Friday, October 28, 2016

Eye on Kickstarter #7

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

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

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


HIGHLIGHTED CAMPAIGN
Tiny Epic Quest
  • GJJ Games Backed
  • This was an insta-back for me. I love everything Tiny Epic! I haven't played a Tiny Epic game yet that I haven't loved. The campaign launched today (just a couple of hours ago) and it's already funded. The idea of a sandbox adventure game that fits in a Tiny Epic box is great, and the ITEMeeples are really ingenious. Is it August yet?


A 45 min sandbox adventure for 1-4 players w/ limited action selection, grid movement, press-your-luck & Item-Holding Meeples!

Tiny Epic Quest is the classic story of a fairy tale world overrun by evil and in need of heroes... that's where you come in!

Tiny Epic Quest is a competitive game, where each player controls a band of three heroes and will travel a vast world fighting goblins, learning spells, completing quests and acquiring powerful magic items!





Stitches
  • GJJ Games Review
  • Stitches is a game I had the opportunity to review. It wasn't really my cup of tea and didn't go over very well with my game groups, but with the right group of people this could be a silly, hilarious time. The theme and premise are great.


Tiki Island
  • GJJ Games Review - Coming Soon!
  • Unfortunately my review copy came too late to get this played and reviewed during the campaign, but the game looks like a really fun, family game. I'm really looking forward to getting the game to the table. Hopefully the game is successful and my review will help their retail sales, but if not, I'll have a review ready for a relaunched campaign.


C.O.G.
  • C.O.G. looks like a wonderfully fun steampunk themed word game. Dr. Finn does some really gorgeous games. They're generally pretty light, but lots of fun, and the theme of C.O.G. really caught my eye.


ILLIMAT
  • There's just something about ILLIMAT that is timeless. The classic look of the game is captivating. It looks like something that would have been played in smokey parlors in the 1800's by rich Victorian gentlemen in top hats. I love when a new game comes out that looks like it's been around forever. The gameplay looks fairly interesting, and accessible to traditional card players, too.


Bears vs Babies
  • I didn't back Exloding Kittens, and likely won't back this either, but it's worth watching. Anything that raises over $1,000,000 in 30 hours is going to be a spectacle worth keeping an eye on.


Giant Squishable Foam Dice
  • What gamer wouldn't love to have these? About the size of a stress ball, these foam dice look like they'd be a blast to play with, or to have available to chuck at friends at game night when they steal your move.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 18: David Fulton

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


Name:David Fulton
Email: Dave@jacksmackgames.com
Location:I just moved from the Chicago suburbs to the Orlando, FL area.
Day Job:I work for a virtual meeting company that specializes in pharmaceutical research study training.
Designing:Two to five years.
Webpage:jacksmackgames.com/
Facebook:JacksmackGames
Twitter:@JacksmackGames
Find my games at:Your favorite game store!
Today's Interview is with:

David Fulton
Interviewed on: 8/24/2016 14:16:56

The very first game I played at my very first Protospiel was a little game called You Dirty Rat by Jacksmack Games. It used a super interesting mechanic that they were calling ‘handbuilding’. Similar to deckbuilding, handbuilding has you building and managing your hand of cards throughout the game. I fell in love with the game and promised to back the Kickstarter, which I did. Then I backed the second attempt at the Kickstarter, stunned that it didn’t fund the first time. Then the second campaign was canceled because the game got picked up by a publisher. When Indie Boards & Cards announced they had changed the name of the game to Grifters and ran the new Kickstarter it was wildly successful. Almost two years after first playing the game as You Dirty Rat, I received Grifters and played it. It was just as awesome as I remembered and has quickly become one of my favorite games of 2016! Oh yeah, this was supposed to be about David Fulton… Well, he was one of the two designers of You Dirty Rat/Grifters that I got to meet at that first Protospiel. After that we crossed paths online quite a bit and he even attended one of the game design meetups that I host at my local game store (that was before he moved to Florida). There I got to play the sequel to Grifters (it uses similar mechanics, but with a different theme and some new features) and it’s shaping up to be just as awesome! David has been busy with his move to Florida and his new job there, but he took the time to answer some of my questions below. So read on to learn a bit more about David!

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 started off developing video games, it wasn't a huge leap to tabletop games.

