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Euronimoes is updated

July 26, 2016 Leave a comment

So I finally got around to my third (and possibly final?) update to Euronimoes.  Compared to version 2.0, the game is considerably more refined, though on the surface the changes are subtle.  Mainly, I’ve tweaked the economy a little bit and have tried to mitigate the ill-effects of edge-case situations.

So what, exactly, are the changes?  First off, each player has their own money — every player’s money is different.  Each player gets four chips in their color (or buttons in their type, or coins in their denomination, whatever), and this money is exclusive to them.  They start with two chips, but the maximum they can ever have is 4.

That’s probably the single biggest change to the game, and all it does is prevent one player from hoarding all the chips.

Secondly, I added a -1 slot to the market so players can take a known domino and still get a chip from the bank.  Often, of course, it’s not a terribly desirable domino, since no one else was willing to pay for it, but you never know — it might fit in perfectly with what you’re trying to do.

Third, I changed the way drawing from the bone pile works — now, even though you’re not taking a domino from the market, you still refresh the market by taking the domino from the -1 slot and moving it to the 3-chip slot, then sliding the other dominoes down to make room.  This prevents the market from stagnating.

Fourth, I reintroduced a reward for having chips at the end of the game.  Now that a player’s money is capped at 4, I’m okay with players getting points for chips.

Fifth, I changed the tiebreaker (to the player who went later in turn order).

And finally, I updated the graphics and added some illustrations to the rules.  But not too many, because, you know….

Interested?  Check out the updated rules here.  If you do give it a go, I’d love to hear what you think of it.  Also, feel free to rate, review, or comment on it on BGG.  :-)

Protospiel, Euronimoes, Water Balloon Wars

July 25, 2016 Leave a comment

So, Protospiel Chelsea was last week, and I enjoyed myself immensely.  I saw some old friends, made some new ones, and played a crap ton of games.  It was awesome.

I took Euronimoes this year, since I was thinking of doing another update, and had folks put it through the wringer.  It passed.  I want to go through the rules again, maybe add some graphics, and then upload version 3.0.

I also dusted off Water Balloon Wars to see how it would fare.  It went over really well.  It’s a flicking game where you try to capture your opponent’s king.  So it’s basically a dexterity / strategy / war game.  What I like about it is that you have to have both good strategy and good flicking skills — either one without the other just isn’t enough.  And there’s a lot more strategy than you might think.

I hadn’t played it in a while, but I enjoyed it so much I’m going to upload it as a print-and-play.  That, too, will be coming in the next couple of weeks.  I may also look into selling it on The Game Crafter.

In other news, I just pulled Horsefeathers from my blog.  It needs a bit of work, and while I think I know what needs to happen, it’s going to take me a while to get around to it.  So it’s down for now, but it’ll be back at some point.

Happy gaming!

 

Euronimoes 2.0 Released

April 25, 2015 Leave a comment

I’ve been tinkering with Euronimoes for the last 4 years, and now I’ve finally gotten around to uploading the changes.

I’m biased, of course, but I think the changes have improved the game considerably.  The most significant changes are these:

  1. Improved graphics.  Graphics are never my strong suit, but hey — at least it’s prettier than it was before.  :-)
  2. No points for money at the end of the game.  This prevents players from hoarding money and amassing a large number of negative points.
  3. A limited supply of money.  Players start with two chips each, and there are only a total of 4 chips per player in the game.  This puts a little more pressure on the economy.
  4. A new way to score negative points:  the “bomb.”  Basically, if you get a run that goes all the way from 6 down to 0, you score -3 points.
  5. And finally, some tweaks to the scoring when you play on the upper levels:  -2 for dominoes on the second level, -3 for dominoes on the third, etc.

It’s a simple yet engaging puzzle game that you can play with just a set of dominoes and some poker chips.  Give it a try, and let me know what you think.  :-)

Protospiel post-mortem

August 13, 2012 Leave a comment

The title of this post might be a little misleading, but since I usually conduct a post-mortem after playtesting one of my games (what did you like? what did you dislike?  what could be improved?  what needs work?  &c.), I figured it was appropriate.

So how did Protospiel go?  Very well.

Protospiel is an amazing experience.  As a game designer, it is hands-down my favorite gaming experience of the year.  It is, in a word, awesome.

There’s something about being in a room full of other designers that really can’t be described.  The feedback is intense, sometimes brutal, specific, honest, pertinent, and very, very helpful.

