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Note about this designer diary: Chronologically, this picks up right where my Planes designer diary left off. Unlike with that diary, I kept a journal of my entire process this time. I tracked how I felt and what I did while I designed. What you read below is taken directly from that journal as it was written on the dates marked.
Any new comments I make will look like this. Hope you enjoy this glimpse into my process.
November 22, 2013
At BGG.CON 2013... I just finished another very positive meeting with AEG about my game Round Trip. They want to sign it and change its name to Planes. Obviously, this would link it to their game Trains, and naturally jokes about a third game called Automobiles began to surface. My wheels immediately started spinning...
What I don't mention here is that at that same meeting AEG started discussions about possibly opening up a contest for the best Automobiles design. They talked about fielding submissions from everyone and taking the best one. With my inside knowledge, I took it as a challenge to have my design done before they opened that contest.
Pitching Planes to AEG at BGG.CON 2013; the Automobiles conversation started almost immediately after handshakes
(Pictured: Todd Rowland and Mark Wootton)
November 24, 2013
On the plane flight home from BGG.CON, I'm brainstorming what an Automobiles game could be. My first thoughts all have to do with fusing elements and mechanisms of Planes and Trains — something with moving cubes using deck building. How about deck building but with cubes instead of cards?!
At this point, I thought this was a revolutionary concept. I had no idea that King's Pouch and Hyperborea existed, let alone that they would both release before Automobiles. Although, all three games have almost nothing in common. I love the diversity of our hobby.
December 23, 2013
My game Planes is officially signed by AEG. Also, they have confirmed that they are going to start a new line of transportation games with Trains. I'm even more excited to possibly design the third game in the series.
I sketched this during the development of Planes
January 7, 2014
So far I think there will be a board of a city with streets. The streets will have multiple lines of color (different colors) on them. The players want to accomplish tasks (like go to work, go to grocery store, go home) and they can do that by pulling out colored cubes out of their bag that match the colored lines of the streets they want to drive on. The more you drive on a street the better you get to know that area of town, which will allow you to add cubes of that color to your bag. Cube Building and Route Management game.
In hindsight, this sounds so terrible. I'm glad I didn't stick with this idea.
January 17, 2014
There will be 5 cards next to the board with 10 cubes below them. The cubes will be different colors than the colors on the board. Each of these cards will give some sort of cool power when the cube is drawn from your bag. The 5 colors of cubes will be of 5 different types of cards. There will be X amount of cards in each type. Shuffle and choose one for the game in each of the 5 types.
This is the first hint of the final game.
January 18, 2014
Each player's bag starts with X amount of action cubes and X amount of white cubes. White cubes follow a looonnng route around the edge of the board. In order to take shortcuts, players need to land on intersections. At the end of your move, you can add a colored cube that matches the space you are on. If you're at an intersection, you may choose any of those colors. This is how you add new and better cubes to your bag. Your goal in the game is to complete task cards. Task cards tell you where to go in the city. Various task cards could be dealt at the beginning of the game and perhaps more could be bought during the game.
So very terrible. I'm not sure what I was thinking.
January 23, 2014
Boards will be static but the places (building tiles) on it will be random each game. Additionally, each default road (Highways, boulevards (major roads), streets (horizontal), avenues (vertical), alleys (shortcuts)) will have several cards that have special abilities. Shuffle and place one of each type of card next to the special power cards. When you pull that cube, you can use the cube's special power on the card or use it to move. Also, perhaps there is something about rush hour and how the highways and boulevards are slower than the surface streets.
Unfortunately, I didn't change my course yet...sigh.
March 10, 2014
I haven't touched my ideas for Automobiles in a while. No new inspiration. Perhaps a more flashy theme would work better than commuting in a city. Maybe players are building supercars, production cars or concept cars?
Yes. Finally, I woke up.
April 3, 2014
Met with a friend today and we discussed my ideas for Automobiles. The best part of the discussion was the epiphany that the cube building is the hook for the game and should be exploited further. I need to design powers and actions that showcase the strengths of cube building versus deck building. The design juices are flowing again...
