Machine of Death—Kickstarter Weekly

28 02 2013

52529401f6037bebd4868af5a457e719_largeWe’ve got another Kickstarter Weekly campaign for you this week. An interesting twist on a novel by the same name Machine of Death is itself a twist on all of those social media apps that purport to tell you how you will die.

The Machine of Death tells players “how” they will die, but not when. Players then take on the roles of assassins, and since there is only one way to kill off the other players, they will play cards to try and find the most creative way to bring about the death given by the machine.

From the official campaign

So if you can know, cryptically but with 100% accuracy, how a given person will one day die…

And you’re an assassin, and you want to make that day today

Then you have a puzzle to solve. Given a person who is slated to die by BANANA PEEL, but is currently in (let’s say) a space station…how do you make it happen?

Oh, and I forgot: all you have at your disposal is a tool, a liquid, and a piece of furniture. GO!”

7f60bb4463b7cb00c8e9562d59779eaa_largeThis campaign is going like gangbusters, and has blown past multiple stretch goals. You can get in on the action fairly inexpensively and get yourself a PDF print and play version, or for $25 you can get an actual copy of the game.

You can check out the campaign right here.

Away from the Game Table…

28 02 2013

Indiana_with_Torch_Star_Logo.svgThis week both Firestone and I (Jeremiah) will once again be spending time in the same state. The lucky state that gets to contain the awesomeness of both of us this time is Indiana. We’re heading to the Simply Youth Ministry Conference to join 3,000+ people who have given at least some portion of their lives over to working with, ministering to, and doing life together with the generations to come. Scott happens to be a part of the Group/Simply Youth Ministry Team, the folks responsible for this event. He and I both have answered the call in our lives to come along side the next generation and speak truth and love into their lives.

While at the conference we certainly hope to get some gaming in with other gamer/youth-worker types who are out there; the conference is all about relationships, learning, and resting. The life of a youth worker is a toilsome and exhausting one, and the Simply Youth Ministry Conference (SYMC) is a great resource of not only training and equipping, but of healing and recharging.

Scott and I have both packed several of our favorite games in hopes of finding some gaming time; if you’re headed to the conference and want to hang out around a game table, be sure to connect with us via Twitter.

Awesome Level 9000! An interview with Smash Up Designer Paul Peterson

27 02 2013

SU2-Box (1)We here at TOG have certainly been anticipating the first expansion of Smash Up! (one of our top 10 games of 2012). And to say we’re more than a little excited about today’s interview would be completely accurate. Today we’re chatting with Paul Peterson, designer of Smash Up! and its first expansion Awesome Level 9000—and much, much more.

Paul, we’re so glad you’ve given us some time in your busy schedule. Thanks for chatting with us today!

First, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’ve been a professional game designer for almost 20 years (and an amateur before that.)  I started out at Wizards of the Coast working on Magic: the Gathering, Pokemon, and pretty much every other CCG the company put out while I was there.

Since then I’ve worked on a truly staggering variety of game types from MMOs to games for girls to games for mobile devices to social games.

No matter what area I’m working in, though, my heart always goes back to board games.  I couldn’t be happier about the success that Smash Up is having.

Let’s go back to last year and the release of Smash Up. How did Smash Up come to be? And how did you land on the shuffle-building concept?

One of my favorite things about CCGs is building your deck from all of the cards available, but that can be a daunting task.  So I started thinking about ways to capture that same feeling of customizing your deck without getting overwhelmed.  Shuffle-building was what I came up with.  The theme of different factions working together was a natural fit, although the game itself was much different when I initially started designing it.

It was originally much closer to my CCG roots in games like Magic: the Gathering, and players putting minions in front of them and attacking each other.  The hook was that you could play one of your minions on top of another one to make a combo minion that was both a Ninja and a Robot, for example.  But it really wasn’t coming together very well so I kept changing it.

