Ixalan – is it MTG Jumping the Shark?

Eyyyy!

This is an article that may seem out of place on a website initially meant as an episodic journal of my failings as an amateur game designer—especially since I’ve been in ghost-mode for the past six months, and after a series of failed promises and half-hearted attempts at revitalization, my plan is pretty much just to blog now whenever I feel like I have something I really want to talk to the world about—but I think this article has it’s place in a journal on game design nonetheless.

I promise, no other sentence in this post will be that long.

A high resolution image of the newest Standard set for Magic the Gathering was spoiled well ahead of spoiler season leaving many excited, upset, confused, or downright ambivalent. Personally, I was excited because my wife does a fair bit in selling the Magic cards our family seems to collect. So, getting a head start on what’s coming helps her to know what might be worth holding onto and what’s worth punting now.

I was excited, I think I mentioned that, “was excited.” I suppose I forgot to add some kind of marker of emphasis on that word was, but it’s there, in tone if not in markup. Elated might even had been a better term at one point. I love spoiler season, and to have it three months ahead of time. This was going to be like getting to open my Christmas presents on Halloween. Yes, I realize that’s less than three months but there are no good holidays in September and I love Halloween. It turned out I was more right than I expected. I got much more than I expected, mostly it was a let down, and there is entirely too much Red and Green going on here.

Pirates and Dinosaurs in an Aztec world. Yes, Ixalan’s new theme is old news by now, but I still can’t stop thinking about how bad it actually is. I mean, it’s bad right? It’s not just me? Or is it? Am I the only one with the soul crushing spirit of Ebanezer Scrooge or this guy?

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©Deep-Fried-Flinch @ deviantart.com

Looking back at the success of HeroScape, which ironically was redesigned and reskinned as Magic: The Board Game and flopped miserably, and we see a huge success with a sizeable cult following. People loved that world of mixed up times. I know it will be a delight for our friends who believe that dinosaurs and people once roamed the earth together.

Which brings me to my first question. Is this the Magic team trying to pander to Creationists? While a world of magic and demons and such things is generally frowned upon in the world of the religious right, I can’t help but think the thing more palatable if  Wizards of the Coast finally came out with a set recognizing the truth. Jack Sparrow road a Stegosaurus.

If not, is it that they’re out of ideas? Did they just put index cards on a board and throw darts? Are they using a random world generator?

World building is so important to game design, I just think this world is a mish-mash of disparate things and I can’t help but think it will hurt the mythos of the game. It’s probably just me though.

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Writer’s block. You may heard of it. You may have lived it. The words alone might fill you with dread. You may wake up from nightmares about The Awful Writer’s Block of Overwhelming Pain with tears streaming down your face and panic lodged in your throat. Um… Maybe that one’s just me. I don’t have all the answers, […]

via Chip off the (Writer’s) Block* — Sarah E. Stevens

Bullet with Butterfly Wings

Hot Damn it’s time to talk about board games. What have I been playing? Scythe, we’ve played several games of it multiplayer, and it’s just as good solo as I remember it.

I’m writing rules for a solo variant of a game. So, I’ve been occupied with that as well. That’s still hush hush at this point, but I’ll let you know how it pans out when I can.

Parade has rocked our socks off. We just got Arboretum, and while it’s a fun game in it’s own right, it is nowhere near as fun as Parade.

My wife and I smashed GenCon 2015 we picked up just because we really liked the skill checks. It’s a game called “Space Movers.” I love the hell out of it, but I think I would be better off playing that solo, because the rest of my gaming group doesn’t enjoy it near as much.

Gencon this year was a great time. I got to meet Vlaada Chavtil  at the CGE room. We learned T’zolkin and Space Alert, which we had previously learned, but never got stuck well in our heads.

We experienced the auction room for the first time this year. It’s was crazy and a whole lot of fun. I can’t wait to sit there for 8 hours don’t nothing but bidding on weird stuff. In one lot we purchased an XL shirt that read, “Clerics: The Life of the Party.” Yeah we’re dorks.

