Monday, December 31, 2012

New Years Resolution

I will have a game picked up by a publisher in 2013.  I don't care what game or what publisher but I will make it happen.  I won't rule out self publishing, though it is still not my top choice. If it starts looking like self publishing is the way to go, I going to have to start talking to people who have done it.  I know it takes a lot of time to self publish, so I'll give myself until April 1 to find a traditional publisher then I'll have to ramp up on the self publishing front.  I will make it happen.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Overdue... once again.

I haven't felt like reporting much lately. In fact, I'm actually a bit frustrated. I have this feeling that I'm just doing this whole "get a board game published" thing all wrong. I've submitted Of Power & Glory to a number of publishers and I've gotten quite a few "We don't accept unsolicited games", one "We don't like the theme", one "The game is too long" and another publisher that has had the game for nearly a year and as of a few weeks ago still hasn't played it.

As for the other games, I wanted to get them reviewed before I started presenting them to publishers and there's been more frustration there. The Dice tower no longer reviews games from the Game Crafter unless you pay them more than I can spend. And the gamer's table has had Of Pride & Policy for many months now and it has yet to be reviewed. I'm not sure how to interpret that, but I'm not sure it's good.

I released another game Scarborough Fair that I've gotten some great feedback on. JT of the Game Crafter said it was his favorite game (not designed by himself) on the Game Crafter. High praise! He also said he would make it a staff pick, but that has yet to happen (another point of frustration).

Most of my frustration seems to be coming from me waiting on other people... and I want to say to myself "You can't wait on other people, you have to make things happen yourself!" And while I think that's good advice (thanks me!), I don't know what more I should be doing now. I don't think I want to self publish, but lately I've been wondering if that's not such a bad idea... though it scares me. I would want to get a lot of advice from someone whose been through that (preferably more than once).

Am I not approaching publishers correctly? Am I approaching the wrong publishers (I have been targeting the big guys)? Do I need to aim lower? I've considered Game Solute. Once again something I have to wait on since they cut off game submissions through the end of the year. I know that's only a few days away now, but I've been considering it for while and there's no guarantee they're going to flip the switch back on January 1st.

I keep hearing about people from the game crafter getting their games published and I know this is going to sound like jealousy... probably because that's what it is. But Why can't I have a little good fortune? Don't get me wrong. I am genuinely happy for those who get published. But it does make feel a bit left out. I feel like I have some really good games... nearly everyone who plays them seem to agree. I guess I really don't know how to take the next step. I could really use some advice or even just a bit of encouragement.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Long time no see...

I know.. I get into these stretches where I don't update the blog for a long time. So here's a long overdue update on various things. I published Of Feast & Famine in The Game Crafter. The Game Crafter released a new product, rule books. I have upgraded Of Power & Glory, Of Pride & Policy and Of Feast & Famine to use these. This drives up the cost even more, but since nobody's buying the games anyway, they might as well not buy the best game I can make! The rule books are actually not bad... a big improvement over the documents. Now if only TGC would upgrade their boxes, the games would actually be pretty close to true pro quality.... to expensive still, but that's a whole other issue. I have another game that I will likely publish soon called Scarborough Fair. I'm getting another copy soon... likely today. So I'll take some pictures of it and publish it. It's a much simpler game than the others, but still too pricey to sell much. I'm also going to have put a hold on any more games for the time being. It's just become too much of a financial burden. If / when I can start making a little money off the games I already have, I may start up again. I'm not looking to get rich, but it would nice to at least break even! Or course, I won't turn down being rich either! I sent off Of Pride & Policy to be reviewed by the Dice Tower... a long time ago, I had sent it off the The Gamer's Table and I wanted to wait until that review came back before I sent it off to someone else, but they had gone a few months without updating their website (some people!) that I started to wonder if they were still "in business" so to speak. As it turns out, soon after, they chimed in again, so I guess I'll get both reviews at some point. This is way too short a blog for as long an absence as I've had, but nonetheless, I think that's all I have right now!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Web site update and other thoughts

I've decided to change the website a bit.  Previously I had a site hosted on a sever that I was paying for that was running php.  The original thought was that I could build a dynamic website that automatically updated when ever I made changes to games on The Game Crafter.  And it sort 1/2 worked, but ultimately I decide it wasn't worth the effort...  By the way, the hosting is about to expire which kind of forced the issue.  So now the site is running completely off of blogger.  I lose the dynamic updates when I change games on Game Crafter, but that's a two sided coin it turns out.  It wasn't easy to format text so that it works correct on both sites.

Changing subject...
I've decided to make some changes to Of Feast & Famine.  I'm simplifying the mechanic for driving the wars and plagues.  I think is was an innovative mechanic, but not appropriate for this game... maybe I can use it in some other game.  The main problem was that it took too long for things to get interesting.

Plagues will get much simpler.  Each plague card causes a plague.  I thought about driving the intensity of the plague off the population; higher population means more plague.  This makes thematic sense, but I don't know yet if it makes the game better so I'll have to try it both ways.

For the wars, I'm still going to have a tracker, but instead of cubes bubbling up like they did in the past they simply move up (or down) in a more straight forward manor.  Each card bumps the cube up if you refuse the tribute or down if you pay it.  As the cube moves up the attacks get stronger.  Defending an attack is also simpler now:  each worker (and minister) cancels one die.  I'm also considering bringing the black rings back.  Another thing that I keep flip flopping on is weather the tributes should be reoccurring or not.

One partially related concern I have is that there's too much in the game.  I feel like there not enough time in the game to educate workers.  A thought just occurred to me.  What if I got rid of the rings and made the colors of the workers relevant.  A green worker is better at agriculture, while a blue worker is better at medicine.  Interesting simplification, but it has a large impact of the game.  Education goes out the window and what are the red workers?  There isn't a red ring.  The red minister is all about religion, so maybe there's a thematic area, but what does that translate to in the game?  Or maybe I exchange colors....  lots to think about.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Of Feast & Famine Rules

I don't have much of an update, but since I haven't posed in while I thought I should post something!  I have complete the first draft of the rules for Of Feast & Famine.  There will doubtlessly be changes in the future.  I have made a few rules changes since the last time it was played.
  • Building the Castle is now the last step in the season... previously it was before paying Tribute.  The last time I playtested the game, we could simply accept all the tributes on the last round because we knew we were going to win before paying Tribute for the season.  That felt like cheating, so I changed the order.
  • I've decided to not allow Tribute to be refused once it has been accepted.  So if you accept it...  you've accepted it for the whole game.  This does a couple of things.  It makes paying tribute a bigger deal and therefore increasing the likelyhood that you fight....  which is what I want.  It also gets rid of at least one  "loophole."  If the Player with the Combat Specialty happened to be Chancellor, then the players could all "pay tribute" only to have it refused by the Chancellor (Combat Specialist) later.  That too felt like cheating.
  • I decided to change Poverty to be like the other dice rolling events in that ALL workers matching the die color go into poverty instead of one chosen by the player.  This is done for consistency and to just make the game a bit harder.
While I have made the change yet, I'm thinking about changing the Specialties a bit more.  Currently there doesn't seem to be enough reason to give an Event card to player as opposed to another.  I think I like the current abilities, but I want to add to some of them.  Also, some Specialties seem stronger than others so I may need to balance that out a bit.  Some ideas I had are:
  • Giving the Religion player the ability to re-roll the die when Poverty comes up.
  • Giving the Medicine player the ability to re-roll the die when Plague comes up.
  • Adding a set of modifers to each Specialty for Gold, Stone and Food (medicine, at least right now doesn't apply).  These modifiers concern how much resource is lost during for the Famine, Repairs and Feast cards.  In fact, maybe I take all the numbers off the event cards and only use the number on the Specialty Cards.  There could be multiple instances on a resource icon on a card that indicates that you subtract a particular resource more than once.  Hmmm... I like.
That's it for now.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

