Monday, April 19, 2021

Rolling Seas - Design Diary - Part 6

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I see a lot of other designers write up design diaries for their games and I've always found it interesting to learn about the process that a game went through from initial concept to publication.  So I decided to share the history of Rolling Seas so you can learn more about the game, how I made some of the design choices I made, and what my plans for the game in the future are.  It's a bit long, so I've broken it down into a few posts that I'll share over the course of a few days.

Rolling Seas Design Diary
  • Intro & Part 1
    • Coming Up With the Idea - Early November 2019
    • The Sailing Tests - November 12-14, 2019
  • Part 2
    • Finding a Sailing Solution - November 14, 2019
    • Bonuses - November 15-22, 2019
  • Part 3
    • A Prettier Game - November 23-29, 2019
    • The First Public Playtesting - December 3, 2019
  • Part 4
    • Maps & Crew - January-February 2020
    • The End of Playtesting, Sort Of... - March-May, 2020
  • Part 5
    • Nuts! Publishing & Rolling Seas Updates - April-July 2020
    • New Ideas - July-December 2020
  • Part 6 - YOU ARE HERE
    • Second Edition & Getting Signed - January-April 2021
    • Crowd Sale - April 2021
Second Edition & Getting Signed - January-April 2021

At the end of 2020 it had been a few months since I had heard back from Nuts! Publishing.  I knew they were busy with finishing up a game they had successfully funded on Kickstarter earlier in the year and the pandemic had slowed everything down to a crawl everywhere, but I was getting a little anxious to keep things with Rolling Seas moving forward again.  

Rolling Seas
 had made it to the Semi-Finalist round of The Game Crafter's Staff Roll & Write Challenge, but didn't make it into the finals (feedback pretty much highlighted the issues I had already been fixing).  I had passed on a few online pitching events because I had been working with Nuts! Publishing, but I knew plans change and I didn't want to sit around waiting.  

So I started working on a sell-sheet and updating the edition I had on The Game Crafter with the latest updates.  I also decided to add Crew Members, Islands, and some of the maps I had created as expansions.  By mid-January, I had updated the base game (including two new, basic maps), created all new artwork for the Crew Members cards, and created a bunch of map files.  I had been playing around with the idea of making some of the maps work a little differently, so I added special spaces to the land that gave small bonuses when exploring there (an extra Provision, Gold, or Story).  Five of the maps I had got combined with the Islands cards (and a blank map) and became Islands & Map Pack 1 and the other six maps got the special exploration spaces and became Map Pack 2.  Crew Members got a special tuck box and became their own expansion.

But, the three expansions all seemed a little sparse.  So I decided to add two more maps to the Crew Members expansion and add some new adventures to the map pack expansions.  I created an additional 26 adventures (6 each of Rocks, Currents, Sea Monsters, and Storms and 2 new Pirates), then split them between Map Pack 1 and Map Pack 2.  Since Map Pack 1 also came with 9 cards for the Islands it got 8 new adventures while Map Pack 2 got 18 new adventures.  Each adventure has a completely new arrangement of spaces (except for the Currents and some Rocks - with only two spaces per card the permutations aren't that great) and new locations they'll appear.  Once again I had to work out on a blank map where everything would come out to make sure that there was no overlap and distributions were even.  I also came up with all new names, so now you can experience a Bioluminescent Sea, encounter a Ghost Ship, run the Crimson Cascade, or maneuver through the Alkundic Gap.



Once all of these were complete I added them for sale on The Game Crafter and ordered my own printed copies.  I also decided to schedule a Crowd Sale.  I knew I'd probably be making small tweaks and I wanted to make sure I had some time to promote it (on my $0 budget), so I figured why not launch it in April, my birthday month, as a way to kind of celebrate!  So I got everything in order and scheduled the Crowd Sale!

