My Adventures in Essen!

My second time to Essen and I had a blast! It was just lucky happenstance that I was even able to go this year (my second time ever to Essen). My wife and I are having twins and we decided to have ourselves a little baby-moon. My wife chose Belgium, which didn’t excite me too much, but when I asked when she wanted to go and she said early October…well then, I think I’m interested now! 

Thursday night we met up with Andreas from Zoch, his wife, Gil Hova, and Al Leduc for dinner! Nice to catch up with them since Andreas missed the Gathering this year.


Friday was my first day there and it was very casual and relaxed. It was the first time my wife had ever been to a game convention as she’s not much of a gamer.


I got to show her the giant Junk Art display which was so impressive. I can honestly say that I think that no other game had as much floor space dedicated to it than Junk Art. They had 8 giant versions of the game being demoed and it was super busy all day long!


Next up we visited Horrible Games because a former student of mine, Frederico was working there. Apparently he actually changed his life after attending my class on board game design (which is part of the video game design program at the Vancouver Film School). He decided that he liked board games too much and he’d rather find a job in that industry…and he did! So proud of him! And happy that I influenced someone in that way.


We also got to see D&D: Rock Paper Wizard from Wizkids! It was the first time I saw the box and it’s a beauty! I buckled and had to buy one. They were down to 40 units from the 120 that they brought. I also found out that the game should hit stores in December instead of January like the original press release said. Zev also said that there were other publishers interested in translating it into other languages for other countries….sweet!

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The rest of the day was spent leisurely walking around, and introducing my wife to a few publishers that I know. We ended the day with me being interviewed by CBC radio for a future podcast.


Saturday  my wife hung out with a friend who was also in town and they went shopping while I went back to the Messe! I demoed Rock Paper Wizard for an hour and then bumped into Scott from Renegade Games who confirmed our game, Pig Goes Moo should be coming out in the third quarter of next year. He also confirmed that he played SimpliCITY and said he liked the gameplay but would want a better thematic hook if he were to pick it up. We’ve got some ideas.


Like many publishers, HUCH! and Friends had small meeting rooms behind their booth. Secret doors!!

Next I was off to HUCH! and Friends for my first pitch of the day. I first confirmed that Aladdin was indeed happening and everything is on track there. She also indicated that they’re closer to making our game, Herdables happen as well! They’ve been trying to figure out the right material for the tokens and they think they’ve figured it out. I then was able to pitch her the new and improved Law of the Jungle, which she had seen twice before in other iterations. We played a full game of it and she agreed that it was the best version of the game so far. She was interested in taking it with her but I had some other publishers to pitch it to first.

When that was done I met up with my friend and co-designer on a couple of games, Shad Miller! He took the train in from Switzerland just so we could hang out for the day! We started walking around and I saw the Matagot booth and I said I’d like to see if I could find Stefan Brunelle who works there. As I started to look for him, he found me! He was sitting right there and asked us to join him at the table. I introduced him to Shad and he introduced us to Mathieu. Stefan asked if we had anything to pitch because Mathieu was the main guy to pitch to at Matagot. Well, how lucky is that?

So we got out Skirmishes and played a full game with Mathieu and another person who was brought over to help translate since my French isn’t that good and his English isn’t great either! The demo was amazing with Mathieu edging out a victory! He had some feedback about a possible positive feedback loop but overall he really liked it and wanted to take it back with him! Huzzah! We had enough time for me to pitch Law of the Jungle as well and while we didn’t have time to play a full game, he liked what he saw and wanted to take a look at that game too! Sweet! Again we had to take the games with us to pitch to others but we told him that we could come back later and drop it off.

Up next was a pitch session with Mayday Games. We showed them Skirmishes and Law of the Jungle and they too liked both of them! They said we could simply email the the PnP files since they could easily print a copy for themselves. Wow – five for five!

After that Shad and I just walked all over and met all sorts of publishers and designers. Shad said it was like being on a reality TV show! It seemed like 10 minutes wouldn’t go by without us bumping into someone I knew! The owner of Horrible Games wanted to meet me because he really loved Rock Paper Wizard and he invited me to pitch him games in the future! Nice!

At the end of the day we decided to leave both games with Matagot since Mayday will print their own and I can mail a copy of Law of the Jungle to HUCH! 

That night we all went out for dinner and then Sunday we left. It was a bit of a whirlwind experience and I loved every moment of it! 

-Jay Cormier

Miniature Market says “There’s something for everyone” with Junk Art

junk-art-photo-4A new review popped up online today about our new game, Junk Art. Grace from Miniature Market gave her thoughts and here are a few quotes that stood out to me:

This is a visual and tactile experience that few games provide you with.

The amount of variety is spectacular

Whether you prefer speed, skill, or just general silliness, there is something for everyone in Junk Art.

Moreover, the game isn’t a thoughtless dexterity activity. There are plenty of opportunities to play strategically, either by choosing the order you play cards, how you set up your opponents, or even choosing to knock off a particularly annoying piece just to stop it ruining your future placements.

