Legacying: Hacking RISK Legacy mechanics for other games

Dominion-Legacy
I loves me some RISK: Legacy, as do the Diana Jones Awards. Lyndsay Peters and Logan Bonner got into the habit of playing Dominion Legacy. And no discussion of destructible game objects would be complete without mentioning Kevin Allen Jr's Sweet Agatha, which predates RISK: Legacy by several years.

I wondered aloud when larger studios would actually start picking up on this idea in non-RISK games. Sure enough, Asmadi stepped up to the plate with We Didn't Play This: Legacies. As Chris Cieslik mentions in the video, writing things in Sharpie is fun!

Much like deck-building became the hot mechanic following Dominon's release, I continue to wonder how Legacy mechanics might be used in future big budget or indie games. In particular, how those mechanics could be used by smaller, independent outfits like my own. I'll discuss my own ideas in a future post, but for now let's Legacy some existing games.

Scrabble: Legacy
Keep a Legacy document in the game box. (This can simply be the game board, the inside of the game box or a proper sheet of paper.) At the end of each game, each player writes one of the words currently in play. Any words on this list are worth half points in any future game.

Winner's Privilege: Add a DL, DW, TL, or TW to any empty space on the board. A single row or column can only have up to three of each

Carcassonne: Legacy
At the end of each game, each player chooses any tile with their meeple still on it. Each player may write their initials on a field, on the road, in a castle or on a cloister. In future games, a player's initials count as a meeple for that player. Each feature may only have one set of initials, but a single tile can have several initials on separate features.

Winner's Privilege: You may initial two separate features of your chosen tile.

Ticket to Ride: Legacy
At the end of the game, the players choose any non-wild card in their hand. Each player draws a star on their chosen card. Any time this card is used to build a track, it is worth one extra point. A card can have up to six stars.

Winner's Privilege: You may initial a track space on the board. In future games, that track requires one fewer cards for you to build. Each space can only have one set of initials, but the full line may have several.

What other games can you Legacy?

Play the Belle of the Ball Prototype at Origins 2012

Origins Game Fair starts May 30 in Columbus, OH. If you're in the area, stop by the Dice Hate Me booth #809. My good friends there should have the Belle of the Ball prototype should be floating around. Check out their other games while you're there, too! I've personally played Viva Java and highly recommend it. Megan recommends Pulsar, too!

Card Designs for Belle of the Ball

Back of the Guest Cards
County: Wineberry. Mood: Chatty. Interest: food. Power: Mingle. Popularity: 2
County: Dundifax. Mood: Flirty. Interest: Music. Power: Mingle. Popularity: -1, +6 if in a group.
County: Boarbottom. Mood: Chatty. Interest: Drink. Power: Extra Invite for Richminster. Popularity: 0, +2 if in a group with a Boarbottom.
Drink Ribbon: Awarded to the player who has the most guests with Interest: Drink.
Back of the Belle Card

Belle Bonus: Have the most guests from County: Crawhole.
Belle Bonus: Have the lowest Popularity before any Friend Bonuses.

Above is a sample of the current card designs for Belle of the Ball. One thing I noticed from the SuperiorPOD prototypes was that large fields of solid color tended to have a subtle cloudiness. That's common with any digital printer. The easy way to get around it is to use naturalistic textures to mask those imperfections.

However, I use naturalistic or photorealistic rendered textures a LOT in my designs, so I decided to challenge myself with something different: 1) No bleeds. 2) All vector. The solutions you see above are heavily inspired by the current resurgence of fancy typographic posters and labels you might see on a tea package or a beer label.

The images are obviously placeholders for the time being, as are the names. The Belles' names are pulled from the Ada Lovelace directory of women scientists. Just 'cause.

You can see some of the specific art direction on the Guest cards. Particular guests will have monocles, hats, sashes or medals. These don't have bearing in the basic game, but might in expansions. For example, a Belle for collecting the most sashed guests.

