Friday, December 7, 2018

People Behind the Meeples - Protospiel Madison 2018 Quick Interviews

Welcome to the People Behind the Meeples Protospiel Madison 2018 Quick Interviews. These are just like my regular interviews, only quicker. I first did a few of these at Gen Con back in August and had fun with them, so I decided to do a few at Protospiel, too.  I'm generally busy playing games and getting/giving feedback, but I did take a bit of time out to do a few interviews.  As I run into other designers I ask them a few quick questions about game design, plus one slightly off the wall question decided by the roll of a d12. I hope you enjoy these!

Remember, if you'd like to be featured in a full interview, just fill out the People Behind the Meeples questionnaire here!


Stan Kordonskiy



Current Games: Among others, Payday, a Euro adventure game set in a modern crime setting.

How did you get into game design?
I've always liked playing games and started thinking about why and what game I would like to play.  Then I started making that game!

The Die - #4 - Who is your favorite Disney princess?
Moana [He answered despite many complaints that he didn't choose Princess Leia - GJJ Games]

Kevin Jones


Contact: Facebook or BGG

Current Games: Frontierville, a dice game, similar to Machi Koro or Space Base, with a tile laying mechanic.  Also Evil Medieval, Goodbye Friend, Hello Dinner, and others.

How did you get into game design?
It was an itch I needed to scratch!  Growing up we'd play games like Battle Masters.  We'd end up expanding existing games.  That, and playing games like Dungeons & Dragons got the creative juices flowing and then I wanted to try to make my own games.

The Die - #7 - If you could be a car, what car would you be?
A 1963 Split-Window Vette


Nate Jones


Contact: Facebook, BGG, or Protospiel

Current Games: Several, but was testing an unnamed Alien Attack Game, with the working title Y-Com (totally not XCom) or maybe Hates Aliens

How did you get into game design?
When I was a kid we didn't have access to many games, so we started making our own games with things like Lincoln Logs.  I even typed rules out on my mom's mechanical typewriter!

The Die - #5 - If Hollywood made a movie about your life, who would you like to see play the lead role as you?
Robert Downey Jr.


Sam Marcus


Contact: www.whiletruefork.com (although it hasn't been updated in a long time)

Current Games: Turtles All the Way Down, a tile laying game.  Welcome to Scenic Cardboard Lake, about developers in a seasonal resort (one of a series of games about cardboard locations).

How did you get into game design?
I can't remember NOT wanting to design games!

The Die - #11 - What do you like on a pizza?
Green bell peppers, onion, black olives, pepperoni, mushrooms, red pepper flakes, and sriracha.  [GJJ Games - Yowzers! That's hot!]


Troy Pichelman


Contact: JTP Games or Facebook

Current Games: The Ogre's Jewels, a dungeon crawler.  Also lots of other things in various stages.

How did you get into game design?
In Junior High I remember making a big war game, but I don't remember why.

The Die - #4 - Who is your favorite Disney princess?
Merida from Brave


Randy Ekl


Contact: Clever Playing Cards or randy@cleverplayingcards.com

Current Games: Cats Save Leningrad and Prime Location among others.

How did you get into game design?
I've always played lots of games.  At work I deal with a lot of patents, which requires looking for a lot of differentiation.  I wanted to apply that to games and started designing my own.

The Die - #9 - What do you think of lava lamps?
I love lava lamps (and alliteration)!  By the way, my favorite Disney Princess is Belle.


For these next two mini-interviews I forgot to grab pictures, so here's some grabbed off their Facebook profiles.

Carl Klutzke



Current Games: Doomed Atlantis, Episode 2 and several others.

How did you get into game design?
I was born that way!

The Die - #10 - What is your favorite color?  Least favorite?
My favorite color is purple, unless I'm playing with Maxine.  My least favorite color is Baby Puke Green.


Arkadiusz Greniuk


Contact: Agrypelago Games

Current Games: Diced Tomatoes, Pyro Tactics, and Brain Pills

How did you get into game design?
I wanted to make a game that was a hybrid of Risk and Monopoly, in space.  I've been working on that game for 10 years now and it's nothing like either!

