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When you receive Scoville…

Awesomeness coming soon to a table near you!

Awesomeness coming soon to a table near you!

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen. With people posting pictures of their copies of Scoville on Twitter and Facebook I figured I should post something about Scoville. This has been an extremely fun ride from the start of the design process all the way through to this point. I can’t wait to start reading reviews and hearing what people think.

So today I have a few tips regarding the game and the components. I will also link to a different version of the cross-breeding chart for those who are more equation oriented.

Before we get into the tips, if you have received your copy, please go ahead and Tweet it, Facebook it, Instagram it, BGG it, or anything else. Let’s spread the word about Scoville and make it a big hit. (Disclaimer: if you don’t like it, please keep your mouth and social media shut. 🙂 Thanks!)

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Components:

OCD vs. non-OCD: The board has pepper punch-outs so that the peppers can be “planted” and all line up perfectly. This is great for people who want things all orderly and such. HOWEVER, if you would prefer to be able to put the peppers on the board in any direction, then just don’t punch out the pepper punch outs.

Would you prefer those peppers to be sloppily arranged?

Would you prefer those peppers to be sloppily arranged?

Pepper Punch-outs: “Pepper Punch-outs” is not the name of an expansion I’m working on (though I suppose it could be!). These are the little cardboard pepper shaped pieces you can punch out of the board. I mention them because they come in really handy if you happen to run out on any specific color of pepper during the game. I recommend saving these little cardboard peppers in the box, just in case you need them.

Sleeve the Cards?: Some people sleeve cards for every single game they own. Others sleeve them for games with high-use cards. The cards in Scoville are what I would call “low-use.” The cards are only handled when obtaining them and scoring them at the end. Otherwise they just sit around. So I personally don’t feel they need to be sleeved. However, if you prefer them sleeved, check out this thread on BGG which can give some guidance about the right size of sleeves. The recipes are 44x67mm and the market cards are 51x51mm.

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Gameplay:

One of the biggest issues I hear from new players is that the cross-breeding chart is too much to grok. So I made a new version that is simpler to read and lists the rules of thumb for cross-breeding. You can download the doc file from Board Game Geek. Or you can save this picture and print it:

An alternate Scoville Cross-Breeding Guide.

An alternate Scoville Cross-Breeding Guide.

That should help you out in case you don’t like the 10×10 grid version.

As I designed the game I struggled mightily about choosing the form of the cross breeding chart. This equation version was easy to read and put things succinctly. But the grid put every breeding combo right in front of you. So I went with the grid. If you prefer this equation version, please let me know.

Beginner Tips

Bonus Plaques and Market Orders: Recipes are mighty appealing, and they should be. But don’t count out the bonus award plaques from the town mayor. Also, don’t neglect the market orders. Many of the afternoon orders are worth 4 points. So if you can get a few of those they really add up.

Bonus Abilities: These are worth 4 points each if unused, but I recommend using them. They can be used to create a huge advantage in the game. One way I like to use them is to gain multiple phantom peppers at a time while preventing all other players from getting any. Plus, the game is meant to be played for fun and I believe it is fun to use those special abilities.

Block other Players: I love how you can block other players from spots on the field. Use this to your advantage. Plant a good combo in a spot only you can reach and then end your turn there even if you’ve only moved one or two spots. This can induce frustration from the other players, which can be fun.

The Yellow and Red player are mired in battle for the peppers in that part of the board.

The Yellow and Red player are mired in battle for the peppers in that part of the board.

Horizontal RuleThanks so much for your interest in Scoville. I believe copies will be moving to retailers and online stores in the very near future. If any of you have issues with your components in your copy, please let me or Tasty Minstrel Games know right away. And if you enjoy the game, feel free to rate it a 10 on BoardGameGeek.com!

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Scoville Under Contract by TMG!

TMG Dragon loves peppers!

TMG Dragon loves peppers!

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is with great pleasure that I can finally announce that Tasty Minstrel Games has contracted my game Scoville for publication!

