Friday, December 2, 2016

GJJ Games Reviews - SiXeS by Eagle-Gryphon Games

SiXeS
Designers: Rick Soued
and Steven Poelzing
Publisher: Eagle-Gryphon Games
GJJ Games Reviews - SiXeS by Eagle-Gryphon Games
Disclaimer

Game Overview:
SiXeS is a party game that has a lot in common with the classic Scattergories, but with a few twists and in a condensed package.  Scattergories was a favorite game that my wife and I would play with other couples back in the day before kids and before I was introduced to the modern world of strategy games.  It's been a long time since I've played any games like this, but when Daniel at Eagle-Gryphon Games asked me to review SiXeS, I was intrigued.  Would the game hold up against a beloved favorite?

SiXeS is a casual party game for six or more players that takes 6-66 minutes, but in reality it's probably closer to about 15-30 minutes.  It can probably be played by as few as four and I don't think I'd play with more than ten.  The six player minimum, I think, is mainly to carry the theme.  The box says it's for ages 6 and up, but I'd probably recommend age 8 or 10 for a minimum, not because of any content or mechanics issues, but mostly because of the need to have a bit of life experience and the ability to think and write quickly.  They really do like their sixes in this game.

Components & Packaging:
There isn't really a whole lot to SiXeS.  Just a stack of cards (36 each of three different types) and a pad of double sided score sheets.  The box is a decent quality and has a standard cardboard insert that let's you split the cards into two piles.

There is no art at all in the game.  The cards are very plain with some text and the game logo, however each type of card is a slight tint so they're easy to separate.  There's nothing to really discuss as far as how the components look, they're very spartan, but serve their purpose well.  The card quality is fine, and it's nice that the score sheets are double sided, but there's nothing here to wow you.  I do wish there were more score sheets though.  With only 50 sheets, that's 100 games.  If you play with eight players you're only going to get about a dozen games in before you need more sheets (or just use blank paper).
Came contents: 3 sets of 36 cards, 1 score pad with 50 double sided score sheets, a rules sheet, and the box.
One requirement of the game is a one-minute timer and something for each player to write with.  These aren't included, but with the ubiquitousness of smart phones with timers, that's not a huge issue.  I always found clicking or buzzing timers annoying and sand timers tend to be ignored anyway, so needing a phone or tablet is fine.  Alternately you can play without a timer and just have everyone take what seems to be a fair and appropriate amount of time each round.

Score: 6/10 x1

Rules & Setup:
Setup is a breeze and the rules can be explained in about two minutes.  It doesn't get much easier.

Setup consists of separating the cards into three decks, one each for Match, Unique, and Lightning, as designated by a label on the cards.  These can be shuffled, or just play from the top and work your way down.  This is the type of game where repeating cards actually lessens the experience, so just work your way through the decks and then start over.

SiXeS plays in six rounds.  Rounds one and four are Match rounds, two and five are Unique, and three and six are Lightning rounds.  At the beginning of each round a card from the appropriate deck is tipped and a category is revealed (or six categories in a lightning round).  Players then all have one minute to come up with six words that fit in that category and write them on their score sheets.  For example, if the category is "Sandwiches" I might list out Peanut Butter and Jelly, Grilled Cheese, Sub, Bread, Lunch Meat, and Mayonnaise.  If the round was a Match round I would get one point for every item I listed that someone else also listed.  If it was a Unique round I would get one point for every item that no one else put.
Some examples of Match categories.

Some examples of Unique categories.
Lightning rounds are a little different because the cards have six categories.  Instead of writing six items for one category, in a Lightning round you have to give one item for each category.  You'll score a point for every item you list that matches someone else, just like in a Match round.
Some examples of Lightning categories.
If you score all six points in a round you'll get a bonus point.  After six rounds everyone talies their scores and the highest wins.  But SiXeS isn't really about winning, it's about the experience of playing.

Score: 8/10 x2

Gameplay:
The rules petty much describe the gameplay.  There's no real strategy, other than trying to think of items that you think will be common or unique depending on the round.  

The topics on the cards are pretty generic and shouldn't be affected by time, generational gaps, or culture too much.  There are a handful of categories that are a bit dated, but not too many.  2000's TV shows might be a bit awkward in 20 years, but there aren't any super specific pop culture topics.
Everyone hard at work trying to come up with items related to "Batteries" that will match other players ideas.
And the topics that do get a little specific can actually be kind of fun and eye opening.  I played one game with five teens and three adults and one of the Match topics was "Beach Boys".  The other adults and I listed out the names of songs by the Beach Boys, band members, and cultural associations and ended up having a total of two matches between the three of us.  The teens didn't know anything about the Beach Boys other than they were a band, so they all ended up listing things like guitar, drums, singer, and microphone.  They ended up destroying us that round!
The Beach Boys sure had a lot of hits.  Too bad none of us wrote the same songs down!
I think we only had two very minor gameplay issues.  The first was how much the game slowed down between rounds as each player read off their list.  It was fun hearing all the answers, but it really did slow the game.  That's fairly typical if this style of game though, and even with eight players it didn't bog down too much.  The other issue was with the Lightning round.  The card has six categories on it and players who were sitting further away from the card had trouble reading the topics.  We worked around it by reading the categories one at a time and giving everyone a few seconds to write an item before moving on to the next category.  We didn't use the timer in the lightning rounds.

But overall, the gameplay was smooth, fast, and fun.

Score: 7/10 x3

Replayability:
SiXeS is a game that will get different mileage in different groups.  It'll really depend on how often you enjoy this style of game.  If you enjoy games like Scattergories, Taboo, Balderdash, etc. then SiXeS will fit right in with your repertoire.  

