Friday, January 12, 2018

Eye on Kickstarter #35

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 January, 2018:

Live Campaigns from Past Eyes:
None this week...


HIGHLIGHTED CAMPAIGN
Re-Chord
  • GJJ Games Backed
  • People Behind the Meeples Interview
  • My son has been learning the guitar for the past two and a half years (classical guitar), and really loves the instrument. He's pretty good, too! So when a game all about playing the guitar came along I had to back a copy for him. Interesting euro mechanics, a tiny bit of take-that, and learning real guitar chords makes this look like a winner!


Re-Chord is a guitar themed euro game for 1-5 players which plays in approximately 40-60 minutes. You are a budding guitarist, a rising star in your genre of music perfecting your craft to become a legend. Using real guitar picks to play chords, can you become the most famous guitarist of all time?




Black Hole Council
  • Black Hole Council is the second game from Orange Machine Games, the first being Abandon Planet, which made my top 10 list for 2017. Black Hole Council is for 4-8 players and brings a similar euro game style to social games, this time incorporating negotiation and deduction into a fun looking game with a bit of a destructive theme.


The Dice Tower - 2018
  • GJJ Games Backed
  • The Dice Tower is the premier source for board game news and reviews. Spearheaded by Tom Vassal, the folks at The Dice Tower do what so many of us dream of doing: earn a living playing board games. They work hard to make a living playing games, though, and their annual campaign helps ensure that they can keep providing the great content that they do.


Dwar7s Winter
  • Dwar7s Winter is the second game in the Dwar7s series. This one includes hand-building, worker placement, and resource management, three mechanics that I love. It also has great artowrk, a fun story, and a bunch of great miniatures. What's not to love!


Western Legends
  • I really love wild west themes, but unfortunately my collection is a bit lacking in that genre. I have Colt Express, Tiny Epic West, and (unplayed) Great Western Trail, plus my own 8 Seconds that sort of fits, but that's it. I really like the idea of a sandbox style western where you can choose to be a hero or ourlaw. Plus, having actual historical characters to play seems like a ton of fun!


Tokyo Series: Jidohanbaiki, Metro, and Jutaku
  • More than the gameplay or theme, what has caught my interest here is the fact that this is three games (well, Jidohanbaiki is a game system) that can be played separately or together!


Hermetica
  • I quite like abstract games, even though they rarely make it to the table. One of my favorites is Element from last year, and Hermetica looks like a similar theme, but with very different mechanics. I like the idea of different types of pieces having different behaviors and different powers over the other pieces on the board, plus the presentation here is outstanding!


Deja Vu: Fragments of Memory
  • The "binary system" terminology in the description of Deja Vu seems like a silly catchphrase to me. What they're trying to get at is that they've combined two mechanics to have a game system where the first mechanic drives the strategy of the second mechanic. I don't think this is very unique, although combining a mancala mechanic with tableau building might be a new combination. However the gameplay does look interesting and the theme, artwork, and story are pretty fascinating.


Neanderthal and Greenland
  • Here's another set of games that can be played separately or together, although they seem much more similar to begin with than the Tokyo series games. I wonder if this idea of combining games to become something bigger is a style that will catch on the way Legacy games have become so popular.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 103: Lisa Blecker with C. Aaron Kreader

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:Lisa Blecker with C. Aaron Kreader
Location:Evanston, IL
Day Job:Lisa: Freelancer (from concept to development to finish) on multimedia projects mostly for children. Aaron: Artist and Graphic Designer.
Designing:Over ten years!
Webpage:www.studio9inc.com
BGG:Studio 9 Incorporated
Facebook:Studio9Inc/
Twitter:@Studio_9_Games
YouTube:Aaron Kreader
Find my games at:amazon, our game store online from our site, or many other game retailers
Today's Interview is with:

Lisa Blecker with C. Aaron Kreader
Interviewed on: 11/24/2017

I met Lisa this year at the Chicago Toy and Game Fair and talked for a bit about her new game, CHARMS: A Game of Insight. This is her first game that she's designed, however she's helped her husband Aaron with his work on several other games. Today's interview is with both Lisa and Aaron. They not only design games here in the Chicagoland area, but also run their own publishing company, Studio 9 Incorporated, where they produce games and books.

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 helping my husband C. Aaron Kreader with his game designs.

