Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas Gaming

I got three very nice games for Christmas this year. Here's a quick summary of my initial thoughts.

1. Dominion: Hinterlands - We only got to play one game of this. We used all new cards, so it was a bit confusing at first. The game was fun--this is the first game we'd ever exhausted the entire Silver pile! I'll have to try the other cards out when we get back from our trip.

2. Eminent Domain - I had been wanting to try this deck-building entry for some time. Our first game was difficult and full of errors, but still pretty entertaining. We started figuring it out by the end. A few days later my daughter and I played it again. She still hasn't got it down, but I started buying lots of the tech cards and ramping things up. Final score was 44 to 22, with Isabel declaring that she would never play again. Maybe she'll come around. Bottom line: this is a good game with lots of interesting mechanics but it has a bit of a learning curve for new players. Multiple plays are required to figure it out. But it's really quite fun after that!

3. Quarriors! - I was just curious enough to put this on my list. First off, I hate the theme. It looks like playing Pokemon. I'm nearly 35. I'd feel really dumb playing Pokemon. That said, Quarriors is pretty fun and quick. I'm curious to see how the expansion plays . . .

In addition to the new games, we also continued our fascination with Pirate Dice. I have two sets now, so we can play with up to eight. It's become our party game of choice. Highly recommended, especially for new players!

Hope you have a great new year--see you in 2012!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you and your family a very geeky Christmas and a happy new year! And happy holidays to you other fine folks! See you in 2012!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Tiger Stripes 20% Off Sale!

In honor of Isabel being on TV (for just a few seconds at the end of the clip), we are offering a 20% discount on Tiger Stripes. Have any kids or grand-kids learning about addition and subtraction? Get them a great Christmas gift for just $14.99 $11.99 plus shipping! This deal is good until December 16.

Friday, November 25, 2011

I Hate It When

. . . this happens.

You design a game (or at least come up with a cool new idea), and then someone else beats you to the punch. Keep in mind, I'm not accusing anyone of theft or anything. I believe this is a total coincidence, but enough of a coincidence that I wanted to share it with you.

I have been shopping around a game I call Square Off for a couple of years now. The other day, I learned of a new product from Gamewright called City Square Off. The games are nothing alike--it's only the names (and logos) that are similar. Or is it just me?

Anyway, it's just weird. Now to think up a new name.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Checking In

In case you haven't noticed by my total lack of posting, I've been swamped lately! A combination of substitute teaching, family projects and some fresh design work as kept my nose firmly against the grindstone. So, here are a few random and/or interesting bits of news:

I helped organize a program for Nation Game Day at my local library. Unfortunately, only one kid showed up! :( I'm choosing to put the blame for this squarely on the lack of advertising by the library and the insanely beautiful Saturday afternoon weather.

Saturday, Isabel and I participated in a little Dominion  tournament at Gateway Games. Isabel had a better score than I did and just missed second place by a few points. Very nice time regardless!

Also, BGG.con just wrapped up down in Texas. James of Minion Games was able to attend and gave me a good report of the demos he ran of Kingdom of Solomon. However, we recently learned that Ludofact will not be able to ship all our games (my game and two others have to be shipped in the same load) for a bit longer. This means the boat will be a bit later and then US distribution will be a bit later. Right now it's looking more like January or even February before the games make it to local stores and people's doorsteps. We are so sorry to be missing the holiday season--and extremely sorry to disappoint anyone's gift-giving plans.

Let me leave you with something nice: I have become a diehard fan of the Ludology podcast. These guys do the Game Tech feature on the Dice Tower podcast. The show is fantastic--you almost need to take notes! If you're a game designer, or just curious about game mechanics, give it a listen.

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Essen Aftermath

So Essen has come and gone. And I didn't get to go--but enough whining! Kingdom of Solomon had a very nice debut. From the pictures and personal accounts it looked like the demo table saw non-stop action (and with people waiting). Sales were acceptable-to-good, and the game made #15 on the Medium Traffic column of GeekBuzz! Not too shabby with all the fierce competition and fatter marketing budgets at the show.

