Reviews of Train of Thought coming in!

There are tons of reviews coming in for Train of Thought!  Boardgamegeek.com has a nice smattering of mini-reviews and ratings.  So far there are 29 ratings for an average of 7.66 – which, if you’re familiar with boardgamegeek.com – you know that’s really high. Of course it will go down as more and more people rate it, but it’s still pleasing to see it so high!

We’ve been selected as part of the Spiel’s Holiday Gift Guide as well!  You can hear an audio review of the game around 2:06 into the podcast!

Here are some of the nice words people have been saying about the game (and I don’t know any of these people personally!):

I got to try a full game of Train of Thought immediately afterwards. I’ve already gushed about Tasty Mistrel’s games, and I think this game has the opportunity to become a big hit. In the game, you reveal a card wih a word on it. Then you secretly draw a second word card. You must try to get someone to guess that hidden word. If you do so, you both get a point.

The trick is that you may only say three words as a clue, and the first word must be the word on the revealed card. If no one guesses your word, you must offer another three-word clue, using one of the words the players used as your first word.

I loved this game. It’s simple, quick, has enormous mass-market appeal, and is a ton of fun. – Gil Hova

Got pulled into a demo of this game by the designer (one of them at least) and I knew it was one that i was going to end up getting at the con. In fact, I have a signed copy! (though it took until buying the game to realize that he was the designer) a nice word game, that wont totally hose me if my train of thought is different then others, since there is interaction between those guessing the word, and the clue giving, who much base their clue of the word that those guessing said.

Cannot wait to break this one out. – Tiffany Jones

Well named, challenging and fun medium-size party word game that generates interesting thought paths. A creative design which rewards quick creative thinking. – Bob Rademaker

A party game where you give word clues. A card determines a word you must include in your first clue; from there on, you must include a word that was guessed. Fast moving, very simple, and quite fun.

I considered buying this from Tasty Minstrel there, but wasn’t sure about space; had I known it wasn’t readily available yet, I probably would have grabbed it. – Brian Modreski

 

It’s really exhilarating reading about people’s experience with our game!  Thanks to everyone who has played it and wrote kind words (and even to those who didn’t write kind words…wait a minute – no one has written bad words about it yet! And no, that isn’t a challenge to anyone out there!).

 

-Jay Cormier

 

Final BGG.con Thoughts

I participated in a lengthy conversation with Tom Lehman and the Tasty Minstrel gang.  They had just finished playing Eminent Domain and Tom was providing his feedback.  Tom is a game designer with such credits as Race for the Galaxy and the expansion for Pandemic, On the Brink.  It was fascinating being part of this conversation as Tom has so much experience with not just designing games, but with how to make it more accessible and how to grow it as a brand as he’s helped with developing the Dominion series.

Tom’s biggest feedback was about scalability.  He had some comments that made me think differently about some of our games.  The game might play perfectly today – but if it were to become a big hit, what would the expansion include?  If it includes new powers or cards – how will that impact the game?  It seems easy and obvious at first, but when Tom dug deeper he made me realize that there’s more to it than I first thought.

In Eminent Domain, when players play Research cards they can look through an 8 card tech deck.  While it can be overwhelming to a newbie to look through these 8 cards, experienced players will not have any issues.  However, if an expansion were to add 4, 8 or 24 new tech cards – then what would be the mechanism for choosing cards then?  Can they look through all 24 tech cards to find the card they want?  Would a rule have to be added that a player can only look through a certain amount of tech cards – or should that be taken into consideration now for the base game?  It was very interesting to chat game design concepts with an experienced veteran of the industry.

I got to see a bunch of other designer’s prototypes as well, like Seth’s Wizard’s Tower or Jonathon’s spinner game about space exploration, or a game that was based on those castle-defending type of online flash games.  Seth’s Wizard’s Tower game was an interesting though abstract area control game; Jonathon’s spinner idea was brilliant but I’d love to see it in a way more simplified game; and the castle defence game was a lot of fun that was just missing some balance issues.  It was interesting to be surrounded by so many like-minded designers!