I was shocked when my friend said he played for five hours straight; then, we did the same the following night.

Thanks so much for your lovely thoughts Grace!!

-Jay Cormier

First review of Godfather: A New Don!


Alright people – the first review is in for our new game, Godfather: A New Don…and it’s a great one! Travis Williams from Tech Raptor gives a very concise rundown of the rules and then offered up his opinion. Here are some of my favourite quotes:

The Godfather: A New Don is a great gateway game, but it’s also a great hobby board game.

The Godfather: A New Don also succeeds in keeping players engaged, even during other players’ turns.

It plays quickly, can be taught in about 5 minutes, and provides a surprisingly high amount of player interaction and player choice considering the low component count and simple, straightforward rules.

If you like high levels of player interaction, and even remotely like the theme, you’ll almost certainly enjoy this game.

Fantastic! Thanks for the wonderful review Travis! Read the entire review here.

-Jay Cormier

Organizing Your Game Design Space

One aspect of game design that doesn’t get talked about a lot is organization. It’s possible that this has heightened importance since I live in a space-starved home in Vancouver, but I think all designers need to have a certain amount of organization. When you first start out making games, you purchase (or find!) the components you need for that game. But as you start to accumulate bits and pieces, you quickly realize that you need some sort of place to keep your components.

Often designers start out by using tool boxes or craft storage boxes as they both have many compartments to help you keep your differently shaped pieces separate. This makes it quite a bit easier when you need specific pieces – you can just go to that compartment and get what you need. These boxes also have another benefit – portability. If you find that you’re often going to other places to design games, then portability is going to be important to you. I only design at my home, and I’ve found that since we’re designing more and more games, my need to keep my components accessible has increased. So let’s take a look at the various ways I keep my stuff in order!

We’ll start with card sleeves. This is probable the most used component in all of game design for me. Often after a playtest that didn’t work, we have to totally change an entire card set – and instead of de-sleeving and re-sleeving, I have found that I have just made a new deck with new sleeves. This means that I get a pile-up of old prototypes that no longer work but are still consuming my sleeves. So every once in awhile I spend an hour or so de-sleeving all my old prototypes.


Here are all the garbage old prototype cards that no longer need sleeves! You can see our prototype of Akrotiri and Orphan Black in here!

So then where do I put the sleeves? Well, I use a regular cardboard card organizer that one would use for Magic cards. I sort everything by colour which makes it easy to get what I want. One thing I do wish – I wish I only ever bought one brand of card sleeves. You can see that in some colours that there are many different groups. That’s because even though they’re all BLACK – they’re all a different BLACK! So I couldn’t use them in the same deck.


Next up is all my bits! I’m pretty lucky because I found this amazing piece of furniture at a store that was closing down. It’s looks beautiful and it’s amazingly functional for my needs.


Each drawer holds some amazing goodies for a game designer. Let’s take a look at each row of drawers.


The top left drawer is for coloured wooden discs and coloured wooden cubes. My supply of wooden cubes is ridiculously low. I’ll have to go get some more! They are very useful when you need to make your own dice for a prototype!


The top right drawer is for bags (like dice or chit bags) and trays.


The next row I have a small drawer just for sand timers and then a large but thin drawer for dice!


The next row I have an empty drawer on the left due to my clean-out yesterday (so I’ve put what I always use as money in games…actual money!). The middle drawer is all my sharpies and other markers. The right drawer is all my cutting and glueing supplies.


The left drawer is all plastic pieces like pawns, standees, gems and other plastic doodads. The middle drawer is wood! Large coloured wooden cubes, small cubes, square wooden tokens, circle wooden tokens. And the right drawer is colour sorted wooden bits. In here there are 6 separate containers – one for each colour – full of similarly shaped wooden bits that I got from Fantasy Flight. Then I stuffed a bag of wooden cubes in there as well.


Cubes! Probably my second most used prototyping tool I use – coloured plastic cubes. I find it imperative that these cubes be sorted based on colour. It makes prototyping so much easier. Often I’ll be leaving for a game night and forget that I need X number of a specific colour – and I can quickly grab what I need. I change the size of the compartments based on how many cubes of each colour that I have.


The small leftmost drawer is just for elastics! The middle drawer is for tools I use – like the Crop-o-dile that makes rivets so you can make dials. The right drawer is my meeple drawer – again sorted by colour.


This is the hardest drawer to keep clean. This is my baggie drawer. Right now it’s perfect! I put baggies of the same size in a another baggie of that size – so it’s easy to grab the size you want. But it gets super messy when I put baggies back as I’m not often as diligent in putting them back in the baggie they came from!


There are still more drawers? Yep! The one on the left is a bit of a mishmash of things. Some wooden bits and some plastic. Couldn’t find a more thematic place to fit these bits. The drawer on the right are all coloured sticks.


OK this is the last drawer – I promise! The one on the left is all flat, round tokens. The one on the right is another mishmash of things.

