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.

 

 

 

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”

Showers, Landfills, and Mixed Metaphors

Are you tired? Do you feel alone? Do you get upset whilst driving behind idiots who’ve clearly received their driver’s licenses from a Sears?  I’ve got a feeling; let’s call it George.

George is a feeling I just can’t grasp. It’s like there’s something wrong with the universe and I’m pretty sure it’s me. I can distinguish George completely from sadness, depression, anxiety, self-pity, or self-loathing. It occupies it’s own emotional space on the spectrum, and all it really wants is a shower. Continue reading “Showers, Landfills, and Mixed Metaphors”

A Solo Gamer’s Manifesto

Hello, I’m Billy Board Game and I’m a solo gamer.

memberIt sounds like some kind of admission of wrong doing, doesn’t it? Solo gaming has been viewed as the dark underbelly of the table top world. A place where all of the seedy gamers go to make their nefarious plans against everyone who just want to play games with their friends and have a good time.

That was the way people viewed solo gaming. But lately, I have seen a great outpouring of support for solo gaming. From Kickstarter to Board Game Geek, solo gaming is now more accepted as a way to play table top games than any time before in history. Continue reading “A Solo Gamer’s Manifesto”

Teach Your Children Well

children20playing20video20gamesOur children learn so much more from gaming than we ever will. We are the Doom, and Quake generation. We subsisted on Risk and Monopoly. Fortunately, we have refined our palate and we are training fledgling gamers to further refine what is palatable to them. Continue reading “Teach Your Children Well”

Kaiju Deck Destruction Award Entry

Judges can skip to the part entitled, Cardboard Edison Award Entry.

So this is unusual for me, but I think this blog post is a great opportunity to show off my work. I’ve entered the Cardboard Edison Award to recognize great unpublished games. I’m going to place my entry here. It will provide easy access for the judges and it will give you, my dear readers, an inside look into what I might do when I’m pitching a game. It might not be right, but it’s how I do it. Judges reading this, feel free to leave comments.

So Cardboard Edison has requested three things from entrants, a short written summary of the game, a video demonstrating a little of how to play and what makes the game special, and a copy of the rules document. I have it all right here. Have a look.

Cardboard Edison Award Entry

Synopsis

Kaiju: Deck Destruction is a small box game for 2-4 players that plays in about 20-45 minutes for ages 12 and up. Imagine yourself as a giant monster crushing neighborhoods, shopping malls, factories, nuclear power plants, condos, banking firms, and finally the capitol building. Defeat your opponents in brutal combat or focus on destruction the choice is yours.

Kaiju is tight, fast paced, and a whole lot of fun. Check out what differentiates Kaiju from the rest of the pack:

  • First, it’s a card-based deckbuilding game with no shuffling.
  • Cards aren’t wasted. You can take tokens for leftover cards.
  • Players may attack and cause each other damage.
  • Taking damage thins your deck.
  • As you heal you choose what to put back in your deck.
  • Buying the most expensive cards isn’t the only strategy.

The game has room for plenty of expansion. There are a whole lot of buildings out there. There are also character cards in development, as well as a solo variant utilizing a Kaiju Defense Force, which includes tank like walkers, and an airplane with drills on it’s wings.

The last Kaiju standing wins. If you can’t knock out all your opponents, the Kaiju who’s caused the most destruction takes the cake. Welcome to a brave, new world. A world where giant monsters roam the earth. But hey, at least the games are good.

The Video

 

The Rules Document

Finally, here is the link to the rules document in my dropbox.

I’d like to thank everyone who’s visited. I hope Kaiju makes the finals so I can dress up all in black wearing a navy peacoat and blackout sun glasses calling myself Billy Boardgame as I speak in 3rd person.

It’s been a long time since I did the Stroll.

ledzeppelin

Let me get back
Let me get back
Ooh, Baby…

Oh! Hello, I didn’t see you standing in my living room. Perhaps my first question should be, what are you doing standing in my living room?” Oh, I see. Well just because the door was open. What? There was a sign. Well, maybe it was meant for someone else… It was a neon sign, hanging 20 meters in the sky?

It must be a sign, I suppose.

Well, anyways, I’m glad you’re here.