An extension of a couple of previous game ideas

A few days ago I posted a blog about a game idea that was sort of a variation on the game Scotland Yard.  And a few months ago I posted a blog talking about how cool it would be to have a game that had a really big turning point where the game completely changed.  Well, yesterday, while hiking for 5 miles through Kennesaw Mountain park, I came up with an idea that sort of combined those two ideas into one.  It's still, at best, a half baked idea, but here it is.

Suppose every player was on sort of a treasure hunt...  I don't know what the treasure is, but there's on one on them in the game.  There may be many minor treasures that help you out in some way or another, but there's one big treasure that every one is looking for.  The board needs to mostly contain lots of places to look, possibly with various terrains that the minor treasures could help you to navigate easier.  Once someone finds the big treasure, the game completely changes (here's one of the ideas mentioned above).  The game then runs into an asymmetric game where the one player who found the treasure is up against all the other players...  those other players represent a team that wins or loses together.  They are trying to catch the player that found the treasure before he can get to some particular location....  the location he has to get to needs to be far from where the treasure is found...  I'm sure some mechanic can be used to ensure that.  The treasure that is found gives the player that found it some sort of special power (there's a bit of a supernatural theme going on here I guess).  That power allows him to move more freely than the other players (see my previous post for more details of what I'm thinking.)  Of course, it could be a magic ring that makes him invisible, but that may be to Scotland Yard like (or Lord of the Rings like). 

The second phase of the game (i.e. after a player finds the treasure) needs to be balanced so that the single player has an advantage...  otherwise, why would players be hunting for it in the first phase of the game.  But it shouldn't be an overwhelming advantage.  I'm thinking, ideally, the single player should win 60% of the time.  There are some other concerns too.  When searing for a treasure, how do you keep someone from finding it on the first turn?  Or do you just embrace that?  perhaps finding the treasure early means that players haven't found many minor treasures that improve transportation, thus making the second phase of the game longer.  Or maybe it's not just a single treasure, but a few treasures that, when obtained by a single player, has the game changing effect.  Of course if you do that, there's the potential for deadlock....  I have part A, you have part B and no one will give up one part to the other player.  You can minimize that by having multiple copies of part A and B, but you can't eliminate the deadlock unless you do something like this:  have at least as many copies of the parts as there are players and then not allow a player to take more than one copy of a part.  So maybe that's what I'll do.

Oh well, that's it for today!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Of Feast & Famine update and other thoughts

I've been working on creating a rules document for Of Feast & Famine.  I don't think the rules have completely settled down, but I do think they're at the point where having them written down is a good thing.  The recent changes to the Specialties is an improvement, but I'm not sure I'm happy with them yet.  They "work" but they're not terribly exciting.  There doesn't seem to be enough of a reason to assign a particular event to one player or another.

*change of subject*

I've started wondering if I'm using the right strategy with trying to sell Of Power & Glory to publishers.  So far, I've submitted it to 1 publisher and no one else.  That's because I had heard that publishers don't want to look at games being considered by other publishers.  But recently I've heard some things (almost said in passing) that made me wonder if that's really true.  Or maybe it comes down to what "Considering" really means.  I wish I had someone that I could ask about it.  Perhaps I'm just getting impatient.  I think I just want an answer from the publisher I submitted it to... even if it's a "no".  But if it is a "no", I hope I get some feedback that I can use when I try the next publisher (or the next game to the same publisher!).

*change of subject*

I started thinking about a game I played a long time ago that I liked called Scotland Yard.  The cool thing about that game is that is was "asymmetrical" meaning that it was one player vs. the rest of the players.  The one player by himself was a criminal trying to escape the police (the other players) in London.   The board was basically a map of London with tons of distinct locations on it with paths to near by locations.  There were different types of transportation that the criminal could use: walking, bus, taxi, subway, ferry (I think....  it's been a long time).  But the big advantage that the criminal has is that he doesn't have a pawn on the board (or at least, not always).  So the police have to figure out where he is using information about what types of transportation he has used.

Anyway, I started to think about a twist on this concept.  I loved the idea of an asymmetric game, but I thought I could change the advantage of the single player to become some other game.....  I'm not at all tied to the police chasing a criminal theme, but that's where I'm starting.  If it ends up being a game about duck hunting on Mars so be it! Nonetheless, I don't have another theme yet, so I'll stick with criminal theme for this post.

What if instead of being hidden, the one player was allowed to move and take actions at will, but the other players had to plan in advance.  In other words, what if the other players had decide a turn in advance (or 2 or 3 turns in advance) what they were going to do.  Could be be kind of cool!  I can imagine some wonderful frustration of being right next the bad guy and knowing you're about to move the wrong way.  And this kind of restriction might make some thematic sense.  Big groups (represented by the many players) often are slower to move and must plan further in advance.  While a single person can just do what they want.

That's it for today!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Of Power & Glory Playtesting

I posted the following to a Secrets Factory meetup discussion. But I thought I would copy it here:

First, I want to thank everyone who helped me play test Of Power & Glory this weekend.  You are all a great help. 

So after having a little time to reflect on some of the feedback I've made a few decisions on the game and I wanted to run them by people to see what they think.  I really liked the rule change we played with the second time around... the one where territory cards that don't result in an actual battle just get removed.  So I want to make that change.  It also more elegantly solves the problem that the silly the-king-takes-a-ring-from-a-player rule was trying to address, so I want to remove that rule.  Rodger indirectly suggested something to me that makes me want another rule change:  He kept trying to change turn order as an action instead of favor.  I think that's actually a good idea.  So I want to make that change.  That leaves 4 favors and all of them are about the king.  Floyd had mentioned that the turn order favor wasn't really about the King and until he said that, I didn't really consider it thematically...  but you were absolutely right!  So it shouldn't be a favor, it should be an action.