What game or games are you currently working on?
Several, to many to list here. A family pirate themed game, an abstract battle game, a social deduction game, a deckbuilder, a dexterity game, and expansions for a game that has already been released. There of course are more than that currently.

Have you designed any games that have been published?
Grifters, I also had several popular web based video games that I have released over the years such as Primary and Build a robot 3

What is your day job?
I work for a virtual meeting company that specializes in pharmaceutical research study training.

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

What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
Ascending Empires. It is my all time favorite game. It is a 4X Dexterity game, and is in an awkward space where dexterity players hate 4X and 4X players hate dexterity.

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

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

OK, here's a pretty polarizing game. Do you like and play Cards Against Humanity?
Only to appease groups of non gamers.

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.

Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Published games, I have: Grifters
Currently looking for a publisher I have: Several
I'm planning to crowdfund: A couple
Games I feel are in the final development and tweaking stage are: A couple
Games that I'm playtesting are: 3 prototypes
Games that are in the early stages of development and beta testing are: 3 prototypes
And games that are still in the very early idea phase are: 10+ ideas in the hopper to be built.

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?
Wars, no sugar for me, VHS

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
Walking, Ketogenic cooking

What is something you learned in the last week?
Grifters doesn't easily translate to German.

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
Instrumental electrical. Think Lindsey Sterling. Dresden Files. Who Framed Roger Rabbit, The Princess Bride, Shawshank.

What was the last book you read?
Devil in the White City

Do you play any musical instruments?
Drums, but not for a while.

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
I've lost 120 pounds over the last year.

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
I once entered a crazy radio contest and won tickets to an AFC championship game.

Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
No good answer for this one.

Who is your idol?
Tim Roth is really awesome.

What would you do if you had a time machine?
Teach young me as much as possible.

Are you an extrovert or introvert?
Depends on the day and my roll in the place that I am at. I can be happy both ways.

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
I would want to be Doctor Strange.

Have any pets?
Two dachshunds.

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 prefer not to think about that stuff.

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




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

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

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 17: Paul Spencer

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:Paul Spencer
Email:apaulinggames@gmail.com
Location:London, UK
Day Job:Project Analyst
Designing:Six months to a year.
Webpage:apaulinggames.com
Blog:apaulinggames.com
BGG:ascruplepen
Facebook:facebook.com/apaulinggames
Twitter:@apaulinggames
Find my games at:My website
Today's Interview is with:

Paul Spencer
Interviewed on: 8/24/2016 14:40:40

Paul Spencer is part of the Card and Board Game Designers Guild on Facebook and we've crossed paths a few times in the digital realms. He's currently working on a game about avoiding having customs officials look in your luggage called Nothing to Declare, which will be hitting Kickstarter next week. So be sure to check out Nothing to Declare when it launches and read on to find out a bit more about Paul.

Some Basics
Tell me a bit about yourself.

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

Why did you start designing tabletop games?
Because I wanted to make something my friends would enjoy playing.

What game or games are you currently working on?
Nothing To Declare - a take that card game

Have you designed any games that have been published?
Only self-published print and play games online.

What is your day job?
Project Analyst

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

Where do you prefer to play games?
The living room

Who do you normally game with?
Friends from work

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

And what snacks would you eat?
Chips and dips

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
Lord of the Rings soundtrack.

What’s your favorite FLGS?
Games Quest

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
Five Tribes. Game of Thrones. Pick the lock.

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
Worker placement. Roll and move.

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, RPG Games, Video Games

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

OK, here's a pretty polarizing game. Do you like and play Cards Against Humanity?
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?
I am mechanics driven. But I often find theme informs the mechanics

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

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
Rob Daviau

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
Playing other games, watching tv, anything I find interesting or haven't seen in a game.

How do you go about playtesting your games?
Starts with my housemate and girlfriend. Then to my friends, then to playtest UK

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
I never work alone ;)

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
Making games that have crossover appeal

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
Stranger Things

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
How to use board game geek

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
When you realise it doesn't work. That's when you get to work.

Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
I'm planning to crowdfund: Nothing To Declare
Games that are in the early stages of development and beta testing are: Playground Tactics

Are you a member of any Facebook or other design groups? (Game Maker’s Lab, Card and Board Game Developers Guild, etc.)
Yes. Card and Board game designers 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. Pepsi. I'm not that old.