Legends-of-the-Fall-brad-pitt-21854491-852-480I want you back. I’m sorry I’ve been away. I’ve been, finding myself. You know, exploring the world of game design? Right, baby?

No!!! Of course I didn’t have an affair with Richard Garfield…

No Uwe Rosenberg, no Trzewiczek.
No Knizia, no Bauza, I say no to the set.
No Feld, nor Brand, and this I demand!
Okay, maybe once with Vlaada Chvátil,
I was on the bottle but it didn’t mean anything,
It just happened. Things happen, if you know what I mean
And there they all were in our love covered sheets,
All the game designers I’ve met in my dreams…
I’m going to stop singing now.

I guess when we met, I was in a really low place and this blog helped me through it. It helped me keep myself focused on something when everything else was so very out of focus. I emerged with design ideas and a cool project I can’t talk about.

So, much like the man whose loving wife has paid his way through college, you were left in the dust.

Well, here I am today to talk about the next game design that completely failed. Only, I’m not sure where we left off and I’m too apathetic to look. So we’ll talk about Parkinson’s a little bit and how that’s effected my life most recently.

2000px-handicapped_accessible_sign-svgIt turns out that according to the US government I’m disabled. That’s a relief, because I thought it was just me. Everyone told me to anticipate waiting years for approval. I was approved very quickly. So, I don’t know if I just did some things that other didn’t or if I am just that disabled. I have a feeling it’s the latter. I also have a feeling that I’ve got a couple of serious medical treatments coming up this year.

My first visit now will be to the BMV for front row passes and then to the internet to buy this:

 

The first is shock treatment. Oh, sure, they call it something fancy, like ECT and tell you there’ll be cake. But it’s the same thing they were doing 50 years ago and the Cake is lie. Sending lightning bolts through your brain. My psychiatrist and my Neurologist both say they’ve had very good results with it on Parkinson’s patients.

JohnnyPluggedInSome slight… or major memory loss may occur. Want to remember getting married? Nope… sorry sir that door is closed for now. How about the births of your children? Alas, we must keep it from you until you brain finds a way to hotwire itself back together.

The second is DBS, another innocuous name. It is a surgery where the top of your skull is removed while you’re awake and the doctors place electrodes on your brain to determine where exactly they must be placed to help with your symptoms. What could possibly go wrong here?

Needless to say, neither of these sound very appealing to me.

I’m scared. Like, I’m really scared. I’m disabled in my thirties and I don’t think it’s possible I’ll ever go back to normal. There are all these new normals I can picture:

Here’s our first wedding anniversary, and I can’t make the travel arrangements to the special night away we had planned because there’s no way I can sit in the car for 8 hours in a day.

Here’s me bugging everyone and their brother for a ride into town because I’m not able to drive and I need to get out of the house for a little bit and socialize so I don’t become a complete recluse.

Here’s me at age 45 sitting in a wheel chair with drool running down the side of my chin, both hands racing to clatter against my thighs. My legs racing for the ground but all they hit are these metal feet that I’m supposed to keep my feet in.

Here’s me dead at 50.

Quite a few dark thoughts today. I guess I never know what’s coming up. But now I have some new normals for us to think about:

Here’s me with no job related stress, doing what I want with my life, designing games.

Here’s me spending time with our children every day after school.

Here’s me overcoming my symptoms to continue leading a life. Not a “normal” life perhaps, but a life just the same.

This is a transitional period for me. I’ve been in a cocoon and I’m beginning to come out into the world again, maybe. Maybe, I’ll get snatched up by something that eats young butterflies or things in cocoons. Maybe that Hamster mistakes me for a burrito and the video gets 10 million views.

Parkinson’s Sucks… That’s all I have left on the subject. I’ll recommence writing posts that actually pertain to my road of game design as soon as possible. I’ll try to keep the grousing to a minimum.

Billy Board Game is dead… Long live Billy Board Game

As a post script, if anyone else would like to help out with Parkinson’s research. You can give to the Michael J. Fox Foundation here. It’s the best of the lot of non-profits (at least in the US).

Look It’s a Freaking Stonemaier Double Feature Day, Okay!