What game or games are you currently working on?
Aaron is working on the Midnight Legion series. Lisa has concepts for CHARMS expansions.

Have you designed any games that have been published?
Yes. Our company Studio 9 Games has published Villagers & Villains, Treasures & Traps, the Midnight Legion series, Hero vs. Guardian, Charms: A Game of Insight, and expansions for T&T and V&V.

What is your day job?
Lisa: Freelancer (from concept to development to finish) on multimedia projects mostly for children. Aaron: Artist and Graphic Designer.

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

Where do you prefer to play games?
Lisa: At home. Aaron: Anywhere with a table and enthusiastic players.

Who do you normally game with?
Lisa: Aaron. Aaron: With a core of friends and Lisa who provide great feedback as play testers.

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
We make games we love and often play them with our friends on game nights. In general, we like quick playing games. Aaron also plays RPG games regularly.

And what snacks would you eat?
Lisa: Mixed nuts Aaron: Popcorn, chips, and pretzels

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
No, haven't really thought about doing that. Sometimes Aaron plays atmospheric music for his RPG nights.

What’s your favorite FLGS?
Our local stores are great!: Evanston Games & Cafe and Dice Dojo.

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
Favorite Games--Lisa: CHARMS: A Game of Insight Aaron: Besides our own games, Jaipur is a current favorite.

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
Favorite game mechanic--Lisa: Creative and/or cooperative features Aaron: Press your luck and asymmetrical games

What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
Aaron: Tikal

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

Do you design different styles of games than what you play?
I like to design Board Games, Card Games, RPG 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?
Typically theme first.

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
Yes, Treasures & Traps is an Origins Award Nominated Card Game of the Year.

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
We really enjoy Jason Katarski's work from Green Couch Games and games by Alan R. Moon.

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
Lisa: Dreams Aaron: Usually when spacing out.

How do you go about playtesting your games?
We play test a lot with many different people and are willing to adapt or let a game go if it doesn't work out well in testing.

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
We usually like to work in teams.

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
Aaron: The goal of trying to create complexity without complication of rules, mechanics, design, etc.

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
Lisa: Harry Potter or Sesame Street Aaron: The Hobbit and Adventure Time

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
Aaron: How to properly design the information on the back of the box.

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Lisa and Aaron: Create what you love.

Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Published games, I have: CHARMS: A Game of Insight, Treasures & Traps, Villagers & Villains, Midnight Legion series, Hero vs. Guardian, 3 expansions for T&T and 2 expansions for V&V
Games that will soon be published are: Midnight Legion book 3, a Midnight Legion mini-adventure for Free RPG Day, and an adventure module for DCC RPG
I'm planning to crowdfund: Yes, in 2018
Games that I'm playtesting are: Aaron: Cooperative card game with theme of world affairs.
Games that are in the early stages of development and beta testing are: Aaron: A party game

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

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?
Aaron: Firefly, Izze, Laser disc

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
Lisa: Arts, crafts, dancing, skating Aaron: Arts, crafts, reading

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
Lisa and Aaron: World, spiritual, fiction, & nonfiction

What was the last book you read?
Lisa: Mercy Thompson series Aaron: The World Order of Baha'u'llah

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
We also make animations.

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
Aaron: Decided to make a game company

Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
Aaron: Decided to make a game company

Who is your idol?
Aaron: Lisa is awesome!

What would you do if you had a time machine?
Aaron: I would send it a couple thousand years into the future with a note taped to it saying "Thinking of you!"

Are you an extrovert or introvert?
Lisa: Introvert Aaron: Extrovert

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
Lisa: Wonder Woman (if i could change the outfit) Aaron: Daredevil

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?
Aaron: I think it would be ironic of Gamma World survived. Games that teach kids to hoard property and money and monopolize on other players’ poverty could be wiped out.

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):
Special thanks to Ann Knipp of Chicago Kids Media. She's the reason we met you at the ChiTag. Also thanks to our co-creator of CHARMS: A Game of Insight, Julie Burns Walker. And the author and co-creator of Midnight Legion, Aaron Emmel.

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

Play board games! It brings people together!