I see how incongruous the brightly colored icons are against the hyper-detailed backgrounds. There is often a compromise between legibility and aesthetic coherence. In this case, I made the icons big, bold, and simple.

Belle of the Ball Update: Rules Changes, Production Estimates, Kickstarter Plans


Many thanks to the good folks at Pruvop for hosting the most recent playtest of Belle of the Ball. Lots of excellent feedback!

» Follow the rules changes
» Download the Current Beta Rules PDF [Prototype H]
» Download the Print-and-Play Cards PDF
» Follow the conversation on BoardGameGeek.

Before I dive in any deeper, a disclaimer: All these plans and estimates are tentative, I just wanted to give you all an update on what the kind of planning is involved in producing even a simple card game like Belle.


PRODUCTION ESTIMATES
I've spent the past six weeks requesting estimates from various printers with and without experience producing board games. I tried to find the best deal that would allow us to set an MSRP of no more than $20. I really tried to find a domestic printer who could meet those requirements.

But when all the numbers came in, it was only feasible to go print overseas. Here is the best estimate I have so far.

2000 COPIES
108-Card Decks*           $4440
Color Rules Sheets         $420
Telescoping Box           $1560
Art**                    ~$4000
Kickazon Cut of 15k**     $1500
U.S. First Class for 2k   $2970
Mini-Expansions (SPOD)     $645
TOTAL COST               $14835
COST PER UNIT                $7.095 w/o expansion
                             $7.417 w/ expansion

5000 COPIES
108-Card Decks*           $6450
Color Rules Sheets         $700
Telescoping Box           $3350
Art**                    ~$4000
Kickazon Cut of 20k**     $2000
U.S. First Class for 2k   $2970
Mini-Expansions (SPOD)    $1290
TOTAL COST               $20060
COST PER UNIT                $3.75 w/o expansion
                             $4.01 w/ expansion

* Premium 300gsm Paper Card Stock - Plastic Coated - Smooth or Linen Finish

** These are one-time expenses. Without them, the total cost for 2000 is $9,335; $4.66 per unit w/o expansion. Total cost for 5000 is $14,060; $2.81 per unit w/o expansion



KICKSTARTER PLANS
Per the estimates above, the goal is $15,000 to produce 2000 copies of Belle of the Ball. Here are the pledge tiers I've outlined so far.

$20: You get a copy of the game months before it's available for the public! (International orders, please add $10.) See stretch goals for additional goodies!

$50: GUEST (96 Available): You get a copy of the game! Also, you can name one of the guest cards and get special sponsor credit in the rulebook! See details in the FAQ.

$75: RETAILER: For confirmed game retailers only (please contact us with proof)! Get SIX copies of the game shipped to your store's USA-based address at the same time as our non-retailer backers. This is at half MSRP, our standard retailer offering. A $15 shipping charge is included. Add $10 for each additional copy. Get as many as you like! If your customers are interested in getting the stretch goal rewards, see details in the FAQ.

$125: BELLE (8 Available): You get a copy of the game! Also, you can name one of the Belle cards and get special sponsor credit in the rulebook! PLUS, you also get a personalized Belle of the Ball t-shirt bearing your chosen County, Mood and Interest. See details in the FAQ.

STRETCH GOAL $20,000: Kickstarter Exclusive: Every backer gets 9 extra cards to add a little spice to your party. These will be printed and shipped separately from the main game.

STRETCH GOAL: Every extra 200 backers unlocks a new bundle of exclusive digital goodies for all backers. These include desktop wallpapers, production files, and exclusive streamcasts with the game designer.


CONTINGENCIES
This is the most ambitious Kickstarter goal I've ever considered, but I have a history of under-estimating potential funding. Ironically, this goal is ambitious to me, it's actually the bare minimum for the per-unit cost to be low enough to offer a reasonable price point for the customer.