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
Video games, play guitar

What is something you learned in the last week?
What an IBAN is.

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
Hardcore. Sci-fi. Sci-fi.

What was the last book you read?
Lumberjanes.

Do you play any musical instruments?
Guitar

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
I'm left handed

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?
Art. Donald Trump.


Thanks for answering all my crazy questions!




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

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

Friday, October 21, 2016

Quick Review - Stitches - Kickstarter Preview

Stitches
Designers: Jason RankinDoug Brinbury
Publisher: Norwester Games, LLC
Quick Review - Stitches - Kickstarter Preview
Disclaimer

Franken State University is known for its thesis projects that get abandoned in the forest at the end of each semester.  Monsters roam the woods searching for body parts that are better than what they have, either by scavenging whatever they can find, or by attacking other wandering monsters.  As the monsters interact they can start to learn a rudimentary language, which may come in handy to defeat the Abomination, a creature that has been in the woods for so long that no one has any idea what it was originally intended to be.

In Stitches each player takes on the role of one of these abandoned thesis projects.  Through an easy to learn rock-paper-scissors combat mechanic players will work together, somewhat, to upgrade their monsters and then cooperatively try to defeat the Abomination.  The catch is, players can only communicate through grunts, growls, groans (and other sounds that start with 'G'), and the few words they have managed to learn.

If you think this sounds like a ton of hysterical fun, you're not alone.  When I was contacted about reviewing Stitches I read the description and couldn't wait to get my hands on it.  It sounded like a total blast to play.

You can find Stitches on Kickstarter right now.  It's only $20 (plus shipping) and will be available through November 16.

Overview:
In Stitches, 3-7 players each take on the role of a monster.  Each player will have a body as well as four limbs (head, left arm, right arm, and legs).  Each limb will have a number of symbols on it, corresponding to the traditional rock, paper, or scissors.  Players will also have stitches tokens, which are the currency in the game, and words that they have learned over the course of the game.  Words allow players to cooperate with other players that know the same words.  To set up the game each player starts as a monster with basic parts, two Stitches, and one word.  Then the Abomination is created with one Abomination torso and one Abomination head as well as one random body part from the main deck.  There are multiple Abomination heads and torsos, so there are plenty of different setups.  The first player is the one who woke up feeling most like a monster that morning.
Set up and ready to go.
Each round has two main parts: Market Setup and Player Actions.  Each of those parts has two smaller steps.  In Market Setup you first draw an Abomination card, which causes the Abomination to attack, grow larger, etc.  Then you set up a new market by clearing out the current cards and adding three new cards from the body parts deck.  This all happens pretty quickly and unless the Abomination attacks or rampages there's not a whole lot going on during the Market phase.  The core of the game is the Player Actions phase.
Yes, he's eating an apple and pickles from the jar while we play in a campground.
(OK, I confess, I had some pickles, too.)
The Player Actions phase starts with players deciding what action they'll be taking: Scavenge or Attack.  The first part allows for open discussion so that players can discuss strategies and try to convince potential partners to attack the Abomination.  The catch is that players can only make guttural sounds and use any words they've already learned.  This makes it pretty hard to say something like "Rick, you should Scavenge to get that powerful arm from the market and then you, Tony, Kevin, and I will use my Attack action to go after the Abomination."  But once all the attempts at communication are finished and one player has decided on a strategy he can raise his arms above his head and growl loudly.  Once another player joins in the discussion phase is over and all players must close their eyes.  The first player grunts three times loudly and on the third grunt everyone can open their eyes to see the actions everyone has chosen.  Arms up means they'll Attack and arms down means they'll Scavenge.  Then all the Stitches tokens in the central pot are divided evenly amongst the Scavenging monsters (with any remainders left in the pot for the next round).

