Junk Art in top 1000 on Boardgamegeek!

screenshot-2017-01-14-14-55-46Junk Art now marks the third game that Sen and I have designed that made it into the top 1000 on boardgamegeek! Our top rated game is still Belfort, sitting near the 300 mark and Akrotiri is our second, sitting at around 600. Junk Art has a chance to reach higher than both of these due to the number of units that are being sold and the fact that it currently has a higher average than both of those games! That’s pretty neat. On one hand, it’s just a metric that doesn’t mean a ton – but on the other hand, this is a rank that is determined by the people who’ve (hopefully) played the game and rated it on bgg.com. So we are thankful to all of you have rated it – whatever you rated it – and we hope to have other games enter this prestigious list some day soon!

-Jay Cormier

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Akrotiri is getting a reprint!

AkroWell this is lovely news! We heard from Filosofia, the publisher of Akrotiri that they are completely sold out of Akrotiri – but the orders from game stores keep pouring in – so another print run has been ordered! That’s fantastic news! No news on when it should be available, but if you want the game, keep bugging your friendly local game stores!

 

-Jay Cormier

Akrotiri Makes Rahdo’s Top 10 2-Player Games!

Rahdo has done a play through of Akrotiri before and has mentioned that him and his wife really loved it – and now we can see how much they love it! He ranks it as his second favourite 2-player game of all time! That’s high praise! Thanks Rahdo! Check out his entire video here – or fast forward to 21:00 to see what he has to say about Akrotiri!

-Jay

Akrotiri in top 5 Pick up and Deliver Games!

The Dice Tower often creates top 10 videos based on various mechanics, and the recent one was for Pick Up and Deliver. This video also welcomed another board game podcast icon to the show – Rahdo! It was Rahdo that placed Akrotiri as his #4 favourite Pick up and Deliver game of all time. That’s high praise coming from someone who’s played and reviewed so many games! It’s surprising that Tom hasn’t played it yet though – considering he’s loved all of our previous games! Maybe we’ll have to send him one!

-Jay Cormier

Akrotiri breaks into the top 1000 board games of all time!

Akro-rankingsAccording to Boardgamegeek, which allows its users to rate the games they play on a scale from 0 to 10 – and then takes all the ratings and ranks all 79,000+ board games, Akrotiri has entered the top 1000! This is only our second game to enter the top 1000, with Belfort currently sitting at 217. The more people that rate the game on boardgamegeek, the better it can rank (assuming people like it of course!).

AkroCurrently, 580 people have rated the game and have given Akrotiri a 7.4 average. To put that in perspective, the number 1 game on Boardgamegeek has an 8.2 average.

Based on the current rating average it has, there’s a chance it can get a lot closer to where Belfort is right now! It’s exciting and hopefully won’t be our last top 1000 game! Thanks to everyone who’s played our games and have rated them!