As you can imagine, I am very excited about this. Scoville will be my first published game and I’m grateful for TMG taking me into their fold.

So who is Tasty Minstrel Games? TMG is a board game publishing company run by Michael Mindes. On board with Michael is game designer/developer Seth Jaffee. You can check out Seth’s blog at sedjtroll.blogspot.com.

TMG has been putting out very quality games that contain beautiful artwork and are exceptionally enjoyable. Some of their recent awesomeness includes these games:

In Dungeon Roll the player’s goal is to collect the most experience points by defeating monsters, battling the dragon, and amassing treasure. Each player selects a Hero avatar, such as a Mercenary, Half-Goblin, or Enchantress, which provides them with unique powers. Then players take turns being the Adventurer, who boldly enters the dungeon seeking glory.

Belfort is a worker placement game with area majority scoring in each district as well as for each type of worker. Buildings give you influence in the districts as well as income, but taxes increase based on your score so the winning players will have to pay more than those behind! Manage your resources and gold well, choose your buildings wisely, and help build the city of Belfort!

The process is simple: Factories produce the goods (machinery, textiles, chemicals, food, and luxuries) that are coveted by the city folk. Airships – forbidden from landing in the cities but capable of carrying cargo over great distances – must be used to gather those goods and deliver them to depots along the rail network. Trains then haul the goods to the cities that want them, earning cash for the competitor who gets there first! Will you be the “King of Air and Steam?”

Also in the TMG queue and coming to stores soon is the new Stefan Feld game Rialto, the game about Florentine Medici-ness called Il Vecchio, as well as the expansion for Village (the 2012 Kennerspiel des Jahres) known as Village Inn.

But don’t forget about their other highly rated game, Eminent Domain, by Seth Jaffee. You can learn more on the BoardGameGeek page.

I will be keeping you all updated as Scoville progresses toward publication. Thanks for all of your interest. If there are any questions you have regarding Scoville, please post them as a comment below and I’ll be happy to reply!

Thanks! These are exciting times for me and for Tasty Minstrel Games! Make sure you visit them at GenCon at booth 459:

This booth will be filled with awesomeness!

Board Game Review: Belfort by TMG

Gnomes, Dwarves, and Elves. But no Pixies… yet!

It’s Friday, which means it’s Board Game Review day! Today I’m reviewing Belfort by Tasty Minstrel Games, which currently has an awesome expansion available on Kickstarter (KS link) for only $20. So since the Kickstarter campaign is live I figured now is as good a time as ever to post this review!

In Belfort players take on the role of a builder who has been hired to build the castle Belfort. Unfortunately, other builders were also hired in a mix-up. So you are tasked with being the best builder of the castle.  To do that you have to make effective use your elves and dwarves with a worker placement mechanic in various spots throughout the city.  Leftover elves and dwarves can be used to claim wood, stone, metal, or gold. Decisions in this game get tough and heavy. But that makes it awesome. The other part of the game involves building the buildings of the castle to claim a majority of a district. That’s how players can obtain points, which are needed for victory. When you’re ready to visit the Pub for some Master Dwarf action, or the Blacksmith to get some metal, then grab your friends and sit down for a game of Belfort!

Here’s a look at all of the awesomeness that is Belfort (image from BoardGameGeek.com):

This game is awesome!

I’ve played this game a bunch and I totally love it. But the real question is who can find the Ton Ton from Hoth on the game board first?

The Upside:

  • ARTWORK: I must start with the artwork. This game is so visually stunning that I sometimes set it up just to stare at it (not true). It just looks so good that I must give a shout out to artist Joshua Cappel! Excellent work!
  • STRATEGY: This game looks too fun to be a heavy strategy game, but that’s exactly what this is!  There is a lot of strategy behind each decision from the first turn throughout the whole game.  Players have to optimize their workers capabilities and then optimize which building to build and where to build it.  There’s a lot to think about in this game!
  • THEME: The theme of building a castle with your hired elves and dwarves is a lot of fun.It is easy to get immersed in this game and feel like you are really putting your elves and dwarves to work. And everything works together thematically, which always makes a game better!

