Tuesday, May 26, 2020

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 126: Mike De Greef

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:Mike De Greef
Email:degreefmike@gmail.com
Location:Belgium (west-Europe)
Day Job:webdesigner
Designing:Two to five years.
Webpage:www.bipolarthecardgame.com
BGG:Bipolar
Facebook:Bipolar the Card Game
Today's Interview is with:

Mike De Greef
Interviewed on: 5/3/2020

This week's interview is with Mike De Greef who is working on a game about bipolar disorder, called Bipolar. He hopes to break through taboos about talking about mental disorders through gameplay. Read n to learn more about Mike and his projects!

Some Basics
Tell me a bit about yourself.

How long have you been designing tabletop games?
Two to five years.

Why did you start designing tabletop games?
in a mental therapy session they ask to make a game ;-)

What game or games are you currently working on?
Bipolar the card game

Have you designed any games that have been published?
no

What is your day job?
webdesigner

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

Where do you prefer to play games?
i prefer to play games at friends homeplace

Who do you normally game with?
close friends

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
Champions of Midgard

And what snacks would you eat?
yes, we would eat snacks

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
soft 80's music

What’s your favorite FLGS?
Queen of Games

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
Kingdomino, Inis, Lord of the Rings

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
deckbuilder / bribing

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

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 Card Games

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

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?
First the theme and then the mechanics

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
not yet ;)

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
Jamey Stegmaier

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
when i am resting

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
for the moment i work mostly alone but i would love to work with other designers

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
simplifying your game

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
North and South

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
first game then art

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
SIMPLIFY

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: Bipolar the card game

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

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, coke and VHS

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
Padel

What is something you learned in the last week?
read less make more

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
Phill Collins, José Saramago, blade runner

What was the last book you read?
The Kobold Guide to Board Game Design

Do you play any musical instruments?
flute

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
I have Bipolar

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
as a bipolar person you have so many crazy stories...

Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
My birth

Who is your idol?
Harrison Ford

What would you do if you had a time machine?
make a walk with Einstein

Are you an extrovert or introvert?
introvert

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
superman

Have any pets?
not i know about

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?
Mage Knight / monopoly

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

Talk about your mental problems




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?  Please 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, May 19, 2020

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 225: Brendan Mills

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:Brendan Mills
Email:brendan@escapeplanltd.com
Location:London, United Kingdom
Day Job:Escape Room Owner
Designing:One to two years.
Webpage:escapeplanltd.com/board-games
BGG:Stop the Train
Facebook:Stop the Train Game
Twitter:@escapeplanltd
YouTube:Escape Plan
Instagram:@stopthetraingame
Today's Interview is with:

Brendan Mills
Interviewed on: 5/4/2020

This week's interview is with Brendan Mills, who designs escape rooms in London along with board games. He has a game on Kickstarter, launching today! To be sure to head on over to Kickstarter to check out Stop the Train! This is a social deduction game about discovering the sabateur and saving the train from disaster. Read on to learn more about Brendan and his projects.

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've been creating escape room games for 5 years and this kind of became a natural progression when the right idea surfaced!

What game or games are you currently working on?
My first kickstarter: Stop the Train! (a social deduction board game) and a new bluffing card game called (working title): Jump!

Have you designed any games that have been published?
Fingers crossed soon!

What is your day job?
Escape Room Owner

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

Where do you prefer to play games?
Friend's Houses

Who do you normally game with?
Friends!

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
Avalon, Quacks of Quedlinburg, Pandemic: Rising Tide, Telestrations

And what snacks would you eat?
Cheese

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
Sometimes we choose atmospheric mood music or sounds (e.g. Spaghetti Western if playing Colt Express!)

What’s your favorite FLGS?
Zatu Games (not local to me, but an FLGS to many!)

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
We're playing a lot of Quacks of Quedlinburg right now. Just bought a small push your luck game called Rollecate, which is keeping my daughter entertained. Worst game... I think that's anything that needs quick dextrous reactions!

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
I like card drafting - makes you feel excited about the possibilities of actions that lie ahead. I'm not a fan of worker placement or commodity speculation.

What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
Werewolf (lack of players!)

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

Do you design different styles of games than what you play?
I like to design Board Games, Card Games, Other 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 think the theme first, but not without some idea of the mechanics. It's a bit more hand in hand, but the spark of inspiration is usually the theme married with an inkling of how it might play.

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
No - now I'm feeling like I should have!

