The Good Ol’ Euros

I talked for England in my little Essen Wishlist videos (thank goodness I cut them down to 6.5 mins) and I was toying with writing an epically long blogpost, then decided against it. Because essentially it would just be a long list and re workings of Board Game Geek blurbs and really, who wants that? No one I should think. So moving on swiftly; if you want to see my general and rather insane BGG Wishlist i’m under LindsayJoMiller, I cut such a lonely figure on BGG, so we should be friends!

I thought I would briefly summarise the end of my Wishlist for 2016 in this post. I was tempted to talk about Rising Five: Runes of Asteros which I must say looks to be super fun, and is another app included tabletop game, however it’s currently on Kickstarter and probably will be in retail at the end of 2017. So for those of us who simply cannot afford hefty pledges right now, well that’s a bit of a wait. As excited as I am about all these cool, innovative and exciting games springing up, to be perfectly honest I’m more of a traditional Euro gamer at heart. It’s the warm familiarity; it’s comforting, it’s cosy, it’s often bloody difficult and I love it. I often talk about themes I like, because I love stories and settings and beautiful illustrations and flashy components. But again, when it comes down to it, and I really think about it some of my favourite games are’t heavy on the theme. I’ve also mentioned that I like a bit of fighting in my games, a bit of battle. Which I do! But again, my all time favourites don’t involve super heavy conflict. It’s actually the quiet, slow burning kind that gets my brain working that I enjoy the most. I like gameplay that’s not too random, there’s not much left to chance.

So firstly I wanted to mention Rhodes and this is definitely one I can see myself enjoying. Read all about it on the link above. It sounds medium-heavy, so it would get me thinking, planning and plotting my potential glory, without my brain combusting (which I do like in its place, but I could’t play super heavy strategy games non stop). It’s an ancient city setting, fullfiling objectives by pick-up-and-deliver and developing your land into a fruitful paradise. Place workers, set up buildings and gather up VPs and cash to win the game. It sounds a bit Puerto Rico esque, but having read the rulebook it’s different enough. Which is ok sometimes y’know? I’m not always looking for something monumentally different. So, Rhodes, I shall look forward to a UK release.

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Secondly and finally, I think that Round House deserves a mention. Visit the link to discover what it’s all about! This looks to be a super interesting economic simulation game, pretty medium-heavy, with sturdy and well established mechanics. I love the sound of moving your player token around the modular rondel board, (I am yet to play a game with a rondel, yippee!) to get the most actions out of your family members. And did I mention it looks beautiful? Always a plus, especially when it’s not a case of style over substance.

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Well, for the past month I’ve talked about new releases, up ‘n’ coming games and future frontrunners, and I am all out of wishes. So I’m really looking forward to actually relaxing and playing more games, because sometimes, between everything else i’m up to I often forget that it’s ok to just sit down, breathe, switch game brain on and forget everything else.

Happy Essen week, and happy gaming!

 

 

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Back This! Mint Works, Justin Blaske

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Meet Justin Blaske, a designer from Nebraska, USA. I originally spied Justin’s latest game Mint Works on Instagram and I was really drawn to its quaint low key design and quirky name. I thought it looked super cool and wanted to find out more. Mr Blaske kindly allowed me the PnP, which I did indeed print and play. I’m happy to say that I thoroughly enjoyed it, as did the other players. For me this is an absolutely lovely and beautifully designed little gem. A cute filler and perfect travel game, easy to teach for new gamers but enough strategic decision making and minty rewards for more experienced players to get their teeth into. Yes I loved Mint Works, and hope very much to get a finished copy arriving on my door step in the near future. It went live on Kickstarter today, it’s a great campaign (I love the promo video, it’s perfect) and you can find the link at the bottom of the page. 

I’ll leave it to Justin to tell you more…

What was the inspiration for Mint Works and can you tell us what it’s all about?

Well, this game came about very differently than my typical game ideas. Mint works ended up being created in response to a design contest on BGG. The contest, run by R4D6, was to create a game that, with all of it’s components, would fit within a mint tin. When I saw the competition, I thought it was really neat, but had no ideas what I could do for that. So I subscribed to the thread to see what came of it, and moved on. A few days later while I was relaxing around the house the idea came to me. Why not make game that used the mints themselves as components! From there, worker placement seemed like a good direction to go. That’s when I locked the name “Mint Works” down, since your mints were doing your work for you, ha! From that point, I started throwing together ideas, realized I could make it simple enough that it could be a gateway style game, and being pocket sized in a little metal tin made it even better for that idea. People could carry this around in their pocket and the game wouldn’t get damaged!

Is this the first game you’ve designed and what lead you up to this point as a games designer? 

Nope, My first game was Area 1851, and I was lucky enough to get that published! It’s had pretty mixed reviews so far. Some people love it, some people think it’s ok, and some people hate that it exists.  If I look at my projects listing Mint Works is my 7th design. Which now that I look at this list, kind of blows my mind how many different projects I have going.

