A heartfelt thanks to BoardgameGeek and my fellow Geeks for your support and wishes for a Happy 2011!

A heartfelt thanks to BoardgameGeek and my fellow Geeks for your support and wishes for a Happy 2011!

After a particularly difficult year for myself and my family including the loss of a very dear friend, one of the great blessings in my life has been the friends from around the world that it has been my pleasure to make through BoardGameGeek. These friendships and our great hobby have helped me get through 2010. I also hope that you have found my blog useful and interesting and will continue to do so. Many thanks for the comments and support from my fellow Geeks and Game publishers!

I hope that you all have a fantastic Gaming 2011!

London, Van Helsing ship first week in January; in stores Jan. 20. – Mayfair Games

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

London, Van Helsing ship first week in January; in stores Jan. 20. – Mayfair Games

(Plant City, FL) – Mayfair Games‘ newest releases, London and Van Helsing, will be on the way to retailers and distributors the first week in January 2011.  They will be available for sale on Thursday, January 20, 2011.

London, a Treefrog Games title by designer Martin Wallace, and Van Helsing, a Sirius Products title by designer Frederic Moyersoen, will be distributed in North America by Mayfair Games.  Both titles were available at Essen 2010 and have received very positive accolades and comments from both reviewers and players.

In London, London lies devastated after the Great Fire of 1666. This is your opportunity to build a new city on the ashes of the old.  Will you favor the business classes, who will earn you money? Or would you prefer to spend more money than you can rightly afford on grand monuments and sumptuous palaces? You must also deal with the problem of rising poverty and the how to employ the many paupers of the city.  Almost 250 years of the city’s history is recreated in this relatively simple game that can be played by 2 – 4 players, age 13+ easily within ninety minutes.

Other Mayfair Games titles by Wallace include Steam, Toledo, La Strada, and Rise of Empires.

In Van Helsing, one player plays Dracula, moving through his castle searching for his brides.  The other players play Van Helsing and his associates.  They move through the castle trying to avoid being bitten and searching for weapons and equipment that will help them defeat Dracula.
Players bitten by Dracula become his minions and try to help him catch the other players (so no players are ever out of the game).  Will Van Helsing and his brave team of vampire hunters stop Dracula before he can return his brides to his coffin or will they become his minions?  This game is for 2 – 5 players, age 10+ and plays in about 45 minutes.

Other Mayfair Games titles by Moyersoen include Nuns on the Run and Bacchus’ Banquet.

Mayfair Games, founded in 1981, is an independent publisher of high quality games designed for gamers and family play.

For additional information regarding Mayfair Games or these titles please contact Bill Fogarty at:

Bill Fogarty
Director of Marketing
Mayfair Games
P.O. Box 3815
Plant City, FL 33563
813.707.6659  phone
813.707.8791  fax
billf@mayfairgames.com

Boardgames in Blighty 2010 Cool Gaming Experiences!

Thanks to all of you who have commented and checked in to have a read here at Boardgames in Blighty. Thanks for all the support from my fellow boardgame geeks and a special heartfelt thanks to those board game companies who have been kind enough to provide me with review copies of their games so that I could play them and write reviews. It goes without saying that I certainly couldn’t afford to buy every game I’d like to review so your generous support is very appreciated!

Well yes this is kind of another award announcements thingy but hopefully with a difference…

Heck, I’m not in a position to tell you what the best or worst games are for the year are nor should I really. It’s just my opinion after all and its all very subjective. I know what I like and when I’ve had a great gaming experience. I can honestly say that I have had the pleasure of playing a lot of very fun new games this year. I have lots more to look forward to in 2011 including a stack of games I am working on to provide more reviews for you. What I will now share with you are some of the COOL Gaming experiences I’ve had this year which I guess on a certain level, are recommendations but are certainly not meant to be an exhaustive list. Just a flavor of what I thought were cool times!

Please feel free to add your comments as to your COOLest times in 2010!