April 9, 2014
New idea!!! A racing game where the track has multiple lines of color with various lengths of dashes. Each dash represents your speed basically. The slower speeds will have really really short dashes, so even with many cubes you will only move a short distance. The higher speeds will have really long dashes so each cube will take you a long distance. There will be cards on the side of the board to upgrade your car to various things, like letting you pull out more cubes, or being able to recycle your cubes faster (shuffle). Various cards will have actions like turn one cube into the color of another cube. Or move as many spaces as you have white cubes in your discard pile. Or buy as many cards as you have yellow cubes in your discard pile. Also perhaps each cube is worth one dollar in order to buy new cards (move used cubes to your bag). And then perhaps there is also straight up money cubes and they're worth more obviously. Now, I'm going somewhere.
Early sketch of the set-up
May 25, 2014
I'm researching Monaco Grand Prix and the Le Mans 24 Hour Race. Good inspiration found.
May 30, 2014
As of this morning, Automobiles only existed in my head and on some notes and scribbles. It's always a thrill to watch that very first prototype come to life — ugly and raw. I'm a procrastinator and I always take forever to prototype a design. Typically, I play it over and over in my head for awhile. In this way, I feel like I have played the game several times before I ever build it. This lets me get out a lot of bugs before I waste time producing anything physical prematurely. In fact, I was still working on handwriting the cards while the first few playtesters showed up tonight. Eventually, we played the inaugural game. Nothing broke. What?! I was shocked. We played again. Still working. We played again. We were all in shock at just how well it was playing in its debut. It was doing what I wanted it to do. And most of all, it was fun. I haven't had this level of positive reception to a design this early in development since Planes. My playtesters are so excited. I couldn't be more pleased.
Early design notes
June 2, 2014
I've been playing this non-stop since I made the prototype last week. I'm still floored that it is as fun as it is this early in its development. Pushing forward with lots of optimism...
June 4, 2014
This morning I did my first virtual pitch to a publisher. I presented Automobiles to several people from AEG over Skype. We had the usual technical difficulties (specifically I was hoping to use multiple webcams on my end, but one device failed to connect); however we moved past them and everything else generally went smooth. It was certainly different pitching to a webcam versus face-to-face with a live person. I'm used to reading body language and watching where their eye focuses while I pitch. I couldn't do either of those things, so it was a challenge to know if they were keeping up with me, and understanding an element, before I moved onto the next. Nevertheless, I was pleased with what I presented and everyone at AEG said they were impressed. Their order was to press ahead...
I wanted to bring in AEG as early as possible in order to make them second guess if they should move forward with an Automobiles contest or not.
Prototype set-up for my virtual pitch to AEG
June 20, 2014
Here's my current card categories:
• Gears (3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th)
• Wear (Grey)
• Money (Yellow)
• Pit (Purple)
• Handling (Red)
• Performance (Green)
• Engines (Blue)
All the prototype cards at this early stage
July 22, 2014
Playtesting continues. I'm observing the balance of new card combos and exploring turn phase options — specifically drawing your cubes at the end of your turn instead of the beginning. This would decrease the perception of downtime since players would be able to plan their turn when it wasn't their turn.
Early playtesting notes
July 29, 2014
Incredible playtesting session. We tried out the new oval map. I was pretty excited to see what strategies emerged due to taking multiple laps around the smaller track. Unfortunately, the new track presented several challenges that I didn't expect, which forced me to make a handful of hand-drawn changes as we played. I love this stage of playtesting — it's so focused and productive. Additionally, I was hoping that this new track would both speed up the game duration, as well as give the players the increased feeling that they were racing. I failed on both efforts. But that's not a bad thing. Failures at this point are often more productive and better for the game than successes. We discussed various ways to speed up game play (draw more cubes, change the track colors, make culling easier, etc) — many options for me to consider. On a positive note, the new cards were all very fun.
More playtesting notes
July 31, 2014
Breakthrough! Most of the challenges faced from the last playtest session were alleviated today. I'm so excited. I implemented a couple of changes all focused on speeding up both the duration of the game and the exhilaration felt during the game. The changes include giving all players a Spending Allowance during set-up and increases the amount of cubes drawn per turn from 5 to 7. Today's sessions were very fun.