With 36 double sided cards for each round type, you'll run out of score sheets long before you cycle through the cards.  And even after you've played all the cards, your answers are going to depend as much on who you are playing against as the categories on the cards.  
There are enough cards to keep the topics from getting too repetitive.
Even though every game will be different, the gameplay isn't really going to change from game to game.  For anyone more than casual gamers, SiXeS will work best as a filler or game to take to non-gamer family gatherings.  It's easy rules and small size mean it'll be easy to bring anywhere, even for just a play or two.  But unless your main gaming focus is family party games, then you'll probably only play this occasionally.

Score: 6/10 x1

General Fun:
As is typical for this style of game, everyone had fun playing.  Enough so that they asked to play a second time.  Hearing everyone's answers was fun, and the challenge of trying to come up with six items in 60 seconds was entertaining as well.  

This is a great game to play in mixed company, too.  Because of the alternating Match and Unique style rounds, players have to think about what other players may or may not list.  Even though some categories may seem biased toward certain generations, we found that wasn't always the case, as long as there were several players from each generation playing.  

One thing that SiXeS doesn't lend itself to, and this may be a pro or con, depending on your attitude, is gutter thought.  In games like Scattergories and Balderdash, with the right players, it's iinevitable that some of the answers sometimes veer toward 'adult' topics.  This can be a big part of the fun of these games, without the potty humor feeling forced like in Cards Against Humanity and other such games.  I prefer to be entertained by seeing how people can wind up in the gutter through seemingly innocent topics rather than starting the whole game right in the sewer.  However in SiXeS there isn't as much opportunity for that kind of mental deviation.  With only sixty seconds to come up with six items, the mind doesn't have time to wander.  That, coupled with the fact that in most rounds you are trying to come up with the same items as the other players, keeps the game mostly in PG territory.  That's not to say there isn't opportunity to let your depravity loose, there are two Unique rounds after all, just that it takes more of an effort.  The topics also don't seem to lend themselves to that kind of thought either, but then again, some people like a challenge.  But overall, you'll find SiXeS very family friendly and accessible to even your proper Aunt Mildred.

Score: 7/10 x2

Overall Value:
With an MSRP of only $12, SiXeS is a bargain compared to most modern games.  Compared to similar games like Scattergories or Taboo, it's just a few bucks cheaper.  However those mainstream games are often available for even less on sale, and for dirt cheap at resale shops if you're fine with older used copies.  So you definitely won't feel cheated, and you'll definitely get your money's worth, but you can get similar games for cheaper if you look.

Score: 7/10 x1

Final Thoughts:
I was pleasantly surprised by SiXeS.  It was a lot more fun, and was received by my friends much better than I expected.  And dare I say it, but I think it might replace Scattergories for me.  I like the fact that it's compact, quick, and easy.  It plays great with a wide number of people, and its accessible to non-gamers.  I think the only thing Scattergories has over SiXeS is that Scattergories iis more open to players joining and leaving at any time.  In SiXeS you really need to play all six rounds, where as with Scattergories you can drop in for just a single round if you like.
I was disappointed that no one else put McCoy down when the category was "Bones"...
Regardless, SiXeS is a solid, fun, family party game.  If you're looking for a classic style game with a bit of a new twist, SiXeS will fit your bill.  The price is right, and it's a blast to play.  Check it out at the Eagle-Gryphon website, an online game store, or ask for it at your friendly local game store.

Overall Score: 70/100


Did you like this review?  Show your support by clicking the heart at Board Game Links , liking GJJ Games on Facebook , or following on Twitter .  And be sure to check out my games on  Tabletop Generation.












GJJG Game Reviews are independent, unpaid reviews of games I, George Jaros, have played with my family and friends.  Some of these games I own, some are owned by friends, some are borrowed, and some are print and play versions of games.  Where applicable I will indicate if games have been played with kids or adults or a mix (Family Play).  I won't go into extensive detail about how to play the game (there are plenty of other sources for that information and I'll occasionally link to those other sources), but I will give my impressions of the game and how my friends and family reacted to the game.  A score of 1-10 (low-high) is given to each game in six categories: Components & Packaging, Rules & Setup, Gameplay, Replayability, Overall Value, and General Fun.  Rules & Setup and General Fun are weighted double and Gameplay is weighted triple.  Educational games have an extra category and Gameplay is only weighted double. Then the game is given a total score of x/100.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 28: David Simpson

Welcome to People Behind the Meeples, a series of interviews with indie game designers.  Here you'll find out more than you ever wanted to know about the people who make the best games that you may or may not have heard of before.  If you'd like to be featured, head over to http://gjjgames.blogspot.com/p/game-designer-interview-questionnaire.html and fill out the questionnaire! You can find all the interviews here: People Behind the Meeples.


Name:David Simpson
Email:dwmsimpson@gmail.com
Location:Hamilton, NJ
Day Job:Robotics Repair Technician
Designing:Over ten years!
Webpage:www.lostcog.com
Facebook:Gamers on Games
Twitter:@KnighthawkGames
YouTube:Gamers on Games
Find my games at:www.lostcog.com
Today's Interview is with:

David Simpson
Interviewed on: 8/24/2016

David “Knighthawk” Simpson has been designing and playing games for years. He’s involved in a number of gaming projects, including the Gamers on Games YouTube show, which presents all sorts of videos about lots of different types of games and more, from actual gamers. He has a few published games, including Rampaging Jotun, which successfully funded on Kickstarter this past summer. Read on to learn more about David and be sure to follow along to find out what his next success will be.

