My Short Adventure at The Gathering

Last year I chose not to attend the Gathering due to the birth of my twins, but this year I was ‘allowed’ to go, though only from Friday to Monday…so I had to make the most of it!

Friday

I flew into London, Ontario so that Sen and I could drive down to Niagara Falls together. We got there late afternoon and we realized that it was the first time we’ve ever been there on the first Friday as it was fairly quiet. With no publishers in sight, we got to have fun and just play games!

IMG_20180413_194640.jpgWe played Deception from Grey Fox Games with Jon Gilmour and a growing group of participants as we played it 4 times in a row. It’s a really fun game that mixes Mysterium with Werewolf. I got to play Azul from Next Move Games with Eric Lang, which was great as I hadn’t had a chance to play this one yet! It’s fun and thinky and a dash of screw you in there. Then Rodney Smith showed up and we played The Mind a few times. This game is super interesting! It’s like The Game, but with no talking! Then we played Deja Vu – and it got crazy as we all fought for the various pieces. We’re not sure if the fighting aspect is in the rules, but I’m sure that’s how I’ll want to play it from now on! I managed to crush everyone as I’m pretty good at speed games.

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Saturday

IMG_20180428_101121.jpgWe started our Saturday off with a pitch to Maple Games. We were pitching a game that we recently got back from a publisher that allowed their time to elapse. It’s a 1 vs. many, hidden movement game and it was fun to play this game again. Daryl from Maple Games wants to sign this one asap! He was already familiar with the game because he actually worked at IDW Games as a developer when we first submitted this game, and even back then he was a champion for our game.

Then I saw Peter and Phillip from Eggertspiele and they were free so I showed them In The Hall of the Mountain King designed by Graeme Jahns and myself. They both really enjoyed it and thought it might be a bit too easy for an Eggertspiele game and a bit too hard for a Plan B game, but they liked it enough to seek out Sophie and Martin from Plan B to play it right then. We played it again and it was confirmed that it was indeed to complicated for a Plan B game, so then Sophie left it with Peter to determine if it was good enough for Eggertspiele.

IMG_20180428_101102.jpgSince we had the attention of Martin from Pretzel, Sen and I showed him all of our expansion cities for Junk Art. It’s always interesting playing and pitching to Martin as he has an amazing brain that can find the most fun and most unique aspects to any game. He liked most of our cities and gave us direction on how to proceed.

By now it was time for our annual tradition where a bunch of us head out to have some yummy wings at Duffs, and then we go to a movie! Usually we try to see a horror movie and this year A Quiet Place just opened, so it was perfect timing. We all seemed to really enjoy the movie even if we had qualms with some of the world building.

When we got back to the hotel, we played more games, like another round of The Mind and then we got to try the prototype of Roll Through the Ages: Medieval Age. This game had tons of pieces that snapped into a grid as you built out your city and we all really enjoyed it! I’m not allowed to show any pics of that one yet though. Then Sen and I fooled around with an alpha prototype of a game based on the comic Mind MGMT and while there were some interesting elements, there wasn’t enough there yet to know what to do next. Bah!

Sunday

Sunday, or as we might end up calling it from now on – Zevday, was jam packed full of Zev-y goodness. Before getting into our day of Zev, I was able to re-pitch FANimals to Helaina from Kid’s Table Board Games. I had pitched this to her at GenCon last year, received some feedback and changed the core mechanics because of it. She really seemed to like the changes and asked to keep he copy and for me to send a copy of the new cards. Done and done!

IMG_20180428_101114.jpgThen we started our Zevday with our Godzilla game. This is a game we had signed with Toy Vault, who had the license to Godzilla through Toho at the time. Unfortunately Warner Brothers came in and purchased Toho and that made getting the rights a lot more complicated for some reason. So Toy Vault was fine with us pitching the game to another publisher, and knowing that Wizkids has a lot of experience with licenses and also that Zev is a huge Godzilla fan, we all knew this was an important pitch!

The pitch couldn’t have went better as I played this 1 vs. 1 card game against Zev and was about to decimate him, when he pulled out some surprises and came away with the win! He really loved the game and said he’d do it if he can get the license! Huzzah!