The next stage involves snagging some reviews followed by US distribution. The boat will soon be on it's way, so we're looking at only a few short weeks before the first US copies make it over--including mine! Kickstarters will be first in line once our ship comes in. If you got a copy at Essen, we need you to rate it and maybe write a brief review or session report on BGG. Every little bit helps!

One final note today. The final version seems to contain only 10 of the 16 Temple Tokens that ideally should be in there. They did put in 16 white cubes (Temple Blocks) to track the progress of the Temple, but we don't have 16 of the tokens (featuring the High Priest). This really does not affect the game much at all--many games will not even require all 16 tokens, as players often chose the VPs over the token. Even so, we apologize for this oversight. See the ongoing BGG thread for more info.

Since it will be impossible for us to provide extras at this time, this leaves you with a few options. You can simply limit the tokens to 10. Or you can use tokens from another game, pennies, etc. Or you can print a few more using this high-res official PDF. My preference and intention was and is to make 16 tokens available. Again, we are very sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.

Thanks for your continuing interest in Kingdom of Solomon! We are looking forward to introducing more and more gamers to this great new experience. And look for even more new-game-related news coming in the next few months!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Emotional Roller Coaster of Game Design

Minion Games is reporting significant sales of Kingdom of Solomon at Essen. Woo-hoo! Looks like the booth is getting a lot of traffic. FYI, KoS should be in the USA at the end of November/beginning of December, just in time for a certain major holiday . . . All this brings to my mind the wild ride often involved in game design.

At the start, excitement is high--you've just had an amazing flash of brilliance! Then comes the first prototype. Blah--it doesn't really work. But there's still something there . . .

Next you work and work to smooth rough edges and get the game into a somewhat playable state. Finally, you can play the game from start to finish! Now the real playtesting begins.

People give you "constructive" criticism. Yuck. Like bad-tasting medicine, it must be endured for healthy design. And your game gets better. Now to find a publisher.

It's a good game, but no one has time or money to publish. So you try harder and finally get a bite. Hooray! If it's a smaller company, get ready for even more work--endless editing and revising. And it takes much longer than you think--seriously, when will the art be done!?!?

By the time all this is finished you are almost tired of looking at your game (almost). You start thinking that people don't care about your game or it's not as cool as the other new games (really people just don't know about your game--very different). But the game is published! People actually buy it! Happy times are here again!

Now you have to keep marketing and doing demos for people--more work, but it's cool. And so there it is, some days are good some are long and tedious. But if you keep working, one day you look up and it turns out you've come a long way--and that feels awesome!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Inspiring Reads

I've just finished several really great leadership and entrepreneur books. If you have any desire whatsoever to create products (games?) and/or start a business or even get a promotion, you should check some of these out.

The first was Good To Great by Jim Collins. This one is a little old (pre-2001), but still contains many timeless truths.

Next was EntreLeadership by Dave Ramsey. I'm a huge Dave Ramsey fan, and this book did not disappoint. It walks you through how to set up a business and lead with integrity and passion. Lots of great ideas even if you don't want to be a CEO.

Finally, I just finished The Other 8 Hours by Robert Pagliarini. This book encourages you to pursue a better life with the hours you normally spend watching American Idol and playing Minecraft (I only do one of those activities, BTW). He outlines several different ways to super-charge your income potential.

One very clever bit of advice from this book: how to get necessary services to move your business venture forward but without shelling out lots of money up front. Pagliarini gives the example of needing a new website. You find a great company, but they will charge you $5,000 to build the site. So instead of paying this large amount, you offer them $500 now plus 25% of all ad revenue up to the $18,000 level. This is worth exactly $4,500--the balance of the service. But then you also offer 15% of all ad revenue up to the $168,000, 10% up to $618,000, 5% up to $2,418,000, and 1% up to $15M. The deal is capped at this point.

What this means is that this web company gets $500 now, a great chance at getting all their money, plus a decent chance to make lots more. And a small chance to make a small fortune (possibly around $300K). You can see how this sort of thinking could be applied to all sorts of other business arrangements, both to hire new partners and to do work for others.