Our new release, CHARMS: A Game of Insight is co-created by Lisa Blecker, C. Aaron Kreader and Julie Burns Walker. It's a creative problem-solving party game for a charmed life. Midnight Legion is co-created by Aaron Emmel and C. Aaron Kreader. This is a sci-fi choose your own adventure book series. Treasures & Traps, Villagers & Villains, Hero vs Guardian, and all expansions for T&T and V&V are created, written, and designed by C. Aaron Kreader. These are all card games with a fantasy theme. All of our games are family friendly and aside from the Midnight Legion book series, they all play within a lunch time.




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, January 2, 2018

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 102: Mike Szalajko

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 Szalajko
Email:mike@lethalchickengames.com
Location:Orlando, FL
Day Job:Making Games! I quit my job to pursue this dream of making games!
Designing:Less than six months.
Webpage:lethalchickengames.com
Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/LethalChickenGames/
Twitter:@LethaIChicken
Instagram:lethalchickengames/
Find my games at:Hit us up; we are running game days! And Indiegogo come Feb 2018.
Today's Interview is with:

Mike Szalajko
Interviewed on: 11/11/2017

Mike Szalajko is half the team behind Lethal Chicken Games, a startup game design comapny looking to release their first game this year. Look for What the Film?! on IndieGoGo in February, and if you're in the Orlando, FL area you can catch them at Cool Stuff Inc. to playtest their games.

Some Basics
Tell me a bit about yourself.

How long have you been designing tabletop games?
Less than six months.

Why did you start designing tabletop games?
We wanted to create light fun hearted games we can play in a social environment! Essentially make what we love to do!

What game or games are you currently working on?
What The Film?! will be launching on Indiegogo in Feb and we are working on a light card game called Camping With Sasquatch.

Have you designed any games that have been published?
Not yet, What The Film?! Is our first title

What is your day job?
Making Games! I quit my job to pursue this dream of making games!

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

Where do you prefer to play games?
Monthly at Cool Stuff Inc. Weekly at our homes.

Who do you normally game with?
Wife and Friends

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
Sheriff of Nottingham, Smallworld, Cash and Guns, Obama Llama, The Godfather

And what snacks would you eat?
Everything but Chicken, You never want the Lethal Chicken to get angry!

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
Yes we do. Depending on the theme of the game

What’s your favorite FLGS?
Cool Stuff Inc.

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
Nothing Personal my favorite, Catan is least favorite, Worst game ever is St. Petersburg or any Euro. I am falling asleep just saying the word EURO

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
Take That or Social Deduction. Programming

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

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

Do you design different styles of games than what you play?
I like to design Card Games, Other 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?
The Theme first then the mechanics fall into place. I love theme! Our games include simple mechanics. So we really pound out the theme! For instance What The Film?! is sketch art in black and white to resemble a storyboard! We want everyone to feel like a movie maker!

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

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
Eric Lang

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
All over and anytime. What The Film?! came about in a tent during Hurricane Irma clean up service project at like 3 A.M. Inspiration and creativity can come at anytime anywhere, let it happen.

How do you go about playtesting your games?
We start off by obviously testing games with friends and family. Then blind testing. Let's face it your mom isn't going to tell you your game sucks! I like our blind tests to feel like an event. So we do the whole invite thing, I always look for our testers to feel good about us as a brand and our games.

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
Team work makes the dream work! I think the best ideas come when you are bouncing them off others. It is the Marketing major in me! We are currently a team of two with commissioned artists.

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
Understanding that your games might not be for everyone. We make light social games, so finding that balance of a game that is for everyone. We want to let the community know that laughing and light heartedness is just as important as huge grandiose games.

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
Gravity Falls or The Aquabats

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
How much work goes into it haha. No, but seriously, even for a light game like What The Film?! It is a lot of hours.

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Remember there is a place for your idea! Don't let people tell you it will never work. There is always someone out there waiting for your personal creativity. Also, just have fun. If you are not loving every second of the process there is something wrong! The last point is don't neglect marketing, you might have a great game, but if no one believes in your brand you might never get it out there.

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: What The Film?! (Will be launching crowdfunding in Feb.)
I'm planning to crowdfund: Camping With Sasquatch.
Games I feel are in the final development and tweaking stage are: What The Film?!
Games that are in the early stages of development and beta testing are: Camping With Sasquatch.
And games that are still in the very early idea phase are: If I told you, I would have to kill you!

