Friday, September 23, 2016

Eye on Kickstarter #5

Eye on Kickstarter #5

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

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

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


HIGHLIGHTED CAMPAIGN
PWNs - A Game of Strategic Mayhem
  • GJJ Games Review
  • GJJ Games Backed
  • PWNs might not look like a serious game, and you're right, it's not serious. It's hilarious! It's a chaotic game that's full of laughs and mayhem filled fun. The artwork isn't masterpiece quality, but it fits the theme and gameplay perfectly. I couldn't imagine the game with serious artwork. I had a chance to review this when it was getting ready for its first campaign and I loved it. My friends loved it. My kids loved it. Their friends loved it. Everyone had an absolute blast playing PWNs and the game has only gotten better! Definitely check it out!


The ultimate, easy-to-learn strategy game you will never play the same way twice!

PWNs is a unique game where you command your team of pawns to traverse a board filled with potentially-dangerous terrain to battle your way to victory. Your team will use a combination of cards, abilities, and terrain to knock out enemy PWNs. The object is to knock out just one team from the game. Then whichever team has the most remaining players with the most health points wins! With so many possible combinations and variations randomly assigned at the beginning of the game, you'll never play the same game twice.





ORIGINZ - The Superpowered Card Game
  • People Behind the Meeples Interview
  • If you are a fan of comic books and super hero games, be sure to check this one out. There are a bunch of different characters and you can play them with either hero or villain abilities! The artwork looks great, and the gameplay looks fun. Plus I had a chance to interview the designer, Evan Hunt!


Ember: From the Ashes
  • People Behind the Meeples Interview
  • Ember: From the Ashes is the first expansion to the successfully Kickstarted Ember: The Magical Card Game. This expansion adds a bunch of new cards, a few new mechanics, and some incredible artwork. It's from designer and publisher Stuart Garside (call him Stewie though, it makes him laugh).


Stellar Armada
  • GJJ Games Review
  • There seem to be more and more of these $1 games popping up on Kickstarter. Stellar Armada is one of the latest, and it looks quite interesting. Space combat for just $1!


Mars 4:45
  • I'm a sucker for anything Mars. I've loved the red planet ever since I was a kid (heck, I just love astronomy, so the same could be said about Jupiter, Saturn, extrasolar planets, etc.). I really love the simple, clean, yet striking artwork from Mars 4:45 and the gameplay looks very interesting, too!


Z.O.R.P. (Zombie Oblivion Response Pack)
  • ZORP was actually on my list of games to review. I did manage to play the game and found it quite a bit lacking. The version on Kickstarter has a few changes and I will be getting a review out next week for the game that talks aobut some of these changes.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 8: Evan Hunt

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



Name:Evan Hunt
Email:Flavorfactionstudio@gmail.com
Location:Simsbury, CT USA
Day Job:I am a Director of Business Development at a Laser Company
Designing:Two to five years.
Webpage:originzthegame.com
Blog:http://www.originzthegame.com/blog
BGG:Originz Superpowered Card Game
Facebook:Originz The Superpowere Card Game or Evan Hunt
Twitter:@flavorfaction
Find my games at:Kickstarter launched September 6th! But you can also find the Print & Play or play the Tabletop Simulator version on www.originzthegame.com
Today's Interview is with:

Evan Hunt
Interviewed on: 08/24/16

Evan Hunt is working on getting his first game published through Kickstarter right now! He and partner Alex Kampmann have been working on Originz for around two years now and are excited to see their game come forth on Kickstarter. Be sure to check it out, especially if you are into super hero card games!

Have something else you'd like to ask that I didn't cover here? Go ahead and comment on this post. I'll ask the designers interviewed to answer any questions!


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?
We wanted to bring an accessible, comic book style, superhero/villain deck-battle game into the world!
What game or games are you currently working on?
Originz The Superpowered Card Game (www.originzthegame.com)
Have you designed any games that have been published?
Our Kickstarter launched September 6th!
What is your day job?
I am a Director of Business Development at a Laser Company and Alex is Director of Sales at a publishing company.

