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.

IMG_20180413_225037.jpg

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.

IMG_20180428_101030.jpg

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.

IMG_20180428_101003.jpg

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

Advertisements

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!
Friday
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.
Saturday
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.
Sunday
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