Akrotiri is 100% official!

If that title doesn’t make sense to you, then let me explain…

Sen and I designed a game called Santorini. It’s a tile laying exploration game that has a pretty clever new mechanic that’s used to find hidden temples. Once we got it to a point where we wanted to show publishers, another game designer pointed out that there was already a game out there called Santorini – by a fellow Game Artisan of Canada no less (we were just new to that wonderful group of game designers at the time).

So we were a bit bummed because that was a cool title. We did some more research and found that the name of an archaeological dig site on Santorini is Akrotiri. We liked it and that became our new title for the game.

The game made it to the finals of the Canadian Game Design of the Year and the first publisher I showed it to was Zev from Z-Man games. I was at BGG.con (a convention in Dallas that’s run by http://www.boardgamegeek.com) and I only had time for a 5 minute pitch. He liked it enough to want to investigate it further.

Then the waiting came. We kept prodding with emails asking about their thoughts and kept waiting to hear from them. Then a few months pass and Filosofia acquires Z-Man Games! So now there’s a whole whack of time that passes as they figure out their new structure and who’s doing what. We do get word from Zev that the people at Filosofia like the game though – so that’s good!

Old prototype of Akrotiri

In the middle of all this, Quined expresses interest in checking it out. We get permission from Z-Man to show it to them (very important! Never show your game to more than one publisher at a time without their knowledge!). They play it and like it, but they don’t like the ending. We explore some other options and we scrap the entire ending we had and find something that feels a lot more organic and obvious. In the end, Quined passes because it’s not heavy enough for them. But we’re happy because we have a new version that plays even better than the old one! We share this with Z-Man Games.

More time passes and I attend the Gathering of Friends last year for the first time. I had connected with Sophie from Filosofia before attending and we agreed that it would be a good place to play it together and come to some sort of agreement. We played a 5 player game of Akrotiri (tip: unless your game plays best with 5 players, always choose to play with fewer!!). Like most tile-laying games, a lot can change before it’s your turn, so Sophia thought that she had to wait until it was her turn to pay attention. Not good.

But she thought the game would be a good 2 player game…! They took the game back with them and tried it a few more times as a 2 player only game – and they liked it! They wanted to do it! Huzzah! They wrote up a contract and sent it to us – and we signed it and sent it back….but it still was never 100% official until this week. Why? Because we got back the signed contract – with their signatures on it too!

So now Akrotiri is happening! It will be a 2 player game, in the same box as the Agricola 2 player game. We’re not sure exactly when it’s coming out, but the artist (the amazing Chris Quilliams!! Check out his stuff!) has already been in contact with us to ask us questions about our thoughts on things like time period and whatnot. Super cool!

So three cheers! We’re super pumped to partner with Z-Man Games on this! We’ll share more news about potential release date as soon as we know more.

-Jay Cormier

Belfort is a Winner at BGG.con

BGG.con is the convention run by the number one boardgaming site, lovingly called boardgamegeek.com. This is a convention for gamers! I attended last year to promote the launch of Train of Thought and had a blast! Mostly it’s just people playing games together. The convention is strategically scheduled a few weeks after Essen so that they can bring all the new and cool games back for the gamers to devour.

Throughout the event gamers can use their unique pass code to log into a computer and rate any games that they play on a scale of 1 to 5. As the convention progresses, gamers can see which games are getting a lot of buzz or hype as the top 25 games are on a constant rotation as they are projected on a huge screen in the main hall. They then sort the votes into three categories: High, Medium and Low traffic. So if a game only got 5 votes – but they were all 5’s, then it is put at the top of the Low traffic list.

Last year we were humbled to have Train of Thought to be the second highest rated game under the High Traffic list! That was very surprising since it wasn’t a gamers game. This year, attendees were able to get a free copy of Train of Thought if they wanted one!

So coming into this year’s BGG.con, Belfort was riding high on some recent reviews and it got elevated to the Hot Games room – where it was set up to be played constantly throughout the event. So guess which game was rated as the best game of BGG.con 2011?

Yep, Belfort was rated as the #1 game for BGG.con 2011 – under the High Traffic list! Wow. That is so great to see. Thanks to everyone who played it at the con!