More playtesting notes
Check out all those exclamation points on the last line. 7 cubes indeed.
August 5, 2014
Spending Allowance continues to be both fun and beneficial to speeding up the game. However, I have been noticing that money has become too easy during the game, which has resulted in some bloated decks. These bloated decks increase the luck of the draw, while also diminishing the effect of gaining wear. I'd like to reverse both of those repercussions. Just one week left till Gen Con. Push push push...
At this point, it was relatively common for players to have ~$20 a turn to spend. Far too much freedom.
August 8, 2014
My solution to limit money has paid off big time. I removed all actions that gained you more money and created a few more deck customization actions. Consequently, the last several sessions have been ridiculously fun. Tonight, we blasted through 5 plays in under 3 hours and we all still wanted to keep playing. I think I’m ready for Gen Con...except I need to make a new prototype...sigh...
I remember this session clearly. These sort of breakthroughs on a design are a joy to watch unfold.
August 12, 2014
Trying out the new prototype, complete with more functional cards and a new track. Made some key tweaks to the new track, but overall I'm very pleased with how it runs and feels different than the oval track.
Early prototype of the Monza board
August 15, 2014
I'm at Gen Con. It's my first time, and man is it overwhelming. Despite that, I'm enjoying myself and being productive in networking and pitching to publishers. It's exciting that every time I see one of the guys from AEG, they tell me how much they are looking forward to my Automobiles pitch on Sunday.
At Gen Con 2014 with some of the members of AEG
August 17, 2014
Today is the big day. I meet with AEG to formally pitch them Automobiles. They know about the game and are very excited about it. From the communication I've had with them, the job is mine to lose. It's a good position to be in. I'm prepped as best as I can.
I sadly do not have a picture of this pitch.
August 17, 2014
I'm on the plane back home. The big pitch earlier today went good. Not amazing, but good. We met and played at their booth in the main exhibit hall. We were in their private meeting room, but it was still loud and the space was quite tight. Additionally, it was the afternoon on the last day of the con. Everyone was visibly exhausted. All that being said, the pitch and play of the game went well. They were engaged and having fun. When it was done, we discussed marketing briefly and shook hands to confirm AEG will publish it. Success!!
September 16, 2014
Confirmed that this is just about done. I tweaked the blocking rules because they continue to be difficult to explain. I made them more intuitive, while at the same time increasing their importance. Other than that, nothing was altered and a fun time was had by all! Oh, and AEG has informed me that art is starting!
September 30, 2014
Ridiculously fun sessions. Finishes are tight, cars are unique, and plays are enjoyable. Still tweaking cards, especially the ones that grant extra cube draws (i.e. Nitro, Crew Chief).
Evolution of the pit card: First prototype, early prototype, late prototype, and final design
December 16, 2014
Still tweaking cards and values as polishing development progresses. Additionally, the art continues to pour in. Specifically, the boards, the cover and the logo. I'm so stoked with how incredible everything looks.
Final Daytona Beach board
January 21, 2015
Playtesting continues to insure everything is on point. At the same time, I've finally taken a step toward writing a final rulebook. Such a painstaking process. Additionally, I have designed new "Those Aren't Pillows" promos for each game in the Destination Fun series. Playtesting for these has started and they are very fun. I can't wait to get these out into the wild. Lastly, art is really coming along. The main boards are almost final, as are the player boards, and the card backs. Gorgeous.
"Those aren't pillows." Haha.
January 23, 2015
Officially added an "Alternative Turn" called a Pit Stop to the game play. This allows a player to pass their turn in favor of removing all of the Wear from their Active area. I have toyed with this idea from time to time from the start, but it's now officially embraced. I like that players may now take a Pit Stop, instead of feeling bad about a disappointing draw.
February 18, 2015
Art continues to roll in. The box top, box bottom, cards...everything is looking great. In fact, I played on the almost-final board last night. Great stuff.
Playtesting on the final board
Additionally, AEG has really kicked into high gear to polish all the card abilities and costs for this last home stretch. We have had quite a few lively discussions lately regarding any remaining tweaks and balances. The game is getting even better.