Floyd as recommended using cubes for the map and rings for the titles.  I'm willing to give that a shot, but I'm not compelled right now to make that change.  Yesterday, while reflecting on the playtesting, I rediscovered why I wanted those two things to be linked in the first place.  Of course my  silly the-king-takes-a-ring-from-a-player rule (which may go down as one of the worst things I did to my game), destroyed the effect.  So here's the reasoning:
If one King, say the red king, starts to get powerful, players will start to take more red rings.  That effectively limits the amount that the red King can expand and makes that other kings more attractive comparatively.  My thinking is that that will tend to even out the power of the kings and make it less possible for one player to control the whole game. 

I did, however, start thinking about the number of rings.  If you think about it a bit, the fewer rings you have, the greater the effect described above.  And after a little math, I decided I want to add two more rings per king.  That's enough to (almost) cover the board and allow all 20 possible nobles to max out their rings.  Of course, some kings will die reducing the number of rings, but on the other hand, not all 20 nobles will be used and not all that are used will max out their rings.

I've also decided to make the conditions on the King cards easier.  I don't want them to be just as good as taking a glory favor, but they should be within the realm of being possible.  Here's what I'm thinking for them: 

  • Have at least 1 territory
  • Have at least 3 territories
  • Have at least 5 territories
  • Have move power than at least 1 other king (including defeated kings)
  • Have move power than at least 2 other kings (including defeated kings)
  • Have move power than at least 3 other kings (including defeated kings)
I would love to hear what other people think about this.  Thanks!

Friday, August 10, 2012

(Very) Quick Game Idea

I don't have long to post today, so I'll just give a brief description of a half baked....  make that a quarter baked game idea I had.  I actually thought about t while watching some horrible reality show called moonshiners.. about moonshiners.  So I can't currently think of the game with other theme than that (even though I'm not super thrilled with that theme).

Ok, so it's a card game for three or four players.  One player is the moonshiner, one player is the bootlegger (they work together).  The other one or two players is/are cops.  The cops are trying to bust the other two players.  The bootlegger has to come and pick up a delivery, but the moonshiner needs to make sure it really is the bootlegger and not a random car or worse yet, the cops in a sting operation.

The cards have various cars on them.  The bootlegger draws some number of them...  lets say 6.  He then displays them face up on the table however he wants.  Something about how he displays the cards is supposed to indicate to the moonshiner which car is the correct one.  Maybe one is upside down (that's an example, but far to simple to be realistic).  The moonshiner and bootlegger can discuss the signal before game play begins, but not during.  Of course, the cops can see everything the other players are doing to.  The bootlegger then lays down six of his special cards next to the six cars...  one of those cards is an arrow saying... this car!!!  The cops do the same thing.  Then the moonshiner picks a car to put the moonshine in.  If he picks the cops car, the cops "win" if he picks the bootleggers car the criminals "win".   Cops win if it's the same car...  something (or perhaps nothing) happens if he picks a car that no one chose.

That's about it...  there's a lot to work out, but it's an interesting mechanic....  information passing.  I'm not familiar with any other game that does that... at least not as a primary mechanic.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A few random updates

I came up with an idea for a party game...  actually I had the idea a long time ago, but I started actually working on it a little.  For some strange reason I don't think I want to explain it here... at least not yet.  It feels kind of crazy, because no one is reading this and even if they were, who would still the idea.  And If they did, why am I protective over this one and not the other game which I actually have more pride in?  I think it's because this game is SO simple that it wouldn't take any effort at all to steal it....  but for all I know, it's been thought of before.  Or it could be one of those "Why didn't think of that?" things...  except I actually did think of it!  :)

But here's what I can say:  It's called doppelganger and it consists of nothing but cards.  I also challenged myself (and I think I've succeeded) in making it so simple that I could write the rules on the box... a tuck box.  Seriously... the rules are something like, 6 sentences (I don't have them in front of me right now, so don't kill me later if it turns out to be 7 or 8).   This is, of course, a huge change for me.   While the game itself is very simple, the cards will take some work.  Each card (or nearly each card) requires it's own artwork.  That's a pretty common thing, but I've managed to largely avoid that.  I'll just be using clip art and/or stock photos, but it will still take a while.

In other news:  I ordered a new copy of Of Feast & Famine a few days ago and was a bit stressed out when I saw I was 180 or so in the queue for The Game Crafter.  I don't think I've never seen it that high.  I was a little stressed because I wanted it for this weekend.  Then I saw on TGC news that their cutter went down and I decided that I had no chance of getting my game in time.  But yesterday, it actually shipped!  I'm supposed to get it tomorrow...  even if it's off by a day (which it ofter is) or even two days, I should have it in time. 

But, the event that I wanted it for (game designers meeting for the Secrets Factory) got changed a bit.  As of this morning I was the only RSVP other than the guy who runs it.  So he decided to move it to a board gaming convention at Georgia Tech that happens to be happening on the same day (which, perhaps, is why no one else RSVPed).  That could be cool, but It's a lot harder to get playtesters at something like that.  Most people seem to want to play finished games.  I guess we'll see how it goes.

I also ordered a copy of Scarborough Fair.  Not much more news there except that (like usual), it wasn't 3 hours after ordering a copy that I made a change...  that happened on Of Feast and Famine too  except that was just a very minor cosmetic change.

That's about all!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Scarborough Fair

So I started thinking about a game that I had put on the back burner a long time ago.  I you read back far enough in the blog, you'll remember that I had an idea a while back for a game called Scarborough Fair that I bastardized and turned into a game called ATL for a Game Crafter contest.  It didn't win so I unpublished it to hide it's shame from the world. 

Ok, really, I just didn't like the airline theme and I started thinking about taking it back to it's original theme.  But when I started thinking about it recently, it changed a bit and I got more excited about it.  So I'll explain what I'm thinking now.

It's an economic game, so you win by having the most gold at the end of the game.  There are 4 resources: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme.  Part of the board allows each player to set a price that wish to sell each resource at...  the game starts with everyone selling everything for 3 gold each.  The rest of the board shows the actual fair. 

The fair has a few elements that I should explain:  There are 7 attraction areas with paths that connect each one to other attraction areas.  Schematically there's one attraction area in the center with the other six connected to it and their two closest neighbors.  However, I plan on drawing it much less regular than that.  Along the paths are tents where the players will have a chance to sell their goods.  There are varying numbers of tents on the paths.  Right now I'm thinking that 2 paths will have 1 tent, 2 paths will have 2 tents and so on up to 6 tents (there are 12 paths in total). 

There are 6 attraction tokens.  Each one has a different attraction on either side.  There are 3 types of attractions: Food, Music and Juggling. One side of each token has a food icon and on the other side, 4 of the tokens have music and the other two have a juggler.  The game starts with 3 food, 2 music and 1 juggler showing randomly placed on 6 of the 7 attraction areas.  On the left over attraction area in a pawn that represents a customer (similar to the passenger from a game call on the underground; the game that inspired this one not to mention Of Power & Glory).

There's a deck of cards.  Each card describes the desires of the customer.  It lists an amount and a resource (this is how much of what resource the customer wants to buy) and an attraction.  One card is used to control the customer each turn, but I'm thinking you actually get to see a few cards so you can see what he'll do next turn.