The Downside:

  • ANALYSIS PARALYSIS PRONE: While I am a player that enjoys heavy strategy and tough decisions, there are some players that I play games with that would struggle mightily with indecision throughout this game.  There would be times where they wouldn’t know what to do or why they are doing it. Beware that this can lead to long games.
  • SETUP TIME: This game has a ton of components. Thus, it requires a higher than average setup time. If you know you’re playing this game during your board game night perhaps you should set it up beforehand!

Designer Perspective – What I Would Change:

Belfort is a brilliantly designed game of worker placement and area control. The upcoming expansion looks like it will enhance the game greatly, so I won’t offer anything that the expansion is already doing (or at least that I know of it doing). If I were to change anything I think I’d add the ability of players to swap buildings between districts. This would add a huge “screw-you” factor to the game, but might also unbalance the game. By being able to swap my Inn in district 1 with you Inn in District 2 I could gain the majority in both! Bonus!

Beer Pairing:

I would normally pair this game with a heavy beer since the game is a heavy game. However, I just can’t imagine the worker elves and dwarves sipping a heavy, gentlemen’s beer after a hard day of work on the castle. So my preferred beer pairing is one that drinks easily, tastes great, and would work perfectly in the hands of elves and dwarves. And that beer is New Glarus‘ Cabin Fever Honey Bock. It is a very tasty beer brewed with clover honey, but not too much. And it goes great with brats, BBQ, and Belfort!

OVERALL RATING:

This was at the top of my Christmas list a couple year’s ago and it has lived up to that! Belfort is a great game that is a ton of fun to play. There is deep strategy, awesome artwork, and a lot of tense decisions. I can’t wait for the expansion to come out! I will rate Belfort 9 out of 10 on the BoardGameGeek rating system!

Excellent game.  Always want to play it.

Excellent game. Always want to play it.

Eminent Domain: Escalation on Kickstarter

Publishers of Awesomeness!

One of my favorite game publishing companies is Tasty Minstrel Games. Why are they one of my favorites? I have two reasons:

  1. They publish awesome games including Homesteaders, Kings of Air and Steam, Ground Floor, Village, Noblemen, Belfort, and the topic of this post: Eminent Domain.
  2. They are very open and engaging about their business and they share a lot of awesome information about the board game publishing side of things. Check out Michael Mindes’ “BizOfPlay” Podcast on Soundcloud.com.

For those reasons I don’t hesitate when they launch a new project on Kickstarter. I know that their game developer, Seth Jaffee, will have done an amazing job making sure the game is refined and awesome. But most importantly, TMG’s games are fun to play!

So today I wanted to inform you about their latest Kickstarter campaign which is currently live. It is for the expansion for Eminent Domain. It is called Eminent Domain: Escalation (ED:E). It is the first expansion for the hit game.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the game here is a little background. Eminent Domain is a deck-building game with a space-based theme. Players are trying to settle the most planets, research the most technology, and gain the most influence. Each turn you choose a card from your hand and do the action listed. These actions are things like Gain a Fighter, Colonize a Planet, Survey New Planets, and Research Technology. After performing the action the player will take a card from one of the piles on the table. They then perform the Role of that card. These roles allow the player whose turn it is to reap some benefit. Then all the other players can “follow” by doing the role or “dissent” by drawing a card into their hand. That’s basically how a turn works. To learn more check out Tom Vasel’s review of the game:

I really enjoy this game. I first played it last year in the GenCon library. This expansion looks like it will really add to the game. It adds the capability for a 5th player. It allows for direct conflict. It adds new technology cards. And it will add different starting scenarios, which adds a lot of flavor and replayability.

I highly recommend backing the game on Kickstarter. You can back the game and expansion for $50 or if you already own the game you can back the expansion for $25. Please let me know if you have any questions about the game or TMG. If I can’t answer them I’ll point you in the right direction. You can pledge on the Kickstarter project page!

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