I had a lot of fun at BGG.con, but not just from what I’ve shared in my previous posts.  I met a lot of great people like Tim from Australia, Chris, Tim and the other Chris, David, Peter, Kimberly and Steve and many more that I can’t remember now!  We stayed up to 3am almost every night playing all sorts of games – from party games like Time’s Up and Spot It to silly games like Kackle Dackle (seriously a game where you catch slimy poo out of a dog’s bum!).  I even found one group of people playing Monopoly!  I’m not sure if that’s a statement on the level of quality of the current crops of games being released or not though.

I also really liked the Geek Chic furniture that was all over the main hallway.  Geek Chic is a company that makes the most amazing gaming tables I’ve ever seen.  The tables look like normal tables, but can be converted into these sunken gaming areas with removable plexiglass to place your board or map below, as well as fold down areas for each player to keep their pieces or secrets!  Very cool! If my place could accommodate it, I’d definitely want one of these tables! Check out more of their furniture here.

Overall this was a huge opportunity for Sen and me, and I think I made the most out of it!  I had a blast and would love to return next year!

-Jay Cormier

BGG.con – Games I liked, disliked and bought!

I had time to play some games while I was there of course and here are my likes and dislikes:

Likes:

Troyes – Warning – try to get someone who has played the game to teach you the rules!  The rules are very convoluted and hard to understand.  The game is also convoluted and hard to understand, but it gets easier and easier as the game progresses and by the end of the game I found myself really enjoying the mechanics.  The game has players rolling different coloured dice, depending on how many of their workers they place in the different coloured zones, and then using the numbers on those dice to fulfill specific actions.  What makes this game not as luck based as other dice-rolling games is that you can buy other players’ dice from them.  So, not intuitive at first, but a game I would like to play again.

Tikal 2 – Surprise, surprise – the sequel to my favourite game is a lot of fun!  The similarities between the two are mostly thematic and the fact that hexagonal tiles are placed on the board – that’s about it.  So if you’re one of the few who don’t like Tikal, then you should still try out Tikal 2!  Players sail their boat around the perimeter of the board and pick up one tile that gives them a specific action to do in the temple.  In the temple players are going from room to room placing flags and collecting points.  Gone are the 10 point action point system from Tikal, and instead players are free to go anywhere on the board that they want, as long as they have the right coloured key.  Overall a fun game (did I mention that I managed to squeak out a win in the end?) that I will definitely be buying!

Eminent Domain – the big deck building game from Tasty Minstrel that has received twice as much funding from Kickstarter as they needed.  The game is only in prototype form, but other people had printed out a copy for themselves and brought it with them – so it was being played by a lot of people throughout the convention.  I’m not a huge fan of space games, but there are some great mechanics in this game that makes it not similar to Dominion at all.  I enjoyed the fact that you could specialize in one area, and that players could follow the actions of other players.  That kept everyone interested on everyone else’s turn.  I didn’t like that the tech cards that you can research were too confusing for a newbie to understand.  Because of that I decided to not specialize at all in Research and that was a big mistake and I knew I lost early on in the game.  Still, with some minor refining, the game could be made more accessible to us newbs and will probably be a big hit for Tasty Minstrel.

Rattus – While it’s a bit unpredictable, I enjoyed the theme and variability the game has based on which roles you use in the game.  Players place their player markers in different regions and then move the plague indicator to a region.  If there are rat tokens and player markers in that region, then they are turned over to see if any player markers die because of the plague.  Fortunately players can recruit various roles to help them, though the more roles they use, the higher the probability that a player’s markers will be infected by the plague.  Interesting, but possibly a little too unpredictable.  I’ll play it again though.

 

Dislikes:

Merkator: This is Rosenberg’s next game after Agricola, Le Havre and Gates of Louyang.  The only good thing I can say about this game is that it at least doesn’t feel like a derivative of any of these games.  I like Agricola and Le Havre is pretty good, but there are a lot of shared mechanics between those and even Gates of Louyang.  In Merkator players move a shared marker around the world in order to collect a specific resource.  While he’s there a player can fulfill a goal card if it’s for that location and he has the proper resources.  Did I mention there are about 16 different resources?  The game feels very abstract and has no theme at all.  If I wanted to play a spreadsheet, I’d just go to work.  Boo.

Games that were getting good buzz but I didn’t get a chance to try yet:

Navegador – seemed like I would enjoy this new Rondel based game.