Some Basics
Tell me a bit about yourself.

How long have you been designing tabletop games?
Over ten years!

Why did you start designing tabletop games?
Started in High School as an English class project, and later became a way to cope with depression.

What game or games are you currently working on?
Dragon Chess : Arcane Battles; Blood and Leather; O.X.E.N.

Have you designed any games that have been published?
Rampaging Jotunn (Lost Cog); Tug of War (Dilly Green Bean Games); Flipping Crazy & It Counts To Win (Knighthawk Games)

What is your day job?
Robotics Repair Technician

Your Gaming Tastes
My readers would like to know more about you as a gamer.

Where do you prefer to play games?
Gaming Group; FLGS's; conventions

Who do you normally game with?
Assorted

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
Depends on the crew, but I enjoy a variety of board games and wargames. I miss playing RPGs, but I lack the time to play them anymore.

And what snacks would you eat?
Used to be we'd kill large boxes of Cheez-Its, but these days we're doing hummus and veggies, chips, and alcohol.

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
I like background music, as long as it doesn't interfere with the gameplay. If it is a game based on a media IP, I enjoy the music from that IP if available.

What’s your favorite FLGS?
NOVA GAMES in Freehold, NJ

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
Current favorite: X-Wing Miniatures (I just got my wife to start playing it, it's her first wargame); Least favorite: Killer Bunnies (I've gone an entire game and never been able to take a turn); Killer Bunnies is probably still high on my list, but I've read through the F.A.T.A.L. rulebook, and G-d help me that is just a horror show for psychos. Oh, also not a fan of all the social-elimination games (werewolf-style games)

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
I like Tactical movement. I'm not a big fan of trick-taking games.

What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
Gears of War - it is a cooperative tactical board game and people just don't seem to enjoy coop games too much where I am.

What styles of games do you play?
I like to play Board Games, Card Games, Miniatures Games, RPG Games, Video Games, Other Games?

Do you design different styles of games than what you play?
I like to design Board Games

OK, here's a pretty polarizing game. Do you like and play Cards Against Humanity?
Yes, but these days only with alcohol and/or sleep deprivation and people agreeing not to pitch a fit over crass jokes.

You as a Designer
OK, now the bit that sets you apart from the typical gamer. Let's find out about you as a game designer.

When you design games, do you come up with a theme first and build the mechanics around that? Or do you come up with mechanics and then add a theme? Or something else?
Genuinely depends. Sometimes I'm inspired first by a theme or concept, other times I have an idea for a mechanic, then I need to find a theme to fit it.

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
No to both

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
Not really, but I do respect the following industry personalities: Gary Gygax & Dave Arneson, Doug Levandowski (Gothic Doctor), Gil Hova (Networks), Matthias Bonnici (Lost Cog), Mike Pondsmith (R. Talsorian Games), Robert Dubois (Dream Pod 9)

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
It just comes to me when it comes to me. I do a lot of work where my brain gets to go a little zen, and that's when the inspiration tends to find me. I sometimes get it from video games, music, life experiences, all over.

How do you go about playtesting your games?
I playtest initially with friends and family, then I bring it to unpub events, conventions, and the like.

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
I can't do it all, so I like to work with artists and layout. I like to do the mechanics as much as possible on my own until I start the playtesting sequence.

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
Trying to come up with something that hasn't already been done to death.

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
Parrish Plesis novels, Trade Wars 2002, Transformers (as a Eurogame), Masters of the Universe, Small Wonder TV show

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
The amount of drama that can ensue and the amount of pressure you'll find yourself under.

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Pace yourselves. Do it only if you really love it, and you won't be getting rich designing games.

Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Published games, I have: Rampaging Jotunn
Games I feel are in the final development and tweaking stage are: Dragon Chess : Arcane Battles
Games that are in the early stages of development and beta testing are: Blood and Leather
And games that are still in the very early idea phase are: O.X.E.N.

And the oddly personal, but harmless stuff…
OK, enough of the game stuff, let's find out what really makes you tick! These are the questions that I’m sure are on everyone’s minds!

Star Trek or Star Wars? Coke or Pepsi? VHS or Betamax?
Star Trek for TV (and Wrath of Khan), Star Wars for movies (except prequels and Rebels); Pepsi (but only with real sugar); Betamax had better quality, but was harder to come by and was surpassed by VHS

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
Cars, Comics, Movie watching, my daughter

What is something you learned in the last week?
My daughter is growing up faster than I expected.

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
Classic rock, classical, jazz, metal; Sci-Fi, War time recounts, comics, manga; All types

What was the last book you read?
Flight of the Eisenstein

Do you play any musical instruments?
Does turning on the radio count?

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
I've been institutionalized.

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
I tried to put out a car fire with a fire extinguisher; I disarmed a kid with a knife in a dance club once.

Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
Not sure.

Who is your idol?
Not sure at this point

What would you do if you had a time machine?
I'd say kill Hitler during WWI, but I think everyone says that. How about invest in the market better, maybe invest in Apple and Microsoft earlier.

Are you an extrovert or introvert?
Introvert, but I fake Extrovert pretty well.

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
I've always had a thing for Angel (X-Men), Colossus (X-Men) and Nightcrawler (X-Men). I'd love to be able to fly, teleport, or be able to turn into a wall of metal to defend my loved ones.

Have any pets?
2 Cats

When the next asteroid hits Earth, causing the Yellowstone caldera to explode, California to fall into the ocean, the sea levels to rise, and the next ice age to set in, what current games or other pastimes do you think (or hope) will survive into the next era of human civilization? What do you hope is underneath that asteroid to be wiped out of the human consciousness forever?
Not sure about the first part, but EuroDisney might be a good target, or that Ark that Ken Ham just built.