Final box bottom
March 26, 2015
I'm continuing to work on the rulebook, which is proving to be a bear. Probably the most difficult rulebook I have had to write when it comes to the examples. This is not because the rules are difficult, but because each example must reference not just the cubes on a player's mat, but also the main board and the cards. It makes for tough illustrations when it comes to multi-step actions. Sigh.
Rulebook notes and changes
May 12, 2015
One last rulebook pass... actually had a few significant updates this time. John Goodenough has been amazing keeping up with all the updates. At this point I'm feeling really confident about the rulebook. Man, I'm excited for people to start playing this!
Check out the final rulebook on the AEG website. I'm very proud of it.
July 10, 2015
The game is officially announced by AEG! I'm overflowing with excitement. I can't wait to share this game with everyone.
And that's the last entry in my Automobiles journal. I'm looking forward to racing in October!
W. Eric Martin
• I'm cheating a bit in the title since Mombasa actually originates from eggertspiele, with Pegasus Spiele serving as German co-publisher and R&R Games as the North American licensee, but so be it! R&R Games was the publisher on hand at Gen Con 2015, so that's who I spoke with about this Alexander Pfister design, which debuts at Spiel 2015.
Pfister is co-designer, with Andreas Pelikan , of the 2015 Kennerspiel des Jahres Broom Service and (the as yet well-regarded) Gen Con 2015 release Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King. Will Mombasa be his third hit game of 2015?
• I first encountered Rome: City of Marble by chance at ACD Games Day 2014, an annual event for retailers sponsored by ACD Distribution in Madison, Wisconsin. Designer Brett Myers lives in that city, and he was (I think) volunteering at the event, and we had some time during the evening get-together, so we played his prototype. The game featured rhombuses, so naturally it was great. (My alter ego on many sites is Henry Rhombus.)
Now, sixteen months later, I remember liking the game and celebrating the rhombuses, but not remembering details of how to play. ("The advantage of a bad memory is that one enjoys several times the same good things for the first time." ―Friedrich Nietzsche) At Gen Con 2015, R&R Games' Frank DiLorenzo tried to jog my memory...
W. Eric Martin
The most amazing thing about They Come Unseen from Andrew Benford and Osprey Games is that the game originated in the 1970s, when Benford was a commander in the British navy. He designed the game during that time and played it on board with other members of his crew — yet the design sounds thoroughly modern in how Osprey's Duncan Molloy explains it during Gen Con 2015. (I, on the other hand, sound thoroughly out of it in not knowing Osprey's history of wargames.)
They Come Unseen is due out October 20, 2015, after first debuting at Spiel 2015 earlier in October.
W. Eric Martin
Gen Con 2015 crowded out the crowdfunding round-ups in this space to some degree, but now it's time to clean out the inbox and discover which projects you might see in print in 6-12 months time, starting with Ed Marriott's Scoville: Labs from Tasty Minstrel Games, a tiny expansion for Scoville that has racked up more than $50k in backing thanks in no small part to the base game also being available, too. (KS link)
• Like Scoville: Labs, Shem Phillip's Flee The Scene from Garphill Games is a short run project, giving only fourteen days to decide whether you want to be a thief who steals and fences museum goods. (KS link)
• Perspective from Andrew Voigt and Minion Games runs only twelve days on KS, and this microgame challenges players to make the backs of the double-sided cards in hand match their individual goal card, and they do this by playing the action on the front side of the cards, trying to flip and move cards in their hand or their partner's hand to get things in order. (KS link)
• We have twelve days; can we go shorter? Of course we can! John Clowdus from Small Box Games has another short-run project on KS (eight days!) with Hordes of Grimoor, a two-player conflict-driven text-on-cards kind of design, as is his forte. (KS link)
• The Midnight Legion: Operation Deep Sleep (KS link) from C. Aaron Kreader and Studio 9 Games is more choose-your-own-adventure game book than board game, but I love the premise, so here it is:
You are an android agent who had been activated after hundreds of years of stasis. Your scheduled mission is still centuries in the future, but your underground base has been invaded and you are needed to defend it.