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

Where do you prefer to play games?
Home
Who do you normally game with?
Friends and Family
If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
A cooperative card game like Sentinels of the Multiverse or battle game like Warhammer 40k Conquest
And what snacks would you eat?
Pizza!
Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
Yes- acoustic versions of popular music.
What’s your favorite FLGS?
The Portal in Manchester, CT
What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
Originz is my favorite (but I'm biased), least favorite is SOTM because it is too Mathy, worst is Probably monopoly!
What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
Mechanics that limit note-taking and mathyness are my favorite (like the deck is your health.). Least favorite is the concept of Health points that need to be tracked.
What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
Warhammer 40k conquest - adult theme and I have kids!
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?
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?
Themes first! The mechanics must match the theme or you are in trouble! The theme is the 'heart' of the game. The mechanics are just the vehicle!
Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
Originz placed 'Runner up to Best in Show' at the CT Festival of Independent Games
Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
Greater than Games must be a fun place to work! I've watched them grow with admiration!
Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
I think of a type of game I want to play, but can't find on the market.
How do you go about playtesting your games?
Start with friends and family, then branch out to Cons. Tabletop Simulator has been enormously helpful.
Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
Alex and I are co-designers. We contract our art and graphic design.
What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
Kickstarter has been populated by experienced publishers. The community is used to 100% completed games, with reviews and stellar presentations. These days, if you want to make it as an indi publisher, even on Kickstarter, you better be willing to invest in a finished product (art included.)
If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
Peter Clines 'Ex-Heroes' series about Superheroes in the Zombie Apocalypse.
What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
Where to invest our limited time and funds, in what priority. We got most of it right, but we wasted some money and LOTS of time.
What advice would you like to share about designing games?
You can't do anything without the right artist and graphic designer. After you have that, be prepared to playtest a ton. Solicit feedback from everybody and don't be sensitive! Be willing to change.
Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Games that will soon be published are: Originz - The Superpowered Card Game (launched Sept 6th)
This is what I have currently crowdfunding: Originz - The Superpowered Card Game (Sept 6th)
Games that I'm playtesting are: 6 expansion Originz
And games that are still in the very early idea phase are: A mobile version of Originz

Are you a member of any Facebook or other design groups? (Game Maker’s Lab, Card and Board Game Developers Guild, etc.)
Tabletop Kickstarter Advice and Kickstarter Spotlight by Druid City Games are two of my favorites.

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, VHS!
What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
Golf, reading, playing with kids!
What is something you learned in the last week?
We learned about how services like BackerKit may help your campaign.
Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
Love almost all music. Sci-fi / Fantasy / Superheroes are my favorite.
What was the last book you read?
Ex-Communication by Peter Clines.
Do you play any musical instruments?
Wish I did! My dad is awesome at guitar.
Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
I was a Weapon Systems Officer on B-1 Bombers for the Air force
Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
Scuba Dove by myself - almost died because of it!
Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
Meeting and falling in love with my wife, Lara.
Who is your idol?
I think President Barack Obama is as cool as they come. (Politics aside.).
What would you do if you had a time machine?
Nothing - never mess with the space-time continuum!
Are you an extrovert or introvert?
Extrovert
If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
Spider- Man. He's such a humble guy, driven by guilt, but never forgetting to have fun and put everything on the line!
Have any pets?
3 dogs, 2 frogs and a fish
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 love the internet, but a part of me hopes it disappears, forcing us to enjoy and learn from the friends and family immediately around us. Plus, more people would play board games, which do the same thing!
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):
Alex Kampmann, my co-designer at Flavor Faction Studio; Nate Brett of Wilderland Campaigns (our graphic designer) and Matt Ryan of MattR Illustration (our artist). Also all of friends and family who have been so supportive while we pursued our dream to bring Originz into the world!

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

Thanks for taking the time to read and please look for the Originz Kickstarter on Sept 6th.