Then, proceeding in turn order, each player takes their chosen action.  If a player chose Scavenge a new body part is drawn and added to the Market.  Then the player can spend Stitches to purchase as many body parts from the market as they want and can afford.  If a player chose Attack they have three choices: Steal another player's Stitches, Attack another player's body part, or Attack the Abomination.  If you choose to steal someone else's Stitches you can steal half (rounded up) of their Stitches tokens.  If you choose to Attack another player you can choose one of their limbs to attack.  If you are successful you steal that body part (more about how combat works in a bit).  For either of these options both players get to draw a new Word card and add it to the words they know.  If you decide to Attack the Abomination then every other player that has at least one word in common with you must also fight the Abomination.  Generally the Abomination is going to be too strong for one player to attack, but it's possible for several players to team up in this way to defeat the Abomination.  More about how fights with the Abomination work in a bit.
Scavenging will get you more parts, but Attacking will get you someone else's parts, plus you'll learn a word!
Now, on to combat.  There are two types of combat in Stitches.  Either between two players, or between a team of players and the Abomination.  Either way, combat generally works the same way.  The Attacker targets a specific body part on the target, whether it's the Abomination or another player.  That body part will have one to four rock, paper, and/or scissors symbols on it.  The attacker's entire monster must have enough of each symbol to defeat all of the symbols on the part being attacked.  So if you are attacking an arm that has two rocks and one scissors on it, you must have at least two paper and one rock in your monster to defeat that arm.  If you defeat another player you steal that body part and add it to your monster, discarding any body parts that it replaces.

Attacking the Abomination works pretty much the same way, except each player on the team attacks in turn.  When a limb on the Abomination is defeated the player doesn't get to add it to their monster right away though.  Instead the Abomination will target the player's body part that has the highest Stitches value and will counter attack that body part.  If the Abomination is successful the player loses that part.  Then the attack moves on to the next monster on the team.  That player will have the chance to press the attack on the Abomination, attempting to defeat another body part (and then being subject to a counterattack by the Abomination).  If that player doesn't want to attack they can retreat instead.  But the first player to retreat will lose one of their words.  Attacks of the Abomination continue until everyone on the team has retreated.  This means some players may have to attack the Abomination more than once, potentially losing another body part each time they do.  So even though the Abomination will be getting weaker the longer an attack goes on, so will the monsters attacking it.  It's generally a good idea to wait until late in the game to attack the Abomination, when there are a number of players that share words and have a few fairly strong body parts.
That swamp monster head came from a failed attack on the Abomination, but at least someone came out
ahead (ba dum bum).
Once the Abomination is defeated the players that were on the team that defeated it are the winners.  This could be all the players, or it could be two or three of the players.  If the body part deck runs out before the Abomination is defeated then everyone loses.

Final Thoughts:
Unfortunately my gaming groups found Stitches more fun in concept than in reality.  The mechanics throughout the game felt awkward, the restriction to grunting and using only words that your monster has learned felt gimmicky, and the cooperative aspect of the game felt very dull.  The first group I played with had mixed reactions, ranging from unimpressed but willing to give it another shot to never wanting to see the game again.  I played later with my family and none of them have any interest in playing again.  I was disappointed because I thought the concept sounded lighthearted and fun, but I, too, wasn't impressed with the game at all.  I still think with the right group, and with players who already are familiar with Stitches it could still be fun, but it's too much effort to get to that point when there are plenty of other games that can be played instead.