The Die - #7 - If you could be a car, what car would you be?
A Jeep Wrangler Sahara




Did you like these interviews?  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. 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, December 6, 2018

Protospiel Madison 2018 Recap

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Protospiel Madison was my very first Protospiel event, back in 2014.  Back then, I had been designing games for only about 10 months, and I really didn't know what to expect from Protospiel.  I went up with a friend and we mostly just hung out together, but I did meet a few people who have since become pretty close friends.  Here we are four years later and this is now my 10th Protospiel.  My game design skills have evolved a ton, thanks in part to the wonderful feedback that I get at Protospiels, and my game design social circle has increased dramatically.  Unfortunately that means I never get to play the games I want to play or hang out as much with old friends, but I always make new friends, too.  Sometime we need to have a whole week of Protospiel, or maybe even a whole month, just to give everyone a chance to play everyone else's games.

In all, I played 11 games by 10 different designers.  I had 4 of my games played, including Beard Snacks 4 times.  I played other designers' games for about 11.5 hours and had my games played for about 8.5 hours (plus rules and feedback on both sides).

Here's a recap of the weekend up in Madison.  As usual, I'll include the designer, who I played with, and also three ratings, from 1-5.  The first is how close to finished I felt the game was.  A 1 means it was a super early prototype and a 5 means it was very close to publication ready.  The second is how fun the game was in its current state.  A 1 means it needs a lot of work and wasn't really playable or much fun at all.  A 5 means I had a great time playing and would love to play again.  Finally, the third number is the potential the game has of becoming a really great game.  A 1 means I wasn't a huge fan of the game (luckily there weren't any of those) and a 5 means I thought the game was pretty awesome.

So a rating of 2-2-5 would mean that it was a pretty early prototype, wasn't a whole lot of fun yet, but had quite a bit of potential to be a pretty good game.

Friday, November 30, 2018


Title: Rendezvous
By: JT Smith
Played with: JT Smith, Nate Jones, Robert Wise
Time: 2 hrs
Prototype Rating: 5-4-5

This is JT Smith's game about trying to survive the Wisconsin winter as a pioneer in the 1800s.  I've seen this being changed and developed over the past few years, but this was my first chance to play.  It's a pretty solid worker placement game that incorporates a very tight resource management aspect (food and warmth are very scarce and required to keep your family healthy and alive), some interesting crafting elements, and a neat timeline that reduces the possible worker locations as the year progresses.  It got quite tense in the winter, and we ended our play a little over the halfway mark, but the game does end on a high note as the weather warms back up and players begin to thrive again, if they survived the winter.



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Title: Fantasy Mini Golf
By: Ben Moy
Played with: Ben Moy, Brian Suhre
Time: 30 minutes
Prototype Rating: 1-2-4

We didn't actually play this game, just played around with some of the components and brainstormed ideas on how the components could be used to enhance the theme and experience Ben is trying to go for.  I think there's a nugget of a fun idea here, combining a bit of dexterity with RPG style combat and leveling up, in a fantasy setting.

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Title: Beard Snacks
By: George Jaros
Played with: Game 1 - Ben Moy, Brian Suhre, Game 2 - Ben Turk, Tai Renfrow
Time: 1 hour, 1 hour

I played two games of Beard Snacks back-to-back.  The first game I played with Ben M. and Brian went well, and as we were wrapping up Ben T. and Tai saw the game and asked to play.  Both games went well and wrapped up in almost exactly an hour.  Everyone loved the theme and only had minor suggestions for the mechanics.  I'm very, very happy with where this is at, considering there were only two prior playtests of the game before these.



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Title: Prime Location
By: Randy Ekl
Played with: Randy Ekl, Eric Jome, Steve Christensen
Time: 70 minutes
Prototype Rating: 4-5-5

This is the second time I got to play Prime Location and it keeps getting better.  The game is very similar to what I played in 2017, but has the addition of a stock track for each of the locations.  This improves the action of discarding black cards, but still needs some balancing to make it feel worthwhile.  It's close though.  The core of the game is still the same - collecting cards and turning them in to create sums of prime numbers in order to build on locations on the board.  It's an interesting blend of area control, set collection, and racing as you score points on a board that only has prime numbers on it.  Despite being a little heavy on the math (lots of adding up numbers and determining if they're prime or not) and being a bit of a points salad at the end, I really, really like this one and feel it deserves to be published soon.  I'm not the only one either, Randy had several offers to buy the game that weekend!