IMG_20180428_101108.jpgThen we showed him our hidden movement game to Zev and he really liked that one as well. 2 for 2! We all went for lunch and then afterwards I showed him a game designed by Don Kirkby and myself called War of the Words. It’s a game about trying to communicate with aliens via all sorts of mini word games. IMG_20180415_155026.jpgHe really liked this one too! He said he’d like to test it with more people but really wants to do it! Wow – 3 for 3! We finished up by pitching In the Hall of the Mountain King and this was the only one that didn’t fit with him or the Wizkids brand. OK, 3 for 4 is not too shabby!

We then finished our Zevday by playing Tichu with him and Stefan Brunelle but are sad to report that we couldn’t repeat our victory from last year! It’s the cards I tells ya – the cards!!

I then found Nathan McNair and Jon Gilmour to show them Skirmishes, a game I designed with Shad Miller. I was excited about this pitch because this game seemed like a good match for this publisher. JF Gagne from Panda joined in as my wing man and we played a 4 player game. The biggest challenge to this pitch was that we were within the last few days for the Dinosaur Island Kickstarter so both Jon and Nathan were preoccupied throughout the pitch. That didn’t seem to matter too much because Nathan showered quite a bit of praise on the game. Sometimes you can never tell if a publisher really likes a game you’re showing them or not, but when they continue to find new things to praise about the game, then I feel pretty confident that they liked it! They took the game back with them to test further!

Monday

MVIMG_20180424_213813.jpgI started the day with Sen as we fooled around with our new alpha prototype game that’s set in the Junk Art family and is all about dropping frames in order to score points. It’s still early in development but when Martin from Pretzel saw it, he got very excited and wants to make it his 2020 Pretzel game! Nice!

Then I had a pitch session with Huch! as I wanted to show them FANimals and we played through it twice as we tweaked a rule that made the second game a lot more interesting. It was fun to play with them as well as William Attia (who has a revised Caylus coming out soon!). Then I showed them In the Hall of the Mountain King and we had quite the epic game! Ben really loved it and Britta said she wanted to play it again – which Ben says is always a good sign! Since it was the last day for me at the Gathering, I gave my copy to Huch to take back as Eggertspiele said they really liked it but are going to pass. All of the publishers were interested in our next step with the game – which was to make one central mountain that all players play onto, instead of each player having their own mountain.

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Next up was my pitch to Eric Lang from CMON. I showed Skirmishes to him as it seemed to be the kind of game they make. Eric spent a bit of time to explain the new direction that he wants to take CMON and this game no longer fits within what they’re looking for. He liked In the Hall of the Mountain King a bit more but still not a perfect fit. Sometimes rejection can be ok when you get knowledge of the kind of games a publisher wants instead.

We were able to flag down Scott from Renegade and quickly showed him our sales sheets for our games as he didn’t have tons of time. We were able to chat about a game he signed of ours awhile ago and what the future of it will be…which is still uncertain, unfortunately.

Our last pitch was with Tony from USAopoly. While we didn’t have a lot of time, he did express interest in trying some of our games later. He also let us know about a project he’s working on and asked if we’d be interested in bidding on it. Once we knew more about it – we jumped at the chance! We’re very excited about it (and can’t say any more yet)!

And that was all the time I had at the Gathering this year. Sen and I drove back to London late that night so that I could get up 3 hours later and get to the London airport for a 6am flight back to Vancouver.

IMG_20180428_101016.jpgOddly enough, that didn’t stop the action on my game at the Gathering! Fabio from CSE Games was there midweek and brought the game Sigils that was designed by Shad Miller and myself to show around. This game was signed last year but he still likes getting it out to show it around and generate interest.

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Throughout the time that I was there, I had talked up In the Hall of the Mountain King to Helaina a bunch and she wanted to try it, but we couldn’t get our paths to cross again. Fortunately Sen was returning the following weekend and he coaxed the prototype away from Britta and Ben in order to show it to Helaina. They played it and everyone seemed to really enjoy it! She now wants a copy for herself too! Sweet!

