All posts by rivcoach

A long time Wargamer, I also enjoy American style games, writing about games and designing games.

Boardgames in Blighty – Lessons and top tips from game designers about the design process

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Boardgames in Blighty – Lessons and top tips from game designers about the design process

So I asked board game designers (including some notable names who graciously responded…) to share their lessons learned and top tips about the game design process and here is what they said…

David J. Mortimer – Design within enforced constraints to drive creative solutions.

Gary Dicken of Ragnar Brothers – Think about solo play from the beginning, it will greatly help the multiplayer design process.

Jen Freeman – 1. Be open to ditching the mechanic you really like. 2. Writing rules down helps, you’ll often find ways to simplify the game.

Paul Grogan – 1. You cant please everyone all of the time. 2. Do independent testing and adjust based on feedback.

Jackson Pope – 1) Playtest, playtest, playtest 2) Not all playtest feedback is right, don’t let it take your game where you don’t want it to go.

Michelle Travis – 1. Complicated =/= complex. 2. Document the evolution of your game. ESPECIALLY why you made certain rules/design decisions. ūüôā

Page West – 1. Don’t know if I fit here (yet) but I’m working on it!Anyway 1. Don’t force anything. Let it be natural, you’ll have a much better flow in it. 2.Make your own game. Don’t let playtesters do it for you. Try some things they suggest maybe. But don’t add it in every suggestion.

C. M. Perry – Rapid Prototyping & Iteration Testing are the heart of design. Finding & Developing the FUN for the target audience are its soul.

Manuel Correia – 1) Until you play it, it’s not a game. It’s an idea. 2) Listen to the playtester’s problems, but not their solutions.

Concrete Canoe Games – 1) Playing gives you more info than anything so get a proto to the table asap. 2) Your game is not your baby, be willing to listen.

Christopher M. Hamm – 1) What worked in early versions may not work now. 2) Warping your game for one thing means the thing is the problem.

Sarah Reed – 1. Playtest with designers – both your games & theirs. 2. Know your design goals & target audience from beginning, but be open to change

Tony Miller – 1. Graphic design matters when it comes to prototypes art does not 2. Playtest with a specific purpose in mind

Jon Moffat – 1. Be open to ditching a design 2. Players are horrible at suggesting fixes, but they’re great at breaking things

Iain McAllister – 1) your rulebook won’t be looked at by anyone but you for a long part of the design process 2) prototype early and often

Rob Harper – 1) A crappy prototype on the table is worth more than a week of thinking it out. 2) Listen to all feedback but don’t act on it immediately.

Tommy Girard – Don’t leave your idea as an idea. Get it into a hard copy as soon as you can. The longer it bounces around in your brain, the more you feel attached to it and afraid to break it. Have a bric a brac drawer full of game bits too. Very helpful for rapid prototyping.¬†Also design a game for you and at least person will love it.

Carl Frodge – 1.Let your theme drive your design and let your design drive your theme. In other words, mechanics aren’t a game, I can come up with mechanics all day long and never come close to making a game out of them, the mechanics have to have meaning, they have to have a purpose and that purpose has to come from your theme.¬†
2. Know your theme. If you’re gonna design a game about pirates, you better do some research on pirates. If it’s about ballet, you better learn about ballet.
Bonus: Don’t write down every idea you have, if the idea is really good, you’ll remember it, if you don’t remember it, it wasn’t important for the design.

David Brashaw, Backspindle Games – Balance. Leave no man or woman behind…

Barnslig Park – 3 golden rules: Testing, testing, artwork

Michael Fox – Test, test, and test again. Then do some more testing! Ask the players to focus on one thing at a time that you really want to investigate. Also, don’t worry if something doesn’t work. It may not be right for the game you want to make, but it may be perfect for something else!

Ignacy Trzewiczek, Portal Games – I want too much. Sometimes less is more. Essence of experience is the northstar. I must learn a lot. I can do better.

Cohort VIII Games – 1) Don’t get lost in mechanics or the latest hotness; chase what’s fun for you. 2) If it’s in the way of the fun be able to give it the axe!

Benny Sperling – Some themes are a tough sell. Designing games is a joy, it should be fun-not a chore ūüėČ

Mark Herman – Be true to your topic and it’s easy to start a design but a lot of hard work to publish a game.

Issac Shalev – My theory theory is inspiration only hits when you’re hungry, tired, or holding a baby. Seriously though, 1 – the playtest isn’t wrong, don’t ignore uncomfortable feedback. 2 – Be bold! Make things that excite you and move you! 1 – work with 2 – profit!!!

Chris Kirkman РCreation requires hard work & discipline, but don’t forget to have fun. 2) Sacrifice food, sleep, & whatever else when inspiration hits! food, sleep, & whatever else when inspiration hits!

Corey Young – 1) Don’t just design one game. 2) When you get stuck, put the game away for a month or two. Intentional procrastination, spurs new ideas.

Daniel Skjold Pedersen Р1) Look for & follow the core experience whatever it is. 2) If you want to make games for a living treat it as work w/ all implications. 

