Board games that tell stories

You can follow me on Twitter at @trzewik I update this blog every Wednesday. This is BGG copy of my blog BoardgamesThatTellStories.com

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Nothing gonna stop us!

Ignacy Trzewiczek
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Me and Stephan Buonocore record Board games Insider on Sundays. Except these Sundays when we can't record because we are at convention. Which means most Sundays. In these cases we have to improvise.

Last Sunday I was in Modana at Play Festival and recording of episode #4 was impossible. We set recording for Monday. Our episodes are released on Tuesdays, so I belived we will be ok. We record on Monday evening, I edit it on Monday night and on Tuesday it is aired.

Timing was important, because on Wednesday I had to go to Germany, to meet my friends from Pegasus Spiele.

***


Monday, 6PM my time. Everything is set and we start recording. After 11 minutes something happens...

Ignacy, where are you?

After 11 minutes of recording I lost Internet connection in my home. My provider has some problems and suddenly I am offline. No way we can continue. I send message to Stephan that I am very sorry and we decide we will try tomorrow evening, at 8PM.

Wednesday, 8AM my time. Provider fixes problems and I have Internet.

Wednesday, 6PM my time. I loose it again. In two hours I should record and I am offline again. I am really angry. And I am not going to give up. "Nothing gonna stop us!" I say and I drive 20 km to my office.

Wednesday, 8PM my time I am at Portal Games offices and I am ready to record this damn episode.

We record. We have it ready. Stephan says he will send me his audio file. I will edit it early in the morning and then I go to Germany as planned.

Wednesday, 7:20AM my time, Merry wakes me and tells me that we have Internet back and I can do podcast. I get up, I check email, I click link to Stephan's file to download it and I go to bathroom.

When I am back, I can't believe what I see. Transfer speed 1,6 kb/s Estimated time to download the file: 9 hours.

You must be f... kidding me.

My suitcases to Germany are packed, Merry is prepared to start our trip anytime. But well, nothing gonna stop us, right? I take pendrive, I copy my file of audio and I say: "We go to Portal office. I will download Stephan file there, I'll edit podcast and then we go to Germany."

Merry is not happy. We go.

You remember when I told you that my office is 20 km from my home? It wasn't a case on this particular Wednesday. Exactly today they began road works on a path between my home and Portal office. Believe it or not. I need to take detour. We need 40 minutes to get to the office, that is 20 minutes more than usual. But #NothingGonnaStopUs

I turn on my office computer, I download file from Stephan. It goes fast. Good. I will edit his file with mine. I put pendrive with my audio file.

Computer doesn't see this pendrive. I can't copy my file, because this damn laptop is not reading this damn pendrive...

I am gonna explode in 3, 2, 1...

***


I made it. 4th episode of Board games Insider is online. It was ridicolous serie of events. It looks like made up story, but it is 100% real story of 3 days of unlucky events. It really happened.

Give it a try. I hope you'll enjoy it. I work really hard to give it to you!

Link to Board games Insider.
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Wed Apr 15, 2015 9:22 pm
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10 games, which made Neuroshima Hex real thing

Ignacy Trzewiczek
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As an addition to the last post I have today guest post - follow up written by Michał Oracz. Enjoy. I am eager to know if you saw all these elements in the Neuroshima Hex!


10 games, which made Neuroshima Hex real thing!



1) Colosseum – this is my own logical game (quite old), it’s about battle between two factions, quite similar to NS Hex. I have used its basics, which have been changed later and in the end created a new game.

2) Magic the Gathering – many elements which are typical for Magic were used in Hex. It was natural for me to keep your army tiles hidden to create your “deck” (for very long time I have been using word “cards” instead of “army tiles”). What is more – 20 HP, and the fact that death of units does not affect player’s HP.

3) Light speed – this real time card game was source of initiative, which determines the order of units but also direction and strength of attacks, armour, which protects certain sides of the card (in NS HEX - tiles) against shoots. Obviously, we have used game design – you have to deploy your units first, and then all units take part in battle at once.

4) Zombiaki – this game was source for the rule of discarding one card (tile in NS HEX) at the beginning of your turn and some things like net, grenade, sniper, division into board and instant cards, blocking of line of sight etc. Even today while making a new army I am looking through Zombiaki (and other our games) searching for rules which might be useful. Every time we are able to do it I am very satisfied, it is great fun.

5) Kingdoms – this board game (finally board game not a card game!) was source for method of arrangement of tiles on the board and what is important very strong modules which affects adjacent spaces. When I was designing NS Hex I was convinced that I am designing battle clone of Kingdoms.

6) Chess – chess are deeply rooted in my mind every time I design any game – for NS Hex I have borrowed various figures of special usage which are easily to destroy, and the King which is the most important unit (in NS HEX it is HQ).