IMG_20180416_144912.jpgSo that’s about it. My short, but whirlwind adventure at the Gathering this year. I didn’t get to play many other games or prototypes – though I did get to see the new 7 Wonders expansion: Armada being played and understand how it works. Looks really cool as this expansion tries to make you care about players other than your direct neighbours.

It’s a lot of work leading up to the Gathering, so I’d like to thank all the playtesters that helped get our games to where they needed to be, and now it’s a lot of work after the Gathering, working on feedback we received!

-Jay Cormier

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Shut Up and Sit Down lists Junk Art top 5 game of the year!

junkartThe popular podcast, Shut Up and Sit Down has just completed their 50th episode in which they review their top 5 games of the year and we’re proud to announce that (spoiler……!) Junk Art has made the list! Huzzah! Listen to the entire podcast to learn about the other 4 amazing games that were listed.

-Jay Cormier

Project Gaming Unplugged loved our new game, Godfather A New Don!

Godfather-boxHere’s a very in-depth overview of the rules for the game – along with some pictures – and a nice review of his thoughts! Some of the highlights include:

“I love that you have plenty of opportunities to manipulate the dice”

“I really like the offering phase.  That is something that is a little different for this type of game.”

“Despite the mafia theme, this is a great family weight game with nothing inappropriate about it.”

“Overall, I think this is a solid, well-designed area control, dice game. “

Thanks for the kind words Austin!

-Jay Cormier

 

 

My Adventures in Essen!

My second time to Essen and I had a blast! It was just lucky happenstance that I was even able to go this year (my second time ever to Essen). My wife and I are having twins and we decided to have ourselves a little baby-moon. My wife chose Belgium, which didn’t excite me too much, but when I asked when she wanted to go and she said early October…well then, I think I’m interested now! 

Thursday night we met up with Andreas from Zoch, his wife, Gil Hova, and Al Leduc for dinner! Nice to catch up with them since Andreas missed the Gathering this year.

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Friday was my first day there and it was very casual and relaxed. It was the first time my wife had ever been to a game convention as she’s not much of a gamer.

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I got to show her the giant Junk Art display which was so impressive. I can honestly say that I think that no other game had as much floor space dedicated to it than Junk Art. They had 8 giant versions of the game being demoed and it was super busy all day long!

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Next up we visited Horrible Games because a former student of mine, Frederico was working there. Apparently he actually changed his life after attending my class on board game design (which is part of the video game design program at the Vancouver Film School). He decided that he liked board games too much and he’d rather find a job in that industry…and he did! So proud of him! And happy that I influenced someone in that way.

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We also got to see D&D: Rock Paper Wizard from Wizkids! It was the first time I saw the box and it’s a beauty! I buckled and had to buy one. They were down to 40 units from the 120 that they brought. I also found out that the game should hit stores in December instead of January like the original press release said. Zev also said that there were other publishers interested in translating it into other languages for other countries….sweet!

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The rest of the day was spent leisurely walking around, and introducing my wife to a few publishers that I know. We ended the day with me being interviewed by CBC radio for a future podcast.

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Saturday  my wife hung out with a friend who was also in town and they went shopping while I went back to the Messe! I demoed Rock Paper Wizard for an hour and then bumped into Scott from Renegade Games who confirmed our game, Pig Goes Moo should be coming out in the third quarter of next year. He also confirmed that he played SimpliCITY and said he liked the gameplay but would want a better thematic hook if he were to pick it up. We’ve got some ideas.

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Like many publishers, HUCH! and Friends had small meeting rooms behind their booth. Secret doors!!

Next I was off to HUCH! and Friends for my first pitch of the day. I first confirmed that Aladdin was indeed happening and everything is on track there. She also indicated that they’re closer to making our game, Herdables happen as well! They’ve been trying to figure out the right material for the tokens and they think they’ve figured it out. I then was able to pitch her the new and improved Law of the Jungle, which she had seen twice before in other iterations. We played a full game of it and she agreed that it was the best version of the game so far. She was interested in taking it with her but I had some other publishers to pitch it to first.