Dan Letiman – 1. Design something that you are passionate about (theme or mechanisms), it’ll be more fun that way! 2. Get it to the table early and often

Tony Boydell, Surprised Stare Games – 1. Take your time; it will be ready when it’s ready 2. You can NEVER playtest too much. Not EVER.

Tristan Hall – 1) pay close attention to informed, constructive criticism. 2) filter out entitled bullshit criticism. 3) carefully work out which is which!

TC Petty III – Start boring. If the game is boring & ends up being fun, you have gameplay. Throw out your 1st couple designs. Your next game will be better.

Brian Lelas – Perfect math is not a fun game. Balance is all well and good but difficult decisions are better. Fun comes from the experience, not the stuff making it all work in the background.
PLAYTEST A LOT.
Also, playtest by yourself first, multiple times – you will find all the stupid bullshit obvious stuff immediately within the first 10 mins of moving pieces about. Only when you’ve iterated on this a few times and are not seeing stuff you know are broken, move on to getting others to try the game. The more you can do to avoid comments like “ignore this” or “that’ll be different later” the less confusing a situation a playtest will be for others.

Giuliano Draguleano – My 2 cents…. tell a story. A nice story, maybe not unique (no such things since 3000 years ago), but something that gets the imagination juices flowing.

Byron Collins, Epic Wargames LLC – 1. Simplify. It’s hard to do. 2. Avoid kitchen sinking your design (see 1).

Robert Burke – 1. Don’t hesitate to kill your babies if playtests show positive results without them. 2. Make the game you want to make.

Bez – 1- whatever your desires/objectives are, keep them (and your target audience) in mind. That helps you filter out the conflicting feedback. 2- shut up during post-game discussion. Don’t defend choices, explain previous versions or (even worse) tell someone how they played badly.

Chris Urinko – 1) find other accomplished designers to give you real critical feedback. 2) Play games to broaden your knowledge.

 

Boardgames in Blighty News – Step right up and get a free pdf copy of Casual Games Insider!

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Boardgames in Blighty News – Step right up and get a free pdf copy of Casual Games Insider!

A free pdf Board Games magazine you say? Well that would be corrrrrect! To celebrate their 6th year of publication as they are almost ready to launch their annual kickstarter fundraiser on July 7th, the good folks at Casual Games Insider are allowing me to offer you a free pdf of their next issue.

They would like to offer a free PDF of Casual Game Insider for me to share as a gift to you awesome followers. Interested? Sign up for your free copy here – ¬†http://casualgamerevolution.com/promo/cgi20 and they’ll send you the Summer 2017 issue after it is released. Enjoy!

 

Also, we have announced that our 6th year Kickstarter campaign starts July 7. We have a new look and tons of great content in the works. I hope you’ll consider spreading the word. http://casualgamerevolution.com/kickstarter

Boardgames in Blighty Kickstarter News – Epoch: The Awakening Tabletop Board game is Live! Will it fire Lords of Waterdeep?

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Boardgames in Blighty Kickstarter News – Epoch: The Awakening Tabletop Board game is Live! Will it fire Lords of Waterdeep?

As you will know from following this blog, I have a strong preference for war games and ameritrash. It is rare when I get excited about a Euro style game. So believe me when I say that I am excited about Epoch: The Awakening from Orange Nebula. 

From the project –

“EPOCH: The Awakening is a highly strategic tabletop board game for 2-5 players.¬†The main mechanic is action selection with advanced resource management and an optional focus on area control. Game play generally takes 15-30 minutes per player. It has a careful balance of depth and tempo, which is a challenging combination. Playing it will give you joy.”

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Looking through the details, this appears to be a labour of love and my first thought was that this game provides the thematic elements of adventure that I wanted from Lords of Waterdeep which I’ve never been able to fall in love with.

So check this one out my friends if you are looking for Euro mechanics but with the fantasy thematic elements that will attract non-Euro fans like me as well.

You can find this project HERE.

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Boardgames in Blighty Kickstarter News – Columbia Games launches Combat Infantry: World War 2 Tactical Block Game

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Boardgames in Blighty Kickstarter News – Columbia Games launches Combat Infantry: World War 2 Tactical Block Game

Well here is a change of pace from Columbia Games. A tactical block game. I would think that the fog of war provided by the block system should work well.

From the project page –

Columbia Games has published great games for more than 40 years, including four Kickstarter projects: Napoleon, Bobby Lee, Victory in Europe, and The Last Spike. Please support our new game, Combat Infantry. This fast-paced tactical game handles WWII squad level with a 12 page rulebook and, of course,¬†our famous wood blocks… a battalion of blocks.

There have been many squad level games published over the past 40 years, but Combat Infantry is really different. The rules are just 12 pages long, but you will find their depth of play remarkable. This is partly due to two simple game mechanics.

First, our signature hardwood blocks give you fog-of-war with no muss or fuss. Because of smoke, cover, and a compelling need to “keep your head down”, fog-of-war is essential to simulate WWII tactical combat. No squad level game can claim to be realistic without it.