-Jay Cormier

The Bamboozle Brothers’ GenCon Experience

IMG_2556Wow what a whirlwind adventure! This was my first visit to GenCon and I loved it! I hardly got to experience most of what GenCon had to offer as I was busy pitching games almost every hour of every day – but no complaints from me because that was so fun!
Sen and I followed our own steps on how to prepare for a convention (it’s actually been awhile since we’ve attended a convention that wasn’t The Gathering – which doesn’t follow normal convention rules for pitching!). We set up meetings with 10 different publishers via email so that the afternoons of Fri and Sat were packed – back to back meetings all afternoon.
Thursday night
Sen arrived the day before but I flew in and got to the convention just before 5pm…which was good because we had a meeting set up with Dice Hate Me at 5:50pm!
Our first stop was at the Oni Press booth to set up a meeting with Cullen Bunn, Brian Hurtt and Charlie Chu as luck fell in our laps when Sen found himself in the right place at the right time and learned that they are looking to make a game out of the comic Sixth Gun. Meeting was set for the next morning – perfect!
IMG_2553Now it was time to meet Chris from Dice Hate Me. We had created a separate folder for each publisher we were meeting with and then put our sales sheets in the order that we thought each publisher would like each of our games. The pitch went great with Chris from Dice Hate Me liking Law of the Jungle, 9 Thieves and a game from Sen and another designer called Burning Rubber.
IMG_2571Then we went to the Nerd Nighters charity event hosted by JR Honeycutt (whom I met randomly on a trip to Texas 1.5 years ago!). We got to chat with other designers like Kevin Nunn and Luke Laurie about game design, which was really interesting. Then we had to head back to help demo our game, But Wait There’s More in hall D. We had a good turn out and since they were all adults, that allowed us to test our new Naughty Version expansion and was ecstatic that it went over better than expected! Yay!
Friday
SpielWe started the day with me trying to get one of the 100 per day copies of Mysterium that Asmodee had but the lineup was too big even though I bee-lined it to their booth. Boo. Ok, next we had an interview set up with The Spiel. If you’ve ever been to a game convention then you’ve probably seen them as they wear white jackets with large coloured meeples on it! The interview was fun and humorous and should be posted soon.
Next up was our meeting with Cullen and Charlie from Oni Press. It was Sen, me and Jon Gilmour (designer of Dead of Winter) in the meeting with them. I won’t go into all the details but it was exciting to chat about the possibilities of a Sixth Gun board game with them! Then Cullen said we really need to chat with Matt Kindt….Matt Kindt!!! For those unaware, he’s one of my favourite comic creators! Cullen took a photo of Sen’s business card and texted it to Matt – who reached out right away and set up a meeting with us.  Cool!
Jon Gilmore, Charlie Chu, Brian Hurtt, Sen, Jay

This happened! Jon Gilmour, Charlie Chu, Brian Hurtt, Sen, Ja

So now it was time to jog on over to our first actual pitch of the day. The exhibitor hall is ginormous that no single photo can do justice and so it can take quite awhile to get from one side to the other – not just because of the size of the hall, but also because of the amount of people you have to navigate through. This place was packed!!
RnRFrank from R&R Games was ready for us when we arrived and we chatted quickly about our game that we already have signed with him and learned that they’re really just trying to figure out the art for it as they want to get it right. Then onto the pitches. I love pitching to Frank because he’s very straightforward and that keeps things quick and still professional. We’ve perfected our pitch process now and so we really know how to use our time wisely with publishers. You never know if a meeting is going to get cut short or not!
Our process now is to bring out the previously mentioned folder (with sales sheets in order of importance for that publisher), and go through all of our sales sheets quickly. We preface the pitch by letting the publisher know that we plan on going through a bunch of different games quickly, using the sales sheets, and then the publisher can pick and choose which ones they’d like to see or learn more about. This is a great approach because now the publisher doesn’t have to feel like a schmuck by saying no over and over again. Instead they can simply say that they want to hear more about this one and that one – without having to say that they don’t like these other ones!
Frank liked our game 9 Thieves and Chrono Chickens! As per usual though we needed to keep the prototypes for the rest of the event to show other publishers. We could always come back near the end to hand over any prototypes.
FoxtrotNext we met up with Randy from Foxtrot who liked 9 Thieves and The Mystery of Mister E! A fan of the deduction game!
ZManWe met up with Zev from Z-Man and showed him our mini Akrotiri expansion as well as the rest of our games. He liked 9 Thieves as well! Martin from Filosofia came over and we chatted about our game Junkyard that they’re going to re title to Junk Art and will be released as the second game in the Pretzel lineup after Flick Em Up. We also chatted through a scenario for Flick Em Up that we were asked to design! He showed us the first expansion for Flick Em Up and it was awesome! Horses and ramps!! What a cool game!
APTravis from Action Phase was next and he really liked Law of the Jungle, 9 Thieves and Pig Goes Moo. He was cool with us sending him Print and Play files for the games though, so that’s cool!
Then we got to meet with Hasbro! We met Dougall at The Gathering this year, and so we were already very Hasbrocomfortable and friendly with him. We pitched our games in the usual way and he was blown away (I might be exaggerating to inflate my sense of self importance) by the quantity of games that looked good! We played 9 Thieves and a couple games from other designers – Snap Shot and Burning Rubber. Then our time ran out but he wanted to see more so he set up a time on Saturday morning to the rest. Fantastic!!
RenegadeWe had to boogie to our next pitch which was with Scott from Renegade Games. He expressed interest in SimpliCITY and Pig Goes Moo!
IMG_2570And thus concluded our pitches for the day though we did a couple hours of demoing But Wait There’s More which is always fun and funny. It’s so great watching people experience the game for the first time and realizing how funny this game is!
We thought we were meeting up with Matt Kindt after this but we rescheduled for the next morning. So I played my first non-prototype game at the con and it was Flip City from Tasty Minstrel Games! Neat game! Then we met up with Level 99 Games and played their new battle game, Exceed. We were joined by Josh Cappel and had some interesting conversations about graphic design.
Saturday
We started the day by meeting up with Dougall from Hasbro again. We only had 30 minutes but it was enough to try a couple more games and for him to express interest in Chrono Chicken – but only if we can come up with a better theme (and we think we have one!), as well as The Mystery of Mister E! That could fit in their Clue line up of games.
Then we shimmied over to meet up with Matt Kindt at the Oni Press booth. This was the highlight of the con for me. Matt, Sen and I talked for about an hour, with Brian Hurtt coming in halfway through to join in on the conversation. We chatted about the possibilities of turning Matt’s comic, Mind MGMT into a board game – and wow, that was cool to just brainstorm with him! We’re going to think about it and see if we can make something happen! How cool would that be??!!?? Matt was a super cool guy who has recently fallen in love with board games. His passion about games was great and we have some good ideas that will do his property justice!! So excited about this – I. CAN’T. EVEN.
Potentially the beginning of something amazing! Sen, Brian Hurtt, Matt Kindt and Jay!!