Are you a member of any Facebook or other design groups? (Game Maker’s Lab, Card and Board Game Developers Guild, etc.)
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?
Star Wars. Both Coke and Pepsi mixed together. VHS all day!

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
Hockey and Video Gaming!

What is something you learned in the last week?
That Rhode Island is neither a road nor an island.

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
SKA. Biographies. All kinds. (guilty pleasure is romantic comedies shhh don't tell anyone.)

What was the last book you read?
Don Cherry's Hockey Stories and Stuff.

Do you play any musical instruments?
No.

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
I am Mormon. Due to the fact that I'm covered in tattoos haha gets them every time!

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
I got lost in Mexico when I was 18!

Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
Moving to Florida.

Who is your idol?
Tim Burton

What would you do if you had a time machine?
I would probably go back to when my parents were teenagers. Just like Marty McFly. Help them out! haha

Are you an extrovert or introvert?
Totally extrovert!

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
Howard The Duck, he is hilarious

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 hope to finally get in a game of Cosmic Encounter, maybe with Keith Richards, Myself, a Yeti, Nick Nolte, and One of the guys from the Jersey Shore( dealers choice.) There will be no class separation, when we are all living in igloos. What I hope gets wiped out is political correctness, you can really say what you want in survival mode!

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):
Shout out to those guys and gals at Big Potato Games, they are super cool and make golden fun games. Also Full Sail University who taught me being different is cool!

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

There is a place for smaller games that are just light hearted fun!




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.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

GJJ Games Reivew - Ice Cool - By Brain Games

Ice Cool
Designer: Brian Gomez
Publisher: Brain Games
2-4p | 20m | 6+
GJJ Games Reivew - Ice Cool - By Brain Games
Disclaimer Support me on Patreon!

Game Overview:
I've said before that I'm not a huge fan of dexterity games, yet I seem to keep getting dexterity games to review.  For the most part I've had a lot of fun with the dexterity games that I've reviewed.  Maybe it's because I've been pretty picky about the dexterity games I choose to review, or maybe it's because I really do like them somewhere deep inside.  I think it's the former, but it's probably a tiny bit of the latter, too.  While I do prefer games that stretch my brain, there's always room for a wild good time flexing my dexterity skills.  Dexterity games aren't ones that will hit the table regularly, but it seems like I enjoy them when they do.  That said, I do prefer dexterity games that have more strategic decisions than stacking blocks.

Ice Cool came out in 2016 and made a bit of commotion with dexterity game fans.  I remember watching a few reviews thinking it looked fun, but wasn't sure how much actual playtime it would get with my game groups.  This November, however, at the Chicago Toy and Game Fair (ChiTAG Fair), Brain Games had about a half dozen tables set up with copies of Ice Cool out to play.  So I tried a quick game with my son and another boy that was visiting the fair.  We found it quite fun in the brief game (with only partial rules) we played, and Brain Games decided to give me a copy to play some more and review for them.

In Ice Cool, two to four players are penguins at school. (Get it? Ice Cool = High School!)  Each round one penguin is the hall monitor and the other penguins are ditching class and looking for fish.  The game will play a number of rounds equal to the number of players (double for two players), with each player taking on the role of hall monitor once (twice with two players).  Players flick penguins around the game board trying to avoid getting caught by the hall monitor while performing amazing feats of flicking skill to maneuver around the board collecting fish.  It's a game for ages six and up, and despite the young base age and silly theme, I don't think there's a top limit.

Components & Packaging:
There aren't too many components in Ice Cool.  12 colored wooden fish correspond to the four penguins' colors.  Four more white fish hold the game board together.  There are four penguin ID cards, four color reminder cards, and 45 fish points cards.

