Race For the Galaxy: Alien Artifacts Delayed. Again. (Plus a Bonus Rant!)

29 07 2013

AlienBy Firestone

I’m starting to think we’re going to discover actual alien artifacts before the new Race For the Galaxy expansion is released…

Read the rest of this entry »

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An Interview With Kyle Gabhart, Designer of Arctic Scavengers!

1 05 2013

ArcticToday’s interview is with Robert K. Gabhart (but he goes by Kyle), designer of Arctic Scavengers—the very first deck-building game to come out after that…other…mildly popular one. We’re super excited he agreed to answer some questions from us. And awaaaaay we go!

Tell us a little about yourself.

Well, I’m a Pisces; I enjoy candlelight dinners, and long walks on the beach.

 You’re from Texas. My (Firestone) wife is, too. Why are you people so stinking obnoxious about being Texans?

Never ask a man if he’s from Texas, because if he is, then he’ll come right out and tell you.  And if he’s not…well, why embarrass him?

The truth is that Texans are a proud bunch because we have just a little bit more awesome inside of us than anyone else seems to have. We have our own electric grid, we are the only state that gets to fly our flag at the same height as the US flag, and we only remain in the union out of pity for the rest of you.

So, Arctic Scavengers: Were you working on a deck-building game before Dominion came out? Or was it designed after you played Dominion? Tell us the design story of Arctic Scavengers.

So Dominion was only the 5th designer board game that was even introduced to me.  A buddy introduced me to the hobby in November of 2008.  My initial games included: San Juan, Ra, Pandemic, Manila, and Dominion.  Dominion particularly piqued my interest.

The truth is that the winter of 2008 / 2009 was a very difficult one for me.  For years I struggled with chronic, severe back pain and then in December of 2009 I was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS, a rare form of arthritis that is similar to Rheumatoid Arthritis). That led to a bit of depression and an intense need to pour myself into something.  So I poured myself into creating a euro-ish game set in Feudal Japan.  That was in January 2009.  Then in February, after several games of back-to-back Dominion, it dawned on me that Dominion could really benefit from a more tightly woven theme and more direct player interaction.  Starting at 11:00pm one night, I proceeded to work on the core mechanics and structure of Arctic Scavengers (AS) in a marathon design session consisting of pencil and note cards.  By 7:00am the next morning I had the bulk of what became the base game.  Roughly 70% of what went into the base AS game was designed during that initial night of crazed inspiration.

What made you decide to self-publish the 1st edition?

I wanted to see the game come to light sooner rather than later and I didn’t have any existing connections in the industry.  I looked around at a few publishers and no one really seemed very eager to accept design submissions, so I figured I would just go ahead and do it myself.

ArcticCardsWe noticed that the Rio Grande Games version includes the HQ expansion. What does that add to the game?

The HQ expansion really opens up the play possibilities.  There are Tribal Leaders, which grant unique player powers (The Cannibal eats tribe members for food, The Mentor can use a Refugee to modify any action, and The Organizer has a special draw action), Buildings (Bunker, Hydroponic Garden, Armory, and Pharmacy) that the Engineer mercenary can construct back at your base to enable hand management, A Medic mercenary that enables you to acquire medicine through hunting and serves as a counter to Sniper Team attacks, and there are gangs that bestow end-game points based upon accumulating certain resources.

How has your faith affected your journey as a game designer?

Interesting question. Game design is a creative activity driven by passion, and it borders on being a spiritual experience for me. I have been blessed with an immense passion for games and with a spark of creativity and wonder. As for the game design journey itself, my faith has helped me to not sweat the small stuff and leave the process of how and when things unfold in the far more capable hands of my Lord and savior. His timing is perfect and his perspective is far broader and more informed than my own. Things will happen when they need to happen, and in a way that is far more awesome than they would if it were all up to me. This awareness frees me from a lot of the stress and anxiety that could potentially exist as a game designer and publisher.

Do you have a game group you play with regularly? (Besides your wife and 6(!) kids, of course.) Which recent game has come out of left field and surprised you with how good it is?

I try to get over to the Dallas Games Marathon as often as I can.  Usually that is once every couple of months.  I also have a couple of guys that I collaborate with on game designs. Finally, my wife and I host a game night at our house several times a year. So I wouldn’t say that I have a regular group, but I do find lots of opportunities to play games. That having been said, it is true that I have probably logged more games of Zombie Dice, Martian Dice, San Juan, and Pandemic than most of the designers of those games. These are favorites of my family and so we play them an inordinate amount of time.

What are your five favorite games—and what do you love about them?

The Resistance – Bluffing, acting, and shifting alliances

Galaxy Trucker – Controlled chaos

Agricola – Farming and making babies

Tichu – Wishes, Dragons, and Bombs

Arctic Scavengers – They put my name on the box!!!