Potentially the beginning of something amazing! Sen, Brian Hurtt, Matt Kindt and Jay!!

Ok, back to earth and onto our next pitch which was more of a show and tell than a pitch. IDW/Pandasaurus had asked us to make a dice game for The Godfather as well as a Scotland Yard-esque game based on the comic Powers. We wanted to show them our progress on both of these games. First up was The Godfather game and they LOVED it! We’ve spent a lot of time play testing and tweaking this game to a point where we’re really happy about it! So glad they love it! Next up was Powers – which was presented as a Beta game. We walked through the direction we’re going with it and they were in full agreement on our decisions so far! Whew!
BD-TMGWe had to dart over to Tasty Minstrel Games after this to show Seth and Andy our Belfort Dice Game that we’ve been working on. We let them know that this was still beta as well. Normally we wouldn’t show a publisher a game that was beta but in both these last cases they seemed to make sense. It was a good opportunity to show what we’re doing and if they had any feedback that would change the direction of the development then it’s better to know now. And they did have direction! They thought there were probably too many dice in the game. They’re going to price it out, but we’re already thinking of ways to reduce the number of dice needed.
Then I got to meet Ryan from Mayday Games. While it’s great to catch up and meet with publishers we already knew, the big benefit of coming to GenCon for us was meeting new publishers and starting a relationship with them. Ryan was fun and after pitching one of our games and getting ready for our second he gave us a really nice compliment. He said that we’re the most organized and professional designers he’s met! That’s pretty nice to hear! We do take pride in our professionalism and strive to stand out from other designers (damn, why am I sharing this with everyone else then??!). Ryan liked a bunch of our games – Chrono Chicken, 9 Thieves, Law of the Jungle!
Next up? Shari from Ad Magic. Shari had agreed to publish our game Clunatics but wanted gameplay to be smoothed out a bit more. We fooled around with so many different ways to play this game and finally had a great suggestion from one of our play testers and it worked really well.  We showed her how the new version played and she really liked it! Yay! She assigned a project manager to the project and now we’re off to the races with this one! We had enough time so I pitched a game I’ve worked on with another designer named Shad Miller called Rack Your Brains. She had seen the sales sheet before and thought it looked interesting. I walked her through the first few rounds and she got it immediately and really liked it! We were in a rush but we left it with her and the project manager so I’m not sure if it’s happening yet or not!!
So we literally had to jog to a different hotel as we had signed up to give a seminar called, “How to pitch to publishers, the Bamboozle Brothers way.” We had borrowed a projector and we had a PowerPoint presentation to go along with our skits that went through all the steps on how we pitch our games to publishers. We had about 20 people attend the seminar and they seemed really engaged throughout, asking questions and taking notes. I really liked doing it and I think it’s just another thing that Sen and I do to try and give back to this community.
At 5pm we had our last But Wait There’s More demo to run alongside the publisher. Another set of fun people came and enjoyed themselves! Tons ‘o laughs.
For the first time, we got to actually go to a sit down restaurant for a meal! Crazy! Up until then we had been eating from food trucks and from inside the convention centre (dangerous – but the pot roast sandwich was delicious actually). We met up with JR Honeycutt, Tim Brown, The Spiel guys, Josh Cappel, Daryl Chow, Daryl Andrews and more at The Yard for a meal and lots of great conversation. Great stories from everyone about how their pitches went.
On our way out of the restaurant we bumped into Michael Coe and Nathan Hadfield from Gamelyn Games. That was serendipitous since we were on our way to a different restaurant to meet them! We chatted about our upcoming game that they’re publishing of ours called, Rock Paper Wizards and agreed to meet up again later in the evening.
First time meeting! Michael Coe, Jay, Sen, Josh Cappel, Nathan Hadfield

