Kickstarter Weekly—August 1, 2013

1 08 2013

Well it’s Thursday and you know what that means… It’s not yet Friday. But never fear because we’re here with another installment of Kickstarter Weekly, the place where we make our recommendations and let you know what’s a poppin’ over on Kickstarter. Let’s jump in, shall we?

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Mayday’s Crokinole Carrying Case—A Review

25 06 2013

By Firestone

Just a little room on the outside edge. But it's cushioned well.

Just a little room on the outside edge. But it’s cushioned well.

A while back we featured a Kickstarter Weekly from Mayday Games that included a crokinole board, a carrying case, and a clock you can affix to the front of a board if it’s hanging on the wall. Well I have a Hilinski Brothers board that I’m completely happy with, but I wondered if the Mayday case would fit my non-Mayday board. So I reached out to Mayday, and they graciously offered to send me a case so I could test and report on it.

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What You Missed…

12 04 2013

Smallworld2News! Reviews! Poohs! We had a cram-packed week here on the blog.

First we brought you news that Z-Man Games is reprinting an old Alan Moon trick-taking game: Black Spy. And Z-Man also revealed that the anticipated game Terra Mystica will come out May 1.

We had two interviews: first was Jason Tagmire of Pixel Lincoln fame, sharing about upcoming projects. And then we interviewed Shane Steely and Jared Tinney, designers of Walk The Plank.

We also discussed some of the odd choices of the Origins Awards. And Tom Vasel gave us some behind-the-scenes info on the nomination process (in the comments).

We had a Double-Take Review of I’m The Boss: The Card Game—and we had wildly different experiences with it.

THEN, we talked about the newly announced deluxe expansion for Star Wars The Card Game—with wookies!

And finally (whew!) we talked about a bunch of new Kickstarter projects—including the new Gryphon Game Francis Drake.

Thanks for reading! We’ll have more for you next week; have a great weekend!





An Interview With Walk The Plank Designers Shane Steely and Jared Tinney

10 04 2013

planklogoThis is a special interview for me (Firestone). Jared and Shane are the designers of the new game Walk The Plank, which you can find on Kickstarter here. But more than that, they’re members of my own game group, and friends. I’m thrilled they agreed to let us interview them.

So tell us a little about yourselves.

J—I spend a good chunk of my time playing games or studying and dissecting games to better understand their inner workings.  When I’m not playing or designing games, I find myself interested in other creative pursuits such as programming or cooking.

S—What would you like to know?  Born and raised Colorado native.  Spend most of my time working, sleeping, or gaming.  On occasion I’ll go outside, but the sun is not my friend.

How did you guys get started playing these type of games?

J—I’ve been a gamer all my life.  This was mostly limited to video games until a college buddy introduced me to the local boardgame store and I’ve been hooked ever since.  I still love digital games, but board games offer something different, and it’s awesome to have such a wide variety of games available to explore.

S—I started playing board games with my family when I was a little kid.  The usual classics, and as I got older I spent a lot of time by myself playing board games and video games.  When you switched schools every year as I did from 2nd through 6th grade, it’s hard to keep friends. So I really got into gaming and it just grew from there.

How did Walk The Plank come about?

S—I had a dream. It was about pirates all trying to shove each other off the plank. It seemed like it would be a cool game, so I came up with a quick, and pretty much all random, dice game. I showed it to Jared, and with his help it turned into a much better and way-more-fun design.

J—Shane came up with the core idea near Talk Like a Pirate Day 2007.  Shane’s initial game was mechanically weak, but I loved the concept.  So, drawing on our experience from other games, we worked together to find better mechanics to truly make the concept shine.

What was the process for getting it published?

S—To be honest, most of that was on Jared. He pushed for getting it published, and so I’ll let him tell the tale.

J—We’d had some prior interest from Indie Boards & Cards, but they decided to pass. We also got a narrow 2nd place in a design contest run by Rio Grande. It was clear people really liked the game from this interest and our playtests, but we didn’t have the time and resources to pursue it further.

I was fortunate enough to have a chance to go to Origins 2012—my first gaming convention.  Making sure not to squander this opportunity, I printed up several spec sheets for the game, planning on presenting the game to as many publishers as possible. I was nervous and not really sure where to start; I’d already been chatting with the people at the Mayday booth a bit, so I decided to start there.

