2016: The year of the Bamboozle Brothers

Wow, 2016 is going to be a huge year for the Bamboozle Brothers! Not only have I moved down from Full Time to Part Time at my ‘day job’ so that I can focus more time on game design, but Sen and I have in excess of 10 new games coming out this year! Holy crap!! That will bring our grand total to over 18 games by Sen and I. We’re very excited about each of these games, and wanted to give you a little morsel of each one, in no particular order:

  1. Orphan Black from IDW Games – this one just came out! It’s our first released game based on a license (but not the last for this year!). A social deduction game based on the cult TV show.
  2. Junk Art from Pretzel Games – so excited for this! It’s the second game in the Pretzel line of games (where the first one was the immediately likeable game, Flick Em Up). This one is a block balancing game that has tons of variety in it!
  3. Godzilla from Toy Vault – another license! This one is a card game for 2 players with each player playing as a kaiju trying to defeat the other one.
  4. Godfather from IDW Games – there’s a Godfather game from IDW coming out very soon that’s not by us – but the next one is! The subtitle is A New Don, and it’s a dice rolling and area majority game. I really like it and it really feels like a new take on both mechanics.
  5. Powers from IDW Games – this one is based on the Brian Michael Bendis comic about a detective agency solving crimes committed by people who have super powers. The game is like a beefed up version of Scotland Yard where one player plays the villain and the rest are the detectives trying to catch him.
  6. Pop Goes the Weasel / Monkey Mania from R&R Games – not sure what the final title will be for this game yet. It’s a family game about chasing monkeys around a tree, trying to get more bananas while avoiding the weasel! Happy to have designed a game that is more of a family game!
  7. Top Secret game by Top Secret publisher – not announced yet – a city building game! We love tile laying games!! This one has very low down time.
  8. Rock, Paper, Wizards by Gamelyn Games (co-designed by Josh Cappel) – a social game about making hand gestures and attacking the other players.
  9. Clunatics by Breaking Games – This is a cool party game that involves giving players super tiny clues that, by themselves mean nothing, but when combined with a few of these mini-clues, will hopefully get people to guess the answer!
  10. Untitled game by Top Secret publisher – not announced yet – but a party game that requires the use of an app. It’s pretty clever, if I do say so myself!
  11. Top Secret game by Top Secret publisher – not announced yet – but it’s a quick reaction zombie game that can be used with an app – or without. I like that the game has an arc/story to it even though it’s a quick reaction game!
  12. Top Secret game by Top Secret publisher – not announced – not even signed yet – just verbally…a quick reaction animal game that’s great for the entire family – but also scales in difficulty if just adults want to play.

To top it all off, we’re working with a couple of comic book creators on some games based on their comics! I’m super excited about these three projects because I’m a fan of each of them!

So it’s going to be an exciting year! Some of these might get bumped into next year, but regardless, get ready for a lot more game-related Facebook posts soon from both of us! 🙂

-Jay Cormier

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The Gathering of Friends 2014: Part 2

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William Attia (designer of Caylus and Spyrium – and representative for Ystari Games) and Cyrille Daujean from Days of Wonder play my deduction game, Ignotus!

Days of Wonder and Ystari
Our second meeting was an impromptu meeting with Cyrille from Days of Wonder and William Attia (designer of Caylus and Spyrium) from Ystari. I knew William from last year, having played many games with him, and struck up a conversation with him and Cyrille. Even though I knew that none of our current games would really fit with either company, I asked if they were open to looking at some of our new prototypes. The event had just started and they weren’t busy so they decided to look at our new games!
I was right – we didn’t have anything that fit with either company! But that’s ok – they were really interested in a game I designed by myself – foolishly titled Ignotus (Latin for Unknown) – and they just wanted to play it because they liked deduction games. They both enjoyed playing it! Cyrille also gave us a contact at Blue Orange as he thinks our game called Herdables would fit well with them! How nice!
Abacusspiele

A table full of prototypes waiting to be pitched!

A table full of prototypes waiting to be pitched!

Every year I have pitched to Matthias from Abacusspiele and every year he has taken one of our games back with him, though they have yet to publish one of our games. Daryl Andrews, a fellow Game Artisan and myself set up a table full of the prototypes that we wanted to show off to him!