First time meeting in real life! Michael Coe, Jay, Sen, Josh Cappel, Nathan Hadfield

Crash-SCBack at the hotel we had arranged to meet up with Patrick from Crash Games. We really thought that he would like our game SimpliCITY. We were a bit bummed that SimpliCITY wasn’t getting a lot of love at the con so far. It’s our favourite game of the ones we were pitching. I think it has to do with the sales sheet I made. I think the art makes it look too busy and basic. Anyway, we played it with Patrick and everything was humming along and we scored after the first round. Then you could almost hear the click as Patrick ‘got’ the game. He really liked it!
IMG_2614Then it was back to the hall to meet up with Gamelyn Games again. We chatted about the direction they wanted to go with Rock Paper Wizards and Josh sketched up some ideas for the cover. That’s a fun meeting! We’re thinking of aiming it more towards a family friendly type of audience since we know that gamers will like it no matter how it’s packaged. Michael really wants to get this game into mass market so the packaging really needs to appeal to that market. Then we played Tiny Epic West – the next game in the Tiny Epic universe, and had fun playing it and providing some feedback afterwards.
Sunday
Renegade-SC-giveSunday was all about re-visiting publishers to hand over our prototypes. We had some decisions to make about which prototype should go to which publisher. It’s a great position to be in when multiple publishers want your games! So we had to factor many things into which publisher we should give our games to, but their need for exclusivity – that was a big one. Some publishers requested this and that makes it hard for us! We did give some of our games to publishers that wanted exclusivity but usually it was based on their enthusiasm for our game and their promise of how much time they needed. We also found out that Dice Hate Me was also interested in our word game, Lost for Words! Huzzah! I’d love for that game to find a home!
Patrick from Crash won the Bamboozle Lottery! He gets to take one of our prototypes back with him!

Patrick from Crash won the Bamboozle Lottery! He gets to take one of our prototypes back with him!

Some of our games went home with two publishers if they didn’t care about exclusivity, so it was smart of us to bring two copies of each game! We are so SMRT! One publisher was doing print and play and Hasbro wanted us to mail him copies afterwards as he didn’t want to carry all of them back with him. So we got rid of all of our prototypes with the exception of Herdables. Boo. And we had just found a way to make the game even better too. The good news is that Huch and Friends likes that game and was interested in publishing it (and gave us the OK to pitch to other publishers at GenCon). So now we will let them know about the recent changes and that might motivate them to publish it!