So what are your dreams? Turn those dreams into goals and get moving today!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Cincinnati Comic Con

I got to attend the second annual Cincinnati Comic Con this year at Duke Energy Center. Unfortunately, I only got to be there until noon, and my few pictures of the event were somehow erased from my camera (must have been that faulty restraining bolt). It seemed like lots of people were there--more than last year (when it was at the Cintas Center). The gaming area, sponsored by Yottaquest, was slightly easier to find, though still a bit out of the way. But it was much bigger, so that was good.

I got to show Kingdom of Solomon, Tiger Stripes and Revolution!, running one actual demo of the latter before I had to go. I was able to get one of the Yottaquest guys (Scott) to help demo for the rest of the day, but I haven't heard how this went yet. Also, I got to meet Katie Cook and see lots of cool comic-related stuff in the main hall. If you missed it, you should definitely think about stopping by next year!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Tweaking the Temple

Just days (hours) before the final printing, we have decided to make one final adjustment to Kingdom of Solomon. The Temple will now have six extra spaces to fill. During our demos at GenCon, we ran into a few people who got carried away with building the Temple even against their own interests. Just because it was there. This led to a shorter-than-expected game and an unsatisfying experience for all.

A quick recap: The game ends on the round when either all eleven building sites are filled, or when one player places all five of his buildings, or when the Temple is completed. Having the most Temple Tokens (gained by helping the build sections of the Temple) also gives a player control of the High Priest and 20 VP at the end. So rushing to complete the Temple might seem attractive, but is usually not best way to score points.

I'm still convinced that players would never repeat this mistake in subsequent games, but in this world of thousands of new games, one play might be all my game gets at some tables. Therefore, we added more spaces. Now even all the players working together cannot complete the Temple in fewer than four turns and are far more likely to have a "full" game experience.  This change will not necessarily add any extra length to the game, as the other two end triggers remain unchanged. Playing time will still normally fall into the 60-90 minutes range.

Also, checkout the new BGG microbadge!

One final note: If you will be attending Essen 2011 and would like to preorder KoS and pick it up at the show, use the code PICKUP11 at checkout and you will not be charged for shipping. The current preorder price is $44.99! Visit Minion Games for more details.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Games For Sale

I currently have some interesting eBay auctions going. If you're looking for a few more games at great prices, you might want to check them out. Thanks!

Hansa Teutonica, Alien Frontiers (crazy to be selling), Mousquetaires du Roy, and Chicago Express Narrow Gauge & Erie Expansion. Some of these are really great games, but space must be cleared and funds must be raised!

Also of interest: Dice Hate Me has started up their Carnival Kickstarter today. They may actually make their goal on the first day! Definitely worth a look!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Gateway Games and the Gamerati Tour

Last night I attended the Gamerati Tour event at Gateway Games. Ed Healy had visited Yottaquest that morning, and he was pretty jet-lagged (car-lagged?) from his epic trek. Even so, he seemed to enjoy playing my game and interacting with the other people. The turn-out was fantastic--lots of players and lots of industry people! I got to run three demos of Kingdom of Solomon and even sign two copies of Revolution! (one of which was purchased during the event). Other games played included The Resistance, Ticket to Ride and Mesopotamia. And some RPG action. Here are a few pics:

Saturday, August 6, 2011

GenCon Photo Wrap-Up

I made it back today from a great trip to GenCon 2011! I spent two fun-filled days working the Minion Games booth and the exhibit hall and demoing Kingdom of Solomon. The latest word is that it will be available at Essen (October) and shipped to the US soon after. Unless things come together just right (or wrong) . . .

I had some really exciting success with pitching several of my new prototypes. More news on that score to follow in the coming weeks. I also bought the 7 Wonders: Leaders expansion. We played this afternoon and had a blast! 

Here are a few picks from the show:

This is one of my "biggest" fans.

This is our booth, just chock-full of newly- and soon-to-be-released games and designers. I like it better when people don't look at the camera.

Some of the great (and odd) art at the show.