So there you have it! That’s one way of keeping your bits organized. My drawers don’t always look this tidy as I just did a clean-out yesterday. It feels great to have all of these components at the ready. Makes prototyping a lot easier if I don’t have to leave my house to get a specific piece. The danger is that you start to buy components just because they’re cool and you think you’ll use them -for sure- in an upcoming game. There’s a fine balance to owning what you need and being prepared for the next game you’re going to make. I know I have a lot of things that I bought that I thought were cool – but I have never opened the package. I think I’ve settled down now though and am comfortable in how many components I have!

The third thing we have to keep organized is our prototypes. If you’re only working on one or two games at a time, then this isn’t as much of an issue. But Sen and I are often working on many games at one time – so we need a system. This is my system:


I bought this drawer system from Ikea. The top three drawers are a bit thinner than the bottom three. Here’s how I use them:



The top 2 drawers are full of games that are ready to be play tested right now. I could grab any of these and take out to test. Once things have been tested, then the second drawer is the on-deck drawer if the prototype needs some tweaking before being tested again. Right now I haven’t been to a test night for awhile due to summer vacations and my teaching schedule so both the top two drawers are full of games ready for testing!!


The third drawer is for games that are broken and need some more attention. We’re not too sure how to fix these ones – but they seemed close at one point!


The next drawer is full of prototypes of games that have been signed or are being assessed by publishers right now. I keep them here until they come out because you never know if you will be asked to test another aspect of the game.


The bottom two drawers are for games that we have currently abandoned. Some are super old but we have some games in here that are worth re-visiting from time to time. Often a game gets dumped in here if we can’t figure out how to make the game special and different. We have dug games out of these drawers and changed them up to make a totally new game later on! Never throw away a prototype!

So how do you keep your bits and pieces organized? Let me know in the comments below!

-Jay Cormier

Hey – a review for Orphan Black: The Card Game? Yay!

orphanblackcoverOne game that Sen and I designed that kind of came and went a bit too quickly was our first game released based on an IP: Orphan Black! We both loved the show and were excited to make a social deduction game set in this world. But alas, the game has flown under the radar for quite awhile even though it has received great reviews by Tom Vasel of the Dice Tower and Joel Eddy of Drive Thru Reviews.

So it’s always a pleasure when a new review pops up…especially when they also like the game!🙂 Christopher Richter from Boardgaming For The Win wrote up a nice rules summary and offered his thoughts on the game as well. Some quotes that stood out to me:

“If you are a fan of games that deal with intrigue then you will love the Orphan Black: The Card Game.”

“The game is very easy to pick up & learn. After the first round of play the game just gets progressively faster.”

“I recommend picking up this one.”

Thanks Christopher! Glad you enjoyed it! Read the entire review here.

-Jay Cormier

Shut Up and Sit Down video review of Junk Art

Here’s a fantastic video review of our new game, Junk Art by Shut Up and Sit Down. He really loved the game and had many wonderful things to say about it. Here are a few of my favourite quotes:

“It’s more wonderful than you might first think it is.”

“It’s a terrific surprise waiting to burst out of the box!”

“It is, absolutely, hands-down the very best game you can get that’s about putting things on top of other things.”

“Shut Up and Sit Down thoroughly recommends Junk Art!”

“It is silly and slapstick but also quite clever and nuanced.”

“It’s going to take pride and place in my collection.”

Wow – what a great review! Thanks Paul – and thanks Shut Up and Sit Down!!


Opinionated Gamers review Junk Art!

Screen shot 2012-01-16 at 10.21.04 PMWe’re very pleased to report that those very opinionated gamers from Opinionated Gamer love Junk Art! Finally we’ve made a game that they all can enjoy! You can read all their glorious words of praise here, but here are some of my favourite quotes:

junkartThis is one of those games that I have loved from first sight.

the variety of goals and gameplay offered in the different city cards makes this one stand out from the genre

I’ve played this a couple of different ways, and every play has been simple, laugh-out-loud fun

This is an inventive entry into the dexterity games space with a great, almost obvious theme and really well-done components

Thanks for playing!!

-Jay Cormier

Positive Video Review of Junk Art!

The Board Game Kaptain has posted a rules summary and a review of our new game, Junk Art…and he loved it!He even had his wife chime in with a second opinion and she loved it even more than he did! Some things that stood out:

“Even though I was dreading this game, I think this game is a lot of fun!”

“If you like high quality games that are going to last you years and years and years, buy this game.”

“If you like light-hearted dexterity games that have spontaneous bouts of laughter, buy this game!”

Wow – awesome! Thanks for all the kind words and for taking the time to make this video.

Jump to 12:15 to watch the review part if you’d like.

-Jay Cormier

Rock Paper Wizard Announcement from WizKids!

A brand new game from not only Sen-Foong Lim and myself, but also co-designed (and graphically designed) by Josh Cappel has just been announced! Check out this brief synopsis of our upcoming social game, Rock Paper Wizard, set in the Dungeons and Dragons world! We’re super excited to be able to contribute to this world – and we’re excited to design a game with our Bamboozle Cousin, Josh! Expect to see the game in January 2017.


-Jay Cormier