Amazon Lightening Deals – Smash Up! – Rise of Augustus!

12 12 2013

As an act of public service we’re giving you a quick update!

Today at 3:00 PM EST Amazon is running a lightning deal for two popular board games!

smashcoverFirst is Smash Up! The shuffle-building game that started it all! On Amazon the price is only $22.99, but when the clock strikes three, Amazon will knock off even more from the MSRP. So clickety-click RIGHT HERE!
To see what you can save!

Read the rest of this entry »


A Double Take Interview with Paul Peterson and Todd Rowland

27 06 2013

cthuluGame designer extraordinaire Paul Peterson is at it again with yet another expansion for the smash title Smash Up! Paul, being the friend of the blog he is, agreed to once again have a cyber chat with us about Smash Up, and he brought along Todd Rowland, Director of Marketing and Senior Brand Manager for Alderac Entertainment Group.

Read the rest of this entry »

A Look into the Future—An Interview with Jason Tagmire

9 04 2013

Today we sit down once again with Jason Tagmire, designer of the much-anticipated Pixel Lincoln deckbuilding game. Last time we caught up with Jason was on election day last year, and since then he’s been very busy with all sorts of new projects.

Jason, thanks so much for taking time out of what seems to be a VERY full schedule to chat about all of the big things you’ve been up to!

First of all, can you give us a quick update on the Pixel Lincoln Deckbuilding game? How soon can we expect to see that hit the shelves?

After a loooooong winter, the deckbuilding game is hitting the final stages of production. I should have the final game in my hands for approval within the next few days, and once approved they’ll proceed to assembly. This is extremely exciting and I’m happy to say that our backers have been so unbelievably supportive throughout this process.

Game Salute estimated early June and it seems like we’re still on track for that date. I would love to see a big Origins launch since I’ll be there this year.

We hear the pixelated President is going to show up in other games besides Pixel Lincoln… What’s up with that?

You know how rappers all appear on each others songs? That’s how PL rolls.

We’ve had a few opportunities to pop up in friends’ games and have friends pop up in ours. It’s really cool to mix universes. We’ve had Sentinels of the Multiverse in our game, and Pixel Lincoln will be a Boss Monster adventurer, a gold-mining Lost Dutchman and an alternate Emperor in the mysterious Emperor’s New Clothes. All of these are very inspiring projects and I’m honored to have the opportunity to explore those worlds via Pixel Lincoln.

PL-Bicycle1And finally, he’s showing up in a deck of Bicycle playing cards. This is similar to the deckbuilding game since it uses the same art, but it’s a very different type of project. It’s a standard playing card deck. The kind you can play Go Fish with your grandma. Except you might play Go Laser Shark instead.

The idea of challenging would-be game designers to develop a game around a deck of cards is great; how is that going? Are you getting TONS of submissions?

We’ve gotten a handful of submissions, plus a bunch of people who said they are interested. There is still some time left, so I assume we’ll see some toward the end. If anyone works like I do, they’ll be coming in right before the deadline.

Can you tell us about the craziest submission you’ve received (no names, please)?

We haven’t officially received it as a submission yet, but I know someone was talking about making a dexterity game. I cannot wait to see it. I also saw a photo of someone playtesting theirs on a train. We’re still taking submissions until 4/15, so there’s plenty of room for more crazy!

Speaking of submissions and game design, word on the street is that you’ve put a little something together that doesn’t have anything to do with former presidents or food-based weaponry. Fill us in on this!


MAXIMUM THROWDOWN! Yes! It’s a card-throwing battle game coming from AEG and featuring some of the awesome characters from other AEG games (Smash Up, Nightfall, Thunderstone, etc). Players will throw cards to enable abilities and then try to cover up opponents cards to disable their abilities. My wife nicknamed it AEG Smash Bros., which was a massive compliment and realization. Being thrown into those universes has been super exciting and I can’t wait for everyone to get a chance to play.

“Throwdown” reminds me: Do you think WWE Wrestling is legit? Or is it an oily, be-singleted soap opera?

It’s totally a big oily soap opera, but isn’t that what makes it so desirable? While I’ve seen some hilarious clips online, I haven’t seriously watched wrestling in decades. My era is a little less oily, but way more gimmicky. Brutus the Barber Beefcake, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, and Jake The Snake. If the wrestler had a prop, I was sold.

Anyway, is Maximum Throwdown (and yourself for that matter) going to make it to the conventions this summer?

I will be at Origins, Gen Con, WBC and a few others. The Maximum Throwdown prototype will be on hand, as always. As for the complete game, it will be available to purchase at Gen Con. Hope to see you there!