I like Matthias and got to play a few ‘real’ games with him at the event throughout the week – including a really late game of Tichu one night – and he was happy to look at what we had to present this year. I showed him what we had and we played through a few rounds of Ignotus and Zombie Slam. He liked both of those and requested rules for each to be sent to him so he could assess them further. Yay – 3 for 3!
R&R Games
We met up with Frank from R&R Games because he had a contract for us to sign for a game that we pitched to him last year called Pop Goes the Weasel. We had been negotiating it previous to the Gathering and so it was the perfect time for all of us to convene and sign multiple copies of the contract. He also let us know that they have been doing focus groups with it already and that they will most likely change the name of the game. Apparently the title makes parents think that the game is purely a kid’s game and not a family game. They’re not sure what the title will be yet – but they’ve also already replaced the mulberries with bananas! We’re pretty cool with these kind of changes since they’re based on a business decision that makes sense. This is another reason why it’s good to partner with publishers who have access to doing things like focus groups!
We didn’t end up pitching any of our new games to Frank this year since he said his plate was now full of family and party games and that they were actually looking for more Euro style games – which we didn’t have this year.
Zoch

Daryl Andrews pitching his games to Andreas from Zoch

Daryl Andrews pitching his games to Andreas from Zoch

This was a nice surprise as we’ve never pitched to Zoch before! Zoch is a pretty big deal in Germany, especially with thei big hit Ghost Blitz. We knew we would have a game or two that Zoch might like! The Zoch representative, Andreas, ended up being a good friend throughout the Gathering. We played many games together – including some fun Zoch games like Polterfass and Leg Los! After pitching our games he expressed a lot of interest in Zombie Slam! He expressed some concern that Zoch wouldn’t do a zombie game though – especially if it had guns in it, but he really liked the mechanic. We chatted and found out that he probably could do it with ‘cute’ werewolves and no guns. That could work!
Andreas mentioned that they were looking for a quick reaction game for next year so Zombie Slam might fit the bill. We also told him about our game Pig Goes Moo (previously called Ei-Ei-O!), which we didn’t bring for some reason (d’oh!). He expressed interest in that one too and asked us to mail it to him asap.

Next up we’ll regale tales of pitching to the likes of Huch & Friends, Toy Vault, Mercury, Hans Im Gluck, Think Fun, iEllo and Repos! Wow!

-Jay Cormier

Sens-TurnAnd again, more pictures to complement Jay’s words!

Ystari’s William Attia (who just celebrated a birthday – Bonne Fete!) and Cyrille Daujean (DoW) burn their brains to try to figure out what’s what in Jay’s solo effort, Ignotus.

IMG_0816We return the favour by getting a convention exclusive playthrough of Five Tribes, the next Days of Wonder product, facing off against the designer himself, Bruno Cathala.

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Jay pitches our card game, Lions Share, to Andreas (Zoch).

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Fair is fair, so we learn how to play Polterfass aka “Rumbling Barrels”, a dicey betting game, from Zoch with Andreas and Jasmine (Hans im Glueck).  One of our faves from the con!

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One of my personal favourites is a great drawing game where you use bits and pieces to create items for people to guess.  The twist?  You lose materials as you play, so you have less and less bits to draw the items with as you progress!  I *slaughtered* everyone at this game.  Andreas gave it to me to take home!  Game recognizes game.

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Later, we get Andreas to try out a game, Topsy Turvey Towers, from a fellow Game Artisan, Daniel Rocchi.

IMG_0884 I also destroyed Andreas (not really) at Machi Koro, so this pic is just to commemorate my victory.  IMG_0886

~ Sen-Foong Lim

 

Another game picked up by a publisher and more updates!

Well 2013 has come and is almost gone, and it was a good one for us Bamboozle Brothers! While we didn’t have any new games actually make it to retail this year, we signed more games and are excited about 2014 as we have upwards of 6 new titles hitting retail. Check them out:

1. Belfort: The Expansion Expansion from Tasty Minstrel Games – this one took a bit of extra time through customs and didn’t make the Christmas shipping cut-off – but it’s something we can look forward to early in the new year! The expansion adds Assistants that you get to choose every round which give each player new abilities (and there are more Assistants than you need, making each game totally different!), as well as Expansion Permits that let you expand your current buildings which unlock specific scoring opportunities that only you can take advantage of!