Let me give an example:  Puppet Masters.  I went to Protospiel thinking that the game was working well — I figured it might need a few tweaks here and there, but I thought it was working.  My two big questions were relatively small:  first, is it too long, and second, is there enough information in the game to figure out what’s going on?  I thought it might be a little too long, but that the time was reasonable; I thought there was enough information in the game, but I wanted to make sure.

Turns out I was wrong.  The game was a disaster.  Not only was there not enough information in the game, there wasn’t even close to enough information in the game.  Everyone, including me, was basically at sea.

Fellow designers offered a number of suggestions for ways to fix the game, ranging from little tweaks to gutting the project and starting over.

I was, to say the least, a little disappointed.

More than that, though, I was confused:  how could the game work so well at home, and then work so poorly at Protospiel?

And then it hit me:  at Protospiel, I was playing with relative strangers, with people I didn’t know very well.  At home, I was playing with friends.  I was playing the people, in other words, and I wasn’t playing the game.

Playing the players is all very well and good if you’re playing poker, but it’s a little out of place when you’re playing a deduction game.  There needs to be enough information in the game itself to try to sort it all out.

So it’s back to the drawing board with Puppet Masters.  I have a few ideas as to where I want to take it, but nothing definite so far.

===

I took seven games to Protospiel (never again will I take so many):  one flopped, two received mixed feedback, two never hit the table, and two went over very well.

I now have several games being considered by publishers, and that’s a good thing.  :-)

===

I plan to update the rules for Euronimoes shortly, and I also plan to upload a couple new games to the site:  Water Balloon Wars for sure, and possibly also Tatoules (short for Table Top Boules).  I know, it’s not a great name.  It is, however, a fun game.

gearing up for Protospiel

June 22, 2012 Leave a comment

I’ve been getting ready for Protospiel these last few weeks:  playtesting like crazy, tweaking rules, getting everything together, and making sure everything is — both literally and metaphorically — in the box.  If all goes according to plan, I’ll be taking 7 games:  Horsefeathers 2.0, Hacienda, The Super Awesome Dice Game (SADG), Strange Bedfellows, Euronimoes 2.0, Puppet Masters, and Venture Capital.  I don’t expect to play all these games, mind you, but I plan to have them there just in case.  I never know what I’ll be in the mood to play / playtest until the moment is upon me, and this way I’ll have options.

Some of these games may already be familiar to some of you, as both Horsefeathers and Euronimoes have been released as print-and-play games here on my blog.  I’ve continued to develop and refine these games over the past year, and I hope to have updates available in the not-too-distant future.  The changes to Euronimoes have been slight (tweaks to the scoring, no chip bonus for drawing from the bone pile), while the changes to Horsefeathers have been more extensive (using cards instead of dice, revamping the points structure, creating a board, and adding more texture).  Both games are significantly improved.

Puppet Masters and Venture Capital should also be familiar to some of my readers, as I’ve blogged about their development before.  (Venture Capital used to be called Empire, then Metropolis, then Urban Conquest, then Capital, then Central City, etc. — it’s the proverbial game in search of a name.)  Puppet Masters hasn’t changed much, though I’ve tidied up the theme a bit and changed the way the endgame is handled.  Venture Capital, on the other hand, represents a significant break from previous development — in open source software terms, the game has “forked.”

I now have two games:  Central City retains the action cards, general gameplay, and overall feel of earlier versions, while Venture Capital has evolved into more of a stock market / speculation game.  Both are still auction games at heart, but the two play very differently.  Venture Capital feels much closer to “done” at this point, however, so it’s the one I’m packing for Protospiel.  Central City will have to wait another year (or two).

What else is left?  SADG, Strange Bedfellows, and Hacienda.  These are all light-to-medium fillers, taking somewhere around 30 minutes to play.

SADG is a clever little dice allocation game where players try to complete various items in three different categories.  There are two twists:  first, it’s rarely possible to complete an item all by oneself, so players have to cooperate in order to make points.  Second, a player’s overall score is equal to the score in their lowest category.  The game is played over three rounds.

Strange Bedfellows is what I would describe as a “political auction game.”  It’s subtitle, “everybody knows that elections can be bought — how much do you want to spend?” sums it up pretty well.  There’s a primary phase (choosing which candidates will run in that election), a negotiation phase (where players try to get other players to support their favorite candidates), and an auction phase (where players pledge their support to one of the candidates in that election).  Oh, and did I mention that there’s plenty of room for backstabbing and betrayal?  Just because a player says he’s going to help you out in the upcoming election doesn’t mean he actually will.