When that was done I met up with my friend and co-designer on a couple of games, Shad Miller! He took the train in from Switzerland just so we could hang out for the day! We started walking around and I saw the Matagot booth and I said I’d like to see if I could find Stefan Brunelle who works there. As I started to look for him, he found me! He was sitting right there and asked us to join him at the table. I introduced him to Shad and he introduced us to Mathieu. Stefan asked if we had anything to pitch because Mathieu was the main guy to pitch to at Matagot. Well, how lucky is that?

So we got out Skirmishes and played a full game with Mathieu and another person who was brought over to help translate since my French isn’t that good and his English isn’t great either! The demo was amazing with Mathieu edging out a victory! He had some feedback about a possible positive feedback loop but overall he really liked it and wanted to take it back with him! Huzzah! We had enough time for me to pitch Law of the Jungle as well and while we didn’t have time to play a full game, he liked what he saw and wanted to take a look at that game too! Sweet! Again we had to take the games with us to pitch to others but we told him that we could come back later and drop it off.

Up next was a pitch session with Mayday Games. We showed them Skirmishes and Law of the Jungle and they too liked both of them! They said we could simply email the the PnP files since they could easily print a copy for themselves. Wow – five for five!

After that Shad and I just walked all over and met all sorts of publishers and designers. Shad said it was like being on a reality TV show! It seemed like 10 minutes wouldn’t go by without us bumping into someone I knew! The owner of Horrible Games wanted to meet me because he really loved Rock Paper Wizard and he invited me to pitch him games in the future! Nice!

At the end of the day we decided to leave both games with Matagot since Mayday will print their own and I can mail a copy of Law of the Jungle to HUCH! 

That night we all went out for dinner and then Sunday we left. It was a bit of a whirlwind experience and I loved every moment of it! 

-Jay Cormier

Gen Con 2016 Wrap Up

Our second time being at Gen Con was full of hectic fun! I flew in on Wednesday night and got picked up by Sen, Jesse and Scott at the Indianapolis airport. We grabbed a bite to eat and then Sen and I got interviewed for Ludology! We were able to get our badges late in the evening since the check in was open 24 hours – smart!

IMG_4816Every day we spent one hour at the Pretzel booth demoing Junk Art and one hour at the IDWGames booth demoing our new Godfather: A New Don game. While we’re extremely proud of both games, the presence of Junk Art was very impressive! They had a huge booth with 3 tables dedicated to demoing the game. All 3 tables had extra large versions of the game which certainly drew crowds throughout the entire 4 days. It was great demoing Godfather: A New Don as well as it reminded us how cool of a game it is! 🙂

One of our nights was spent with IDW Games where we were finally able to show them our Powers game. The game played very well and Nate from IDW caught me because I was too greedy! 🙂 We spent the rest of the night pitching other games to IDW Games with many of them generating interest!

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Matt Kindt winning at Junk Art! Years of illustrating comics must have given him a steady hand!

Another one of our nights was spent with our comic book hero – Matt Kindt! I love his Super Spy comic a ton as well as his Mind MGMT and we played Knit Wit and Imhoptep together and then spent a few hours brainstorming a project that we’re collaborating on together! So fun!

The rest of our waking hours was spent meeting with publishers and pitching them games. Here’s a high level summary of what went down:

Breaking Games – they had a mock up of our Clunatics game but we all want to tweak it a bit so we chatted about a game plan.

USAopoly – Daryl Andrews and I were working on a game that we specifically were making for them. It was still in development so it was just a sneak peek! They also liked a game I designed with Shad Miller called Skirmishes. 

They were also interested in a party game that I came up with – the day before leaving for Gen Con! Crazy story! I came up with a game on Monday night in bed, then Tuesday I made the prototype and was able to test it Tuesday night. I had time left to tweak the prototype and then take it with me to Gen Con! Every publisher I showed it to expressed interest in this game! Grey Fox, Bellwether Games, Renegade Games and CSE Games all liked the game and one of them currently is looking into pricing and sourcing!

Pretzel Games already has our Junk Art but maybe they want more Bamboozle Brother love? We showed them our outdoor game, SimpliCITY and Rack Your Brain – and he expressed varied levels of interest for each of them.

Renegade Games is hot right now with Lanterns selling tons and Lotus looking to repeat that success. We have a game coming from them next year but we also really wanted them to check out our SimpliCITY. He took a prototype with him!

