Ridere, ludere, hoc est vivere.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Congress of Gamers 2013 Part 4: Tiny Battles and Big Battleships

Tiny Epic Battles
One of the cool things about the UnPub ProtoZones is that you get to meet new designers and discover their creations.  I met Alf Shadowsong and Kiva Fecteau, who had a couple of prototypes, and the one I got to try is called "Tiny Epic Battles."  The way Alf tells it, he designed this little card game as a method to teach tactics to Kiva.  The exercise evolved into a stand-alone two-player deck-construction game.  Each player starts with an action deck, a resource deck, and three "houses" face up in a tableau that he needs to defend.  A player loses if he exhausts either deck or loses all of his "houses."

Monday, October 14, 2013

Congress of Gamers 2013 Part 3: "New Bedford"

Anna Rutledge and Nathaniel Levan
demonstrate "New Bedford"
I had been looking forward to playing "New Bedford" since I first heard of it on the UnPub.net website.  My family has deep attachments to that old Massachusetts whaling town.  Nathaniel Levan is the designer of this worker placement prototype, and I got to meet him in the UnPub ProtoZone at Congress of Gamers a couple of weeks ago.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Congress of Gamers 2013 Part 2: "Firebreak"

At the World Boardgaming Championships last August, I met up briefly with Charlie Hoopes but never got a chance to play his game Fill the Barn.  I had also missed out on playing "AtataT" at UnPub 3 last January.  Fortunately, I was able to make up for it at Congress of Gamers last week by playing his latest co-op prototype, "Firebreak."  We were joined by Bruce Voge of The Party Gamecast and Aaron Honsowetz and Austin Smokowicz, designers of "Post Position."
Bruce Voge, Charlie Hoopes, Austin Smocowicz, and Paul Owen playtesting "Firebreak."
Photo by Aaron Honsowetz

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Congress of Gamers 2013 Part 1: Mares and Mariners

Last weekend I made my annual trek to nearby Rockville, Maryland, to participate in Congress of Gamers, a friendly little weekend convention run by Eric Englemann of the Games Club of Maryland.  A series of Eurogame tournaments make up the convention's big draw, but CoG also features a number of other events, including the "Copyright Office," a game designer's prototype playtest room run by UnPub.net as a "ProtoZone" event.  That's where I spent virtually all of my time during CoG.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Summer game photos

Now that summer is over, I thought I'd compile some photos of games we've played over the last three months.

The yellow plague outbreak gets away from us.
We love Pandemic, but we have such a hard time winning.  Late last June, the yellow plague took root in remote Santiago, and we neglected to deal with it until the outbreak counter reached the critical point.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Game Theory: A simple multi-player case

Earlier this week I was listening to Episode 36 of the Flip the Table podcast, which discussed the obscure 1979 Bruce Jenner Decathlon Game (publisher Parker Brothers).  The game consists of ten mini-games using an eclectic variety of mechanics.  One of them caught my attention as an elegant bluffing and second-guessing procedure used to resolve the "foot races" in the decathlon.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Podcast debut: The return of Dice Tower News

Last June, on the Dice Tower Network, podcaster Remy Gibson signed off his 150th and last episode of "Dice Tower News."  He mentioned that he and Tom Vasel hadn't found a replacement, so it looked like there wasn't going to be any more DTN after that episode.  Well, as it happened, I'd been wondering in the back of my mind for several weeks about whether I would enjoy podcasting, but I didn't want to get into an hour-long format like so many popular shows do.  I liked Remy's ten-minute three-times-a-week format, and I thought it would be fun to do a news spot like that.  So when the opportunity opened up, I decided to contact Remy and Tom and see whether I might be able to step up and do the show.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Friends of Mars

Ben Rosset (l.) and Stephen Craig
UnPub 3, in January 2013
Many years ago at our engagement party, my wife Kathy introduced me to a close family friend she'd known since grade school, Stephen Craig.  He and I developed a great mutual respect and friendship over the years since then.  Not terribly long ago, we discovered that we share a common passion - designing boardgames.  At one design convention, he'd met Ben Rossett and convinced him to part with a prototype copy of his work in progress at the time, "The Market."