On your turn, you take one of three types of actions then the customer moves (likely resulting in goods being sold).  But first, the actions:

Changing the market:  you can modify each of the 4 prices that you charge for Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme by moving a marker up or down by 1 or leaving it where it is.

Buying resources:  You can buy as much of any one resource type you can afford and is available.  Each one costs 2 gold.

Hiring / Moving a worker:  You can place one new (or move one exiting) worker to any unoccupied tent.

Then the customer moves.  Here's how that works:
The customer will move from his current location to the closest attraction area with the type of attraction on his card.  If there's a tie (and there often will be), the player decides which one to go to.  You must always take one of the shortest paths possible (in terms of number of paths).  Note that you can get from any attraction area to any other in no more than two steps. 

Along the way, the customer will try to buy goods considering any player that has manned a tent on his path (or paths).  He will always buy the cheapest goods available.  However, if a player doesn't have enough to fulfill his order, he will get the remainder from other players if possible.  Ties on price are broken by choosing the tent that he encounters first along his way. 

Once he reaches the attraction area, the token from that area is removed and moved to the area that was just vacated by the customer.  And, the token will (usually) be flipped over to reveal that other attraction.  The only time you don't flip the attraction token is when by doing so you remove the last of a particular type of attraction.  E.g. if you you just went to the only juggler on the board, you place it on the vacant spot with the juggler still showing.

That's pretty much it.  A lot simpler than most of my games.  I do have one concern (a fairly big one)...  I'm worried about a run away leader issue.  After a good play test or two, I'll see if it's an issue and if so I may to add something to control that.  I've tried to think of something, but so far I haven't come up with anything I like.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Of Feast & Famine - New Thoughts

The simulation continues to suck.  But I've thought of some new ideas for the game....  I'm sure if the simulation helped with that or not.  Nonetheless, since I have new ideas for the game and I haven't yet gotten the simulation to work with the previous rules (much less the ones I just came up with).  I may have to abandon the simulation... at least for a while.

So here are the new ideas:
I'm going to give each player a pawn...  a different style pawn from the workers.  There are Eight specialties and Eight available colors from The Game Crafter, so that works out nicely.  Here's the color mappings: 
  • Agriculture - Green
  • Architecture - White
  • Combat - Black
  • Medicine - Blue
  • Diplomacy - Purple
  • Finance - Yellow
  • Religion - Red
  • Education (replaces the old specialty Planning) - Orange
Now when a player takes an action, they will place their pawn on the board.  There will be two new spots added to the board as well:  one for a school and one for a market. 

The school is really just giving a name to a game concept that was already in the game.  When ever you add new workers they had to wait a few seasons, but I didn't really explain why (because I didn't know yet!) .  But now I know;  They're at school learning the basics required to work.  Brand new workers take 4 seasons to teach.  Another subtle change here...  all workers have an implied ring for each discipline.  To add additional rings, you have to go back to school.  2 season to add the first ring.  3 seasons to add a second ring of the same type as the first ring.  Workers can no longer have a third ring (because there are implied ones for every worker).  I'll include fewer rings in the game too...  6 each instead of 9 each. 

The market is the way to make money.  Previously there was an awkward "add gold" action that didn't involve workers or a place on the board where it happened.  The market is that place now. You can place your pawn there and bring as many workers as you like and you earn one gold per pawn/worker.  I just had a thought right now, as I was typing.  Maybe there should be a 5th discipline for finance (yellow).  And your pawn counts as one too.  And another thought...  maybe your pawn always counts as one worker.  I'm not sure if it works in the barracks especially since orange and purple don't show up on the dice.  Anyway...  there are some things to think about there.

Many of the specialties have changed too (in fact some may have just changed in the last few minutes!).
  • Agriculture -Counts as 3 rings on the farm
  • Architecture -Counts as 3 rings on the castle
  • Combat - Can re-roll one die.
  • Medicine - Counts as 3 rings on the Hospital
  • Diplomacy - Can exchange a Tribute card for another one from the deck.  This is similar to the old planning specialty (that was too powerful), except that it's limited to Tribute cards and it now eats up a player action to do.
  • Finance - Counts as 3 rings on the market.
  • Religion - Can use workers in Poverty to generate gold...  this doesn't remove them from poverty; one gold per worker (yellow rings don't matter).  This is like a less powerful market except that you don't have to remove them from poverty which costs gold.
  • Education - Can teach workers in 1 fewer seasons than normal.
I think that may be it.  At any rate, I'm almost out of lunch break, so I'll have to end here anyway!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Of Feast & Famine simulation and other updates

The simulation for Of Feast & Famine continues....  right now I've simulated nearly aspect of the game with the exception of the Specialty cards (which I'm working on now).  But I'm bugged because the simulation only seems to end in a win about 1/3 of the time.  And yet in play testing it's been too easy.  Like I said before, I haven't simulated the Specialty cards yet which should make the game easier, but I would be surprised if it made it easier enough to account for the difference. 

I guess I just don't have confidence that my simulation is valid.  I feel like there must be a big bug somewhere (and there probably is).  But now I'm starting to wonder if I'll ever feel confident in it....  even if the end results start looking right, it doesn't mean that I got there in the same way. 

We'll see...  I'm not giving up on it yet, but I am a bit discouraged with it right now.

In other news, I was asked to do an interview for The Game Crafter a couple of weeks ago and the interview just went up today.  You can see it here:

Note the misspelling of my name in the link.. if that gets "fixed" you can go here  and scan the news until you find it.  Though if it's much later than 7-27-2012, you'll have to scan for a long time!

That's it for today!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Another game idea

Here's an idea that's pretty different from my normal kind of game.. which is to say, simple!  :)

 It's a game for 4 players: 2 teams of two actually.  The partners sit next to each other.  The board is pretty simple, there are 5 regions and each region has 3 parts to it: a part close to one team, a part close to the other team and a part in no-mans land.  Perhaps it's simple enough for some ASCII art:

Team A
|  |  |  |  |  |
|  |  |  |  |  |
|  |  |  |  |  |
|  |  |  |  |  |
|  |  |  |  |  |
Team B

Like that, except probably at a 45 degree angle.  There are 5 markers that start in the middle row of the board... except they aren't ordinary markers, they're sand timers.  The game starts with them exhausted.  Each team has a deck of cards and each player gets some number (we'll say 7)   cards from their deck.  The game is played simultaneously... no turns.  So when it starts (perhaps one of the sand timers could signify the start) everyone just starts playing.  You want to make sets of 3 cards.  You can draw new cards from the team deck and discard them to the team discard pile... or pull them from the team discard pile (which is how cards can be traded between teammates).  When you get a set, you discard them to a special discard pile and move one of the sand timers.  When you move a sand timer you move it into your opponents space and flip it upside down (so it starts ticking so to speak).  Once a sand timer is moved out of the center, it never goes back, it just alternates sides.  If the sand timer ever runs out, it's locked where it is...  you want that to happen on you opponents side.  Think of the sand timer as a time bomb...  you want it to explode near your opponent.  As soon as 3 bombs have exploded on a particular team's side the game (or perhaps round) is over.  Talking between partners is completely fine.  I haven't decided yet, but maybe the sets are typed and correspond to the particular sand timers and if that's the case, then maybe the cards are not equally distributed so that some kinds of sets are easier to make than others (or maybe not).  I would probably put a thin theme on it...  the time bomb metaphor is nice so I may run with that.  That's it!