K2 – a very themey game about mountain climbing that was getting some good buzz.

7 Wonders – this was the big hit of convention, though it had its haters as well.  I learned the rules but never had a chance to play it.  It plays up to 7 players but probably is best with 4-5.  You only ever interact with a player on either side of you so some people didn’t like that.  Almost everyone liked that it could play up to 7 in under an hour though.  Still can’t wait to try it!

Hansa Teutonica – I saw some people playing this and it seemed to generate a lot of positive buzz, though it doesn’t look like a game I’d like.  I’ll reserve judgement of course, until I’ve played it – which I want to do.

Nuremberc – Had the rules explained to me and it seems simple enough but I’m worried that the theme is irrelevant.  Looks pretty, as it’s illustrated by our friend Josh Cappel!  I’ll try it when it comes out.

I managed to increase the size of my game collection as well as I purchased the following games from either the vendors or from the flea market that was held on Saturday:

Grand Cru – the new game about making wine.  I got this to play with my friend Matt who’s also making a wine game – which unfortunately is becoming a saturated theme!

Merchants in the Middle Ages – a ‘new’ game from Kramer.  It’s really just a reprint of Die Handler, which I haven’t played but I’ve been happy with Kramer’s game more often that I haven’t.

El Capitan – an older Kramer game that I never played – but as I mentioned above, it’s Kramer!

Gheos – a tile laying game – which I always like.

Aton – a 2-player game from Queen games. This was one of the free games that everyone could choose from.  I heard this was good!

Atlantis – a more complicated Cartegane ??? which is cool – plus it’s Atlantis…!

Money – a Knizia game I’ve enjoyed but never picked up.  Got it cheap at the flea market.

Pick Two – a good word game that I got super cheap.

Boardgamegeek the Boardgame – I heard it’s not really good, but it was another free game from BGG.con!

Now I have to go rearrange my game shelves to somehow accommodate these new games!

-Jay Cormier

BGG.con: Our Fourth Published Game?

The other big game that I was excited to show publishers was Akrotiri – our new tile laying strategy game.  I had emailed Zev from Z-Man games before the convention to set up a meeting to show him and he responded that he’d be interested in seeing the game sometime during the convention.

The convention is a big opportunity for publishers to get their games in front of the biggest die hard gamers out there – and die hard gamers are like big megaphones when it comes to liking (or disliking) a game.  So a good review or word of mouth from someone at BGG.con leads to more sales.  So this meant that publishers spent most of their time showcasing their games to players – throughout the entire day.  This makes it hard for designers to get some of their time.

This was a big change for me as the only convention I had been to before was GAMA in Las Vegas.  GAMA is where publishers show their games to retailers.  Since it’s not as focused on playing games as much, I had a lot of time with each publisher.  At BGG.con however I had almost no time.

I did manage to get Zev’s attention for 5 minutes – enough to show him Akrotiri.  While I was setting up the game I handed him our Sales Sheet so he’d get the general idea.  I quickly set up enough of the game and walked through the concepts of how the game works.  I gave him an overview of all the interesting aspects of the game in less than 5 minutes.  He expressed interest in it and said he’d either like to take it back with him or try to play it at some time during the convention.

As it turned out, he just didn’t have another free minute at the convention, so on Sunday I gave him the Akrotiri prototype for him to take back and playtest.  I hope it doesn’t get lost or misplaced in the shuffle of bringing everything back – but at least it’s with him.  We’ll follow up in a couple weeks with a friendly email!

Before giving it to Zev though, I did manage to play a full 2 player game with Seth Jaffee.  I intended to only play a few rounds so he’d understand the concept – but we ended up playing the entire game (always a good sign).  Seth managed to win the game as I was 1 action point away from finding my Gateway to Atlantis – which would have given me the lead!  Seth seemed to like it and had some minor comments and suggestions that would make the 2 player game a bit better.  He’d like to see how a 3-5 player game would play (as it would be a bit more competitive and faster paced than a 2 player game).  If Zev passes on the game then I think we’ll send it to Seth to take a closer look.

The other game big game brought with me was Lost for Words.  I showed this to Seth as well and while we were playing we started to draw a tiny crowd of people.  Two of the people stayed and commented that they really liked the game.  I let them play the game and they confirmed that they really loved the game.  This is like gold when random people say this in front of a publisher.  Unfortunately Tasty Minstrel isn’t interested in this kind of a game.  I didn’t get a chance to show any other publisher this game but I am feeling good about its prospects!

I didn’t have a chance to show Junkyard or RuneMasters to anyone either.  As I said, this was a pretty challenging convention to get a publisher’s attention for long enough.  Not only that but there weren’t that many publishers present.  I know, excuses – but I feel good about getting Akrotiri into Zev’s hands.

All in all – looks like we have a few more pokers in the fire for our future.  One game published, the second coming next spring and the third sometime next year.  The fourth and fifth?  We’ll keep making great games and sending our games out to publishers!

-Jay Cormier

BGG.con: Our 3rd Published Game?

On the first night of the convention (actually before the convention even started) I met up with Michael Mindes from Tasty Minstrel and he asked about the new games I brought with me.  I showed him our new game, But Wait There’s More.  This game involves players pitching a product to the other players, and then players vote on which product is the best.  I showed Michael the Sales Sheet we had for it and since we were seated at a table, I brought out the game and showed him an example round.

After playing one round of the game, Michael and I were laughing already and he said that he wanted to publish the game.  Yep, you read that right – Tasty Minstrel Games is going back to the Sen and Jay well one more time and publishing their third game!  So it was day zero of the convention and I had already 1 game sold to a publisher!

We played But Wait There’s More throughout the rest of the convention and the game just continued to grow in excitement and hilarity!  We even played But Wait There’s More with complete strangers that came up to the booth and the laughter brought more people over to see what was happening.

After playing the game, one player pulled out his wallet and asked how much it was and when we explained it wasn’t even published yet he was upset and wanted to buy it right now!  Music to a publisher’s ears!

Michael and I started chatting about art direction and both agreed that it would look great if all the wacky benefit cards looked like stickers stuck on a box.  The good news about the game is that it’s very simple in terms of art needs and production – a big factor in deciding if a publisher will publish a game of course!

So in terms of getting a new game published, BGG.con was a success!  Could the convention get even better though?  More on that tomorrow…

-Jay Cormier

BGG.con – Belfort

A lot of press and buzz coming into the convention for Tasty Minstrel Games was for their upcoming game, Eminent Domain by Seth Jaffee.  Because of this, Eminent Domain had one of the two tables at the Tasty Minstrel booth for almost the entire convention.  The other table was reserved for Train of Thought demos.  This didn’t leave much room or time to promote Belfort, but I managed to squeeze it in enough to get it noticed by a lot of people.

For those not in the know, Belfort is our second game being published – and it will be published by Tasty Minstrel Games.  We’re hoping that it will be out by April or May but we’re just waiting on getting the final art.  (Josh, if you’re reading this – hurry up! 🙂 )  Since we didn’t get the final art for all aspects of Belfort before the convention, Sen and I thought in advance and printed out all the art we had. So we had a mix of nice looking pieces and bland prototype pieces.  At least it was all functional!

I managed to play Belfort about 4 times with different groups of people.  Everyone had a great time with the game and seemed fully engaged throughout the entire game.  For 2 of the games I managed to take over a hot table location that had a lot of traffic and we generated a lot of walk-by interest.  This allowed me to explain the entire concept of the game to a lot of people while the players continued playing the game.  Everyone who stopped, loved the art that was available and expressed interest in the final game.

Belfort Board Game playtest

After playing, people were asking about release dates and pre-ordering directions – which is great!  I started one game at the hot table (which is a raised table with no chairs – so players had to stand the entire time) and told them we’d just play until the first scoring so they could see how it played.  When we finished the first scoring I was about to reset the pieces and they all wanted to keep playing!  Of course I let them and they finished the entire 1.5-2 hour game standing at this table.  That’s a good testament to the quality of the game for me!

Here’s a comment from Tim who played the game at the convention and then posted this on bgg.com:

 

Jay,

I really appreciate you taking the time to play Belfort with me on Friday night. It’s shaping up to be a great game, and with a few minor tweaks it could end up being (probably already is) my favorite worker placement game. It seems to have a good balance of mechanics I like (not sure how specific I can get on here at this point), and is simple enough to teach to others who may not have played a worker placement type game, yet could be deep enough to satisfy most gamers.

Only bad part about playing so soon before the game is released is I will end up having to wait 4-6 months before I can play again. Now I have two games from Tasty Minstrel to try to wait patiently for. You guys had a great presence at BGG con.

Tim

Also, Sen and I had been talking about a 2 player variant for the game and Michael Mindes from Tasty Minstrel Games was very interested in being able to say the game played 2-5.  It’s usually pretty challenging to play an Area Majority game with only 2 players, but Sen and I are soooo smart that we found a way that works really well! J  I showed the mechanics of the 2 player game to Seth and he seemed to like it, though we didn’t get a chance to play it. We’ll see where this ends up soon I’m sure.

The next step in Belfort’s life is getting all the art finished and then it’s off to the printers!  All told, we raised the awareness of the game (and to my surprise, a few people had already heard of the game!) and started getting people excited about Belfort!  Huzzah!

-Jay Cormier

BGG.con – Train of Thought – update

This just in – you can pre-order Train of Thought from Funagain Games online!  The bad news is that it’s in the US so us Canadians have to pay for shipping.  Click to pre-order Train of Thought!

Also – we just found out that Train of Thought did even better than we thought at BGG.con.  Apparently it ended up being the #2 game at the convention for high traffic games (which is the one that really matters anyway!).  Wow!  Here’s a screencap and a link to check out the list for yourself:

And finally – Train of Thought is currently the 9th hottest game on boardgamegeek.com!  That means it has the 9th highest amount of traffic!  Cool!

BGG.con: Train of Thought

I got to see (and touch and play) the final published Train of Thought game!  Here’s a picture of a proud Jay with boxes of the finished product and the Tasty Minstrel gang, Michael Mindes and Seth Jaffee!

Train of Thought

I spent a lot of the convention stationed at the Tasty Minstrel booth giving demos to anyone and everyone!  The first copy was sold before I could get to the booth (as I had to wait in line to register), but the first copy I was asked to sign was to Brent Llyod, a fellow Canadian!  We did find the person who bought the first copy of our first published board game, and got a picture of him too!  Thanks a lot Adam!!

Here’s what the Tasty Minstrel booth looked like – nothing amazing, except for all the Train of Thought of course! 🙂

At BGG.con players can rate every game they play on a scale of 1-5 (no half points allowed).  Then all the data is calculated on the fly and a projected “Geek Buzz” list of the top 25 games cycles through on a large screen in the main lobby.  This is great to see which games are hot and worth trying out.  The list constantly evolves throughout the 5 days as more people play and like or dislike a game.  Well, colour me surprised when Train of Thought ended up as #1 at the end of the first day!

By the end of day 2, Train of Thought moved down to #13, which made more sense – but was also surprising.  To put this in context – almost all the new games that debuted at Essen earlier this year were here as well as all other games that have ever been released!  So to have a party game higher than some of these big gamery games was truly outstanding!

Day 3 we ended up moving up to #10 and by the end of day 4 we were up to #5.  To my humblest surprise, Train of Thought ended the convention at #3!  Can you believe it?  Train of Thought was the #3 game of BGG.con this year!!!

In addition to all this it was absolutely amazing to me to walk around the convention and see people playing the game.  It’s a bit mind blowing.  It was also flattering to hear people tell me stories about them playing Train of Thought to 3 or 4 in the morning.  One group of people told us to submit the game to the Mensa competition!  They were serious and they said that they think it would win as the Mensa group likes quick games that involve communicating and making you think differently – which exactly describes Train of Thought!  We’re in the process of understanding the requirements to submit it.

The good news doesn’t end there though.  In discussions with Michael Mindes, the owner of Tasty Minstrel Games, he let me know that he had a conversation with the distributors, PSI.  PSI has a great relationship with Barnes and Noble and PSI showed B&N the box for Train of Thought.  B&N loved the box and said they’d like to see the game when they go to the New York Toy Fair in February.  If they like it, then they will stock it in their stores – all across America!  That would be huge!

Does the good news end there?  No it does not.  On the last day of the convention, Michael had a meeting with Queen Games and Queen Games will be publishing and distributing Train of Thought in Germany! Obviously they will redo the entire game in German – but it will be Train of Thought!  Our first game just went International!