"Worst Success" Scenario
At $15,000, we can manage the project as a DIY fulfillment operation. The quantity is small enough that we can store and sell them directly to the customer out of our apartment. We'll raise just enough to order 2000 units and then have some left over to sell in the long tail to compensate for any unexpected expenses. We'll just about break even.

Pivot Point
If we raise $20,000, we must decide whether we're a boutique studio (2000 units) or a full-on publisher (5000 units). We can manage 2000, but 5000 is way too big for us. Literally, there's not enough room in our apartment. We'd need to start connecting with distributors, warehouses and the like just to get orders out the door.

Point of No Return
At $40,000, we have no choice but to go into full-on publishing. That represents so many pre-orders that we need to order 5000 units just to have enough margin for lost shipments, damaged units, etc. There's literally not enough room in our home for that many units. For comparison, Carnival got ~1400 pre-orders, Farmageddon got ~2080 pre-orders and Creatures got ~3740 pre-orders, so I don't anticipate getting much higher than this.

It feels presumptuous to be concerned about raising that much money, crazier things have happened lately on KS, so I'm planning for all as many contingencies as I can.

Email Your Ducks: 5 Kickstarter Freelance Hiring Tips

Ducklings
You may recall my last post on the freelance market around Kickstarter. There I mentioned Lyndsay Peters of Dragon Chow Dice Bags. She works with a lot of Kickstarter projects these days. So many that she now has a reputation as a go-to source for high-value pledge tier rewards.

The problem is that sometimes, Lyndsay finds out she's hired for a project after the Kickstarter launches. For one reason or another, the project creators assumed she was available without further confirmation, with no further details on estimates, quantities, or timelines.

So far it's been fine, but eventually Lyndsay will get roped into a project she doesn't want to do or she won't have time to do. How embarrassing will it be for the creator to have to say "Sorry, we actually can't offer these super-awesome dicebags after all."

This little anecdote shows how fraught the burgeoning semi-pro economy can be for a freelancer. I worry about inexperienced project creators getting disappointed when they thought they had lined up a freelancer, but in fact had not. "Hey, you said you could do this!" the disappointed creator might say. Through no fault of her own, now that freelancer got a smudge on her otherwise professional record.

I understand that as a project creator, you don't want to commit to hiring anyone until after the Kickstarter succeeds. After all, that's the whole idea of Kickstarter. Just follow these simple best practices for hiring a freelancer to work on your Kickstarter project:

1. Email the Freelancer
It seems like common sense, but hey... Start a discussion on the record with your potential freelancer. Explain up front what your Kickstarter is going to fund, how much work there would be for the freelancer, and your timeline.

2. Get an Estimate
After getting all the details, your potential freelancer can give you a rough estimate of what she can deliver given your specs. You should have a firm grip on the scope of work before this point. If the scope changes, alert your freelancer and get a revised estimate. Scope changes can include changes in quantity, dimensions, deadlines, and new constraints. Knowing deadlines is particularly helpful since it affects your estimated time of delivery.

3. Get a Handshake (or sign a letter of agreement)
Now that you have an estimate from your freelancer (and any other vendors you'll need), you can let them know when your Kickstarter is launching, when it will be complete and when they can expect to hear from you. Your freelancer agrees to keep some space open in her schedule and to let you use promises of her product as a part of promotion. Otherwise, there is no formal commitment in place and the freelancer will not do a bit of work until the Kickstarter succeeds and gets paid.

4. Sign a Contract and Fill out Paperwork
After your Kickstarter succeeds, you're ready to hire! (This is where you might want some legal help, I am not a lawyer, so take any advice here with a grain of salt.) Refer to the previously agreed-upon terms to write a more formal contract. I usually offer half of the payment upon signing and the second half at the completion of work. Also, fill out any tax paperwork necessary for your area. (Did I mention I'm not a lawyer? Really, get some professional guidance here.)