Monday, July 23, 2012

Of Feast & Famine Simulation and other Updates

I just wanted to give a quick update on the simulation for Of Feast & Famine.  I have written the first version of it, but I not yet convinced it's all correct.  I've only run one game at a time so far... and in total it's probably been something like 40-50 runs.  So far, every game has been a loss... so clearly this doesn't yet represent a realistic simulation (at least not a realistic simulation of the game as I would like it to be).  Keep in mind that not every run is equal.  I've been finding bugs in the simulation so the earlier runs are less representative of the state of the game than the last ones. 

Right now, the hard part is determining how much of the results are due to more bugs and how much is due to the weak player AI.  As I said in the previous post, every player decision (or nearly every one) has an interface and an implementation (later it will be multiple implementations).  Most of the implementations are very simple.  The hardest one is one I call the "ActionStrategy."  It basically decides what action a player takes.  This turns out to be tricky. :)  From a game design standpoint, that's good!  But it does make the simulation kind of hard.  I might end up breaking that Strategy into smaller parts.

In other news...
I failed to mention this earlier, so I'll bring you up to date now.  I had a crazy idea a couple of weeks ago...  It was one of those ideas that starts out being no more than a joke in your head  until you keep thinking about it and then reach a point of saying... "You know, why not?!"  I was reading the blog of Patrick Rothfuss (Author of a couple of really great Fantasy Novels: The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man's Fear and if you're not familiar with them I highly recommend them) when I saw a reference to board gaming.  And I thought that maybe I had seen another reference to board gaming in his blog a while back.  I actually did a search to validate that he is, in fact, a board gamer.  So I thought, "Hey, why don't I send him a copy of my game?"  If you're asking what I expect to happen, all I can say is that he is a fantasy author with a big following and a like (or maybe love) of board games...  if he were to like my game "something" good may come of it.  What's that something?  I have no idea, but it couldn't hurt!

Anyway, so I wrote him an email...  correction an embarrassingly star-struck email.  I basically asked him if he would like a copy.  And he wrote back and said yes!  So I ordered a copy.  I'm guessing he'll get it in a few days.  It may not result in anything real, but it's kind cool anyway knowing someone famous has a copy of my game.

I'll let you know if something comes of it.  Later!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Of Feast & Famine simulation

I've decided to try something that I've never tried before with a game (at least not with a whole game).  I'm going to write a computer simulation of it.  The goal is to use the simulation to help balance the game.  I'm not sure how far I'll take it, but the farther the better. 

Disclaimer:  For the rest of this post, I'll be writing as if you understand Java (the language I'm writing it in).   That may be Greek to some people so I apologize in advance! 

Here's the basic idea:
Every time there is a player decision to be made I'm going to introduce an interface to represent a strategy to be taken in that situation.  (E.g. AssignWorkerSkillsStrategy).  Then I'm going to try to come up with a fair number of reasonable implementations of each Strategy.  (E.g. GeneralistAssignWorkerSkillsStrategy or SpecialistAssignWorkerSkillsStrategy).  Then I'll have a class called Player that is returns a particular implementation for each strategy.  Somehow I'll create players with different strategies.  I'm not sure if I'll make an exhaustive collection of every permutation of strategy or just make Players randomly...  it will probably depend heavily on how many permutations that would be.  Regardless, I'll then assign a Players to a game and run the simulation keeping track of if they won or lost (and if they lost how) as well as the strategies used.  Do that many thousands of times and I can get an idea about the difficulty of the game as a whole and which strategies seem to work best. 

I can then tweak the game rules so that the game is the right level of difficulty (actually I'll probably want a way to have several difficulty levels).  Real players are going to better than the simulated ones, so I want to lean on the difficult side.
I also want to make sure that there isn't one strategy that is clearly better than the rest.  Foolish strategies should, of course, fail.  But It would be nice to have more than one way to attack a problem.

Well...  that's the plan at least.  I started working on it a couple of days, but it will take a while before it's runnable.  We'll have to see how successful this is.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Of Feast & Famine - post play test

I play-tested Of Feast and Famine this weekend.  The game went ok...  it didn't fundamentally break.  But the game did seem to take too long and it was too easy.  So, I've decided to make some changes.  And since I just sent en email to one of my play-testers about those changes, I thought I would be lazy and cut and paste the email here too.  :)

Here it is:
I've been thinking about a few changes. 

  • I think the Planning specialty is too powerful...  being able to discard a plague card (which I'm starting to feel is the worst card) every round is just too much.  I don't have a way to tone it down just yet, so I might just end up tossing it.
  • I'm considering staring the game with hostilities from the other kings not at zero... the might help fast forward a bit to the exciting part (and make the game harder)
  • I've adjusted the costs on many cards (small increases to costs everywhere).  In particular, the Tributes for other kings has gone up and is variable.  That will hopefully lead to more battles.  As an interesting side note.  Earlier in the design, I had an "Ah ha!" moment when I decided to embrace death.  I didn't originally have the ability to add workers...  you started with 12 and you just tried to hold on as many as possible. But that made many aspects of the game design really difficult....  losing a worker was a big deal and it was tough to know what kind of event was worthy of that fate.  So when I decided to embrace death and make it less of a deal, the design became easier.  But the game play this weekend, felt like the team hadn't yet embraced death.  Not that you should if you can avoid it of course, but the game didn't force it enough.
  • I've updated the board (and attached an image).  This is mostly a usability change, the "calendar" has been taken out of the middle of the board and placed around the edges.  There are little icons that let you know what you do next.  There is, however, one rule change embedded here as well.  The number of workers that you can add is now variable by season and generally lower. In autumn for example, you can't add any extra works (the icon also applies to workers in poverty, but I'm talking about new workers here)  Actually there's one other small rule change shown here.  There's a gold Celtic star icon which means pass the Chancellor token.  But there's an extra one between winter and spring with a 4 near it.  This means that in a 4 player game, you pass here as well.  This prevents players from being Chancellor on the same season every time.
  • I've also tweaked some of the specialty cards... as mentioned above, I still haven't decided what to do with planning yet.
  • I also decided I needed a mechanism to control the game difficulty. My working mechanic for this is to start the game with some of the castle already built for easier games.  I'm a little bugged that this also makes the game shorter, but perhaps that's not such a big deal.
  • As for getting workers to be more generalized (which leads to much more interesting decisions).  I've considered attacking that problem directly.  Charge 1 gold to add a second ring of a particular color.  Charging again (and perhaps more than 1 gold) to add the third ring.  Though I may hold off on this for now...  it would be better if the other changes accomplish this without an explicate rule.