-Jay Cormier

BGG.con Update: Train of Thought Giveaway + Belfort in the HOT GAMES room

Jay and I like making all kinds of games.  Our first published game, Train of Thought, is a party word game, that’s more cerebral than it’s given credit for at first glance.  And yet my 7-year old son can play – and sometimes, remarkably well –  ToT (as it’s lovingly known around these here parts) without much assistance at all!

If you happen to be a registrant at 2011’s BGG.con event in Dallas, Tx (Nov 16 – Nov 20, 2011), you can grab a free copy of ToT straight out of Michael Mindes’ hands!  Of course, there’s always Martian Dice or JAB: Real Time Boxing to be had.  I recommend both, but – if push came to shove – I’d have to say that ToT is the way to go.  No bias 😀

Also showcased at BGG.con this year is our flagship game, Belfort.  It’s been picked as one of the few games to be playable in the HOT GAMES room at at the con along with such stand outs as Dungeon Petz, Ora et Labora, etc..  A sincere thanks to all that voted for it in the poll.  Hopefully, many more people will get to experience the fun that is Belfort first hand!  I’m not sure if Michael will have some of the very limited reserve stock there, but there will hopefully be some copies on hand from retailers.

Wish I could be there!

~ Sen-Foong Lim

Step 28: Copyrights, Trademarks and Patents

Usually the second or third question I get asked from anyone after they find out I’m a board game designer is something about how I protect my ideas from being stolen. Here’s why I’m not worried about my ideas being stolen:

1) Everyone has an idea for a board game, so stealing someone else’s idea is just so risky and time consuming when they’d rather spend it on their own idea; and

2) if someone does indeed steal your idea – then it’s just going to be a nuisance to sue them. How much is that nuisance worth to you?

Seems harsh a bit – but the good news is that there aren’t many examples of people stealing other people’s ideas for games (I actually don’t know of one). Publishers really don’t do it – because it’s a small industry and they wouldn’t want that kind of reputation. People don’t do it because if they stole your idea then they’d just be in the exact same position that you are in now: the “I’ve got an idea…now what?” stage. Most people don’t have a clue on how to take that next step.

Let’s dissect the differences between the copyrights, trademarks and patents and which ones we need to be concerned with as a board game designer. It should be stated that I’m no lawyer, so this is meant as just observations from my experience.

Copyright:

Basically, copyrights protect intellectual property like a book or a board game. It does not protect ideas, facts, systems or methods of operation.  This is how trivia games are able to exist and not be sued. Where you could get into an issue with copyrights and games is if your game uses actual text/dialogue from something else. You might get lucky if you only use a small amount, but I wouldn’t risk it. If you are preventing a company from making a game off their own property then you are in trouble! Obviously you can’t make a board game based off of a popular TV show without a signed contract beforehand – but you can get away with trivia, as long as it’s not a trivia game based just on that one property. You couldn’t make a Simpsons Trivia game without a signed contract, for example.

What will be protected by Copyright in a board game:

Pretty much just the rulebook is protected. You can’t protect the mechanics or systems at all in your game. Someone could make an almost identical game to yours, and as long as they redo the entire rulebook, then there would be nothing you could do.  That said, who would go through that much effort and cost to make a game that is too similar to something else that’s already available? Sure there are many instances of novel mechanics being borrowed/stolen from one game to another, but that happens in any medium.

How do you copyright a board game:

Just make it. There you go – it’s automatically protected! As soon as something is created it is protected. Now you can register for an actual copyright, but it’s never usually recommended. It would only be part of a lawsuit were one to arise from some sort of infringement – and a very minor part. I haven’t heard of game designers getting their own work protected by an official copyright before. We don’t.

If you are the legal author, then you are allowed to use the © symbol if you want, though it doesn’t help or hurt you for having or not having it on your work!

Trademark:

A trademark protects words, phrases, symbols or designs that identify a brand and help distinguish it from another.  You couldn’t design a game and call it Monopoly, for example, or open a restaurant that had golden arches.

What will be protected by a Trademark in a board game:

If you’re just in prototype phase, you could trademark your logo or a saying/slogan that goes with your game.