Marbles was there – not in a booth, but as a happy wanderer – and we were able to meet up with Tanya. She really liked our game, Lost For Words and showed a bit of interest in a game by Shad and me called Rack Your Brain. Then we showed her an alpha prototype of a single player game that would fit in the same kind of line of games like those Rush Hour games where you’re trying to slide cars around to get one of them out. Tanya was really taken by that game idea and she took a video of us demoing it. That has a high priority for us!

CSE Games was a lot of fun! Fabio has had a lot of success with the games he’s chosen to publish and we’ve only heard good things about working with him. He seemed genuinely excited by 4 of our games. Rack Your Brain seemed to be the most interesting since it would fit in with his high-selling Quartex line of games. He also liked Lost for Words, Word Bird and Draw Your Own Conclusions. 

Repos Production is a publisher we’d really love to partner with as they always have high production quality and seem to really support their games a lot. He expressed interest in Skirmishes, as long as we can support a team play – which we know we can!

Bellwether Games liked Draw Your Own Conclusions and SimpliCITY – as well as Rack Your Brain. We’ve sent him rules for SimpliCITY.

On our way out we almost got to meet with Haba, but we couldn’t align schedules. We did get to meet with Upper Deck for 10 minutes and learned about the kind of games they’re looking for! Win!

So all in all, a fantastic time and very much worth going for me. While we know many of these publishers and could send them any game in the mail, the opportunity to pitch it live in person is 10 times more effective. If you’re a board game designer who’s starting to get into game design and has a couple of games ready to pitch, then attending a live convention like Gen Con is highly recommended. Remember to follow our steps for optimal success!

-Jay Cormier

Want to playtest some upcoming Bamboozle Brother games?

We like to think we playtest the heck out of our games. We live in different cities so we have multiple groups across the country already playtesting our games, but we’d like even more!

We are always looking for more people to playtest our games, but realize that not everyone that wants to playtests live close to either Sen or I! So now we’ve set up a quick survey for those that are interested in playtesting with your own group. You can sign up for Print and Play playtests – which means you’re comfortable printing your own set of components and cards, and testing, or you can sign up to have prototypes mailed to you.

If you are interested, please complete this quick survey! Thanks for taking an interest in making our games better!!

Current games that we’d like some playtesters for:

Godzilla – a 2 player card battling game

Powers (based on the hit comic by Brian Michael Bendis) – a 2-5 player 1 vs. many game in which 1 super powered villain moves around the city committing crimes while the others play as detectives trying to capture the super villain

Skirmishes – a 2 player combat game with very Euro mechanics. This game is designed by Jay and another designer, Shad!

But Wait There’s Even More – a completely new set of features and products for this party game that’s good for 3-12 players

Law of the Jungle – a 2-5 player family game about getting more animals than the other players, while avoiding the animal that will be removed at the end of the game

9 Thieves – a 2-5 player game about betting on which thief will avoid the guards and steal the most money by the end of the night.

-More top secret games that are in the works – some with licenses.

-Jay Cormier

 

Board Game Scene in Vancouver is Heating Up!

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Photo by Daniel Chai

Daniel Chai from the VanCity Buzz wrote an article about the board game scene in Vancouver. They talked to Starlit Citadel and Shanon, who runs the Terminal City Tabletop Convention (coincidentally happening this weekend!) and they talked to little old me! We chatted about game design and how I stay motivated. You can check it out here!

-Jay Cormier

The Gathering of Friends, Part 2

My last post detailed all the games that Sen and I pitched to the various publishers that were at the Gathering, but this post will be all about the games I played –  in no particular order!

IMG_2132Thunderbirds by Matt Leacock: I really liked this game! I have no familiarity with the TV show, so I’m happy to say that this game is still entertaining without that background of knowledge. We played it without any of the expansions and we barely won. I like how players control characters, and while each character has their own mode of transportation, any character can take any vehicle – and can even take other characters with them. It’s an interesting idea that really makes it feel like we are all a team and we have to work together.

IMG_2133Then a few days later we played it again but with the Purple Hood expansion – and I have to say that I liked it even more. Now the bad guy isn’t controlled by AI – but by one of the players. That player is trying to accomplish his goals while trying to make it difficult for the rest of us. This was really fun and it really felt like there was a narrative to the game we played. There are even two more expansions that we didn’t get to try! Wow! Looking forward to this one.