So do you have any upcoming designs you can share with us?

I have a game that I designed a month BEFORE Arctic Scavengers that is just waiting to see the light of day.  It has a euro-style economic engine and victory point system with an American-style combat system. It’s set in Feudal Japan and manages to fit into the 60-90 minute window.  It’s called Kingdoms of Rice, has absolutely STUNNING artwork, and will be Kickstarted (Lord willing) this summer.

One-Word Answer Questions! (Short phrases are allowed if necessary)

Favorite Pixar movie? KnickKnack

Favorite Dr. Who episode? When?

Favorite comedian? Louis CK

If you were one of the Three Amigos, which one would you be? Martin

Favorite Proverb? Proverbs 27:14

Thanks so much, Kyle! Go check out his game—it’s a solid addition to the deck-building genre! Thanks for reading! And make sure you check us out on Twitter, Facebook, and now Instagram!





Tzolk’in is Gett’in an Expans’ion!

22 04 2013
Obviously a prototype...

Obviously a prototype…

My (Firestone) favorite game of last year was Tzolk’in—a fascinating worker-placement game with a cool set of gears in the middle of the board. You can read my review right here.

Well, a report out of The Gathering of Friends—an exclusive, invitation-only week of boardgaming in New York—has revealed that there’s an expansion in the works. I can’t wait!!

 
Get your copy of Tzolk’in on Amazon here.





Grail Games!

15 04 2013

BlackRoseI have a list of a few “grail games”—games I really want get, but that are hard-to-find or out-of-print. One of the games on that list is Mississippi Queen: The Black Rose. It’s an expansion for Mississippi Queen—itself a hard-to-find game—which is about racing paddle-boats down the legendary river. I’ve had the base game for years, but I often heard that it was MUCH better with the REALLY hard-to-find expansion. So I never ended up playing it. Well, a few weeks ago I was able to trade for the base game and the expansion. I can’t wait to try it out with the family.

Now I’m off in search of the next game on my list: The Magic Labyrinth…

What are some of your grail games?





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.





Coloretto—A Classic Review

19 03 2013

ColorettoCoverBy Firestone

I love a good filler. Having a great, short, interesting game to fill the constant gaps is worth its weight in gold. Coloretto is a terrific filler.

Components

  • 63 color cards—nine copies of seven colors
  • 10 “+2” Cards
  • 1 “Last Round” Card
  • 3 Jokers
  • 5 Row Cards
  • 5 Summary Cards
  • 1 Rule Booklet

This is all housed in a small card box, which can be had for a very reasonable $10.

Setup

Place one of the Row Cards on the table for each player in the game. Each player takes one card of one color and places it in front of him or her. Shuffle the rest of the cards into a pile, deal 15 cards off the top of the pile, place the Last Round card on top of these 15, and then place the rest of the pile on top of this stack of 16 cards.

Gameplay

This is very simple: You either draw a card and add it to a row, or take a row and add the cards to your collection. If you choose to draw a card, you place it in one of the rows. A row can have at most 3 cards in it. If all rows have 3 cards in them, you must choose to take one of the rows. If you choose to take a row, you gather the cards and sort them by color and type. ( You can only take a row if it has at least 1 card in it…) Once you’ve taken a row, you’re done for that round; once everyone has taken a row, the round is over. You place the Row Cards out again, and start a new round. Once the Last Round card is drawn, you finish the round and the game is over.

cards

Image by BGG user jody

Scoring

Now you assign the jokers to one of the colors, and count up the colors.

1 card = 1 point

2 cards = 3 points

3 cards = 6 points

4 cards = 10 points

5 cards = 15 points

6 or more cards = 21 points

Here’s where it gets interesting. You only get to pick 3 colors that will score you positive points, according to the numbers above. Any sets in any colors beyond those 3 will score you negative points. So you’re trying to collect 3 colors, and no more, if possible. This, of course, makes where people place the drawn cards ripe with mean possibilities.

Now you simply add up the positive points, subtract the negative ones, and add 2 points for each of the “+2” cards you’ve managed to snag.

The person with the most points wins.

Recommendations

Youth Group Game? Yes! It’s light and easy. The only negative for this is that it only plays 5; also, there’s no theme to speak of, so it could be seen as “boring.”

Family Game? Definitely! It’s a game my oldest can easily grasp, and I suspect the youngest isn’t far behind. And its length makes it something my wife enjoys playing, too.

Gamer’s Game? Absolutely! This is an excellent filler, with interesting choices.

This game is fun, fast, cheap, portable, and worthy to be in any game collection.

Thanks for reading! Let us know what some of your favorite fillers are!





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!








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