2. But Wait, There’s More from Toy Vault – Expect to see a Kickstarter for this party game early in the new year – January or February we think. We’ve signed the final contract and so it’s not a secret anymore and I think it’s ok to announce that the game will be set in the Monty Python universe!! How crazy is that? Very exciting to be a part of the Python world!!

3. Tortuga from Queen – Expect a Kickstarter for this one in January! This one used to be called Swashbucklers, but that didn’t translate well to other languages, so it’s been changed to the very piratey island of Tortuga! We’re very excited about this one and have even seen some early art for it. This could be a big hit for us! It’s a simultaneous roll and assign your dice game about finding and stealing treasure from other pirates.

4. Akrotiri from Z-Man Games – we’ve seen almost all the art and the rules, so I’m expecting it to come out in the first half of 2014, but we’re not sure. This is our 2-player strategy game that has tile laying and a pretty nifty mechanic where you have maps that tell you where temples are hidden – even though the map is different every time you play! Very cool.

5. Pop Goes the Weasel by R&R Games – we’re not done the contract phase of this one yet, so it’s not 100% official, but it should be soon. This is our first kid’s game where you roll 2 dice and choose one as movement and the other as how many mullberries you get to take. It’s pretty clever for a kid’s game!

6. This Town Aint Big Enough for the 2-4 of Us by Tasty Minstrel Games – we’re not done the contract phase of this one either but we should be soon! This is a micro game that use 25 tiles full of cowboys, each trying to get more in a town than the others. I’m happy about the gameplay – and possibly even happier with that title!

Once we’re allowed to share, we’ll share more news and pictures of each game! On top of that we have some games being assessed at publishers right now:

1. Rock, Paper, Wizards – We sent this into Filosofia awhile ago and they liked it, but not enough to publish it. We (Sen-Foong Lim, Josh Cappel and me) worked on it for months and finally cracked it in November. We tested the heck out of it and have just re-sent it back to Filosofia. We can’t wait to hear what they think of it!

2. Lions Share – we sent this to Amigo Spiele awhile ago and had a positive email from them before Christmas stating that they already returned all the games that they didn’t like back to the designers – so that means that they still like Lions Share. We’ll see what happens in the new year.

3. Junkyard – Filosofia has had this one for awhile, and they really love it but are having challenges with figuring out how to make it affordable as it uses many unique pieces of wood. They’re working with some manufacturers to try and figure that one out.

4. SimpliCITY – Flux Capacity has expressed interest in this game when we were at Hammercon in November. Since then we’ve tweaked and balanced it even more. Since the publisher lives close to Sen, they’re going to play it later this weekend! Crossing fingers! I really like how this game has evolved!

5. Aladdin: Cave of Wonders – the Game Artisans of Canada are putting together a collection of games, with each one based of a different fairy tale or fable. The idea is that each game in the set could be played on its own, or there would be a story mode with benefits to playing one after the other. This one was just sent to PSI as they volunteered to help us assess the age range of some of the games in the collection.

So 2014 is shaping up to be quite a big year for us! Now we just have to actually start coming up with more game ideas! 🙂

-Jay Cormier

Pop Goes the Weasel…getting published!

Well, all has been quiet on the Bamboozle front for awhile. Let’s catch up:

August

  • Sen and I got together for 6 days of game designing in August. We came up with three brand new games and tweaked others:
  • New game: Aladdin – a trick taking game in which the player with the lamp can make game-changing wishes!
  • New game: Unnamed Abstract game – it’s a nice and simple game of placing a random gem onto a board and when you make a row of 3, you take the other 2 gems and leave the one you placed.
  • New game: Unnamed Tower Defence game – this is the one I’m most excited about as we found a way to abstract out the fiddly-ness of stats that a computer does automatically. Can’t wait to get more time in with this one.
  • Tweaked: SimpliCITY – finally took the feedback we’ve been getting from publishers and made it way less multiplayer solitaire!

September

  • Worked with Toy Vault to finalize the rules and list of words and phrases for But Wait There’s More. We had a very productive 2-hour Skype call with them and we’re now all on the same page. Once things get signed in ink expect a huge and very exciting announcement with this one!