Let's not forget the five rooms that make up the playing area.  These might just be the coolest component of all.  The game box actually becomes the playing area!  Under the cover you'll find a few baggies with the other components, the rulebook, and five boxes, including the main box's bottom.  These all get placed together to form a square of four rectangular rooms with a smaller square room in the middle.  Holes in the sides of the boxes line up for form doorways.  This is really a pretty ingenious system and everyone loves it when they find out that the box is used to make up the play area.
Using the box as part of the game always impresses me!
OK, so the box might not be the coolest component after all.  It's pretty neat, but it's really the four penguins that steal the show, as they should.  Playing with the penguins is virtually irresistible.  Like the classic Weebles toys, they wobble, but don't fall down.  The penguins are weighted at the bottom and rock mesmerisingly back and forth, just begging to be flicked.  Even without the game, they're super fun to play with.
Look at that penguin!  So flickable!
On top of the awesome box/playing board, and great playing pieces, the game's artwork is surprisingly great.  Each box represents a different room in the penguins' school and is outfitted accordingly.  There's a classroom, gymnasium, cafeteria, kitchen, and lounge, each with unique, thematic artwork.  There are plenty of fish posters on the walls, snowballs in the corners, and streaks in the ice floor from ice skates.  There's great attention to detail, and looking at what's in each of the rooms is half the fun!

Score: 9/10 x1

Rules & Setup:
Setup only takes a few minutes.  Simply open the box, take out the nesting room boxes, align them each by matching they symbols by the doorways, and clip them together with the white fish.  Then add the colored fish above the indicated doorways and pass out a penguin and matching ID and reminder card to each player.  Shuffle the fish points cards and you're all ready to play!

Players can choose which side of the reminder and ID cards they want to show.  One side has a female penguin and one a male penguin, although a few are pretty androgynous and will work for either boys or girls.

Playing the game is also super simple.  The game can be taught in about two minutes.  The game is completed in rounds equal to the number of players (double for two players), and each round players' penguins will either be Runners or the Catcher.  The Catcher will start by placing the penguin in the kitchen, anywhere inside the red lines.

Then each Runner, in turn, will place their penguin on the red dot in the classroom and take a turn.  A turn consists of flicking your penguin through the rooms, trying to collect fish.  If you flick your penguin through a doorway that has your colored fish above it still, you get to collect that fish and one of the fish points cards.  It's even possible to flick through multiple doors in one shot!
Flick a penguin and watch it skate across the board!

After each Runner has gone, the Catcher gets to take a turn.  Instead of trying to collect fish though, the Catcher is trying to catch the Runners.  If the Catcher penguin bumps into a Runner, the Catcher will collect the Runner's ID card.  If a Runner bumps the Catcher at any time, even not on the Catcher's turn, the Catcher will collect the Runner's ID card.

Fish points cards are kept face-down, however at any time a player may reveal a pair of one point cards in order to take an extra turn.  They can do this as either a Runner or Catcher.  They don't lose the points, just reveal that they have them.
Keep your points hidden, unless you reveal two ones to Skate and take another turn

The round ends after one Runner has collected all three fish or after the Catcher has everyone else's IDs.  Then every player gets a fish points card for each ID they have, meaning the Catcher gets one for their own ID plus one for each ID that was collected in the round, and the Runners only get one if they managed to keep their own ID.  The game ends after everyone has been the Catcher once (twice in a two player game), and then the player with the most points wins!

Score: 9/10 x2

Gameplay:
This isn't the deepest game, or the most strategic.  There is a fair amount of luck since points are drawn randomly, but there is also some skill needed.  There are three basic types of flicks of the penguins that you'll want to master.

First is the straight flick.  Gently, but firmly flick the penguin in a straight line by placing your finger directly behind the penguin, near the base, and flicking your finger forward.  This works best if you keep your finger in contact with the penguin the whole time.  I.e. don't start with your finger away from the penguin.  That'll hurt when your moving finger comes in contact with the stationary penguin, and you'll have less control!
Sometimes the kids will perfect the moves faster
than the adults, but it's fun for all ages!

Second is a curved flick.  This is a little more challenging to perfect than the straight flick, but the technique is almost the same.  Instead of putting your finger directly behind the penguin, start with it off to the side a little bit.  The penguin will curve to the same side that you have your finger on.  It'll take some practice to aim a curved shot, but with this shot you'll be able to flick your way through multiple doors, or around a penguin that's blocking your way.

The third type of flick is the jump.  This flick really takes a lot of skill to master, but is pretty cool when executed well.  If you flick the penguin very hard on its head it'll flip right up and over the walls!  This is a great move for getting away from the Catcher, or quickly sending the Catcher to the other side of the school in pursuit of the Runners, but it's a challenge to master and aim well.  Also, if you're a Runner, you don't collect any fish for doorways you jump over, only ones you slide through.

