Friday, June 22, 2018

Eye on Kickstarter #46

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 2018 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 fourth Friday of June, 2018:



HIGHLIGHTED CAMPAIGN
Hidden Panda
  • Hidden Panda is a family friendly social deduction game designed and published by the same person as one of my favorite deduction games, Dracula's Feast. Hidden Panda includes some unique and interesting mechanics


From the designer of Dracula's Feast, Hidden Panda is the world's cutest social deduction game. Each turn, players must try to hand baby pandas to their team: Bandits are trying to give them to other Bandits, while Pandas are trying to get them to the Panda team without giving their role away. Watch the other players closely, and trust no-one! (Except Grandma. You can probably trust Grandma.)




Solomon Kane
  • Here's another mini heavy game that looks really awesome. Solomon Kane is one of Robert E. Howard's first character creations and the first that became popular. He also created Conan and started the genre of "sword and sorcery". I'm not super familiar with the Solomon Kane stories, but after learning about the campaign, Solomon Kane is definitely a character I need to learn more about.


Solar City
  • This is a tile-laying, city building game that looks like it has some interesting, unique mechanics. Plus the theme and story behind the game seems very interesting.


Solarius Mission
  • This campaign is for the second edition of Solarius Mission. I missed the first campaign, and am really interested in this 3x game. Some of my friends/family aren't super into conflict, so having a 3x game that focuses on eXpand, eXplore, and eXploit while leaving out the eXterminate is great.


When Cutie Met Patootie
  • People Behind the Meeples Interview
  • When Cutie Met Patootie was on my last list as well, but in the past two weeks the campaign was cancelled, reorganized, repriced, and relaunched. When Cutie Met Patootie is a game designed by Daniel Zayas, a fellow media creator. Daniel also runs a Kickstarter consulting company where he helps others run successful campaigns. A number of people from the board gaming community were involved in the project, especially doing voiceovers for the animations.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 125: Gabriel Cohn

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. Support me on Patreon!


Name:Gabriel Cohn
Location:Santa Cruz, CA
Day Job:Teacher. Currently: 7th Grade History
Designing:Five to ten years.
BGG:gabrielcohn or the Exodus Fleet page
Find my games at:Amazon, CoolStuff, Miniature Market, etc.
Today's Interview is with:

Gabriel Cohn
Interviewed on: 2/11/2018

Today's interview is with Gabriel Cohn, who just had his first game published last year. Exodus Fleet was published by Tasty Minstrel Games and has gotten pretty good reviews. He's working on a slew of other games that will hopefully be published soon, too. So keep your eye out for some great new titles coming from Gabriel in the future!

Some Basics
Tell me a bit about yourself.

How long have you been designing tabletop games?
Five to ten years.

Why did you start designing tabletop games?
After moving to North Carolina, I found myself with more time and fewer friends than I'd had before, so I figured out that working out the issues of game design was a way to keep "playing" games even by myself. The loneliness didn't last long, but the desire to keep designing stuck.

What game or games are you currently working on?
Lots are on the shelf in a half-done state. Mostly I'm working on getting Orbital Architects and Divine Intervention out the door as both have agreements to get them published.

Have you designed any games that have been published?
Exodus Fleet (Tasty Minstrel Games, 2017).

What is your day job?
Teacher. Currently: 7th Grade History

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

Where do you prefer to play games?
Anywhere. Home, friends' place, restaurant, cafe, convention, etc. Doesn't matter.

Who do you normally game with?
Lots with my wife. I also have a regular group (usually about 10 people) that meets Monday nights at a pizza place, and I often get together with those folks at other times too.

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
Anything, really. But I lean towards mid-heavy euros. Agricola, Tzolk'in, Puerto Rico, Amun Re, Orleans, etc. are some of my favorites. But, I also love some other things: Can't Stop, Diamant, Robo Rally, etc. can be great with the right crowd.

And what snacks would you eat?
Depends. Often nothing. But I do have a soft spot for salt and pepper potato chips. Also, anything with sugar. Really. Anything.

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
At my house, yes. But most of my friends don't have it. Either way is fine as long as it's not too loud. I have reasonably eclectic tastes. Some of my current (and long time) favorite groups: Living Colour, Stars, Cub Country, NewOrder, Bomba Estereo, Arcade Fire, Mary Lou Lord, Rage Against the Machine, The English Beat, etc. If I have time to think about it, I try to aim for more mellow stuff when playing games. Rage Against the Machine is just too intense when you're doing the math of Terraforming Mars at the same time...