I'll go ahead and get a bit more specific about a few of the issues we had with the game.  Right away there were problems with the rulebook.  There are a lot of ambiguous areas in the rules that don't really become apparent until you actually start playing (e.g. the rules don't specifically say that the Abomination has to be able to defeat a body part in its counterattack).  So even though I read through the rules several times before playing for the first time when we started playing with seven players there were a number of areas that left us scratching our heads.  So, hopefully that will all get cleared up in the final version of the rulebook (I had received an email with several updates to the rules, so things were still being tweaked after I was sent my copy).
One of the rules that I missed is that the market clears after each round and three fresh cards are added.  Instead
I was adding three additional cards every round, which was making for a huge market.  I don't think it really affected
gameplay, but it's something that should be made more obvious in the rules.
(It was mentioned a the end of the Player Actions section, not in the Market Setup section.)
No one I played with enjoyed the communication restrictions, maybe because the game was new for everyone.  The communication restrictions are especially ineffective when playing with new players since there are so many fiddly rules that really need to be discussed during the first game play.  I can see where the communication limitations could be fun with experienced players, but it's a rule that will most likely be ignored during teaching games.  Even with experienced gamers, the only time communication becomes important is when trying to make a plan to take out the Abomination.  Until that point the game is mostly about individual decisions.
Stitches wasn't a winner and they quickly asked to move on to something else.
Combat, while easy enough, was pretty boring.  Because it is completely deterministic there's no tension, and inter-player combat can easily devolve into body parts just circling the table as players repeatedly steal the limbs their neighbors just acquired.  And there's really nothing you can do to avoid having your limbs stolen.  Combat with the Abomination is likewise anticlimactic.  If you plan things right you'll know if your team can defeat the Abomination before combat even starts, making the act of completing the attack just an exercise.  The only uncertainty is if your teammates are going to attack the body parts you expect them to attack, and if they're paying attention they will.  There's no incentive to 'screw your neighbor' by withdrawing from an attack unexpectedly or defeating an easy part just to leave the next player with a part they can't defeat.
You do get to piece together pretty weird and fun monsters though. 
Scavenging is similarly dull, with players either gaining a windfall of stitches tokens and buying a few upgraded parts only to have them stolen by later attackers, or so many players scavenging that you end up with too few tokens and too few market options to make a meaningful purchase.  There also didn't seem to be a whole lot of difference between a 4-stitch and 3-stitch limb, or a 5-stitch and 4-stitch limb.  There was a tiny difference in the allocations of symbols, but not enough to make me care.
All arms are 2 or 3 stitches, legs are 4 stitches, and heads are 4 or 5 stitches.
2 stitch limbs have two different symbols.  3 stitch limbs have two of the same or three different symbols.
4 stitch limbs have two of one symbol and one of another.  5 stitch heads have three of the same symbol.
The octopus parts are strong in paper, robot in rock, and polar bear in scissors.
I'd love to see a much wider range of numbers and combinations of symbols on the cards.  As it is, once a monster gets three or four upgraded parts almost any individual part can easily be defeated.  A wider range of symbol counts might make this a bit more challenging and strategic.  I don't know if that will throw off any balance, but the current distribution of parts doesn't feel like there is enough variety.  I'd also like to see the cooperative nature of the game pushed even more, or less.  Make it so that there's an ultimate winner.  The semi-cooperative nature of the game made the PvP combat seem out of place and at odds with the attempt to defeat the Abomination as a team.
The torso is all that was left of the Abomination after a successful attack. 
The one area where Stitches shines is in the artwork.  The creature artwork matches the humor of the theme wonderfully.  The art is done by Kyle Ferrin, the artist behind Vast: The Crystal Caverns.  It doesn't have quite the same overall atmosphere as Vast, but for the game's mechanics the artwork works perfectly.  I love creating different combinations of body parts to create different monsters.  The cards alone can provide quite a bit of entertainment, especially for younger gamers.




There is something here though.  With the right group of people that are already familiar with the game and willing to strictly follow the communication restrictions Stitches can be a silly fun time.  There actually can be quite a bit of cooperative strategy in the game if players try to communicate so one player scavenges, gaining all the stitches so they can buy some good parts from the market and then get them distributed to other players through coordinated attacks.  This is easy to coordinate when you can speak freely, but it is much more difficult when you can only grunt.  The problem is that this type of cooperation requires a lot more work than the casual and silly theme and focus on PvP attacks implies.  I feel that type of strategic thinking will be beyond most of the target audience for this game.

So, while I really like the theme and humor behind Stitches, the game felt too discombobulated and rough around the edges for me to recommend at this time.  It felt like something that was fun for the creators and rushed to production instead of being given the time and effort needed to turn a fun, silly idea into an elegant, smoothly flowing game.  If you are willing to put in the time to really learn Stitches and you have players that are ready to be silly, you might want to check out Stitches, but it's just a little too fiddly and complex to really work with the casual and noob gamers that seem to be the target audience.

You can find Stitches on Kickstarter right now.  Through November 16, Stitches will be available for $20, plus shipping ($7 in the US).

Preliminary Rating: 5/10
This review is of a prototype game.  Components and rules are not final and are subject to change.