I finally got to meet THE Steve Jackson! He is pictured here with his trusty Bottle of Quenching.

Here I am with Tom Vasel and Eric Summerer of The Dice Tower Podcast. If you don't already listen, you should! Very cool guys . . .

Thursday evening I got to have dinner with some very special Kickstarter supporters, Jed and Ashley. They really helped us out with our funding--thanks, guys! And they're also very cool people.

Vader was in the house.

The softer side of Vader.

One of the biggest games at the show was Fantasy Flight's new Star Wars game, X-Wing, coming next year. Looks pretty neat--you move and fire just like in the movie!

Friday, Jed and Ashley got to play their first game of KoS, along with two other guys. All the demos seemed to go very well--we had no trouble finding extra players when needed!

This game featured the highest KoS score of the con: 171! I watched him do it, and I still don't quite understand how he pulled that off. Well done, sir.


So, that's just a sliver of my experiences this year at GenCon. Thanks to all the folks who played a demo of KoS--it was a lot of fun!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Preparing for GenCon

I've been frantically printing, gluing and cutting in anticipation of GenCon 2011. Meetings and demos have been scheduled, plans have been made, cars and hotel rooms have been borrowed. I plan to be at the con all Thursday and Friday, mainly working the Minion Games booth (#1352). Please stop in and take a look at Kingdom of Solomon. An improved demo copy will be on display. You will also be able to sign up for a full demo at various times. I even made a custom KoS T-shirt! Stop by and say hi!

I'll also be hunting down more publishers with my bag-o-prototypes. Wish me luck!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Gateway Games Grand Opening

Tonight I attended the grand opening of a new game store in Cincinnati: Gateway Games & More. It's a small store, but it's tidy and sharp-looking. I got run a few nice demos and meet lots of new people. Here is a shot of my setup:

We played two 5-player games of Revolution! with the Palace expansion. Everybody seems really into it. I also got to play about five games of Tiger Stripes with the kid from the next store over. If only his mom had been there, I'd have closed that sale . . .

Here's one of the more interesting patrons. I'm about 40% sure there was a costume contest going on during the grand opening. Sometimes it's hard to tell with this crowd--but I love 'em.

Several other were being played during my few hours at the store. Thanks to Todd (the owner) for letting me come and demo/pass out flyers. He sold his only copy of Revolution! and I got to sign it. :) It's amazing to me how many people have still never heard of Revolution! but end up really enjoying it. I need to hire Randy to make another nation-wide tour . . .

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Beyond Monopoly at the Library

Today I had the opportunity to do a board games program at my local library (Green Township, for you locals). I'd like to thank the staff, and especially Natalie Fields, for smooth and flawless logistical support! I also need to thank my brother-in-law, Aaron and two of my daughters for their help teaching all the games. We had around twelve tweens/teens/parents for this two-hour event (called Beyond Monopoly: An Introduction to Eurogames). As you can see from the pictures, everyone had a blast.

 This was my first group. We played 7 Wonders twice, and the girl in the red won both times (and I was playing in the second game)! They loved it!

 These girls had just finished a spirited game of Carcassonne. They really got into it.

 Aaron led a game of Revolution!, losing pretty badly to one of the little girls pictured (he did come in second, but I couldn't resist the dig)! This game was also a big hit.

 My group then moved on to The Settlers of Catan. They caught on almost immediately and just ate it up. While they didn't quite finish this one, they all said they really enjoyed it.

 Another group formed to tackle Forbidden Island. Amazon currently has this for 13.00--what a steal! This game also didn't get finished, which was probably good. Things were not looking good for our intrepid explorers!

Finally, Isabel got in quite a few plays of her Tiger Stripes game. She even made a sale to one of the librarians! BTW, Isabel is now officially past the break-even point and into the black! Sweet success!

We just had an amazing time introducing these wonderful games to a very enthusiastic group of library patrons. Perhaps more of these opportunities will show up in the future . . . For those interested, here are a few more fantastic games we didn't get a chance to try: Tobago, Dominion, Pandemic & Ticket to Ride.