If you’d like to send a shout out to anyone, anyone at all, here’s your chance (I can’t guarantee they’ll read this though):
Sasha Simpson - Daddy loves you.

Just a Bit More
Thanks for answering all my crazy questions! Is there anything else you'd like to tell my readers?

Be good to each other




Thank you for reading this People Behind the Meeples indie game designer interview! You can find all the interviews here: People Behind the Meeples and if you'd like to be featured yourself, you can fill out the questionnaire here: http://gjjgames.blogspot.com/p/game-designer-interview-questionnaire.html

Did you like this interview?  Show your support by clicking the heart at Board Game Links , liking GJJ Games on Facebook , or following on Twitter .  And be sure to check out my games on  Tabletop Generation.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 27: Haitao Mao

Welcome to People Behind the Meeples, a series of interviews with indie game designers.  Here you'll find out more than you ever wanted to know about the people who make the best games that you may or may not have heard of before.  If you'd like to be featured, head over to http://gjjgames.blogspot.com/p/game-designer-interview-questionnaire.html and fill out the questionnaire! You can find all the interviews here: People Behind the Meeples.


Name:Haitao Mao
Location:San Francisco
Day Job:This is my full time job! I used to be a software engineer but I got bored of that.
Designing:One to two years.
Webpage:sizigistudios.com, cakeduel.com
BGG:aischarm
Facebook:Sizigi studios
Twitter:@SizigiStudios
Find my games at:cakeduel.com, BGG, Amazon
Today's Interview is with:

Haitao Mao
Interviewed on: 8/24/2016

Haitao is a designer from San Francisco that works as part of the Sizigi Studios team creating games and more. Their first Kickstarter campaign ended successfully for Cake Duel, a fast, two player card game. They have more games in the works, too, so be sure to follow along with Haitao and the rest of his team at Sizigi Studios. Read on to learn more about Haitao.

Some Basics
Tell me a bit about yourself.

How long have you been designing tabletop games?
One to two years.

Why did you start designing tabletop games?
We were working on digital games, but we found ourselves playing a lot of light tabletop games during breaks. We already had a fully prototyped games we found really fun, so we thought why not?

What game or games are you currently working on?
Cake Duel - it's a light card game with strategic bluffing and card counting.

Have you designed any games that have been published?
Not yet, though Cake Duel was successfully Kickstarted in September!

What is your day job?
This is my full time job! I used to be a software engineer but I got bored of that.

Your Gaming Tastes
My readers would like to know more about you as a gamer.

Where do you prefer to play games?
Someone's house

Who do you normally game with?
Friends, most of which I met back in school.

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
Most of the time I'm playing light microgames that don't require much of a time commitment, so if I invited people over, we would be playing something heavier. I've always wanted to spend a day blazing through some legacy style game. I regularly enjoy playing ticket to ride, biblios, and pictionary as "classics". Recently, also a lot of Cake Duel.

And what snacks would you eat?
Get dinner, bring some boba back and play games. Sounds like a fun night! Also, glutinous rice balls.

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
I generally don't, maybe light jazz would be nice though.

What’s your favorite FLGS?
Don't really have a favorite since I mostly buy online.

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
Currently enjoying shadowrun: crossfire a lot. I can enjoy even the worst games with the right people. Worst game might be Meow, though maybe I wasn't drunk enough to play it properly.

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
There's a lot you can do with set collection, and it adds a lot of fun to most games that have it. Least favorite might be counting VPs, I just feel it's such an unclean design and makes things more opaque than they need to be.

What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
Twilight Struggle. It's the best game ever, but nobody wants to play it with me :(

What styles of games do you play?
I like to play Board Games, Card Games, Video Games

Do you design different styles of games than what you play?
I like to design Board Games, Card Games, Video Games

OK, here's a pretty polarizing game. Do you like and play Cards Against Humanity?
No

You as a Designer
OK, now the bit that sets you apart from the typical gamer. Let's find out about you as a game designer.

When you design games, do you come up with a theme first and build the mechanics around that? Or do you come up with mechanics and then add a theme? Or something else?
I usually have mechanics I'm excited about before. It's harder to come up with mechanics to fit a theme than the other way around.

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
Just started entering them!

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
I loved Jeff Vogel's exile/avernum series growing up. That was a big part of my childhood, and it was inspiring to know that he made the game basically by himself.

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
I think about game design all the time: while playing games, while eating, while sleeping, while driving, while talking to people, you get the point. Every once in a while I think something I think about is a great idea, so I'll write some stuff down on notecards and try to flesh it out. Most of the time that kills the idea, but occasionally it survives into something playable!

How do you go about playtesting your games?
Build the MVP repeatedly until I can convince myself that it's fun. Then build it out enough to be able to convince the team that it's fun. Then build out a presentable version, and play it a lot with friends, feeling out what would be better if changed and then changing it. I mostly trust my instincts built up from playing a lot of other games and having analyzed what makes them fun and replayable.

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
I prefer a small team of 3-5 people. It's lonely working alone, but too many people makes it hard to have consensus and stay happy. I suck at making visuals so definitely need help from the team there. I prefer to stay in the abstract while working as part of the team. Thinking, designing, playtesting, programming, that kind of stuff.

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
Making games last. My mission is always to make the game fun enough that it will still be fun after the player has figured out how the game works. After they have seen all the content in the game multiple times and know what the dominant strategies are, they still want to play the game.

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
Warcraft. Lot of interesting character development and story arcs to build off of, it could make anything work.