The game went through a couple of other incarnations, but it wasn’t until I decided to make the game revolve around fighting for control of bases that things really fell into place, and Smash Up as it is today took shape.  

Can you tell us the story of getting the game to market and your experience working with AEG?

Once I had the basic game done, I polished and playtested it a lot. I eventually had a version that I thought really showed the potential of the game, I decided to take it to the GAMA Trade Show and show it around to the all the game manufacturers.  The show takes place around March and that is when they are usually starting to think about what games they want to make in the next year, so there are a lot of meetings between the companies and designers with games to show.

I met with several companies there and showed them Smash Up (although at the time it was named “Pirate, Ninja, Zombie, Robot.”)  Everyone liked the idea of building decks by shuffling them together, but my meeting with AEG was different.  John Zinser instantly liked the game.  It seemed to strike a chord with him.  After the demo he wanted to play again immediately, and after that game he got very excited and started talking about all the things we could do with the game.  He started contacting his staff and setting up meetings with me to show them the game as well.  It was very gratifying to see .  I knew instantly that this was the company that I wanted to make this game and luckily it all came together.

AEG has been amazing to work with through the entire process.  They have a tremendous amount of respect for the designers they work with, and want us as involved as we’re willing to be.  I’ve had a lot of control over the vision of the game and input into areas that I might not have gotten with other companies.

So, as the release of Awesome Level 9000 (which is probably my favorite expansion name ever) draws near, we’ve seen LOTS of search terms in our metrics regarding “When is the Smash Up expansion release date?” So can you tell us and the world: What is the Smash Up expansion release date?

It is printed and on its way. You should see it on store shelves at the end of March or early April at the latest.  I can’t wait!

MechanicWe know the expansion will feature 4 new factions and some new bases; does it add any other rules, or changes to the game itself?

Each of the four new factions adds new mechanics and strategies to the game, but they all do so within the same rule set as the base game. We wanted to expand the universe a bit before we started changing all of the rules on the players. The second expansion, though…

What is your favorite faction in the Smash Up world?

That’s a tough one.  I am very partial to the Plants in the expansion, but overall I think the Zombies are my favorite.  They have so many interesting cards like Tenacious Z and Mall Crawl.

Here’s a suggestion for a future faction: Bloggers!—the pen is mightier than the sword! (That’s a freebie…)
Anyway…your design credits include games such as Guillotine, The Harry Potter CCG, and others; are there any games you’ve designed in the past that you would love to reboot or do a new edition of?

That is a great question because James Ernest and I just did exactly that for Unexploded Cow.  We originally designed the game in 2001 for his company, Cheapass Games.  When he decided to relaunch Cheapass Games this year he choose Unexploded Cow to be the flagship game for the company, so we pulled the game out and took a hard look at it.  We’ve both gained a lot of experience in the last 12 years and we found some areas of the game that we thought could use a little “sprucing up.” So we tweaked a bunch of the cards and changed the way the city deck worked and I think the game plays much better now, even though I loved the way it played back in 2001.

As for my other games, there is one small change I’d LOVE to make to Guillotine.  There is a card in the game called Callous Guards.  Currently it lasts until the person who played it wants it to end.  This was a huge mistake.  If I could go back, I’d make it last one turn.  I urge everyone to take my advice and play it as such.

HighGroundLooking at the inside tray of the core set of Smash Up, it’s apparent that the game was designed to be expanded. How soon can players expect yet another expansion?

Well, we aren’t ready to announce a title or anything, but I can say that we are planning on having another expansion out for Gen Con this year.  We are just wrapping up the play testing on it and players are in for a few surprises.

What are you top 5 games, and what do you love about those games?

At the moment my favorite games are:

Lords of Waterdeep – I’ve been a big fan of worker placement games since the first time I played Agricola, and I think that this is the best of them.  It plays fast, but the mechanics are elegant and all work very well together.

Magic: the Gathering – I don’t really have the time to keep up with the current deck technology in the ever changing world of professional play (which was a big inspiration for making Smash Up,) but I’m always willing to break out some preconstructed decks or do a draft or even a league.