I never even got a chance to print it out!
In early February I shared out the sell-sheet and made a few updates based on some feedback, and was pretty happy with it.  Then I had a few other publishers reach out asking for pnp files so they could evaluate the game.  That was pretty exciting, but then on Valentine's Day I woke up to a message from Nuts! Publishing asking if I was interested in continuing to work with them.  I was thrilled, and by March 2nd we had a signed contract we both agreed to!  Rolling Seas is going to be my first published game!  Unless someone signs another one and gets it to market first ;-)  

At this point, I was excited but concerned about the Crowd Sale I had just been beginning to announce.  Fortunately Nuts! Publishing felt keeping the game for sale on The Game Crafter (and for free on PnP Arcade) would be good to help promote the game and gave their OK to keep it available and run the Crowd Sale.  The only restriction was that I couldn't make any more updates to the game.  Unfortunately, that means unless you're local and available for playtesting, you won't get a chance to play the Current EventsSavvy Ships, or Pirate Captain expansions I'm working on.  But hopefully, those will see life in the retail edition coming from Nuts! Publishing sometime soon (soon being a relative term in the publishing world).

The Crowd Sale - April 2021

And that brings us to today!  The Crowd Sale for Rolling Seas is live and reaching discount tiers.  I spent a long time building out the page, adding all sorts of information, and scouring the internet for mentions of the game.  I was pleasantly surprised to find out that someone had created a BGG page for the game and more people were playing and talking about Rolling Seas on Reddit, YouTube, and BGG.  

While I was building out the Crowd Sale page for Rolling Seas another designer, Chris Willimas, was running his Crowd Sale for his game 1-2 Punch.  One thing I noticed that he did was to have a "crowd Sale Exclusive" card for the game.  So I started thinking about what I could do to reward my Crowd Sale supporters.  I decided on two new adventures, but unique adventures that had a combination of adventure types on them.  First I played around with patterns that had all four main adventure types, but to make an interesting pattern I needed a 5x5 area and many of the maps don't have an area large enough, especially after a few turns have passed.  So I decided to make a smaller 3x3 area and only use two adventures on each card.  I also decided to throw in an extra bonus to reward adventurous sailors.  So The Gryphon's Cave has 5 Gold in the center space and Eye of the Storm has a free Resupply.

Now the Crowd Sale is live, people from all over the country are finding out about it, and it's exciting to see sales happening.  I know I'm not going to break any sales records.  I don't have the following that someone like Jason Glover from Grey Gnome Games has, but every sale I make is one I'm thrilled to have.  Rolling Seas is my most successful game to date, selling more copies so far than all my other titles combined.  That's gotten me excited though, so you may see me running more Crowd Sales in the future for some of my other titles.

As for the future of Rolling Seas?  I've only just begun working with Nuts! Publishing on the game.  I do my best with the artwork, but I'm not a professional artist (just really good at finding free images to use or modify), so I can't wait to see how a professional can elevate the game even more.  I think the base game and the expansions I have now are very solid and I don't expect much to change with them (but you never know what a publisher or developer may decide needs tweaking), but the expansions I'm working on that are in their early stages are going to be really exciting.  I have a few other small ideas for the game, too, and even a few sparks of other games that I might be able to create in the same world as the Alkundic Archipelago.   Keep following me on GJJ Games to learn more!

Thanks for joining me on this look back at the design process for Rolling Seas!  It has been a fantastic journey and I'm glad I could share it with you!  And be sure to check out the Crowd Sale before it ends!
Everything you get in the base game.

This is the Crew Members expansion.

Islands & Map Pack 1 includes 8 new adventures.
Map Pack 2 includes special exploration bonuses
and 18 new adventures!


Did you like this article?  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.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Buds, Blooms, and Thorns Book Review of Winning Streak by John-Michael Gariepy

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Vitals:
Title: Winning Streak: Tales and Trivia of the 40 Most Popular Board Games
Author: John-Michael Gariepy
Year Published: 2021
MSRP: $9.99

Introduction:
Well, here we are again.  Doing a review of a not-game!  These pop up from time to time and I enjoy reviewing not-games (I've reviewed books, movies, and accessories), but it's always a challenge to fit them into my standard formats.  But here goes nothing!  