Most Played new gateway game Forbidden Island

Matt Leacock, in my humble opinion, has come up with an absolutely brilliant gateway game. Where Pandemic may seem a bit daunting to some non-gamers, this game hits the sweet spot completely. Each and every time I have played Forbidden Island with non-gamers the reactions have been the same. Curiosity at the idea of a cooperative group against the island, followed by growing panic and urgency as the players feel the pressure of collecting the artifacts as you choose which parts of the island to save as it continues to sink under your feet! Then if you manage to escape, the palpable sense of relief followed by comments around the table of “that’s a great game!” and Let’s play again!”

This is NOT, I repeat NOT a game just for children and anyone who actually says so I would put down to snobbery. This is a great family game but provides an equal amount of fun for an adult group.

Laughs a plenty – The Adventurers

A game group evening where everyone brought their sense of fun to the table was very special. The pulp adventure/Indiana Jones theme works so well anyway but when one of the female characters seemed to remind us of a Thailand Ladyboy costume, and was re-named “Dave”… Well, hilarity ensued as the group raced through the Temple of Chac, grabbing treasures, trying to avoid the boulder… Very surreal, very very funny! Guess you had to be there…

Mind Blowing experience – 1-day road trip to Essen

For the 2nd year running, I hit the road for a 1-day there and back trip to Essen. A bit of a long hall from southern England but sooooo worth it. Essen is simply as big and mind blowing as it gets. Running around ( well, crawling through the huge crowds… ), meeting game company people and designers in a mad frenzy… grabbing new releases (and there were quite a few which bodes well for the hobby!)… meeting BGG people… All utterly fantastic and far to much to take in. Hopefully next year I will go for longer.

Discovering an exciting new game designer – Filip Milunski

I have been banging the drum about Filip recently, and have nominated him for this week’s Geek of the Week on Boardgamegeek.com. I just simply love his designs of Mali Powstancy and Na Grunwald and look forward to playing his future designs. I believe he deserves a wider audience and I call on the larger game companies to distribute his excellent games globally!

Good things come in small packages

I was delighted to play a couple of games from Victory Point Games recently and rediscover the real truth that a good game doesn’t have to have a huge box, 50,000 plastic minis, 500 illustrated cards, and take up the whole table. You can actually produce, small affordable games with nice card components, simple rules that are fun to play.  More power to the elbows of those, especially self-publishers, who give this entry route a try!

Playing in Public!

We joined the UK Play in Public day on December 5th and had a great time!

UK Gaming Media Network started

It was great to be part of forming the UK Gaming Media Network which now has 43 members! We will be invoved in supporting the 2011 UK Games expo as a team which will be awesome.

Cooperative gaming in a strategic fantasy game!

Oh yes… taking the Pandemic thing into a strategic fantasy setting for Defenders of the Realm was genius

Boardgamecamp!

What a great 1-day event in London! Gaming, discussion groups where the embryo of the UK Gaming Media Network was started,  and all topped off with a game design contest where we placed 2nd!

News from Mayfair Games – 1830 going to press

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

1830 going to press; in stores March 17.

(Plant City, FL) – Mayfair Games’ is pleased to announce that its reissue of 1830 (MFG1830), the acclaimed railroad investment and  building game, is going to press.  It is expected to begin shipping at the beginning of March with a street date of Thursday, March 17.  The game, designed by Francis Tresham, will contain the rules and components from the original classic design as well as a host of exciting new variants.  The 2-sided map (one side with a classic look, the other tailored to the additional material) lets players develop the Eastern U.S. as they build and invest in a railroad empire.

1830 covering the years 1830 to present. Players become the stockholders of America’s first railroad corporations. Since the largest shareholder becomes president, players compete for control of the strongest firms.  Presidents generate revenue by building track and buying and operating trains, regardless of shareholders’ needs.  Pay heed to the volatile stock market and strive to invest in flourishing companies in order to earn healthy dividends. Players will try to buy stock in corporations that are rising in value, collect strong, and sell before the stock values drop.

1830 contains, in addition to the original rules and components, a faster-playing basic game and a host of exciting new variants from some of the world’s best railroad game designers.  It is suitable for 3 – 6 players, age 12+, and will have a $70.00 MSRP.

Mayfair Games, founded in 1981, is an independent publisher of high quality games designed for gamers and family play.