What’s your favorite FLGS?
Not super-stoked about the options in Santa Cruz. There are great ones elsewhere in the Bay Area: Games of Berkeley, Game Kastle, etc. I miss Parker, Banner, Kent, and Wayne from when I lived in North Carolina. Nice space. Good people.

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
Agricola was the one that really got me hooked and is still my "favorite." But I'd probably play Tzolk'in over that given the choice. Or a handful of others. I still have a soft spot for Robo Rally despite it being long and silly--but I really only would play it with my closest friends, not just anyone. Worst game ever: I don't know. But there is one I designed that literally was only played once. I was quite happy with the first playtest, but my wife ripped it to shreds. She might call that one the worst ever...

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
I'm agnostic. I do like a lot of worker placement games, but not because I think the mechanism is amazing, but just b/c they work nicely. I like any game that keeps players interested throughout the game. Whatever mechanism works for your game is the right one.

What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
Homesteaders. No one ever wants to play it. Most of them have never tried it. But some scare easily at the idea of auctions and others just don't want to learn something new. (That said, it's not my favorite or anything--just one I like that I have trouble getting people to play.)

What styles of games do you play?
I like to play Board Games, Card 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?
Only if it's the only option. And only with friends, not random strangers.

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?
Both? It can happen either way. For a long time it was theme first every time, as I built several games loosely in the same universe. But, sometimes I have a mechanism idea and I let it roll around in my head until I figure out a theme to match. And once I have both, they organically work on each other to alter the overall game.

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
Nope.

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
Nope. Lots I like.

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
Best time: backpacking trips. Days of walking with nothing to do but say "wow" over and over (b/c the Sierras are freakin' beautiful!). Lots of time to work out mechanisms in my head. If I'm lucky, I have a scrap of paper and a pencil in my map bag to write ideas down on before going to sleep.

How do you go about playtesting your games?
By myself first. Then with my wife. Then with friends. Then at Protospiel. Then lots more. It's an iterative process. And for any game I'm serious about, hundreds of playtests--lots with the same group repeatedly and lots with random strangers.

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
Mostly alone, but I have some friends who are very insightful.

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
Finding the time. My job keeps me busy.

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
Not interested. I like to come up with my own worlds.

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
I feel like there's plenty of good advice out there. I read it all and continue to do so. So, no regrets here.

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Read. Get on the relevant facebook groups (Card and Board Game Designers) and bulletin-board style sites (BGG, etc.). Ask questions. Go to Protospiel events. Listen to other designers. Playtest a ton.

Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Published games, I have: Exodus Fleet
Games that will soon be published are: Orbital Architects, Divine Intervention
Currently looking for a publisher I have: Fives
Games I feel are in the final development and tweaking stage are: Orbital Architects, Divine Intervention
Games that I'm playtesting are: Children of Frankenstein, The Underminister
Games that are in the early stages of development and beta testing are: Crash Landing, some others with no names.
And games that are still in the very early idea phase are: Several. They don't have names.

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

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?
Both, but more passion for Star Wars.

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
Backpacking, Rock Climbing (mostly in the gym), Social Justice Activism

What is something you learned in the last week?
I learned that Rosa Parks was involved a campaign around sexual assault against African American women for several years before she became famous for helping launch the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
Already answered about music. Books: SciFi/Fantasy, tending towards the higher brow stuff, but not exclusively. Movies: SciFi/SuperHeroes/etc.--I'm a big fan of the current run of Marvel movies and loving the new Star Wars ones too.

What was the last book you read?
Currently reading: Guy Gavriel Kay's Children of Earth and Sky

Do you play any musical instruments?
I tried. I failed.

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
I don't run the games club at my school. Someone else does. They play all the games I love. But I'm too busy with the other stuff I do with students: Feminist Coalition, Diversity Club, Gay Straight Alliance, etc.

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
I got arrested protesting at the Republican National Convention in 2004. Come to think of it, that wasn't crazy at all. And, everyone admits I shouldn't have been arrested. That's why the city of New York paid me a big settlement. All in all, the most well-paid 44 hours of work I've ever done.

Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
Wait, that's what I just answered on the previous question. (Though, someday I hope the answer to this is the day I mispronounced Carcassonne as "Carcass Zone" launching my zombie/Carcassonne crossover idea. Still in development.)

Who is your idol?
I don't know. Howard Zinn is pretty cool. For today, let's say him.

What would you do if you had a time machine?
Lots. Too much to say. I love history. I want to see everything.