Winning Streak is a book by first-time author John-Michael Gariepy.  First-time author, yes, however, he's been writing for quite a while now.  For over a decade he's been reviewing games and writing articles on his blog, Dial D for Dungeon Master, has reviewed games for a number of different podcasts over the years, and hosts the Popcorn Roulette show where he discusses movies, media, and lots of other odd stuff.  So he's pretty experienced.  It's a wonder this is just his first book!  Then again, it's taken about 5 years just to write Winning Streak, so he definitely keeps himself plenty busy.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Rolling Seas - Design Diary - Part 5

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I see a lot of other designers write up design diaries for their games and I've always found it interesting to learn about the process that a game went through from initial concept to publication.  So I decided to share the history of Rolling Seas so you can learn more about the game, how I made some of the design choices I made, and what my plans for the game in the future are.  It's a bit long, so I've broken it down into a few posts that I'll share over the course of a few days.

Rolling Seas Design Diary
  • Intro & Part 1
    • Coming Up With the Idea - Early November 2019
    • The Sailing Tests - November 12-14, 2019
  • Part 2
    • Finding a Sailing Solution - November 14, 2019
    • Bonuses - November 15-22, 2019
  • Part 3
    • A Prettier Game - November 23-29, 2019
    • The First Public Playtesting - December 3, 2019
  • Part 4
    • Maps & Crew - January-February 2020
    • The End of Playtesting, Sort Of... - March-May, 2020
  • Part 5 - YOU ARE HERE
    • Nuts! Publishing & Rolling Seas Updates - April-July 2020
    • New Ideas - July-December 2020
  • Part 6
    • Second Edition & Getting Signed - January-April 2021
    • Crowd Sale - April 2021
Nuts! Publishing & Rolling Seas Updates - April-July 2020

At the end of April, I was contacted by Nuts! Publishing.  They were interested in the game and wanted to know if I was interested in working with them to develop the game further and maybe sign a publishing contract at some point.  Of course, I was ecstatic.  I asked what they had in mind and they mentioned one thing that had been brought up before, but I didn't have a solution at the time, and one thing that sparked a completely new idea (several ideas, actually).

The first was a comment on the frequency that new adventures appeared.  With the reliance on dice, the number of adventures could be swingy.  Over a long period of time, new adventures should have come out about 37.5% of the time, so about 8-9 adventures per game.  But I had games with 15 new adventures and games with 4 new adventures.  It wasn't consistent enough and, since adventures are critical to scoring story points and just to have a fun experience, they wondered if there was a way to have adventures come out more consistently.  They suggested maybe having a new adventure come out every 3 rounds (something that had been suggested before), but I didn't like the predictability of that.  I liked the unpredictability of the dice but needed something more consistently unpredictable.

That's when I hit on the idea of the Smooth Sailing cards.  This adds a small step to the game setup - creating the Adventure deck, but it is a simple step and allows you to customize how often you'll see new adventures.  Now the Adventure deck is built with 30 cards - a mix of Smooth Sailing and other adventures.  One card is drawn every turn.  Smooth Sailing cards do nothing, Adventures get added to maps.  This way you can add more or fewer Smooth Sailing cards to the deck to control how often Adventures come out.  It's still somewhat unpredictable, but you'll know if you make a deck with 15 Smooth Sailing and 15 Adventures, that you'll see about 12-13 new adventures in the game.  And since there are only 25 turns in a game, but 30 cards in the deck you might see slightly more or slightly less, but you won't have the huge swings that dice could cause.

Adding in the Smooth Sailing cards did require a small change to the game phases though.  Now, instead of rolling the dice to begin each turn an Adventure card is revealed.  This means players have to draw the Adventures without the benefit of knowing the wind directions for that turn, but this was a minor inconvenience for the benefits of the Smooth Sailing cards.  I think the biggest inconvenience was just for me to get used to swapping the order of cards and dice since I had been playing the other way for so long.  I haven't heard about any confusion from anyone who learned the game this new way.

The second thing they mentioned was needing more player interaction.  I felt the game was playing pretty well, but it was mostly a group solo game.  The only real interaction came from passing your maps when Rocks came up.  This is about the same as in Cartographers, but I understood the desire for a bit more.  The problem was, I didn't want to break the simultaneous-play flow of the game just to have people interacting.  But pirates were mentioned, and really, what's a game about sailing and exploring without having some pirates to encounter?  
Long John Silver comes out in the 
Northwest quadrant of your map
along any shoreline.

