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Posts Tagged ‘print-and-play’

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.  :-)

board game links

November 28, 2011 Leave a comment

It occurred to me the other day that I ought to share my ever-growing collection of board-game related links.  I’ll try to keep them fairly well organized, and I’ll try to stick to ones that are particularly useful.  If the post proves popular enough, I’ll make a more permanent version of it available in the menu bar.

Without further ado, here are the best gaming-related links I’ve found.  If you have any other gaming-related links you’d like to share, please include them in the comments.

General Info about board games

BoardGameGeek.  The granddaddy of them all, and the hub of the board game scene on the net.  A great many of the other links listed below will be related to BGG in some way, whether by offering a new / different / better way to interact with the site, a way to aggregate information from the site, &c.  It’s the best, and the one place to go if you want to learn more about board games.

The Spiel des Jahres.  This is the Wikipedia page listing all the Spiel des Jahres winners and runners-up.  A good place to go if you’re looking for entry-level family-friendly strategy games.

2011 board game gift guide.  The 2011 edition of BGG’s board game gift guide.  You really can’t go wrong with the games on this list.

Bruno Faidutti’s ideal game library.  Bruno Faidutti is an excellent designer, and this is his list of good games — definitely worth checking out.

Buying board games

BoardGamePrices.  Search a bunch of online retailers all at once to try to find the best price.  Also handy for finding some games (like Ra, Steam, &c.) on some vendors’ web sites.

BoardGameSearch.  Another way to search multiple sites for the games you want.  I don’t like the interface quite as well, but I know some folks prefer it.

Boards and Bits.  My favorite online retailer.  If they have the game(s) you’re looking for, they’ll likely be the cheapest.  $2 shipping for any order over $98.

CoolStuffInc.  My second-favorite online retailer.  A bigger selection, but slightly higher prices.  Free shipping over $100.

Spielboy.  Say you want to buy a game from the BGG marketplace, but you don’t want to pay too much for it.  Sure, you can use the “Market Info” function in BGG itself, but I don’t find that particularly helpful.  Spielboy plots out all the purchase data so you can see how the price has varied over time — just type in “ticket to ride: switzerland” to see how the market crashed for that game when the new map collections came out.

Amazon.  Sure, everybody knows they sell books, but did you know they sell games, too?  ;-)  Seriously, their prices aren’t too bad, they tend to carry the more mainstream games, and you get free shipping over $25 on many items.

Handy tips and tricks

Tricks of the Geek and More Tricks of the Geek.  These geeklists are chock-full of tips for getting the most out of BoardGameGeek.

And, since I’m not sure where to put this next geeklist, I’ll put it here.  It’s called “Software Tools for Board Games, RPG’s, and BGG,” and that pretty much sums it up.  Various apps for a number of platforms that help you choose a game to play, choose a start player, calculate final scores, search BGG, create tuckboxes, roll a pair of virtual dice, &c.

Board game design

Board Game Designers Forum.  A forum dedicated to — you guessed it — board game design.  :-)

There’s also the Board Game Design forum on BGG.

Prototyping and / or building Print-and-Play games

How to make your own prototypes.  Lots of good suggestions on this Print-and-Play wiki page on BGG.

Which games to buy at thrift stores just for the components.  Want a bunch of bits so you can make your own board games, but you don’t want to break the bank?  Get the pieces you need by cannibalizing other board games.  Just don’t do it with Jati. :-)

Game Prototyping Tools.  A geeklist on BGG devoted to resources for people making their own games.  Other threads have covered similar ground:  build me a prototyping toolbox and help me build my print-and-play aresenal.

Also, a number of posts have been devoted to making specific types of components:  custom dice, circular tokens and counters, and professional-looking cards.  Personally, I just print my cards on card stock and sleeve them, but I know some folks want better results than that.

I’ve heard that Rolco Games, GameParts, Mr. Chips, and EAI Education are good sources for prototype parts, but I’ve never actually bought from them.  Spotlight on Games has a good list of component sources, as does this thread.  I’ve personally bought a number of things from jspassnthru on eBay, and I’ve found them to be reliable.

The best graphic design program for board game creation is without a doubt Inkscape.  It’s a vector-based graphics editor, it’s free, it’s cross-platform, and it’s also extensible.  Pelle Nilsson has created a number of useful extensions for it that are board-game-specific.

A BGG list of graphic design tools has links to graphics editors, fonts, clipart, and pdf-related tools.