Dominon – There have been many deckbuilding games that have added to the genre since Dominion came out, but this is still the best overall.  Some of the expansions are hit or miss, but overall the game still shines and continues to innovate.

Robo-Rally – Brain bending, robot destroying, factory racing fun.  Plus people do little dances in their seats to try to figure out what the program they are making will do.

Cosmic Encounter – I am talking here about the original version of the game.  The last several editions are just fine, but it’s the original version of the game that really taught me about how crazy a game can be and still be fun.

Are there any other non-Smash Up games on the horizon you can tell us about?

Well, a lot of my design efforts have been spent on Smash Up and Awesome Level 9000.  I have managed to squeeze in a few other projects:

As mentioned above, James Ernest and I reworked Unexploded Cow which should be available right about the time that your readers see this.

My friend Mike Selinker designed the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game for Paizo, and asked me to come do some design and development on it.  It is a huge project and we just finished the playtesting for that.  It should be out later this year.

I do have a couple of games in the works at a few companies, but they are all in early stages and won’t be announced or on shelves any time soon.

And, of course, I’ll be at the GAMA Trade Show this year with a couple of new board game designs that I’m pretty excited about. I hope you like rolling dice…

Now it’s time for our 1-Word Answers section! (Short phrases are also allowed.)

Favorite burger topping?


Favorite Hitchcock movie?


Favorite board game designer who’s not you…?

A tie between James Ernest and Richard Garfield.

Favorite ship in the Star Wars universe?

Slave 1

Favorite Doctor? (And I don’t mean your urologist…)

Tom Baker

Thanks so much for taking some time to chat with us! We are looking forward to Awesome Level 9000 and more!

You can follow Paul on Twitter right here! And you can follow us on Twitter right here! And like us on FaceBook over here! And you can find out more about Awesome Level 9000 on the AEG website right here!

As always thanks for reading!

Dungeon Roll—Kickstarter Weekly

26 02 2013

dungeonrollTasty Minstrel Games launched a new Kickstarter project this morning, and they’re already 1/3 of the way to their goal.


According to the game’s description, “Dungeon Roll is a light and quick press-your-luck dice game with many important and interesting decisions.

In Dungeon Roll, you will:

  • Be a Hero with special and unique abilities.
  • Roll your party made of clerics, fighters, mages, thieves, champions, and scrolls.
  • Destroy the monsters, drink potions, collect treasures, and slay dragons found in the dungeon.”

The game comes with:

  • 7 Dungeon Dice – Custom Molded Dice
  • 7 Party Dice – Custom Molded Dice
  • 4 Hero Characters – Commander, Paladin, Battlemage, and Necromancer
  • 30 Treasure Tokens
  • Experience Tokens
  • 1 Rulebook
  • 1 Book of Heroes

And the best part is that all of this is only $15—shipped! That’s a great deal, and a price-point that I’m willing to take a chance with… Head on over to Kickstarter for yourself, and check out the project. The stretch goals include more Heroes, so let’s blow past the goal!

Thanks for reading!

A-Wing Sneak Peek from Fantasy Flight!

25 02 2013


Fantasy Flight has announced that the second wave of starships for X-Wing are hitting retailers on Feb. 28.

They also gave a sneak preview of the A-Wing, with a look at the two new pilot cards and the maneuver dial—this is by far the fastest and most maneuverable rebel ship yet!

This second wave of single-ship expansions will also feature such iconic ships as the Millennium Falcon, the Slave I, and the TIE Interceptor. So players’ fleets will be bolstered considerably with this new round of ships!

Keep checking back here at TOG to find out all the latest and greatest news from around the gaming world! Thanks for reading!

What You Missed…

22 02 2013

ArcticAnother Friday and another week over here at Theology Of Games. Here’s what you may have missed this week…

We started off the week with a bonus Kickstarter Weekly—the reprint of the great 2-player race game Odin’s Ravens.