I think that's it. 

Thanks for your help!

And here's the image I referred to :

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Of Feast & Famine - part 2

Before I move on to the events, I actually had a thought last night about some of the things I blogged about in part 1 of this blog.  Most of it actually affects the events, but some does spill over into things I said yesterday.  The main one concerns taxation.  I'm now thinking about changing taxation to be an event card instead of an action. 

Ok, on to the events (as indicated above, this is a very fluid game right now, so what I say here could change by the end of the day for all I know!):

There are (I think) 28 event cards and all but two are bad.  The good ones are:
Merchants - allows you to exchange 3 of any resource for 2 of another (as much as you like).
Taxation (brand new!) - Adds one gold for every worker not in poverty.

The bad ones (some have more than occurance in the deck):
Repairs - minus 2 gold and  minus 2 stone
Poverty - Roll a die and one worker matching that color (if there is one) goes into poverty.
Feast - minus 2 gold minus 2 food
Famine - minus 4 food
Plague - plague level increases by 1
King <X> Demands resource <Y> - You can either agree to pay the price (every season) or allow the hostility of that King to go up by one.   This is the main change that I referred to at the top.  I didn't have the pay a resource option...  I did have a concept of appeasement, but it was a bit different.  This one could be tricky to work out....  if I'm not careful it seems like it would either always make sense to appease or never make sense to appease.. neither of which make for a good game mechanic.  Ideally, it make since to appease sparingly... just to buy a little time.  But it would also be kind of cool to get sucked into appeasing too much...  cool for the game design, not for the players!

I should explain the raising of the plague and king hostility levels (it's the same mechanic). It's designed so that the game starts off relatively easy and gets progressively harder.  There are 4 spots to put a cube.  Each time you raise the level a new cube is added or an existing one is moved. 

Check out this diagram that I had in a blog once before, (it has changed slightly...  so I'll copy, paste and modify)  0 is an empty space, X is a space with a cube:

OOOO  - initial state
XOOO - After hostilities are raised once
OXOO - After hostilities are raised again
OOOX - After hostilities are raised 4 times - since it got the the top (right), the enemy attacks with a "power" of 1
XOOX - After hostilities are raised 5 times
OXOX - After hostilities are raised 6 times 
OOXX - After hostilities are raised 7 times - enemy attacks again with a "power" of 2
OXXX - After hostilities are raised 9 times - enemy attacks again with a "power" of 3
XXXX - After hostilities are raised 10 times - enemy attacks again with a "power" of 4

Attacking with a power of X - that means that you roll that many dice to determine the outcome of the event. 

For plagues, each die indicates workers that get sick (any worker of the same color as the die).  You must treat them with 5 medicine or let them die.  If they die, their rings are removed and they are taken off the board.  The pawn can be added back again, but it indicates a different worker.

For attacks from Kings, each die indicates an attack on a segment of the population.  You can defend against it by having workers in the corresponding barracks with black rings.  Each black ring cancels out the effect of one die matching the color of the worker that the ring is on.  For every die that isn't cancelled out, every worker of the matching color dies.

Ok.. that's it for now.  Later!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Of Feast & Famine - part 1

I just did a quick search for what my last comments were on Of Feast & Famine in the blog and they were from quite a while.  I said something like: The game didn't work.  Well, I think I'm out of that level of despair!  :)  It's far from being done, but I wouldn't say the game doesn't work anymore. 

I don't remember exactly how the game was played when I said that, so I'll just give an overview on the mechanics as they are now (with a few question marks thrown in as well).  Ok, from the top...

Of Feast & Famine is the third game in the Altero Series (E.g. Of Power & Glory and Of Pride & Policy).  Unlike the other two, it's a cooperative game.  Each player represents a minister for King Cheshire.  They are in charge of keeping the Kingdom running in spite of wars, plagues, poverty, feasts and famines.  The game board has a numbered track going around the outside... it goes from 0 to 50.  This is used to track the amount of 4 different resources: Gold, Food, Medicine and Stone.  The game is won if you build the castle.  The game is lost if you can't meet the needs for one of the resources or if the population drops to zero. 

There are 12 pawns which represent to workers (population).  They are color coded: 2 each of Black, White, Red, Yellow, Green and Blue.  The colors are arbitrary, but not unimportant.  You start the game with one worker of each color available (others will become available later).

There's a circle on the board (called the calendar) that indicates the current season.  The rest of the board is map of the kingdom with several locations that workers can go (usually to work).  The game is played in rounds and each round is a season.  At the start of each round, one player is the "lead minister" (I'm sure there's a word for that...  "Chandler" I think, but I'll find out for sure).  The lead role moves to the left each round.  The Lead minister takes one event card for each player, looks at them and assigns them to each player face down (including one for himself).  

Quick note:  This has the potential for being a really cool mechanic.  One of the issues I hear that people have with cooperative games is that one person tends to take over and tell people what to do.  This mechanic (at least partially) forces that power to be distributed among all the players.  Anyway, back to the rules.

Each player can look at their own event card, but it can be shown to everyone else until the start of their turn.  On your turn, you take one action and then resolve the event (almost all the events are bad by the way).  The actions that you an take usually involve taking some number of workers from town (that's where they start at the beginning of each round (well...  almost always)) and assigning them to a location on the map.  Workers are not all equal.  When you assign a worker to an area, you have the opportunity to give them a ring that corresponds to that work location.  Each worker can have up to 3 rings (they can all be the same, all different or whatever).  The actual work done in any location is a factor of the number of matching rings in a location... not the number of workers.  Thus two workers with 1 ring each is as good as one worker with 2 rings.  Their are a few actions which differ form this pattern a bit. 

Taxing:  You can tax the population to gain 5 gold and then one worker goes into poverty (placed on the Church).  Workers in poverty can not be used for any other purpose until they're freed.  Freeing workers (I need a good term for that) means moving some number of Workers from the Church to the Town (and paying 1 gold each). 

Raising funds:  You can also simply use your action to move the gold up by one.  This is kind of a "I don't have anything else to do" action.  I hope it's not needed much.  I don't mind if it happens 2 or 3 times a game, but if players are having to do this every round, that's an issue.

Adding Workers:  Remember how I said there were other workers that got added later... this is how.  But you don't just add the workers to town, you add them to the calendar 3 seasons in the future.... you've got to educated them!  You can add 1 or 2 workers to any one season.  When that season rolls around, they are added to town.

Ok, so those were the slightly exceptional actions, but I didn't really talk about the more normal ones.  There are 7 locations that you can add workers:  3 barracks, the quarry, the castle site, the hospital and the farm.  Note that here are only 4 types of rings:  Military (used at all 3 barracks), Masonry (used at the quarry and castle site), Medicine (used at the hospital), Agriculture (used at the farm).