Are you an extrovert or introvert?
Extrovert. Absolutely. My wife is an introvert--thus I play a lot of 2pl games.

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
I'm flexible. But I find the more speedy/agile ones more interesting than the brawny. And Superman is downright boring.

Have any pets?
2 cats. Earthquake and Tephra. They're the best.

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?
Honestly, I love board games, but I'm much more worried about other ideas that will or won't survive.

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):
No one in particular. The people who've helped me along the way know who they are. Thanks to them.

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?  Pleasse show your support: Support me on Patreon! Or click the heart at Board Game Links , like GJJ Games on Facebook , or follow on Twitter .  And be sure to check out my games on  Tabletop Generation.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 124: Ryan Johnson

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. Support me on Patreon!


Name:Ryan Johnson
Email:rjohnson@guildofblades.com
Location:Clawson, MI USA
Day Job:My day job is a split between running GOB Retail Games and Comics, a game retail store owned by myself and wife and in running the Guild of Blades Publishing Group, the publishing company I have been running with my partner Bruce since the mid 90s.
Designing:Over ten years!
Webpage:gobretail.com & guildofblades.com
Facebook:Ryan Johnson
Find my games at:guildofblades.com and in select game stores.
Today's Interview is with:

Ryan Johnson
Interviewed on: 2/11/2018

Ryan Johnson is a man of many hats. Not only does he design games (mostly historical wargames), he also runs Guild of Blades Publishing Group (along with Bruce Dowrie) and GOB Retail and Comics, the largest game store in Michigan! He's been in the industry for over 20 years and has a number of game designs to his credit, plus a bunch of other designers' games that he's published through Guild of Blades Publishing Group. Read on to hear what he has to say about designing and publishing games.

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?
I started designing games as a young teen. Mostly because I wanted to make improvements to or larger versions, with alterations of games I was already enjoying.

What game or games are you currently working on?
I am currently working on several projects. A multi-layer kingdom building deck building games, the 4th edition to Grunt Fantasy Miniature Battles, the Empires and Armadas box set for the Dark Realms Epic Adventure RPG and revisions to our World War I series of strategy board games in prep for big new edition of those games.

Have you designed any games that have been published?
Yes. Been publishing games for 24 years now. I think between core games expansions and accessories, our company has published over 250 SKUs.

What is your day job?
My day job is a split between running GOB Retail Games and Comics, a game retail store owned by myself and wife and in running the Guild of Blades Publishing Group, the publishing company I have been running with my partner Bruce since the mid 90s.

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

Where do you prefer to play games?
Depends on the kind of game it is. For role-playing games, nothing beats the comforts of the living room. But for card games, miniatures or larger format board games, I would prefer the gaming space at my store.

Who do you normally game with?
My close gaming group includes the same close group friends that I have been gaming with for the last 25 years. My business partner Bruce and some of our friends from way back. But it really depends on the game to be played. Some games you want to be able to play with new people, with different approaches and methods, to keep the experience as board as you can get.

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
While I've personally tried my hand at gaming every major brand the industry has today, these days is exceptionally rare we get to play anything but our own games, as there is always something in the works that needs some additional play testing.

And what snacks would you eat?
Can anyone seriously game without pizza?

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
No not really. To me gaming is an opportunity to have fun playing game and to get together with old friends and just enjoying the Bsing. For me, music just becomes a distraction from those two things.

What’s your favorite FLGS?
Well, being the owner of the FLGS, I am pretty sure my opinion will be somewhat biased here. My wife and I own GOB Retail: Games and Comics, Michigan's largest game and comic store. Always wanted to own a game store, but of course, it takes resources to start one correctly, and back when I began publishing, those are resources i didn't have. Not that it's easy to bootstrap a publishing operation, but a publishing gig run part time can kind of survive, but retail needs to be open constantly just to survive, so just can't provide the same flexibility.

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
My all time favorite game is a war game called A World in Flames (5th ed). Its long out of print, but was one of the greatest of its kind. It's only problem is, it takes so long to play a game (roughly 8-10 game sessions), I haven't had the chance to play in the last 15 years. For a strategy game I enjoy a lot that I can play in a session or two, our own The War to End All Wars scratches that itch. For RPGing, I love being the Realm Master in the Dark Realms. Though I have certainly played more than my share of D&D back in the day as well. And got lost down the tournament rabbit hole in Magic for a number of years.