October

  • Found out that our game Akrotiri will be coming out from Z-Man in April, but it will be launching in late February at the Festival des Juex in Cannes. We got to see some art and we’ll be sharing it as soon as we’re allowed. Rest assured that we are very happy with how it’s looking. Very unique style that should help it stand out from the crowd. Sen and I are seeing if a vacation in France around the end of February is possible!
  • Screen Shot 2013-10-07 at 12.14.13 AMWe got word from a publisher that they are interested in publishing our kid’s game, Pop Goes the Weasel!! This isn’t 100% official yet, but he said to expect a contract when he returns from Essen. We’ll announce which publisher once it’s 100%! It’s cool because it will be our first kid’s game to be published!
  • Sen attended a Game Artisans of Canada gathering called Cardstockawa. He got to playtest many games including some of ours: Aladdin, Abstract game, Rock Paper Wizards. 

November

  • Coming up in November we are going to attend Hammercon and Protospiel North. This is a fun weekend in Hamilton, ON where designers from all over can get together to playtest each other’s games. Good things always happen when designers get together!!
  • Sometime in November – December at the latest – our first expansion is coming out for Belfort! It’s very exciting and has got us thinking about the world of Belfort. We poked the publisher a bit and told him we’re toying around with making a quick dice game set in the world of Belfort. He said he’d be excited to see what we come up with!

Other than that, we’re going to continue to hone our existing designs through numerous play tests while we wait to hear back from Amigo about our game, Lions Share and Repos Productions for our game, What’s That? So a bit quiet on the blog, but busy as ever behind the scenes!

-Jay

Gathering: Pitching to Hasbro!

Hasbro_logo_newAs we were wrapping up our pitch session with ThinkFun, Tanya asked us if we had pitched to Hasbro yet. Uh….no…! Our understanding of Hasbro was that you can’t just be a Joe Schmoe and walk up to Hasbro and start pitching. We knew that Mike Gray, the main person who looks at pitches from designers, was at the Gathering – and we had actually had a fun run-in with him earlier in the week:

Sen and I were walking down the hall, checking out what people were playing, and we passed by the Snakes and Lattes team. We know them because we had our Belfort launch party there – and because Sen goes there for designer night. We said hi and they said “Hi Sen and Jay!” At that point, another person said, “Oh that’s Sen and Jay?” He asked us to come over to the table and said to Mike Gray, who was sitting beside him – at the same table as the Snakes and Lattes gang and said, “Hey Mike, this is Sen and Jay!”

At which point Mike stood up, stuck out his hand and said with all sincerity, “I want to thank you guys for Belfort. I was the first kid on the block to have it and I love it.” Wow! That was really cool. We talked about the expansion a bit – since it was launching on Kickstarter the following week – and then bid farewell.

So we say to Tanya that normal shlubs aren’t allowed to pitch to Hasbro and she says, “oh right.” But then goes on to say that she’s friends with Mike and that he should see our stuff. Um….OK! She calls out to Mike, who was nearby and after some figuring out, Mike agrees to see our games! He even mentioned, right in front of us that he usually never sees people he doesn’t know – but since we came with recommendations from Tanya – he allowed it! Cool!

The pitch with Hasbro was great, and while I can’t share everything that was said in that meeting as we signed an agreement before we started talking – it was super informative for both of us. He started off by saying that it was like we were aiming at a target. He hoped that today we would at least hit the board somewhere. Then, after hearing what he has to say that we would see him again next year and that we would be closer to the target. Cool analogy!

Mike shared with us the different demographics and markets that Hasbro is currently looking for ideas. It was a very interesting conversation that revealed that sometimes you don’t even need a full on prototype. If it involves a mechanism that moves in some way – that you could show a diagram that explains it. I also found it interesting that at Hasbro they refer to all designers as inventors. To me that means that they see their games closer to being toys than games – but I’m sure it’s just semantics.

l4w-1Then we got to pitch a few of our games. We started with our two word games because we thought that they could possibly be a Scrabble or Boggle spin-off. Lost for Words got his attention and while he thought it was a bit too complicated for the Hasbro audience, he said he knew of someone else who had an app that might want to move into the physical board game space and this might be it. He said he’d put us in contact with him! Nice!

Chainables-LOGOThen we played Chainables – and I was super surprised that we ended up playing an entire game! What?!? This is usually unheard of and has only happened one or two times with me in all my years of pitching board games. I think it’s a testament to the simplicity and fun of the game. Unfortunately it’s hard for Hasbro to bring a game that’s only cards to market. There’s just not enough margin in a card game for Hasbro. Still, it was great to play a full game with Mike!