Software versions of board games

Sebastian Sohn’s SoftBoard games.  A huge list of board games that can be played using the computer.  Some are Windows-based, some are Mac-based, some are Linux-based, some are flash-based, some are java-based, &c.  I wouldn’t necessarily trust all the links (anyone can add to the list), but if you exercise basic caution, you can find a ton of good software renditions of board games.  He also made a shorter, distilled list, though I’m not entirely sure what criteria were used to boil the list down.

Matthew Marquand has created a number of online implementations of existing games with AI:  Ingenious, Callisto, Clans, Coloretto, and Lexio.

Print-and-Play Games

A number of geeklists have tried to separate the wheat from the chaff in the wild-and-wooly world of print-and-play games:  PNP games people actually play, PNP games that might be worth printing, top 20 PNP games with at least 50 ratings, ranked PNP games, PNP freebies that are worth the effort, and excellent PNP games.  There’s also the wiki page devoted to PNP game suggestions.

Or, if you’re a glutton for punishment, here’s the canonical list.

Of course, four of the best can be found right here on BoardGameForgeScatterLand, Euronimoes, Wargame, and Horsefeathers.  :-)

Print & Play Productions makes and sells PNP games, and he also sells individual components.

Print-and-Play websites

Superior POD is a print-on-demand site, as is The Game Crafter.  Matt Worden’s Jump Gate (Games Magazine’s 2011 Game of the Year) was originally published on The Game Crafter.

Free expansions

Often, game publishers make expansions available at no cost if you’re willing to print them yourself.  There have been several geeklists devoted to these freebies:  Free PnP Expansions and Free Print and Play Expansions.

Protospiel preparations, Horsefeathers score sheet, and Horsefeathers with two

June 26, 2011 Leave a comment

I’ve been hard at work this weekend working on the graphics for RumRunners to get them presentable for Protospiel. And at this point, they’re passable. They’re not great, but they’re functional, and that’s about as good as I can usually hope for. :-)

Actually, I’m fairly proud of them. I’ve been learning a new program called Inkscape, and it’s really cool. It’s probably the most intuitive graphics program I’ve ever used, and you can get fairly nice-looking graphics out of it with just a minimum of effort. Here’s a portion of the board, just to give you an idea:

So I got that sent off to the printer this morning, and I plan to mount it on a piece of mat board after S picks it up for me tomorrow. Then I’ll hinge the board with packing tape, and the end result (I hope) will be the nicest board I’ve ever made. We’ll see.

I used mat board for the Coloronimoes tiles, and I was really happy with how they turned out. I used to mount everything on foam core, but I think mat board looks nicer and feels better. It’s a little harder to work with (a little harder to cut), but IMHO it’s worth it.

– – – – –

In addition to the new board for RumRunners, I’ve also been working on a score sheet for Horsefeathers:

The plan is to upload a PDF with this score sheet and a (very slightly) modified version of the rules so people can play the game with just one die, the score sheet, and a box of poker chips. Oh, and 1 counter per player to show who’s still in the round and who’s out. It’s not that assembling 12 dice is going to be impossible for most gamers, and it’s not that finding 21 tokens (for 8 players) or 8 reversible chips (1 per player) is that much of a hardship, it’s just that I’m trying to make entrance into this game as easy as possible. It’s been a consistent favorite at game night since I first started working on it, and I think most people would probably enjoy it.

Just to see how the new (prototype) score sheet might work, S and I took it for a spin this evening.  The score sheet worked really well, even better than I had hoped, but the game (with two) was not so hot.  I didn’t expect it to be.  It’s not that it was bad, and in fact I can imagine that some people might really get into a head-to-head version of the game, it’s just not as interesting as the game with 3 plus.  You keep bluffing (or trying to bluff) the same person, over and over again, and that’s not really my cup of tea.  Kind of like Poker with two — some people get into it, but I find it more engaging when there are more players. YMMV.  :-)

Horsefeathers has an entry in the database

June 20, 2011 Leave a comment

And now Horsefeathers has an entry in the BGG database: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/101521/horsefeathers. It still looks fairly spartan, but I’ve uploaded an image for it and proposed a weblink, so it’ll soon be looking better. I was amazed it got through GeekMod as quickly as it did, as I’ve never had a game approved that quickly. Cool! :-)

Horsefeathers released as a print-and-play

June 20, 2011 Leave a comment

I just wanted to let folks know that the final rules for Horsefeathers have been uploaded. There may yet be some very minor tweaks, but it’s basically done. Now I just need to submit it to the BGG database. :-)

a bit of the math behind Horsefeathers

June 19, 2011 Leave a comment

I’ve been playtesting Horsefeathers quite a bit lately, and it’s just about finished. The idea of including special tokens that you get only when you challenge someone successfully was that little extra something the game needed. Now I just need to write up the update to the rules, upload the file, and apply to get the game in the BGG database. :-)

I thought it would be interesting, however, to share some of the math behind the game. Even a game as simple as Horsefeathers has quite a bit of math behind it, and a spreadsheet can really help keep track of it all. Spreadsheets help designers tweak all the different values in a game, and they also help designers understand what parameters are most important.