So I sat down to try to figure out a way to add pirates to the game without breaking the flow of the game.  Pirates became a new type of adventure.  One with a bit higher risk and higher reward.  Like Rocks, Pirates have you pass your map.  Unlike Rocks (or any other adventure), they don't get placed in a specific row or column, but in one of the four quadrants along a coast (pirates don't like to venture too far from land).  You can ignore pirates if you like, but you'll lose 5 Reputation at the end of the game if you don't defeat them.  If you do decide to fight the pirates though, you'll need to end your turn in their space and spend 3 Provisions.  This will earn you 2 Story and 3 Gold though, so a pretty big reward!

I found this added just a tad more player interaction since you pass your maps again and maybe have to think a little harder about where to hide the pirates.  But it wasn't much.  So I started thinking of other ways to add player interaction, too.  I came up with three new ideas, all three of which I'm still working on since I haven't had much opportunity to playtest with groups in the past year.  

New Ideas - July-December 2020

While I've been able to playtest the Pirates and the Smooth Sailing cards quite a bit, testing out some other ideas that require more player interaction has been more challenging.  But I've been working on three ideas that I'd like to add to Rolling Seas someday.  

The first, which is nearly complete, though barely playtested, is Events.  Events consist of 8 new Event cards that get added to the Adventure deck (which is built to 35 cards in the setup now).  When an Event card comes up instead of an Adventure or Smooth Sailing, a card is drawn from a new Events deck (featuring large 21 jumbo cards).  The events range from immediate things that happen, like 
a Ship Race or Tidal Wave, to persistent events, like new Explore rewards and a Treasure Hunt.  There are even multi-turn events like The King's Quest and Festival Season.  Some of the events add quite a bit of player interaction while some don't disrupt the flow of the game at all - just add some new considerations.  I've been really happy with the Events, though they definitely need more playtesting.
I actually have all the cards and artwork created and was hoping to have these for sale
after some more playtesting, but alas, you're going to have to wait for Events!


Rules are written, but I need to make
components and start playtesting!
I also started thinking about an expansion that would provide custom ships that you could purchase.  Each ship would have unique abilities and a unique combination of speed and cargo hold.  This is still in a pretty early draft and I haven't playtested it at all yet, but I think it might be fun for someone to have a racing vessel with more speed, but little cargo, or a science vessel that gives you additional benefits when "researching" storms.  

The last new idea I've been working on will change the game up significantly, at least for one player.  One player would be the Pirate Captain and play by a completely different set of rules.  The Pirate Captain would sail around their map trying to end their turn in the same relative space as other players, resulting in a battle.  Battles would be somewhat beneficial for both sides (adding to story points), but whoever wins the battle would gain some extra benefits.  This is still in its very early idea stage, though I'm excited to see how it'll grow and evolve.

Thanks for reading!  Join me for Part 6 where I talk about what's new in the latest edition and the Crowd Sale!  And be sure to check out the Crowd Sale before it ends!




Did you like this article?  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.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Rolling Seas - Design Diary - Part 4

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I see a lot of other designers write up design diaries for their games and I've always found it interesting to learn about the process that a game went through from initial concept to publication.  So I decided to share the history of Rolling Seas so you can learn more about the game, how I made some of the design choices I made, and what my plans for the game in the future are.  It's a bit long, so I've broken it down into a few posts that I'll share over the course of a few days.

Rolling Seas Design Diary
  • Intro & Part 1
    • Coming Up With the Idea - Early November 2019
    • The Sailing Tests - November 12-14, 2019
  • Part 2
    • Finding a Sailing Solution - November 14, 2019
    • Bonuses - November 15-22, 2019
  • Part 3
    • A Prettier Game - November 23-29, 2019
    • The First Public Playtesting - December 3, 2019
  • Part 4 - YOU ARE HERE
    • Maps & Crew - January-February 2020
    • The End of Playtesting, Sort Of... - March-May, 2020
  • Part 5
    • Nuts! Publishing & Rolling Seas Updates - April-July 2020
    • New Ideas - July-December 2020
  • Part 6
    • Second Edition & Getting Signed - January-April 2021
    • Crowd Sale - April 2021
Maps & Crew - January-February, 2020