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
This is such a tough question. So many game types. Difficult to stack up the game mechanics from one game category to another. One game mechanic that I will call eloquent is the way they handled trench warfare in Axis & Allies World War I, in that they reduced the slow pace of trench warfare and simplified it by allowing only a single round of combat.

What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
A World in Flames

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, Card Games, Miniatures Games, RPG 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?
Theme first. I know the kind of game I want to arrive at, then seek the mechanics that will give it to me.

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
Nope

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
Not really.

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
I think it's best to simply play lots and lots of games. You see what works, what works but only in a limited capacity, what you feel didn't work, etc. You can then shape your own game's play experience around those. Mechanics are just math or some process to get the player engaged into the experience.

How do you go about playtesting your games?
Depends on the game and its stage of life. Games that have been around a while with very stable core mechanics, our own play group is often enough to hammer things out. New games, with new mechanics, we'll test internally first, then turn lose among several outside play groups. We have a couple groups in other states that will give us playtest feedback in exchange for copies when the games release. I will also sometimes round up a group of players at our store looking for additional independent feedback.

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
I like to work alone on initial design concept stages. But am thankful for the feedback once its shown to others and start highlighting obvious defects that it seems should have been obvious to me. It's so easy for us to get blinders towards these defects. We need others to point them out.

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
I find myself designing cards games for the first time in my career. RPGs design around math and concepts. Board games around the board and strategy games around the map, miniature games around the miniatures. But card games, to design them eloquently, means working with a finite number of cards that all have to achieve a lot. It's definitely a new design challenge.

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
I would love to work with Robotech. To be able to expand upon that universe.

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
When I was first getting into game publishing there used to be a trade organization named the Game Publishers Association (GPA). I joined that group and learned a wealth from veteran publishers like Chris Clark and others. The one thing I wished I had learned earlier is that you have to do you game, your way. Trying to conform to "industry norms" will typically do more harm than good. When a game is working well enough, people will adapt to it.

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
As a publisher that publishes our own designs, the one thing we have learned is to create the finished package vision we see for the product. Have an idea what its final form will look like and how you would go about producing that form and its approximately costs. Nothing is worse than having a great game and absolutely no functional way to print and producing it would just be too costly or impractical. One of my best design sits unpublished after 22 years because there is no practical way to publish it. Maybe someday as an online computer game....but the paper option is out.

Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Published games, I have: Currently our print line has remained fairly stagnant for the last 5 years. Back in 2001 we ventured off the traditional path of game printing and attempted to bring as much of the production in house as possible. We focused on micro print runs of 50 to a few hundred copies at a time because that was what was most fiscally sound. We owned our own B&M printers, cutters, binders, laminators, etc. In 2008 when my wife and I began our retail store, we were half games retail, half print on demand services. Ever since then we have been on the quest to evolve a viable print on demand line for board and card games. So much of our own publications are in a holding pattern today, waiting for the POD operation to relaunch with that newest evolution in quality and process. 6 years ago the bottleneck in that process was a lack of a suitable card die cutting system. We began to develop our own, and this year, at long last, we hope to see it completed. In the interim years we developed a good means to do the 2 piece set ups boxes affordably. Most of our product lines are awaiting new editions or packaging upgrades when the new POD line goes live.
This is what I have currently crowdfunding: We don't currently use any crowdfunding platforms.
Games I feel are in the final development and tweaking stage are: One big evolution we plan to make to our Empires of History line if strategy games is to evolve them from using a type of wargame counters to using little plastic game pieces instead. It’s a challenging leap, due to the scale of the games and the number of plastics. For instance, The War to End All Wars, will take 9 plastic runners each with 119 little figures on it, so 1071 plastic figures per game. That means larger molds and bigger plastic runs to get prices down to a sane level. So the plastics will have a larger run, while the rest of the game will actually be done in smaller runs via POD.
Games that I'm playtesting are: I have a card game in the works, tentatively just titled the Kingdoms Deck Building Game. Its part of that challenge of card game design I have been facing. In it you build a kingdom, using cards both to tile the play scape and build villages, towns, cities, castles, and military and all the infrastructure to support it all. That is a lot to ask 54 cards to do. So the game mechanic allows for "sub decks"...additional decks with a specialization that only unlock when you have specific assets already in play.
Games that are in the early stages of development and beta testing are: A space strategy game where the galactic empires square off. Looking to provide two modes of play. One is where the fleets battle off against each other using our Empires of History dice combat mechanic (similar-ish to Axis & Allies), but where you can play the game in campaign mode in conjunction with the new Empires and Armadas miniatures game. So every time a battle would happen in the strategy game, players would grab their ships in the miniatures game and play a table top miniatures battle to see what survives.