Then we had one of our Double-Take Reviews, for the fun family game Cheeky Monkey.

Then we had some news about:

And finally, our regular Kickstarter Weekly was The Card Game of OZ.

Thanks for reading, and we’ll see you next week!

The Card Game of OZ—Kickstarter Weekly

21 02 2013

Scarecrow220The folks at Game Salute/Springboard have made their way to Kickstarter again, with The Card Game of Oz. The game looks gorgeous, with a full complement of wonderfully illustrated cards, and some cool-looking story dice.

The game uses a new “Storyline” engine, which, according to the campaign, works something like this: “A storyline is laid out before you. It is your job, as Author of your own Oz story, to populate it with characters. Each character’s vitality is worth so many points to the story. At the end of the game, the Author whose characters have the greatest total vitality wins the game.”

004NewPrintLike most Kickstarter campaigns, you can get in for as little as a dollar, and at the $40 level you get a copy of the game (shipping included). Game Salute and Springboard have a long history of bringing great games to market and this one appears to be no exception to that rule!

You can check out the Kickstarter page right here!

Thanks for reading and as always we appreciate you liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, and subscribing to the blog over on the right!

The Lord of the Rings Dice-Building Game—Order NOW!

20 02 2013


If there’s one thing that continues to baffle myself (Jeremiah) and probably Firestone too, it’s that most game companies don’t publicize street dates/release dates for their titles.

For instance, this last December we were expecting the Star Wars card game from Fantasy Flight to hit stores in January. Turns out it was on shelves in December, with little fanfare from Fantasy Flight themselves. Anyway…I say all of that to say this.

Over on Amazon they’re taking orders for Wizkids’ latest dice-building title: The Lord of the Rings Dice Building Game. According to Amazon they will be shipping the game on February 28, which means there’s a good chance it could hit shelves the same day—if not sooner. We’re both big fans of Quarriors, and the dice-building mechanic; add to that the spiffy Tolkien theme and we’re pretty much in hog heaven!

You can order the game on Amazon Right HERE!

Thanks again for reading, and we certainly appreciate you liking us on FaceBook, following us on Twitter, and retweeting, sharing, and commenting whenever and wherever you can!

Celebrate Festival Season, With Dungeon Lords

20 02 2013

480490_423655801042294_1543751912_nZ-Man games announced this morning via their FaceBook page that the Festival Season expansion for Dungeon Lords will be hitting retailer shelves by the end of the week.

The expansion is said to be BIG, and adds another season to the game: Winter, Spring, Summer, Autumn…and now Festival. As well as other components, such as new monsters, rooms, and traps. Fans of the base game should have plenty to dig into with this one!

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more gaming news at TOG!

Arctic Scavengers is Almost Here…

19 02 2013

ArcticWay back in 2009 I (Firestone) played an indie-published game called Arctic Scavengers. As far as I know, it was the very first post-Dominion deck-building game. But most people never got a chance to play it, because it was a small print run from a small publisher. Enter Rio Grande Games, who agreed to publish the game to a wider audience.

Well, THREE YEARS LATER, it’s finally happening. Rio Grande announced on their Facebook page that copies of the game should be on their way to distributors in the next couple of weeks. I love Rio Grande Games, but this is one of the worst board game delays I’ve ever seen. The game is pretty fun—and the theme is 1,000,000 times better than Dominion. But instead of striking while the iron was hot (3 years ago), now Arctic Scavengers will seem like “just another Dominion clone” even though…well…it was the original “Dominion clone.”

Okay, it’s not exactly like Dominion. You’re a tribe, trying to survive against the other tribes (players) in a cold, post-apocalyptic world where you’re scavenging for weapons and supplies and medicine. It was a little rough around the edges, but I liked it—and it was more interactive than Dominion. I have no idea what is different with the new edition, but if you like deck-building games, you should definitely check out Arctic Scavengers.

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