Two more fantastic reviews for Junk Art!

Wow – the reviews are coming in strong now! Junk Art has been reviewed by my favourite reviewer, JonGetsGames, as well as by Board Game Authority. Both really loved the game and praised the replay value! Check out the video from JonGetsGames below and the written review from Board Game Authority here.

-Jay Cormier

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Tom Vasel from Dice Tower reviews Tortuga!

Tortuga-BoxWhile we already got a Dice Tower review from Ryan Metzler about Tortuga, we now have Tom Vasel weighing in as well!

Here are a few things that Tom liked about Tortuga:

“The game has a lot of interaction”

“The game has a really cool look to it.”

“It’s very easy to teach and fun for families to play.”

“I liked it!”

“A fine game and I think a lot of people will like it.”

Thanks Tom for the review! Just so I’m not super biased I will point out that he didn’t like that there was some set collection with the treasures – that you got more points by collecting a set of red, blue, and yellow. He said it wasn’t very thematic – and I totally agree with him on that one.

That is definitely a gamey solution to a challenge we had as designers. The challenge was trying to motivate players to attack one player over another – but have that choice be interesting. When we tried it with either ‘all treasure worth the same’ or ‘different valued treasure’ –  it became a non-decision since you’d always go for the highest valued treasure. The way we have it now you have to think about what colour you need – and you can even push your luck by stealing a white treasure (as white can be any colour – but only if you can get it all the way to Tortuga)! So the game works better with the current rule – but yes, it is thematically a bit wonky!

He also points out the possibility of King Making on the final turn – which is half-true I think. The game allows players to collect face down treasure tokens and the other players never know if each one has 1,2 or 3 treasure on the other side. So this reduces the ability for a player to know who is going to win and therefore affect the outcome on the final turn. That said – if a player can choose player A or player B to attack on the final turn – it definitely will impact their ability to win…so I do see his point.

Regardless – he liked the game and recommends it to families!

-Jay

Step 33: Promoting your game

So the art is done and the game has been sent to the printers, now you can sit back and let the money roll in right? Nope – not yet! In an older post we talked about how with book authors they are expected to promote their book, while in the board game world there isn’t the same expectation. That might be true, but I think it’s safe to assume you’re as interested as the publisher is in ensuring your game is a success!

There are many things you can do to help promote your game. Let’s take a look at some examples, though this list is certainly not exhaustive.

1)     Designer Diaries: Many gamers love to read about how a game came to fruition. Write up your story of how it came to be published. Remember that most people probably haven’t played the game when they read your designer diaries, so don’t refer too much to rules that they won’t understand. Once you’ve completed writing them, ask your publisher if they would like to have it or if they’d prefer if you distributed it. If you’re on your own, no worries, that’s what www.boardgamegeek.com is for! Post it in the forum or ask Eric Martin if he’d be interested in sharing it in the News section. Once it’s posted then get your friends and family to head on over to read it and give it some thumbs to get it started. (thumbs are the equivalent of the ‘Like’ button of Facebook). Here’s the Designer Diary for Train of Thought and here’s the Designer Diary for Belfort. For Belfort we decided to mix it up and instead of just talk about the history of how it came to be, we interviewed all the people responsible for bringing the game to fruition: The playtesters, the developer, the artist and the printers!

2)     Leaking art: work with your publisher before leaking any art as they might have a proper marketing plan on how to release it. Again, use bgg.com and get those thumbs going again. If you get enough attention then it will make it to the front page of bgg.com in the images section. We had our artist Josh make up some fun promo images using the art from the game!

3)     Blog: Blog about your experiences with game design. It’s one of the reasons I started this blog. Many blogs are devoted to how to make your blog successful so I won’t go into that detail here. Rest assured that pretty much any press is good press! We even did a video ‘interview’ describing the history of Belfort!

4)     Leaking the rules: Somewhere within the last month before your game is released to the public you should get your publisher to leak the rules online. This could either be on their website or on bgg.com. Then do whatever you can to promote that the rules are available. You know – Twitter, Facebook – the usual suspects.

5)     Local PR: There are a few things you can do locally.

  1. First is to ensure your local game stores are aware that the game is coming. If the publisher has created a sales sheet for your game, print them out and give one to each game store in your neck of the woods. If one doesn’t exist then ask the publisher if you can make one on your own using art from the game. Generally any publisher will be happy for any extra promotion that you can do. A sales sheet is similar to the sales sheet we talked about in Step 14, but it’s for a different audience! The audience for this sales sheet is for retailers and customers! It will have art of the finished box and hopefully a picture of the game in progress with many of the components. There should be a short description and enough flavour text to get people intrigued.
  2. You can also make a press release and send it to your local TV, Radio and Print establishments. If you spin it as a ‘local citizen achieves dream’ or something like that, then you stand a good chance at getting some media attention. If you do get any media attention, then ensure you forward it to the publisher. If it’s appropriate then they can add it to their website. I’ll devote another post on how to write up a good press release.
  3. Once the game is out, the PR doesn’t stop. It’s up to you to go to as many game stores as you can and show the owners how your game plays. Hopefully they’re carrying your game (remind them that since you’re local, there will be more demand here), and now that you’ve given them a tutorial, or even played the game with them, then they’re much more likely to recommend it to others (assuming they like it!). There’s a store in my city of Vancouver that I showed how to play Train of Thought and they liked it so much that they recommend it to a lot of customers and it ended up being one of their best sellers last year!
  4. Organize ‘Meet the Designer’ days at your local stores. Much like an author will do a reading or a signing at book stores, you can do the same things at game stores. Help them advertise it however you can – possibly be including it in your press release. These can be a great way to show your game to people.

