8th summit

Fingersmiths by co-designers Dennis Ku and Daniel Rocchi was declared winner of the 8th annual Canadian Game Design Award (CGDA) at FallCon 2017 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Finalists for the 2017 award included:

  • The Builders of Babel by Fabien Haond
  • Like a Boss By Adam Wyse
  • Fingersmiths by Dennis Ku and Daniel Rocchi

The CGDA was created to promote, showcase and foster Canadian talent in game design

The Road to the Canadian Game Design Award

The road to the CGDA award is a long one. By the end of May designers must send a complete ruleset and a short video with an overview, rules summary and pitch for the game. A team of volunteers judges across the country read through the rules and watch the videos, scoring submissions on Presentation, Theme, Mechanics, Rules, and Overall Appreciation.

Finalists submit prototypes which are sent to teams of judges in at least three cities in Canada who play the games and score again on those same criteria of Presentation, Theme, Mechanics, Rules, and Overall Appreciation. The criteria is described as follows:

  • Presentation: We don’t expect a final product in terms of graphic design. Aim for functionality. In other words, does the presentation functionally impede or facilitate game play?
  • Theme: Is the theme original/interesting? Does the theme come through in the rules and game play? Do the mechanics match the theme?
  • Mechanics: Mechanics will be evaluated based on novelty, game-driven arc, interesting decision points, efficiency and effectiveness.
  • Rules: Rules must be clear, unambiguous, easy to comprehend. Are the Setup, Player Turn and Scoring Descriptions clearly identified? Are the rules well organized? Are there sufficient examples and diagrams?Treat your ruleset as you would your resume. Using this analogy, you need a good resume (rules) to get a job interview (a request for prototype playtesting).
  • Overall Appreciation: General impression of cohesive whole. Judges will be tasked with answering the following questions: Does the game “work”? Is the game exciting/fun to play? Does this game make you want to play it again and again? Would you buy this game? How does this game rank compared to other entries?

Final scores in these categories are compiled and the winner is announced each year at FallCon.

The History of the Canadian Game Design Award
The FallCon Gaming Society and The Canadian Warmers Group had been supporting the gaming hobby in Canada since 1985 when Back to the Future ruled the big screen and the Nintendo Entertainment System finally was released in North America). In 2010 the Society and Group took a further step in supporting the hobby by launching the cross-country design award challenge.

Past Award Winners
This is the CGDA’s 8th year. Past winners include:
  • 2010: Roberta Taylor – Octopus’ Garden
  • 2011: Matt Tolman – Undermining
  • 2012: Paul Saxberg – Coven
  • 2013: Joseph McDaid – Windfall: Gateways
  • 2014: Gavan Brown & Matt Tolman: Super Motherload
  • 2015: Ben Hesketh & Graham Davis: Video Game Studio
  • 2016: Sebastien Bernier-Wong & Peter Gorniak: Sloops!

Other finalists have included Steampunk Rally (runner up in 2014) and Quarantine (finalist in 2013). Winners have been picked up by publishers including Z-Man Games, 8th Summit, Valley Games and Roxley Games.

Winners of the Canadian Game Design Awards have not included Curling or Crokinole, which seem like real oversights. Happy Canadian Thanksgiving anyway!

Robert A. Kouba, designer of BattleLore (Second Edition) and Battles of Westeros, is working with 8th Summit‘s team, the publisher’s of Run, Fight, or Die and Agents of Smersh, to develop and launch the SVG (or SoloVerse Games) system. As it’s name implies, the new series of card games are designed for solo play, but will be sold in many single deck packs that will allow for a mix-and-match customizable experience. The first installment, known as Supehero Solitaire, will be a line of single decks consisting of a single hero facing off against a single villain. These decks can be dismantled and recombined to pit different heroes against different villains.

A single deck with its scoring markers are all you need to begin playing. However, most players will want several decks to experience the ability of customizing their gaming experience by swapping entire suits of cards. The decks are self-contained and there is no need to purchase boosters. Each deck will include 10-20 tokens but a game may be played with generic tokens, so SVGs are extremely portable. For the avid player, a core box will be available that stores multiple decks.

More themes are coming, including a mystery theme, so if comic book-style superheroes aren’t your thing there is more in the wings waiting for you. Their introductory line is certainly hitting a lot of the same chords that Sentinels of the Multiverse played, but with such a solitaire focus and different trappings on the way it is sure to appeal to many different crowds. No word on a release date as of writing this, but there will be demos of two decks at the upcoming Origins Game Fair. Until then, check out their website for the clean art and more information!

agents of smersh ult

Remember those Choose Your Own Adventure books? They were these children’s books where you took the role of the main character in a fantasy world setting out on some big quest. Often, you would get the chance to choose how to act and depending on what choices you made, you would be told to go to a specific page of the book that would react to the choices that you’ve made. 8th Summit’s Agents of SMERSH is like that, only in board game form.

In Agents of SMERSH you and up to three other players are spies during the Cold War era trying to take down the evil Dr. Lobo and his four associates. The game features a scenario book with over 1,500 encounters. As you play the game, you’ll be told to read specific entries from the scenario book. You then react to the encounter and different things happen depending on what you do. It’s similar to the storytelling game Tales of Arabian Nights, but with more of a focus on strategy.

Designer Jason Maxwell said that not much has changed going into the second edition. A few typos have been fixed and some encounters have been rewritten for clarity. The Dr. Lobo track has been shrunken down a little, and there have been slight adjustments made to the coloring of some icons. The biggest change has been the addition of 60 new encounters. Maxwell explains:

“The Scenario Book has 60 new “entering the base” encounters with a completely unique method of choosing which are read by the player based entirely upon a player’s skills. Every player gets one of these encounters.”

“Players use the Scenario Booklet no matter if they have won or lost the board game. This is a micro game that happens after playing the board game. Losing the board game in most cases will have consequences. And again, losing against Dr. Lobo will have further consequences in future scenarios. There will be a few surprises. That being the case, I’m working to make the scenario book replayable as well, but for the most part the biggest fun will be had by playing it through the first time.”

agents board

The Kickstarter offers bundles for the game and the expansion for the people who have yet to experience the thrills that Agents of SMERSH has to offer. For those who already have the first edition, you have another chance to get the promos that were available in the game’s previous Kickstarter campaigns, as well as the revised encounter book, the new Dr. Lobo track, and more. The Funding period ends on Monday, September 1 and the game is expected to ship in February 2015.

For more information, check out our review and the Agents of SMERSH 2nd Edition Kickstarter page.