Train of Thought Experiment on Twitter

Jay and I still love Train of Thought after all these years and we’ve been using Twitter a lot lately, so it just seemed like a natural fit!  We’re going to do a little experiment and try to run a Train of Thought game (kinda) on Twitter next Tuesday at 3:00 p.m. EST.  If things go well, we’ll make it “a thing”.

The goal will be slightly modified in that the Conductor (me for the first one), will be trying to get the team (all y’all out there in the Twitterverse) to get to 10 josh-train of thoughtDestinations in 10 minutes.  Can we do it?  YES WE CAN!

The Tweet format will be important for game flow:

<round number> <Guess> <hashtag>

e.g. 1 starfish #ToT

Got it?  Good!

Now review the rules, follow me on Twitter @SenFoongLim and hop on board this crazy train!

ALL ABOARD!

~Sen-Foong

Tom Vasel from Dice Tower reviews Tortuga!

Tortuga-BoxWhile we already got a Dice Tower review from Ryan Metzler about Tortuga, we now have Tom Vasel weighing in as well!

Here are a few things that Tom liked about Tortuga:

“The game has a lot of interaction”

“The game has a really cool look to it.”

“It’s very easy to teach and fun for families to play.”

“I liked it!”

“A fine game and I think a lot of people will like it.”

Thanks Tom for the review! Just so I’m not super biased I will point out that he didn’t like that there was some set collection with the treasures – that you got more points by collecting a set of red, blue, and yellow. He said it wasn’t very thematic – and I totally agree with him on that one.

That is definitely a gamey solution to a challenge we had as designers. The challenge was trying to motivate players to attack one player over another – but have that choice be interesting. When we tried it with either ‘all treasure worth the same’ or ‘different valued treasure’ –  it became a non-decision since you’d always go for the highest valued treasure. The way we have it now you have to think about what colour you need – and you can even push your luck by stealing a white treasure (as white can be any colour – but only if you can get it all the way to Tortuga)! So the game works better with the current rule – but yes, it is thematically a bit wonky!

He also points out the possibility of King Making on the final turn – which is half-true I think. The game allows players to collect face down treasure tokens and the other players never know if each one has 1,2 or 3 treasure on the other side. So this reduces the ability for a player to know who is going to win and therefore affect the outcome on the final turn. That said – if a player can choose player A or player B to attack on the final turn – it definitely will impact their ability to win…so I do see his point.

Regardless – he liked the game and recommends it to families!

-Jay

Meeple Syrup Show a Success!

MeepleSyrupLogoSquareThe Meeple Syup Show (which Jay and I co-host on regularly) has a brand spankin’ new logo, courtesy of Gavan Brown (he of Roxley Game Laboratory fame) and we’ve knocked out 2 shows with some very cool guests (like Scott Almes, Michael Eskue, Chris Handy, and Micah Fuller).

We’ve also got a new website just for the show complete with its own blog at http://www.meeplesyrupshow.com so stick that in your favourites and visit often.  That’s where the shows are archived so we’ll point back there every now and then, I’m thinking.

We love interacting with the audience, so send us your questions or let us know in advance if you can’t watch live.  We’ll get your questions for the guests specifically or about design in general.  You can do that on Twitter or on the YouTube channel.  Hopefully, y’all follow us @MeepleSyrup on Twitter, so you can get the link when the Google Hangout goes live.

Just as a sneak peek, here’s some of the luminaries we’ve got lined up for future shows…

Matt Leacock (Pandemic)Kevin Nunn (Sentinels: Tactics)
Gil Hova (Battle Merchants)
Eric Lang (X-Com)
Jermemiah Lee (Zombies in my Pocket)
Emmanuel Aquin (D-Day Dice)
Gavan Brown (Jab)
Jeph Stahl (1775)
Josh Cappel (Wasabi)
Yves Tourigny (Blueprints)
Kevin Wilson (Descent: Journeys in the Dark)

If you’re interested on being on the show, write us a note at info@meeplesyrupshow.com and we’ll serve you up a platter of piping hot pancakes, straight of the griddle!

And We’re Funded!

157 Backers and $5174 later, we successfully funded But Wait, There’s More!  We are forever grateful to those who pledged, those who shared our campaign with friends, those who tweeted about it, and those who playtested the game to make it what it is today.

