Showing posts from July, 2014

Light Rail is now on DriveThruCards!

I'm happy to announce my newest game LIGHT RAIL is now live on DriveThruCards ! It's a route-building game about rival companies vying to take credit for a futuristic city's brand new light rail network. Definite inspiration from my love of Carcassonne , Cable Car , and Tsuro . I hope you enjoy it! Here are some preview pics: Another great print job from DriveThruCards! Get your copy of LIGHT RAIL now! As with all my new products, there is an early bird discount that will end as soon as my next product goes live. Catch this train while you can!

Solar Senate Progress Report

I playtested the heck out of Solar Senate (formerly Alien Embassy , formerly Spheres of Influence ) formerly at last night's Game Designers of Carolina meeting at Gamer's Armory . Still not sure if that theme is working for me, but at least we got some hard mechanics 97% operational. For some background, check out this tag . Here were the changes that I think I'll keep in the final form of the game. This is purely a head-to-head 2p thinkie game. Each player has their own identical deck of cards, comprised of cards numbered 1-5 in a reverse triangle distribution. (1x5, 2x4, 3x3, 4x2, 5x1) Each player has one color-coded token. The first player draws two random cards from her deck as her starting hand. The second player keeps his 5 and draws one random card from his deck. That's the setup. Now here are the gameplay notes. Most of this will be familiar to anyone following this game's development. New stuff is in red. On your turn, you play one c

Christmas in July Sale! 25% off all my games!

For the next few days, get 25% off ALL of my games ! These deals are just ridiculous: 25% off Monsoon Market 's already low early bird discount. Koi Pond for super cheap $11! Suspense for $3! If you've been waiting to bundle your purchases to save on shipping, now is the time. A note: I'm still waiting for the proof of Light Rail to come in, so I can't guarantee it'll be available before the sale is over. Even if not, it'll still have the standard early bird discount, so look out for that in coming days! Go shop now!

Spatula, a Silly Game Idea People Seem to Like

I was talking over some challenges with a current design with my wife over breakfast. I'm working on Solar Senate and I wanted to avoid any mechanisms that called for players to pick up cards. Picking up cards from a hard flat surface is a pain in the butt and often marks the edges of the card in the process. I try to make the physicality of cards a feature of play, or at least not an obstacle. Then I got to thinking about this very old game idea I had during a bout of brainstorming dexterity games that could be played with only cards. The game was called "Spatula." It was a real-time dexterity game similar in structure to La Boca. You can see the basic gameplay in the vine above. It goes like this: There is a big pile of food cards in the middle of the table called your grill . Food cards have a raw side and a cooked side. There are plates on the edge of the table awaiting specific combinations of food, like "bacon and eggs." You have one card in y

Light Rail, and Translating In-Person Tutorial to Print Instruction

Here is the rules doc for LIGHT RAIL if you'd like an early look. I appreciate any clarifying questions or notes you might have since this was a very tricky game to present in print. Explaining the city limits was the hardest part since I'm so accustomed to explaining it in person, where I can use body language and verbal cues to communicate much more easily. Here is a screencap of the two pages which explain city limits:   I tried to convey a physical space first by using one human hand as a frame of reference. From there, I introduced a simple, legal placement. Then I examined two other options for placement and explained why they were illegal. Finally I wrapped up with two other legal placements which would have more complicated consequences for other spaces on the board. I imagined this as a spiral, taking the simplest situation and spinning out to progressively more distant edge cases. I hope that was all clear! Again, if you'd like to review the whol

Interview on the Escapist Podcast

I just did an interview this week with the Escapist's Tabletop Podcast, hosted by Jon Bolding! We chat about the history of Smart Play Games, odd business models, microgames, card games, my design philosophy, and what's coming in the future! Direct link to the audio Subscribe on iTunes  Or watch the video below! Watch Jon and I get progressively sweatier as the interview goes on. IT WAS THAT INTENSE. The Escapist : Escapist Podcast - Tabletop : 007: Smart Play Games 

Sudoku as a City Building Game

Since playing Qwirkle, Iota, and lots of trick-taking games, I've been interested with the idea of denial-by-set. In other words, "you can only play X, Y, or Z onto this space based on what has already been played." In most games, the rule is that you can't play duplicates. For example in Guildhall, you build columns of cards with identical titles, but they must all be different colors. Sudoku uses this rule as a way to make puzzles for you to solve. So I thought about Sudoku puzzles as a mechanism for city-building. Here's the quick outline: Overview... Assume this is a game about building Rome for now. I'll think of something better later. There is a 9x9 grid, but that may change later. I'm only assuming that now because of the Sudoku inspiration and I prefer to change one thing at a time. There is a general supply of tiles. All tiles are colored corresponding to a particular player, though they are not "owned" by that player. Any ti

Light Rail Progress Report

Light Rail will be one of the more simple and elegant games in my catalog. Fast gameplay, approachable but difficult decisions, tricky spatial strategy elements, and a fair bit of luck. Playtest comments have all been positive for a light filler. Experienced gamers like the twist of sharing routes as an area majority mechanism instead of routes being exclusively one type. Puzzling out the logic of the emergent game board has been the most difficult hurdle, but that might be the one little fiddly rule that makes the game a satisfying challenge of mastery. My aim from the earliest iterations as "Train Town" was to make a tile-based path-building game as approachable as Tsuro , replayable as Carcassonne , using no components aside from cards. I think it's pretty much baked! The only rough edges are some graphic design issues to make the Building icons distinguishable against the background at a distance and wording the Objectives more clearly. Minor photoshoppin

LIGHT RAIL: A Route-Building Game

Last year, I was tinkering with a game called Train Town that made the short list in a Korean board game contest, but ultimately didn't make the cut. I've been polishing that concept off lately and trying to trim out all the awkward gameplay while still keeping the core route-building thinkiness that I enjoyed. All this on top of the constraints of a standard deck of cards made for a curious challenge. I've got this core system pretty nailed down and ready for some more thematic twists. For now, here's the basics. Take turns playing cards of their own color in a staggered brick pattern. If you complete a route, check who has the most segments of their color on that route. That player will score points equal to the number of different symbols on that route. In the final version of the game, these symbols will be building icons. If two or more people share majority, they both score. In this case, pink and blue both have an equal number of segments, thus sc

June 2014 Sales Report

Each month, I share my sales numbers for my print-on-demand card games available from DriveThruCards . Here's June's performance! After last month was pretty rough, I must admit. The third in a series of down-trending months from a small peak in March. But boy howdy did convention season turn things around. I held a deep sale during the duration of Origins, which you can read more about here . Those five days outsold the entire month of March! Granted, those five days didn't out earn March because of the deep discounts, but I hoped the momentum of that sale would carry the remaining full-price products for the rest of the month. It sure did! On top of that, I started my early bird discount program with Monsoon Market to encourage early buyers. From now on, any new products are going to be at a reduced price until the next new product release. That plus a lot of built up anticipation for Monsoon Market boosted June's numbers quite a bit. Take a look! 6-2