Board Game Design

In all professions, networking with your peers is always a good practice to help get your foot in the door to new places and to improve your skill whether it be coding, engineering, or designing board games.  So Geoff Engelstein, Tim Fowers, and Jeff Beck has decided to launch a new board game design retreat called Tabletop Network.  This will be a two day retreat out in the relaxing Snowbird mountain resort near Salt Lake City, Utah starting on Friday June 8th.

There will be lots of people presenting including Rob Daviau, Ryan Laukat, Tom Lehmann, Geoff Engelstein, Stone Librande, Tim Fowers, and more.  Some of the subjects that will be discussed will be engagement, balance, and emerging trends in board games.  Also, while there will some time set aside for playing games, this conference is meant to be about learning together and sharing ideas to improve everyone’s board game design skills, so you might want to leave the prototype at home.

In order to fund this trip they are using Kickstarter for selling the tickets.  To attend in person a physical ticket will run you $295, while a virtual pass where you can watch all the panels and talks online will run you $55.  So if you are itching to rev up your game designing engine, this retreat may be just the jump start you need.

Plaid Hat Games are sharing previews of Stuffed Fables every Wednesday until the game’s release. This week Jerry Hawthorne, the game’s designer, shared his experiences bringing the game from concept to completion.

The idea originates from a few years ago. After seeing the Pixar movie, Inside Out, he became obsessed with gamifying it’s premise. He later realized that he didn’t really want to make a game inspired by the movie but rather to create an original story experience. His idea to create a game to evoke an emotional response lead him to think about kids and their stuffed animals which acted as surrogate parents. He then thought of weaving his tale around a little girl and stuffed animals which represented different parts of her personality as she grew up. The players learn who the girl is through the stuffed animals. In order to create this story he needed to break boardgame convention by relaying the experience in the form of a book instead of on a board.

Mr Hawthorne realized this would not be easy:

“Writing a story is tough in its own right, especially one that branches in different directions, but what Colby was proposing was to make each scene in the story fit on a ten by ten inch page. This meant that each story needed to be split into evenly sized chunks, and each chunk needed to fit on the given page. And each page had to not only offer a game experience, but also advance the narrative! Writing like this is incredibly hard, but it’s also a good way to focus your approach.”

The story’s antagonists needed to evoke an emotional response so he based them on anxiety and the things which cause us to lose sleep. This prevented the tale from being too dark and scary. For a detailed account of his experiences you can read the full article on the Plaid Hat Games website.

Expected retail release date for Stuffed Fables is December 2017.

We have some interesting Kickstarters this week on the eve of Essen, so lets get down to it.  First on the list is along the same lines as the White Box Kickstarter in that it is more for board game design as opposed to an actual board game.  It is simply called the Board Game Creative Kit, and is specifically designed to allow for you to create a high quality prototype of your game.  Included in the box is first, the box, and to be more specific, a blank white box in the standard square size, allowing you to design your box cover art on it.  Inside the box you will find punch board after punch board of tokens in every shape, dice in multiple colors, player pawns in multiple colors, wooden tokens, and even several different sized boards and player screens.  Basically anything your could possibly need is most likely inside this box.  There are also stretch goals that add more players in the form of additional tokens, and even additional player colors can be added like pink.  So if you need some supplies to prototype your next game, check out this Kickstarter.

Next we have a quick and quirky little card game called The Mennonite Game Card Game.  The Mennonite game is a game about connections, more specifically how can you connect one person to another?  An example example is finding out that someone was your ” brother’s roommate’s sister’s ex-boyfriend’s high school teacher“.  So in this card game you will be doing the same thing by playing out cards to create various character connections to you in your bid to create a tree of 10 different connections before anyone else.  In the game you will be drawing connection cards and event cards, with the connection cards being the currency you use to purchase the character cards to add to your character tree.  Event cards are cards that give you one time use special abilities allowing you to break the rules here and there to give you an edge.  You will draw 4 cards and play as many as you want to build out your tree, first person to be connected to 10 characters is the winner.  The fun in this game will definitely lay in the people you play with as the connections you form on the table will be crazy and weird, to find out more information check out the Kickstarter page.