We showed him Pop Goes the Weasel and it skewed too old for Hasbro as well. He did say something that I don’t think was part of our NDA and that was that Hasbro doesn’t want to publish a party game that just a box full of cards. They want to be able to have a commercial with something in the commercial that people can identify with and see that it’s a unique game with unique pieces. I thought Pop Goes the Weasel would be a better fit than Clunatics (our party game that is a bunch of cards in a box!!).

It was a great pitch session and it looks like we are now on the list to pitch to Hasbro in the future – which is awesome! Up next is our last pitch session with a new and upcoming publisher called Mercury Games.

Previous posts in this series:

  1. Intro and overview of the Gathering
  2. Pitching to publishers overview
  3. Pitching to Asmodee and Repos
  4. Pitching to Filosofia and Z-Man Games
  5. Pitching to Asmodee, R&R Games and Abacuspiele
  6. Pitching to ThinkFun

-Jay Cormier

Gathering: Pitching to ThinkFun

Continuing in our series that recounts the experiences we had at this year’s Gathering. Here are the previous posts in this series:

  1. Intro and overview of the Gathering
  2. Pitching to publishers overview
  3. Pitching to Asmodee and Repos
  4. Pitching to Filosofia and Z-Man Games
  5. Pitching to Asmodee, R&R Games and Abacuspiele

What’s great about the Gathering is that everyone is wearing a name badge. Even better than that, the name badges are colour coded so you can tell if someone is new to the Gathering, a 20 year veteran to the Gathering – or a Publisher! How great is that? At other conventions, the publishers have booths, so it’s pretty easy to know who they are, but their objective at most conventions is to sell games. At the Gathering, their objective is to have some fun playing games – as well as check out some pitches for new games.

This means that you can approach publishers at the Gathering to see if they’re looking at submissions right now. For me, this worked perfectly. I would see a Blue Badge (the colour of publishers) and ask them if they’re looking at prototypes while they’re here at the Gathering. Sometimes they’d be open to seeing pitches right away, while other times they’d schedule me into a time slot on another day. I had a 100% success rate in approaching publishers and getting them to check out my prototypes! I love the Gathering! 🙂

ThinkfunlogoI approached Tanya from ThinkFun in the hall, and having remembered meeting her last year, said hi and asked her if she was looking at prototypes. She brought out her schedule and slotted me in for Friday at 11am. Sweet!

By the time Friday came, Sen was now at the Gathering, so we had maximum Bamboozle Brother effort in effect! This helped with our pitches a lot. I was still the main ‘pitch man’ but Sen helped in organizing and then in the discussions after the pitches. We found that this worked well and we avoided talking over each other this way.

We met up with Tanya and found an open table in the main room to pitch our games. Remember, we didn’t have time (or the files!) to print out any sales sheets, so I had to pitch the old fashioned way – by bringing out each game and showing them one at a time.

carry-onSide note: I had brought this carry-on bag with me to the Gathering that had a long handle and wheels. You know, the kind meant for carrying your laptop and some files? Well, I used this to lug all my prototypes around. I had packed my prototypes into separate baggies or the smallest box I could find. Space is definitely an issue when you’re bringing multiple games to pitch!

I would bring out a game, show her the logo and state the name of the game, then as I was opening it up and removing the necessary pieces (not all the pieces, just enough to show a demo), I would give the elevator pitch. I would explain the concept of the game and why I think it’s unique, or what I like most about the game.

Examples:

SimpliCITY: I really like tile laying games but I hate waiting for each person to play before it’s my turn – mostly because the board changes so much that I will usually just wait and not plan too much until it is my turn. In SimpliCITY, each person is working on their own city, but they are interacting by trying to achieve specific goals before other players.

SOS-ex1

Short Order Showdown: For some reason, I’m really good at quick reaction games. And when we played this one with friends, they liked it but said that they never wanted to play with me again because I always won. So what we did with this game is added a clever catch up mechanic to it that keeps it challenging for all players.

