The Hat Trick!

So as the sidebar says, the Finalists in the Resource Contest have been announced. And for the third time, I’ve made it in, although I guess you could say that this is 2.5 times, since I co-designed this game. But they did decide to print out Sumo Edition, so maybe it’s 2.6 times. Who cares. On top of that, you could argue that my recognition in the mashup contest didn’t constitute a finals bid because it didn’t get printed. I guess this post is poorly named. Whatever.

The real story here is that a few days ago I received an email from TGC saying that someone in Madison WC had ordered Shima: Sumo Edition. This was interesting because A. I hadn’t published the game officially and B. last time TGC judged one of my games they put in the order a few days before the announcement. I wasn’t going to post anything because it seemed wrong to preempt their announcement with my presumptions.

I apologize for the lack of pictures in this post (breaking my own rule), but I just don’t have the attention span right now to find and describe one. Hopefully there will be a huge wave of Masterplan updates in the near future, so that should be pretty image-heavy.

Holiday Update

Well then. Some time has gone by and I haven’t posted anything. More importantly, I haven’t done anything either. I pretty much just spent Christmas time eating too much and watching Hulu. I do have a small thing to show, and it is, as promised, from my new internet collaboration, Mules & Monks. The game is similar to Manic Mechanics, except the “vehicle” is chosen at random when the game begins, and isn’t changed during the game. Although we haven’t settled on designs for those cards, there have been some cool thoughts about the track layout being modular and double-sided.

This is how you could rearrange the boards, although the far left track uses 12 boards, not 8. We figured that we would use the smallest TGC Mats (4×4) for these, and that one side would be a corner while the other would be a straight. This would allow for all of these tracks and more, assuming we use 12. Zooming in…

This image arose when we talked about the actual appearance of the boards. These six represent all of the possible designs we talked about. The straights are, well, straightforward, but the corners present some interesting food for thought. Should there be an “inside track,” or should all lanes be equal? It’s something I have looked at, and people of game design forums have come down on either side of the issue. Some say that an inside track creates a “best route” scenario that takes away the player’s ability to innovate and design their own winning strategy. Others say that with a curvy enough overall track, inside tracks create exciting lane-change interactions and help to better simulate real racing. Unfortunately for us, both of those arguments sound great. We will have to think about it.

The bad news is that there isn’t anything to show of the Mules or Monks which make up the two-part player vehicle. It really is the meat-and-potatoes of the game, not to mention the namesake. I’ll see if I can get something for that soon. And oh yeah, about the French thing: my collaborator is French. That was the whole joke.

Alex Coulombe’s Masterpiece: Masterplan!

So if you’ve looked at Alex’s website, you may have read about a game he designed called Masterplan. Specifics aside, it’s interesting how Alex and I have been leap-frogging through the field of board game design. First he invents a game, then I find TGC, then he publishes a game, then I enter a contest, then he wins a contest. It’s especially interesting how he continually beats me to the important parts like publishing and winning.

Either way, I have played Masterplan and I love it. I’ll leave actual game explanations to Alex, but I will say that it is played on small, triangular boards representing different plots of lands. Originally Alex published this game using the printers at school and some chipboard, so the shapes available to him were limited only by his own patience. When we found TGC, we both thought it would be great to get a version of Masterplan printed. Problem was that triangular boards required the end-user to cut up the printed boards, and also led to a lot of wasted space and money. But about a week ago JT announced Hex Cards, and everything changed. I really quickly pumped out a concept for using the hex cards to simulate triangles. Take a look.

It is a bit much to take in, especially without any context, but here’s a basic explanation:

The top right represents a blank board in the old game. It is made up of six triangles, each representing a different type of land (Clockwise from top: mountain, desert, swamp, plains, forest, brownfield). Below that image is what an empty board would look like made from the hex pieces. Technically, all the information is retained. Legibility is the only problem. Compounding this is the left side of the image. This shows the boards with the buildings, currently conceived of as token chips, placed on each possible building plot.

Again, this was a quick sketch (I sketch with AutoCAD and Live Paint. Don’t judge me…).  Alex and I have been cooling down from Shima, but in the next couple of weeks we may see fit to bring this project out from the back-burner. Until then, I still need to 1.1 my released games, and new games are still possible. Next time: an introduction to my international collaboration. Hint: Mon Dieu!

Regular updates be damned!

So Shima.

It happened.

I kind of didn’t post anything. UNTIL NOW!!!!

I was, dare I say, ecstatic with this one. And by this one, I mean my copy, which is not pictured because I: A) Don’t own a camera and B) Cannot take photographs of any value. That aside, the board and cards came out very, very nicely. The color scheme has a dramatic impact, almost more than I was expecting. I don’t know how Alex felt, but I am really taken with “Spinner as Clock.” The design really came together nicely. Even the resource pieces feel like they were custom made just for us. The colors are earthy and smooth, but not artificially so.

Not to say it has no faults. In fact, as I sit here typing, I’m preparing to have a conversation with Alex to go over the results of his recent playtest. There are some graphic issues that absolutely need fixing, and some rule changes that were suggested, considered, and almost immediately agreed upon.

So watch out, because TGC’s first “supergroup” has just entered the fray with a muted, intricately patterned tapestry of Japanese farm simulation. I leave you with these pictures…

Officially entered, officially excited.

So Shima, in both its forms, is part of the contest. Both Alex and I talked to JT and he said we will be splitting Crafter Points for the entry, which is just fine by me. Speaking of Alex, check out the new link on the right. Alex has done a massive overhaul of his website, and it is definitely worth checking out.

Other than that, there isn’t much to talk about at this point. I’ve been weighing my options for potential projects, but nothing is really grabbing me right now. I have, though, entered into an interesting collaborative scenario with another designer who I just met (on the internet), so there should be some info about that project soon. Very soon.