Showing posts from May, 2015

General News Roundup: 29 May 2015

It's crazy busy here at Smart Play Games HQ, so I only have a few bullet points before I head back to the quarry. :) Until midnight tonight, Belle of the Ball is available on for just $10! Next month, I'll be releasing a version of Suspense on DriveThruCards featuring the art from the Brazilian FunBox edition. The Chinese edition of Kigi from Joy Pie is 381% funded so far! Trickster is almost ready to go to print, I just need your eyes on the rules doc one more time to find any errors. Please leave comments in the doc. Thank you!

Suzanne features Kigi on Board Game Blender

The most recent episode of Board Game Blender covered "Gaming on the Go." I was happy to see +Suzanne S feature a couple of my games in her segment! Starting at 1:06, you can see her cover a bunch of small games that pack easily in a tight space and can be played with a wide range of players. Kigi gets the most screen time, which I'm very happy to see. It's great when my lack of boxes is a feature, not a bug, as is the case when you're trying to carry a lot of game in a small package. Thanks so much, Suzanne! If you want to get your copy of Kigi, visit DriveThruCards !

Trickster – Revised Detective Dishi too powerful or just powerful enough?

As noted yesterday , the Detective's ability to simply draw a card from the deck was really not useful or desirable for a lot of playtesters. I tested out the revised ability last night: Detective Dishi Investigate: Look at two cards from an opponent’s hand. Take one into your hand. Give the other to any opponent’s hand. I may have gone overboard and replaced his undesirable ability with an overly powerful ability. It gives you a one-two punch in that it lets you draft from an opponent's hand *and* lets you take control of the game's speed. For example.... (Names below changed to protect the innocent.) Last night, Steve took a gamble by investigating Jane, who had only two cards left in her hand. Steve kept one card that gave him majority in Red. He then gave the second card to me, hoping to saddle me with an unwanted suit. This left his Jane with no cards in her hand, which ended the game. This was a risk because she had two fewer cards to worry a

Trickster Playtesters! What are your thoughts on these possible revised powers?

Based on input from Trickster playtests I announced the other day, I've proposed some possible revisions to cards in the Fantasy, Tianxia, and Symbiosis decks. Below is the list of possible revisions. None of these are final, but I did want to explain the reason for these changes for further discussion. Trickster: Fantasy Rogue Sneak: Move a card from your collection to an opponent's collection. Reason for change: It seemed that the Rogue's current abilities were too versatile and could do with some more focus. Trickster: Symbiosis Miner Claim: Move a card from an opponent's collection to your collection. Reason for change: This card was formerly referred to as the Archaeologist, which may still be a valid name for this revised ability. Her former card-flipping ability was sort of esoteric to explain in a deck that was already pretty out-there in terms of mechanics. Making her a counter-point to the Rogue seemed a nice complement to a more streamline

Carden ♥️♣️♦️♠️ A Card-Covering Puzzle Game?

It's been a while since I explored the simple physicality of cards as a play component. The success of Kigi's overlapping mechanic got me thinking about it again. I wanted to make another game that used a similar mechanic, but in a different way. At the same time, I've always wanted to come up with some puzzle "system" that could be iterated over and over again for new puzzles. I'm thinking of things like Sudoku or Masyu . I've been playing a lot of La Boca and I liked the idea of a real-time team puzzle game that expanded to a large group. I thought I could use overlapping cards as the puzzle component somehow. Whenever I work on a new game idea, I immediately dig into my longbox of assorted playing cards. I have about 300 standard playing cards from various cheap decks that I use to cobble together my alpha prototypes. So I just grabbed five different cards and started overlapping them, seeing what I could piece together as a game mechanic. He

Heir to Europa - Now on DriveThruCards!