Unfortunately, it will take time for your memories to return. As you fight, trick or sneak your way up from the lower levels to the surface and your memories begin filtering back, you realize that your mission is not what you thought it was — and you may not be who you think you are.
• Nembrini and Rodrigo's Soccer City is on KS for another go — a rematch, as it were, with the result of this funding game coming down to the wire. (KS link)
• MAGE Company has shot Reiner Knizia's Res Publica into the future with Res Publica: 2230AD, which moves all of the trading action into space. Somewhat randomly, this makes me wish that the characters were all pigs so that I could then follow this game listing with this video:
Well, apparently I posted that video anyway — and quite a timely one, I think, with the imminent return of Luke Skywalker to the screen before the end of 2015. I can only hope that Captain Link Hogthrob has a cameo. (KS link)
• As a trick-taking fan, I feel compelled to mention Cabaret, from designers Patrick Dillon and Adam Whitney and publisher Know Chance Games, but since I'm posting a c.f. round-up, I probably would have mentioned it in any case, as with many of the other games in this post. The hook in Cabaret is that you are not allowed to follow suit, and you can't play, you have to throw in one of your mimes, with players scoring for mimes whenever someone runs out. Other stuff scores, too. (KS link)
• The role-playing game Hipsters from Jacob Lindborg appears to be coming up as short as the pants found on said hipsters. And in case you doubted that this was a RPG, here's the pull text from KS: "Hipster [sic] is a pretentious board game of betrayal, intrigue & popularity amongst friends. Who will pretend to be the best hipster?" Because everyone wants to be a hipster, yes? No, I guess not. (KS link)
• The Cards of Cthulhu: Beyond the Veil Expansion from Ian Richard and Dan Verssen Games brings Nyarlathotep into play. Good ol' Nyarlathotep. By chance we shared a taxi ride to the airport once, and she proved to be much nicer than I thought she'd be. (KS link)
• The Great Old Ones also show up in Cultists of Cthulhu from Thomas Eliot and Sixpence Games, with most of the players trying to keep a cultist in their midst from pulling whatever scheme will pull dark oozing forces to our world. (KS link)
• Wait, a third Lovecraft-inspired game is on Kickstarter right now? Really Chaos of Cthulhu from Darth Rimmer and Imp House challenges players to assemble Elders from the dice they roll and manipulate, and since this cover is the most rockin' one out of the three, that's what I'm highlighting. (KS link)
• Oh my goodness, Cthulhu has infected everything, with Theomachie: Cthulhu Mythos being an expansion for the German edition of Theomachie from Fabryka Gier Historycznych. That concept makes sense, but if we ever see an announcement for Cthulhu Qwirkle, we'll know that the trend has peaked. (Spieleschmiede link)
Nyarlathotep appears here, too; her royalty checks must be nice
• Biergarten from Andrew Sallwasser and Steamboat Gothic Studio is a card-laying game that cannot be played in an actual biergarten as the cards are not coasters and will be ruined. (KS link)
• Loaded Up & Truckin' from Joseph Roush and Nothing Now Games is thankfully not about drunk driving, but a pick-up-and-deliver game with players in charge of trucking companies in the U.S. (KS link)
• Perhaps the previous game can be combined in some way with Roadkill Rivals from Matt Graff and Pygmy Giraffe Games, in which you're driving through the U.S. southwest trying to create as much roadkill as possible. (KS link)
• Adam E. Daulton's Ninja Camp from Action Phase Games plays out like a super-powered Hey, That's My Fish!, with players moving their animal ninja around the dojo card field and claiming the moves on which they land. (KS link)
• Tom Rohlf's The Voting Game is a familiar-sounding party game in which you're trying to vote on who has accused you of doing particular things. (KS link)
• James Vining from Plow Games is trying to fund the 3-6 player WWII strategy card game Last Front. No, really! I'd be curious to see a WWII theater patron card game titled "Down Front!" Maybe some day... (KS link)
• Finally, designers Tim Walsh and Peggy Brown are attempting to fund a documentary about Operation designer John Spinello following a successful campaign in 2014 to raise funds for a real-life operation for the little-known designer. (Trivia question: How much was Spinello paid for the patent to Operation? The answer is given in the funding campaign.) (Indiegogo link)
Editor's note: Please don't post links to other Kickstarter projects in the comments section. Write to me via the email address in the header, and I'll consider them for inclusion in a future crowdfunding round-up. Thanks! —WEM
W. Eric Martin
• Time to continue with the game demonstration videos that BGG recorded at Gen Con 2015, with this batch of videos also serving as previews of titles that publisher/distributor Asmodee will feature at Spiel 2015 since in many cases these games were shown in Indianapolis a month or two ahead of their general retail release.