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Title: We Fight Crime
By: Scott Starkey
Played with: Randy Ekl
Time: 1 hour
Prototype Rating: 2-2-3

We Fight Crime is Scott Starkey's buddy cop cooperative card game for two players.  Thematically it was great, and I loved the character creation process, but the gameplay was repetitive and uninteresting.  It's still in very early stages though, so I'm interested to see where the game evolves to.  I think there's some potential there with the puzzley aspects of the game, it just needs some more layers and less randomness.

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Title: Hates Aliens (or Y-Com, totally not X-Com - a working title)
By: Nate Jones
Played with: Stan Kordonskiy, Kevin Jones
Time: 100 minutes
Prototype Rating: 3-3-3

Nate Jones created this arena combat style game where players are trying to kill off aliens in a crashed spaceship.  It's not cooperative though.  Each team of three characters is out to rack up the most kills while also recovering alien technology and gaining skills.  The board felt small for the amount of movement though, and there were a lot of other rough areas, but it was fun.  It still has a way to go, but I can see this being a big box miniatures game someday.


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Saturday, December 1, 2018


Title: Race to the Moons
By: George Jaros
Played by: Randy Ekl, James Ward, Vincent Edgell, Sean Murphy, Justin Minnich
Time: 2.5 hours



Once a Protospiel I try to get Race to the Moons to the table, usually on Saturday morning so that players are fresh and willing to sit down for about 3 hours.  Each time the game improves, getting a bit quicker and having more of the feel I'm going for.  This play went very well, although it took a lot longer than I had hoped, but that was mostly because of breaks for discussion and other interruptions.  I was happy that one player chose for the strategy of building and launching a rocket as fast as possible and it was working for him.  He was close to Colonizing, but others were slowly catching up, so it was going to be a close race.  The game didn't finish, but I was really curious to see if he could pull it off.  I made one update to the game after this play.  Research Drones work slightly differently now, so hopefully they won't be quite so likely to crash early in the mission even when technology levels are high.  I'm also adding in an Advanced Drone Workshop that can be built.




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Title: Honey Buzz
By: Paul Salomon (and Elf Creek Games)
Played with: Mike Hinson, Brent Dickman, Wyatt Fertig, Brian Suhre
Time: 90 minutes
Prototype Rating: 4-4-5



This worker placement game about bees building hives and harvesting honey to sell at the "bear market" is already signed and in final tweaking before publishing.  It's really close!  I love the tile laying aspects of the game and it has an interesting variant on worker placement, but it needs just a bit more work to make all the spaces important and usable throughout the entire game.  It's solid and fun though and should be successful when it hits Kickstarter in the next year or so.




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Title: 8 Seconds
By: George Jaros
Played with: Kevin Jones, Steve Morrow, Victoria Morrow, Dustin Oakley, Arkadiusz Greniuk
Time: 70 minutes



The changes I made to 8 Seconds after Protospiel Chicago are working great.  Now, instead of a single deck of bulls, there are two decks.  Easy bulls and difficult bulls in two different decks.  Players choose which deck to draw from, however must draw at least one difficult bull for each one they've already ridden.  This is keeping the games exciting and also ensuring that players have a bit more control of the types of bulls they attempt.







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Title: Evil Medieval
By: Kevin Jones
Played with: Victoria Morrow, Steve Morrow, Courtney Falk, Melissa Miller, Arkadiusz Greniuk
Time: 90 minutes
Prototype Rating: 4-4-5



I first played Evil Medieval last spring and really didn't like it.  It was waaaay too evil.  Coins, the one resource in this worker 'dis'placement game, were way too scarce and the bumping got too vicious.  Fast forward 19 months and the game flows a whole lot better.  It's still evil, with the bumping, but resources aren't so scarce that you feel stuck.  This has come a long way and is working really well now.




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Title: Pyro Tactics
By: Arkadiusz Greniuk
Played with: Courtney Falk, Melissa Miller, Kevin Jones
Time: 45 minutes
Prototype Rating: 4-5-5



Pyro Tactics was one of the best games I played all weekend.  It's a simple abstract strategy game, but has a really unique way of moving around the board to capture areas.  With two or three players everyone plays individually and with four players you work together as a team with a partner.  You're moving around the grid placing fire gems on the spaces between the main spaces with the goal of being the last player to surround an area to score it for points.  The really neat thing about the game was how movement works.  Each space has multiple paths to reach it, including straight from one space to another, or around a bend to get to the space.  Additionally, you bounce off of other player pieces.  This makes for some really awesome combo moves.  I had a lot of fun with this one.