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

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

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 7: Randal Marsh

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


Name:Randal Marsh
Email:tinshoegames@gmail.com
Location:Pleasant Grove, UT
Day Job:Art teacher
Designing:Two to five years.
Webpage:tinshoegames.com
BGG:Boit
Facebook:tinshoegames
Twitter:@tinshoegames
YouTube:Channel: Tin Shoe Games
Find my games at:Kickstarter for now, Amazon in the future
Today's Interview is with:

Randal Marsh
Interviewed on: 08/29/16

Randal is currently running a Kickstarter campaign for his game, Radiant, an interesting combination of trick taking, area control, and drafting that I had the great fortune to review about a month ago. The game is really fantastic, and if this is any indication of the types of games we’ll see from Randal in the future, keep your eyes on him! While working on the review for Radiant I had quite a few conversations back and forth with Randal and he’s a genuinely great guy. Go check out the campaign for Radiant! It’s only going for a few more days!

Have something else you'd like to ask that I didn't cover here? Go ahead and comment on this post. I'll ask the designers interviewed to answer any questions!

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?
I first started because I wanted to illustrate a board game, but I fell in love with designing, too.

What game or games are you currently working on?
Radiant is currently on Kickstarter. My next design is dealing with player-developed robots that eventually attain AI.

Have you designed any games that have been published?
No, Radiant will be my first.

What is your day job?
Art teacher

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

Where do you prefer to play games?
At home

Who do you normally game with?
My game group is made up of siblings and friends from different seasons of my life. I also play a lot of games with family.

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

And what snacks would you eat?
I tend to get so focused on the game that I forget to eat, but I do love chocolate-chip-cookies (with napkins of course, because grease is terrible).

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
Only for RPGs. Then anything instrumental and thematic is great. I do love motion picture scores.

What’s your favorite FLGS?
Epic Puzzles and Games

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
Current: Eclipse, Least that I enjoy: Betrayal at House on the Hill, Worst: all games considered, I've never played anything worse than Candyland. Of course, I don't seek out bad games.

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
Area control, Anything involving loss of turn

What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
Dead of Winter

What styles of games do you play?
I like to play Board Games, Card Games, RPG 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?
A little of both, but I like a very strong connection between the two.

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
I've entered the Ion Award.

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
Vlaada Chvatil

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
Reading

How do you go about playtesting your games?
I'm a member of a design guild. I also do a lot of playtesting at conventions for later stages.

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
I act alone, but I put great value in the feedback of playtesters.

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
Finding time to work during the school year.

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
Harry Potter or The Stormlight Archive

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
It takes a crazy amount of time to do a good job (at least for me).

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Designing games is its own hobby. Treat it like a hobby, and you'll enjoy it.

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: Radiant

Are you a member of any Facebook or other design groups? (Game Maker’s Lab, Card and Board Game Developers Guild, etc.)
Lots. The Board Game Design Guild of Utah meets in-person.

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?
I love Star Trek, but Star Wars is woven into my very soul.

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
guitar, cycling, RC airplanes, reading

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
Chill, indie rock and contemporary folk. Brandon Sanderson novels and heavy sci-fi (movies and books)

What was the last book you read?
When Breath becomes Air which was truly fantastic.

Do you play any musical instruments?
Guitar

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
In high school, me and my friends broke into the school through a window and played laser-tag.

Are you an extrovert or introvert?
Introvert

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

I illustrate my own games. I love to be able to control the design, the theme, and the art direction to create a unified, whole experience.




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

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

Thursday, September 15, 2016

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 6: Erik Andersson Sundén

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



Name:Erik Andersson Sundén
Email:erik.andersson.sunden@gmail@com
Location:Uppsala, Sweden
Day Job:I'm a research engineer/physicist.
Designing:Two to five years.
BGG:pastej
Facebook:erik.andersson.sunden
Twitter:@erik_a_sunden
Other:tabletop generation: erikas
Find my games at:Be patient. I hope it will eventually happen!
Today's Interview is with:

Erik Andersson Sundén
Interviewed on: 08/22/16

This is Erik Andersson Sundén, another game designer from Scandinavia! He's also been very active in many of the game design groups that I'm also a member of, so it's great to get to know a little more about him. Even if I pronounce the name for that snack he'd eat while playing Taluva totally different!
Have something else you'd like to ask that I didn't cover here? Go ahead and comment on this post. I'll ask the designers interviewed to answer any questions!