Train of Thought6)     Conventions: If the publisher is going to a convention and you can afford it, then ask if you can come too (heck, first ask if they’d like to pay for your flight or hotel!). I can’t imagine a publisher turning down having a designer at their booth helping promote their game. I attended BGG.con when Train of Thought was released and spent most of my time at the Tasty Minstrel booth showing people how to play the game all week. It paid off because Train of Thought ended up being the second highest rated game at the convention!

7)     Reviews: The publisher should be responsible for sending out review copies, but there’s nothing stopping you from helping in whatever way you can. I’ve sent one of my own copies to a reviewer in order to get a timely review. We’ve also sent review requests that we get (since we’re the designers, some reviewers contact us) to the publisher.  Once you do get a review, assuming it’s positive, then do whatever you can to promote that review! Post it on your blog; send it to your publisher so they can post it on their site; link to it on BGG.com.

8)     Awards: Again, this is up to the publisher to submit the game for various awards. You can help by listing awards for which you think you have a better chance at winning and forwarding them to your publisher. We were fortunate enough to win the Dice Hate Me Game of the Year award and now that victory is on the front of the box for the second printing!

9)     Above and beyond: Sen and I will always go above and beyond expectations when trying to promote our own games. For Train of Thought we filmed a 45 second video that gives a nice overview of how the game is played. We got some actor friends, and some videographers and shot and edited the video, then Sen added the music since he’s talented that way!

For Belfort we did a different type of video and enlisted the assistance of one of our friends to help us animate it.

Also I worked with another friend of mine and we wrote a 10 page comic book set in the world of Belfort. We’ve paid an artist out of our own pocket to professionally illustrate it.

Of course, we got permission to do all of this from the publisher first! As you can see there are many ways in which you can help promote your game, and why wouldn’t you?! It might not be a strength of yours (heck, you’re a game designer not a marketing major, right?), but it can only help you to learn about some of the things you can do to increase the potential of your game becoming a hit!

So that brings us to the last step in this blog! That doesn’t mean we’re done though. We’ll be adding more stories and lessons we learn along the way, which will probably mean tweaking or adding some steps here and there. We haven’t even talked about Kickstarter yet, and with a new game of ours hitting Kickstarter soon – I’m sure we’ll learn a lot from that! And who knows, maybe we’ll actually self-publish a game or two in the future! Thanks for reading so far!

-Jay Cormier

Reviews of Train of Thought coming in!

There are tons of reviews coming in for Train of Thought!  Boardgamegeek.com has a nice smattering of mini-reviews and ratings.  So far there are 29 ratings for an average of 7.66 – which, if you’re familiar with boardgamegeek.com – you know that’s really high. Of course it will go down as more and more people rate it, but it’s still pleasing to see it so high!

We’ve been selected as part of the Spiel’s Holiday Gift Guide as well!  You can hear an audio review of the game around 2:06 into the podcast!

Here are some of the nice words people have been saying about the game (and I don’t know any of these people personally!):

I got to try a full game of Train of Thought immediately afterwards. I’ve already gushed about Tasty Mistrel’s games, and I think this game has the opportunity to become a big hit. In the game, you reveal a card wih a word on it. Then you secretly draw a second word card. You must try to get someone to guess that hidden word. If you do so, you both get a point.

The trick is that you may only say three words as a clue, and the first word must be the word on the revealed card. If no one guesses your word, you must offer another three-word clue, using one of the words the players used as your first word.

I loved this game. It’s simple, quick, has enormous mass-market appeal, and is a ton of fun. – Gil Hova

Got pulled into a demo of this game by the designer (one of them at least) and I knew it was one that i was going to end up getting at the con. In fact, I have a signed copy! (though it took until buying the game to realize that he was the designer) a nice word game, that wont totally hose me if my train of thought is different then others, since there is interaction between those guessing the word, and the clue giving, who much base their clue of the word that those guessing said.

Cannot wait to break this one out. – Tiffany Jones

Well named, challenging and fun medium-size party word game that generates interesting thought paths. A creative design which rewards quick creative thinking. – Bob Rademaker

A party game where you give word clues. A card determines a word you must include in your first clue; from there on, you must include a word that was guessed. Fast moving, very simple, and quite fun.

I considered buying this from Tasty Minstrel there, but wasn’t sure about space; had I known it wasn’t readily available yet, I probably would have grabbed it. – Brian Modreski

 

It’s really exhilarating reading about people’s experience with our game!  Thanks to everyone who has played it and wrote kind words (and even to those who didn’t write kind words…wait a minute – no one has written bad words about it yet! And no, that isn’t a challenge to anyone out there!).

 

-Jay Cormier