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
I'm impressed by the work of Matt Leacock, but can't say that he'd earn idol status!

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
Inspiration is like the wind, it comes and goes and you just have to let your imagination get captured by the intriguing thoughts. Sometimes that is 11 at night when you are settling down to bed and sometimes when you're looking at the sea. Other times, you are in the company of someone and the idea just hits you and you spark off each others' energy.

How do you go about playtesting your games?
The more you can do the better. I usually start with a homemade option, then a prototype and then begin showing some trusted friends to feedback and help refine. The more playtesting the better.

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
As a team - I'm not strong enough alone on graphics, objectivity and decision making...

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
Marketing - for me I find it personally quite tiring but hugely necessary.

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
Really good question! Genuinely, I'd like to have a crack at a famous thriller movie.

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
I'm still exploring - I think I'll be able to answer this question further down the line...

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
As a rookie designer, I feel it would be a little pompous to advise, but I'd definitely like to encourage people to pursue passing thoughts and get curious about where they might take you. Maybe if I had to advise from experience of designing escape rooms, I'd say be humble and take the feedback you keep hearing.

Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
This is what I have currently crowdfunding: Stop the Train launches 19 May (today!)
Games that are in the early stages of development and beta testing are: Jump!

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 / Neither! / VHS

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
Distance Running, Escape Rooms, Community Volunteering, being Dad

What is something you learned in the last week?
I confess I've learned very little - we're living in strange times with the Pandemic, so I'm learning how to be kinder I guess.

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
This is so varied, but I'll give you a snapshot of each: Jack Johnson, "100 years of Solitude" and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

What was the last book you read?
Born to Run by Christopher McDougall - it's great!

Do you play any musical instruments?
Guitar, but I'm an amateur.

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
Everything here is a surprise given I'm largely unknown in the world of board games!

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
No chance, my daughter might read it!

Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
I can't think of one!

Who is your idol?
I'm a Christian, so you can probably guess from that!

What would you do if you had a time machine?
Playtest it!? I think I'd go forward in time to when time machines were first completed. I'd bring one back so that I could have ongoing use of it. If I am limited to one time use, then I guess I'd save it for a critical moment of saving someone's life somehow?

Are you an extrovert or introvert?
I'm both. I draw energy from crowds and people but then need to retire from it.

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
I don't have a good knowledge of superheros, so not entirely sure what's available. Maybe a Jedi?

Have any pets?
Not presently.

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?
Sports, Word games, Party games.

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):
Board Game Review UK have been awesome in supporting our first project. Thanks!


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?  Please 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, May 18, 2020

Press Release: Two Cartographers Announcements

Cartographers: A Roll Player Tale has been Nominated for 2020 "Gamer Game of the Year" (Kennerspiel des Jahres)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

MAY 18, 2020, MADISON, WI -- Thunderworks Games is proud to announce that Cartographers: A Roll Player Tale has been nominated by Spiel des Jahres for the 2020 Kennerspiel Des Jahres award!

Cartographers allows 1-100 players (but who's counting?) to draw shapes on their own map sheets and compete for the highest reputation over four rounds (or seasons). Both solo gamers and groups of every size are challenged to achieve a series of variable scoring objectives while trying to mitigate the effects of monster ambush cards.

In recent months, the game's ease-of-play has allowed Cartographers fans to compete virtually over social networking and meeting platforms. We've been thrilled to see so many families and friends enjoying Cartographers all around the world.

Cartographers is Expanding

With the growing popularity of Cartographers: A Roll Player Tale, we are excited to announce the new stand-alone expansion, Cartographers Heroes! This expansion can be played on its own or combined with Cartographers: A Roll Player Tale. Heroes will feature all new cards and maps, as well as the ability to unlock heroes to ward off invading monsters.

In addition, three new map packs are in development that can be played with either version of Cartographers. Each provides new map sheets, cards, and a unique and challenging way to play the game. The map packs are:
  • Afffril: Plane of Knowledge
  • Nebblis: Plane of Flame
  • Undercity: Depths of Sabek
Current plans are to launch Cartographers: Heroes and the map packs later this year.


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.