To start with, we'll cover Marc André's Barony from Matagot, which has a setting nothing like André's Splendor, but which shares the same quick style of gameplay, with players taking tiny actions each turn that pile up into something that feels like more than you'd initially expect.
• I first ran across Ystari Games' Starfighter from designer Stéphane Boudin at the start of 2015 when I saw the fabulous cover art shared on artist Arnaud Demaegd's blog. So nice! Then I saw almost nothing else about the game until suddenly it was available for sale at Gen Con 2015. Eric Franklin was super enthusiastic in his presentation of the game, and it sounds like something up my alley.
• Oleksandr Nevskiy and Oleg Sidorenko's Mysterium made an appearance at Gen Con 2015 in its new Libellud form, and with production delays limiting Asmodee to having only three hundred copies on hand, many people went home disappointed each day. If only a ghost had delivered a prophetic vision to them that they were person #105 in line and they should not expect to snag a copy at this time...
• Kim Satô's RYŪ has been in the works from Moonster Games for years, with this design being a real step up in complexity compared to the publisher's earlier releases, including Satô's own GOSU and Gosu: Kamakor.
• Volker Schächtele's Queen's Architect is an involved worker-placement design from Queen Games, with players needing to build up their prestige step by step in order to impress the queen.
• Designer Cédrick Chaboussit was on hand at Gen Con 2015 to see his game Discoveries from Ludonaute be introduced to hundreds of interested players, and he also came by the BGG booth to describe the game to those at home.
• Bruno Cathala's Five Tribes debuted from Days of Wonder at Gen Con 2014, and one year later Five Tribes: The Artisans of Naqala was presented to the crowd in Indianapolis. Here's an overview of what's new in the box and how it will change Five Tribes, starting with the addition of a sixth tribe.
• To round out the octet of titles that Asmodee debuted at Gen Con 2015, we turn to the pandas of Takenoko: Chibis from Antoine Bauza, Corentin Lebrat, Bombyx and Matagot — more specifically, panda babies! No panda cams are included, alas.
W. Eric Martin
Dice City from Vangelis Bagiartakis, Alderac Entertainment Group, and Artipia Games was one of the few games that I played at Gen Con 2015, but it's not scheduled to be released until Spiel 2015 in October.
While players don't assemble dice during play as in Rattlebones or the LEGO games, Dice City functions something like a dice-building game as you're manipulating what the possible die results are as the game progresses, increasing your potential military power, for example, or loading up on possible production in the hope of trading it all away for points.
In the BGG booth at Gen Con 2015, Alderac's Todd Rowland gave a rundown of how to play Dice City:
W. Eric Martin
Space adventure is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Vlaada Chvátil's Mage Knight Board Game, but WizKids Games is willing to bet that it can change your mind about that with Star Trek: Frontiers, a game from Star Trek: Attack Wing co-designer Andrew Parks that takes the core of Mage Knight and shoots it at warp speed into the Star Trek universe.
Here's an overview of the setting and game play:
A contested region of space accessible through a known wormhole has drawn the attention of powerful forces throughout the galaxy. Both the Federation and the Klingon Empire, who share a delicate alliance at this time, have recently built outposts in the region — but now news of grave troubles brewing in the region has prompted both the Klingons and the Federation to investigate immediately.
Command your ship, recruit new crew members, earn experience points, and use your skills to confront the challenges of the Star Trek universe. Explore and face a variety of challenges on a randomly built space map using the venture tile system first introduced in the award-winning game Mage Knight.