I’m a member of the 1 Player Guild, partly because I’m quite often a solo gamer, and partly because I really like their slogan: Together We Game Alone. For people who’ve not been able to crack the very hard nut that is BGG, it’s important to find people with common interests. One way of doing that is through individual game forums, another (and I think better) way is to find a Guild that interests you and become part of that smaller community.

In the 1 Player Guild there is a Geeklist where people keep track of what they are playing that month. The powers that be collect and use this data in often nefarious ways.

I posted that I was playtesting Scythe. It was actually through the 1 Player Guild that I met Morten and David who are designing the AI for Single Player variant. There was a bit of discussion on my geek list entry and one person asked if I might do a session report and another person thought it would be nice. So I decided, yeah okay.

What follows is a 1200 word geeked out Scythe session report in character. So if you’re not in it for the long haul… I understand and I’ll see you next time.

The Fall of the Great Northen Buffalo

I played as Anna & Wojtek and the Republic of Polania against Bjorn and Max of the Nordic Kingdom. The difficulty of the single player Automa was set to difficult or Automaszyna.

I am Anna and this is my bear companion Wojtek. It’s okay, he doesn’t bite unless I ask him to.

I’m here to retell the story of our battle with Bjorn and his great Northern Buffalo. We are from the Republic of Polania and our opponent Bjorn was from the Nordic Kingdoms. I say was because he is dead now. I left him unburied outside of the Factory Gates. He may still be there for all I know.

I have a way with people. Sometimes may be difficult to see in battle, but I knew if I could meet the people I would be able to win them over and turn the tides of this desperate struggle we’ve been locked into. I was given a small force and set off on an expeditionary mission with a few tasks that the Republic would like kept secret for the time being.

We had to be mobile rather quickly. Unfortunately, Polania does not have access to the metals needed in order to deploy our mechs, so I would initially have to trade for the resources to make our mechs operational.

We were able to deploy our first Mech in turn three which unlocked the Polanian ability to travel across lakes and from lake to lake. This ability would be key to capitalizing on our other abilities. After turn 3 I floundered for a couple of rounds. Our ability to produce goods was minimal. I knew victory would have to be found elsewhere. Still I would need to produce some goods. We grew crops and found new workers in the village.

My first encounter came on turn 5. I was able to share some good news from home with some traveler’s and eat a nice steak dinner. This lead to a rise in popularity and, along with the food, would help me Enlist some recruits.

I made a rousing speech in Turn 6 after bolstering the troops. This further increased my popularity. I hoped this early investment in becoming popular with the people would pay off in the long run.

After that I began the slow march towards the Factory as the people of Polania worked tirelessly to get another one of our mechs deployed. Again we had to trade for the metal but by turn 9 we had reached the Factory.

We had made it there before those dogs from the north had a chance to rob us of the greatest knowledge. Inside the Factory walls we gained insight into: how to make our actions more efficient and how to improve upon our technology.

The pressures of our mission were getting to me and even Wojtek seemed anxious. I am ashamed to admit that in a moment of great fear I drove a family from their home to construct a  mill in it’s place. I paid them what I could, took what I needed and put them to work in the mill that had replaced their home.

By turn 11 we had deployed our 2nd mech and the knowledge we gained in doing so led us to move even more efficiently. But the enemy was rapidly approaching. It seemed as if they had us hemmed in. I was keen to avoid direct conflict at this point since I knew the dogs had the upper hand.

As we traveled across the country side we came across a small farm, much like the one we had destroyed. In the hope making some small reparations we fixed a fence for the farmer and were rewarded with enough bacon to get us through a harsh winter. Out back of the farm we found an old ruined mech and paid the farmer for what we could salvage.

One night out of nowhere the enemy came rushing into a Polanian village, recently annexed, and attempted to send our villagers packing, but our fierce mech warriors would have none of it and they sent the Nordic mech away thoroughly rebuffed.

Then it was our turn to go on the offensive. While we were out meeting with the people, the enemy from the North had captured the Factory and I was told Bjorn sat astride his fierce Northern Buffalo and bellowed that Polanians were cowardly cubs. He said that winter was coming and it would be best if we went back to our caves to hibernate.