So as of right now, we have no prototypes without a home! That’s a great feeling!! GenCon was even more exciting than I thought it was going to be. I wish I was there longer as we had more publishers we could have pitched to if we had the time. Next step for us is to email all these publishers to touch base with them after the con, and to ship out prototypes to Hasbro. Stay tuned if there are any takers!!
-Jay Cormier

Great review of Akrotiri by Naked Meeple!

Akro-nakedmeeple

Photo from Naked Meeple website

Thanks to Naked Meeple for this great write up and review of our new game, Akrotiri! I’m just over the moon with pride when people play our games – and like them as much as we do! 🙂 Thanks for playing and thanks for a great review. Some things that stood out for me are:

“The game itself is surprisingly challenging”

“My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed Akrotiri!”

“I particularly like that it’s such a small, portable game, but that it has a good amount of depth and strategy involved.”

“I’m happy to have this one in my collection”

Thanks Naked Meeple!!

-Jay Cormier

The Evolution of Player Aids in Akrotiri

Here’s an interesting look at the development of a game – all through the changes made to the player aid! We’ll take you through the changes we made throughout the development of Akrotiri. There were more iterations of the game than just these because sometimes the player aid wouldn’t change but something else would.

You can read the full story in our Akrotiri Designer Diary Part 1!

OK, let’s get to it!

January 2010

aid1-jan2010

Our first player aid came about 5 iterations in since we didn’t need them before this point. In this version players could have multiple ships! This stayed in the game for awhile, until we realized that you can move so fast in this game that multiple ships weren’t really needed. We had huts which were a way of claiming islands – but they didn’t have to be located like temples are now – you simply sailed to an island and built a hut!

The market was more of a stock market concept where players could affect the price of each good. It took us awhile to figure out the current market as we were toying with other market mechanics.

Pirates! We had pirates! You could move a pirate ship for an action and it did various things throughout the development…I think they could block you from even moving into a certain area – or they would steal resources from your ship! This version of the game was all about shipping resources – that’s it – so pirates were a way of creating some tension.

February 2010

aid2-feb2010This is where we implemented the temples! They started off pretty easy – like “East of 2 Mountains”. Apparently we allowed people to buy a lot of map cards as well! Makes sense that we reduced that to a maximum of 3 in the final game! The market was still a stock market style system.

March 2010

aid3-mar2010OK a few things we tried here (that ultimately didn’t work):

1) We tried different capacities for shipping. You could upgrade your boat so that it could hold more resources. It’s not a bad idea but meant more components since they’d physically have to actually hold that many resources!

2) You could place a flag on an island! Weird. You got points for flags on contiguous islands – but you couldn’t place a flag on islands with your opponent’s flag. This did add an element of interaction as you’d be racing to get to specific areas before opponents so you wouldn’t be blocked off. Then you were motivated to place your tiles in your area more to make more islands…so by the end it actually did the opposite of interaction since each player was in their own sector of the map.

Things we added that stuck: Gaining more actions based on the number of temples you’ve found. While the number of actions changed through each iteration – the concept stuck! It really motivated people to build temples fast! But once you got one or two – it was tricky timing when you should find a harder temple – and that decision still remains in the game.

Another thing that stuck: Different levels of difficulty for temples. The point values changed a bit, but the fact that we had three levels of difficulty stayed until the final game.

May 2010

aid4-may2010In this iteration we gave bonus points for temples that were built further away from the main island of Santorini (Thera in the final game). The idea is interesting and it made it into the final game but only as goal cards.

Wow – looks like we had a lot of temples in this version! Interesting that the actions go up and then back down. That was our idea of a negative feedback loop (catch-up mechanic) as you had to time it right when you wanted to build those last few temples. Ultimately we found it anti-climactic and had it only increasing in actions.