We cannot *wait* until it hits game tables worldwide!

Thanks again, for all of your support!

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~Sen-Foong

The Meeple Syrup Show in 3D: Designers Discussing Design

When not designing or playtesting games, I like to talk about games with other game designers.  So I figured we should make a vidcast of what we do for fun anyway!  I gathered together the forces of good (i.e. the Game Artisans of Canada) and Daryl Andrews answered the call as the co-host while Dylan Kirk and Jay Cormier (of course) would rotate in and out as available for colour commentary.

We’re going to be doing this every Wednesday night from 11 p.m. EST for about an hour and a half, right after the Dallas Nerd Nighters show, in fact!  They’ve been great in helping us troubleshoot some technical stuff and have welcomed us on their shows many times.

So, stay tuned, if you’re into boardgame design, because we aim to bring you some of the best of the best when it comes to designers, live and direct!

Follow us on Twitter at @MeepleSyrup and like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MeepleSyrup.  You can e-mail us any questions you’d like to ask our guests (next week, we’ve got Michael Eskue and Scott Almes to discuss microgames) at MeepleSyrup@gmail.com

Thanks for watching!

~Sen-Foong Lim 

 

Fan Expo Toronto 2014

Wow, what a busy day that was!  I went to Fan Expo on the busiest day of the convention with Jessey Wright (who worked at the Flux Capacity booth) and our friend Vince Londini.  We drove up, parked the car and entered utter geek chaos!

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Once I made my way to the relative calm of Room 718 (the gaming area), I was greeted by many familiar faces and the rest of the Z-Man crew.  We promptly punched out 4 copies of Akrotiri and got to work teaching people how to play!  Here’s a picture of the punchboard and the nice thick coins.

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I think I taught about 12 people how to play, including my old friend Julian Sammy, while Daryl Andrews and Daniel Rocchi taught to even more people (including our good friend, Elly Boersema).  It was wonderful to see people play the game and to hear the overwhelmingly positive feedback.  Now that I’ve played it with people other than Jay, I can see the merit in the decision to pare it down from a 4-player to a 2-player game.  That won’t stop me from getting a second set of components and colouring them differently to make a 4-player homebrew for myself, though!

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All in all, I’m very pleased with the game overall.  Chris Quilliams did a great job on the artwork and the whole team at Z-man made sure that the rules are solid and the game plays really well.  It’s a deep and meaty 2-player game that we hope you will enjoy playing just as much as we enjoyed designing it!

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After that, we added to the chaos of the room by helping to judge a round of Pandemic Survival, which is a super cool way of making a good game even better!  Imagine 10-20 tables playing Pandemic in teams of 2…and everyone gets the same set of cards and deals with the same outbreaks in the same order.  The only thing that separates each time is what they decide to do with those cards and their actions.  It was pretty intense and down to the wire as several teams had 3 cures in the race for the 4th, but several were eliminated from play as outbreaks started to run rampant!  Oh yeah, and the prize?  The winning team gets to playoff against other winners for a chance to be airlifted to anywhere on the Pandemic map – you know, like…Montreal!

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The last thing we did was cap the night off (after eating at Burrito Boys) by playing one of Eric Lang’s prototypes that he co-designed with Antoine Bauza (he of 7 Wonders fame).  Needless to say, it was pretty good.  I’d tell you more, but you know the deal…I’d have to kill you.

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I’m looking forward to next year’s con but there’s many more between now and then!  For my next guest appearances, I’ll be at CastleCon in Pickering on October 18th and London’s own Forest City ComiCon on October 19th.  So if you’re local, come on out and play some games!

~Sen-Foong Lim

First video review of But Wait There’s More! from Undead Viking!

Check out this great review of our new party game, But Wait There’s More, by one of our favourite reviewers, Undead Viking! He highly recommended the game and if you’d like to pick up a copy you can effectively pre-order one by backing it on Kickstarter here!!