We were soon able to deploy another Mech but now we were forced to choose between recruiting more people to the cause or trying to gather resources and find time to deploy our final mech to the battlefield. I enlisted many new recruits and our detachment was given further funding for being so successful.
But still Bjorn bellowed. And now I could see in my soldiers eyes what they were thinking: perhaps we should go home. The hours was grim. Our people had fought hard but would the Nordic Kingdom had great strength.

It was in the 19th turn after doing my best to rouse the troops that we struck. First we rested control of a couple of regions that were friendly to our cause and we sent the sympathizers back to the Nordic King to tell him that the rightful owners of this land were here to claim it. We wouldn’t attack in the dark of night like cowards, we would fight honorably and with everything we had.

I wanted very much to be the one to put a bullet between the eyes of the Nordic and use his Buffalo to feed our troops but I was waylaid by one final encounter. A discovery that led us to realize the highest heights of power and brought us to the edge of victory. The Nords had taken a great deal of land, rightfully ours. We were stretched thin. Our people were weary.

One final assault could decide our fate and I knew it was our only hope. Our Mechs made a clear path to the Factory doors and I took it.

It was Bjorn who first saw me. He fired a shot from his seat on the great northern buffalo. I cried out for Wojtek to charge and grasped the scruff of his neck as he began lumbering towards them. Bjorn held his rifle bayonet as a lance as did I. Time moved slowly, I saw the Mechs in distance and marveled at how they dwarfed everything around them, and not merely physically.

Then with a rush Wojtek leapt forward as I bounded away and brought my rifle up to aim. In an instant it was done. I can’t recall hearing the shot, but there was a bullet through the Buffalo’s head so I know I’d aimed true. I looked over to see Bjorn being torn apart by Wojtek. It wasn’t exactly as I’d pictured it but it was good.

Still Bjorn and I didn’t decide this conflict. It was the people who decided it.

And now coming out of story mode. In Scythe, there are three tiers of scoring and they are based on your popularity. I was at the very top of the 2nd tier but I just couldn’t get to the top tier. The last card for the Automa (the AI for the single player game) came up and the very last thing that happened before the Automa triggered the game was for me to advance my popularity. My early investment in the popularity track had paid off at the last possible moment and I won the game 63 to 61.

That about wraps it up. That’s my most recent experience with Scythe. Hope to see you next time.

A Few Words About Family Before I Get Hitched

My partner and I have been together for 5 years. This marriage is little more than a legal confirmation of what we’ve already promised each other. That’s not to say that this won’t be a very special day, but we have been a family for awhile now. Together we have 3 wonderful children and we are raising them as gamers.

Thinking about this led me back to one of my reader’s blogs, Training a Gamer, in which he talks about his experiences playing games with his daughter. Reading it reminded me how much our family has bonded around the table.

Screen Shot 2016-02-25 at 7.49.35 PMThere are a lot of geek parenting resources out there in the wilds of the Internet and I think it’s fantastic that gaming has become so much more socially acceptable. I hope for a time where you will see at least half a dozen good board games in the closet of every family.

Gathering around the table makes us a community and much more. So our family will continue to do so, hopefully for years to come.

Here’s to hoping your family can do the same.

Parky Interlude 002

Hello Everybody,

It’s a Sunday evening; the kids are all home; and everyone is watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Watching television is a campfire experience for us, not something we do frequently. We generally watch as a family. Instead, tonight I’m going to share something with you late Sunday readers (both of you).

I’ve thought a lot about whether to post video of myself when my medication has worn off. It’s ugly; I don’t like watching it. The video shows my Parkinson’s.

People with Parkinson’s get very good at hiding things. We hide our disease. We hide our symptoms. We hide away from the world. Sometimes you just get tired of hiding. So I’m not going to hide this. I’m going to show it to you because it sucks.

Parkinson’s is a disease clouded in mystery. It’s an old people disease. It’s like dementia and Alzheimer’s, and Lou Gehrig’s. It’s something you get from boxing or huffing paint or that girl down the street your mom warned you about. No one’s really quite sure what Parkinson’s is or what it does. I have it and I’m still not sure.

Parkinson’s informs every aspect of my life, but I’m not my Parkinson’s. I’m mother loving Billy Board Game with a gosh darn Dream.

So here is my Parkinson’s. Your mileage may vary.

If you know someone who has Parkinson’s please consider donating.

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