For additional information regarding Mayfair Games or this title please contact Bill Fogarty.

Bill Fogarty
Director of Marketing
Mayfair Games
P.O. Box 3815
Plant City, FL 33563
813.707.6659  phone
813.707.8791  fax
billf@mayfairgames.com

Review – Grossbeeren 20 from Victory Point Games

Review – Grossbeeren 20 from Victory Point Games, designed by Lance McMillan

Grossbeeren 20 is another game from Victory Point Games in their line of wargames for ages 12+. This is the 11th in a series of Napoleonic era wargames and part of the “20” series of games which have a core set of rules common to the  entire series based around having a limit of no more than 20 pieces to play the game. Along with the series core rules, each game also includes a set of rules specific to the individual game.

For those unfamiliar with Victory Point Games,  their publishing philosophy is centered on producing small, affordable, well-designed, relatively simple yet elegant games. The main selling point is the gameplay. To keep costs down, the game components are card based, without mounted maps and lots of bits or minis.

Grossbeeren 20 is a game based on Napoleon’s drive to Berlin led by Marshall Oudinot during August 21-23, 1813. Facing him are Allied forces led by Crown Prince Carl Johan of Sweden and the weather! The components include an 11×17″ game map covering the region where the campaign was fought, 15 military units (infantry and cavalry), 6 Cadre units, which are used when broken units are  returned to play plus dummy units for the fog of war rules and assorted book keeping counters. Along with the rules come player aids with the charts needed for movement, morale, retreats, rally and morale. Lastly, and here is the charm, a small set of Random Event cards which bring into play specific events which add to the theme and provide options for the players, some helpful, some not so.

Gameplay

This game system is very similar to that which was used back in the day in games by SPI in the sense that it is a logical extension and sharpening of their Napoleon at War and Napoleon’s Last Battles systems. Having been b a big fan of the earlier systems, I was very pleased to see the modern take. The Game turn is as follows –

First Player Random Events Phase – choose an event card and you will receive information relating to your specific army or at times, an event that effects both armies.  These cards add a nice variety and randomness that is very common in warfare and keeps you on your toes.

First Player Movement Phase – movement is regulated via a hexagonal grid laid over the battlefield map which is very colorful, nice and clear showing the relevant terrain that impacts movement and combat.

Second Player Reaction Phase – The second player can react to the first player’s movement with Cavalry. A nice feature where you can use Cavalry in its proper role of throwing the enemy momentum off balance.

First Player Combat Phase – compare combat strengths, add in terrain effects and come up with a strength differential. Roll a die on the combat table and get a result ranging from units breaking, units routing, withdrawal, exchange of casualties, and engaged in a battle.

Then the steps are reversed for the second player.

Very straightforward for experienced wargamers, but will take a bit of getting used to for those new to wargames but not difficult at all. This is not a game that provides a detailed simulation of Napoleonic warfare down to the detailed formations, etc. This is a high level game which gives you a feel for the overall operational problem or puzzle to be solved, simple mechanics which allow for maneuver and combat and great components and artwork to help the visual element. You won’t get bogged down in the detail of individual units. There are only a handful anyway. It is more akin to a more abstract game but dressed up with tailored to the era mechanics and events.

Did it work for me?

This level of game is ideal for gamers like me on a budget, who don’t have a lot of time to invest  nor interest in brain burning detail. This is much more a game than a military simulation which can be found elsewhere. For me, it is a nice step up from the old SPI games. The limited amount of units and map size is a little bit of a down side as your options are more limited but then that’s the puzzle you are handed. Compared to the old SPI system, I preferred the higher unit count and larger maps which gave more of a grand sweep to the battlefield. Having said that, Grossbeeren 20 works well within its limitations. Played in isolation, I also think that it suffers from not being as grand a topic as the more well known campaigns but it is important to remember that this is a small battle connecting to a larger series of the Germany 1813 campaign. Other battles in this series include the “bigger” ones including the Dresden 20 game and VPG’s upcoming Leipzig 20 game.  I would be interested in playing the other games in the series and I would definitely recommend it to anyone interested in Napoleonic gaming and particularly the Napoleonic “20” series.