Up next is the 236th version of Munchkin, and that is Munchkin Starfinder, based on the fast selling new RPG of the same name.  If you have played Munchkin before then there is nothing new here other than the theme.  For those not in the know, Munchkin is a game where you are racing to get to level 10 first, but there any many, many ways for your opponents to mess with you so expect heavy resistance in levels 8 and 9.  This card game is the epitome of take that and so if you don’t enjoy inflicting pain, or are able to take it, then you might want to look elsewhere.  For those who can handle it, or just want to expand their Munchkin collection, check out the Kickstarter page.

Following that is a new cooperative, bag building game called Tabula Rasa from Kid Loves Tiger Games.  In Tabula Rasa you are champions fighting back the malevolent forces of the world and trying to complete quests and increase your power and reputation to be able to eliminate the evil.  As was previously mentioned, this is a pool building game where you are going to be drawing crystals from a bag, and it’s those crystals you will use to perform actions.  You will use these actions to move around the board, collect treasure and power-ups, fighting the minions of the boss, and synthesizing new crystals to be able to more effectively use your powers.  And it’s those powers that bring in some asymmetry, each player has a power associated with each gem, and having those different powers means each character will play slightly differently.  Once enough quests are completed or the threat becomes too high, the final showdown begins, if you are able to defeat the final boss then you win.  So if a cooperative bag building game sounds your speed, check out the Kickstarter page.

And last but not least, we have the dice, worker placement game Monster Lands.  In this worker placement game you are trying to gain the most glory in order to be crowned the new king, but to do that you are going to have to defeat monsters and re-conquer the land.  You will have to build up your clan to be fighting fit, by recruiting warriors, equipping them with weapons and items, and sending them off to do battle.  Your dice pool is going to be determined by your clan strength as well as the mercenaries that you have hired, and it’s these dice you will roll and use to acquire everything you need.  Place on the main board to get items items or more mercenaries, get some more gold to pay those mercenaries, or send a mercenary fully loaded out to battle.  As you defeat monsters you will gain more glory and your clan will become stronger, be the strongest after 6 rounds to be the winner.  You can find out more about this game on the Kickstarter page.

Gameplaywright and Atlas Games have started a Kickstarter Campaign for The White Box, a game design workshop in a box. The White Box comes with everything you need to design the next great board game – dice, cubes, meeples, discs, and punchboards. Also included are an essential set of essays on game design from veteran Jeremy Holcomb (The Duke), and a gift certificate to The Game Crafter.

The Kickstarter Campaign for The White Box will continue through May 17, and is expected to deliver in October 2017.

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The folks over at Boards and Barley have posted a series of articles for aspiring game designers about where to find good components for all your prototype needs. You can check out their recommendations for a game design starter kit, with materials sourced from both Amazon and EAI Education, and if you’re interested look up their more in depth articles on how to find cards, meeples, chits and dice.

game designer

One of the barriers to game design is a lack of components. If you had blank cards sitting around, you would be more likely to start designing a card game. If you had some dice, you might design a dice game. The point is that if you had game design components available to you, then you are much more likely to move your game designs from the Concept phase to the Prototype/Playtesting phase.

Today I am listing some of the items that I find most useful in putting together a prototype. The hope is that you can find what you need to move your game design along.

To read the entire article, you can visit Boards & Barley here.

hyperbole

In this great blog post Grant Rodiek takes a look at what is required to take a game that might be able to survive a few plays to being one that has longevity.  He talks about the various different factors a game designer can take into consideration that elevate games into the category of an evergreen as opposed to simply being the new hotness for a few months to a year and merely being as Tom Vasel puts them “One Hit Wonders”.

To read his blog post head over to Hyperbole Games website here.