-Jay Cormier

What it’s Like to be on the Jury for the Spiel des Jahres

spiel-des-jahres-logoI had the pleasure of having dinner with Tom Felber tonight. Tom is on the jury for the Spiel des Jahres – the coveted, annual board game award from Germany – and he explained what it’s like to be a member of the jury – and it’s quite interesting! Sen got to meet him when he was in Toronto at Snakes and Lattes and Sen wrote a very interesting post on what it takes to win a Spiel des Jahres award. In this article I’m going to explain what it’s like to be on the jury for the Spiel des Jahres!

1. Criteria to join

First of all, to be on the jury you need to be a journalist who writes reviews professionally for board games. Writing for a blog or a podcast doesn’t count either. It has to be for an established publication. Tom writes reviews for the equivalent of the NY Times for Switzerland (he said it out loud, but not in English!). The reviewer has to be 100% independent from the board game industry. They can’t even have any family members that make money from board games in any way. Finally, you need to publish in the German language in order to on the jury! Makes sense since the award originated in Germany and the rest of the jury all speak German.

He mentioned that while some people drop out of being a member of the jury over time, they will accept new members onto the jury as long as they meet the criteria and are then voted in by the other jury members.

2. Play a lot of games

Over the course of the year, a jury member has to be aware of pretty much every game that is released in Germany. To win the award the game needs to be released in Germany and have a German rule book. Still, this is over 500 games every year that they have to be aware of – AND play! Tom attends conventions like Essen Spiel and Nuremberg – but for him they aren’t the fun-time extravaganza that us gamers would have. Instead he spend 30 minutes at each booth that has a new game and has the new games explained to him. He does this over and over – for 4 days! I didn’t know this – but apparently there is a secret room at Essen full of just the new games that are being released! This is only open to the press and it makes it a lot easier for them to see all the games!

Tom has a location that is just for game playing – and storage! He has open invites to the public to come to this location and play games. He has 25-30 of these game nights per month! Whaaa! That sounds like heaven to me! :-) 

3. Narrow it down

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Tom Felber (right) at Pizza Ludica – a board game restaurant in Vancouver!

The members of the jury all have access to a private forum where they chat with each other and recommend games they’ve played throughout the year. In May though, each member must create a list of their top 15 games that they like. Then all the members of the Jury get together for a 4-5 day conference. They will play these 50-60 games together and then figure out a way to reduce that to a list of the top 15 games. They vote for each game and if they get more Yes than No – then it’s in.

However – they are also keen to include a wide variety of games in their recommended list. So they always try to include a party game, a 2-player game, an abstract game, a cheap game, an expensive game etc… So if they get to their top 15 but realize that they don’t have a party game yet – then they go back through their games and find a party game to add – and one of the other games to remove. Lots of ‘arguments’ can occur at this conference as some believe strongly in some games, while others might feel the opposite! They keep going until 100% of all members agree on the final list. 

Then each member writes down their top 3 games for Spiel des Jahres and for Kennerspiel des Jahres (SdJ is the award for the best game and KSdJ is the award for the best, more advanced game!). Whichever games get the majority of votes will be the games that are nominated that year!

4. Play more games and the winner is chosen!

Now that the nominations have been announced, the jury members play only the nominated games for the next month and a half! Usually upwards of 50 times each! That’s insane! 

Then it’s time for the day of the award. A couple hours before the actual televised (in Germany) ceremony, the members of the Jury get together and they vote on which game will win. So up until an hour or so before the award is given out – no one literally knows who will win the award! Wow! 

5. Financing Spiel des Jahres

So looking over this again you can see that Tom and other jury members play over 500 games a year and spend almost every day of the year playing games (which sounds awesome, but remember how many bad games there are out there too that they have to play!). And they do all this …. for FREE! That’s right – they earn no money from Spiel des Jahres for this. They are complete volunteers and are involved because they believe in the purpose of the Spiel des Jahres award – to increase awareness and acceptability of board gaming everywhere! That completely floored me. 

But the Spiel des Jahres still has expenses – mostly in attending events and having some presence or awareness at events, or festivals. They get this by charging the publishers 2-3% of retail to place the Spiel des Jahres logo on their box. This is worth it for a publisher because a Spiel winner can expect a minimum of 200,000 sales in the first year after winning!

So there you have it – that’s what it’s like to be on the jury for the Spiel des Jahres. Very interesting stuff! Thanks Tom for the enlightening evening!

-Jay Cormier