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?
The spark of my adult interest in game design was after I had built a programming interface to boardgamegeek where I was able to pull all kind of statistics out of the database. One thing that came out of my analysis was that two of my most loved game mechanisms are Simultaneous Action Selection as well as Worker Placement. My initial thought were "Too bad those can not be combined". After a few days I had build my first (unplayable) prototype.
What game or games are you currently working on?
"Space Zoo" and I just started on "Circus Royal" (inspired by Beatles For the benefit of Mr Kite)
Have you designed any games that have been published?
No
What is your day job?
I'm a research engineer/physicist.

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

Where do you prefer to play games?
At home. In my own or others.
Who do you normally game with?
Family and friends.
If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
I'm an omnivore. ;-) I love to play the lighter games with my children (when time permits). My children likes The Resistance: Avalon, Quarriors, Animals upon Animals, as well as Dominion.

I am rarely as grateful and happy as after a game night with some heavier games. I'm a big fan of Uwe Rosenberg's creations, such as Agricola, Le Havre, as well as Ora et Labora. Taluva is a recent love of mine as well. Oh and I have some fond memories of Knizia's Ra.
And what snacks would you eat?
Salta pinnar (https://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salta_pinnar)
Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
No.
What’s your favorite FLGS?
Some local shops here in Uppsala, Fantasia and Prisfyndet.
What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
For the lighter game my current favorite is The Resistance. For the heavier games I really don't know what to pick. My top three would probably include Lewis & Clark, Agricola, and Tzolk'in.

The worst game I ever played with quite high expectations is probably Duel of Ages II. I was lured there by Tom Vasel. Not my cup of tea - at all.
What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
My favorite mechanism is probably Simultaneous action selection, closely followed by Worker Placement.
What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
I am blessed with having people around me that love games (almost) as much as I do. This has not been a problem so far.
What styles of games do you play?
I like to play Board Games, Card Games, Miniatures Games, RPG Games, Other 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?
I don't have enough experience to know. So far I have started with some mechanisms. However, my latest design is purely based on a theme. I am still looking for what mechanisms to choose to support it.
Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
Nope.
Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
Knizia was a favorite of mine for a long time. Nowadays I am usually keeping an eye open whenever Uwe Rosenberg or Martin Wallace release new designs.
Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
Either from a mechanism or from music. I have tried to design games based on some game design articles - without any great successes so far.
How do you go about playtesting your games?
I start playing the game by myself. I've tried to bring it to friends that enjoy being a part of the design process. So far I have not reached blind play testing. I do, however, plan to do so with Space Zoo "soon".
Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
I've only worked "alone" so far, apart from various play testers (Benny, Erik N, Erik W, and Henke B deserves a special mention here) that give me plenty of great feedback.
What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
Translating play test feedback into good changes of the game. Oh, and make small changes from one play test to the other.
If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
I would love to make an Earthsea or Left hand of Darkness game, based on Ursula LeGuins excellent books.
What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
"Designing games is fun. You should try it!"
What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Be passionate and share what you are doing with other designers. There are plenty of resources and networks to be involved with!
Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Games I feel are in the final development and tweaking stage are: Space Zoo
Games that I'm playtesting are: Space Zoo, hey wait I don't know if it belongs here or in the previous section!!
And games that are still in the very early idea phase are: The Circus game
Are you a member of any Facebook or other design groups? (Game Maker’s Lab, Card and Board Game Developers Guild, etc.)
Game Maker’s Lab

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. But I think I would like Star Trek if I gave it a chance.

I tend to drink sparkling water.

DVD
What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
I'm a father of three (and that takes some time) and I try to get out and run a few times a week.
What is something you learned in the last week?
I learned how to simulate Cherenkov light in a nuclear fuel pond.
Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
I love various music styles. Right now I listen a lot to Beatles, Yann Tiersen, and Lars Winnerbäck. That is when I get to decide. More often I listen to songs from the Eurovision song contest.