Boardgames in Blighty rating – 6.5 out of 10

Family Friendly? Only if they are wargamers or interested in military history


Spotlight on – Up and Coming Game Designer – Filip Milunski

I am very pleased to introduce you Filip Milunski from Poland. I have had the pleasure of playing and reviewing 2 of his designs – Mali Powstancy and Na Grunwald and was very impressed with his talent. Now with the publication of Magnum Sal which he has co-designed with Marcin Krupinski, I felt it was time to showcase him on Boardgames in Blighty as an up and coming game designer. I predict that Filip will become a noted and leading game designer. You heard it here first!

Hello Filip,

Congratulations on the publication of Magnum Sal, Mali Powstancy and Na Grunwald!.

Hello. Thank you!

Can we start by having you tell us about the Magnum Sal, your newest design. What is the basic premise? Can you describe the general game play and objectives? Is it a family game or more for the hobby gamer?

Magnum Sal, designed together with my friend Marcin Krupinski, is definitely closer to a gamer’s game that to a family game. In this game you take a role of a foreman, a manager of a mining team. Your goal is to extract salt from one of the biggest and oldest salt mines in the world, which is in Wieliczka, in Poland. This is an economic game – at the end the richest player is the winner. The main mechanics are pick up and delivery and worker placement with a nice twist which we called a chain rule. Briefly it gives you a choice: do you want to dig fast but then you have to pay a lot to other players who are transporting your salt to the surface or maybe do you want to plan the extraction carefully but you won’t be first there and probably the best salt might be already extracted.

Can you tell us the story about how and when the idea for the game came to you and the journey you have traveled up to the launch at Essen?

It was Marcin’s idea to make a game about Wieliczka. He told me about it and I encouraged him to start working on it. After some time he asked me to help him and finally we decided to make it together. What is quite unusual is that we did most of the brainstorming on instant messenger sitting in our offices (please do not tell our bosses about it 😉 ).

The whole design process took about a year and a half. Magnum Sal is quite a complex game so we needed a lot of play testing to find the balance, but we are pleased by the result.

Your other designs, Mali Powstancy and Na Grunwald! are based on important events in Poland’s history.  Why did you choose these topics?

When I started designing boardgames few years ago I asked myself a question: What should I do to interest Poles in modern boardgames? Unfortunately boardgames are not so popular in my country like in Germany or the USA. Most of the people know only about Monopoly and Scrabble. I thought a bit about it for some time and my answer was: you should pick a familiar theme, topic which is important for the polish people. Another game about banana plantations or castle building probably won’t catch their attention. And I have to tell you that Poles love history. We can talk about it all of the time and historical events are very important to us. Sometimes even too important ;). So I started looking for a historical theme and then the idea of a game about a scout military post popped  up when I was visiting the Warsaw Rising Museum.

What kind of research did you have to do for these games? How historically accurate are they and what is the balance you had to achieve to be faithful to the historical events and making a fun, playable game?

This is a crucial question because in my opinion it is also the biggest challenge! How to make a boardgame which is thematic and historically accurate and playable at the same time?  And I am not sure there is a simple answer to it 😉 .

My attitude is to build a game around the theme. Generally I do not like pasted on themes. When I start work on some title I read about the topic first. In the case of Mali Powstancy my source was the Warsaw Rising Museum. Then I looked for the most important process or idea which should be reflected by the game. In Powstancy it is a fight against time.

It is impossible to completely reflect a complex historical event or situation in a boardgame so you need to find that kind of key idea, or process and then try to find a game mechanic which will suit it.

When I worked on Na Grunwald I had help of a historian who was checking my ideas and if they were historically correct.

What were the main challenges in designing all three games? I’ve heard that you had little time to organize the Na Grunwald! project and get it published. The story of the Mali Powstancy’s young insurgents is a powerful story of bravery of these young children.

