Slight delays and… pattern plays? Whatever.

Oh god rhymes. They seem like a such a good idea when you start, but then you make some dumb-ass choice for the end of your first phrase and everything falls apart. Tonight I’m really posting for momentum purposes, not because I have a lot to say. November has been busier than I thought it would be (read: Pokemon has been getting really good), so I really have nothing to show right now except for these patterns. patternPreview-01

Some of these patterns already existed, so let’s go through them left to right, top to bottom (think phone buttons).

1: Water – Obviously already used

2: Brown Squares – For my money, too elaborate, but still traditional and possibly good for something.

3: Tatami – New texture that I am using for the Tomodachi. Not actually a traditional texture, so to speak, but it looks nice on the card.

4: Rice Paddy – A great pattern that I really need to redraw, but one that is already used to great effect on the board.

5: Orange Overlapping Circles – Way too harsh for my taste, but it could have some use if we chose a better color for it.

6: Black Hexagons – A really interesting new pattern that I came across and roughly recreated. Could be good as a brown for a new storehouse or harbor texture.

7: Wood Grain – Already used as boats, but if things get shuffled around this could become any of the three “wooden” texture we’ll need.

8: Tan Stars – One of my favorites, and already used in the pasture. I need to redraw it, but otherwise it’s great.

9: Purple Tortoise – A very traditional texture, one that we used for Tomodachi before, but something that I would love to re-purpose because like I said, it’s super traditional.

Right, so there’s that. As I was typing this I did realize I have one more thing to post.


This is some terrible, horrible graphic design, but hey, it’s a work in progress. Later in the week I’ll have a pow-wow with Alex and Morgan and hopefully we (read: Morgan) will find a good way to array the art and information. For now, enjoy the lovely tatami texture, and try not to be frustrated because I CLEARLY FORGOT TO RECOLOR THE HAIR TIE AFTER I CHANGED THE KIMONO TRIM TO PURPLE. FUCK.

The Shima play-test: success?


So finally I’m getting around to posting these pictures. This is a mid-game picture from our recent play-test of Shima. It contains a good deal of new elements, so let’s work through them one at a time.

The first new thing, and probably the most obvious in this picture, is the little personal islands/circle things. After playing many cramped games of Shima on the shared board, it became clear that A) the shared board gains us nothing and B) there are real advantages to having separate islands, including a simpler scaling from 2 to 4 players. So I bought a pack of index cards and a box of crayons (top left), and we made some little islands. Here’s Ian’s island and storehouse (to be explained) since he had the most artistic approach.


For reasons I can’t explain, he drew his fields in this order (rice paddy, pasture, ocean), then proceeded to set up his storehouse on the ocean end. The intended order is storehouse-pasture-paddy-ocean, but hey, he spent the time drawing nice colorful lines, so I’m not going to argue with him. As you can see, he has workers in his fields and 2 cows in his pasture, neither of which are kobe (which would be denoted by red circles beneath them). He also has 2 fish in his storehouse, and a barrel of sake in-progress. Like I said before, the storehouse is a new concept, and one which we’re using to sort out a few different problems. The first is fish storage. The rule of “half your fish expire” was wonky and constantly caused problems and miscalculations, so now there are just X barrels (12 in this game, but probably 8 or 9 in the final design). We are also using the barrel system to produce sake: players pay three rice to place one rice token in a barrel, and a season later a red honor token is placed beneath it, and it becomes sake. We are also considering a system that allows sake to sit for months on end and accrue honor, but that’s still up for debate.


The other big new feature is the central “harbor.” In this playtest, we each chose a color (Purple/Blue/Yellow) and used the colored winks to place workers at docks on the central board. In this picture, I have a purple wink at the eastern and south-western dock, Ian has yellow winks at the same docks, and Morgan has blue winks at the north-western and eastern harbors. We’re still working out the precise mechanism of the harbor, but it worked very, very well in this primordial state. Morgan’s Diplomat card was just as valuable as in the older version of the game, but it wasn’t as over-powered. Speaking of boat mechanics…

These are the newest version of the boat cards. I’ve moved some things around from last time I posted, and I’ve made an… unusual modification to the rules text. If you couldn’t tell already, they’re haiku. I desperately wish I could do all the rules text in haiku, but the truth is I chose these two to preview because these are the only two I could reduce to haiku form. This may be a task that spend some time on later, because come on, how awesome would it be to have all the tomodachi and boat text written as haiku? Either way, I’ve removed the unsightly harbor texture from the previous version, and I’ve added in the lightened bar that’s present in other printed game elements. The only thing I’m unsure of is how best to represent the prices, and even more specifically how to help the Rice token stand out from the background. The dark lines here aren’t my favorite.