Lions Share: It’s a collecting game, but it has 3 unique features:

  • You play between players, so you’re playing against the player on your left and on your right
  • what you’re allowed to play changes each time a set is collected
  • when you do collect a set, you have to share half the cards with your opponents

And so we pitched game after game to Tanya and she took notes about each one. After we pitched pretty much every game we had to her (we forgot to pitch Top Shelf to her for some reason!), we found that almost 2 hours had passed! Tanya mentioned that most of her pitch sessions last 30 minutes…maaaaybe 60 minutes, so it was a testament to the quality of our games that she kept wanting to hear more pitches!

In the end she liked 4 of our games: Lost for Words, Chainables, EI-EI-O and Pop Goes the Weasel. She asked to have a sales sheet sent to her in the following week. Overall I was ecstatic with our pitch session with Tanya. She shares the same overall objectives as we do – which is that we all should help each other in this small world of game-making because it will only help all of us in the end. I can see a long a fruitful relationship with Tanya as we now have an open door to pitch anything in the future!

Update: We sent her the sales sheets and within a week or so we heard back that while none of the games we showed her were perfect for ThinkFun right now, she’d be open to seeing more from us in the future – which is always good!

Next up…the big one – we pitch to Hasbro!!! You’re not going to want to miss this one.

-Jay Cormier

Gathering: Pitching to Asmodee, R&R Games and Abacuspiele

Continuing the series of my board game pitches to publishers at this year’s Gathering of Friends. Previous posts:

  1. Intro and overview of the Gathering
  2. Pitching to publishers overview
  3. Pitching to Asmodee and Repos
  4. Pitching to Filosofia and Z-Man Games

I met up with Stefan from Asmodee later in the week and let him know that I still had more games that I wanted to pitch to him.We quickly found a table, and played a few games. I showed him Lions Share, Clunatics and Top Shelf. Wow,Top Shelf? That was the first game Sen and I fully designed. I brought it with me because I still had fondness for the game and think it still works – and also wanted to hear some feedback on the direction we should go with it.

TS-top of boardTop Shelf is a tile laying, matching game where you’re trying to make four in a row.We played the entire game, which is always a good sign. He liked the design but it wasn’t something that fit with Asmodee. He thought a different theme would help though. So, something to think about.

He had similar reactions for Lions Share and Clunatics. No real feedback to make the game better or different, they just didn’t fit with Asmodee.Well, you can’t argue with that!

Next up was R&R games. Right before I was about to begin, a guy named Doug comes over with his camera and asks if he could record the pitch as he was making a documentary about board games from the designer’s perspective (It’s called Adventures on the Tabletop and will be on Kickstarter soon!). Frank from R&R didn’t mind, so he set up and I began.

Now I have to say that Frank indicated that he didn’t have much time. So since I didn’t have sales sheets (see explanation here), I told him I’d give a 15 second pitch on each game and he could indicate which ones he’d like to know more about or not. I started with Lost for Words and I gave a very quick overview and asked if that was in the keep or discard pile. He wanted to know more immediately so I explained a bit more of the rules.Then he wanted to play a round. So now I’m all out of sorts and have explained half the rules and now have to backtrack to explain exactly how to play and it’s all a bit befuddling. Lesson learned here is to either have sales sheets (uh…yeah) or give the 15-30 second pitch, then if there’s interest, figure out if it’s worthwhile to jump right into a round or give more highlights. For a lighter weight game, it’s probably better to just jump right into a round! And of course this was all caught on video by the documentarian! Great.

Regardless, Frank was thinking it would be too hard to market a word game.Yep – it would be.Why do we keep designing word games? 🙂

ex-neigh1Next up was SimpliCITY and Frank thought it was good but gave us the exact same feedback – too much multiplayer solitaire. Hmmm…I think we’re going to have to rethink that game a little bit.

Update – since the Gathering, Sen and I have been tweaking SimpliCITY to add some more interaction and we’ve come up with some really neat ideas. I’ll be playtesting them tomorrow!

Lions Share also didn’t work for him, but you know what did? Pop Goes the Weasel! This is our kid’s game that uses roll and move – but adds one element of choice to it. He said it filled a hole that they had right now. Yay! Frank ended up taking Pop Goes the Weasel back with him.Three prototypes now with publishers!

Just as Frank left, Matthias from Abacuspiele found me as we had set up an informal meeting to pitch him games and it was happening right now! Doug kept rolling, but this time I slowed down and took control of the pitch session a lot more. The good news is that Doug mentioned that he’d be giving me the footage of the pitches, so I can share them right here on this website! Stay tuned for that.