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
















GJJG Game Reviews are independent, unpaid reviews of games I, George Jaros, have played with my family and friends.  Some of these games I own, some are owned by friends, some are borrowed, and some are print and play versions of games.  Where applicable I will indicate if games have been played with kids or adults or a mix (Family Play).  I won't go into extensive detail about how to play the game (there are plenty of other sources for that information and I'll occasionally link to those other sources), but I will give my impressions of the game and how my friends and family reacted to the game.  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.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 16: Carl Klutzke

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:Carl Klutzke
Location:Indianapolis, IN
Day Job:Business Analyst
Designing:Over ten years!
Webpage:Yeah, I should get back to work on that.
Blog:Yeah, I should get back to work on that.
Facebook:Carl Klutzke
Find my games at:StoryCards RPG is available through Indie Press Revolution.
Today's Interview is with:

Carl Klutzke
Interviewed on: 8/30/2016 11:53:47

Way back in October 2014 I attended my very first Protospiel in Madison, WI. On Sunday morning my friend Jim and I were the first ones back to the hotel conference room. I had a game that I had been working on that I brought with (Exploring Argadnel: Quest for the Orb of Mystery), but didn't intend on having playtested because it was playing a whole lot longer than I had originally intended, and was quite a bit more fiddly than I wanted. But I wanted to show it to Jim, so I started to set it up to show how it worked. Well, people started filing in and the game started attracting attention and people started asking to play. So I set it up fully and for about two hours Carl Klutzke and his kids played my game. I got excellent feedback from them and implemented many of the changes. The game is still a long way from where I want it to be, but thanks to Carl it's come a long way. I've met with Carl at a few more Protospiels since and always find his advice exceptional. He has quite a long history of designing games and is always fun to play games with. Read on to learn more about Carl!

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?
Other people's games didn't work they way I wanted. :)

What game or games are you currently working on?
Primarily Telepathy, but I need to get back to Doomed Atlantis as well

Have you designed any games that have been published?
I self-published the StoryCards RPG with Dogtown Games.

What is your day job?
Business Analyst

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

Where do you prefer to play games?
Anywhere there are people to play with, but mostly at our dining room table.

Who do you normally game with?
Local friends in different groups, colleagues at lunch. Protospielers. And I'm in three different RPG groups.

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
Games I haven't yet tried. I keep a "want to play" list on BGG.

And what snacks would you eat?
I'm trying to dissociate gaming from eating. But I'd enjoy a hard cider.

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
I find music distracting: I prefer to have it off. And TVs are right out.

What’s your favorite FLGS?
The Game Preserve

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
I play a lot of Sentinels of the Multiverse. I don't remember the names of bad games: I just try to remember what not to do with my own designs.

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
I love co-op games, and adventure games that create immersive experiences. I hate "folding", like in poker. Who designs a game where the best strategy is to decide when to give up? That's not incentivizing interesting behavior.

What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
Whatever I'm currently designing.

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

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

OK, here's a pretty polarizing game. Do you like and play Cards Against Humanity?
Never tried it, but it doesn't sound appealing.

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 imagine an experience that I want to create. Then I develop the theme and mechanics to create that experience.

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
I have entered a couple, but didn't win. I'm not that interested in competition.
I did get a dishonorable mention in the Greater Than Games "Game Mechanic: The Game Mechanic" contest with "Set Collecting: The Set Collecting Game", but the game itself wasn't very good.

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
I have a lot of respect for Matt Leacock and Mark Rosewater. I'm amazed by Antoine Bauza's versatility.

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
The best way to have great ideas is to have a lot of ideas. I record a lot of ideas, and sometimes I go back through the list to see if any of them stick together. I also steal shamelessly from other games: that's part of why I love learning new games so much.

How do you go about playtesting your games?
I organize a couple of local playtest groups, and I attend three Protospiels a year.

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
I mostly work alone. My buddy Scotto Starkey and I have been helping each other develop our games for a long time, but we haven't really co-designed a game yet.

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
My day job takes up time that I'd rather spend working on my games.

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
I'd probably prefer to develop my own.

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
Find other local people that want to make games and help bring them together. Playtest, playtest, playtest. Fail faster.

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
People have the same idea about game design that they have about writing a novel: their first creation will be a work of genius and will make them rich. We don't have the same illusion about painters: we know they have to start small and work their way to mastery. It takes about ten years to become an overnight success: game design isn't really different.

Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Published games, I have: StoryCards RPG
Currently looking for a publisher I have: Telepathy
Games I feel are in the final development and tweaking stage are: Telepathy
Games that are in the early stages of development and beta testing are: Doomed Atlantis. Coop: The Coop Game. Skyship. Ghost Stories. Hero of Legend. Scrapmech. Zombie Lunch.
And games that are still in the very early idea phase are: Undeveloped ideas aren't worth mentioning.

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

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?
You forgot Babylon 5 and Firefly. Water, cider, and coffee. Laserdisc.

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
Other kinds of games. And I'm reading toward an armchair psychology degree.

What is something you learned in the last week?
There's an exoplanet in the habitable zone of Proxima Centauri. So there may be a chance that we won't be completely eradicated when our sun destroys the Earth.

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
I like entertainment that makes me think and makes me laugh. If it only does one or the other, I probably have something better to do.

What was the last book you read?
Singularity: 1855

Do you play any musical instruments?
Not for years.

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
People are generally surprised by how old I am. Maybe I just act immature.

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
I jumped over a picnic table. I don't know how. It was, not coincidentally, my first experience with alcohol.

Who is your idol?
I've always been a fan of Ben Franklin.

What would you do if you had a time machine?
I'd tell 16-year-old me the things I wish another game designer had told me earlier.

Are you an extrovert or introvert?
I'm a mezzovert. I need some social contact, but I can get overstimulated.

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
I want my superpowers to be 1) flight and 2) enough wealth to devote all my time (when I'm not flying) to game design.

Have any pets?
Cats. I can't give a dog the attention it deserves.

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?
If the Internet survives, civilization 2.0 won't take nearly as long: it's amazing what people can do when they collaborate. Of course, there are huge portions of the Internet that would be best hit by that asteroid.

Thanks for answering all my crazy questions!




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

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

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 15: Andrew Voigt

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:Andrew Voigt
Email:gamestothetable@gmail.com
Location:Plyouth, MN
Day Job:I am a Business Development Representative for Epicor Software. Part of the sales team for really expensive efficiency software for manufacturers.
Designing:Five to ten years.
Blog:The Polaris Collective
BGG:Aiscool
Facebook:facebook.com/andrewrvoigt
Twitter:@gamestothetable
YouTube:Andrew Voigt
Find my games at:Minon Games' online store for Perspective.

The rest you need to talk to me directly to play... send me an email if you're interested.
Today's Interview is with:

Andrew Voigt
Interviewed on: 8/24/2016 14:52:03

I first met Andrew at my first Protospiel in Madison in 2014. I played a game of his that was in the very early stages of development called Dark Forest. A few months later I had to be up in Minnesota to meet with a business client and it turned out I was going to be just a short distance from where Andrew lived. So we made plans to meet up and play games for a few hours at the Fantasy Flight Gaming Center. Since then I've seen Andrew at a few Protospiel events and have had plenty of communication with him online. We've bounced some game design ideas off each other and discussed some non-game related stuff, too. He published Perspective through Minion Games last year and currently has a few other cool games in the works. Read on to learn a bit more about Andrew!

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 had 2-3 months in between college and my first job where I was unemployed and bored out of my mind, so I starting playing around with making a game!

What game or games are you currently working on?
W.A.R.P. (Wormhole Assault and Recon Project) - A futuristic PVP tactical combat game with action planning that takes a lot of influence from FPS games.

The Dark Forest - A narrative game where players play one of several characters who are lost in a cursed forest with a full moon on October 31st. Players reveal the stories of their characters as they play, and their success determines their fate. Characters include: A father searching for his abducted daughter, A Scholar researching the local cult, a girl running from her abusive father, a widow morning the anniversary of her husband going missing, and more!

War in Wonderland - Area control conquest game where the card soldiers from Alice in Wonderland are doing combat on a moving Chess Board.

Have you designed any games that have been published?
Perspective by Minion Games

What is your day job?
I am a Business Development Representative for Epicor Software. Part of the sales team for really expensive efficiency software for manufacturers.

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

Where do you prefer to play games?
My home or a friend's home.

Who do you normally game with?
I have a network of about 15+ people who are friends that play together when people are available.

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
Depends who can make it. Top picks are:
Arkham Horror
Game of Thrones
Various light-mid weight games (Carcassonne, Antidote, Kingdoms, Escape, etc)

And what snacks would you eat?
Cheese and Crackers, M&M's or Popcorn

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
Never thought to have it.