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
How to market them. Hell, I still don't know.

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Play games that are "relevant" to what you want to make, and think about how to make them better. One way to do this is to keep playing it until it's no longer that fun, and think about what made it no longer fun. If you can easily mod the game, just do so and play some more. If you do this long enough, your intuition will be corrected every time you see a new game come out that has the thing you thought of to make it better (often times it doesn't actually make it better, so you can learn from that).

Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Games that will soon be published are: Cake Duel
Games I feel are in the final development and tweaking stage are: Spells (computer game written in java, put online but never really "published"), and various other games of similar nature
Games that I'm playtesting are: Spirit Chef (iPhone game, internal playtesting)

Are you a member of any Facebook or other design groups? (Game Maker’s Lab, Card and Board Game Developers Guild, etc.)
not a fan of Facebook

And the oddly personal, but harmless stuff…
OK, enough of the game stuff, let's find out what really makes you tick! These are the questions that I’m sure are on everyone’s minds!

Star Trek or Star Wars? Coke or Pepsi? VHS or Betamax?
Star Wars. Vanilla Coke. wat.

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
Rock climbing.

What is something you learned in the last week?
In San Francisco they will randomly tow your car if you have over 1000$ of parking ticket fines.

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
Melodic hip hop mixes with female vocals. Long epics with a lot of world building, or philosophical food-for-thought. Action psychological thriller or romcom depending on mood.

What was the last book you read?
Godel Escher Bach, on the plane to GenCon.

Do you play any musical instruments?
Played the violin back in grade school.

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
Too

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
Open

Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
Ended

Who is your idol?
Don't really have one.

What would you do if you had a time machine?
Not use it. Too risky.

Are you an extrovert or introvert?
Introvert. INTP. 5w4, 9w1.

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
Some martial arts master who can slow time and float but leads a relatively normal life.

Have any pets?
Used to have a pet lobster, occasionally I would shake its claw.

When the next asteroid hits Earth, causing the Yellowstone caldera to explode, California to fall into the ocean, the sea levels to rise, and the next ice age to set in, what current games or other pastimes do you think (or hope) will survive into the next era of human civilization? What do you hope is underneath that asteroid to be wiped out of the human consciousness forever?
The Civopedia has everything we need.

If you’d like to send a shout out to anyone, anyone at all, here’s your chance (I can’t guarantee they’ll read this though):
The Sizigi team for making me fill this out. SIR WOLFY?? Thought it was a..

Just a Bit More
Thanks for answering all my crazy questions!




Thank you for reading this People Behind the Meeples indie game designer interview! You can find all the interviews here: People Behind the Meeples and if you'd like to be featured yourself, you can fill out the questionnaire here: http://gjjgames.blogspot.com/p/game-designer-interview-questionnaire.html

Did you like this interview?  Show your support by clicking the heart at Board Game Links , liking GJJ Games on Facebook , or following on Twitter .  And be sure to check out my games on  Tabletop Generation.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Eye on Kickstarter #9

Welcome to my Eye on Kickstarter series!  This series will highlight Kickstarter campaigns I am following that have recently launched (or I've recently discovered) because they have caught my interest.  Usually they'll catch my interest because they look like great games that I have either backed or would like to back (unfortunately budget doesn't allow me to back everything I'd like to).  But occasionally the campaigns caught my attention for other reasons.  Twice a month, on the 2nd and 4th Fridays, I'll make a new post in this series, highlighting the campaigns that have caught my attention since the last post.  In each post I'll highlight one campaign that has really grabbed my attention, followed by other campaigns I've backed or am interested in.  I'll also include links to any reviews I've done.  Comments are welcome, as are suggestions for new campaigns to check out!

You can also see my full Kickstarter Profile to see what I've backed or my old Eye on Kickstarter page that was too unwieldy to maintain.  Also, check out the 2016 Kickstarter Boardgame Projects geeklist over on Board Game Geek for a list of all the tabletop games of the year.

So, without further ado, here are the projects I'm currently watching as of the second Friday of November, 2016:


HIGHLIGHTED CAMPAIGN
Abandon Planet
  • GJJ Games Backed
  • I had a chance to play a prototype of Abandon Planet at Protospiel last April and it really works well. A great, unusual blend of social and euro elements. Definitely worth checking out!


A board game for 4-8 players about building rockets and escaping the meteor apocalypse.

From the creator of The Resistance and Avalon, Abandon Planet is a new game about escaping the meteor apocalypse. It's an experience of survival, betrayal, and fragile alliances in the moments before Earth is annihilated. Anyone who doesn't want to die on the soon-to-be-burning rock will have to team up with a partner to outfit their janky rocket transport for the interplanetary jump. But everyone's looking out for number one, and alliances can change at any time.

Each round players secretly decide which direction to send their rocket. They reveal their choices simultaneously, and then take turns flying out to the remaining chunks of earth, to pick up what they need or steal it from each other. This would all be safe and pleasant if it weren't for the deadly meteor that will strike at the end of the round, drastically altering the map and damaging any rockets in its path. One player knows in advance where the meteor will hit, but depending on who they choose to share that information with … well, let's just say you learn who your friends are pretty quick in a meteor apocalypse.





Doug Doug Goose Caboose
  • This looks like a super silly icebreaker game that might be good to grab for my Scouts. I'll keep an eye on this project.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 26: Phil Vestal

Welcome to People Behind the Meeples, a series of interviews with indie game designers.  Here you'll find out more than you ever wanted to know about the people who make the best games that you may or may not have heard of before.  If you'd like to be featured, head over to http://gjjgames.blogspot.com/p/game-designer-interview-questionnaire.html and fill out the questionnaire! You can find all the interviews here: People Behind the Meeples.