Ok, I'm running out of time, so this will have to be a part 1 blog.  Next time, I'll need to talk about events...  that will probably eat up a whole blog and that might do it.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A Brief Update

I'm going to try to make a regular habit of blogging during my lunch break.  I won't promise that I'll do it every day, but I will hopefully be a lot more regular about it than I have been the last few months.  So here are some updates on games that I'm working on:

Of Power & Glory:
This is kind of old news now, but since I never got around to saying anything about it, here it is.  I had Of Power & Glory reviewed by The Chief of The Dice Tower.  A pretty good review if I say so myself!  He gave it an 8.  Here's the video:

Of Pride & Policy:
I published it on The Game Crafter a few weeks ago.  My last post went into a little detail about the changes so I won't go into them again here.  I've sent off a copy to The Gamer's Table for review.  I'll update the blog when the review in done.

Of Feast & Famine:
This is the third game in the series and the one that I'm actively working on now.  It's a cooperative game so that's a new twist for me.  I don't have time to go into all the details, but in a nutshell it's a kingdom management game.  What I'm shooting for is a game where all hell breaks loose from every direction and the players have to keep 20 balls in the air at the same time to win.  Losing should feel like death from 1,000 paper cuts.  It remains to be seen how well I achieve that goal.  I hope to playtest it this Saturday at the Secrets Factory game design meetup (I've join that meetup group since the last time I blogged).

The Wardenclyffe Effect:
The Game Crafter announced another game contest and I'll give it another shot.  The strategy I'm taking is this:  Have a simple game with few parts so you can have a nice box and game board and stay under the $19.99 limit.  The contest theme is a Steampunk dice game.  My game uses a die, but I'm not sure I would call it a dice game....  that may hurt me in the contest.  But the rules of the contest clearly state that dice rolling need not be the primary mechanic.  I tried to stay with the spirit of contest (simple games).  The game is a fairly simple abstract game that I'm stretching a thin "Fictional Tesla Device" theme over.  The artwork is ok so far...  I've never tried to do Steampunk before, so it's a new artistic area for me.  I may end up tweaking the artwork more by the time the contest ends (August 1st).  Right now, I'm just working on the rule.  It's a two player game, so hopefully I can playtest it with my wife.

Treasures of Seraph Isle:
This is a semi-deduction based game that I've currently put on the back burner.  I playtested it once about a month ago and came away with some ideas for changes, but other games have kind of pushed it to the side for now.  I may get back to it at some point.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Of Pride & Policy

First I need to explain the long absence...
I had a job change a few weeks ago and that significantly changed my day to day routine.  That pretty much did in my blogging for a while.  Then, two days ago, i was asked to do an interview for The Game Crafter and in it I referenced the blog so I thought...  I guess I better pick that up again!

Now on to Of Pride & Policy.  We last I wrote about it, the game was called "Quitavox" and it had an ancient roman theme.  I decided to pull it into the Altero Series of games (e.g. Of Power & Glory)  and with that came a name change and a re-setting to the Iberia.  Historically speaking, Spain and Portugal don't make the most sense...  I know that!  But it is an alternate Europe, so I don't feel too bad about that.  The nice thing about Iberia is that it's relatively square... that made the layout easier.  I published it on The Game Crafter on June 21st and have sent off a copy to The Gamer's Table for a review.

As far as actual changes to game play are concerned, thee were many.  It's funny how when I placed it next to of Power & Glory how some of the game play seemed to morph that way too.  The biggest  change is that the players are doing the voting anymore... it's the territories.  It's been so long, that I can't remember all of the changes, though I know they were many.

I'll try to keep up my blogging better,,, then I won't loose all the details.  That's kind of the point isn't it?!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

I've been slacking off...

I haven't updated the blog in far too long.  Sorry about that....  so, let's see, where to begin?

I've decided that I'm going to make a series of games called the Altero Series.  Altero is more or less short for "Alternate Europe".  Of Power & Glory is the first game in that series.  Political Agenda (a.k.a. Quitavox) is now called Of Policy & Persuasion and it's game 2 in the series.  It now takes place in Iberia.  Game 3 is Of Feast & Famine.  Game 4 is Of Intrigue & Entitlement.  And Game 5 is called Of Crown & Counsel.  At least that's my plan for now!  Perhaps I'll have some blogs on each of these games in the future... some of them I have already blogged about and some are new.

All of the games take place in the same universe with the same "characters" if you can call the Kings from Of Power & Glory characters.  My hope is that I can publish all of them on TGC by the end of the year...  we'll see!

Of Power & Glory:
I ordered 2 copies of Version 1.2 of Of Power & Glory.  After seeing that the board was printed incorrectly in my review from the Gamer's Table, I asked specifically for them to double check to make sure the boards were printed correctly.  One of them wasn't.  I complained and they said that they would fix the problem...  not just my person issue, but the problem in general.  I've been very happy with The Game Crafter...  this problem which happened at least 3 times is the one exception.  But I think they're taking the problem seriously and I'm sure they'll fix it.

I've also requested a review of OPAG version 1.2 from the Dice Tower.  That was only minutes ago, so no update on that just yet!  I've also submitted it to a publisher.  I guess I can mention the name:  Z-Man games.  That was about 3 weeks ago.  I haven't heard anything from them yet.  I got the impression from their website that they have a huge backlog, so I'm not worried yet.

Of Policy & Persuasion:
I playtested the game yesterday and the game broke.  Well... "broke" is too much.   It was found to be too hard to understand what the state of the game was.  And I understand the complaint.  You have to look at 9 different pawns, each with as many as 3 rings on them to figure out who cares about what issue.  So I went back to the drawing board and I think I have a new design that addresses those issues.  Here's the new design changes:
One of my playtesters suggested using poker chips in front of each player to indicate their issues of concern.  Simply adding more poker chips for that purpose was cost prohibitive (and more fidgety). So I thought "what If I used the same tokens that were in bill?  They're not used for anything else after the bill is voted on."  So that's the biggest change.  Now your score is based on the chips from the bills as they are passed instead of the rings.  So how do you distribute those chips?  I'm currently thinking this:
When a bill is passed, every player that controls a territory in the area that voted for the bill gets the spoils.  Each such player takes one token at a time (starting with the current player and passing left) until all chips are gone. 

I wanted to keep the rings in the game, but I needed a way to have your campaigning correlate with how you're voting.  I had to flip around the correlation to make it work, and when I did, I was happily surprise at how much thematic sense it made.  Now, in order to campaign, you must have collected a chip of that color first.  Which makes sense, you have to campaign on something!  More generally, If you're going to add the Nth ring of a particular color to a pawn you must have at least N chips of that color.