The combination of some awesome flicks as well as utter fails keeps the gameplay exciting and fun.  Games move quickly and analysis paralysis isn't really a problem, so your turn will be back around before you know it.  A four player game takes about 15 minutes to play, so it's great for a quick filler game or a quick wrap-up at the end of the night.  It's also just as much fun for adults as it is for kids, and it's great for adults and kids to play together.  Although I don't drink, I've also heard it makes for a great drinking game.
If your penguin is between the red line and the wall, you can move it out to the red line before you flick it.

So while this won't appear on any heavy games best-of lists, the gameplay is quite fun, fast, and entertaining.  Just don't get too hung up on scores.  With the points cards drawn randomly, there's always the possibility that you'll lose to someone who has fewer points cards than you do, just because they got a few threes when you drew ones.

Score: 8/10 x3

Replayability:
This isn't a game you'll play all night long, but it is one you can easily knock out three or four games of in a row.  It plays so quickly, and it's just so much fun to flick those penguins around the board that you'll immediately want a rematch after the first game.  I think this will likely remain a staple in my game night bag just so we have something quick to play when we wrap up a game at 9:30, but don't want to leave until the game store closes at 10.  It's also a great game that the kids can easily play on their own so the adults can get a heavier game or two in.
Young and old can enjoy the game together!

Score: 8/10 x1

General Fun:
As I said, Ice Cool isn't a game that I'd make the main game of the evening, but it's a ton of fun for a filler or quick family game.  The theme and artwork are great, and flicking penuins is super satisfying.  Dexterity games are usually lower on my list of choices to play, but Ice Cool is always fun and never disappoints.  I think my only frustration with the game is when I play on a larger table.  A smaller table is fine, because you can easily walk around the table to get a good angle for a shot.  But a larger table is a challenge.  We ended up putting it close to a corner and then rotating the board as we needed to make shots from various angles.  Putting the game on a Lazy Susan would be wonderful.
Getting stuck in a doorway doesn't earn you a fish.  You have to make it completely through.

Score: 8/10 x2

Overall Value:
The MSRP for Ice Cool is $40, which, despite the great components, seems a little high for a dexterity game like this.  The nesting boxes are pretty cool, but when everything is considered, there really aren't that many components to the game.  I'd expect a MSRPbetween $25 and $35, so $40 is higher than I expected and is one of the factors in me not picking up a copy of the game sooner.  You can find the game on Amazon and other outlets for around $30, and my FLGS has it for $28, so that's pretty reasonable.  If your family or game group enjoys fast playing, fun, dexterity games, then you'll definitely get $30 worth of fun out of Ice Cool.  I just wouldn't recommend paying full retail for the game, unless you're a die hard dexterity game (or penguin) fan.
Brain Games had about a half dozen copies of the game set up for people to play
and they were always busy.  It was a huge hit!

Score: 6/10 x1

Final Thoughts:
Once again, I found a dexterity game that I really enjoyed.  I had a suspicion that I'd enjoy the game when I saw the first videos of it come out, but was hesitant about how my game groups would take to the game.  So far everyone I've played with has really enjoyed it.  I saw that one of my game group friends even got his family a copy for Christmas!  No, this isn't a game that will be at the center of a hard core game night, but it's a great warm-up or cool down game, and as a family game it really shines.  If you like dexterity games with a fun theme, definitely consider adding Ice Cool to your collection.  Or maybe two...  I wonder how it would play with more players.  I bet you could combine two sets to make a really big school with two Catchers and six Runners for a great time!
Fast, fun, easy game play will make this
a staple in my game night collection!

Overall Score: 81/100



Did you like this review?  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.






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

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 101: Bobby Westrick

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:Bobby Westrick
Email:westrickrobert@hotmail.com
Location:Kansas City, Missouri
Day Job:I am a service technician for in ground sprinkler systems
Designing:Five to ten years.
Webpage:WWW.ASTROLOGIC-GAME.COM
Facebook:Astrologic Game
YouTube:Smash Gordon
Instagram:AstrologicGame
Today's Interview is with:

Bobby Westrick
Interviewed on: 9/24/2017

Today we get to learn about Bobby Westrick, a designer from Kansas City, MO. He has a few games in progress, including Astrologic, which will be hitting Kickstarter on February 1, 2018.