IMG_2114Red7 by Carl Chudyk and Chris Cieslik: This was a fun game that I ended up playing a few times over the week. It’s a simple idea where you have to be winning the game when you’re turn is over – or you lose and are out. So you can either play a card in front of you, or change the rule of how you win – or both. It’s fun and light and interesting! From the designer of Glory to Rome and the upcoming Mottanai.

IMG_2138Ulm: I’m not sure who designed this one actually. We played a prototype from Huch & Friends and this is one that will be coming out from them. I really enjoyed this game! It has an interesting action selection method where you slide a token into a 3×3 grid and the colours of the tokens in the row/column that you affected are the actions you can do this round. Really cool!

IMG_2118Castaway Club by Vladimir Sluchy: This is the spiritual successor to Last Will. It uses the same icons as Last Will and has a similar theme. Instead of trying to go broke, you’re trying to lose reputation. The game comes with three modular boards and you can use any two of them – or you can swap in the entire game of Last Will as one of the modules! Cool! I had fun with the game and fans of Last Will should check it out.

IMG_2126Flick ‘Em Up by Gaeton Beaujannot and Jean Yves Monpertuis: What a fun concept for a game! It’s a flicking game – but players play in teams – good guys or the bad guys. Players move their wooden figures around by replacing the wooden figure with a disc, flicking it and then replacing the disc with the wooden figure. Or a figure can shoot by placing a smaller disc at the side of a wooden figure and flicking it towards an opponent. What’s really cool is the production quality! Holy crap – it’s amazing! Every game will be photo worthy for sure! Also interesting is the fact that the game comes with 10 scenarios. So replay value is very high! If you like flicking games, then you have to get this one!

IMG_2124Bang The Dice Game by Michael Palm and Lukas Zach: I was never a huge fan of Bang – but the dice game is more accessible and more fun. I enjoyed it!

IMG_2121Tiny Epic Kingdoms by Scott Almes: We didn’t have an interesting game here unfortunately. This is the kind of game that you have to know how to play it in order to really enjoy it. I am 100% in winning this game so far because I think I know how to play it correctly! 🙂

Unannounced Matt Leacock party game – Can’t talk about it but it’s such a great idea! This will definitely get picked up.

IMG_21657 Wonders: The Duel by Antoine Bauza and Bruno Cathala: I am a fan of 7 Wonders and this 2-player only, stand-alone game is a great game! It really has all the feeling and concepts of a 7 Wonders game but offers new strategies with the pyramidal stacking of the cards. The game can end immediately if a player gets their token to the end of the war track or if they get one of each of the 6 science symbols – so that keeps your opponent on their toes and altering their strategies along the way. I’ll be picking this up!

Codenames by Vlaada Chvatil: It’s not announced or even picked up yet so I can’t show pictures but this seemed like the hit of the Gathering. There was always someone playing this game!  It’s a small word/party type game that is great for thinky people!

IMG_2145Birth by Takashi Sakaue: A cool Japanese dice rolling and moving around a circle game that has more to it than you might think. Clever game that I’d play again.

IMG_2149Time Stories by Manuel Rozoy: I know there are a lot of people that are super excited about this game, but it fell a bit flat for us. The concept is interesting but the execution left us lukewarm. When we had to go back through a third time, you could tell that everyone was a bit exhausted and didn’t want to go through the paces of the stories to get to where we had to go. The storyline of the game we had to play was lacklustre and I think I would have been more into it if the story was more intriguing. Maybe this is a game that would appeal to role playing gamers more??

IMG_2151Mysterium by Oleksandr Nevskiy and Oleg Sidorenko: Finally I got to play this game – and I really liked it! One player plays a ghost and has to let each of us know who killed him by giving us dream cards that will remind players of Dixit. In fact I saw people playing the game with Dixit cards! This is a great party game as everyone is involved and engaged (though the ghost player can’t really chat with others). Really fun game!