Are you a member of any Facebook or other design groups? (Game Maker’s Lab, Card and Board Game Developers Guild, etc.)
Yes. Many. Though mostly I just read and try and stay abreast of industry changes and trends.

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?
It’s hard to beat lightsaber duels. But on the "space" part, I have to get with Trek. Diet Pepsi for me actually....I am not allowed to have the sweet stuff. I am actually old enough to remember betamax, it was better quality. But of course, there were almost no movies made in that format, so that kinda sucked.

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
I'm a workaholic. It kind of goes with the self employed thing. But I am a history nut, hence, the historical games. So my family and I travel every year, getting to see some new and interest place in the world and some old historical sites. I enjoy fantasy fiction. Movies

What is something you learned in the last week?
That in spite of the new tax law simplifying a few things, it's still massively and unnecessarily more complex than it needs to be.

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
Favorite music is old 80 early 90s industry, but make sure to splash in some early Metallica. Favorite book series is the Black Company by Glenn Cook. Favorite movie Matrix Reloaded.

What was the last book you read?
Just recently began reading the Black Company series anew. This will be, I think, my 5th time through. Been about 6 years since my last pass through.

Do you play any musical instruments?
Nope. Not a musically inclined bone in my body.

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
Went through 3 unique days of hell during bootcamp. They were trying to drum me out. You see, I've been a habitual smartass. They threw every form of physical punishment the system had at me. And the end of those three days, that night I was standing in the barracks, about half dead, and my commander asked "Johnson, you have fun the last few days". I gave him the best "I'm about to murder you" stare I could muster and said "Oh, yes, sir, can I do it all again?". At that moment, I am pretty sure they thought I was psycho. One thing's for sure, I didn't have a single extra push up left in me, much less 8 hours of rifle jacks on the blacktop in 90 degrees San Diego heat.

What would you do if you had a time machine?
So many people might say they would go off Hitler before his rise, but the butterfly effects from that could end up horrendous. I would use it to go explore periods in history, answer some many of the unanswered mysteries.

Are you an extrovert or introvert?
More extro than intro, but I think I fall pretty squarely in the middle on this one.

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
Batman. Because I like the brains and the bank account.

Have any pets?
None currently

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?
Role Playing. Its social and can survive with just the rules, assuming the survivors would have a hard time keeping cards or game board safe in the aftermath.

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?  Pleasse show your support: Support me on Patreon! Or click the heart at Board Game Links , like GJJ Games on Facebook , or follow on Twitter .  And be sure to check out my games on  Tabletop Generation.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Press Release - Hidden Panda by Jellybean Games

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Jellybean Games announces Hidden Panda card game
The “world’s cutest social deduction game” brings stunning art  and a family-friendly theme to the hidden roles game genre.

Coral Springs, FL; Jun 11th, 2018. 
The world’s cutest social deduction game has arrived on Kickstarter today, with Jellybean Games launching the campaign for Hidden Panda, a hidden roles game for 5-8 players of all ages.
“I love social deduction games, but they always have such dark themes.” said the designer, Peter C. Hayward. “Dystopian governments, witch hunts, the criminal underworld… I wanted to make a game that you could play with your kids, or anyone who enjoys a more upbeat theme. There’s no werewolves or murder in this game; it’s about collecting baby pandas, and Grandma handing out tea.”

From the designer of ​Dracula’s Feast ​and​ The Lady and the Tiger​, ​with stunning art provided by Kelly Jo (Scuttle!, Ninjitsu​​), the bright colors and light-hearted theme breathe fresh air into the typically-gloomy genre.

“We told Kelly we wanted to break records in cute. As soon as she got to work, we knew we’d made the right choice. My favorite piece of art in the game is the ‘5 baby pandas’ token, which shows them lolling about in a panda cuddle puddle. It’s impossible not to fall in love with it.”

As with all Jellybean Games, the rules are straightforward and easy to learn. Everyone is randomly given a role: If you’re a Panda, Keeper, or Grandma, you’re on the Panda Team. If you’re a Bandit, you’re on the Bandit Team. Only some players on the Panda team know who’s on their team, while each Bandit only knows their own role.

Grandma plays face-up for the entire game; her role is to try to get baby pandas to her fellow teammates without giving their roles away.
This unique addition to social deduction makes it perfect for family play - the Grandma role can be given to an adult to help guide younger players.