The main challenge in the process is patience and careful testing. It is the longest part of designing but also the most important. It is sometimes hard for a designer to find again and again something that is not working properly so you need patience and good testers! Help of other people is crucial. A boardgame designer without testers can not do anything. The thing I like the least in designing is writing the rulebook. ;(

Yes I had only two months for designing Na Grunwald so it was hard time. There were days when we were performing 5 or 6 playtest of it so when it was finished I almost hated my newborn child 😉

Were there any particular surprises along the way?
Probably the biggest surprise was how easy it was to find a publisher for my first game. I e-mailed him and the same day I received an answer that he wanted to read the rulebook. Week later we met and he started playtests, and another month later Egmont decided to publish it. I was really surprised because I heard a lot stories how hard it is to interest a publisher in your game.

How did you arrive at your key design decisions and mechanics?

As I told before I almost every time start from the theme. I read about the topic and then I am give myself some time to work on the ideas. I think about them when I am riding my bike to work, washing dishes and walking with my dog. If the topic is interesting sooner or later some ideas appear in my head and I start to work on them. This process reminds me of a puzzle and is imo the most fascinating part of design. I am collecting the pieces of mechanics in my head and then I try to make them fit with each other. Many designers do this work on paper which is called “rapid prototyping”. I prefer to do it in my head and the first prototype is created when everything seems to work. And the most common mistake is for me to create the first prototype too fast. You need some time to make the pieces of a puzzle fit with each other 😉

What kind of feedback have you received?

I received a lot of positive feedback which makes me really happy and motivates me to work hard on my next games. Of course there were people who don’t like my games (they always will be there, somewhere;)) and I appreciate their opinions because negative feedback is not nice for the designer but it is the best one when you look at it as a tool. If it is only constructive there’s no better learning tool for designer then the negative feedback!

How long have you been gaming yourself? How did you get started?

I started four years ago when my sister decided to buy “Shadows over Camelot”. We played it several times during Christmas and I was amazed that there were games like these. So I discovered eurogames. Polish boardgame forum and BGG and the geekiness started 😉

What type of games do you like to play? Any particular favourites? Any games or game types that you avoid?

I play many different games. The type I enjoy the most is middle-weight eurogames but I also like more complicated economic games and some of the good ameritrash. My all time favorites are Dominion, Through the Ages and Stone Age. I generally avoid most complicated train games like 18XX and wargames which are too long for me and then less fun.

How did you get into game design?

I always was a creative type so when I started to play a lot I really soon thought about designing. My first game wasn’t good but I  knew  less about games and mechanics then. It is important to know what are the most common types of games and games mechanics first and then to think about design.

Do you have any particular game designers and/or designs that you admire?

I admire Vlaada Chvatil. He is really talented designer and has this rare ability of designing really fresh mechanics that suits the theme well like in Galaxy Trucker or Travel Blog. Through the Ages is one of my favorite games and I never refuse to play it. I very much like the feel of Achitocca games. Egizia and Comuni are really great titles. I still wonder how these guys are able to work together in group of four people.

Tell us about your future plans? Will there be wider distribution of your games in Europe and the USA?

I am working on several titles. Two of them are ready for publishing and they probably will appear on the market in 2011. One is a family game about the Baltic Sea, another is a card driven, party wordgame. I also started to work on our next economic game with Marcin Krupinski. I can say that this one will be about XIX century and industry. I am also looking for a publisher for the two player card game set in the world of Battlestar Galactica TV series. It will probably need a re-theme because of a license issues but I really count on that one because it is a game I worked two years on and is greatly developed.

I also designed a game for one of the polish NGO’s and this is also a direction I want to follow – to design games for institutions and companies as a learning tools or support of company’s PR.

About distribution of my games in Europe and USA. The problem with Mali Powstancy and Na Grunwald is that foreign publishers are not so interested in polish theme. Magnum Sal is still looking for a foreign publisher and we are definitely open for propositions.

Any words of advice for others interested in design/publishing their own games?

Do it if you really love playing. Play at least 50 modern boardgames before you start designing. Be patient, listen to your testers and last but not least, enjoy every moment of it!

Tell us where we can meet you this year. Upcoming public demos, conventions? Do you have a website?

The only place outside Poland when you can meet me will be the Essen Fair. I do not have a website yet but I’ve started the process of making it. It should be ready in first quarter of 2011 at www.milunski.pl

Thanks for the interview!