So that’s that. I’ll be finishing up the boats this week, and moving on to some more intensive Tomodachi design soon. We may have an opportunity to play, or at least experiment, on Saturday when Alex and I (along with many others) will be waiting in line at 5 in the morning to get tickets to Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart’s Broadway show, Waiting for Godot. Until then…

Um… more Shima?

Ok, so this is cheating, but I’m going to post a bunch of artwork up top even though most of it has already been seen here recently.


I realize the majority of these were posted a few days ago, but there is one new one (top right corner) and it is also an excuse for me to premiere the new font: Nuku Nuku by Vic Fieger. I think I should start to credit the fonts I use, even though they are all free and what not. Plus, this is a really fun font that everyone should have in case they do a stylized, Japan-inspired project.

So the Shima party went well on Saturday: there was sushi and root beer, and someone brought a pie! More importantly, we played through an incredibly slow round of the game while debating rules and mechanics, and we came away with a few great ideas. We’ll be changing tomodachi mechanics (obviously), and we’ll work on making the processes involved in premium goods easier to understand. In addition, we’ll be working on a new barrel mechanic that we will use to fix the fish-storage problem. Currently the rule is “at the end of the season, half of your stored fish expire.” This has been weird and confusing, and the barrel thing will fix it. I’ll leave it at that until I download the pictures from the playtest so I have some pictures to reference in the explanation.

Something that we didn’t discuss, but which came up in conversation with Alex later, is pricing. Right now, each good has a set price, and there is one boat that simply pays double. This is not that interesting, and it means the boats rely entirely on their effects for personality. It also means that products never change value depending on situation. Here’s the solution.

Now each boat accepts only a certain combination of goods, and it sets its own prices for each. This means that the boats in the harbor can dramatically change the potential value of your goods, and it encourages you to diversify. Also, ignore the weird stripes in the wood texture, it’s an Illustrator error that I can’t quite work out. The other big thing to notice here is that it now appears that the boats are at a harbor, not just floating in the water as before. This is because we are changing the boat system entirely, and uh, that’s it. Something else that I can better explain with pictures.

So like the title said, more Shima. I’m kind of distracted right now watching Top Gear, so I’m going to get back to that and stop writing this sloppy post. Until Thursday (I think).

National Game (Re)Design Month!

Well then…

November is upon us, and according to the internet, it’s National Game Design Month. I’m not sure which department of government makes these decisions, but there it is. So to celebrate/participate, I am doing two things. One is that I’m going return to this hobby, which I have mostly shelved since getting an actual adult job (which is itself in game design, hooray!), and second is I’m changing the name of the month from NaGaDeMon to NaGaReDeMon as shown in the post title. Instead of trying to tackle all my games like I did before, I’ve decided to only work on a few over the course of this month, and two of them are my Alex Coulombe collaborations, so that should hopefully help things along.

First project: Shima


So the original game had 8 different “Tomodachi” that you could hire to assist you at your farm. Over the last week, I created a few more. And even though it doesn’t really matter what they are for this post, I’m going to identify them anyway: Kabuki, Priest, Miko, Gaijin (foreigner), Carpenter, Smith, Daimyo, Ronin, and Sumo. Alex and I will be looking to change the way Tomodachi are hired and utilized, and part of that plan is reducing their abilities from 2 per card to 1 per card, and then allowing players to hire two workers. This should add flexibility and hopefully some more strategy. We’re also looking to radically redesign the board, but that’s for another post. Tonight, actually, I’m having a bit of a playtest party, so expect some pictures tomorrow and a more involved Shima update.

Next project: PUNCH


PUNCH is my only non-competition game, and it’s one that I’ve played with many people and received fairly positive reviews for. It’s also been ignored for a long time, and really doesn’t need that much work to fix. A few months ago I solicited some new colors from our resident expert, Morgan, and recolored all the gems to avoid some common confusions that players have had. Now the suits are shape and color, which allows me to update the face cards in a very pleasing way.

The new face cards feature brighter, color-coded artwork, and a new thick outline that seems to make them stand out. The original printing of the game was very dark and the art got lost in the stony background. As of now, this is all I’ve done outside of some minor wording changes on the cards. I’ll be looking to do more work on this soon, but I wouldn’t expect anything for a little while. This next project though…

Third project: Satellite Salvo

Thanks to the introduction of printed pads from The Game Crafter, Satellite Salvo may be able to exist as more than a print-an-play. The three people who purchased the game could tell you that it is outrageously difficult to play as a traditional board game, and that it’s so fiddly and delicate that it’s almost impossible to make it through a full game. While I’ve played Satellite Salvo dozens of time on paper, I’ve only attempted it once as a board game, and we didn’t even make it through the whole thing. Mind you this game takes like twenty minutes to play, so that’s saying something. Right now I’m trying to work out how to do the Arsenal sheet, and of course, re-writing the rules.