Name:Phil Vestal
Email:pavestal@gmail.com
Location:Chicago, IL, USA
Day Job:Pastor
Designing:One to two years.
Webpage:www.wantedearth.com
BGG:pavestal
Facebook:phil.vestal
Twitter:@WantedEarth
Find my games at:Kickstarter early next year
Today's Interview is with:

Phil Vestal
Interviewed on: 8/24/2016

Phil Vestal is another fairly local game designer. Unfortunately we haven't crossed paths in real life yet, only online, but hopefully someday we'll have the chance to playtest each other's games. Phil has been working on a pretty awesome miniatures game called Wanted Earth. Be sure to check it out and watch for a Kickstarter for it coming next year.

Some Basics
Tell me a bit about yourself.

How long have you been designing tabletop games?
One to two years.

Why did you start designing tabletop games?
I have always loved playing games from monopoly and risk as a little kid to Catan, Werewolf, and Stone Age today. My game partner (Eddie) and I each recently had children and our lifestyles were kind of forced to change (in a good way but also a way that impacted how we could play games). We had to rethink the types of games we can play due to time constraints. We realized that there were games we couldn't easily play anymore and wondered if we could come up with something that was like the games we loved, just as epic and immersive, but wasn't as complicated and time consuming.

What game or games are you currently working on?
It's called Wanted Earth. It's a miniatures board game. RPG Strategy.

Have you designed any games that have been published?
No

What is your day job?
Pastor

Your Gaming Tastes
My readers would like to know more about you as a gamer.

Where do you prefer to play games?
Usually at people's houses or on vacation.

Who do you normally game with?
Closest friends and family

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
Werewolf, Catan, Mysterium, and always new games friends have discovered

And what snacks would you eat?
Dr. Pepper, chips, homemade cookies (our wives make great cookies), pizza

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
Probably some sort of EDM but usually I am so focused I don’t hear what is playing!

What’s your favorite FLGS?
Grapple Games in New Lenox, IL

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
Love Carcassonne. Least favorite I still enjoy-probably Ticket to Ride. Overplayed it and now I still enjoy it but it has fallen slightly out of favor in the family. Worst game-A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Perilous Parlor Game. Played it because we found it buried in storage. Interesting but not very good.

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
Favorite-Hidden Identities such as Werewolf. I love spinning tales and trying to confuse people and figure out who they are. Least favorite-Backstabbing. It's a ton of fun in theory but when an ally turns on me, ouch. I am always nervous people will gang up on me, haha.

What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
Monopoly. Most people won't sit down and play it because of how long it takes and the other great games out there that people would rather try out. Favorite game of mine as a child but just can't find a way to get it out anymore.

What styles of games do you play?
I like to play Board Games, Card Games, Miniatures Games, RPG Games, Video Games

Do you design different styles of games than what you play?
I like to design Board Games, Miniatures Games, RPG Games

OK, here's a pretty polarizing game. Do you like and play Cards Against Humanity?
Yes, depending on the group

You as a Designer
OK, now the bit that sets you apart from the typical gamer. Let's find out about you as a game designer.

When you design games, do you come up with a theme first and build the mechanics around that? Or do you come up with mechanics and then add a theme? Or something else?
For our game, my partner Eddie came up with the original theme and mechanics and they really started out together and fit well, but as time has gone on some of the mechanics have changed and improved while the theme has stayed pretty consistent.

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
No

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
Have really enjoyed Matt Leacock games recently.

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
All the time! My partner came up with the original concept for the game because he's an extremely creative guy and we just keep meeting, talking about it, texting, waking up in the middle of the night with ideas, and talking to people. Just living in the universe constantly and trying to get as much feedback as possible.

How do you go about playtesting your games?
Friends and family, soon we will go to board game stores and other groups of gamers, and then keep fanning out through networking from there.

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
Team for sure! I have always thought that ideas are better when they are challenged and enlarged as different people wrestle with them. For Wanted Earth, our team has been key and we are lucky to be able to work with a couple of groups of artists that are amazing. They have not only helped bring our vision to life but have improved upon it.

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
Trying to keep fresh eyes on the project. We find that it's very difficult to stay objective about our own work. Some days I love it and some days I hate it and it's hard to tell what's realistic sometimes without having a neutral, outside perspective. We think something will or won't work and we can debate endlessly with ourselves until we just get someone else to take a look at it. We want to make something people will love, will have a blast with other people playing, and for me it's been hardest to see the game from an outsider perspective because you get too close. Balancing the game and making sure a character isn't too OP and making sure there aren't any ways to hack the game is a big challenge as well.

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
If you mean something that has IP already and that I would like to use? Characters from skits and such. We would love to make a character based upon Scott Sterling (from Studio C). We have a hilarious and fun idea but I don't think we can get the rights. We have considered other similar character type IP stuff. Not sure if that's what you were looking for! [GJJ Games] Exactly! Thanks!

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
How much fun it is and how great the community is. I would have started a long time ago.

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Create a game you love because it's going to kick your butt in the process! If you don't love it then you will give up. So start with something you find to be out of this world fun and be ready to make changes. Don't white knuckle anything too tightly because it's probably going to change.

Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Games that will soon be published are: Wanted Earth-not through a publisher but hopefully publish it ourselves with funding through Kickstarter
I'm planning to crowdfund: Wanted Earth-the plan is to go to Kickstarter in early 2017
Games that I'm playtesting are: We are currently Playtesting Wanted Earth! If you live within a few hours of the Chicago area and want to check out it, feel free to shoot me an email! We’d love to get something set up. pavestal@gmail.com

Are you a member of any Facebook or other design groups? (Game Maker’s Lab, Card and Board Game Developers Guild, etc.)
Lots of them. Card and Board Game Designers Guild is one, plus a number of others.