5. Update your Backers
One of the nice things about a Kickstarter campaign is that you have a ready, listening audience who loves to see new images of the product in progress. Share samples, sneak peeks, desktop wallpapers, etc. The backers will love it and it's a nice audience for your freelancer. When the freelancer's work is complete, pay any remaining fee and move ahead to any final production.

Following these simple best practices gets all your ducks in a row and makes sure your ducks know they're in a row.

Memory and Action Selection [In the Lab]

Platypuses
Sometimes when I'm exploring game mechanics, I get an urge to mash up two otherwise unrelated mechanics just to see what happens. This time, I wanted to mash up a memory game with an action selection game. Here's where my brain wandered.

TILES

There are 54 tiles. The tiles show one of six words (six tiles of each word) and one of four colors (twelve tiles of each color and six rainbows).


SETUP

Shuffle the tiles. Place 36 of them face down in a 6x6 grid. Deal three tiles to each player's hand. Keep your hand secret. Split the remaining tiles into three separate draw decks. The draw decks should be as equal as possible, but do not have to be exact.


PLAY

On your turn, reveal two face-down tiles from the board.



If either of the words match each other or a tile in your hand, you may take the matching tiles and place them in your scoring pile for the whole group to see.




If the words do not match each other or a tile in your hand, you can do either of those actions. You can only do one action per turn.
  • DRAW: Draw a new tile from the deck. Put it in your hand.
  • SWAP: Swap a tile on the board with a tile from your hand.
  • FLIP: Flip an extra tile from the board. You cannot do the action on that extra tile, but it gives you an extra opportunity to score.
  • PILE: Take a face-down tile from the deck. Put it on top of any tile on the board. (If you put it on a face-up tile, flip over that tile first.) The top tile must be revealed and taken before any tiles below can be revealed or taken.
  • STEAL: Steal a random tile from an opponent's hand.
  • TAKE: Take one of the face-up tiles. Put it in your hand.
At the end of your turn, turn any remaining revealed tiles face-down on the board.


VICTORY

The game ends when there are five or fewer tiles on the board or when all of the draw decks are emptied.

At the end of the game, you'll score two points for every matching pair of words. You'll score three points for every matching trio of colors. A rainbow tile can fill in the space of any color.

Player-Controlled Resource Values [In The Lab]

Um, yay?
I'm noodling a little mechanic in my head and I'm not sure how well it works in actual play yet. And of course I don't have the time to really experiment with it at the moment. I'm posting it here so you can give it a shot. Like some of my previous thought-experiments, let's use a stock market theme for the time being.

Each player begins the game with ten chips, a personal "Portfolio" board and a pair of dice. The players share a "Market" board and a general supply of chips from the bank.

Both the Portfolio and Market boards show dice results 1-6. These represent six different stocks. The Portfolio board is where you keep track of how many shares you own in those stocks. The Market board keeps track of the value of each share in that stock.

The Market board
An example of a Portfolio board, with three shares in [1], one share in [3], one share in [5], and two shares in [6].


On the first turn, roll the dice first. The two results show stocks available for manipulation this turn. You may buy, sell or pass either of the results.
  • Buy: Check the value of your chosen stock on the Market board. Pay that many chips for one share. At the end of your turn, the value of that stock rises by one increment.
  • Sell: Check the value of your chosen stock on the Market board. Get that many chips per share you wish to sell. At the end of your turn, the value of that stock lowers by one increment.
  • Pass: You do not buy or sell this stock.
If you roll a double, you may buy then sell, buy then pass, or sell then pass. You may also buy twice or sell twice. If you buy twice, the value of that stock doubles. If you sell twice, the value halves, rounded down.

At the end of your turn, roll the dice again. For the rest of the game, all the players roll their dice at the end of their turn. These will be the stocks you can manipulate on your next turn. These are public so everyone can see what you might be planning later in the game.

The game ends when one player collects at least one share in each stock. The player with the highest value portfolio wins.

I'm sure mathy folks can figure out how well this system works, but I am very fascinated by the idea of players affecting resource values throughout the game.