I met Seth, the owner of Mayday Games, shortly thereafter and showed him Walk the Plank. He was interested right from the start; the game fit perfectly into Mayday’s product line, and he found the theme and mechanics a lot of fun. A little later I had a chance to play a full game with Seth and his son—and he loved it.  Two days later I had a contract in my inbox.

Are there any other games you guys are working on?

S—I haven’t worked on any others with Jared, but there are always game ideas in the works. None that have turned out to be worth showing off yet. The closest I got to one I thought was playable, but haven’t finished, was my attempt at a dice game. I didn’t look to see if anyone else has done it yet, but after talking with another guy from our group, Devin, we decided there needs to be an Oregon Trail Dice game. If anyone wants to give it a go, let me know.

J—As Shane said we aren’t currently working on anything else together, but I have a handful of designs in progress. Several have interesting mechanics or concepts, but I don’t currently have anything I’m happy enough with to start playtesting heavily. I’d like to have a 2nd finished design within the next 1-2 years, so we’ll see what comes to pass.

What are your five favorite games right now? And what do you like about them?

J—My all-time favorites would probably be Time’s Up, Crokinole, Mao, Galaxy Trucker, and Liar’s Dice. The 5 I’m currently most interested in would be Hanabi, Article 27, The Resistance, Time’s Up, and Tzolk’in. Hanabi is an amazing cooperative game of deduction with a lot of room for clever plays. Article 27 I’ve only had the chance to play once, but it’s such a pure and elegant negotiation game that I’m very enthusiastic about trying it more.

The Resistance continues to be a fantastic team game of deduction, though I wish it wasn’t so heavily biased in the spies’ favor. Time’s Up is always a blast and it’s just a great feeling to be in that zone where you and your teammate are in synch, nailing card after card. Tzolk’in deserves the hype and the gears aren’t just a gimmick—a fresh and interesting take on worker placement with a strong back-end to support it.

S—Favorite anything for me changes on a daily basis, but if I had to list them off the top of my head I’d do so in this order: Galaxy Trucker, Twilight Imperium 3rd Ed., Space Alert, Merchants & Marauders, and Ghost Stories.  I love games with theme. I don’t care how long it takes to play as long as I can immerse myself in the story.

winnie-the-pooh-angryJared, I know you’re a big Time’s Up! fan—having played many, many games with you. What’s your favorite Time’s Up memory?

So many to choose from! Probably the most recent great memory was the ferocious dinosaur-beast known as Winnie the Pooh… Other classics include the inability for anyone to remember Mr. E. Lee’s first name, Buzz Lightyear the Nazi, and of course Maya Angelou the fighter plane.

Shane, you’re a big Vlaada Chvatil fan. What is it you like about his games so much?

He is my favorite designer. Why? Theme and mechanics. I find most of his games just grab my imagination. And most of his designs are very different, so you can play several and know that each is its own game. I haven’t found one yet that I didn’t enjoy.

What upcoming games are you most looking forward to?

S—There’s a lot coming out lately that I want. I can’t wait for Zombicide Season 2, looking forward to trying Sails of Glory, and Star Trek: Attack Wing, to name a few.

J—I’m cautiously optimistic toward Bora Bora—I haven’t especially liked a lot of Feld’s recent games but I like what I’ve heard of the mechanics so far. Compounded looks interesting simply because I like alchemical themes. Beyond that, I’m sure there are plenty of other interesting titles coming out within the next year—I just don’t know about them yet!

5 Questions with 1-Word (or Phrase) Answers

Best thing about Babylon 5?

S—The Shadows.

J—The… space… pirates?

poopsmithWorst thing about Babylon 5?

S—G’Kar

J—It’s 110 hour-long episodes, so I probably won’t get around to actually watching it. Ed note: This explains your answer to Question #1…

Llamas? Yea or nay?

J—Llama School or bust!

S—Llama llama duck

The Cheat or the Poopsmith?

J—Does the Poopsmith perform lightswitch raves?  I didn’t think so.

S—Coach Z

What is “the” word?

S—Is this where I’m supposed to say bird?  I’ll play your game and say bird.

J—Hobo.

Thanks to Jared and Shane for answering our questions! And go check out the Kickstarter campaign! There’s less than a week to go; trust me: This is a really fun game.





What You Missed…

22 03 2013

planklogoA fun week here at TOG. Thanks for joining us; here’s what you might have missed.