And the oddly personal, but harmless stuff…
OK, enough of the game stuff, let's find out what really makes you tick! These are the questions that I’m sure are on everyone’s minds!

Star Trek or Star Wars? Coke or Pepsi? VHS or Betamax?
Star Wars all the way. Pepsi. It used to be Coke but I spent a few months in Israel and they only sold Pepsi and I got hooked. VHS-I just love when all the tape comes streaming out and you have to try to unhook it from the inside of the player.

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
I love playing and watching sports. There are no words to express how great fantasy sports are.

What is something you learned in the last week?
That problems have solutions. Give it time and keep thinking about it. It's probably not as bad as it seems on the surface. Also, that a CEO can really kill a stock price even if they are running a good company.

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
Love the Marvel movies. Adventure books are a lot of fun. I tend to read a ton of non-fiction because I like to learn, but books that are not connected in any way to reality and take a character on an epic journey serve as a great relief.

What was the last book you read?
Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. A couple of Navy Seals share about what they have learned about leadership and growing as individuals. It should be a must read for everyone. It changed a lot for me.

Do you play any musical instruments?
No. And I think the world is a better place because I don't.

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
That I’m a pastor. It often has all kinds of stereotypes that go along with it and that makes me sad! I like to pride myself on being an open-minded and loving person. I hope that people I meet come away feeling that!

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
I lived in Africa and had a spitting Cobra in my house. Instead of running away I pulled out my video camera and filmed it. Made for a sweet story.

Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
One night I was in Amman, Jordan and some friends and I lost track of time and got stuck at a Starbucks (lame that we were at a Starbucks but we missed things from home). We didn't realize that getting a taxi was going to be nearly impossible. When we were there, the state department had warned that you shouldn't be out at night because of kidnappings of westerners. Oops. Well, after like 30-40 minutes we actually started getting a little nervous that we weren't going to get back to the hotel. A couple of teens came up to us and asked what we were doing. We explained the situation and the fact that we had no idea where our hotel was. They spoke English and Arabic so they helped get us a taxi, and then rode with us as they spoke on the phone with other friends getting directions. We finally made it to the hotel and when I asked what the fare was, they told us that it was on them. When they were in the US, we could pay their cab fare. Dang. That changed the way I viewed people and the world as a whole. Bad decision that changed my life for the better.

Who is your idol?
Jocko Willink. The guy who wrote the book I discussed above. He has a podcast as well and the guy should seriously run for president. He's a great leader and he has helped me as a person from my parenting to my leadership and work ethic.

What would you do if you had a time machine?
I would definitely go to the future. The way technology is changing, I would love to know what people in 200 years are capable of.

Are you an extrovert or introvert?
Extrovert

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
Iron Man. The guy is not only smart but has enough resources to make a major difference in the world. Not that people without money can't make a difference because they absolutely can, but the sheer possibility of what he could do to make people's lives better is astounding. Plus, he is a brilliant inventor and has a superhero suit. Crazy.

Have any pets?
2 cats but they think they are people.

When the next asteroid hits Earth, causing the Yellowstone caldera to explode, California to fall into the ocean, the sea levels to rise, and the next ice age to set in, what current games or other pastimes do you think (or hope) will survive into the next era of human civilization? What do you hope is underneath that asteroid to be wiped out of the human consciousness forever?
Survive-A deck of cards (so many possibilities), Pokemon (what a great game in all it's manifestations), football and basketball (have to stay in shape), and Werewolf (it's a big party game). I'm sure I would like more games but I won't be greedy. I wouldn't mind if 5 Crowns was taken. I'm not a big fan of the go in a circle and collect random groupings of cards games. But if it survived I'm sure someone could convince me to play it.

If you’d like to send a shout out to anyone, anyone at all, here’s your chance (I can’t guarantee they’ll read this though):
Erin and Anneke, my wife and my game partners wife, for putting up with our constant board game and fantasy sports talk.

Just a Bit More
Thanks for answering all my crazy questions! Is there anything else you'd like to tell my readers?

Thanks for letting us be a part of the community!




Thank you for reading this People Behind the Meeples indie game designer interview! You can find all the interviews here: People Behind the Meeples and if you'd like to be featured yourself, you can fill out the questionnaire here: http://gjjgames.blogspot.com/p/game-designer-interview-questionnaire.html

Did you like this interview?  Show your support by clicking the heart at Board Game Links , liking GJJ Games on Facebook , or following on Twitter .  And be sure to check out my games on  Tabletop Generation.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 25: Diane Sauer

Welcome to People Behind the Meeples, a series of interviews with indie game designers.  Here you'll find out more than you ever wanted to know about the people who make the best games that you may or may not have heard of before.  If you'd like to be featured, head over to http://gjjgames.blogspot.com/p/game-designer-interview-questionnaire.html and fill out the questionnaire! You can find all the interviews here: People Behind the Meeples.


Name:Diane Sauer
Email:diane@shootagaingames.com
Location:New Jersey, USA
Day Job:I have a business restoring old pinball machines.
Designing:Over ten years!
Webpage:www.shootagaingames.com
BGG:diane1962
Facebook:shootagaingames/
Twitter:@shootagaingames
Other:UnPub - Shoot Again Games, IGA- Shoot Again Games
Find my games at:Our website, Amazon, Coolstuff Inc.
Today's Interview is with:

Diane Sauer
Interviewed on: 8/24/2016

With over ten years of design experience and several well received published games, Diane Sauer is definitely someone to keep an eye on. Her most recent game was just released at this summer's GenCon. Diane is a member of the Indie Game Alliance and the owner of Shoot Again Games. Read on to learn more about Diane and be sure to follow along to find out what her next fun design will be!