Belle of the Ball Prototype Cards from SuperiorPOD

New Belle of the Ball prototype cards from SuperiorPOD
For independent or DIY game designers, there haven't been many affordable options for printing card games until recently. I decided to try out SuperiorPOD mainly because their pricing structure was clear, their interface was easy to use and their templates were super-helpful. Here are the results of two separate card orders.

These cards are pretty thick and sturdy. They're not matte or linen, which would normally be ideal for game cards, but they still shuffle extremely well. Above, you see the thickness of a full 108-card deck, which is the largest deck SuperiorPOD offers on their website.

The first order printed much brighter and yellower than I intended. That order was printed from a print-ready PDF (PDF-X 2008 Protocol). I suspect some of those vector elements just rendered unexpectedly. In the second order, the files were simple flattened TIFFs. Larger file size, but also simpler to render.

As you can see, the reds, grays and oranges are mostly the same in both printings. However, the second printing more accurately picked up the subtle beige background patterns as intended.

The blues, teals and greens were the biggest problem areas in the first printing. They printed much yellower, which turned a teal into an aqua. The second printing still had a touch too much yellow in the skin tone, but otherwise was much improved.


And take a look at how thick they print black ink. You can really see it raised off the surface of the cardstock. This might be what makes the cards easier to shuffle. The irregularly raised black ink may create just enough void between the cards to let them sift easily between each other. In the aggregate, this may also make the deck bigger than you expect, so make sure your box isn't too small.

Timelines
First Order
Files Sent to SuperiorPOD: April 8
Shipment Sent by SuperiorPOD: April 24
Package Arrived: April 27

Second Order
Files Sent to SuperiorPOD: May 2
Shipment Sent by SuperiorPOD: May 14
Package Arrived: May 17

Overall, I'm satisfied with the results! It takes some very conscious tweaking of your files to get the best output, but if you're looking for an affordable POD printer for your card games, give SuperiorPOD a shot. Soon, I'll print some cards with The Game Crafter and report the results.

Feedback Loops in Game Design [Infographic]

Feedback Loops in Game Design

FULL TEXT:

FEEDBACK LOOPS IN GAME DESIGN
as observed by Jesse Catron, Jay Barnson, Kyoryu

Design: Daniel Solis (danielsolis.com)

In a feedback loop, the output affects the input.

POSITIVE FEEDBACK AMPLIFIES the output and tends to destabilize the system. For example, the runaway leader. One player takes an early insurmountable lead.

In Settlers of Catan, the player with the most productive settlements will generate the most resources, which enables him to build more settlements and gain even more resources.

NEGATIVE FEEDBACK DIMINISHES the output and tends to stabilize the system. For example, a “take-that” mechanic that gives trailing player’s more opportunities to constrain the leading player’s efforts.

In Settlers of Catan, players are less likely to accept trades with the leading player. The leading player is more likely to be targeted by the Robber.

Balancing feedback loops is an important skill for all game designers.

DECK BUILDING

[ + ] You can use low value “copper” cards to buy higher value “silver” and “gold” cards, thus leading to greater and greater amounts of buying power later in the game.

[ - ] Victory is determined by collecting Victory Point cards, which have no short-term tactical value and simply take up space in your deck.

RACING / KING OF THE HILL

[ + ] Once a driver takes an early lead, they can shift to high gear to increase speed. While the trailing drivers jockey for more optimal position, the leader has few obstacles.

[ - ] Curves and hazards can make speeding dangerous, allowing trailing drivers to catch up. If cars have weapons, this makes the leader a likely target.

KNIZIA SET

[ + ] Players collect several different types of resources. Each resource has unique properties. Some of which may buy upgrades that make acquiring resources easier.

[ - ] Victory is determined by collecting the most full sets of all resources. Focus is spread across a broad spectrum of tactical decisions.