I’ve been getting back to work, although some things are taking more time than I they would. I’m working on three games and a variant. Somethings going to need to shutdown for a while and I have a feeling it’s my new game, which is a shame because I love it.

I take medieval European history and put it through my own unique filter. This was a time when our lands abutted. We fought continually for control of more lands, making alliances with the forces of other nobility. Alliances, Negotiation, Battles, Siege, Famine all in one game that plays in around 45-60 minutes. I’ve got some interestng ideas I want to implement, if I can get the base game running smoothly.

Any lessons for today? I don’t know. Maybe, take care of yourself first. Then take care of the world. Because if you aren’t taking care of yourself, how much can you help the world.

I love the breakdown in this song.

 

 

 

Reblog: My First Kickstarter Campaign: The Untold Story by Jamey Stegmaier

I’m on a crowdfunding panel this Wednesday at a St. Louis Publishers Association event (full details are at that link in case you’d like to attend). It’s a unique event because we…

Source: My First Kickstarter Campaign: The Untold Story

Fantastic read, which was very topical. Our last release was the origin story of another Kickstarter campaign. The stories are so very different they make for great contrast reading. 

Insecurity Theater Introduces: A Kickstarter Campaigner

Editor’s Note: I’d like to introduce our first ever guest writer this week. His name is Brandon Rollins. He is a designer, and fledgling publisher hailing out of Chattanooga, TN. If you’re ever in town, make sure to go check out the Aquariums.

You can bet that Brandon won’t be there right now, because the Kickstarter for War Co. has just five days left. Check out the Kickstarter page, check out the lore of the War Co. website, and, if you think it would be a good fit for your gamig group, back it. He’s created a world around this game that immerses you in its lore before you’ve even played it.

So, let’s start the show.

It all began with me hunched over my laptop, on the toilet Continue reading “Insecurity Theater Introduces: A Kickstarter Campaigner”

Lithium

SEMI-Commercial…and now we return to our regularly scheduled program.

Sorry about the noise in here, it’s just the TV’s been going off and on and… What? No TV. No noise. No Zombie invasion?!? Well that would seem to imply that I’m insane. Hmm…meh.

It was early September. We had come back from our very first GenCon enthused, despite my insecurities. I was adding new side effects to the game because that’s what people felt it needed. Then, for no apparent reason, I just stopped. My wife was confused about my feelings towards both games. I expected Kaiju to be the star of the show, but despite decent reviews it was a lot rougher than I thought. Side Effects was just a light side project but it had stolen the show. I felt embarrassed to have even made a party game.

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I was corresponding with Dirk Knemeyer, host of the Game Design Round Table and owner of Artana, about publishing and questions I had for the show. I had mentioned that one of my games was really successful in playtesting at GenCon but I didn’t want to put it out because I didn’t want my first game to be a party game.

It wasn’t until I received his reply that I realized how pretentiously I was behaving. It wasn’t that he was trying to make me feel bad about being a snob, but I was too embarrassed to reply after reading his email. Was I too good for party games?

We have a bevy of party games which I love, but secretly I’ve always thought, These aren’t real games they’re just fun activities. I might as well enjoy myself. Playing party games always felt like eating ice cream and pop corn at 2:30 in the morning watching a Netflix marathon of Matlock.

I also had a reasonable excuse to abandon the project. Gil Hova from Formal Ferret was getting ready to run a Kickstarter for his game Bad Medicine. Which, when pitched to me, sounded like the exact same game I was going for. I backed it. It’s not the same game. The games aren’t even in the same damn sport.

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2 Cool Cats discussing Relations in Pulp Fiction

It’s not likely that Side Effects May Include is going to end up a gamer’s party game. It does one thing really well; it makes people laugh. One playtester who played laughed so hard he couldn’t breathe. Another playtester thought she was going to pee herself. And one came back with her man the next playtest. We became friends and they’ve brought the game to GenCon ever year since. Why would anyone put that on a shelf?