AEG announced they’re bringing the surprise Essen hit Trains to the US.

We reviewed the classic card game filler Coloretto.

Then we had the opportunity to bother the gracious Eric Lang for another interview. Now with 100% more Monty Python!

And finally, we brought you Walk The Plank!, a new Kickstarter project from a couple of Firestone’s pals.

Next week, we’ll be reviewing The Great Heartland Hauling Co., and bringing you more news, reviews, interviews, and shampoos nevermind…we’re both bald. Thanks for reading!





Walk The Plank!—Kickstarter Weekly

21 03 2013

planklogoThis is a special Kickstarter project for me (Firestone). Jared Tinney and Shane Steely aren’t just the designers of Walk The Plank, they’re friends of mine. I’ve been gaming with them for at least 5 years, and I’ve played the prototype version of Walk The Plank! many times. It’s fun. Seriously…I’m not just saying that because I’m friends with the designers.

From the Kickstarter page:

“Walk The Plank! is all about trying to out-guess your fellow shipmates, with often disastrous results.  You plan three moves ahead but your crew is so incredibly stupid that if you plan to shove a pirate off the plank on your third move and all he sees are his own best mates, he will still shove away!  The bigger the action the worse the results will be for someone, very possibly YOU!  cards

Play order goes clockwise but turn order is COUNTER CLOCKWISE which really makes the mechanic hilarious for this game!

On your turn you will:

  • Choose 3 of your 10 action cards and place them face down in front of you (first action on top)
  • Resolve each action in turn by going around the table clockwise three times, adding/removing planks, pushing and shoving and just generally making a fool of yourself.
  • Laugh your head off as your men thrash about stupidly, bungling most of your good intentions
  • Retrieve most of your cards and begin again.  Some cards marked with a skull are too powerful to play in back to back rounds, leave those face up for one round before retrieving them.

At the end of a round check for the end of game condition, if there are only two (or fewer) pirates left or only pirates of one color left, the game is over.  There may be a shared victory (one of each of two players’ pirates left), a solo victory (only one player’s pirate(s) left), or NO VICTORY when every pirate has Walked The Plank!”

Check out the campaign; they’ve already reached their goal, and you can get the game for a mere $18 shipped. And we’ll be interviewing the guys soon! Thanks for reading, and show us some love on Facebook and Twitter.





Mayfair’s Catan Junior—A Double-Take Review

22 01 2013

catanjrWell it’s probably not a surprise to you that there were more than a few games found under the Christmas trees in our homes. We both ended up adding a copy of Mayfair’s Catan Junior to our growing collection of kids/family games, so we thought there’s no better time to post our thoughts in yet another Double-Take Review.

Let’s be honest: If you’re a gamer, you probably have friends who tell you how much they LOVE Settlers of Catan. Catan is to board gaming what Dark Side of the Moon is to Pink Floyd. Or Kleenex is to facial tissue. Or “Particle Man” is to They Might Be Giants. Or Coke is to Cola. Or, well…you get my point. Anyone who has had a close encounter with the geek level of gaming has played Settlers of Catan. It’s not a bad thing; Catan has probably done more for board gaming than any other title since (gah!) Monopoly. So we won’t go into much detail about the original version of the game; if you want to read about it, there are about seven million reviews, tutorials, and commentaries on the game scattered throughout the Internet.

Playing Catan Jr.Catan Junior isn’t just a simplifying of the already massive hit title. The rules are somewhat streamlined, for sure, but there is also a re-theming to the game. Instead of building settlements, cities and roads, players are now swashbuckling pirates, building pirate lairs (instead of settlements and cities), and pirate ships (instead of roads). The hexes are now represented by individual islands. You start with two lairs and one ship, and you can only build lairs next to ships, and ships next to lairs. The point of the game is to be the first to build seven lairs.

The trading has been changed to be a little more kid friendly. There is a marketplace on one end of the board, and one of each of the five resources (now Goats, Wood, Gold, Molasses, and Cutlasses) are placed at a booth in the marketplace. Players can trade 1:1 with those resources (only once per turn), or 2:1 for anything not in the marketplace—or for an advanced variant, you ditch the marketplace and trade with other players. And you can also purchase Coco Cards, which feature Coco the parrot on the back. These give you various free goods, or allow you a free move of the Ghost Pirate Captain (which we’ll explain in a second), and one that allows you to build a lair or a ship for free! In addition to the great stuff you get, having the most Coco cards will allow you to build a lair on Spooky Island (which is the Desert in this retheme), putting you one closer to the seven lairs you need.