Can you tell us anything about the game you’re developing for the Button Shy brand? It seems storytelling is making a bigger mark in the gaming industry these days.

BS-StorytellerCards-BoxCoverI’m developing a deck of cards called Storyteller Cards. It’s made up of 54 cards with an illustration that features a Character, an Item, an Action and a Location (illustrated by the amazing Campbell Whyte – see 8-Bit Dreams if you want to immediately fall in love with his art). Instead of a game, it’s more of a toolkit for gamers, or writers, designers, artists, kids, etc. The cards are meant to inspire creativity. If you are writing a story and need a location, just flip a card and you’ve got one. And along with the illustrations there are icons (Rank/Suit, Letters, Colors, Moods, Seasons) that will provide additional inspiration.

BS-StorytellerCards-Layouts-1So it’s not actually a game, but there are games that can be played with it. I’m including rules for my game Director’s Cut that’s played using 8 cards from the deck and your imagination. I’m also gathering a whole bunch of creators to make games, activities, and examples of uses for the cards. It’s a big undertaking and an ambitious first project for the Button Shy brand, but I have a lot of good friends in the industry who are willing to lend a hand and their experience in helping me kick this off.

So that’s it then? Anything else going on?

There are two other things on the horizon.

First, I’ve been itching to start my podcast Designing Out Loud. It’s a interview/game show style show where myself and Alex Strang put game designers through challenges forcing them to design on the spot. Unfortunately Alex has been hospitalized since the start of this year, so it’s on the backburner. Hoping the best for him and looking forward to this and other projects we have planned.

PigPenCoverFullAnd second, I’ve been developing games with Island Officials as part of their tabletop division. One of the first is Pigpen by Kevin Kulp. It’s a family style pig-penning / pen-destroying game. The art is wonderful and the game has been in the pipeline for a few years now. Kevin’s a good friend and it’s been great to work with him, as well as on the other side of things.

Ok, so when do you sleep?

I’ve learned that it’s not the amount of sleep that matters, as much as the quality of your sleep. When I sleep, I sleep like a loud, snoring rock. I’ll get in good few hours and then I wake up around 5AM and get right to work. I’d rather work than sleep any day.

You know the drill: 5 questions answered with 5 words (or Phrases). And GO!

Nazgul or Deatheaters?


Psyduck or Slow-Bro?

Haha, this is so hard but I love good old Psyduck.

Favorite guilty pleasure movie?

The Warriors

G.I. Joe or Transformers?

G.I. Joe all the way.

Super Mario or Legend of Zelda?

Super Mario (World to be precise)

We’d like to thank Jason Tagmire again for taking the time to share the latest in his world with us and our readers. You can find the Pixel Lincoln playing card Kickstarter here.

You can also keep up with Jason on Twitter, and find out more about Jason’s latest work on

Don’t forget to like, share, and tweet out your favorite posts here at TOG, and we’d love it if you liked and followed us too!

Thanks for reading!

2013 Origins Awards Nominations Announced!

4 04 2013

The Nominees for the 39th Annual Origins awards have been announced via the GAMA Web site.

Making a HUGE showing in the list of nominees is Wizkids Games, with 5 titles up for an award! Not bad for a company who just several years ago had shut down operations. Wizards of the Coast, also with 5 nominations, continues to make an impact on the gaming industry. While Catan moguls Mayfair Games make a showing with Catan Junior and Clash of Wills. And we can’t forget AEG bringing 3 nominees to the table this year including Love Letter and the much beloved Smash Up!

Here are some quick highlights of the games nominated:


 Best Board Game –

Hot Rod Creeps – Cryptozoic
Kingdom Builder – Queen Games (Read our Review)
Lords of Waterdeep – Wizards of the Coast
Mage Knight – WizKids (Read our Review)
Mage Wars – Arcane Wonder


The nominees for Best Traditional Card Game are –

Doctor Who the Card Game – Cubicle 7 Entertainment/Treefrog Games
Legendary – Upper Deck
Locke & Key – Cryptozoic
Penny Arcade: Rumble in R’lyeh – Cryptozoic
Smash Up – AEG (Read our review)

catanjrBest Family, Party or Children’s Game –

Catan Junior – Mayfair Games (Read our Review)
Escape: The Curse of the Temple – Queen Games
Love Letter – AEG
Once Upon A Time 3rd Edition – Atlas Games
Quarriors! Dice Building Game – WizKids Games (Read our review)

For the complete list of categories and nominees you can visit the GAMA website by clicking right here.

Feel like a game got slighted? Are you pulling for a favorite to win? Let us know! Sound off here in the comments, or shout out on Facebook and 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!

%d bloggers like this: