Belfort Around the World

Belfort is still getting attention around the world!

In Germany, they just finished up Spiel in Essen – the biggest board game convention in the world with just under 200,000 attendees this year. Sen and I didn’t go (I went last year and we both plan on going next year!) – but Belfort was for sale at the convention! Last year I had just received my copy of Belfort before leaving for Germany and so I was able to show some people the game while I was there – including Pegasus Spiel – a German publisher! If you’ve been reading this blog then you probably already know that they’ve agreed to publish the German language version of the game! I don’t think the German version was available at Essen though…does anyone out there know if it was at the Pegasus Spiel booth?

Regardless, BGG (boardgamegeek) was there and they have a booth where people can enter games that are hot into their computers. These computers then project the top list of what’s hot right there to the attendees. This allows people to check out what’s perceived to be hot each day. At the end of the event there’s a list of every game that got votes – and lo and behold, Belfort was on the list! It was ranked 101 – which means out of all the hundreds (thousands?) of games at Essen this year – people voted Belfort to be the 101st hottest game there…even though it’s been out for a year in North America! Cool!

Not only are people in Germany appreciating Belfort – but Spanish people are too! We found 2 Spanish reviews of Belfort! That’s pretty cool! Using Google Translate it appears that both are favourable reviews – huzzah!!

The Black Meeple review: “While Belfort is a game that does not innovate in mechanical, it is true that mixing and placement of workers is tremendously well conjoined majorities.” (Thanks to Google Translate for this awesome translation!!)

The Jueguetistoria review: “In our opinion, Belfort can be the worker placement game, and if not the game itself, one of the best. Many different mechanism, all fitting together, a nice theme, some beatiful components and the lack of randomness, but with higher interaction than usual. All this make Belfort a very good recommendation, and that there are very few brain-burners like this. The majority mechanism, for sure, make it a special game.”

Italians are enjoying Belfort as well! Here’s a link to ISLA – an Italian web-zine dedicated to boardgames. Click on the Scarica Ora button to download the issue. The review (in Italian!) is on page 41.

And a few more English reviews popped up recently!

Board Game Reviews by Josh review: “Considering the strategic depth of the game, the rules are very easy to learn and teach.”

Review by BGG user Sean Johnson: “…it gets added to our list of favorite games.”

And to round things off – Belfort currently is sitting as the 234th best game…of all time! According to users of boardgamegeek that is. We’re inching ever higher in this list (and by higher I mean a lower number!).

We’re continually elated to read about everyone’s experience with our game and are excited to show everyone the expansion that is planned for next year! Woo hoo!

-Jay Cormier


New Ideas, They Are A Bubblin’!

Jay was in London at my place for the last week and we got a lot of work done.  We were aiming to finish a bunch of games, and we met most of our goals while exceeding some – so time well spent!  We were able to playtest quite robustly with my gaming group, my wife and sons, and our fellow GAC member Daryl Andrews.

Let’s recap:

  1. We tested out some new minor additions (in game goals vs. end game goals) for Akrotiri – a game that has been signed to Filosofia as our first 2p game!  It’s fast, fun, and now has some different challenges and motivations during each turn.  Can’t wait to see this in fully-published format!
  2. We changed the wolves in EIEIO to be on the die instead of card-based.  While this means it’ll come up more often (potentially 1 out of every 6 rolls – do the math!), it is theoretically cleaner than the conundrum that occurred when the cards came out in series.  We haven’t playtested this one yet – there was just so much other stuff to do!  EIEIO was slated for Filosofia as well, but they opted not to sign it, so we’re looking for another home for it.
  3. We changed from 8-sided dice to 6-sided dice for marking words in Lost for Words.  The 8-siders were just too finicky and hard to know what the actual face up number was.  We also worked out some rules stickiness in which there were too many darn ties.  The value of the in game goal cards may also be nerfed from 2 points to 1 so that finding a longer word isn’t as difficult.  I’m really looking forward to playing it again!  Word games are a hard sell, but I’m hopeful this one may break the mold – it’s faster than most and uses some innovative techniques to encourage play.  If it never makes it to a boardgame format, it might make a great app!
  4. Speaking of apps, I had a dream of an app I wanted to make – it was a  word game.  I told Jay about it and, by the next day, he had made a prototype of a card version of my dream game!  That game is now Chainables (working title) – a game in which you are trying to combine 2 syllables into full words.
  5. We worked a bit on Pass the Hat, our game about busking.  Some new changes to be made to all the cards, using a vertical vs. horizontal splaying mechanism.  The scoring seems to work, but we need to make a few more adjustments to make it flow better.  It’s our most “Gamery” game, currently, so we’d like to work on finishing it more.
  6. We played But Wait, There’s More with the Shepherd/Nicell family.  It was great!  We got to try out a few expansion ideas – some which worked amazingly well and some that need tweaking.  It’s such a hilarious game on it’s own, we want to make sure that the level of fun increases with each card drawn/expansion added.  Look for that one on Kickstarter soon!
  7. Jam Slam was tested with no changes just to see if there was anything we did want to change.  We’ve always had scoring chits AND a scoring track included when we send this prototype to a publisher but our playtesters – hands down (no pun intended) – liked the track much better than the chits.  So track it is!  The people have spoken!
  8. We played a lot (I mean a LOT) of one of our new games Simplicity.  It’s really simple (hence the name) and about making a city (hence the name, again).  It’s a tile-laying game in which you pick a tile up and place it down.  That’s all.  There are in game goal cards to achieve and mid/end-game goal cards to cash in on over the course of the game.  It’s so simple, it boggles the mind.  We thought of the game a year ago, almost to the day, and couldn’t put it together.  This time, we said “Let’s just make some cards or tiles and play around with them” and a great game was born!  Is it perfect yet?  Hardly!  We’ve got some ideas to add some variation here and there, but the core game is sold.   A big plus is that my wife LOVES IT, so I will be able to test the heck out of any changes we do make!
  9. One of our personal “holy grails” of gaming would be to make a game about movies, as Jay LOVES movies with a passion.  He’s at VIFF, TIFF, etc. as much as possible.  He had a radio show reviewing movies back in University.  He collects and saves all his ticket stubs and documents who he saw each movie with… okay, we’re getting into OCD territory.  Anyway, we’ve been working away at Box Office, in one shape or another, for years actually.  Now that we’re more seasoned designers, the latest version is actually coming along nicely.  Jay had a brainstorm re: this sliding scale thing…should be really good!  We didn’t playtest this with anyone as it’s really only in Alpha stage and we never want to subject playtesters to games that aren’t at least in their Beta phase.  Unless that game happens to be named The Dig.
  10. On a sad note, we found that Pictionary: The Card Game (a 2009 Dale Yu design) was very very similar to our Hog the Remote (a 2006 Bamboozle Brother design).  We had a bunch of interest in HtR, so it was disappointing to find the similarities.  Carrie had bought Pictionary: The Card Game for her work.  Luckily, I saw it and read the rules.  No one wants to go up against Hasbro.  Not even the fabulous Bamboozle Brothers!
  11. Lions Share was played a lot – we’re changing how play is done so it’s more 7 Wonders-style in that there are areas to play between each player and you only interact with the players to either side of you during the card playing phase.  The sharing of the trick is still super interesting as that’s what allows you to interact with players you can’t normally deal with.  A new scoring mechanism we devised makes team and vs. play much more interesting.  We need to add more cards to accommodate more than 4 players (hopefully up to 6). We’re thinking of adding a Chameleon type animal that can act as any animal and another animal as a suit…not sure which one yet – they’d just be a general animal.
  12. We got to try out Clunatics as well, which was well-received.  We’re just cleaning up the rules a wee bit to reduce scoring issues and keep cards in front of you to a minimum.  I made a mini-dry erase board and stuck a small dry erase marker complete with eraser in the box.  We’re hoping to shop this one around soon to NorthStar games perhaps.  They publish a little game called Wits and Wagers.  You might have heard of it!