Some Basics
Tell me a bit about yourself.

How long have you been designing tabletop games?
Over ten years!

Why did you start designing tabletop games?
It was just a natural next step after playing so many games.

What game or games are you currently working on?
Currently working on Pinball Showdown which is just about done and expected to hit Kickstarter later this year or early next. In it the players are pinballs during multi-ball trying to score the most points and complete the most combos before draining.

Have you designed any games that have been published?
Conspiracy! was just released at GenCon 2016 and I worked on Looting Atlantis. My first game was Legends and Lies.

What is your day job?
I have a business restoring old pinball machines.

Your Gaming Tastes
My readers would like to know more about you as a gamer.

Where do you prefer to play games?
At home though I also enjoy conventions.

Who do you normally game with?
I have a game group that has been meeting weekly since 1982.

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
It depends on the mood and on the friends. We have a collection of games that is almost 3000 games in size.

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
We went through a period where we played music during gaming and we found it too distracting for some people.

What’s your favorite FLGS?
Family Fun Hobbies in Hamilton Square, NJ

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
Not counting our games, right now I am really enjoying New Bedford and the Networks. Least favorite I still enjoy is Bang!. Worst I've ever played is tough as there have been a lot of bad games over the last 35 years I've played. Limiting it to current games that others like for some reason I would say Love Letter.

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
I like worker placement games though I've yet to design one. Worst is player elimination.

What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
Battlestar Galactica

What styles of games do you play?
I like to play Board Games, Card Games, Miniatures Games, Video Games

Do you design different styles of games than what you play?
I like to design Board Games, Card Games, Miniatures Games

OK, here's a pretty polarizing game. Do you like and play Cards Against Humanity?
Not my cup of tea.

You as a Designer
OK, now the bit that sets you apart from the typical gamer. Let's find out about you as a game designer.

When you design games, do you come up with a theme first and build the mechanics around that? Or do you come up with mechanics and then add a theme? Or something else?
It can work either way, but more often than not I come up with the theme first and decide what mechanic would best work including coming up with new mechanics when possible.

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
Never entered.

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
Sid Sackson

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
They really can come from anywhere. Something just needs to strike me or make me want to know more about it.

How do you go about playtesting your games?
I'm lucky with my group being such experienced gamers. they are awesome play testers. I also go to a lot of UnPub events and have even run a few myself.

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
I work on all of our games with my husband Nick. We are very good at filling in each others gaps and blind spots.

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
Making the games fun with great replay value.

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
Dawn of the Dead (classic 1978 version of course)

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
Having an excellent playing game is only half the battle.

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Be very open to changing things in your game even and especially things you are resistant to change.

Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Published games, I have: Conspiracy!, Legends and Lies (out of print)
Games that will soon be published are: Pinball Showdown, Born to Serve (with Nick) and Bigfoot vs. Yeti
I'm planning to crowdfund: The above listed
Games I feel are in the final development and tweaking stage are: Pinball Showdown, Born to Serve
Games that I'm playtesting are: Bigfoot vs. Yeti, Conspiracy! expansion called MIB
Games that are in the early stages of development and beta testing are: Several
And games that are still in the very early idea phase are: Many

Are you a member of any Facebook or other design groups? (Game Maker’s Lab, Card and Board Game Developers Guild, etc.)
Indie Game Alliance

And the oddly personal, but harmless stuff…
OK, enough of the game stuff, let's find out what really makes you tick! These are the questions that I’m sure are on everyone’s minds!

Star Trek or Star Wars? Coke or Pepsi? VHS or Betamax?
Star Trek, Pepsi, Betamax

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
Playing pinball and old arcade games, I love watching documentaries. I have several different collections.

What is something you learned in the last week?
Hitler was spared by a british solider who came across him lying wounded on a WWI battlefield.

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
Classic Rock, Science Fiction and all sorts.

What was the last book you read?
Divinity of Doubt

Do you play any musical instruments?
no

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
I tried out for Survivor and made it to the in person interview stage.

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
I jumped off a very high bridge with a rope we had attached to the center of it.

Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
I missed a movie showing and end up seeing Dawn of the Dead instead. It turned out to be my favorite horror film still to this day.

Who is your idol?
Gene Roddenberry

Are you an extrovert or introvert?
I little of both really.

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
Supergirl.

Have any pets?
Two dogs Kara and Booner.

When the next asteroid hits Earth, causing the Yellowstone caldera to explode, California to fall into the ocean, the sea levels to rise, and the next ice age to set in, what current games or other pastimes do you think (or hope) will survive into the next era of human civilization? What do you hope is underneath that asteroid to be wiped out of the human consciousness forever?
Somehow, despite all the odds I hope pinball makes it.

Just a Bit More
Thanks for answering all my crazy questions! Is there anything else you'd like to tell my readers?

I often think very meta when i design games. Sometimes, there are even games within games.




Thank you for reading this People Behind the Meeples indie game designer interview! You can find all the interviews here: People Behind the Meeples and if you'd like to be featured yourself, you can fill out the questionnaire here: http://gjjgames.blogspot.com/p/game-designer-interview-questionnaire.html

Did you like this interview?  Show your support by clicking the heart at Board Game Links , liking GJJ Games on Facebook , or following on Twitter .  And be sure to check out my games on  Tabletop Generation.