I started with Lions Share and he expressed interest in it. This was our card game that had players playing in between each other and sharing cards that they won with their opponents. He wanted to take it back with him! Huzzah – four games taken back by publishers! He also showed interest in another Artisan’s game called Garden Plot and wanted to take that one back with him.The other games I pitched to Abacuspiele weren’t as much of a fit, but he did seem to like them…but again, just not for Abacuspiele.While that’s an easy out for a publisher – it’s still nice to hear!

Next up I’ll be regaling you with our pitches to ThinkFun, Hasbro and Mercury Games! Wow – busy week we had!

-Jay Cormier

Gathering: Pitching to Filosofia and Z-Man Games

This is the third in our series of pitching to publishers at this year’s Gathering. You can read about the here:

  1. Intro and overview of the Gathering
  2. Pitching to publishers overview
  3. Pitching to Asmodee and Repos

logo_filoUp next I got to sit with JF from Filosofia. I showed him our app game,What’s That.When you’re at a convention and a publisher wants to take your game – as was the case with What’s That with Repos, you never have to give it to them right away. I always tell them that I’d like to show a few more publishers but I will come back at the end of the event to hand it into them.This is good for a couple reasons:

1) It lets you see which publisher is more interested in your game.The more interested they are, the more likely they will want to publish it!

2) It lets you assess which publisher you’d rather work with for your game. Do you want your game to go back with a first time publisher or an established publisher? They both have their benefits – but you now get to make that choice!

3) Once you give it to one publisher, but more than one are interested, well now you know which publisher you can send it to next if that first publisher decides to pass on your game. It’s great having a line-up of publishers wanting to take a closer look at your game!

Unfortunately for What’s That, the app kept crashing – sometimes right when we wanted to see what the answer was! It was frustrating – but it was a new app, made by fellow Game Artisan of Canada member, Stefan Alexander.We didn’t have much time for QA so we just went with what we had. I think the problem was that if I received a text message while we were playing then it crashed. I think they weren’t really interested in it anyway…!

Next up was Pop Goes the Weasel.They thought it was too confusing for kids. We did come up with one good idea that simplifies the game for kids, but still retains the ability to play the game as is for slightly older kids.

By this point I had Josh Cappel (artist extraordinaire of such board games of…oh I don’t know…Belfort!) joined us so we pitched our new game, Rock, Paper, Wizards to JF. Yep – Josh joined forces with the Bamboozle Brothers and the three of us created a brand new game! It involves bluffing and pointing weird finger gestures at other players!

Ed Bryan from Toy Vault also came by and helped us playtest this one. Ed’s another good wingman for me! The game went so well that he brought Zev over to play it. Zev IS Z-Man Games, but Z-Man Games is owned by Filosofia. Zev liked it a lot and wanted to make sure they took this one back with them. Yay! Two games now being requested by publishers!

Update: We have received an email from Filosofia after they played it and they said that while they don’t want to publish it as is – they don’t want to give it back to us. They had some concerns and asked us to see if we could review some options. So we are!

Junkyard-photo2We were then told that they did get the new sample of our game Junkyard from the manufacturer’s in China. Last year at the Gathering I showed them Junkyard and since then we’ve been figuring out a way to make the game. Everyone at Filosofia loves the game, but the cost to produce 52 wooden pieces is high.When I visited Filosofia in November we came up with some ideas on how to reduce costs.The biggest idea was to reduce the size of the pieces by 20-25%.We got a quote from Panda on how many we’d have to make in order to get the per unit price low enough to retail it for $30-35.The pricing and quantity worked out for Filosofia, but they wanted to see a sample of the product before committing.They brought this sample and we got to play the game with Zev because he has never played Junkyard.After a fun game of Junkyard Zev gave his thumbs up to the game. So this meant that everyone is on board! The next step for Junkyard is to ask for another sample with a varnished finish of some sort as the pieces are a bit too rough as they are now. But yay for progress!

We were also given feedback on the three other games that Filosofia had since November. Jam Slam was one of them that showed the most promise so JF wanted Sofie to play it. I learned something about pitching in this pitch session.