Whew!  I *think* that’s it – there may be more that we did!  Thanks to Carrie, Ethan, Eli, Elly, Daryl, Jeff, Vince, Brian, Steven, Jeff, and the whole Shepherd/Nicell family (except you, Sean!) for gaming it up with us over the week and helping us take our games to the next level.  Your feedback was invaluable!

Oh yeah, I’ve started to take stop motion videos of our playtesting session using my iPad, a Makayama Movie Mount, and the iStopMotion app.  Gerry Paquette, another GACer, showed us how he did this at “Cardstockawa” (our annual Ontario grand game design moot) over the summer and I’ve wanted to do this ever since.

Let’s see if this works…

IT WORKS!  Huzzah!
~ Sen-Foong Lim

Belfort in the Games Magazine Top 100 of 2013

Belfort makes the venerated GAMES Magazine Top 100 Games of 2013 list, coming in behind the winner The Village (2012’s SdJ winner) and the runner-up Olympos in the “Advanced Strategy” Category.  Also on this list were Tournay, Fealty, 011, Last Will (my own personal favourite from 2012), Principato, Quebec, Firenze, MIL 1049, Norenberc, and Ora e Labora.  Stefan Feldt’s Trajan won for the overall best Traditional Game.

Jay and I are over the moon with the amount of recognition that Belfort has been getting as of late.  It’s really an honour to hear that so many people enjoy playing our games.  Kudos also to our partners-in-crime, Josh Cappel (artist), Seth Jaffee (developer), and Michael Mindes (publisher) for their work on Belfort (and many other titles they were a part of that also made the Games Magazine Top 100 for 2013)!

~ Sen

Belfort Amongst the 100 Best Games of All Time

According to the Dice Tower’s annual list of the 100 Best Games of All Time, Belfort comes in at #85 on the People’s Choice List.  This is a great accomplishment for Belfort!  According to the statistical methods used, the list was compiled from over 1200 voters, who each listed their top 20 games of all time.  Only the names of the games that placed from 100-81 have been released, so the best is still yet to come.  We’re very encouraged to see Belfort do so well in it’s first year of release.  Here’s hoping that the 2013 release of the first full expansion propels Belfort even further up the list in the many years to come!


Local Love for Belfort

(Photograph courtesy of The Londoner)

October 11th’s issue of The Londoner profiles local entrepreneur Jason Arnold of GeekStop Games.  Jason spreads the joy of gaming via the wonders of the internet and includes Belfort amongst the games he lists and depicts in the article.

Check out Jason’s excellent site for an assortment of wonderful games to purchase and play!  The best thing:  Competitive prices with FREE delivery in the London / St. Thomas area!  That’s right, people…FREE!

~ Sen

Train of Thought and Belfort Get the Nod.

Since 2006, has been hosting the annual Golden Geek Awards.  It is a highly coveted award in the boardgaming community, because it represents the voice of the people, not a panel of celebrity judges or industry big wigs.  It’s the very same gamers who play the games in question that get to vote and have their say on what games were at the top of the heap each year.

The list of the nominees and the links to vote are here.  And while I will say that it is really and truly a great honour just to be nominated, I’m hopeful that both Belfort and Train of Thought make a run for the title in their respective categories.

Belfort has been nominated in the following categories:

Artwork and Presentation
Strategy Game



Train of Thought box artTrain of Thought has been nominated in one:

Party Game



If you are a fan of either, or both game, and feel that it deserves a shot at the award, please vote.  You can rank each game in each category, with 1 being the highest and 10 being the lowest ranking.

Thanks to our collaborators (Seth Jaffee, Josh Cappel, and Gavan Brown) and our publisher, Tasty Minstrel Games.  And a huge thanks to everyone who got the games this far in the race; now it’s time to bring home the gold!

~ Sen-Foong Lim