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Second, leadership rules that reward players who maintain unit integrity ‚Äď squads belong to specific platoons, and platoons belong to specific companies, each with their own commanders.

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Go have a look at this awesome looking project HERE

Boardgames in Blighty Kickstarter News – The Big Beautiful Book of Board Games: Volume 1 is live

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Boardgames in Blighty Kickstarter News РThe Big Beautiful Book of Board Games: Volume 1 is live 

So a buddy, Neil Meyer is into photography and a gamer. So why not combine both interests? Why not indeed! He has launched a Kickstarter project for a gorgeous, high quality coffee table book with awesome photos of awesome games.

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From the project…

What do you do in the time between playing your favourite tabletop games? ¬†How do you get your ‘fix’? ¬†I know – I feel it too… that hollowness where you just want to open a box and look at the precious things inside. ¬†That’s why I’m printing this beautiful coffee table style book, filled with pictures of over 48 different games and game store locations!

Each game will be spread across 4 pages, with an introduction image listing the name of the tabletop game, the year of release, the designer and artist(s).  Next is a double page spread showing the game at play, illustrating the components and artwork in stunning detail.  Additionally, we provide a short summary about the game, a picture of the box (so you can go grab one!) and information about game time, player numbers and target age.

And here is a list of the games that are featured. Yes I am twisting his arm to include Luchador!

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Worth a look? Yeah I would say so. The photos look glorious and including postage it seems like a nice deal. Check out the Big Beautiful Book of Board Games: Volume 1 here.

Boardgames in Blighty Kickstarter News – Young Enterprise students attempt to win a YE competition with their Kickstarter card game, I Meme It

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Boardgames in Blighty Kickstarter News – Young Enterprise students attempt to win a YE competition with their Kickstarter card game, I Meme It

Hi all! It’s been a while eh? Well, I was contacted by Abdulla Mansour Co-lead Teacher, Kingsbury High School. Young Enterprise UK who is helping a group of High School students with a card game kickstarter project called I Meme It. If they are successful, they can move to the next round of a Young Enterprise competition. I am all for supporting Young Enterprise students so I wanted to spread the word as they have 11 days left on their project. The more young people we can encourage, the more the hobby grows!

Here is the note that I received. Have a look at the project. Its very basic but you may want to back in any case or spread the word, leave feedback, etc. Over to you.

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Hi,

I’m emailing you as a high school teacher, whose students are taking part in the Young Enterprise competition here in the UK. They’ve made a card game called I Meme It, which is similar to Cards Against Humanity. The basic premise is the central card is replaced with a picture, and players take it in turns to offer what they think the best caption would be from a choice of caption cards in their hands.

Their kickstarter (found at http://bit.ly/imemeit) is going well, with 11 days left in this first round of sales. Every sale will bring them closer to getting to the next round of the competition – where they have set up (and by July will have wound up) a company from scratch, learning all the skills required to set up or work in the future. This has thus far been invaluable as an extra curricular activity when applying for universities next year.

If you’d like a promotional pack of the game to review, please let me know by reply email and I will organise for one of the students to send it to you. I look forward to hearing from you, and I thank you for your time!

Regards,

Abdulla Mansour
Co-lead Teacher, Kingsbury High School
Young Enterprise UK

Boardgames in Blighty Kickstarter News -Pirate Shipwreck is live!

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Boardgames in Blighty Kickstarter News -Pirate Shipwreck is live!

Arrrggghhh ye swabs! Thar’s a new pirate-themed game off the port bow in the Kickstarter Sea.

This one looks like a fun game for the family and gamers alike and its all about securing treasure from a shipwreck and preventing other players from doing the same. In the midst of all of that, you will be dealing with hazards so it sounds like you will have lots to challenges to deal with to win.

From the project –

Brave changing currents, perilous hazards, and the threat of attack from other pirates to salvage treasure from the shipwreck!

Disaster struck a pirate ship laden with treasure. Wrecked on rocks in the middle of an¬†archipelago of islands, the pirates scattered to nearby islands on makeshift rafts. With the pirates on each island rising against the other islands to claim the treasure, you can train further pirates from your island’s¬†indigenous population and build rafts to navigate to and from the shipwreck. When navigating, you will follow currents, anchor, or bribe your pirates to paddle harder and deviate from the direction of the current. You will contend with various hazards including whirlpools, sharks and storms, attack other players, stealing their treasure and try protecting your own treasure. The winner is the player to get the most treasure back to their island.¬†

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Pirate Shipwreck is a relatively light-hearted or family game for two, three, or four players. Regular gamers told us they enjoy playing the game as an opener to gaming evenings. Families also enjoy the game – adult players can scale the intensity of play to suit the age of children, whilst helping develop their spatial, communication and imagination skills.

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The good news is free shipping to all EU countries, the USA, and Canada. Shipping elsewhere is subsidised to the same extent with additional costs indicated by Kickstarter.

Check out this nice looking project here!