Tuesday, May 12, 2020

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 224: Kathi Sjostrom

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:Kathi Sjostrom
Email:fun@paodlegames.com
Location:Camas, WA
Day Job:I own an aquatic education business called Just Add Water Swim School or Jaws for short. In other words I teach people to swim.
Designing:Six months to a year.
Webpage:paodlegames.com
BGG:https://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgamedesigner/124527/kathi-sjostrom
Facebook:@paodlegames
Twitter:@paodlegames
Instagram:@paodleg
Find my games at:Pnp and game information on our website
Today's Interview is with:

Kathi Sjostrom
Interviewed on: 4/15/2020

This week we get to meet Kathi Sjostrom, a designer that I had the pleasure to join a 48 hour game design sprint with last month. Kathi was on a different team, but it was great getting to talk with a bunch of different designers. She currently has a Kickstarter running for her first to-be-published game, Cows In My Pants. Read on to learn more about Kathi and all her other projects!

Some Basics
Tell me a bit about yourself.

How long have you been designing tabletop games?
Six months to a year.

Why did you start designing tabletop games?
While my answer above is about a year I have been storing away ideas since I was a teen. I have always wanted to create my own games but always thought it was an elusive goal. My husband and best friends decided to take my dream and make it a reality by forming a game company, something about our younger years passing by. Fast forward to now where I have multiple projects on the table and our first game being released to kickstarter the end of April.

What game or games are you currently working on?
Cows in My Pants was released to kickstarter April 27th. Currently I am working on the expansion that goes with it, allowing the game to be played with more players and the twist expansion that takes the current game and flips it on its rule book. My daughter and I are refining a fun game titled Baby Goat Tower Attack, Antsy, Manatee Springs and Captain Zodiak Kona Coast. All are in prototype and applying art and in revision. While I enjoy light weight games like Cows in My Pants I also have one heavier game I working on called Last Light America that I hope to work with other creators on soon.

Have you designed any games that have been published?
Cows in My Pants will be my first published game.

What is your day job?
I own an aquatic education business called Just Add Water Swim School or Jaws for short. In other words I teach people to swim.

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

Where do you prefer to play games?
Home. I love being at home.

Who do you normally game with?
My family and my best friends. Sometimes with other families as well!

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
I would want to start light and then pick up a full fledge strategy, story, meat to it game. However my game group is more likely to be on the light and fun side. Recently Blockus, Goat Lords, Saboteur, Carcassone, Monkey Business and Codenames are top picks. My 15 year old daughter and I play a lot of games together and our favorites are Ticket to Ride, 49, Trellis, Lattice and playing the games we are revising together.

And what snacks would you eat?
Hmmm...a little bit of everything. Homemade brownies and chocolate chip cookies top the list!

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
My daughter and I sing to whatever she wants to share with me: Disney, Broadway, what she is working on in choir... My other family members and game group can't stand having music playing so I adjust.

What’s your favorite FLGS?
I pick up games from our local toy store, Kazoodles as I don't seem to get much farther away from town than that often.

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
Current: I love Ticket to Ride because it is my daughter's favorite and we have a joint collection. It has more to do with the personal collection than the game I think. Least Favorite...hmm I dislike and like Unstable Unicorns at the same time...it is fun but it can bring out the worst side of people just like the game back description claims. Worst game ever...is it fair to say that I don't remember it as I probably didn't keep it.

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
Games with a mix of card drafting and hand management, cards or tile... Least probably player elimination in a longer game, where you are just done.

What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
I love both Catan and Dominion but don't have many who will play with me!

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, Card 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. I have a background in program design for children's programs and camps and teaching PE. That along with swimming when working with children requires creativity to capture your participants. I love being challenged with a theme and concepts or in the case of games, mechanics.

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
Entered yes. I am challenging myself to do at least one design competition or challenge a month for 2020.

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
I am a little in awe of people who can do it all, the artist-designer-graphic-writer package all in one.

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
Life right now. If I go on an adventure with my family that memory becomes a game. Right now I am working out a game for a Zip Line Adventure for our trip to Hawaii and completing a Manatee game from swimming with them last year.

How do you go about playtesting your games?
Family, game group, friends. We are just now expanding beyond that, or trying to as everything is cancelled or is getting cancelled.

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
Yes, but find I am better working with an artist and maybe someone who helps with graphic design on a game idea that came from me. However I like to be challenged by a group, I just get overhwhelmed and the pressure isn't as fun or necessarily good for creating.

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
Tech and art restrictions, but I am pushing myself to learn.

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
Probably one of the series my daughter has read and loved! I actually came up with a game based on one just because she loves the idea of it.

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
Go for it. Game design can be just for you, for your family and friends. If your creations make or can make other people happy, share them. Games have a way of bringing people together.

