t wait until the last moment! So many campaigns are obviously thrown together, I really wanted the PULL! page to shine and I spent many many hours editing.

B&B: Do you have any sources of advice for the Kickstarter campaign? Jamey Stegmaier’s blog, for example, has a ton of great Kickstarter information.

CD: I think I’ve read most of Jamey’s posts… TWICE. Seriously… there is a ton of stuff there to think about. I don’t agree with all of Jamey’s advice, but that’s not the point. The point is to get you thinking about all the aspects of the campaign. Other than Jamey’s blog, I listened to most of Richard Bliss’ podcast and spent Monday’s researching the previous week’s campaigns. I spent a great deal of time analyzing both successful and unsuccessful launches for anything I could use to my advantage.

B&B: Do you have any personal advice to offer people that will be setting up their own Kickstarter campaigns? What key aspects of a campaign shouldn’t be excluded?

CD: The biggest piece of advice I have is to have an audience before you launch. Kickstarter is NOT a marketing platform and you need to sell yourself WELL before the campaign. I’ve spent the last two years building myself up and that got me nearly 70 backers on the first day. Now that the campaign is in full swing, they are barely trickling in… and most are finding the campaign because of my awesome backers sharing the campaign. Very few are coming in from Kickstarter alone.

As for exclusion: be transparent. Don’t hide any aspect of your game or the production. Even if there is something you are embarrassed about, you need to point it out. Dont try to trick people into backing your project. Let it sell itself. Be 100% transparent, good or bad. It may not pay off on this campaign, but it certainly will in the future!

B&B: Game design, Graphic design, Woodworking. How is the best way for people to reach out to you for design advice or graphic design work?

CD: I answer Twitter more than anything… and quickly. The notification sound for Twitter is my favorite on my phone. I grab it up as soon as it goes off. After that, email is the second best method… and my gmail account is also linked to my phone.

@cheveedodd

cheveedodd [at] gmail

B&B: What other great things can we look forward to from Chevee Dodd over the next year or so?

CD: I designed a pretty neat 2 player zombie game that’s coming up. The artist that’s working on it is doing great stuff and I can’t wait to share it with the world. I designed it for Jayme though, so I’m not letting anyone else have it before her. I’ve considered bringing it to Kickstarter also, but it’ll likely be up as a print and play and maybe at thegamecrafter.com long before. I can only handle so much stress in one year.

Other than that, I’ve hinted at a secret project a few times over the past few months. The announcement of that should come mid-July, and it should be fun. Mayfair is still plugging away on developing Hedeby. Even if they greenlight the game, I doubt it will be out in the next year, but who knows?

B&B:Anything else you want people to know?

CD: I am forever indebted to this community and am constantly humbled by the support I receive. I would like to thank each and every person individually, and in person. I hope one day we can meet to make that happen!

Horizontal Rule

Thanks, Chevee, for the interview. I wish you the best for the rest of the Pull! campaign and I hope it does really well for you. For those who read this, if you haven’t backed the project, go do so now. If you want to learn more about Chevee and what he does, head on over to his website: cheveedodd.com.

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Character Meeples by Meeple Source

I don’t really ever upgrade my games by adding cooler components or by painting minis or anything like that. But every once in a while there is a product that can add enough to the game to make it worth it. Today I want to introduce you to Meeple Source.

I wrote about Meeple Source in my Sourcing Game Components: Meeples article last September. They make fantastic custom meeples with a ton of character. Today I am mentioning them because they have a campaign currently running on Kickstarter (KS Link). I have personally met the fine folks behind Meeple Source and they are great people with a great product.

They just look so awesome!

I brought back a few of the character meeples from BGG.Con and my kids (ages 4 and 2) loved them. I wish I had bought more of them for my kids, and for my own games and game designs.

The campaign they are running has ten days remaining. They are over $70,000 and they have more stretch goals to go.

So far they have added some awesome stuff to the campaign. They added custom character meeples for a few games, like Tiny Epic Kingdoms, Lords of Waterdeep and Pandemic. They have three custom meeples from other companies like Miniature Market, Board Game Geek, and Tasty Minstrel Games. These are free to people who pledge $9 or more. They have also added cool viruses, germs, or plagues for Pandemic.

Here are just a few of the MANY meeples you can get:

MeeplesourceMeepleExamples

I won’t get into the pledge tiers for the campaign because there are a ton of them. But go check it out and choose some sweet character meeples for yourself, or your kids, or your parents, or to hide in your co-workers office. I’m backing to get a fresh set of 10 different meeples, but since they keep adding awesome content I have no idea which 10 I’ll choose in the end.

Monday Brews 2-17-14

Hi everyone! Thanks for visiting. Before we get to the Monday Brews I wanted to take this opportunity to once again point out that Scoville is on Kickstarter. The campaign ends on Friday and is flying it’s way to the last stretch goal. At $80,000 Tasty Minstrel Games will put pepper shaped components into the game instead of cube-based components. Here’s an example of how much more awesome things will look when we hit that goal with your help:

Wow! Those peppers really spice up the art!

So go check out my game on Kickstarter! Thanks!

Okay. Now to the Monday Brews. I realized that I was getting a little monotonous with my descriptions of beers that I’ve had numerous times. So I’m changing up the way I do the Monday Brews articles a little bit. Instead of writing out a little blurb for each beer and each game I’m going to feature one of each and simply list the rest unless it was new to me, in which case I’ll write a little one-liner type thing. This saves all of us time since you don’t have to read the same boring descriptions each week and I don’t have to type them.

So let’s check out the Boards & Barley that I enjoyed this past week…

The Barley:

I thought it was a weird spelling of “Sudoku” at first.