Jam-Slam-logoThe game is a simple game of listening to a clue and slapping a card that has that information. For older kids it has an advanced variant where you get bonuses if you collect the most or least of a specific thing. I thought we should play with this since we’re all adults and it would make it more of a challenge – and therefore (in my mind) – more fun.Well that was wrong. Being new to the game, Sofie was confused by the multiple motivations. She boiled it down to show that the game had three motivations and a kid’s game should only have one motivation. So the lesson learned is to always show your game as the base concept first, before throwing in variants or expansions! So she decided to pass on it but gave us some interesting insight into the design.

JF also shared some comments from the playtests of the other two games they had of ours and from this we learned another lesson.The feedback for our card game, Lion’s Share was that there was fun there – but there was too much memory in it.Wait – what? Memory? There’s no memory at all in the game.Why would they say that then? Think about it for a second…..yep – they played the game wrong.And who’s fault is that? Ours.We re-read the rules and found a section that could be misinterpreted. Damn. Sometimes you have only one chance with a publisher and if the reason why your game fails is because they played it incorrectly, then you’re hooped! By playing incorrectly, they didn’t get the experience you wanted them to have so they only thought the game was mediocre.When you found out they played it wrong, there’s little motivation for them to play again because their experience was only mediocre before. So the lesson here – blind playtest your game! Have some other group playtest your game without you there to guide them or help them out.This will help you ensure your rules are being interpreted correctly.

Whew! That was a busy first day! And there are still more pitches ahead – so stay tuned!

-Jay Cormier

The Gathering 2013: Pitching to Asmodee and Repos

Logo_AsmodéeI knew Stefan from Asmodee because not only did I meet him at last year’s Gathering but I met him at his office last November when I found myself in Montreal. He gave back three of our prototypes that Asmodee ended up passing on, but was open to seeing more. But before pitching he brought over Cedric from Repos Productions to sit in on the pitch.That’s what I love about the Gathering – and maybe the whole board game industry: everyone’s trying to help everyone.Whether you’re a designer or a publisher, everyone seems to want to help each other out.That’s really cool.

So Stefan acted as my wing man as he wanted me to show Cedric the games that Asmodee just passed on!

ex-neigh1SimpliCITY: We played a few rounds of this simple city building game and Cedric liked it but passed on it because he thought it was too much ‘multiplayer solitaire,’ which simply means that everyone is working on their own thing and once in awhile look up to compete in something together…which is true of SimpliCITY. It’s not a terrible thing, as there are popular games out there that are like that, but it’s not something that Repos wanted. Fair enough. One interesting lesson learned here: since Asmodee had this since November, I hadn’t played the game since then either.That meant that I was a little rusty on some of the rules on how the bonus goal cards score. Nothing looks more amateurish than lack of confidence and knowledge about your own game. I actually had to look in the rules! Yikes. So lesson learned – make sure you know your games inside and out before you pitch them, which sounds obvious – as it is rare to get a game back from a publisher on the same day that you pitch it to another publisher!

ex-chainable1Chainables: We played this for 1 minute when he realized it was just a word game and that wasn’t something he wanted.

EI-EI-O: This quick reaction, barnyard animal game has seen quite a few interested publishers, but Repos wasn’t interested as he thought there were many somewhat similar games like that out there already.

What’s That: This was our new party game that we haven’t shown to any publisher yet. It uses an app to give unique clues to each person. Cedric and Stefan loved it and Cedric asked to take this one back with him.Yay!

Pop Goes The Weasel: They had fun with this family/kids game, but Cedric was unfamiliar with the nursery rhyme jingle so he didn’t understand why we were doing anything. Once we realized this, Stefan explained the rhyme to him and he understood the game a lot more. He ended up passing because the title and theme makes it very North American-only.

Cedric mentioned that he was sorry that he had to pass on the games because they are all good games that work – but just not for Repos.That’s a nice thing to hear. So a pretty good pitch session! Any pitch session where a publisher wants to take one of your games is a good session.

In addition pitching my own games I was also pitching some games from other Game Artisans of Canada. Many of the west coast Artisans gave me their sales sheets and their prototypes to pitch.We Artisans stick together and help each other succeed whenever possible so I pitched their games to Cedric and Stefan. Cedric expressed interest in Iron Horse Bandits so I brought it out and showed them how it worked.They ended up passing on it but would see it again if a few things get tweaked.

Next up – pitching o Filosofia and Z-Man Games!

-Jay Cormier