Once I had the game working well I started thinking about things I could add to the game.  The first thing I added was some pre-generated maps.  I realized that setting up the islands was cumbersome, especially for first-time players.  So I sat down and created a handful of maps with different arrangements of islands.  This allowed me to make some rather creative layouts that weren't possible with the island cards.  This is the point that I decided the base game should have pre-generated maps and the islands should be an expansion.  However, I didn't want to start changing the game before the contest ended, so I kept the island cards as part of the game.  But I started playing and teaching the game (especially to non-gamers) with pre-generated maps.
One of the first pre-generated maps.  It's had special exploration bonus 
spaces added to it and is now a part of the Map Pack 1 expansion.

The second expansion idea I had was the Crew Members.  I came up with the idea to allow hiring crew with special abilities in mid-January and tested them out a few times in January and February.  They went through a few minor adjustments, but are still basically how I envisioned them.

With the Crew Members expansion, you gain a fourth action to do at Port, after all your normal actions.  When you're done telling your story, buying a new ship, and stocking up on supplies, you'll head over to the local tavern to hire some crew members.  I spent a couple of days coming up with various abilities and thematic names for the characters and figuring out a cost to hire them.  I playtested solo a few times and made a few tweaks, namely adding in the tavern brawl mechanic to refresh the crew available.  Then I brought it to our playtesting night on February 4, 2020.  I was really interested in getting some feedback from my local group because on February 8 I was heading up to Madison, WI for the first Protospiel Mini hosted by The Game Crafter.
The Crew Members worked great right from the start.

My local game group really liked what the crew members added to the game, mostly.  The tavern brawls were a little too frequent, so I changed is so the tavern is only refreshed at the end of the turn, not after each hire.  That helped with brawls breaking out too much.  And a few of the crew members didn't seem balanced - a few were too powerful and a few seemed too situational.  I adjusted some of the balance on a few, but the big thing was making each crew member worth 1 reputation point at the end of the game.  That way none of them were completely worthless.

I quickly made those changes and brought the game to Protospiel Mini the next weekend.

At Protospiel Mini I played two games of Rolling Seas with some very experienced gamers and designers and everyone was thrilled with it.  Keith Matejka of Thunderworks Games said he thought it was my best design he's played yet!  The first game I played with just the base game, though I did use the island setup.  The second game we played with the Crew Members and Tim Virnig (brand ambassador for Thunderworks Games) said the ending was the tensest he's ever experienced in a roll & write game!  
Keith from Thunderworks Games really enjoyed the game! 
That's high praise from someone who has designed/published
some of my favorite games!

Playing with the Crew Members expansion with Tim from 
Thunderworks Games and Arkadiusz and his wife  from 
Agrypalego Games.



The End of Playtesting, Sort Of... March-May 2020

After the Protospiel Mini, I only had a few chances to play the game again with my game group.  I played a few times at home with my family (my wife loved the travel log and filled it up, along with two and a half other full pages of paper).  The first Tuesday of March was another playtesting night, but another friend had a game he wanted to test and I wanted to try out a new design I was working on.  And then the whole world changed.  
My wife was well on her way to writing a novel about her adventures!

Coronavirus arrived in the US and everything came to a standstill.  I was happy with the way Rolling Seas was playing and I was focusing on my new design while I waited for any news on the Staff Roll & Write contest from The Game Crafter, which was also on hold.  So nothing really happened with the game for about two months.

Then came Con of Champions.  This was an online convention thrown together to raise funds for Tabletop.Events, a wonderful board game events management system that was owned by The Game Crafter.  But with the cancellation of events everywhere and no end in sight, it was announced that the site would be shut down.  The community rallied and Con of Champions was organized for Memorial Day weekend.  I signed up to demo Rolling Seas twice over the weekend.
The special map I created for Con of Champions.

In preparation for the weekend, I put together a special Con of Champions pre-generated map so we didn't have to worry about setting up islands.  The first game was played with a mix of Protospiel veterans and a family that wasn't really used to playing prototype games.  The game played slowly but everyone had fun.  Afterward, I chatted with Carl Klutzke and Gary Chavez for quite a while about how to make the game play smoother.  By this time I was definitely sure that the next version of the game would have pre-generated maps; the game was much easier to teach and get into without the complex map setup.  But the game was still a challenge to teach.  The idea for creating a tutorial mode was suggested, so I spent the evening putting together a tutorial game that eliminated almost all setup and walked you through the first six rounds, teaching you each part of the game as you play. 

