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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Junk Art is #5!

While Origins is now a few weeks in our rear window, I just became aware of the fact that it was ranked as the 5th top game at Origins according to the Geek Buzz! The Geek Buzz is from boardgamegeek.com and involves attendees of Origins submitting which games they think are hot – or are buzz-worthy. It’s a pretty cool feat since Junk Art beat out one of this year’s Spiel des Jahres nominees!

Screenshot 2016-07-05 07.11.50

-Jay Cormier

Gamers are liking Orphan Black: The Card Game!

orphanblackcoverReviews are continually rolling in for our new game, Orphan Black: The Card Game. This one is from a reviewer on the boardgamegeek website. He loved the game and gave it a solid 8/10. Here are a few things he mentioned:

 

This is a fun game that’s really quite unlike anything that I’ve played before

Orphan Black the Card Game is a very unique and innovative card game

The game itself is really quite unusual but fun with several mechanics used in it.

I really enjoy the deduction and hidden roles aspect of the game.

Thanks for the review Jonathan Nelson!

-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

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

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

Help us win a Golden Geek Awards for Best 2 Player Game and Best Abstract Game!

The Golden Geek Nominations are in and we have nabbed two nominations! Woo hoo!

AkroAkrotiri has been nominated as the best 2-Player Game.

ThisTown-logoThis Town Ain’t Big Enough for the 2-4 of Us has been nominated as the best Abstract Game.

If you think these games are worthy then please head on over to vote. To be eligible to vote you must be a supporter of BGG (you have a supporter badge from any year – which means you’ve given them money during their annual fundraising effort) – or you pay 20 Geek Gold (Geek Gold can be acquired from other people or from doing things on the site – like uploading content or fixing errors).

Vote now by clicking here! Deadline  is February 22, 2015. Thanks for your support everyone!!!

-Jay Cormier

Is Akrotiri the best 2-Player Game of the year?

AkroIt’s nomination time for the Annual Golden Geek Awards over at boardgamegeek.com! If you have an account, then feel free to head on over and start nominating games that you think are worthy of being nominated!!

We had our game Akrotiri come out this past year and would be tickled fuchsia (that’s even pinker right?) if people thought it deserved a nomination for best 2-Player game, Best Artwork & Presentation (shout out to Chris Quilliams for the amazing work he did on this game) or heck, even best game. Whatever you think it’s worth! 🙂 Thanks for any support!

Go nominate your favourite games of this past year!

-Jay

Game Nite Magazine review of This Town Ain’t Big Enough for the 2-4 of Us

Game-Nite-MagA new online board game magazine has popped up called Game Nite. It looks really polished and professional with articles, reviews and interviews! And as part of their inaugural issue they reviewed our micro-game, This Town Ain’t Big Enough for the 2-4 of Us! They really liked it and recommended it! Check out the magazine here and the review is on pages 4-6.

If you’re interested in picking up a copy of the game, you can get it for $5 at the boardgamegeek store!

-Jay Cormier

Train of Thought is the #4 best game this year!

OK, maybe a bit misleading – but it is true…if your name is Joseph Peterson at least. Joseph created a top 100 list of the games he’s played this year and Train of Thought is his #4 favourite game! It’s great to see that this game is still entertaining some folks out there! Thanks for playing Joseph! Everyone else can still pick this game up from Amazon (for just $10!) or their friendly local board game store!

Here’s what Joseph had to say:

Train of Thought is a party word game in which players take turns trying to get opponents to guess a particular word. They’re limited however to being able to give only a 3 word clue – and one of those words must be from a prior answer. For each clue given, each player may make 1 guess. If none are correct, the clue-giver creates another clue, using one of the guesses and up to 2 other words.

When the word is correctly guessed, the guessing player and the clue giver each get one point, and the clue giver draws a new card and continues making clues, trying to get as many as they can in 2 minutes!

This one is a laugh riot! There are so many stories I could tell about this one, but my favorite has to be during these clues: “Horse but smaller” “PONY!” “Pony but smaller” “CHILD?” “No not child”. We had to stop the timer because we lost it. This is hands-down my favorite party game that I’ve ever played and one that I can only imagine will see more and more playtime as the years go by.

-Jay Cormier