I'm a big fan of Douglas Adams Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, as well as Ursula Le Guin's various books.
What was the last book you read?
PeKå Englunds "Född på en söndag" ("Born on a sunday")
Do you play any musical instruments?
I have played the violin and piano. That was a long time ago, though.
Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
I once traveled for more than five hours with a car radio on the highest volume due to some malfunctioning software. I was unable to turn the radio off, reduce the volume or change the radiostation during the entire trip. The icing on the cake was the last hours of dramatization of Kafka's The Process.
Who is your idol?
Ursula Le Guin (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Et9Nf-rsALk)
What would you do if you had a time machine?
Try to understand how it works before entering.
Are you an extrovert or introvert?
I'm an extrovert.
If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
I would problably be a plumber in red trousers and a big mustachio.
Have any pets?
No
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):
My wife and children! My play testing group (most prominently Benny, Erik, Erik, Shuan and Henrik).

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

Nope.



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

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

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

PWNs is Back on Kickstarter!

PWNs: A Game of Strategic Mayhem
Designer: Ryan Boyle
Publisher: AWRY Corp, LLC
A game I reviewed back in April is back on Kickstarter.  PWNs is running a new Kickstarter campaign with a slightly lower goal, slightly lower cost, slightly lower shipping, but more game in the box!  There have been a number of improvements since the prototype I tested, including special character abilities, nicer tokens, and more!

PWNs is a game that my sons and their friends (and my friends, too) wanted to play over and over!  It's chaotic fun, plays fast, and leaves you wanting more.  It's one of the few games I've reviewed where my family was super disappointed when I had to send it on.  We can't wait to get our hands on a completed copy!

So go read my review and then consider supporting PWNs on Kickstarter!


PWNs is available right now on Kickstarter for just $27 plus shipping, through October 14, 2016.  Check it out now!





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Quick Review - Civscape - Kickstarter Preview

Civscape
Designer: Jeffrey Henning
Publisher: Troy Press
Quick Review - Civscape - Kickstarter Preview
Disclaimer

I like Civilization games, with their tech trees, multiple paths to victory, combat, and player interaction.  Way back when I was in high school and college I used to get together with some friends for an entire weekend and play one or two games of Avalon Hill's Civilization.  I don't have time for an 8-10 hour game anymore, but it's still way up there on my I want to play this again list.  I really like 7 Wonders, have had by eye on Progress: Evolution of Technology, and have even been working on my own tiny civ building game.  So when I was asked to review a civilization building card game that was meant to be a fast playing, introductory to civ games, I jumped at the opportunity!

Civscape is a card game for 2-5 players that is intended to be a take-that gateway game into the genre of civilization building games.  It plays in 8-40 minutes and consists of just about 100 cards.  Civscape will be on Kickstarter beginning September 16, 2016 and will be available for $13 plus shipping ($6 in the US).

Overview:
Mechanically, Civscape is a very simple game.  Each civilization will start with a City.  You'll be working on building both your civilization's Timeline (which consists of advances in Government and Technology, as well as Events) and your civilization's Skyline (which consists of buildings).  Each of these advancements falls into one of five categories: Military, Science, Culture, Trade, or Production.  There are also Event cards that cause various things to happen.  Usually these are played and discarded, but occasionally they can add to your Timeline.

Each player will be dealt one random ancient City to start with (like Athens, Syracuse, Carthage, Pella, Sparta, etc.).  These don't have any unique abilities or powers, but they do fall into one of the five categories (e.g. Sparta is a Military City and Athens is a Science City).  Cities are the start of your civilization's Timeline.  Then each player is dealt a hand of five cards and play begins with the player who has the oldest City, as stated on the cards.
The game comes with nine standard cities, each with an area of expertise and the basic game rules printed on the card.
On your turn you'll play up to one card, plus up to an additional card for every three cards already in your Timeline or Skyline.  So if you have five cards out you'll be able to play two (you can always play fewer cards than allowed).  Once you are done resolving any cards you've played you'll get to draw one card, plus an additional card for every three cards in your Timeline or Skyline.  So, if you started with five cards, but played two to build your civilization, you'll be able to draw three at the end of your turn.