Beasty Bar by Stefan Klob: A fun game that harkens back to Guillotine where you play animal cards in an attempt to get into a club. It’s fun and a bit chaotic. More plays of this would help me know if familiarity increases skill or not!

IMG_2162Welcome to the Dungeon by Masato Uesugi: This is a great little mini game that has a fun push your luck element to it. We had a lot of loud outbursts throughout the game as players would push their luck and then win! Players simply take a card from the deck and decide to either place it face down in the dungeon or face up outside the dungeon but then remove one of the artifacts or weapons that the character can use to battle these monsters. Eventually players start to pass instead of taking a card – and the last player in must then go through all the cards in the dungeon with the equipment that he or she has left. Very fun – and it comes with four totally different characters with their own equipment.

IMG_2172Porta Nigra by Wolfgang Kramer and Michael Kiesling: I’m a big K&K fan so I’ll play anything they make. Unfortunately this one was a bit too abstract for me. I prefer their games that have some theme to it. The theme in this game could have been anything really – and so it becomes a mathy game of efficiency. And that is fun and interesting, but it’s a bit cold for my tastes. Other people claimed it their favourite game of the Gathering!

That’s about it. I did play some more prototypes of games that aren’t signed yet by some Game Artisans of Canada as well.

All in all – a super fun week and I’m already counting down the days for next year’s Gathering!

-Jay Cormier

The Gathering of Friends Review, Part 1

IMG_2176Well, 10 days of gaming heaven has come and gone! Alan Moon’s Gathering of Friends is an invite-only gaming event full of gamers, designers and publishers. It’s my favourite 10 days of the year as I get to hang out with friends old and new – and play a bunch of games!

I’ll split this into two posts – one about the games we pitched to publishers and then a second one about the games we played.

Pitching to Publishers

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Jay working on Godzilla spreadsheets…fun!

Sen and I are in a bit of a lucky spot since many of our games have been picked up, which means we didn’t have a lot of new game to pitch. This meant that we had more time to work on games that were already signed while we were together. We must have spent at least 3 hours a day working on Godzilla which is due out later this year from Toy Vault.

Our first pitch was to the German publisher, Huch & Friends. Their representative is Britta, who last year took a couple of our games back with her. One was called Herdables and since we didn’t have any other plans for that game, we let her sit on that one all year. Well she brought good news with her as she said that everyone at Huch & Friends likes the game, and they’re now only trying to figure out how to manufacture it. They’re thinking of going with super thick cardboard instead of wooden tokens. Cool by us!

800px-Huch_&_Friends_logoThen we pitched our game called Chrono Chicken. Ok – dumb name…so dumb that we didn’t even tell her the name of the game when we pitched it! It started as a game called Coaster Quest as it used actual drink coasters to play the game. But, as usual, the game changed drastically from its inception and instead of coaster it now used these cool two-dial secret spinners. We played the game – in which players secretly choose a number from one of the tokens on the table – by using their secret dials. She really liked it – and started talking in German with her cohort from Huch & Friends (dang – I forget his name!). They brought out their Huch catalogue and indicated a game that they have coming out later this year called Gum Gum Machine – a steam punk game about gum ball machines. She said that our game might make a good companion to that game – maybe call it Gum Gum Mini! So she agreed to take that game back to assess further.

Then I pitched my first solo design to her. Now, I pitched this game to her last year when it went by the horrendous title, Ingnotus (Latin for unknown). She liked it last year but after assessing it she said that they couldn’t think of a theme for it (I had submitted it as a pure abstract game). So I worked on it this year and I came up with a theme. In doing so the game changed a lot – for the better! It’s now called The Mystery of Mister E (Now that’s a cool title – finally!). We played the game and she liked it a lot more than the previous version. She took that game back as well. Huzzah!

ZMan_LogoI was able to pitch to Martin from Filosofia / Z-Man, but not our games! Instead I had two games from other Game Artisan designers that I wanted to show him. One was called City Builders: Rome from Andrei Filip – a co-operative Euro game that I only brought the sales sheet for him to see. He was interested and I have connected him with the designer. Then I showed him a quick reaction dice game called Joust from Graeme Jahns. He really thought it was unique and would like to see it again if he could figure out how to get the number of dice moulds down.