Side Effects May Include focuses on what board gaming is about for a great many people, especially newer gamers and Pearites. It focuses completely on having a good time with your friends or potential friends. Players are scientists working for Big Pharama and they are trying to make a drug that works without rapid hair loss, loose stool, and death.

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The little swirl in the corner was the logo of my now defunct board game publishing co. Tidal Games.

So the game plays on. I’ll revise the old cards to remove things which complicated the game. I have a few things to add to some of the cards as a suprise for my 2 dedicated Side Effects fans out there. Also, I have a list of about 300 cards and growing(my original offering of 148 was nowhere near enough), so I’m going to finish this project up and start trying to sell it to every publisher who might be into party games of this ilk.

Sometimes you have to step away from a project and see it from someone else’s eyes. Sometimes you have to look at it objectively. Sometimes you just need a swift kick in the ass to get motivated. Anyone else need one? I’ve been working on my drop kick.

Die Die My Darling

I’ve feel like I’ve reached the limits of my knowledge. I sometimes doubt the wisdom I’ve inherited from my forefailures. It was fun for awhile—writing in such a self deprecating way—but I want to write about my design work in a living world, now, and not as party of some anonymous board game eulogy. It’s impossible to look forward when you’re always looking back. That said, we’re going to take a look back at two games that I refuse to give up on, and how I’m moving them forward.

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I recently read a great blog post from Micheal over at Gravitas Board Games, in which they discuss rebooting their current project, Fusion. In particular, it was about killing their darlings. Michael is a really nice guy, and we had a brief discussion about the topic. The idea stirred something in me. Naturally, I did what any writer worth their salt would do, and stole the idea. I started to think about the darlings I’ve killed, and those which’ve yet to be killed.

Continue reading “Die Die My Darling”

Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment – 4. Magic: The Gathering Part II. The Third World

My first Magic experience was in middle school. It was much like my first kiss: bumbling, awkward, painful, and yet somehow altogether pleasing. My friends all had decks they’d been working on since the game had come out 6 months prior.

I begged my mom to take me to this game store 3 burbs down the El Camino (yet another in a long line of redundant the’s in street names). They had Magic starter decks, booster packs, life stones, dice, pouches to keep the stones and dice. It reminded me of Dungeons & Dragons, something I’d discovered a few months earlier. But it was just cards and I thought that would be easier.

All I could afford was the starter deck. So I took it home and I poured over the cards. I read the rules five, maybe six times so that I thought I understood vaguely how to play this game of tapping and attacking and interrupting. Then I took it all to school.

I sat down to play in the library during lunch.  Continue reading “Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment – 4. Magic: The Gathering Part II. The Third World”

Holiday in Cambodia – Part 4. Magic The Gathering Part I. The First World

I’ve decided to split my last post into two parts after some revision. Sorry it was so long. 

After only seven treatments, I’ve been released on my own recognizance, maybe upon my wife’s pleas, I’m not sure. It’s all been a bit cloudy up here in the noggin. Oh, I haven’t told you yet? I’ve just had shock treatment, which makes me more punk rock than Joey Ramone; and he’s dead. Although, I’m not entirely sure how long ago just is. AliceOh, Alice dear!electro-chock-therapy

In any case, that’s the primary reason my posts have been, and will likely continue to be, quite spotty. Ramones songs and images of 1940’s asylums aside, the procedure itself wasn’t that bad. Everyone was quite friendly—perhaps they were former clients. I even got away with a song requests after my 3rd treatment. Naturally, my first was the Ramones.

Continue reading “Holiday in Cambodia – Part 4. Magic The Gathering Part I. The First World”

King of the Absentee Landlords

Good gosh, jee willickers. I can’t believe anybody still comes to this place. There are dust bunnies dancing across the floor, and cobwebs everywhere, and bugs, lots of bugs…thus the cobwebs.

Well, I’ll get the broom out and I’ll put on some prince in loving memory. Okay, here we go:

Continue reading “King of the Absentee Landlords”