On their turn, each player hands out 3 baby pandas to other players. Then, they give one other player a piece of bamboo. When a player has 3 pieces of bamboo in front of them, everyone votes on whether or not they should be netted. Netted players have their baby pandas taken away.

If all the Pandas are ever netted, the Bandit team immediately wins. Otherwise, once everyone has taken two turns, the team with the most baby pandas wins!

The game contains 8 role cards, 45 baby panda tokens, 16 bamboo tokens, 6 net tokens, and 1 cup of tea token. Kickstarter backers will get a free, exclusive set of wooden baby panda tokens. 

A free print-and-play version of the game is available on the publisher’s website, jellybean.games


About Jellybean Games
Jellybean Games publishes gorgeous games suitable for all ages. With their strong focus on stunning and evocative art, they’ve found success with gamers young and old. Their string of hits include Scuttle!, the pirate game for all ages; Dracula’s Feast, which offers a fresh take on social deduction games; The Lady and the Tiger, a collection of five microgames based on the classic short story; Village Pillage, the simultaneous-action game with a unique turnip economy; and Ninjitsu!, the standalone ninja-based sequel to Scuttle! 

Jellybean Games have been sold in over forty countries worldwide.




Media contact: 
Peter C. Hayward - peter@beard.blue

More images available at http://www.hiddenpandagame.com  


Did you like this press release?  Show your support: Support me on Patreon! Also, click the heart at Board Game Links , like GJJ Games on Facebook , or follow on Twitter .  And be sure to check out my games on  Tabletop Generation.



Friday, June 8, 2018

Eye on Kickstarter #45

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 2018 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 June, 2018:



HIGHLIGHTED CAMPAIGN
Knot Dice Squared
  • I received a set of Knot Dice to review a while back, and that review should be getting posted soon. Life has been busy and there are a ton of games and puzzles included with Knot Dice, so it's taken a while to play a good selection of them. I can tell you, however, that the dice are absolutely gorgeous, the games are fun, and the puzzles are challenging. Knot Dice Squared adds dice with new sides so you can make a bunch more patterns. It also includes more games and puzzles. If you like the original Knot Dice, or aren't familiar with them, but think you might, I highly recommend picking up a set. You'll love them!


An expansion and reprint for Knot Dice - Celtic knot games, puzzles, and art on large, beautiful dice.

26 more knot dice in three new designs for you to combine with the original for more inspiration. Create larger and more intricate Celtic knots while playing with these amazing dice! Add some new twists to your knot dice games...Include more friends...Design larger beautiful patterns...Play through an entirely new set of puzzles...Have more fun with Knot Dice Squared.

Knot Dice are big beautiful dice, a forest green pearlized acrylic with indented silver lines. The designs are continuous around the entire die. They don't have numbers on the sides, but placing them side-by-side forms amazing Celtic knot patterns. Some enjoy just making designs, but they also can be used to play a large number of games and puzzles. The original Knot Dice set includes 18 awesome dice and rules to 12 games and 7 types of puzzles, with dozens of individual puzzles. There are cooperative games, competitive games, speed games, puzzle games, storytelling games...





Heroes of Land, Air & Sea: Pestilence
  • People Behind the Meeples Interview
  • If I had unlimited budget for Kickstarter games there are still a ton of games that I would pass on backing, even some that have caught my interest. But one game just wows me every time I see it. I just wish it was in the budget, but $100+ for the entire set is too much for me, and I'd have to be a completionist with this. I'm talking about Heroes of Land, Air & Sea. I oggled over it's awesome minis, cool cardboard constructs, and interesting gameplay for quite a while, and now Gamelyn Games is printing another expansion. In Pestilence we get some new factions, plus a floating island, sunken island, and tons more. This looks incredible.


18Lilliput
  • I've never played an 18xx game before, but I've heard a lot of great things about the genre of train games. I've also heard that they're long and pretty complex. That doesn't bother me, but it does make the games difficult to get to the table. 18Lilliput aims to change that, and get a fast playing 18xx game to the table at a regular game night. That, combined with the GUlliver's Travels theme, really has me intrigued.


Goblivion
  • Goblivion is a solo or two player coop, tower defense style game that borrows a lot of elements from Friday, one of my favorite solo games. This adds a lot more interactions and decisions though, and it looks like a ton of fun.


Fantastic Factories
  • Fantastic Factories looks like a great, light engine building game that uses dice placement in some pretty interesting ways. It seems to me to be what Machi Koro could have been.