The thief has been replaced by the Ghost Pirate Captain (who starts on Spooky Island), and rolling a 6 (in this game there’s a single d6) allows players to move the Ghost Captain to an island and take two resources of the type that matches the hex he was placed on. And like the thief he stops production from that hex until he’s moved again.

Your turn consists of:

  • Roll to produce goods on islands
  • Trade
  • Build

And that’s it. They move along quickly, so there’s little downtime.

Firestone—The components are great. The resources are big and chunky and perfect for my kids’ little hands to grab. The ships and lairs are small, but they do the job. It’s very colorful, and the pirate theme is a hit with kids.

Jeremiah—Yeah, I totally agree; we love the resource tokens (although my wife got a little flustered because the cutlasses were tough to stack), I suppose I would have preferred wooden ships and lairs—the plastic ones seem a little fragile to me. But I will say they have survived at least four plays thus far, so they are surprisingly durable. The retheme is great, although I’ve taken to calling the Ghost Pirate Caption the Dread Pirate Roberts, but we’ll just call that a house rule for now…

Firestone—I’ve played three games: a 2-player, a 3-player, and a 4-player, and it seems to scale well, though people were getting cut off right and left in our 4-player game. And by people, I mean me.

Jeremiah—I actually haven’t played a 2-player game yet, because every time we pull it out both of my boys jump at the chance to play it. So most of my plays have been 3-player, and once the boys talked mommy into playing, so we played 4-player. With 4 it does get a little crowded, but I agree: It’s a short game, and it’s actually about perfect in play time, so before it gets too cut-throat it’s over.

Firestone—One downside I’ve seen in my three games is that it seems practically impossible to come back once someone gets ahead of you. And if they’re building lairs that are cutting you off, it’s just that much harder to come back. But since it’s short, I can live with this one complaint about it. Oddly, in my house, my 8-year-old isn’t all that excited about playing this—he’ll play, but it’s not his first choice. I’m not sure if that’s because he’s used to playing “deeper” games with me and this one seems too simple, or what. I do know that my almost-5-year-old LOVES this one. He needs some help with decisions and strategies and the whys and wherefores, but he has a blast playing. He’s cuckoo for Coco.

Jeremiah—Both my 4- and 6-year-olds are all about this game. I do have to help the youngest one pretty often. The strategy to buy CoCo cards seems to be the choice of youngsters everywhere! They’ve figured out the value of getting a free lair on Spooky Island and have exploited it very well. In fact, both of my sons have figured this out, and it somehow works, because most of the time they pull out the win.

Firestone—This is a great, great family game. It’s ideal for introducing kids to Euros, and the process of creating engines where you get this, to turn into that, to get you VPs. And one of the best things is that you won’t feel as though you have to dumb down your play—the kids have just as much chance to win as you—but the game is still interesting for adults. Am I going to bring this to game night with the fellas? Of course not. But it’s a game for kids, and it’s very good at it.

Jeremiah—Yeah, we both pretty much agree on this one, the rules and theme are super accessible for kids. I will say that I “renamed” the Ghost Pirate Captain because my oldest son lately has been super tweaky about anything remotely scary. (Like when his younger brother impersonates zombie carrots… Yes, zombie carrots weird him out.) Spooky Island he’s okay with. But I felt like I needed to hold back on the ost-ghay irate-pay. The game is close enough to the original that it also holds my interest and isn’t total kids-game fodder. And as I said, it’s short enough to hold the attention of my 4-year old!

Firestone Final Rating—As a game for adults, it’s maybe a 6 or 7—it’s fine, but I don’t much like that it uses dice to control resources…so if people don’t roll your number, yer outta luck. BUT, as a kids game I give it a 10. It’s the perfect game to introduce kids to Euro-game concepts.

Jeremiah Final Rating—Completely agree, I’d say a solid 7 for adults playing with kids, the board is laid out well enough that you shouldn’t get hosed for resources even though you’re relying on the dice. And yeah score it a 10 for kids: awesome gateway into euro style games, great theme, perfect rules scaling of a classic game, and solid re-playability.

Get Catan: Junior on Amazon here!

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