Well, that just happened…

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Nice new box top for Belfort with the Geekie Award logo upon it!  Wicked awesome!

~Sen-Foong

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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

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

Video review of This Town Ain’t Big Enough for the 2-4 Of Us!

ThisTown-logoWell looky here pardner! We got our first video review of This Town Ain’t Big Enough for the 2-4 Of Us! The game Academy has posted their video review – along with a bit of a walkthrough so you can see how it plays.

Some comments that stood out for me:

  • It’s fun, it’s quick, it’s a good filler
  • Nothing not to like about this game
  • If Tasty Minstrel sells this on their website, order it, order it, order it!

Video of Belfort winning the Geekie Award!

We now have the very embarrassing video of Belfort winning the Geekie award! It’s not embarrassing because we won – that’s frickin’ awesome – no it’s embarrassing because no one showed up to collect the award!! Check out this video at 3 minutes to see what I mean!! Still – it’s amazing that we won and we’re both very happy – though miffed that we didn’t attend!!

Geekie Award for TableTop Games

-Jay Cormier

Pitching at Origins

This is the first guest post for our blog and I hope it’s not our last. If you have an interesting story about pitching games to publishers, we’d like to hear about it! For now, let me introduce you to Patrick Lysaght:

PITCHING AT ORIGINS

            In this blog, Jay and Sen talk about how to prepare yourself to pitch your design to publishers.  My name is Pat Lysaght, and I can tell you conclusively that their method works.  Why?  I am a first time game designer.  I followed their steps this year at Origins, and my game (“Glory & Riches”) is slated to be released either end of 2014 or early 2015.  When I wrote Jay and Sen to say thank you, Jay asked me to share my experience at Origins.  In this blog, therefore, I am going to talk about the some of the advantages of pitching your game at Origins.

SMALL CONVENTION, BIG PAYOFF

OriginsLogoJay and Sen’s blog talks about carefully choosing your convention, and then arranging your meetings with publishers.  This is why Origins is an ideal convention to pitch your designs.  The official attendance numbers from GAMA for this year’s Origins (2013) say that 11,573 people attended the convention.  Obviously, this is well below the approximately 160k reported from GENCON.  A quick look down the list of attending publishers, however, shows that Origins still brings in a metric ton of both big and small name publishers.  From the designer’s standpoint, here is how the math affects your ability to pitch to a publisher:

 

(Length of Convention – Publisher’s Key Events)

—————————————————–   =  Time Publisher Will Give Your Pitch

Number of People Attending

 

Since publishers attend conventions to sell games, most of their time will be spent interacting with potential customers or holding events to highlight their new products.  Typically the last group publishers want to spend their convention time with is designers. So even if you can actually get a publisher’s attention in a venue like GENCON, you won’t get more than 5 minutes max.  Origins is a different story.

I walked into Origins with 3 scheduled meetings.  I ended up pitching to 6 publishers ranging on the scale from very small to very large.  Three of those publishers spent at least 45 minutes with me.  The other three spent at least 15 minutes.  This means that even the publishers who gave me a near automatic thumbs down spent 15 minutes of their convention giving me feedback or advice on which publishers I should pitch my game to.  Don’t expect that kind of access anywhere but Origins.

THE BOARD ROOM

Origins’ second key advantage for designers pitching their game is the Board Room.  Origins devotes an entire room to free play.  Since it is always teeming with people (especially after about 7 PM), this is an awesome place to demo or play test your game with willing participants.  This does two things for you.  First, it provides a designer’s dream environment for game streamlining.  I accomplished three months of play testing in four days, and actually resolved a hidden weakness in my game at the convention.  Second, the publishers surf the board room crowd at night.  If they see people enjoying your game, they are much more likely to be interested in your pitch.  Actually, this is how I met the publisher who eventually agreed to publish my game.  Other conventions have areas designated for free play, but Origins makes this the heart and soul of their convention.

THE EARLY BIRD

Another advantage of Origin’s smaller size is the “sleepiness” of the first few days.  Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday offered a designer’s paradise.  The crowds are small but steady.  The events are few.  The gamers are looking for something new to play, and the publishers are patiently waiting for Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday.  In short, this is a designer’s paradise.  I arrived at the convention early Wednesday morning, and was able to grab a table right in the middle of the main hallway.  I set up my game, and started talking to people right away.  The net results:

  1. I demo’ed 10 games before noon,
  2. Tom Vasel from the Dice Tower snapped some pictures of people playing my game,
  3. I was almost out of sales sheets by 10 AM (had to run to the FedEx store in the convention center), and
  4. I met several publishers as they were setting up their displays. Here’s a picture from early Wednesday morning:origins

Obviously, I heartily endorse Origins as a great venue to pitch games.  Especially if you are new to the design pitching process.  Follow the steps, and good luck in your pitching!

-Patrick Lysaght

Thanks Patrick. Really cool to read that it’s a great show for pitching games! Stay tuned for another post from Patrick as he describes the process of actually pitching games to these publishers in an upcoming blog post!

-Jay Cormier