SOURCES
hyperbolegames.com/2012/05/11/game-design-gone-loopy/
rampantgames.com/blog/2009/08/game-design-positive-and-ne...
www.design.wrong.net/?p=14

“Refresh” symbol by Joris Hoogendoorn, from The Noun Project
“Flag” symbol by Brad Hollander, from The Noun Project

Released under a Creative Commons - Attribution license

Secret Action Selection in an Anarcho-Utopian Dragon Ranch [Dung & Dragons]

Claude Jones, The Amoeba Farm
Because there are some obvious copyright problems with the title "Dung & Dragons," I've been calling the game "Dragon Ranch Co-Op" as a bit of a joke. It's a co-op game about a co-op ranch. Get it?... Okay, maybe it's only funny to me.

Completely by accident, this name abbreviates to DRCO, just one letter shy of "DRACO." My mind wandered across various options until "Anarchist" popped up. I thought that was funny, too. What if the theme wasn't just a simple co-op ranch, but an anarcho-utopian commune as well? How that might affect the mechanics of the game?

As you know from previous posts, the central mechanic of Dragon Ranch is everyone choosing actions, then the number of matching choices affecting the potency of those actions. For example, sometimes more people on a task is good, like shoveling poop from the stables. Sometimes it's not, like feeding the dragons too much and causing them to get sick. Everyone decides on their own, but tries to coordinate with each other, in true communal co-op fashion.

But let's say this fictional commune put those duties to a blind vote. What if you didn't know who chose which action? How does that affect the culture of the co-op? Here's a quick mechanic, inspired by The Resistance:

Secret Action Selection
Each player has a set of action cards.
Each card represents different tasks around the ranch.
Each turn, each player secretly hands a card to the leader of the round.
Unchosen cards are set aside. *
The leader shuffles the chosen actions and reveals them.
Each action is resolved in order, their potency affected by number of matching actions.
The leader shuffles all action cards and deals a complete set back to each player. *

With co-op gameplay and group victory conditions, I wonder what emergent behavior this would create. How much discussion would there be between rounds? Would committees form naturally? Would the co-op disintegrate from infighting? Very interesting!

* UPDATE:

 DENNIS:  I told you. We're an anarcho-syndicalist commune. We take it in turns to act as a sort of executive officer for the week. But all the decision of that officer have to be ratified at a special biweekly meeting. By a simple majority in the case of purely internal affairs, but by a two-thirds majority in the case of more--
  ARTHUR:  Be quiet!  I order you to be quiet!
Re: The unchosen actions: Take this even one step further. Say you begin the game with six different action cards. The game lasts seven turns. In each turn, you do not turn in your unchosen cards. Furthermore, the chosen action cards do not get reshuffled and dealt out back to each player.

Assume each player has two or three special secret victory point goals. (Kind of like the Belles in Belle of the Ball.) These conditions could be designed so that they are tied to a particular action. To get the optimum result, you need a certain number of people to do the same action. You only get one chance to contribute to that matching set, so coordinating, coercion, and timing are key.

In a two-player game, each player gets three individual sets of cards. In a three-player game, each player gets two sets. In a four-, five-, or six-player game, each player gets one set.

This also allows for some deduction as the game goes on. Once you see a certain action come up a certain number of times, you know it's not going to come up again. Now remember, there are six action cards, but seven rounds. By that last round, everyone is out of actions! What to do?

Shuffle the action cards again. Deal a full set of action cards back to each player. In this last round, the group has one last chance to coordinate and coerce each other into their plan. Man, I really need to develop this further.

Belle of the Ball live playtest at Pruvop, Thu. May 10, 6pm!


Head's up! I'm running a live playtest of Belle of the Ball with a brand new group of gamers at the Pruvop offices! Interested? I'll have several prototypes available for simultaneous groups if there's enough turnout. As always, you can find the most up-to-date info on Belle of the Ball here.