Another stab at doing the market. This time each player would have a token for each resource and would place it on their own player aid. I can’t remember how players would impact their own market – but since it was individual, it just didn’t work.

You can see some things starting to take fruition – like how to excavate temples. That’s exactly how it is in the final game – except that now you can excavate on any tile, not just the one you placed.

The Worshippers were the same things as the flags in the previous versions. A way to get other points.

August 2010

aid5-aug2010

This one added back the bonus for finding temples further away from Santorini as well as the flags/worshipper bonus. The star at the end of the Actions track meant the game was over.

September 2010

aid6-spet2010The game has now changed from Santorini to Akrotiri! We saw that there was already a game on BGG called Santorini so we changed it to Akrotiri – which is an archaeological dig site on the island of Santorini.

New things in this iteration:

1) Added the pre-turn actions to the player aid: add a tile and place 2 resources.

2) Temples can be found on any island – as long as your boat is there…just like the final game

3) Atlantis! What?! Yeah we added this whole other element of Atlantis. Many people believe that the volcano that erupted that created the island of Santorini also sunk Atlantis! So we thought we’d use that in our game. Basically in this first version of having Atlantis in the game you just used one of your map cards – but you paid 12 gold and it only gave you 3 points – but it ended the game. Atlantis will stick around for a few more iterations…!

October 2010

aid7-oct2010Check this out! Now we’ve got a pretty fancy player aid! Everything has been turned into a graphic or an icon! Pretty sweet!

New things:

1) Pick a role? Yeah we had these different role cards that gave bonuses and made certain things easier. You would choose a new one each turn.

2) The actions are very close to the final version of the game. There’s no oracle yet (that was one of the roles!) and maps cost 2 gold each instead of being able to buy more for one action at a higher price.

3) Game ended when Atlantis was found or one player found 7 temples and 5 gold gave players a point at the end.

November 2010

aid8-nov2010

This is the version that was first pitched to Z-Man at BGG.con in November 2010. This one had Atlantis still but now you had to find rumours in order to locate Atlantis! Whenever any player every found a temple, they would take a random rumour token and place it face down on top of the temple. Then any other player could go to their island and pay the owner of that temple some gold and get the rumour token. That player would place the rumour token face up on one of the ordinates on their player aid around Atlantis. The rumour token would have terrain icons on them and once you got a rumour token on all 4 ordinates (N,E,W,S) then you had a map to where Atlantis was located! Whew – crazy! Also the Oracle makes an appearance! It even took more actions to use the Oracle the further you were along – which seemed fair!

We also implemented the concept that your actions per turn only increased.

April 2011

aid9-apr2011

This version had something called Offerings and for the life of me, I can’t recall what that was about! It seems like it was something about rumour tokens. Yeah – you would get more money for each successive rumour that someone bought off of you. This meant players tried to find rumours from players that hadn’t ‘sold’ many yet. We also tweaked how many actions you could get per turn.The end game gave 1 point for each 10 gold – which is how it is in the final game.

October 2011

aid10-oct2011

OK bye bye Atlantis. Maybe we’ll see you in an expansion one day! We had received feedback from a different publisher that the Atlantis part felt tacked on – which it really was – so we removed it. We added the ability to buy more map cards for one action at a higher price. This is pretty close to the final player aid. We even added the free actions on this one.

The one change that was made after this was to make it a two player game and to add more goal cards to some of the action spaces.

So that’s it! A tour of how a game came to be, as seen through the perspective of the player aid!

-Jay Cormier

Akrotiri – Designer Diary, Part 1

AkroJay and Sen take a look back at how Akrotiri came to be!

Jay: Let me start by saying that Akrotiri is my favourite game that I’ve had a part in designing. I really love tile laying games and I love the unique mechanic that we came up with for the game. Though we’ve had other games published before this, you could say that Akrotiri was our very first game design ever!
When Sen and I decided to design games, we started to make a tile laying game about trying to find treasure in a jungle while avoiding natives.