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Keep notes and more notes. Be ready to flip the design into something completely different and go down those rabbit trails even if you liked the original idea you had.

Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
This is what I have currently crowdfunding: Cows in My Pants
Games that I'm playtesting are: Shadow Cats, Antsy, Baby Goats Attack Tower, Captain Zodiak Kona Coast,
Games that are in the early stages of development and beta testing are: Zip Isle, Manatee Springs, Last Light America, Fluffies
And games that are still in the very early idea phase are: To many to list!

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

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. Vhs.

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
I love hiking, animals, baking and just being with my family. With my family we have picked up white water rafting, kayaking, paddle boarding and anything adventure related that helps us connect with our 4 teens.

What is something you learned in the last week?
Be patient with yourself and give yourself grace. Choose love and let go of what you can't control. To be fair this is probably more of a daily reminder on how to live out life.

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
Contemporary Christian: For King and Country, Zach Williams, Need to Breathe, Lauren Diagle. Books: My husbands, those shared by my daughter that she says I have to read because they are so good. Movies: I am a sucker for Super Heroes!

What was the last book you read?
In the middle of a book called You Don't know Me and one on partnering with the foster care community.

Do you play any musical instruments?
No. I do make a joyful noise while singing though.

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
I am a friendly, outgoing because I love people, introvert.

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
Went on all the theme park rides my oldest wanted to just because I was with him celebrating high school graduation. Some of them were so scary. I would do it again too because that is how we make lasting memories.

Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
Probably life choices that led to me having one amazing husband and 4 awesome kids.

Who is your idol?
Jesus.

What would you do if you had a time machine?
I would tell my younger self to love and give myself grace so that I could serve and love others better.

Are you an extrovert or introvert?
People loving extroverted introvert.

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
Captain America

Have any pets?
2 dogs and 2 cats now. I miss my farm of animals :)

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?
What must survive...Our ability to love and accept grace/redemption for ourselves and others.

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):
I love my team at Paodle Games: Seth Sjostrom, Cheryl and Peter Emerson and I love my kiddos with all my heart and soul Ethan, Logan, Kiara and Hayden!

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

If you love something pursue it.




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?  Please 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.

Friday, May 8, 2020

Buds, Blooms, and Thorns Review of On Pointe by Analog Game Studios

Buds, Blooms, and Thorns Review of On Pointe by Analog Game Studios
Support me on Patreon!
Vitals:
Title: On Pointe
Designed by: Elisa Prashad
Publisher: Analog Game Studios
Year Published: 2020
MSRP: $50
2-4p | 20-30 min | 8+

Introduction:
My middle son discovered ballet, tap, and other forms of dance about 18 months ago and absolutely fell in love with the art of dance.  He's grown immensely in the past year-and-a-half and relishes the time he can spend dancing.  When I saw On Pointe on Kickstarter last year I jumped at the chance to order him a copy.  The one thing he loves almost as much as dance is board games, so combining the two was a no-brainer.  He's used to everything ballet being mostly girl-centric, so he was very happy to see that there were boy characters in the game, too.  So, does it hold up to our gamer household's expectations?  Read on to find out!

Experience life as a ballet dancer, from the Barre to a Star. Earn your pointe shoes and tutu; collect gems, treasures and the tiara.

In On Pointe players advance as a professional dancer would, from learning the basic ballet moves, mastering rehearsals, performing on stage, competing to become Prima Ballerina and accepting their bouquet at curtain call.

A competitive game with light strategy and set collection with a race down the board, avoiding obstacles and out-maneuvering your opponents, but being first to collect your bouquet doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll win – it’s all about the points that you collect along the way.

Experience the life of a ballet dancer, from the Barre to a Star.  Know your positions, use the right moves: collect gems; treasures; and the tiara.  A game that will keep you on your toes.

