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

The Gathering Approacheth

Gaming heaven starts later this week at a hotel in Niagara Falls, Buffalo. The Gathering is in its 26th year I believe and is full of 400 of the nicest gamers you’ll ever meet. The event is an invite-only kind of affair, and I feel damned lucky to be on the invite list!

In addition to playing numerous games for 10 days (yes, the event lasts for 10 days!!!), I get to hang out with other designers while we playtest each others’ games. This is a fantastic opportunity to get some fresh eyes on games that have only been played in our playtest groups.

Finally, and possibly the most exciting aspect about the Gathering is that there will be publishers there! This has been the best event to pitch games at because everyone is way more relaxed. It’s great to actually chat and get to know the publisher…hey – they’re people too you know! 🙂

This year Sen and I are not pitching as many games. This past year we’ve been fortunate enough to have had a few publishers ask us to make specific games for them, so that’s been keeping us busy. That said, here’s my plan for the week:

junkartShowcase upcoming game of ours called Junk Art from Pretzel Games. The publisher will be there and we’ll have some copies of the game to show off and see if we can generate some interest in it!

Showcase upcoming game of ours called The Godfather: A New Don from IDW Games. The publisher will not be there, but they are providing us with a final art prototype to showcase for those interested in giving it a whirl!


  • Powers: A game based on the comic, coming from IDW that we think is pretty solid – but would be great to have some new people try it.
  • Godzilla: A 2 player card battling game coming from Toy Vault. This game has made huge improvements over the last year and we’re now ready for more people to try it out.
  • Mystery of Mister E: A deduction game that is being assessed by a publisher right now. We want to get some ideas on a better graphic layout to make the game easier to grok!
  • But Wait There’s Even More: We are planning on releasing a stand-alone sequel to But Wait There’s More with 100% brand new content. We’d like to play a few rounds throughout the week to ensure our new assortment of phrases work as good as the first version.

Sen and I will also spend some time together working on some new designs – which is always exciting! Now that I don’t travel back to Ontario that frequently for my job, Sen and I have a lot less time together throughout the year, so this week is especially important. Hopefully we’ll figure out a direction for Belfort: The Dice Game as well as some Top Secret projects that we’re super stoked about.

Finally – we’ll be pitching these games:

  • Law of the Jungle: Some publishers saw this game last year when it was called Lion’s Share – but the game has changed so drastically that we want to show it again.
  • Chainables: It’s been hard for this clever word making game to find a publisher…but maybe some day!
  • Arabian Nights: This is a cool concept where we’ve partnered with 2 other designers and we each made a game set in the Arabian Nights world. The concept is that you can play any of these 3 games on its own – or you can play them in succession, and depending on the order you play them in, objects from the previous game will show up in the subsequent games! The three games are Aladdin, Sinbad and Ali Baba.
  • 9 Thieves: A 2-5 player betting and deduction game about moving thieves around a ballroom to steal loot, while avoiding the gaze of the guards. Bet on which thief will steal the most money!
  • Skirmishes: A game I designed with another designer named Shad Miller. In it you play a war chief who must give orders to 3 different battles all happening at the same time. It’s a tight game of playing efficiently and it has a lot of room for growth.
  • Burning Rubber: A game Sen designed with another designer where you impact the odds of specific cars in a race – where the race is an actual race of ‘beads’ running down a track. Very visual!

I’ll post updates as I can throughout the week! Unless I’m too buy having fun.

-Jay Cormier


The Bamboozle Brothers’ GenCon Experience

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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