When Cutie Met Patootie
  • People Behind the Meeples Interview
  • When Cutie Met Patootie is quite the interesting campaign. It's a game designed by Daniel Zayas, a fellow media creator. Daniel also runs a Kickstarter consulting company where he helps others run successful campaigns. So it's interesting to me that his campaign for his personal game has gone against quite a bit of his usual advice. The game itself looks somewhat interesting, particularly as a solo game, the narrative aspect is mildly interesting, and a number of people from the board gaming community were involved in the project, but I'm mainly interested in the actual campaign and how it does.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 123: Alexandre Uboldi

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. Support me on Patreon!


Name:Alexandre Uboldi
Email:alexandreuboldi@gmail.com
Location:New York City
Day Job:Research Analyst for HGTV
Designing:One to two years.
Webpage:Gladius Card Game
Facebook:Alexandre Uboldi
Twitter:@AlexandreUboldi
Instagram:@gladiuscardgame
Find my games at:Check out our facebook page, if you're in New York, we can meet up at a board game event.
Today's Interview is with:

Alexandre Uboldi
Interviewed on: 2/8/2018

This week we get to hear from Alex Uboldi, a designer out of New York City. Alex has been designing games for a few years and is hoping to have something published very soon. He and his girlfriend are also instrumental in organizing several designer meetups in New York. So if you're in the area and looking for fellow designers to playtest some games with, look them up!

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 was inspired by Stone Librande at a tribeca games event to just start designing games, and I've been building prototypes ever since.

What game or games are you currently working on?
My partner and I are currently working on designing out card game Gladius about being a Roman Senator rigging the Gladiatorial games to make money.

Have you designed any games that have been published?
Not yet!

What is your day job?
Research Analyst for HGTV

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

Where do you prefer to play games?
I go to board game meet-ups along with hosting board game meet-ups in our apartments lounge.

Who do you normally game with?
My partner and our various playgroups.

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
Depends on the number of friends and their level of experience. If they are newer to board games like many of our friends are we will play something like sushi go! or Secret hitler. With other groups, Lords of Vegas and Risk Legacy are our go too. Recently we've been really excited to play our newly acquired games from Kickstarter, Bargain Quest and Rising Sun.

And what snacks would you eat?
Salami, crackers, and Cheese with some nice wine. But you have to have wipes as not to dirty cards or board game pieces.

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
Definitely! Always thematic to the game. The Hobbit Board game is really an epic experience with the film soundtrack providing a background track.

What’s your favorite FLGS?
We really love the Brooklyn Strategist, they create a friendly environment that is welcoming to all players. The interior is really nice and there is a lot of space even on the crowded nights.

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
My current favorite game is bargain quest. It puts a really unique spin on a drafting games that uses flavor to teach players how the mechanics interact. My least favorite game that I still play is Catan. Its a great game, well designed, but I've played it so much that I'm just not really interested whenever I play. The worst game I've ever played is Machi Koro. It really just doesn't feel like I have any agency.

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
My favorite game mechanic is the time mechanic in Thebes. (Basically the player in the back of the order always goes, and each action takes a certain amount of moves, so you could take a short move and get to go again because you're in the back of the order). Tokaido has a similar mechanic, but I like the idea that players can take big movies, but if they move too far ahead then players behind them might get multiple moves. My least favorite mechanics are anything that requires referencing a table. I'm a big fan of elegant designs and to me referencing a table for prices or damage just breaks the flow of game play and is ultimately unfun.

What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
I really enjoy the Game of Thrones board game. It is a really interesting grand strategy game that does a good job of converting the wars in the books into a board game. It just takes a long time to play a requires a lot of thought each turn for each action.

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

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

OK, here's a pretty polarizing game. Do you like and play Cards Against Humanity?
What?

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'm a big proponent of using themes to teach players the mechanics of the game. So my process typically starts with a theme that is conveyed through the mechanics. Often times I do come up with good mechanics, but I don't really develop from there unless I have a theme that I feel captures the mechanic.

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
Yes, we won the Metatopia IDGN scholarship to show off our game.

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
Mark Rosewater and Stone Librande are my idols. I've listened to all 500 of Mark's podcast drive to work and that pretty much is my foundation lesson on game design.

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
Typically I make games that I think my girlfriend would enjoy (otherwise it would be hard to playtest them). I think a lot about what topics board games don't typically cover, and try to fill niches. I don't ever want to make a game that similar to others with a new coat of paint. I was to make games that feel unique both in gameplay and in presentation.