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Title: MiniSkull Quests
By: George Jaros
Played with: Courtney Falk, Melissa Miller, Kevin Jones, Nate Jones
Time: 30 minutes



MiniSkull Quests has made an appearance at quite a few Protospiels now, since Madison in 2015.  It's pretty solid and has only had a few very minor revisions over the past year or two.  Every time I bring it out people have fun with it.  It plays in about 30 minutes regardless of the number of players and I finally have all the custom dice made up for this, so it's easier to calculate successes.



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Goodnight Madison!  On Saturday I had to park in a city lot instead of the convention center's parking garage, so I was greeted by the Wisconsin Capitol building on my walk to the parking lot.


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Sunday, December 2, 2018


Title: Cats or Dogs
By: Maxine Ekl
Played with: Arkadiusz Greniuk, Patrick Rauland, Rob Huber
Time: 45 minutes
Prototype Rating: 3-4-5



Maxine excels at creating quick, simple games that are a ton of fun.  Cats or Dogs is an interesting take on trick-taking in that there are multiple tricks being played at the same time.  If you can follow suit you must and if you are winning the suit it'll sit in front of you until someone plays a higher card.  Once a trick has three cards in it the winner collects all the cards in the trick.  If you can't follow suit you'll start another trick with another suit.  So there could potentially be five tricks going on at once (it's a five suited deck).  On top of that, each suit is a mix of cats, dogs, and blanks, and you score points for cats or dogs, whichever you win more of in a hand, plus a bonus if you get more of the type that you wagered on at the beginning of the round.  I really enjoyed this and can't wait to see how it gets refined!


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Title: Beard Snacks
By: George Jaros
Played with: Patrick Rauland, Nate Jones, Gerry Hazen, Jeff Swiggum
Time: 70 minutes



This is was the third play of Beard Snacks and this time a five player game that still wrapped up in just over an hour.  Again, everyone loved the theme.  I think I'm on to something here!








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Title: Macabre Witches
By: Patrick Rauland
Played with: Heather Newton, Will Newton
Time: 15 minutes
Prototype Rating: 1-4-5



This game was developed just a day or two earlier and played excellently for a brand new game.  It's essentially multi-player solo, but does have some player interaction.  Players have identical decks of 13 witch cards, some light, some dark, and with 6 symbols on them (plus several without any symbol).  9 cards start out face down in a grid and players take turns playing one card from their hand face-up into the grid and taking the replaced card into their hand.  Then you take the action of the card you played.  Some actions let you look at other cards, some let you manipulate the symbols, others let you mess with your opponents' grids.  It was a fun, quick, puzzle of a game.  I also got a peak at the artwork Patrick is getting for the game and it is AMAZING!  Keep an eye out for this one, I think it'll go far!


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Title: Fry Thief
By: Patrick Rauland
Played with: Patrick Rauland
Time: 15 minutes
Prototype Rating: 5-4-5



Back in April I played Patrick Rauland's Fry Thief, which was still very rough.  It was fun, but had some balance issues.  We talked about the game a bit, tweaked some card abilities, and Patrick's been getting artwork completed and planning for a Kickstarter in February.  I'm happy to say that the game has evolved a bit (it didn't have far to go), and is now a super fun, fast, thematic two player game.  I got lucky enough to bring home a copy of the game to review, so look for that after the first of the year.



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Title: Beard Snacks
By: George Jaros
Played with: Heather Newton, Will Newton
Time: 1 hour



I finished up my 10th Protospiel with another play of Beard Snacks with Heather and Will Newton, who I met at my second Protospiel at Madison in 2015 (it was their first back then).  So it was great to catch up with them and play some games with them, including another 1 hour of Beard Snacks.  Again, they loved the theme and the game played very smoothly.  We talked about a few ways to tweak a few cards just slightly, including the Endangered Birds.

Well, that's a wrap of Protospiel Madison 2018!  There were hundreds of other games that hit the tables, but unfortunately I didn't have time to play them all.  To all the old friends that I only saw in passing, it was great to see you and we'll play games again soon.  To all the new friends that I played games with, I can't wait to see you again (that goes for the old friends, too)!  I'll see you all at Milwaukee Protospiel in April (it's supposed to be the 5th through the 7th, so mark your calendars).







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Did you like this recap?  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. 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.