Some of the cards have symbols on them, and if you are ever able to play a card that has two symbols on it (generally an advanced Building or a second level Technology that has prerequisites), you win!  Simple as that!  But it's not...
Build a Library and Watermill and you'll have all you need to build the Royal Library for the win!
A Bit More Detail:
Like any good civilization game, some of the advancements you'll want to build have prerequisites, e.g. you can't add Logic to your Timeline unless both Mathematics and Rhetoric are already in your Timeline.  Likewise, you cannot build the Royal Library unless you've also built two of the Library, University, or Watermill.  These cards that have prerequisites are the cards that have two symbols and allow you to win the game if they can be played.  So your goal throughout the game it to acquire a winning card, and then also acquire the prerequisite cards so you can play your winner.  But that's often more difficult than it sounds.

Generally you only get the cards you manage to draw from the deck.  So getting what you need from there is mostly chance.  There are cards that let you draw more from the deck, so playing those will increase your chances of drawing the cards you need, but it's still luck of the draw.  There are quite a few cards that let you draw five cards from the deck and then keep one or more of them, discarding the others.  So this gives you a bit more control, but again, if you don't draw what you really need you're out of luck.  There are also cards that let you steal cards from your opponents.  Sometimes you steal blindly from an opponent's hand, but other times you are able to steal buildings from the opponent's Skyline.  This can occasionally allow you to steal cards with the symbols you need.
No buildings in my civilization yet, but I've played a lot of events.
There are four types of cards in Civscape: Government, Technology, Buildings, and Events.  Each of these cards has text on them that describes actions that happen when you play them.  Some of these actions benefit you, like the aforementioned extra cards from the deck, but most of the time the cards have actions that harm your neighbors.

Government cards are played to your Timeline and let you hold on to more cards when an opponent plays a card that has a Change Leaders action on it.  Change Leaders actions occur on some Events and Buildings, although why building a Theater causes other civilizations to change leaders, I don't know.  When a Change Leader action occurs all other players must discard their hands down to the number allowed by their government (a range from 3-10 cards).

Technology cards are also played to your Timeline and let you take a building from an opponent in the same category as the Technology, e.g. playing Masonry lets you take a Production Building from an opponent and add it to your hand.  There are only five basic Technology cards in the entire game, and two of them are required to play any advanced Technology to win the game.  So when a Technology card comes your way you'll want to snag it and play it as soon as possible.  None of the cards let you take things out of someone else's Timeline, so once you play a Technology card you have it locked in.  Cards in your hand aren't safe and can be stolen or discarded by a variety of other card effects.
Democracy lets you keep five cards instead of the basic three.  Masonry is a Technology card that lets you steal a
Production Building from an opponent and add it to your hand.  Just one of many ways to mess with your neighbors.
Building cards are played to your Skyline.  Buildings have a three different effects: Change Leaders, Calamity, or Supply Check.  I've already mentioned Change Leaders.  Calamity means something bad happens to all your opponents, like Plague, Fire, Economic Collapse, etc.  When Calamity strikes, players are sometimes going to lose some of their Buildings (usually by giving them to you to place in your hand).  You can build more Buildings than cards you have in your Timeline, but when someone plays a Calamity card you'll lose one or more Buildings if they aren't supported by at least an equal number of Timeline cards.  A few of the Calamity cards have slight variations, but they all pretty much do the same thing.  Supply Check is the same for every card with that action.  If any players have more Military cards in play than Trade cards they must return one Military Building to their hands.
Erecting a Building card is not going to bode well for your opponents.
Every building has one of three actions that really harm your opponents.

Then there are the Events.  Most Events are simply played and discarded, but a few remain in your Timeline and have longer reaching effects.  Each Event is different, although many are just slight variations of each other. Events can have effects ranging from you drawing additional cards, to causing opponents to remove buildings from their Skyline, and more.  These are the core of the take-that part of the game.  They are what will let you fill up your hand with cards and what will cause you to dump cards most often.  Playing events will really mess with the bit of strategy your opponents have been working on.  So it becomes critical that you hold on to only a few critical cards for any strategy you're working on and then play tactically with whatever other cards you happen to have in your hand on your turn.
Events can really swing the game around.  I went from basically
nothing to a winning set of cards after playing one event.
The rule book also hints at the possibility of playing different scenarios, however at this time there don't appear to be any scenarios listed on the game's website.  I suspect the scenarios have to do with pitting two civilizations against each other and then only including cards related to those civilizations (each card has some identifying information on it telling what civilization it works best with).