People of Earth! I just released a new game called HEIR TO EUROPA . Get it here: It's an exciting new card game with set in a new universe of psychic intrigue and shadowy manipulation. Designer  +Nick Ferris combines traditional trick-taking games with some innovative new tactics and subtle strategies. It features eye-catching new art by Marisha Lozada, which you can see above. Check out more product shots below: This is my first game from a designer other than myself! It's exciting new ground for me and my publishing model, so I hope you dig it. We're all very proud of how it all turned out. I hope you enjoy it! Once more, you can get your copy here:

This Soup is an Awful Cake: 5 Tips for Taking Playtest Feedback, from Game Design Roundtable

In a recent episode of Game Design Roundtable , Dirk Knemeyer, David Heron, and Rob Daviau discuss the nature of all sorts of feedback from playtesters all the way to post-release reviews. The bits specifically relating to playtest feedback were most interesting to me and I thought I'd list them out here for future reference. Playtesters are usually really poor at self-reporting. Matt Leacock asks testers to just record sessions on video, no written reports. He'll just watch the video at 1.5x normal speed and look for moments when players check the rulebook, check their phone, or just check out completely. If you can't record video, be ready to listen. Rob Daviau lets playtesters talk it out, even if conversation drifts to solutions that he has no intention of implementing. He just lets playtesters keep talking because they'll inevitably talk around the real problem. Communicate your design goals.   Watch out for playtesters who evaluate a game against the

Pick a Card, Any Card: Exporting mechanics from Apples to Apples and Cards Against Humanity.

Shut Up Sit Down has a scathing review of Cards Against Humanity that got me thinking about the core mechanics of the game. Setting aside my own feelings on CAH itself, I wonder why the "judge picks from player-submitted selections" conceit hasn't really spread out beyond a narrow category of Mad Libs-style party game originated by Apples to Apples. There may be a stigma based on its association with other games, similar to how roll-and-move is unfairly maligned only because of a handful of well-known poor implementations. I'm a firm believer in mechanics not having an inherent positive or negative value. They're simply parts of a system that as a whole can be well or poorly constructed. For example, Spiel des Jahres winner Camel Up is essentially a roll-and-move game, redesigned and reimplemented to be an exciting gambling game. Maybe it's because the mechanic is so tied to its originator that designers are reluctant to explore it further? Surely no

Kigi sold out at Tokyo Game Market!

Great news! Kigi made a huge impression at Tokyo Game Market. Reports from the event said there was a line at the GameField booth and lots of activity around the live demo. They had my video tutorial running the whole time, which is a great idea given the small space available at the Game Market. Gamefield brought 300 copies to the show, which is very ambitious for a new game. Thankfully it all worked out! I hope this is the beginning of an even more successful life for Kigi overseas. Many thanks to Gamefield! (Photos from @nasika , @boardgamegeek , @zenxcred . Thanks!)

Updated PnP for Trickster: Fantasy, Trickster: Tianxia, and Trickster: Symbiosis!

I just updated three Trickster decks for open playtesting. These include updated card designs with revamped diagrams that will hopefully be language-neutral enough for international audiences. For the sake of clarity, I did give each card a key verb so you could say "I'm rescuing this" or "I'm restoring that." I found it makes the game much smoother when players had that kind of in-game vocabulary at a glance. Check out the live Trickster rules doc here And here are the PDFs. Feel free to print and play these with your group! Trickster: Fantasy   Trickster: Symbiosis   Trickster: Tianxia I'm eager to hear your feedback on how each works out for you. If you're feeling daring, try taking heroes from one deck and adding them to another. Thanks very much!

Why are board game boxes so big?

After posting the deboxing video earlier this week, discussion turned to just why the heck boxes are so often far larger than their contents. Each publisher has their own reasons and their own financial pressures to make every one of their decisions, but here are some common reasons. Standardization : It's just plain cheaper to pick from a whole line of readymade boxes of a uniform size rather than make a custom box for each game. Plus, a lot of collectors like uniformity in their shelf display, hence concepts like the Bookshelf series. Expansion : When a publisher signs a game that they think has a strong potential for long-term sales, it makes sense to plan for expansions ahead of time. (Usually this applies to card games specifically, like deckbuilders.) The extra space in the core box is meant to be filled with those future expansions. Transport : Having a fair bit of air in the game box (and the shipping box surrounding the game box) helps keep the contents safe and