Star Trek: Frontiers is designed for 1 to 4 players with multiple competitive, cooperative and solo scenarios. Work together to defeat hostile ships or compete to explore and uncover hidden mysteries. Players need to overcome obstacles to expand their knowledge and use their leadership as they adventure in order to be victorious in their exploration!
In a WizKids press release announcing Star Trek: Frontiers, here's what the two designers involved had to say:
"Like the Mage Knight board game, Star Trek: Frontiers allows players to explore areas that are new and different each time they play. I can't wait for Star Trek fans to start commanding their Federation and Klingon ships as they encounter Romulan Warbirds, send carefully chosen away teams down to unknown planets, and challenge the might of the Borg," said Frontiers game designer, Andrew Parks.
"The Star Trek universe opens up a huge variety of thematic options for a designer, and I specifically hope fans of Star Trek will enjoy the work that Andrew has done to bring the system to the world of Star Trek," said Vlaada Chvátil, creator of the original Mage Knight.
Star Trek: Frontiers is due out February 2016 with an $80 MSRP.
W. Eric Martin
U.S. publisher Fantasy Flight Games had a number of surprise announcements, as is its custom, at Gen Con 2015, with the biggest of these being the revamping and relaunching of Runebound — now in a third edition — scheduled for release in Q4 2015.
The new combat system in Runebound that requires players to flip tokens to determine results seems to be incredibly divisive among players (who for the most part have not yet played this new edition of the game), and in this game demo recorded in the BGG booth at Gen Con, FFG's Anton Torres both explains this new system and anticipates the many objections to it.
One of the other announcements from FFG was for Warhammer Quest: The Adventure Card Game, a cooperative game of dungeon exploration due out in Q3 2015, which is the twentieth anniversary of the original Warhammer Quest from Games Workshop. In this video, Torres presents a detailed overview of the game:
W. Eric Martin
Another representative of the international game publishing contingent at Gen Con 2015 was Lorenzo Silva from Horrible Games, who stopped by the BGG booth to show off the publisher's Spiel 2015 release Potion Explosion, co-designed by Silva, Stefano Castelli and Andrea Crespi.
One look at the gameplay — with players removing ingredient balls from the grid to try to create explosions of matching colors — and you'll immediately be reminded of various mobile apps. Interesting to see that style of gameplay filter into slightly more involved tabletop games (more involved than the apps, that is), especially since Potion Explosion is not a solo gaming experience, but something for 2-4 players. I don't know whether such gameplay could attract "outsiders" who don't normally play tabletop games, but I'm curious to see what happens.
Cover artwork minus logo
W. Eric Martin
• While Codenames took the top spot on Geekbuzz during Gen Con 2015 — and did not surprise anyone by doing so — Monarch from Mary Flanagan, Zara Downs, and Max Seidman took the #2 spot and had many people wondering what the game was about, especially since it was available only for previewing and preordering (as Kickstarter backers had not yet received their copies). Flanagan dropped by the BGG booth to present an overview of the game.
• The award for table hog at Gen Con 2015 might go to The Undercity from Privateer Press as the game board and components dwarfed the tables that it occupied during the show.
• Designer Justin Gary is known for playing Magic: The Gathering and designing Ascension, but he's become smitten by microgames and decided to design one of his own in Bad Beets, which he describes in shorthand as a combination of Love Letter and Coup.
• Designer Ben Harkins from Floodgate Games offers a mash-up of his own, with Dungeons & Dragons and the television series Storage Wars coming together to create Vault Wars with co-designer Jonathan Gilmour.
• Nevermore from Curt Covert and Smirk & Dagger Games has great inspiration: Edgar Allen Poe's The Raven, with Covert suggesting through this design an origin story for how this jerky raven came to be.
• For the tenth anniversary of North Star Games' Wits & Wagers, the company has released a more fancy-schmancy Wits & Wagers Deluxe that upgrades the components with poker chips and other changes. NSG's Nick Bentley notes in the video that more than one million copies of the game have been sold at this point.
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