Today we’re going to be talking about Lanterns. How they go, where they go, and what you can expect see when they get to where they’re going. Most of these things are true, some a bit of a stretch maybe, but true nonetheless. We’re going to talk about one of my favorite games of recent years, Lanterns: The Harvest Festival. Continue reading “Anytime at All ̶ 3. Lanterns”
Hello, I’m Billy Board Game and I’m a solo gamer.
It 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”
Our 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”
Oh this? It’s my after dinner Cognac. The brand is quite interesting. The barrels are floated down the river Charente to a small port on the Atlantic where they are loaded by hand into a small sea going vessel sailed by immigrant sailors from the Ivory Coast.
Every year for the season, they brave the North Atlantic squalls and icebergs to allow this Cognac to touch my lips. On board, they entertain themselves by having bear fisted battles, sometimes even with weapons or robotic appendages. The twist? The must do so without leaving a 4 ft line made along the deck.
Oh, that? That’s my bathrobe. Well of course I have clothes on underneath, I’m wearing shorts and a sleeveless T-shirt. I’m not a pervert.
I understand that today is your 18th birthday. Is that correct? Well, have I got a game for you. Dragon Punch designed by Koen Hendrix and published in the US by Level 99 Games is a 2 player game which captures the essence of a 2-player fighting games all in 18 cards. Continue reading “I Saw Her Standing There – 2. Dragon Punch”
This is going to be an ongoing series where I discuss my favorite mechanisms and the scoring mechanisms who love them. All credit goes to Jamey Stegmaier of Stonemaier Games, except my writing which is 100% mine and copyrighted. So, get your filthy hands off. He has an awesome YouTube channel where he just smiles a lot and discusses his favorite mechanisms. There is an amazing amount of content on that channel and an amazing amount of charm in that smile. In honor of that contribution to this blog, I’m going to start out with one of Jamey’s games, Euphoria: Build a Better Dystopia. Continue reading “Please Please Me – 1. Euphoria”
I’m sure many people despise the word, variant. It seeps through their pores and floats into their mouths where it ends up causing a great deal of stomach discomfort. I am not one of those people. If you are, this post probably isn’t for you. Unless… you like solo gaming. Continue reading “Lonely Variants Club”
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
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 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.
This week we have a ménage à trois of games for you. It’s a really exciting and really polyamorous article. So let’s get down with the get down.
The first of these lovely ladies is the rather dully named Import/Export. She has my heart for being the first, and lowest scoring, entry of mine in the BGDF Game Design Showdown.
Next we have Architetro, which is by far the shortest member of the household but makes up for it in spunk. Smash together tetrominoes and architecture on a timeline. What’s not to love?
Finally, in the lovely night gown with the horses and cows captioned above them—I’m a little unstable in the mornings and I’m not in the mood—is the game from the Design Showdowns that meant the most to me personally. It left A Lasting Mark.
Wait. Where do I fit in all this hot polyamorous love action? Girls? Oh, I see… Look, if it’s the video cam… Not that? I can put the latex suit back in the car… But… Okay, that’s fine. No, that’s just fine. I didn’t want anything to do with your sick, twisted, freewheeling lifestyle anyways. And that, boys and girls is why Ronald Reagan created AIDs. 2 years in office and… BAM! And that is how free love died. He still couldn’t erase black people and homosexuuuuaalls.
But I digress. The Game Design Showdown is a bit of a misnomer. This is something that I realized after A Lasting Mark. You’re not really designing a game at all. What you’re doing is delivering a pitch for a game idea. This is a great thing to be able to do. It’s an absolute necessity as a game designer and well worth some practice. But as I found myself “designing” these games I realized that nothing I was doing in the design was anything more than any Jane or Joe on the street does. I was just thinking about something.
Game designers like to refer to this as thought experiment. While this can be useful in the very early process of the design, you haven’t really designed anything yet.
First, I think it’s important to understand what the process of design is in it’s simplest form, because one of the things that people find difficult lies in the fact that there are two different but easily confused definitions of design. First we have the proper definition within the context of an architect, or a fashion designer, even a game designer:
1. to create, fashion, execute, or construct according to plan.
Then we have the definition which is confusing everyone:
2. to conceive and plan out in the mind.
Does everyone see what’s going on here? Because I didn’t.
Yes, a game designer often conceives and/or plans in their mind, but that’s not game design. Game design is putting those plans on the table and seeing how they work in the really real world. It’s assembling the parts and testing them until they are refined.