I used the tutorial to teach the game the next day and it worked wonderfully!  We were actually playing in less than 10 minutes (previously, teaching the game took about 20-25 minutes)!  The tutorial I used was almost identical to the final tutorial you can download after you purchase the game.  It worked so well that I've used it to teach the game every time since then; which, granted has only been twice due to the pandemic, but everyone has picked up the game without any trouble at all.
It's amazing how simple it was to create a tutorial
that got people playing right away!

Thanks for reading!  Join me for Part 5 where I talk about how communication with Nuts! Publishing spurred on the next creative leap for the game!  And be sure to check out the Crowd Sale before it ends!




Did you like this article?  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.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Board Game Atlas Previews New Critic Review Feature and Launches Open Enrollment

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April 14, 2021 - Board game community and price comparison tool Board Game Atlas is launching a new review feature unlike anything currently available on the market. Alongside its growing suite of tools to make the board game experience more accessible, a new aggregated critic score will be added to the current review system in addition to the user score.


With this new feature, reviews from hand-selected critics will contribute to a separate score so users can see the community reaction, as well as, the overall critical consensus. Games are rated on a 100 point scale.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Rolling Seas - Design Diary - Part 3

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I see a lot of other designers write up design diaries for their games and I've always found it interesting to learn about the process that a game went through from initial concept to publication.  So I decided to share the history of Rolling Seas so you can learn more about the game, how I made some of the design choices I made, and what my plans for the game in the future are.  It's a bit long, so I've broken it down into a few posts that I'll share over the course of a few days.

Rolling Seas Design Diary
  • Intro & Part 1
    • Coming Up With the Idea - Early November 2019
    • The Sailing Tests - November 12-14, 2019
  • Part 2 
    • Finding a Sailing Solution - November 14, 2019
    • Bonuses - November 15-22, 2019
  • Part 3 - YOU ARE HERE
    • A Prettier Game - November 23-29, 2019
    • The First Public Playtesting - December 3, 2019
  • Part 4
    • Maps & Crew - January-February 2020
    • The End of Playtesting, Sort Of... - March-May, 2020
  • Part 5
    • Nuts! Publishing & Rolling Seas Updates - April-July 2020
    • New Ideas - July-December 2020
  • Part 6
    • Second Edition & Getting Signed - January-April 2021
    • Crowd Sale - April 2021
A Prettier Game - November 23-29, 2019

I took a few days to create a nicer-looking Map and Ledger.  At this point, I set the final dimensions of the map (19 columns by 15 rows), the layout of the ledger, and chose icons for various game elements.  I also created nicer-looking cards and Dice Mat (almost the same as what's in the latest version on The Game Crafter).  

I also took this opportunity to closely evaluate the coordinates I had previously chosen randomly for all of the adventures.  I marked up a blank map, making sure that each type of adventure had an interesting distribution.  Rocks are generally dispersed around the edges of the map with a few more centralized, Trade Winds got placed mostly toward the center of the map (my hope was that players might find opportunities to string two or more together for some exciting movement), and Storms and Sea Monsters were scattered fairly evenly around the map.  I made sure that there wouldn't be clumps of one kind of adventure (though being able to place anywhere in the designated row/column meant this could still happen if a player chose) and that adventures would appear throughout the whole map.
The colored boxes indicate the coordinates for each adventure,
however, they can all be placed in the row or column, thus the dots
on the margins.  The rocks I showed their possible placement in a 
solo game with the dots on the map and the direction they get passed
in a multiplayer game with the letters in the boxes.

Then I took everything to Office Max to print out.  My first few solo playtesting games were great and I didn't feel like I needed to make any more changes, but I was itching to play with more players.  Fortunately, I was just a weekend away from my next Game Night and it just happened to be a game design playtesting night!
Solo playtesting was going great. 
Time to try it with real people!