How do you go about playtesting your games?
It used to be my girlfriend and I, but recently she has coordinated the NYC playtest group to meet at our building so that's us and a rotating group of about 10 designers who playtest each others prototypes. We also go to Unpub events at cons to show off our game.

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
For our current game, my girlfriend and I designed it, and we work with an artist in Hong Kong. I like working in a team because it is tremendously helpful to have a second set of eyes on your design and someone to bounce your ideas off of.

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
My biggest challenge is just being confident in my design ability. Sometimes you play the same game hundreds of times and you aren't sure if it is fun or not anymore. Just always have to push forward and accept the compliments along with the criticisms.

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
I would love to design board game starring the facebook cat Pusheen. Our apartment is a huge fan of Pusheen and she has a lot or robust characters and settings to work with.

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
Yes

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
My advice would be to understand the perspective of feedback. Sometimes your games aren't for everyone. Other game designers really look to pick apart designs. They will even pick apart good well established games, so you can't take it too much to heart. Regular players are really good at telling you how they feel, but not so good at tell you why that is, so you have to dig deeper. Just understand who you are testing with, and what you want to get out of testing with them.

Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Currently looking for a publisher I have: Malthus, is a game that we are looking sell to a publisher.
I'm planning to crowdfund: Gladius we are looking to have on Kickstarter later this year around October.
Games that I'm playtesting are: Cavaliers and Roundheads is a card game that's looking to incorporate drafting elements to a game of war.
Games that are in the early stages of development and beta testing are: Stellar Nursery is a game about exploring space and harvesting stars.
And games that are still in the very early idea phase are: Chinese New Year themed game

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 probably has the better moments, but as a whole it has to be Star Wars. Coke all the way, but Pepsi is fine too. VHS, who even uses Betamax?

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
I love reading about history. I find scholarly debates on historical figures to be deeply fascinating. History really isn't just a collect of events and dates, its filled with fascinating narratives and characters that have a lot to teach. I also play video games to unwind.

What is something you learned in the last week?
I learned that lobsters living forever is apocryphal, they can actually die after aging for a while.

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
My favorite type of music is a mix of indie folk. Typically by artist that look like they've been living out of their cars for weeks. My favorite types of books are all over the place. Recently I've been enjoying books on poker strategy. My favorite types of movies are movies that typically have really interesting out of the box themes. For example, Arrival had this really cool theme of language being something that influences how you think and that's not something I've ever thought of. Films that make you think and either look at the film or the world in a different context.

What was the last book you read?
Eleanor and Park

Do you play any musical instruments?
I used to play the trumpet and the piano.

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
I'm half chinese and half french, my parents met in Las Vegas and that is where I was born and raised.

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
For the video game Mass Effect 3, as a promotion they launched copies of the game into space with trackers and if you found them you could get a copy like 2 weeks before the game was actually set to release. One of the places they were launching from was Las Vegas. So me and a couple of friends drove out into the deserts of Arizona to try and find it. It was a crazy night, but we ending up getting a copy. It was pretty wild.

Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
One time I was playing poker in Quebec, and the cards are based off the french names so instead of Q for queen it is D for dame. For some reason I thought I had a King in my hand, but it was really a queen. The flop was King, King, 4, so I thought I had a 3 of a kind, but really I had nothing. I played like I had this great hand, but really I had a nothing. Everyone ended up folding and I won a bunch of money.

Who is your idol?
Carl Sagan is a wonderful human, and his ideals and views on the future are truly inspiring to me.

What would you do if you had a time machine?
I would go to the far future to see what becomes of mankind.

Are you an extrovert or introvert?
Definitely an introvert.

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
Swamp Thing

Have any pets?
No

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?
I really hope Magic: The Gathering makes it through. It just has so many great mechanics and it is the foundation behind so many other games that I'm confident we would be able to rebuild just based off of it. I also like the idea that if we lost the rules, clusters of communities would have different interpretations of how to play. I would like to say sports should be wipe out, but really I want a lot of the toxicity surrounding sports to be wiped away. Everyone should just be able to enjoy what they want, and no fans should get hate from other fans for liking a different team. No one should riot and destroy property after a team wins or loses. Just enjoy the sport and the display of skill and don't be so destructive with 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):
Thanks to my loving girlfriend Victoria, she is the best game development and life partner anyone could ask for.





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?  Pleasse show your support: Support me on Patreon! Or click the heart at Board Game Links , like GJJ Games on Facebook , or follow on Twitter .  And be sure to check out my games on  Tabletop Generation.