So here’s a snapshot of the spreadsheet for Horsefeathers. It’s pretty simple, but amazingly useful.

Most of it is pretty self-explanatory, but the question I was ultimately trying to answer was this:  how should I handle all the various values to make it so that the final payout due to the special tokens was worth roughly the same amount (or a little more) than a typical payout for a single round?  I wanted it, ideally, in the range of 1-2. I’m pretty happy with 0.96 to 1.87.  :-)

There are some fudgy numbers, here, but we are, after all, dealing with probabilities and statistics.  No two games will ever be the same, and there will always be that occasional game that defies the odds and comes in at 4 sigma. Outliers, however, just give a game like this texture.

The top two rows are just the number of players in the game and the number that get eliminated in a given round (always one less than the total, since rounds are always played until just one player remains).

The initial ante (10 in the sheet above) is the amount that every player must pay at the beginning of the round.  By changing just that one cell, I can change it from 10 to 5 to 20 to 0.  And each of those numbers will produce a vastly different gaming experience.

Then the domes (read: special tokens) that are taken per round.  This should be equal to the number of players eliminated divided by two.  Why two?  Well, any given challenge might prove true or false, but on average people will be right about half the time.   One player is eliminated either way, however, so a token is likely to be taken from the stack every other time.

The number of rounds is entered.  I chose 6.  This causes the game to last roughly thirty to forty-five minutes, which seemed reasonable for a game of this depth.  One neat thing about the game is that, because the number of rounds is the same for any number of players, the length of the game won’t change much.  And in that sense, it’s scale-invariant.

The number of domes (special tokens) needed to produce a game of six rounds:  since the game is over when the last token is taken from the stack, varying the number of tokens varies the (likely) number of rounds. It’s a fairly accurate predictor, though of course not infallible.

Does everyone pay to play?  This refers to a design option I considered for a while wherein every player would need to pay an additional chip anytime someone rolled.  It felt fussy, but I wanted to throw it in here just to see what it would do.  I had thought that it would cause the game to scale more reliably from 3-8 players, but it didn’t really help much.  Right now it’s off, but entering “1” will turn it on (and change all the formulas appearing later in the sheet).

How much do players pay to play?  I toyed with 0, 5, and 10, and I like the results of 5 best.

Average number of dice rolled in a round.  Here’s one of my educated guesses.  A round begins with a number of dice already on the table:  roll until a pair shows up in the center of the board, or until there are 5 dice.  In my experience, this usually means 3 or 4 dice to begin with.  But when does a round end?  Again, in my experience a round typically ends about the time there are 10 dice on the table — sometimes more, sometimes less.  So I chose 6.5 for the number here.  But there are other factors:  when a bluff is unsuccessful, the die is not added to the center (though the player is still eliminated and their “pay to play” chip is still added to the pot).  Again, it’s not perfect.

Size of pot — the size of a typical pot won by one of the players at the end of a round.  This is one of the two numbers I was wanting to compare.  It’s calculated by taking the size of the initial ante times the number of players plus the size of the subsequent ante (the amount players must “pay to play”) times the average number of rolls.

The next three rows look at the starting amount of money, the average amount a (losing) player will lose each round, and the number of rounds they’ll be able to play without winning a pot.  I wanted it to be greater than 6 (the chosen number of rounds), since I wanted players to have at least some money at the end of the game for making payments based on special token disparity.

After the first red line, I’m trying to get at the other of the two numbers I want to compare:  the size of the payouts based on token disparity.  If a player has 0 tokens, they pay everyone at the table.  How much they pay depends only on the number of tokens in play, so it is equal to the number of tokens originally in the stack.  Of course this says nothing about who gets paid, just how much is paid out.

The multiplier:  how much is paid per token?  I toyed with 5 and 10, but got better results with 10.  I thought for a while that I would have to use 5 for some numbers of players and 10 for other numbers of players, but thankfully that wasn’t necessary.  I hate fussy rules like that, and in a game like this it would be anathema.