BELLE OF THE BALL PLAYTEST
Thursday, May 10
6pm • Each game lasts about 30-45min.
200 N. Mangum St.
Suite 201
Durham

You have to call to get into the building. If you're interested, email me at gobi81@gmail.com to get the secret digits!

Century Club Logo Pins and Dice Bags!

Spirit of the Century Dice Bag from Dragon Chow Dice Bags
Spirit of the Century Dice Bag from Dragon Chow Dice Bags
Wow, check out the promotional items Evil Hat has coming up soon. These two beauties bear the Century Club logo from not so long ago! Follow Fred for new info.

Variable Data in Card Game Design




I've certainly had an educational weekend. Right now I'm laying out three card games: Zeppelin Armada, Velociraptor! Cannibalism!, and Belle of the Ball. I'm kind of using Belle as a training ground to become a more efficient card game layout-er, 'cause damn that's actually a really a fun job.

What wasn't so fun was manually inserting every digit and icon directly into the layout. It was prone to typos, misalignments and subtle printing inconsistencies. I knew the big guys at WotC couldn't be setting up their Magic cards this way. Perhaps there's a way to automate this process?

I have some experience working with print houses who do what they call "variable data." It goes by several names, kind of like the Devil. Indeed, the central feature of variable data turns out to be spreadsheets. Not quite Lucifer, but close.

I followed Adobe's datamerge tutorial. I managed to figure it out thanks to several video tutorials that you can see at the top of this post. Each tutorial lacks in some areas, but others compensate. When you've watched them all, you get a real sense of how this can be used in card games.

For an example, check out this spreadsheet for Belle of the Ball. Some of the columns list plain text, others list .eps images that I call where necessary. These images are card icons generally, though the "PORTRAIT" column is where I'll call the portrait art. Now, I can set up one card template and be sure that all the icons, text, and art are in exactly the same positions.

Very powerful kung fu here, folks. Imagine you're making a card game like Magic: The Gathering. Your suits will have different backgrounds, each card has unique art, several cards have recurring icons in different amounts, and all have varying blocks of text. Using layers in InDesign, you can set aside spaces for all these elements without fear of them overlapping each other in unpredictable ways.

Set your background image block in a BACKGROUND layer in InDesign. Do the same for ART, ICONS, and TEXT in ascending order. Then you lay out your image and text frames as per the tutorials above. There you go, no fuss card game layout.

P.S. If you are making a game like Magic, and you'd rather show quantities as a row of individual icons instead of a single digit (like mana cost), there are two things you might do:

One, you can set aside several columns representing each potential space for mana cost icon. Then, insert the appropriate .eps as necessary. This may be tedious, but it's relatively straightforward.

Two, you can create a special font for ALL your game icons. Then, you don't have to call any special .eps files at all. You can just insert normal text into your spreadsheet, set the InDesign text styles to your special font, then voila! You have yourself a card game.

Catan City / Settlement Token Necklaces

Megan continues making awesome meeple board game jewelry but now she's expanded to other board game tokens, too. Love Catan? Like, really really love Catan? This necklace is 16.25" long, sterling silver plated with a lobster claw style clasp. Available in red, white, blue and yellow.

Kickstarter Tier for Naming Rights in Belle of the Ball

Belle-Names
Assume the base price for Belle of the Ball is somewhere between $15 and $20. As a part of a future Kickstarter campaign, I'm offering the option to name all the Guests and Belles. There are 96 Guests and 8 Belles.

What is your suggested dollar amount for a tier with the following rewards?
  • A copy of the game.
  • Credit as a backer.
  • You can name a Guest.

Folks on Twitter suggested something around $50 for the Guests' names, a bit more than that for the Belles' names due to the rarity. If all the cards were claimed at that level, the total would cover the art budget! Very tempting.

When I put the idea out on Twitter, a few suggested that I name all the Guests and Belles to maintain creative integrity. If that's the prevailing opinion, I may compromise and simply list the backer's name in a fancy Victorian ribbon that reads something like "Invited by _____."