Sen: Jay is a *huge* Indiana Jones fan so our first attempt at making a game naturally centred around a theme we knew well. Jay didn’t just want the players to find a map, he wanted them to find a map from combining random pieces. The trick here was that those random map pieces still had to make a usable map that would help the player locate treasures on an ever-changing map.

Jay: Yeah! So, these map pieces would say things like “Two paces north” or “West of a tree,” where the player could then triangulate the location of a hidden treasure based on location relative to landmarks and such.

Sen: We were on to something with that mechanism, but we couldn’t figure out how to make the *rest* of the game fun.

Jay: So, like many people, we kind of gave up. We’d talk about it less and less when we hung out and then eventually stopped talking about it altogether. Fast forward a few years and I had to move to the west coast of Canada for work.

Sen: We thought that making games together would be a great way to stay connected despite the distance between us, but we were so focused on new titles that we completely forgot about that first game.

Jay: Now, fast forward a few more years to 2010. Now, we have a few games designed and we’ve successfully signed our first two games (Belfort and Train of Thought with Tasty Minstrel Games). We’ve been using this 25-tile restriction concept to help us get games to a playable point faster and I had started to work on another small 25-tile game as a gift for someone. It was originally called Smokeboat because players were boating from island to island picking up meat and smoking them.

Sen: mmmmm Smoked meat…

Dec-2009Jay: In the first version of the game, players were supposed to lay tiles over 1/4 of another tile, which would create unique islands and pathways. This seemed really interesting at first but, upon playtesting, it became obvious that it was just too hard to figure out where to place your tiles.

Sen: So we removed this aspect and the game changed to a much more conventional and, thus, accessible tile laying game – instead of the Carcasonne rules of placement where you had to match similar aspects from one tile to the next, we put all the land in the corners and made the pathways vary on each tile. It was the pathways, or trade routes, that would vary but a tile could be placed and fit on any position on the map.

jan-2010-exampleJay: Yeah, it was more based on how you wanted the trade routes to line up that mattered. The game started out as a basic “pick-up-and-deliver” style game with the goal being about making as much money as possible. We fiddled around with it like this for a while, but it lacked that special spark. We did come up with a more interesting way to do movement though. Instead of a 1:1 movement where you count how many tiles you can go, you travel from dock to dock. Sometimes this might take you to an island that’s located on the exact same tile that you’re already on, but most of the time it will take you halfway across the board as you aren’t forced to stop at every dock you pass. This made the traveling part really quick and interesting.

Sen: Sometimes an island can get cut off from the trade routes, so we allowed players to portage from one dock to another – on the same island. This opened up the board and solved the issue of getting a blocked board!

We also had pirates! They would steal resources if you sailed past them. They weren't that interesting so maybe we can find a way to save them for an expansion!

We also had pirates! They would steal resources if you sailed past them. They weren’t that interesting so maybe we can find a way to save them for an expansion!

Now, for some reason, we stumbled back upon the idea of borrowing the mechanic from our very first game that we never finished – the random treasure map on a random tile map. Surprisingly, this worked out extremely well with very little alteration! Our tiles already had terrain icons on them to dictate resource availability per island, so we based all our maps around the terrain icons. Now a treasure could be located south of a mountain and east of a volcano, for example. Players were now placing tiles in order to create a world to make their map cards playable. At the time, we had never played any other game quite like this.

Jay: We decided to set the game in the Greek islands and called the game Santorini after the famous Aegean island. As we refined it, we wanted to create a believable reason for the whole “shipping in the Mediterranean” portion of the game. We created the backstory that players were not mere merchants but explorers who needed to dabble in trading goods to fund their expeditions. We learned that Santorini exists due to a volcano erupting and thus creating that island. Bringing your resources back to Santorini to sell made a lot of sense since they weren’t capable of growing their own resources.

One of our first attempts at the market where players impacted the cost of goods with specific cards. Not as elegant as our final solution!