So this was a very good convention for me and Tasty Minstrel – and this is just about Train of Thought!  Both Tasty Minstrel and I have more good news coming…  Stay tuned!

Back from BGG.con!

BGG.con is done and I have a lot of updates and stories!  I’ll pace them out over the week with a post every day or so.  BGG.con is an annual convention that takes place in Dallas where over 1000 people come to play board games from all over the world.  They have a library of games that has 100’s and 100’s of games that anyone can sign out for free and play.  The convention is so friendly that you can almost always walk up to complete strangers and ask to join their game, or ask them if they’d like to join in your game.  They even have “Players Needed” flags that you can place on your table if you need more players.

In addition to playing games there are a bunch of other diversions like the Puzzle Hunt, Game Show, Rock Band, Tichu and Texas Hold’em Tournaments, Flea Market, some board game vendors and eating – with a constantly running shuttle that loops around local restaurants.  Thanks to Rio Grande for sponsoring that shuttle!

I spent most of my time at the Tasty Minstrel booth pitching Train of Thought and Belfort to other gamers.  As you’ll see in the upcoming posts – both were very well received.

Overall I had a blast and met a lot of great people and would recommend this convention to any board game fan!  The next few posts will be divided into the following topics:

–        Train of Thought (our first published board game!)

–        Belfort (our second published board game!)

–        Our third (and potentially fourth) published board games!

–        Games I liked and disliked and wanted to play

–        Game Designers and other thoughts

Up next: Train of Thought!

-Jay Cormier

BGG.con Bound!

I’ve been busy preparing for BGG.con that I haven’t had any time to update the blog!  BGG.con, for those not in the know is the Boardgamegeek’s annual convention of board gamery!  Boardgamegeek, for those not in the know is the main website for all things board games.

For the last 5 days, my game design partner, Sen was in town!  We worked straight through and saw nary a sunbeam – and that’s not just because I live in Vancouver.  We tweaked a few of our games in preparation for our first playtest night on Thursday night.  We had a couple of the Game Artisans of Canada come over to help us playtest our games.

We played RuneMasters, which Z-Man Games has expressed interest in seeing (how did they express interest in this you ask?  I’ll go into details about how to contact publishers in an upcoming post!).  It’s still in Alpha – possibly late-Alpha phase of game development, which means that we don’t necessarily know all the rules yet but we have some mechanics down and a prototype made (actually the 5th version printed already!).  They helped us come up with a new system for how to do the battles that makes it more interesting to play.

We played Akrotiri and it was fun, but not very involving.  We were trying a new idea for how to find Atlantis – and while everyone liked it, the game lacked some tension.  Some brainstorming led us to some minor tweaks on how to fix it.

We also played a couple rounds of But Wait There’s More – our new party game that we’re really excited about – and we came up with the best way to do the scoring – which was the only thing we were struggling with.

Then Sen and I worked all day Friday and Saturday, tweaking these games in preparation for our next playtest night on Saturday night.  We had 2 of our favourite playtesters come over and we played these games all over again.

First up was Lost for Words – our word making game that word game fans really love.  We were just struggling with the scoring (which in this game is what motivates your entire turn) – and we came up with some great ideas.  Since then we’ve tweaked it and tried it again and it works perfectly!

Akrotiri – what can I say buy Wow!  This was the best this game has ever been.  It was the perfect balance of tension and interaction.  Players were stealing resources from each other, taking islands before others and paying each other for their map cards.  We are extremely excited about this game.

RuneMasters worked a lot better but one of our playtesters came up with a great idea – which means another printing of the prototype – but it was worth it!  We played it again the next day and it was great.  Simpler but still interesting and unique.  It’s still in Beta stage but it’s at least ready to show publishers as long as they know it’s in that stage.

But Wait There’s More – this is the funniest game we’ve ever made.  I love this game.  I can’t wait to show some publishers.

So overall – a great 5 days with Sen!  I’m heading out tomorrow to Dallas for the convention – and to hold in my hands my first board game ever published – Train of Thought!  I’ll try to update the blog with some thoughts throughout the con so keep checking back.  Wish me luck! 🙂

-Jay Cormier