BARLEY SPOTLIGHT: Toppling Goliath Pseudo Sue Pale Ale

I’ve found I am starting to enjoy Pale Ale’s more and more recently. Typically they are where I draw the line for hops in my beers. This one was fairly hoppy, coming in at 50 IBUs. Fortunately it didn’t have a lingering bitter aftertaste that is common among IPAs and more potent Pale Ales. So I enjoyed this one.

The Boards:

BOARDS SPOTLIGHT: Scoville

A near-endgame field condition from a recent 6 player game of Scoville.

A near-endgame field condition from a recent 6 player game of Scoville. (Prototype copy)

I was honored at a recent game night when people requested to play Scoville. I had my copy along to show some people the awesome artwork, but I wasn’t expecting to play it. But we got in a tight 6 player game. I was able to pull out the victory with a big final move to get a 24 point recipe.

My favorite thing about Scoville is how the map (planting/harvesting) mechanic works. There are so many interesting decisions of which pepper to plant, where to plant it, and which direction to move your meeple when harvesting. I can’t wait to play it again!

If anyone has any questions about Scoville, please let me know by posting a comment at the bottom of this blog post. Thanks so much!

And here are the other games I played this past week, including two new games.

Designer’s Corner:

As you can imagine I’ve been spending quite a bit of my time focused on the Scoville Kickstarter campaign. That means I haven’t really been doing too much with my current game designs. This was an interesting game in that it plays quickly and there is a fair amount of strategy, but it definitely takes more than 8 minutes.

The one game I have been doing some work on is Brooklyn Bridge. One thing that was pointed out to me was that the worker placement locations will have to change based on player number. It seems like such an obvious thing when I think about the design, but it was something that I just hadn’t thought of. So I can use that information to start to put together a prototype where it will work with anywhere from 2-5 players. That’s what is currently in my design queue.

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So those are the Boards & Barley that I’ve been enjoying. What have you been enjoying?

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.

Monday Brews 2-10-14

Welcome to another Monday. I’m hope you are having a fantastic day! I am. That’s because over the weekend Scoville funded on Kickstarter! Woo hoo! Now we are on to the stretch goals!

Before we get into the Boards & Barley that I enjoyed last week I wanted to inform you that Tasty Minstrel Games has posted a contest to Board Game Geek. Go check it out for your chance to win a copy of Scoville: BGG Scoville Contest.

Okay… now let’s get on to the good stuff. As usual we’ll start with the Barley.

The Barley:

New Belgium Folly Pack

New Glarus Cabin Fever Honey Bock: Again… because it’s so good!

Cisco Brewing Grey Lady Witbier: My friend Ben had some of these. I had not heard of this brewery before. They are located in Nantucket

St. Francis Sloth Brown Ale: I had not heard of this brewery/restaurant until Friday. They opened in 2009 in Milwaukee, WI. It was a pretty good beer and I’m looking forward to a stop at their brewery the next time I’m in the area!

New Belgium Mighty Arrow: I bought a variety 12-pack that had a revival beer called Mighty Arrow. It was a very decent pale ale and the bitterness did not linger. The other cool thing about it was that it had the old label on it.

New Belgium Trippel: I really like the clean and simple approach for the new labels for New Belgium brewing. They still maintain the New Belgium character but now look much better. Nice move on their part. Also, their Trippel was pretty good.

North Coast Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout: My wife and I hosted a Winter Olympics party and I was planning to buy the large plastic 2-liter type bottle of crappy Russian beer that costs about $2. Alas, my FLBS (Favorite Local Beer Store) did not have any. So I went with a Russian Imperial Stout. While it’s not a Russian beer, it at least had the word “Russian” in it. People didn’t complain.

The Boards:

X-Wing: I think X-Wing is great! It’s a lot of fun flying through space trying to take out your opponents and trying to figure out what they are going to do. My biggest problem, however, is that my friend’s wallet is hurting a little from all of the stuff that you must have. Okay… maybe you don’t “need” to have it all, but you should!

Awesome Awesomeness!

Belfort + Expansion Expansion: We got to try out the new Expansion Expansion, which features the best name for an expansion ever! I thought it was an awesome addition to the game. With the expansion you choose one of the characters in a reverse draft each round. That character can provide you with a bonus ability during that round or they can be used to let you expand one of your properties. Expanding a property gives you another scoring opportunity, which can be really useful. Overall I am glad to have backed the project. The Expansion Expansion adds a great level to the game and gives you a cool way to build an engine in the game. I’m looking forward to playing again!

Ingenious: This is one of those stupidly simple games that I wish I had designed. I mean, line up similarly colored components for points. That’s the game in a nutshell. It’s so simple, yet also challenging and fun as well. My only beef with the game is that it is possible to end with 0 points by the bad luck of never drawing a certain color. I wish that wasn’t possible. Oh well. I guess I should design my own stupidly simple game that fixes that problem.

Designer’s Corner:

With all this Scoville stuff on my mind I’ve been able to come up with what I think will be a really interesting expansion to the game. I’m not going to give away any details just yet but I’m pretty excited about it.

In other design news, talking on podcasts lately a lot of people have been asking me what I’ve got in the pipeline. The big game in the pipeline is Brooklyn Bridge. It’s my time-based worker placement game with a twist. I’ll eventually make a post all for the game, but the idea is you have a crew that is working on the Brooklyn Bridge. It’s your job to send your workers to purchase resources and utilize them as best as possible. The crew that has contributed the most to the bridge at the end will be the winning crew.

With only 11 days left for the Scoville Kickstarter campaign I can say I’m definitely looking forward to getting back to designing again. The last few weeks have been pretty devoid of design efforts. Go back Scoville so that we can get pepper components rather than cubes!

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Thanks for reading! What Boards & Barley have you been enjoying lately?

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