One of our first attempts at the market where players impacted the cost of goods with specific cards. Not as elegant as our final solution!

Sen: We tried a bunch of different ways to make the market interesting and we ended up with one that players can affect in small ways, and one that also increases over time as the game ramps up. It was a stroke of luck that the market we use also matched the pace of our game! We also changed the hidden treasures to lost temples that needed to be excavated. When we checked http://www.boardgamegeek.com, we found that there was already a game called Santorini, so we changed the name to Akrotiri. That’s the name of an archaeological dig site on Santorini itself, and Santorini is also known as the island of Thera – it’s all a bit confusing, really!

On the right side is Atlantis and players would have to find clues or rumours about the location of Atlantis in order to win the game. Another expansion idea mayhap?!

On the right side is Atlantis and players would have to find clues or rumours about the location of Atlantis in order to win the game. Another expansion idea mayhap?!

Jay: So we had our name and we had our mechanisms. The game still lacked a strong narrative arc and we couldn’t figure out a solid end game. For the longest time, the game revolved around the players finding to find Atlantis. The volcanic eruption that formed Santorini was reputed to have also sunk Atlantis. We had players sailing around to the islands, finding temples using their map cards, all while collecting clues to where a gateway to Atlantis was located.

Sen: When a player found a temple, she would place a random rumour token under it. So then, the other players would sail to their opponents’ temples trying to collect these tokens to be the first to find the gateway to Atlantis.

Jay: There were so many other ideas that were tested with this game. At one point we had pirates that players controlled that would steal resources from you. We had flags that you placed on islands to claim them – which gave players different abilities than placing a temple did. We had meeples at one point too – I think they were priests that you would deliver to the temples for a benefit. There were contracts in the game at one point too – where you could fulfill by delivering a specific set of resources to Santorini to get points- but not many people ever did that because it was more fun to use resources to gain money and use that money to find temples!

Sen: We had huts on the islands for awhile which gave players more actions – but eventually we streamlined that by giving players more actions as they excavated temples. For a long time players could buy more boats and the boats had different attributes like speed and capacity – but that all was unnecessary as we found out through our playtesting when everyone pretty much focused on just one boat most of the time anyway. We had role selection in the game at one time too – with each role giving the player a specific bonus that round. That might be good for an expansion! With all the pieces in place, Jay pitched the game to Z-Man Games at BGG.con in 2010. Zev liked it and took it for further review.

Jay: Then the waiting began. We heard nothing back for a long time; months, really. Then Z-Man got bought out by Filosofia. This caused some delays so, wanting to be transparent and wanting to place the game, we asked if it was okay for us to send Akrotiri to another company. Quined, a Dutch publisher, had expressed interest in seeing it and we didn’t want to miss an opportunity. Zev was amenable to that and so we sent another copy of the prototype to Quined.

Sen: After some time, Quined got back to us. They said they liked the game, but felt that the whole “Quest for Atlantis” aspect of the end game was tacked on, so to speak. In retrospect, it, in some ways was. We discussed modifications with their team, but they still decided to pass on it.

Jay: But did that deter us? No! It gave us further motivation to figure out how to end the game properly! After tinkering with it for a couple months, we realized that the game should really just be about finding the temples so we stripped away all of the Atlantis references. This streamlined the game immensely, which just goes to show you that rejection can be a good thing because it helped us transform a game that we really liked into a game that we loved!

Sen: We sent the new version of the game to Filosofia for them to test and they liked it. The only challenge was that we originally pitched the game for 2-5 players. We had tested it under those conditions and it held up in all regards. Sophie from Filosofia was adamant, however, that the game would only be signed as a 2-player game. Her position was that there was too much down-time between individual turns with larger player counts. We conceded, agreeing that Akrotiri would make an excellent 2-player game.

Jay: And so, we signed on the dotted line! Needless to say, we’re extremely excited that the gaming world is finally be able to experience Akrotiri!

Next up we’ll take you on a tour of how the player aid changed throughout the development of Akrotiri!

-Jay Cormier