How do you trademark a board game

Similar to copyrights, your work is trademarked as soon as it’s created. Feel free to put the TM after a logo to prove that you’re the legal owner of the rights to that logo. We have never done this for our prototypes – and I don’t see it very often on finished products either. When you see an R after a logo, that stands for Registered Trademark and is often used for big companies. If you’re looking to self-publish, then it might be worthwhile to prove to the public that it is indeed your property.

It seems like the only time you see the © or TM is from a paranoid person who has a fear that his or her idea will be stolen.

Parody:

Now you can get away with a lot if you’re framing it up as a parody. If you’re using a logo that kind of looks like a popular TV show, but is making fun of it – then you’re ok. Mad magazine gets away with this all the time. Parody can be a fine line though, so you might want to get more professional counsel if you’re unsure.

Patent:

This is an apparatus for sure, but I dont think I want to play this game!

A patent will protect an invention or discovery.

What will be protected by a Patent in a board game:

Patents for board games only make sense when you have invented a new mechanism that hasn’t been seen before. I’m not talking about a new game mechanic, like a new way to do card drafting, but an actual physical mechanism or apparatus that does something in your game.

We have never had to patent any of our ideas as there was never an invention of a physical apparatus in any of our games. Anyone who tells you that you should patent your board game before sending it to a publisher – and your game has no new physical mechanisms to it – then they are overly paranoid, ignorant of the process, or stand to make a buck from it somehow!

Recommendation:

The best advice I can give is to not worry at all about it. I’d also say that you shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket though. If you enjoy game design – then work on a few more, just in case.

Steven Sondheim – one of the greatest musical composers of all time – was apprenticing under Hammerstein (of Rogers and Hammerstein) and Hammerstein asked him to write a musical. Sondheim spent 9 months and finally handed in his first musical. Hammerstein took it and threw it in the fire and said, “Thanks, now write another one.” Sondheim was devastated but eventually wrote another one. After this happened 4 times to him – Hammerstein finally said, “OK now you’re ready – write a musical.” And then he wrote the Tony Award-winning Company.

We recently had a game signed by a publisher to be published but then a game was announced to come out around the same time – and the description of that game made it sound ridiculously similar to our game. We did show off our game to people when we were at BGG.con in November – so there’s a chance that someone saw it there. But as disappointing as that is – we’re not suing or anything…we’re just moving onto our next project. And this was a game that was signed to be published! But it can’t be proven that they stole this idea. In fact – if anything we could be accused of stealing a portion of their game since a version of their game existed a long time ago (though we weren’t aware of it, we swear!).

Let me know though if you’ve had any experiences with any of these three things when it comes to board games. While I hope no one has ever gotten the short end of the stick, I would like to hear about the other side of the coin to see if our experiences so far have been normal or atypically lucky!

-Jay Cormier

Step 19: Conventions – Choosing the Right One

Sen and I have had most, if not all of our success from attending board game conventions.  Here are the steps on how we approach a convention, which we’ll detail in the next few posts:

Step 20) Preparing for the convention

Step 21) Packing!

Step 22) Now you’re at the convention

Step 23) Approaching the publisher

Step 24) Showcasing your game to a publisher

Step 25) Playing your game with a publisher

Step 26) Getting feedback from a publisher

Step 27) Leaving the game with a publisher

Choosing which convention to attend: To most people reading this it probably comes as no surprise that there are indeed a lot of board game conventions in the world.  If your main purpose for going to a convention is to pitch your games to publishers, then the thing you have to identify first is the purpose of each convention.

Essen is the biggest board game convention in the world and its main purpose is to highlight the newest board games to the public.  The focus at Essen is to experience a lot of new games – and buy a lot of new games!

BGG.con is getting very large and its main purpose is to get together with old and new friends and play a lot of games – many of which are hot from Essen.  This is a gamers’ convention.  There are other activities and fun to be had – but all of them are focused around playing games.

GAMA is meant for retailers and the publishers show up and demonstrate their products to all the retailers in hopes that retailers will carry more of their games.  There’s not as much game playing at this one as there is at any other convention.

New York Toy Fair is a huge event but is focused more on toys, though board gaming is growing at this show.  The purpose of this event is for publishers to show off their new toys in an effort to get them to the stores – kind of like GAMA – but for toys.