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How did you find creating the campaign? 

Well I had created one campaign before this, for Area 1851, and that was a bit of a mess. I had no idea what I was doing, both in term of Kickstarer design, or the game design industry as a whole. So it’s a good thing that it failed initially, I think – it gave me time to get a better context for Kickstarter and game design as a whole. The Mint Works campaign I think will be much better, and I dare say successfully fund. My abilities as a graphic designer have improved over the years and I’ve done a lot more research into creating a campaign. Not to mention actually being a part of the gaming ecosystem now for several years. When all is said and done, When you buy a copy of Mint Works from your FLGS store you’ll find a ton of fun, in a tiny little tin. The final graphics haven’t been submitted to the manufacturer yet, so it’s possible for things to change a slight amount, but what you see in the campaign page, and in review videos will be pretty close to what you get at the end.

Have you got anything else in the pipeline for Mint Works such as expansions or any future games you’re working on?

Mint Works is so small and compact, I’m not sure what would be a good expansion or addition to it. I struggled to come up with meaningful stretch goals for the campaign, that would still fit in the tin!

I’m not opposed to expanding on it, introducing more advanced concepts and leading new player deeper into this wonderful hobby we all enjoy. However, I don’t think it would work well in the mint tin form factor, an expansion for Mint Works would likely be a little bigger box, that accepts all of the original mint works components. As for other games, yes there are lots in the pipeline, and having my buddy Mel join up with me has brought even more creative engergy to the mix. We are pitching a game we initially called “Dungeon Town” during the publisher speed dating event at GenCon this year. I’m also working on a few other projects to potentially release from Five24 Labs, as well as projects directly with other publishers.

 

I love the simple but attractive illustration and design, was this all created by you?

I wish it was! The game’s initial layout was my idea, and a friendly BGG user by the name of Felix (BGG user ID skoll) offered to do some layout/design for a small project for a geek gold donation. I messaged him and he came up with what became the final design/layout. After that, I’ve made a few tweaks here and there. All of the central images on the cards are from the amazing artists over at Game-Icons.netI’ve attached an image to show you the evolution of the cards from initial PnP to near final design.

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Lastly I’d love some advice as an aspiring designer myself, any hints, tips, and ways not to go mad in the process? 

I guess, my best advice is, make things you love playing, or wish you could play. If you aren’t enjoying the game, it becomes much more difficult to finish the project. Also, don’t be afraid to collaborate and worth with other people. Participate on design forums, both on BGG and Facebook – there’s a lot of people out there doing a lot of neat things. Do a competition or two as well, the constraints can really bring out neat ideas.

Most of all though, just stick with it – and if you find yourself in a rut, shelf it for a bit, maybe it isn’t as amazing as you thought it was, maybe it is. Coming back a few weeks/months later will really shed fresh light on on it. Also, if you plan on going to Kickstarter, read Jamey Stegmaier’s book and blogs, and James Mathe’s blogs as well. Really crucial stuff in there to at least see, even if you don’t want to follow it to the letter.

Thanks to Justin for talking to me, and take a look at the finished product here!

Games, Games, Games!

First off I must apologise for being a bit quiet of late, it’s been a busy couple of weeks, and although i’ve been playing games as much as possible  i’ve been lacking in time for blog posts and game design. Hopefully now I can get back on it a bit.

Something I love to do in my spare time is look up new releases, up and coming games and expanding my already pretty full games wishlist. For fun if nothing else. I guess that’s what a lot of boardgames do! A few weeks ago I posted about games that I’m excited for this year. Well i’ve now found yet more games that look and sound fantastic, and here I am going to share them with you! First up….

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Domek: A lovely family game from Poland. In Domek you build your dream home, where your board is actually a house (complete with cat in the front garden and treehouse) to fill up with furniture and rooms. You achieve this by card drafting, set collection and pattern building. End scores are based on good functionality, quality and design. The artwork is ludicrously cute! Cannot wait for this one, due this year, but no release date as yet.

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Hit Z Road: Ok, I don’t know if excited is the right word for this one. I’d say more curious. I can categorically say that i’m pretty much over zombies. Which is sad, I used to love zombies. But like a lot of things that are over produced it becomes a bit stale.  But if there’s anything that could get me interested in zombies again it might be this game. I don’t like the title (I preferred Route 666, there’s a whole thread about this on BGG that made me chuckle) but I love the artwork. I had some quibbles with Study In Emerald, but I like Martin Wallace. I’m into the kitschy 50’s take. But is it a good game? To be honest it’s too early to tell, there’s not a huge amount of information or rules available at present, but i’m keeping my eyes and mind open for this one.