What’s your favorite FLGS?
I don't go into my FLGS, but it would be the Fantasy Flight Event Center when I do.

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
Favorite: Resistance
Still Enjoy: Betrayal House on the Hill
Worst: Coup (i know there's merit there, but I've just never enjoyed it)

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
Social Deduction and/or hidden information
Blind guessing or excess chance

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

What styles of games do you play?
I like to play Board Games, Card 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?
Depends on the game

W.A.R.P. started with a mix of design principles and converting a FPS Video game to a board game. The main principles were no chance and character customization.

The Dark Forest's concept came from a mechanic of vanishing tiles as you move around the woods, but quickly developed its theme which became the most important part of it.

Perspective was a challenge to myself to see if I could make Hanabi play well PvP instead of Co-Op

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
Nope. Haven't entered many.

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
Admittedly, I don't know the names of my favorite game's designers.

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
Usually when I see a game I'm interested in not play as well as expected. I ask myself how could I do it better?

How do you go about playtesting your games?
The Polaris Collective is a local group of designers that meet regularly. I also try to make it to at least a couple protospiels a year. I'll be at the Madison one!

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
Mostly alone with a lot of input from friends and my design group. The Dark Forest is an outsider to that where I've spent a lot of time writing the story and narrative with my friend Kristina.

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
Keeping the gate of entry reasonably. I tend to come up with well thought out complex things that work well, but are hard to learn. Perspective is a great example.

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
Portal and Half Life. WARP had a working title of "Portal Combat" for a long time.

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
The Game Crafter exists. I spent SOOO many hours cutting hundreds of cards in my first couple years designing. The other one is fail faster. First prototypes can and should be ugly until you prove you concept.

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Fail faster! The sooner you can prove something does or doesn't work, the sooner you can improve it. If that means you have a game about colors, but you hand wright "Blue, Red, Green, Yellow" on white cards... that's a good idea if it means you test the idea sooner.

Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Published games, I have: Perspective by Minion Games
Games I feel are in the final development and tweaking stage are: W.A.R.P. - Wormhole Assault and Recon Project
Games that I'm playtesting are: The Dark Forest
Games that are in the early stages of development and beta testing are: War in Wonderland
And games that are still in the very early idea phase are: 86 Service - A resource management worker placement co-op game where each player controls a different section of a restaurant during dinner rush. (86 is industry lingo for "We are out of", so it's a in joke of saying "we don't have any service")

Are you a member of any Facebook or other design groups? (Game Maker’s Lab, Card and Board Game Developers Guild, etc.)
Protospiel
The Polaris Collective
A number of the advice groups that James Mathe moderates

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?
Dr Who
Pepsi
Digital Download

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
Video Games
Reading
Hosting
Escape Rooms

What is something you learned in the last week?
That Woody in toy story says "we toys see everything" instead of "we toys can see and breathe"

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
Lindsey Stirling Music
Self Development books
Super Hero Movies

What was the last book you read?
Love and Respect

Do you play any musical instruments?
Nope

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
I have my Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
Ate an entire Little Caesar's pizza in 7 minutes.

Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
My now wife dumping me.

Who is your idol?
I tend not to hold anyone as an idol, but try to take pieces of the best around me! Tanner, Collin, Sam, and Scot are people around me who come to mind.

What would you do if you had a time machine?
Destroy it. The time continuum is too fragile!

Are you an extrovert or introvert?
80% Extrovert

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

Have any pets?
Not yet...

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?
In some sense, it would be pretty neat if no games would make it. That way the world would have to start over and rebuild what people enjoy in games from the get go, and it would grow into a new game industry that is nothing like what we have on the market now!!

I hope that I would survive!

Under it? Bowling Alleys. I'm not sure why they're still a 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):
Scot Eaton and Samuel Spaid have done so much more than they realize to make me a competent designer!

Shout out to Marcin and Brian as well! Let's not forget Eric Jome, Karl, Dusty and Andrew Hanson as well! Can't wait to see you all again at Protospiel Madison again.

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

I just got married on August 27th! ^_^ [GJJ Games] Congrats Andrew! That’s great to hear!




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.