Also, if you have some other ideas for Kickstarter rewards, I'm happy to hear 'em. (Preferably rewards that won't potentially delay production, such as likenesses in art.)

Belle of the Ball Updates for May 3, 2012



Made a few more updates to Belle of the Ball this morning. Apologies for the rapid iteration, but it's for a good cause! The offices of Pruvop in Durham, NC are graciously hosting a public playtest for Belle of the Ball on May 10. I'm also ordering prototypes from SuperiorPOD this week. Hopefully those will be available by Origins, so you can demo the game, too! Look for more details soon.


» Download the Current Beta Rules PDF
» Download the Print-and-Play Cards PDF
» Follow the conversation on BoardGameGeek
  • Removed all card text from the guest and Belle cards. Replaced with symbols. (Thanks to all who offered feedback on the rough drafts.) The rulebook now explains the powers in more detail than was manageable in the space of a card. This also allows you to stack the cards in as little space as possible while still seeing which powers each guest has.
  • Some powers are re-arranged so Lordhurtz and Richminster counties don't monopolize them as much. More powers given to Dundifax and Crawhole county.
  • "Steal 2" is replaced with a new power: Swap. This allows you to swap any two guests within your clique. See the rulebook for details.
  • Two New Belle Bonuses: Earn ten points for the fewest groups of three friends. / Earn ten points for having the most cards in your hand. These replace some of the more dull or broken bonuses that were present before.
  • You may now invite AND / OR call a guest in the same turn. In other words, you may invite a guest, call a guest or invite and call a guest. You may not call a guest then invite a guest. Essentially, this models a new arrival to the party finding an old friend.

Listed in BoardGameGeek's "10 Designers Doing Exciting Things"


NateStraight of BoardGameGeek just posted a Top Ten list of Designers Doing Exciting Things. He's apparently been keeping an eye on my output for a while. Apparently I'm an eclectic folk game designer.

"I think we need more game designers willing to take the organic, human, asymmetric, serendipitous approach to game design that Daniel seems to be taking."


Heh! Nate cites Happy Birthday, Robot!, Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple, Belle of the Ball, t-shirts, the Thousand-Year Game Design Challenge, and my various weird musings. Thanks, Nate!

I'm glad he gives a shout out to John Clowdus, too. He and his wife run Small Box Games is specifically geared towards more 2+ player games with quick setup, modest footprint and rewarding replay value. (Usually card games.) Sounds like a mission right out of my own wheelhouse. I'll have to take a closer look at Bhazum especially.

My Standing Desk

Standing Desk Front
Standing Desk Right and Back
Standing Desk Left
Standing Desk Floor Mat

I've been tinkering with my standing desk for the better part of a year. I started with some jury-rigged wire shelving, small IKEA endtables and even my computer tower itself. All this on top of my normal sit-down desk.

Standing desks can be pretty expensive, so I was hesitant to go that far in my quest for the ideal standing/working situation. I didn't want to drop a few hundred bucks on a standing desk that wasn't even the right spec for my needs.

It took a long time to figure out my ideal viewing height, the right height for my arms while typing, and the right height for designing. When I moved to the North Carolina office, I quickly discovered the discomfort of standing on concrete. That's when I got a set of basic floor mats available from most hardware stores.

That's how it was for months. I was content with my unsightly mish-mash. Then Mego found these quite nice Closetmaid modular wooden shelving units. I tried one for my keyboard and mouse. To my pleasant surprise, I had way more room than I had with my hodgepodge setup. Plenty of room for an ergonomic keyboard and mouse somewhere down the line.

Mego got two more units so I could prop up my monitors. Now I'm not so embarrassed about my desk configuration. It actually looks like a proper single-unit. It doesn't wobble precariously like my DIY setup. Plus, I have tons of little cubby space right at arm's reach.
Daniel Solis
Art Director by Day. Game Designer by Night.