Regional conventions happen all over the place and will be smaller than all these and could vary in size and scope and purpose.  Mostly these regional conventions are meant for gamers to get together and play games – and possibly sample some new games from some publishers.

So why is it good to know the purpose of a convention?  Well you really need to get inside the head of what a publisher is trying to accomplish.  At BGG.con the publisher is constantly trying to get their games played by people because every single person that attends BGG.con is like a walking advertisement.  If someone at BGG.con likes a game and they chat about it on BGG.com – then that is worth more than spending a bunch on magazine ads and the like.  Because publishers are so focused on getting their games played, none of the publishers have much time to talk to designers.  Not only that, but BGG.con only has about 6-10 publishers show up anyway.  On top of that, some publishers won’t even send the people that you’d want to speak to. At BGG.con, Jay Tummelson of Rip Grande didn’t come – instead he had a bunch of other people to explain games to people (and he sponsored the restaurant bus – yay!).  So if you went up to someone at the Rio Grande booth – they wouldn’t be able to help you anyway.

At Essen and the New York Toy Fair (though I haven’t been to either yet) publishers are focused on selling their game – which involves a ton of demoing.  This again means they won’t have tons of time to talk to designers.  The good news though is that there are a lot of publishers at Essen and the Toy Fair.  I’d be curious to hear from any reader out there who’s been to Essen or the Toy Fair and what it is like from a designer’s perspective – please chime in!

So that leaves GAMA.  While the objective is similar – in that publishers are trying to sell their games – the attendance is mostly retailers, so it’s a lot less crowded.  This was the first convention that I went to and it proved to be very effective.  Since it wasn’t super busy, publishers were more agreeable to listen to designers.  Almost all of the big and many of the small to medium publishers come to GAMA so you really have a great opportunity to talk to a lot of different publishers.  GAMA is also great because they offer a lot of seminars and workshops and some are even targeted to the game designer.  I’ve learned a lot from these seminars – and have passed off a lot of what I learned on this blog already!

As for regional conventions, it’s rare that a publisher will show up.  While they might sponsor a part of the event, they usually don’t send the people that you want to talk to.  Often you’ll just get a card or direction to follow what it says on their website for submissions.  That’s not bad as even getting a card is a tiny foot in the door, but I wouldn’t spend too much money in attending a regional convention if your main purpose is to get your games in front of publishers.

Each convention has its benefits, but knowing the purpose of the convention will help you determine which one you should attend.  I’ve now been to GAMA twice and BGG.con once.  I’ve had to pay for my flights and hotels for each, so it’s definitely not cheap.  As you’ll see in the upcoming posts, without attending these conventions Sen and I would not have had the success we’ve had (or at the very least it would have taken a lot longer!).

-Jay Cormier

There are also some other major game conventions and toy fairs to mention:

The Nuremburg Toy Fair – Feb 3-8 2011, Nuremburg, Germany – http://www.spielwarenmesse.de/

The Origins Game Fair – Jun 22-26 2011, Columbus, OH –http://www.originsgamefair.com/

Chicago Toy and Game Fair – November 2011, Chicago, IL –http://www.chitag.com/

Note that some are open to the public, some are industry and press only.

There are also specific boardgame design related conferences, such as Protospiel in Ann Arbor, MI.

http://www.protospiel.org/

If you check the site, you’ll see that Elfinwerks, Mayfair Games, Minion Games, North Star Games and Steve Jackson Games were present there. And you can be guaranteed they went looking for new material.

Some smaller local conventions might have product reps that can meet with you – you just have to ask. When Jay and I both lived in Hamilton, we went BayCon – run by Bayshore Hobbies, our FLGS – and there were always reps from companies like Privateer Press, Mayfair, and Chessex demoing games, selling product and showing off unreleased titles. So check out what’s in your area before you drop a few c-notes to travel to NY, Chi-town or Vegas.

You may be able to find out if a publisher’s rep is going to be at a conference by looking at their website. For example, these are the conventions where a representative from Steve Jackson Games will be present:

http://www.sjgames.com/con/

And Days of Wonder will have reps at the following events (Look in the bottom left hand box):

http://www.daysofwonder.com/en/community/

So as the old adage goes, seek, and ye shall find! But it’s always polite to have an open dialog prior to meeting…

-Sen-Foong Lim

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 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!