Chips lost due to the special tokens and likely max chips received.  Chips lost is simple:  the number lost due to token disparity times the value multiplier.  Likely max chips received is another fudge factor: I’m saying here that the likely max won is comparable to the likely max lost.  And, on the face of it, this is the biggest fudge of all — there’s no real reason to assume this is the case.  But I’m guessing it’ll be close.  For one thing, when you run numbers of a typical spread (0 tokens, 2 tokens, 4 tokens, 6 tokens) the player with 0 loses 2+4+6=12 and the player with 6 gains 6+4+2=12.  There’s a bit of symmetry.

Also, I played with the numbers quite a bit and found that, after calculating the amount received by the player with the most tokens for likely scenarios, and then averaging the results, I came startlingly close to this simpler number.  I chose to go with it, though of course there will always be outliers.

So finally I calculated a ratio:  the number of chips a player is likely to receive when having the most tokens versus the number of chips a player is likely to receive when winning the pot.  And really, it all came out pretty well.

Of course none of this makes the slightest bit of difference if the game doesn’t have legs, but thankfully this one is quite a bit of fun to play.  And when playing the game you wouldn’t know there was any of this math in there at all.  When playing the game, you’re just trying to figure out if Joe is bluffing or telling the truth — did he really roll a six, or is he a low-down lying skunk?

I haven’t played the game for money, yet, but it would make a positively wicked betting game.  :-)

Wargame update

June 10, 2011 Leave a comment

I played three games of Wargame last night and was struck once again by how many choices that game offers in such a short time frame. Even though each player only gets 26 moves, the game is really quite complex. As I told my friend and opponent yesterday, “it makes my brain explode.” In a good way, of course. :-)

To be honest, I had begun to doubt the game a bit, wondering if it really was as good as I had initially thought, feeling that perhaps I shouldn’t have released it when I did. Part of the problem was that I didn’t really understand the game, at one level, and had only won when teaching it to newbies. I was afraid that there was perhaps some obvious strategy I was missing, some key parameter to focus on that would render other approaches to the game untenable.

And of course that might still be true, but I’m a lot less worried about it now.

The guy I played it with, C, used to play chess in his younger days and got to be quite good at it. I can’t remember the details, but I think at one point he even played in the nationals. So I was particularly keen to see if he could break the game.

He couldn’t. Granted, we only played three games, but still I was gratified to find that such a strategically-minded thinker couldn’t find an obvious path to victory, especially since (as I said above) each player only gets 26 moves.

I won’t say which of us ended up winning overall, but I will say that it took three games for one of us to win a best two out of three. And yes, this does mean that I won a game! And no, it wasn’t the first game we played, either. :-)

I think what saves the game is that are so many things to think about: you want to avoid losing three adjacent battles (since this limits your ability to switch cards), you want to bluff your opponent successfully regarding the traitors (keep ’em guessing), you want to win each battle by as small a margin as possible (save bigger cards for bigger battles), you want to switch cards in such a way that it puts you ahead in both battle areas (make the most of each switch), you want to try to create “sure winners” on your side and “sure losers” on your opponent’s side (while preventing your opponent from doing the same), et cetera, et cetera.

Every time I play the game I learn more about it. Last night, for example, I learned the value of attacking a higher-valued card. This puts your opponent in a dilemma, since he has to decide if he wants to win with the card he’s got there or switch in another winner to do battle with you.  (He could also conceivably switch in a loser to do battle, but I don’t imagine that would happen very often.)  If he leaves the piece, you’ve taken that piece out of play (and have prevented him from using it elsewhere); if he subs in another piece for it, you’ve caused him to squander one of his five switches on a less-than-optimal trade.  And also, of course, you’ve forced him to go first in the next battle, and that’s not often going to be to his advantage.

One thing that’s interesting about the game is how you can only rarely be guaranteed a victory when attacking (if your opponent’s card is pinned, if he’s out of switches, or if you’ve got an unbeatable card). What this means is that you have to be very careful where you attack in addition to what you attack with.

This was actually how I won the second game we played: though I was far behind, I had won a couple battles on the right-hand side of the board.  There was just one battle area between the two battles I had already won, and he chose that as the area he wanted to attack.  I paid to switch two cards so I could win the battle and take three-in-a-row.  This three-in-a-row prevented him from switching out one of the cards right next to it, so I paid to switch before my attack and won both the battle and the game (since I now had four-in-a-row).  It was ugly, but hey — it worked.  :-)

Anyway, I was happy that the game held up last night under scrutiny.  I was also happy to discover the other day that Chris Hansen has uploaded a number of photos of the game to BGG.  Very cool!