Finally, Hacienda is a modular auction game where players buy properties and try to connect them together into large ranches.  Ranches only count for points at the end of the game, however, if they’re also connected to wells, so players must choose where to put their wells carefully.

= = = = =

Looking back over this list, I count four games with an auction:  Hacienda, Strange Bedfellows, Venture Capital, and Puppet Masters (in Puppet Masters, there’s an auction to determine turn order).  By any standard, that’s a pretty high percentage of auction games.

I’ll admit I’ve had a fascination with auction games lately.  I enjoy playing them because they require an accurate valuation of the game-state; I enjoy designing them because they’re what I like to call “self-leveling.”

By self-leveling, I mean that some things (start money, income, etc.) become less critical — it’s up to the players to determine the worth of various in-game elements and bid accordingly.  Bid too low, and your opponents gain an advantage; bid too high, and you run yourself out of money.

As a designer, this means you can worry less about the amount of money in the game and more about the game’s overall flow and feel.  And that, for me at least, is a Good Thing.  :-)

 

preparing for Protospiel

June 22, 2011 2 comments

I’m going to be going to Protospiel in Ann Arbor in a couple weeks, and I’ve been scrambling to get some prototypes ready for it.

The whole idea behind Protospiel is that designers get together to playtest one another’s games, provide feedback, and generally help one another with the design process. I’ll be taking three games to share.

The first is Coloronimoes, a more marketable version of Euronimoes. Much like Euronimoes, players are trying to buy 2-ended pieces that (a) fit well in their own personal tableau and (b) don’t cost too much. Unlike Euronimoes, however, there aren’t any numbers on the bones — just colors. I’ve made a very nice prototype and have had the rules printed in color, so this one is all ready to go.

a tableau with a score of 20

The second is Lemuria. Lemuria is a modular connection game where players try to connect resources to cities using trading posts. Trading posts cost money, though, so players need to complete outstanding orders if they want to continue to be able to build. The goal is to build the biggest network by game end.

this layout had quite a few holes....

Lemuria actually came about as a kind of hybrid between Empire Builder and Settlers of Catan. I had always been somewhat frustrated playing Empire Builder, as I figured it should be sufficient to just connect the resource to the city — why do I also have to deliver it? And when I first played Settlers, I was smitten by the fact that you could set the board up in so many ways. So I set myself a design challenge: make a connection game with a modular board.

It’s not as easy as it sounds — because the board can be set up in countless ways, there’s no way to know for sure what the distance between a given resource and a given city will be, so there’s no way to know what it will cost players to connect the two. And thus there’s no good way to determine what the reward should be, either.

It took me a long time to figure out how to work it, but there are 8 cities and 10 different types of resources. Some resources are more common than others, however, and therefore less valuable. A whole lot of math went into this game — I used one spreadsheet to track the modular panels and their contents, one to analyze the points awarded at the end of the game, and one (with four sheets and some very pretty colors) to look at the order card distribution.

The amazing thing is that it actually works — unless you get completely crazy when setting up the board, every game has a similar trajectory and a similar feel. It’s definitely my “biggest” game to date, though I’d say it’s roughly comparable weight-wise to Settlers. Maybe a little lighter.

And the third game I’m planning to take is RumRunners. This one’s based on an idea I had over 15 years ago — play Mancala with different-colored pieces belonging to each of the players instead of stones “belonging” to everybody. For years, I called the game “Western Mancala.”

I played it off and on for a long time, but it never really grabbed me. It seemed trivial, in a way, certainly not interesting enough to devote much time to it. But I kept adding things along the way: what about a 2-D board, instead of just a loop. That proved intriguing, but difficult — that version lent itself awfully easily to analysis paralysis.

More recently I dusted the game off and tried to breathe new life into it: how about a grid, with intersections? A couple city streets, maybe? And each of the streets is one way, but there are still a number of choices a player can make in terms of where she goes. And then a theme popped into my head: revolutionaries! An uprising! And there are policemen on the streets, trying to shut it down.

The theme has changed a bit since then, and there are one or two key things I’ve neglected to mention (something about corruption, if I recall correctly), but it’s a fun game. It’s not nearly as polished as the other two, as some of these developments have come about just recently, but I should have a working prototype done in plenty of time. It might not have the prettiest graphics, but I don’t figure that’ll be much of a problem.

So this is pretty much all I’ve been working on in my spare time the last few weeks….

Euronimoes is official!

January 19, 2011 2 comments

I now have a game in the BoardGameGeek database: Euronimoes. And I also have a designer’s page, too. Check it out! :-)