- Description from publisher

Blooms:
Blooms are the game's highlights and features.  Elements that are exceptional.
  • Wonderful theme and artwork for any families interested in games and ballet!
  • Boy friendly!  Male dancers and double sided player boards so you can decorate your tutu or tunic!
  • Easy rules are fast to teach.
  • Fast gameplay!
Buds:
Buds are interesting parts of the game I would like to explore more. 
  • Each game is a fun journey from practice to rehearsal to the big performance.
  • Plays well at all player counts, but feels more crowded at 4 players than 2, which drives some interesting choices.
  • Simple gameplay and rules open the door for house rules.  I want to come up with a cooperative variant!
Thorns:
Thorns are a game's shortcomings and any issues I feel are noteworthy.
  • The game plays 2-4 players, and there are 6 character standees, but only one is a boy character.  Would have been nice to have at least two.
  • There can be quite a bit of luck with the card draws.
  • Strategy is very simple and won't be enough for heavier gamers.
  • A few situations aren't covered in the rules or are very vague.
  • A few component misprints - not game breaking though.
Final Thoughts:
On Pointe ended up being exactly what we had hoped it would be!  It's a light game, perfect for families and non-gamers, and it just drips theme.  Every little aspect of the game is steeped in the ballet theme.  From the gorgeous artwork to the move cards named after ballet moves, to the action tokens named after different positions, and every little bit.  My son was in a performance of Swan Lake last year, so he was excited to see characters like the Black Swan show up.

The game is very light on strategy though.  There are some interesting decisions to make when competing to acquire props or trying to race to the end, but it's generally a pretty open board with simple choices and quite a bit of luck.  This won't come out at your board game night with a group of adults, but for families, especially families with dancers and fans of ballet, this is a perfect little game!

There are a few rough spots in the game, though they don't really take away from the enjoyment of it.  A few situations that come up in the game aren't clearly spelled out in the otherwise very straightforward rules.  There are a few areas on the board that we assumed can't be moved into (the barre and piano in the practice space), but it's not specifically stated in the rules that these are inactive spaces.  It's also not clear how much movement the curtains block on the stage, particularly for diagonal moves past the curtains.  If you move directly onto a space separating an area (between practice and rehearsal or between rehearsal and the stage) you'll earn a gem, however it's unclear if you can pass this space up and then move backward into a previous area on a later turn so you can go back for props that you missed or try to get that gem.  We've been playing that you can backtrack, but it would be interesting to play where once you've advanced beyond a section you couldn't move back to it.  We also noticed a few misprints on the components, like missing points on the backs of a few gems. 

I also wish there was another boy standee.  The game plays 2-4 players, so it would have been great if there were 4 female and 2 male playable characters, since you can't have more than 4 girls play at once.  It is nice though that they included the option to decorate a tunic instead of a tutu on the flip side of the player boards though.  Ballet is generally female-centric, and my son has accepted that fact, but it's nice that at least some thought was given to boy dancers, too.  After all, some dudes dance!  (He has a t-shirt that says that.)

None of these issues detract significantly from the game, but they did cause us to search the rulebook to see if there was something we missed a few times.  They're easy enough to house rule, and the game is light and fast enough that small variances like this don't affect the overall gameplay.  In fact, the game is simple enough that I can see all sorts of variants being possible.  I'd really like to work out a cooperative variant for the game.

I don't often write up reviews for games from my own collection, saving the time I spend writing reviews on games sent to me from various publishers, but we really enjoyed playing On Pointe, and I wanted to share our excitement for the game.  So this is a completely unsolicited review!  The theme, artwork, and gameplay really brought the ballet home!  If you have a dancer in the family this is definitely a Bloom game!  If you don't have dancers at home this is still a very solid family game, so I'm giving it an overall rating of Bud.  Dancers and families both will enjoy On Pointe, so head on over to the Analog Game Studios website and pick up a copy for your favorite dancers today!

Buds, Blooms, and Thorns Rating:

IF YOU HAVE A DANCER THIS IS A Bloom!
This game is great and worth
adding to your collection!  It should be
on just about every gamer's shelf. 
Bud!  This game definitely has some
great moments.  It's good for several plays
and should appeal to most gamers, especially
if you enjoy other games like this.
Pictures:












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GJJ Games 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 were provided by a publisher or designer for my honest feedback and evaluation.  I make every attempt to be both honest and constructively critical in my reviews, and they are all my opinions.  There are four types of reviews on GJJ Games: Full Reviews feature critical reviews based on a rubric and games receive a rating from 0 to 100.  Quick Reviews and Kickstarter Previews are either shorter reviews of published games or detailed preview reviews of crowdfunding games that will receive a rating from 0 to 10 based on my impressions of the game.  Buds, Blooms,and Thorns reviews are shorter reviews of either published or upcoming games that highlight three aspects of a game: Buds are parts of a game I look forward to exploring more, Blooms are outstanding features of a game, and Thorns are shortcomings of a game.  Each BBT review game will receive an overall rating of Thorn, Bud, or Bloom.