If all you have are some mechanics, a theme, and a dream, you aren’t designing a game yet. You have just performed a thought experiment. Once you have built and tested the design you have begun the process of game design.
So were any of my lovely lasses up there actual designs? As a matter of fact, yes. Every single one of them. They’re all unfinished designs, granted, but there has existed physical copies of these games. Import/Export was a Sheriff of Nottingham style game using a standard deck of cards and some envelopes. I played with my family and they really enjoyed the dynamics. It got shelved for things I was more interested in at the time.
Architetro never made it to the Game Design Showdown but was conceived and documented there. It’s a game about frantically building something using tetrominoes. The fun factor was meant to be high. It’s something I would definitely like to continue work on in the future. She’s a keeper.
As far as A Lasting Mark, I hope this game stands someday as my magnum opus, even if I’m a total failure as a game designer and it is only a 6.9 on BGG. At least, I can say, “It was the best game I ever made.” I’ve built prototypes, but I know nothing that I’ve created so far has done what I want the game to do. It’s a Eurogame where players play entire Chiefdoms trying to survive, prosper, and stave off colonialism as they are forced further and further away from their homelands. In other words, it’s the opposite of pretty much every Euro game ever (hyperbole).
We’re going to try something a little different and I hope at least one of you decides to take me up on this.
This is your very first homework assignment. It isn’t mandatory and won’t be graded. I want everyone who reads this who has any interest in designing something, to take your thought experiment to the scary part, the hard part, the part which requires blood, sweat, and years. Move forward to the design.
You’re one of us now.
Let me get back
Let me get back
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.
I 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.
It 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.
Some 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).
I look bashful right now. It’s the type of look that one would get if one were to be suddenly kissed one’s forehead by a charming and lovely young woman named Snow White and one’s name was Bashful. Someone just congratulated me on a contest win. But this isn’t the first time. My first time? Well… it was special.
My first was a small completely unexpected win. It wasn’t the grand prize; I didn’t receive a ribbon or money (That’s not entirely true, I received some Geek Gold (or GG to the uninitiated) which has an exchange rate of something like 30:1 with the US Dollar). And I’m pretty sure I donated more GG to the contest than I got back in prize money.
I tied for 1st place in the Best Abstract Game of the 2015 2-Player Print and Play Game Contest. Now, you might understand while I’m a tad awkward talking about it. It’s like being the flautist tied for 1st place in the best classical duet category of a high school talent show.
That’s not to take away from the contest. The contest is great, but there were only 10 entries in the category I won. I tied for first.
The game in question is called Sixteen Stone. It’s played on a small grid. It combines the pushing mechanism of Abalone with a tweak on the capturing mechanism of Go. That description is a lot to ask of 16 stones and a 5×5 grid but it delivers fairly well. It’s got a User Rating of 9 on BGG. Granted it has only 1 rating, but it wasn’t me.
How can you obtain this wonderful abstract game? The print and play files for Sixteen Stone right here at no cost to you. Note that the components aren’t really necessary. Grab 8 of something in one color and 8 of something in another color, draw a 5×5 grid on a piece of paper and you have a copy of Sixteen Stone. Congratulations!
The rulebook, which you will probably need to download, is some of my best graphic design work in a manual. I didn’t end up winning anything for that. Partially because Todd Sanders’ graphic design work is always amazing and mine will nearly always look amateurish in comparison. But also because the graphic design on the game board and the stone tokens isn’t great.
This post isn’t about you screwing up? What the hell! Why did I even come here. This was supposed to make me feel good about myself because of how utterly incompetent you are.
Sorry folks, not today. Come back another time or read the archives. I’m sure I’ll you’ll discover another story of misery and woe. But I’ve been designing incessantly. I eat, breathe, and sleep game design. I design while on the toilet… And now, I’ve gone several steps past the chalk line of decency. So, we’ll just step back over here and start the next paragraph, shall we?
What I did and what I set out to do: I designed a quick playing abstract game over a period of 3-4 weeks using minimal components; I created an abstract game that is an interesting puzzle; I playtested and iterated like a mad man; By jove, I finished it.
That’s pretty good for an amateur. So, yes I’m bashful, but inside there’s a tiny white man attempting to do the whip and nay nay as shown to him by his middle school children.
Sixteen Stone will be released into the public domain soon. I think it is the type of game that should be freely available. I will also be creating a Tabletopia module for the game and maybe even a Vassal module if I’m feeling frisky
The now is kind of scary and a little bit difficult. Maybe we can have that discussion next week over a nice cup of tea. You look travel-worn. Why don’t you have a good lie down somewhere.