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The Last Friday: Ah ha ha. I’m a horror nut, I grew up watching films like Friday the 13th (and have hated every single slasher flick 90’s onwards, i’m much more into supernatural/weird horror) and although i’ve seen a few games that are capturing the essence of a horror movie i’ve not seen one that’s compelled me to play. This looks different. I’ve seen a few forum gripes that it’s a bit similar to Letters To Whitechapel (which I wanted a couple of years ago but never bought) but my feelings are kid of like ‘and? If something is a direct and obvious rip off of another then that pretty much sucks, but I feel that most games (especially those that need to use a certain mechanic) will always seem reminiscent of something else and most games have been inspired by another in some way. Nothing exists in a bubble as I always say! But indeed those that pioneer completely innovative stuff well that’s another story. Anyway, this is a hidden movement game/deduction/hunting game where you are stalked round a campsite by a weapon weilding lunatic. The usual cat and mouse horror movie type scenario ensues, played across four chapters. It just looks good! Due for release in August, i’m going to play this out the garden with marshmallows and a horror movie soundtrack. That should please the neighbours!

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Anachrony: With over 2000 backers and another two weeks to go this already hyped mega-game looks just a little bit mind-blowing. It’s a post apocalyptic/sci fi/time travel themed table hog, played over 7 eras involving a two tiered worker placement system and travelling back and forth in time thus altering the path of the game.  Following on from what I said in the previous paragraph I’m always impressed with designs that are innovative especially with the mechanics. Anarchrony involves worker placement, gaining influence, scoring victory points, playing for dominance, all familiar territory so far. But it gets complex. Very complex. So complex in fact that after burning my brain and testing my (not so great) writing skills this afternoon, I gave up. I think if you want to get the full grasp of this game you should definitely go and visit the BGG summary and the official Kickstarter. Much better than me trying to summarise it here! It looks amazing, really. If it’s super heavy you’re after then this is your game. The pledge levels and stretch goals are all worth going for and if I do get the chance to back (lack of money is the bane of my life right now!) I would personally go for the ‘Leader Box’ for the amazing miniatures alone because I feel that I really need more futuristic robot miniatures in my life.

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Shakespeare Backstage: I absolutely love Shakespeare and have played many good games over the last few months. It works beautifully, is straightforward and fun but still requires much thought and strategy. I posted about this a while back and my only concern was once you’ve cracked it the replayabilty is limited. But hey, fear not, we have an expansion on its way. It’s called Backstage and all we know so far is that we’re getting new characters, costumes and stage set. I’m in!

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Days of Ire: Budapest 1956: This looks fantastic. I’ve been waiting for a new war/political themed game that actually looks like something I would enjoy playing and not leave me feeling a bit icky (if you know what I mean?) This could be the one! It’s a co-op game for 1-4 players where one player is the Soviets, the others are Hungarian revolutionaries, in a historically inspired card game spanning 7 days. I won’t go into all the details- you can read a perfectly good summary on BGG! But it does seem reminiscent of GMT’S Twilight Struggle and Labyrinth (TS being a big favourite of mine) and the art by Sami Laakso (of Dales fame) and the designer Katalin Nimmerfroh looks fantastic. I do like good art in a game. Also I have to add that I am very, very pleased that one of the game designers is a woman. I don’t think it should be made a big deal of, and there are women designers out there, but as far as I’m aware (please correct me if i’m wrong, really!) but they never seem to be attached to any well known games, so I hope that this one blows everyone’s socks off. As a woman designing a game it fills me with confidence (‘I can do it too!’ type confidence). I’m stoked! No rules available yet and it’s still due for a Kickstarter (date still unknown) so could be quite a wait for this one.

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Islebound: Ships! Merchants! Sea monsters! Pirates! All wrapped up in an adorable bundle. I’ve been contemplating various nautical themed games and Islebound definitely looks to fulfil that need in the way that others haven’t quite tempted me. In Islebound you sail around collecting resources, hiring crew, commissioning buildings, recruiting sea monsters and pirates to conquer towns or completing events to befriend other towns. You will win the game by being the wealthiest player with the most impressive capital city! Sounds fun, interesting and a game you can get on the table and play without too much faff. I really like the idea of taking different paths to achieve the end goal, meaning much replayabilty, and I like that it seems like innocent fun in a sophisticated package, in the way that other nautical games haven’t quite captured for me.

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Dale of Merchants 2: The Era of Trade Masters: I was late to the party with Dale of Merchants but I finally got my hands on it last week (at a great discounted price!) and I was expecting a tough little card with some interesting choices to be made and adorable animals to say (or squeal) ‘awwwww!’ over. I can gladly say it definitely lived up to my expectation! So Dale of Merchants 2: The Era of Trade Masters, has a great backstory (see here) and it can be played on its own or combined with the original. It’s now 4 days away from the end of the Kickstarter campaign. I’m pleased to say it’s majorly over exceeded its funding goal, so stretch goals will be unlocked meaning more decks (penguins! Beavers!) better quality components and more amazing artwork.

Wow, I think I’m done for now! Thanks for reading.