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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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!


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

Kickstarter loves games

kickstarter_logo_0We’re all getting more and more familiar with Kickstarter (online crowd-sourcing), but did you know how important Kickstarter was to the world of gaming?

In 2012, 23% of all dollars pledged were to games! This consists of board and video games, but it’s still amazing! $50 million were pledged to games last year, while only $42 million was pledged to films, making gaming and filming the number 1 and 2 categories on Kickstarter.


In 2009, when Kickstarter was still a baby, only $48,190 was pledged to gaming. It grew to $519, 885 in 2010 and to $3,615,841 in 2011 – but over $50 million in 2012 is an insane jump! That’s a 1391% increase from the year before – OR it’s a 104,441% increase over 4 years! Wow!!

What about Board Gaming?

Over $15 million of that is for board gaming. While that’s a smaller piece of the pie compared to video games, board games are being funded successfully 47% of the time, while video games are only being funded successfully 23% of the time.


A big benefit of Kickstarter is that the more people that pledge a campaign – then the more people they tell (to help hit Stretch Goals) and the more people become aware of the whole crowd-sourcing industry. Some successfully funded campaigns start to build and spread like wildfire. Dungeon Roll, Ogre, Machine of Death all come to mind. By offering Kickstarter exclusives, or more game/goodies for the same price, it becomes more and more lucrative for new backers to pledge and support a game.

In some future posts we’ll take a look at the difference between a game that barely gets funded to one that is enormously successful!

-Jay Cormier

(information gathered from Kickstarter)


The Gathering of Friends: Part 5 – Pitching to Toy Vault, Abacusspiele, Amigo and Mercury

The pitching continues! The Gathering had been very successful already, in terms of making new friends, getting connections, and generally just getting to know people from the publishing companies! Tuesday we had a meeting with Ed from Toy Vault. I had noticed on the Gathering forum a post from Ed stating that he was open to looking at designs. I emailed him and he replied with a time slot on Tuesday morning!

Rob and I tag teamed again showing multiple designs to Ed. Of our designs he seemed to like Hog the Remote, But Wait, There’s More and Captionary. He also liked a design from GAC member, Al Leduc called A Game of Cat and Mouse. We played it and had a good time with it, but he didn’t see it fitting with Toy Vault at this time. It was uncanny how Ed could know which place I was going to in the game every round!

He decided to take the prototype of Hog the Remote and But Wait, There’s More and said we should find some people one night and play each of them. Cool! He was curious about Captionary and wanted to see that game played out before committing to taking that one. More on this in my next post!!

By this time it was lunch and we all decided to go out and get some Indian food. We bumped into Stefan from Asmodee and we all went out for lunch. It was a great lunch full of behind the scene stuff in the board game world. I told Stefan that Filosofia picked up EIEI-O. He was fine with that as it might mean he will distribute the game anyway. I’m not sure what kind of deal they have with Filosofia, but I do know that their offices are right next to each other! It was a great lunch (well the food was only OK and the restaurant we chose was pretty yucky – but the company was great!).

When I got back I managed to get some time with Matthias from Abacusspiele. I pitched Eat at Joes, Clunatics and others, but he was most interested in Eat at Joes. He took a sales sheet and that was that. Quick one!

Amigo and Mercury Games Wednesday morning Rob had set up a meeting with Christian Hildenbrand from Amigo. If you recall, Christian was how I got invited the Gathering in the first place – so I already really liked him!

We found out that Amigo is really focused on card games at the moment. He was also interested in looking at party games (which was good as we didn’t have any card games!). We spent a couple hours pitching him various games and he really liked Eat at Joes and even wanted to take the prototype back with him. He also liked the idea for Hog the Remote, Clunatics and Captionary. He took a sales sheet for each of those. I told him that Pegasus Spiele is currently assessing Clunatics and he said he knew them, so he would call them when he got back to Germany to find out their thoughts on the game! It’s a pretty small industry!

We were getting hungry so the three of us went to TGIF for lunch and had some great conversations about games and non-game things. It was just great to get to know him as a person instead of as a publisher. That’s the big advantage the Gathering has over any other convention. It’s a longer convention and it’s pretty exclusive so everyone is more casual and relaxed.

Rob bumped into Kevin who used to work at Valley Games and was the person who Rob actually signed contracts with for his game Two by Two. Kevin has a new partner they are creating a new game company called Mercury games. They were looking for a game to be their launch game. Rob showed them his game Coffee and we played a game of that. Later on we played Iron Horse Bandits with them as well. At this point I was running out of games to show people! None of our games seemed to fit with what they were looking at as a launch game.

Next up – one more day of pitching to publishers and then a summary of my experiences!

-Jay Cormier


Art for Belfort Building Cards

More art is coming in from the very talented Joshua Cappel!  I’m loving the attention to detail in these cards.  I also am really enjoying seeing how an artist who has a lot of experience in illustrating board games has come up with some great graphical representations for various aspects.  For example, the bottom of most cards are not able to be used until a player recruits a Gnome and places the Gnome on that card.  What Josh did here is create that lock symbol, visually indicating that a player cannot use that area – but once a Gnome (now pentagon shaped instead of star shaped, which fits as the board is also pentagon shaped!) is on it then the lock symbol is gone and therefore the ability is unlocked.  Beautiful!

Here is our prototype that Tasty Minstrel played and then the art provided by Josh.  This was the third draft of the cards that we saw from Josh as we had some minor tweaks for the first couple of drafts.  Some improvements were about making the resources more easily identifiable, having some more consistency with layout and some rule clarification.

It’s been an amazing collaboration and one I wasn’t fully expecting.  It’s been wonderful that Tasty Minstrel has kept us in the loop and allowed us to provide feedback throughout this process.  On one hand it’s tremendously exciting to see amazing looking art for a game we designed, and on the other hand we are able to catch anything that actually affects gameplay before it goes to print.  All in all – we are all very excited about these cards!!

Our Prototype Art for the Building Cards in Belfort:

Belfort Prototype cards

Almost Final Art by Josh Cappel for Belfort Building Cards:

Belfort cards