Sen is brainstorming with Andreas from Zoch

Sen is brainstorming with Andreas from Zoch

We pitched to Zoch again this year, but we didn’t really have anything new! So instead we spent time talking about the kinds of games that Zoch is interested in and he let us know what they’re looking for – which included some IPs! We’re already working on them now!

Hasbro-pitch

Playing Lions Share with Hasbro and Josh Cappel!

Hasbro had a new representative and with it he brought a new way of thinking. He’s super interested in meeting with designers as he wants to create a network of designers that he can access when he needs them. He ran down how he wants to work with the Game Artisans of Canada in the future. He was excited to see that we had an organization across Canada as it will allow him to be super efficient. He’s planning on visiting us once or twice a year where only Game Artisans will be able to pitch games to him! Pretty awesome!

We did end up pitching our game, Lions Share to him and he liked it, Hasbro_logo_newthough we actually came across a game-breaking situation that had never happened before. Dang. Oh well – we know how to easily fix that in the future. Still – good to get in front if him and show him what we have.

We had been working with Ed from Toy Vault all week – either on Godzilla (our upcoming card battle game) or a Naughty version of But Wait There’s More (we learned how to make this work!) – but we finally had some time to pitch our revamped Firefly game to Ed as well. We showed it to him last year and he had some specific feedback so we addressed each of those requests and showed him the new version.

toy_vault_logo_07The new version played out much better, but Ed had concerns that the new actions didn’t make it feel like Firefly. Before characters could only move into empty spaces, but now they can swap with other characters – which implies that they’re hiding behind each other and throwing each other into harm’s way. Not very Firefly!

Then as we were packing up, we cam up with a totally new way to play that might allow it to fit with a more wacky license. The game played a lot faster and seemed to work fairly well actually. It was wild – quite the drastic change in gameplay and we managed to make it work. We’re now back to the drawing board with this one to see what theme works best with the mechanics.

Sen lining up a shot in Flick 'Em Up!

Sen lining up a shot in Flick ‘Em Up!

There was a new game at the Gathering called Flick ‘Em Up, which is the first game in Z-man’s Pretzel line up. It’s called Pretzel because you can have a pretzel in one hand and still play! It’s a flicking game with cowboys and bad guys and it looks amazing! It comes with 10 scenarios which helps give the game a lot of flavour! We were happy to be asked to contribute a couple of scenarios to this game! Not just because the game is pretty darned cool – but because the second game in the Pretzel line up is one of ours – called Junkyard! That should be coming out next year!

mercury-logoFinally we pitched Zombie Slam to Mercury. We had tweaked it since last year as we had feedback that it was super hard to stay human throughout the game. The new ideas worked a lot better and we had a human survivor win the game! They really seemed to like this game! Mercury is currently working on their first app-assisted game and then their second app-assisted game is actual designed by Sen, Stefan Alexander and me. So this would be their third app-assisted game. We all came up with even more ideas on how the app could work with this game and it got us all pretty excited about it!

I ended the session by pitching a game I designed with Shad Miller called Q-Bot. I knew it wasn’t really the kind of game they publish as it was an abstract game with wooden cubes. They liked it better than last year’s version but that’s about it.

Coincidentally, while we were at the Gathering we also had some phone meetings with Ad Magic who is considering publishing 1-5 of our games in the near future! More to come on that as it’s finalized!

So all in all – an atypically quiet week for us on pitching games. I think it might be like that going forward because now we’re being asked to make specific games by publishers – and that takes time away from new designs. One day we’ll be able to quit our day jobs and focus on game design full time. That’s the goal at least!

Next up I’ll review the games that I played at the Gathering – from new and existing games to upcoming unreleased games from prolific designers!

-Jay Cormier

Tortuga gets a fantastic review!

Tortuga-BoxNice to see our game from Queen Games getting some love still! A new review popped up on Boardgamegeek.com from Tom – one of its users. Check it out here!

Some nice comments from the review:

“Tortuga is a fun pirate-themed game”

“Tortuga is a smart game with little to no down time between your turns”

“There are a lot of quick decisions to make and they mostly depend on what your opponents are doing.”

Thanks for the review Tom!

-Jay Cormier