The First Public Playtesting - December 3, 2019

On December 3, 2019, Totally Tabletop Tuesday arrived and the first Tuesday of every month is set aside for playtesting games.  Mostly we test out my games, but there are a few other members of my game group that have been playing around with designs, too.  But on this Tuesday it was a small group and I was the only one with a game to test.  I was super excited to introduce the group to Rolling Seas.

And the game was a hit!  We played twice and then talked about the game a bit.  Everything mostly worked, but we felt that there was too much map passing.  The Provisions and Movement bonuses felt weak and set up with the islands the way I had it was a bit confusing, too.
Playtesting the first time in public!

You can see the first set of bonuses on Provisions
and Gold didn't escalate at all.

The dice mat has remained the same, except for a few minor
graphical updates to make the explore area easier to read
and the Explore Value 5 rewards.

I adjusted the adventures so they were kept 50% of the time (instead of 25%).  I also changed the setup to be one island at a time instead of two (that's the advanced variant in the Islands expansion now).  I shortened the Gold tracks from 6 to 5 so you're hitting bonuses on them a bit more often, plus redid the bonuses for Gold so they escalate as you gain more Gold (Provision bonuses didn't escalate until the second edition).  I also made the story track go up to 60 since we're regularly hitting 35-40 story points, so now there's another row in case someone builds a huge story.  I changed it so you get a 5 Reputation bonus if you end at a port, 10 Reputation if it's your home port, and a 20 Reputation bonus if you manage to tell a story at all 8 ports.  This is also when I changed the 5 Explore die value to give 3 Gold and 1 Story (instead of 2 Gold and 2 Story), just to make it a little different and have one Explore value that gives a bunch of Gold since there were other big scores for Story and Provisions for Exploring, but none for Gold.  
Everything was working great but passing
maps still felt too common.

One other, minor change from this time was naming all the adventures.  Now, instead of generic sea monsters, you got to meet Merfolk and the Kraken; storms became Typhoons and Blood Rains, and Rocks became Fisherman's Doom or Sawtooth Sea.  But trade winds were a problem.  It turns out trade winds generally blow east to west around the equatorial seas.  And they don't really have names.  But currents are more widespread and often do have names.  So trade winds became currents and gained names like Condor Current and Stingray Swift.

After a few more playtests I got rid of passing maps completely, except for Rocks.  I realized that the game was a lot more interesting when players could determine for themselves where to put the Adventures that could earn them points.  This got rid of a lot of the player interaction, unfortunately, but it made the game run a lot smoother and ended up being more fun when you could set up bigger scoring opportunities (only to have the wind blow you in the opposite direction).

Now only the rocks get passed and everything has a name!

These were the last big changes I made for a while.  I playtested the game a bunch more, even at our regular game nights, and it was always working out great.  I participated in a rules exchange in December and was able to really clarify some spots in the rules.  Then I submitted the game to the Staff Roll and Write Contest at The Game Crafter, and made it available for sale on December 20, 2019.  Over the next few months, I continued to play the game but didn't really make any changes since I couldn't make any changes for the contest.  The one thing I did change was the layout of one of the islands, just to make it a little easier to draw.
He was so proud of his voyage!

Thanks for reading!  Join me for Part 4 where I talk about the first expansion ideas!  And be sure to check out the Crowd Sale before it ends!




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People Behind the Meeples - Episode 275: Raphael Stocker

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:Raphael Stocker
Email:info@bffgames.org
Location:Vienna, Austria, Europe
Day Job:I am an architect
Designing:One to two years.
Webpage:hidden-leaders.com
BGG:Hidden Leaders
Facebook:BFF Games
Twitter:@BoardgameGoblin
YouTube:BFF Games
Instagram:@hidden.leaders
Other:
Find my games at:https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails?id=2298981108 https://tabletopia.com/games/hidden-leaders
Today's Interview is with:

Raphael Stocker
Interviewed on: 2/10/2021

This week's interview is with Raphael Stocker, part of the design team working on Hidden Leaders, a cool looking strategic deduction game where players are secretly working to manipulate several factions on a board to complete their leader's secret agenda. The leader who's preferred faction is successful is the winner! The game looks really cool, so be sure to check it out on Kickstarter on April 20th. In the meantime, read on to learn more about Raphael and his projects!