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?
I am an artist at heart & I love all types of games so, natural progression I guess!

What game or games are you currently working on?
Astrologic - A strategy game Astrology & Magic

Have you designed any games that have been published?
No

What is your day job?
I am a service technician for in ground sprinkler systems

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

Where do you prefer to play games?
Boardgame house parties

Who do you normally game with?
With friends or with other peeps in a local boardgame group I'm in

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
Either of my finished games (Astrologic & Valgursnatch), Small World, Pandemic, Betrayal at the house on haunted hill, crokinole

And what snacks would you eat?
Cookies, Chips..Anything not too greasy/messy

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
Absolutely, Ambient music, Radiohead, Gorillas, Phantasmagoria..Not too loud tho

What’s your favorite FLGS?
Tabletop G&H, There's a cool new BG cafe called Pawn & Pint

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
Well my own current - Astrologic. Least fav would be yahtzee. Worst um, Monopoly comes to mind.

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
I like flipping over things, cards or tokens that reveal things or change gameplay. Least: Overly complex systems where you need books or charts to figure out what to do.

What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
Chess, I'm not even super good at it but no one wants to play me! LOL

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

Do you design different styles of games than what you play?
I like to design Board Games, Other 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?
Both, I'm kickin around an abstract idea with a pinball plunger and a ball as a mechanic, but no theme has came to mind...yet.

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
Yes, 2016 Hasbro Game competition. I didn’’t even get honorable mention!

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?
Totally out of the blue. I'll either be watching something, or playing something and an idea will just creep up and bite me on the butt.

How do you go about playtesting your games?
Usually with a group of other game designers first. Then enthusiasts, kids/teens, and family too

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
I've only worked alone, but would love to Co-design with someone. A team sounds like there would be too many cooks in the kitchen.

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
Not getting discouraged and staying on track. I'm a notorious procrastinator, and I don't take criticism very well sometimes.

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
Anyone who likes one of my ideas :)

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
Don't be afraid to show it to others because you're afraid they might steal it. The only person who thinks it's the greatest game...Evar is YOU.

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Take other designers’ criticism with a grain of salt. Everyone's got an opinion and you can't make a game that pleases everyone or it will never get done.

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: Hopefully Astrologic, in a manner of speaking.
Currently looking for a publisher I have: Yes, for an adorable game involving Puppies for children.
I'm planning to crowdfund: I am currently planning a Kickstarter campaign for Astrologic
Games I feel are in the final development and tweaking stage are: Astrologic & Puppies at the Park
Games that are in the early stages of development and beta testing are: Revitalized more focused version of my twisted dungeon crawlish/commerce game Valgursnatch
And games that are still in the very early idea phase are: A few ideas are rollin' around my noggin.

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

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?
VHS, Star Wars 4-6, I prefer Mountain Dew

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
Mountain biking (minus the mountains), Composing Music, Billiards

What is something you learned in the last week?
That I'm more capable and driven that I give myself credit for

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
I'm currently enthralled with Queens of the Stone Age. I love the Hitchhiker series. Horror Movies..Plus TWD, GOT & Stranger Things.

What was the last book you read?
Something by James Patterson..can't think of the title

Do you play any musical instruments?
Keyboards, Does Tamborine count?

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
I used to be best friends with Puddle of Mudd singer, Wes Scantlin as a teenager.

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
Back when I sang for a Rock band called Dropzero, I spontaneously leaped off the stage and crowdsurfed...It was epic.

Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
My Lovely daughter Lydia

Who is your idol?
I'm not sure anymore...The older I get, the stranger everything & everyone becomes.

What would you do if you had a time machine?
Go back and see how they built the Pyramids

Are you an extrovert or introvert?
Both

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

Have any pets?
I Beagle girl named Lucy that I adore.

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?
First, I hope to have died of old age when this occurs...With that said umm. I kinda hope boardgames in some form resurface as a form of entertainment and I would love to see that space rock wipe out Capitalism as a whole, to be replaced with something better for future humanity as a whole.

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):
A big thanks to all who do read this, even tho im not even a blip on the gaming worlds radar...yet!

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

If people are curious about my games, here's 2 things to know. Astrologic used to be called Imagica (changed because it's a theme park in India). And Slaughterama was the first incarnation of Valgursnatch. You can find videos for both on YouTube.




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.