Final Thoughts:
The artwork on the Civscape cards is nice, but very plain. Timeline and Event cards are just text (and most of the time quite a bit of text), and many of the Building cards have the same pictures. I believe there will at least be more building art, but I'm not sure if art will be added to the other cards. I do like how all the edges of the Building cards line up so you have a coherent Skyline, so I hope that remains.

I really like the theme of Civscape and the idea of a civilization building game that is fast, easy, and accessible. I also think the mechanics of Civscape work as a take-that card game. But I really didn't feel like the mechanics and theme worked well together. Because so many of the cards had take-that effects that caused you to get rid of lots of cards from both your hand and skyline I found it very difficult to build up any meaningful strategy.  Coupled with the fact that cards are acquired randomly, I never really felt in control.  In fact, in my first game I won completely randomly by just happening to draw three cards with matching symbols (including a two-symbol winner) and then playing them over the course of three turns.
The three winning turns included drawing the Dockyard at the end of a turn.  Next turn I played an Event that let me draw
several cards, including the Walled Harbor (with two symbols on it). Then I played the Dockyard.  At the end of my turn I
drew the Harbor.  On my next turn I played the Harbor and Walled Harbor for a win.
As a take-that game, Civscape works OK.  If you're cool with ruining your opponents' plans and don't get upset when they win anyway out of pure luck, Civscape is works well.  The cards are a bit wordy for that type of game, especially since your cards cycle so often, and you do spend a lot of time reading through a lot of cards (I often had 10+ cards in my hand).  And more often than not, just after you've finished reading through everything and have decided on a plan of action, you have your hand dumped by a Change Leaders card before you can do anything with them.

As a civilization building game, though, I felt like Civscape really missed the mark.  There is too much take-that to really feel like you are ever building anything.  I think the game would work much better as an abstracted take-that card game, maybe with a silly theme.  It'd need the card text to be much simpler though.  To keep the civilization theme (which I love, just not with these mechanics), the game will need to tone down the amount of card cycling that goes on.  Player interaction would still be great, just not in such a hostile way.  Civilization building should be about planning, technological synergy, out powering your opponents, and interactions through trade and combat.  Instead, Civscape is all about getting lucky with cards that screw your neighbor while you hope to be the first to draw a winning combination.

It really seems that there are two game ideas here.  One is a light take-that game and the other is a casual civilization building game.  Separately they would probably both be fine, but together they both lose something.  I'd love to see what the designers could do with two different games here because both ideas show promise.
Cards with gray backs are the Cities.  The other cards are Timeline, Skyline, and Event cards .
So, while I did have fun playing Civscape, it didn't quite hit the mark for me and won't be one I pull out often.  However, if it still sounds like something you'd be interested in, be sure to check out the Kickstarter campaign, starting September 16, 2016.  The game will be available for $13, plus shipping.  Plus, they'll have a "One for You, One for Teacher" option, where they will donate a copy in the your name to a U.S. social studies teacher (through an industry association).

Preliminary Rating: 5.5/10
This review is of a prototype game.  Components and rules are not final and are subject to change.


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GJJG Game Reviews are independent, unpaid reviews of games I, George Jaros, have played with my family and friends.  Some of these games I own, some are owned by friends, some are borrowed, and some are print and play versions of games.  Where applicable I will indicate if games have been played with kids or adults or a mix (Family Play).  I won't go into extensive detail about how to play the game (there are plenty of other sources for that information and I'll occasionally link to those other sources), but I will give my impressions of the game and how my friends and family reacted to the game.  Quick Reviews will only get a single rating of 1-10 (low-high) based on my first impressions of the game during my first few times playing.  Hopefully I'll get more chances to play the game and will be able to give it a full review soon.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

GJJ Games Joins the Everything Board Games Network

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