So that’s it. There’s always the chance that I totally abandon this effort and don’t post for like a year, but hey, hope springs eternal. I could be posting every few days if this goes according to plan. Until next time, whenever that is…

Final cards and preliminary boards

I will be typing very little here, and posting a lot of images. Also, creating these little galleries is a huge pain for some reason. Anyway, here are 4 of the final 25 cards in the new Manic Mechanics.

Feels good to have something from this project totally finished. After a good amount of graphic design, and a handful of rule and ability changes, the vehicles are complete. With that done, I turn my attention to the zone cards.

In my past few posts, I showed some diagrams of the new boards. As of now, the paths are created, but the cards are undecorated. I’ve hit a snag in that department actually. The visual appearance was a major criticism of the original zones, but now that the boards are smaller, I can’t figure out how to fix it. For now, enjoy the simplistic versions. Oh, and these are only 6 of the 24 zones (12 double-sided cards). Later I will do some fun math to determine the amount of racetracks that can be created.

Next post: A Satellite Salvo update, and hopefully some nearly finalized zone art. Actually, all that’s left to do with this game is re-write the rules and prepare the new box. The finished product isn’t really that far off! Hooray!

Rethink of the rethink, and more getting ahead of myself

This will be pretty brief. The first bit is about Manic Mechanics. Last week I posted a diagram of the new Zone mats, and this week I’m posting another new diagram of even newer Zone mats. I think this design will be better and more flexible, not to mention easier to create.


So now the cards will be more universal. Instead of straightaways and turns, there are just diagonal lines that connect at the corners. What’s more, these cards allow for some interesting, smaller races. Lastly, this orientation creates space for about 7 spots per card, which makes the full 12-card race a very similar length to the original game.

The second thing I worked on this week was the update to Shima. Unfortunately, I’m really not supposed to be doing that. I told myself that I would work on the games two at a time, finishing both before I moved on. But I had a cool idea, and I wasn’t going to just let it go by. Instead, I did a really brief proof-of-concept for a stand-alone Sumo game. If you recall, when Alex and I published Shima, we created separate minigames to differentiate our versions. I added a Sumo game to my version, but it didn’t quite work. This new thing, on the other hand, does work.


Again, this prototype is made of a deck of cards and bits from Rum Run. In this new(ish) game, opponents play cards simultaneously to manipulate the pawns in the small, hex-grid Sumo ring. On the first turn, the players stand apart.


Then the cards are revealed, and the stronger player moves into the center. After that, the players push and pull each other around the board until one is pushed outside of the ring. There isn’t much more to say at this point, but I’m not really in the business of taking pictures and not posting them.

Anyway, I will eventually start to make real progress on Manic Mechanics, and hopefully post frequency will increase. Until then, once a week seems like a good schedule. Stay tuned.


Deep sadness

We didn’t win. Super sad. The winning game looks awesome though, so I guess slightly less sad. I’m not going to say any more about Terra Neo until it’s published (soon, hopefully).

Here’s what’s been happening in the meantime. Manic Mechanics is plodding along slowly, but I’ve started to work on something I didn’t expect to do: totally new board design. I don’t mean graphic design, I mean actual design. Here are some diagrams about that.


This shows possible track layouts for 12-card boards. The cards themselves would be the Game Crafter’s Jumbo Cards, which measure 3.5′ x 5.5′. I’m going to be cutting some out of paper to test out the sizing pretty soon. Might even do a playtest. Haven’t decided. Either way, this would change a lot in the game, including actual gameplay elements, since many cards reference their “zone.” If the zones get smaller and more numerous, certain vehicles will be gain power while others will lose power. It’s something I have to look at. But the ultimate goal here is to get this game to fit in a smaller box, which will be possible if I use these boards.

Meanwhile, back at Satellite Salvo, a new print-and-play has arrived. I still need to make some tweaks to it, but otherwise it’s pretty much finished.

newPnP1-01The tricky bit here is the folding. By folding the sheet along the two horizontal lines, you get a very cool print-and-play object. The two upper sections stand up like a tent to shield the lower section, which of course is the secret information. All of the rules fit in the middle, so they can be referenced at any time, and the whole thing can fold flat, leaving only the top panel with the Enemy Planet and Arsenal visible. All you need are 5 dice and a pencil.

Well that’s it for now. Not sure what the schedule is in the next week, but my hope is to find some time to get serious about Manic Mechanics. It’s sort of the big project right now, and if I could knock it out I could move on to some other games that are frankly more interesting to me right now. Until then.