I've also simplified how the rings work.  Now, simply being in a territory does not affect how that territory will vote.  There is an additional step of putting your pawn on the issue marker to "capture" the vote there.  Of course you can't do that if someone else has already captured it...  that is, unless you have more rings of the appropriate color than the current "owner."  This is a similar to how the rings are used in OPAG.  Also, your are not allowed to enter a territory if you have an opposing ring (once again, similar to the archrivals in OPAG).
The net result is that you're breaking the complicated voting process in the previous version into smaller chunks that are easier to swallow.  First you have to capture a territory (chunk one) then you control the vote when it come time to vote on a bill (chunk too).  Actually, it's a lot like extracting a class from an overly complicated one (to use a software development metaphor).

Other changes:  I've decided to let each player have 4 pawns instead of 3. And I'm considering adding all rings back into the game when playing with less than 5 players.  I'm also not sure about the guilds...  I may just get rid of them.  But if I do use them, I came up with another way to use them, you could use them to capture a territory from an opponent even if you didn't have the rings to accomplish it otherwise.  The Thief's guild would make sense in that case.

New game ideas:
I had an interesting idea for a game.  In general, the idea was to have two games going on at the same time on the same board with the same resources.  Players would be in two groups, A and B.  Players in group A are only competing again other group A players (and similarly for group B).  The ideas is that the players in the opposite group would affect the game in interesting ways that are not purely antagonistic to you...  it also opens up the possibility of genuine agreements between players where both parties can win... literally!  There would be two winners to each game.

Specifically, I was thinking about a game where there were producers of resources and transporters of resources.  I imagine a hex map where the producers place factories and workers on the hexes and the transporters place rails along the edges. 

I may come up with a prototype and see how it plays.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Latest Of Power & Glory News

I've been slacking off on the blogs, but here's a quick update.

I decided to take part of an expansion that I had had in mind for Of Power & Glory and put it into the main game with a small tweak.  The idea was to soften the blow a bit when you have gone into the court of a king and then that king no longer goes to war.  In that case you now have an opportunity to take a card for that king that gives you a condition.  If that condition is met for that king at the end of the game, the card is worth 1 victory point.  I think this provides a catch up mechanism that the reviewers felt was missing.

I have submitted the game to a publisher for review....  I tell more if/when there's more to tell!!!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Of Power & Glory Reviewed

Of Power & Glory was reviewed yesterday....  The review was generally good; they even recommended that I tried to get it published by a major publisher which is exciting.  But they did have one major complaint.  And that is that it's too difficult to come from behind to win.  So I've been thinking about catchup mechanics. 

Here's what I considering right now:
Some (but not all) of the cards will have an icon on it.  There are two icons, a castle and a landmark.  When a castle territory is fought over, the player in the lead for power may not chose the power favor.  When a landmark territory is fought over, the player in the lead for glory may not chose the glory favor.  Right now I'm thinking there will be 8 cards of each type.  That means, on average, one territory per round with have an icon on it. This is just a best first guess as to the numbers.  The thing I like about this mechanic is that it's theoretically easy to tune.  Just adjust the number of cards in the deck that have the icons. Zero cards is too few (that's the game as it currently is) and all 48 cards is too many...  that would basically make the game meaningless since no one could ever pull ahead by more than 1 in either power or glory.  So somewhere in between there's got to be a sweet spot right?

We'll see how this goes.  I was kinda hoping to start showing it to publishers, but now I feel like I have to address this issue first.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Of Power & Glory

Someone played Of Power & Glory and had a bad experience with it.  As I understand it, in their game, 3 kings were killed very early.  Of the remaining five kings, two were small and therefore not involved in many battles.  The other 3 kings had all of there titles taken so the game ground to a halt.

I suspect this is a rare situation since I've never encountered it, but I do want to do something about it.  My current solution is to make the following rule change:
If a King needs to expand into a territory and there are no rings left, but there are rings on some of the nobles in his court, take a ring from the noble in the 1 position.

If that rule were in place, then the game would not have ground to a halt.  The three big kings would continue to expand as the title collected from them by the players get eaten up.  Here's a little math on the subject:  there are 24 territories and each King has 9 rings available for expansion.  So with only 3 kings, that's enough for all 24 territories (and then some).  Even if you only had 2 kings, that would be enough for 18 of the territories.  And if there was only one King... then the game has bigger problems.  I'm not sure if I should protect against that or not.  It may be such a rare thing that I don't worry about it.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Post Atlanta Gamefest

Well, I've taken a long time follow up.  Sorry about that!  The gamefest didn't go as I expected...  I went in hoping to spend the whole time playtesting my games and it just didn't happen like that.  I did get one game of Of Power & Glory and I started playing Of Feast & Famine with a player who wasn't really into it.  I also explained Quintavox to a few people... but that's it.  But I did get a bit out of it.  Here's what I learned:

Of Power & Glory
I got a good suggestion to add marks at the top of the board to indicate where the cards should go and also indicate the three ones that are active for the round.  Someone also said that they thought the Espionage favor was under powered.  I'll wait for the review from the Gamer's Table to make any official changes (because I might have a lot more!)  but I'm pretty sure I'll at least add the card marks.

Two people both suggested a change in theme.  So for the umpteenth time, I've switched it back to Political Agenda set in the US in modern times.  I've work mainly on this game lately...  the map has 29 states so there's a little poetic license going on there.  I also added a new concept "Lobbyists" to the game.  It's something I've had in the back of my mind for a while, so I decided to run with it.  Another big change:  I decided to let players use the Senate backwards.  That is to say that they can move down in the Senate a get action points back.  The Senate can now serve as sort of a repository of action points.  But it's not guaranteed because another player could just jump over you.

Of Feast & Famine
I've got the most work remaining with this one.  The game just didn't work.  But there is still hope for it...  in fact I'm still optimistic about it.  The main problem was that the was no requirement to build up to oncoming threats.  So your enemies are getting closer and closer and you don't have to do a thing until they're right on your doorstep and then move everyone into the barracks.  So here are the changes to help address that:
Now, workers can only be added to location unstacked.  It requires an additional action later to stack them.  I would love to have an easy way to ensure that that happened in another season, but as of yet I don't have one.  This makes some thematic sense.  But this means that the workers can't come back to a starting location each season.  The reason I like doing that is that it gave players something to do every turn.  Now I'll have to find other ways to do that.  To that end, I've decided to add gold to the game.  Gold is exchanged to and from Food, Stone and Medicine.  You make gold by taxing the workers which they don't like.  So I needed to have some for them to do when they get mad....  which is that they go to "the fields" (a new location) and they can't be moved until you have a "Faire" (another new location).  I'll have to see has these changes go...  if there's still not enough for each player to do I'll have to come up with more!

Other News:
Bradfield Acres was a finalist in the resource contest, but it didn't win.  What hurts a bit is that the notes from the contest were released and it was seen as the least fun of the finalist games.  Ouch.  Oh well,  live and learn!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Atlanta Gamefest

Just a quick post here to let you know that I'll be going to Atlanta Gamefest for the next few days.  I hope to playtest a lot of my games and get new ideas!  I'm sure I'll have more to post later!