7) Knights of the Cross – although, it is a computer game in fact it is a very good board game. Like in chess, there are various pieces, some of them are very thought, other very strong or fast. In the game we use those pieces to compose our army and then to confront our enemy who has completely different set of pieces (also a few of them). In NS Hex I have been trying to reconstruct this system.

8) Illuminati – from this card game by S. Jackson I have borrowed connectors which combine cards into more powerful systems, what became modules connectors in NS HEX.

9) Cave Troll – NS Hex was put aside as useless for a long time waiting for the last piece which was later taken from Cave troll, and finally NS Hex started to work. To be precise NS Hex was waiting for Battle tile. After playing this piece it starts that what is the most important i.e. action connected with victory conditions and sums up the whole puzzle we prepared during the game (in the Cave Troll there was a token which was starting summing up of points, also several times during the game).

10) Neuroshima RPG – it was obvious that we have to place our game in our own universe, so I decided that world described in our role-playing game Neuroshima will be the best.
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Wed Apr 8, 2015 4:12 pm
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Worldwide brainstorming

Ignacy Trzewiczek
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Most of you know Citadelsby Bruno Faidutti, old classic game that so many gamers love. Brilliant character selection rules that let us bluff, outsmart opponents and what is most important - have lots of laught. Not all of you know that actually this brilliant piece of mechanism was invented few years earlier by Marcel-André Casasola Merkle and introduced in a small card game called Verrater.

So many of you love Battlestar Galactica. Released in 2008 was a blast right from the very first day. It's been a while since the first print and yet the game is alive, the game is played over and over, every week I see it when I look through my Instagram feed. Gamers love this great game of betrayal and hidden agendas. I am eager to know how many players who enjoy Battlestar Galactica know that actually traitor mechanism was invented three years earlier by Bruno Cathalha and Serge Laget in 2005. The game is called Shadows over Camelot and was first coop game that introduced traitor mechanism.

Two or three years ago Francis Drake got a tremendous buzz among US players. So many reviewers where pointing how cool the port mechanism is and how great choices it delivers. Invented by group of Italian designers, introduced to European players in 2009. Called Egizia. Super elegant and smart, very popular in Poland eurogame.

***


Unlike in any other industries, board game industry is friendly place. It's not only friendly in terms of social aspect, in terms of us being kind to each other, us inviting new people to the table and being welcome to other people. It is friendly also on this other level, on the level of creation. Nor Marcel-Andre Casasole sued Faidutti. Cathalha did not sue Konieczka... There is no patent war. In a fact, there is quite the opposite. There is ongoing brainstorming, ongoing process of creativity, process of taking great ideas from other designers and creating something new. Adding value to our hobby. There is no stealing. There is adding. Improving. Developing. Worldwide brainstorming.

That's why board games get better.
That's why we see better and better games each year.
It's a community of designers using each other ideas to bring more value.

I wish it's true for other industries and other aspects of our life. We give great example to the world.
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Wed Apr 1, 2015 9:48 am
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1000000 thanks!

Ignacy Trzewiczek
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[I will post summary of your awesome feedback concerning my last blog post next week. Thank you for all comments! Today however we celebrate BGG milestone!]

Boardgamegeek.com website is probably one of the Top100 ugliest websites on this planet. I said it. And I mean it!

It's also probably one of the Top50 websites with dozens of mind blowing features that nobody, literally nobody except admins know about. It's like virtual jungle full of hidden treasures put here and there to only be found by Sheldon Cooper and his fellow friends.

BoardgameGEEK.com, huh?

I'd love to see gallery of photos of all those people who heard that there is this great website about board games called boardgamegeek.com and they entered here with enthusiasm and saw this:



Yeah, I'd love to see their face impression at this very moment.

***


I am making fun of BGG here, but you all know I love this site. I say it clear and open - our hobby would not flourish without BGG.

We come here to read about news.
We come here to read rulebooks.
We come here to see pics of components.
We come here to read reviews.
We come here to discuss on forums about our beloved games.
We come here to read blogs dedicated to our hobby.
We come here to do all different things like guilds, marketplaces, geeklists and all other stuff that I don't know about.

We come here to live our passion and share it with fellow geeks.

Few weeks ago BGG.com had birthday, today it got 1000000th user. It's a great milestone.

God save the Queen! All the best Boardgamegeek.com
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Wed Feb 18, 2015 9:15 am
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Open letter to podcasters

Ignacy Trzewiczek
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I love podcasts. In my opinion this is one of the many great inventions of XXI century. It's great step forward from listening to radio to listening to program dedicated to something you are actually interested in.

I listen to podcast every day when I go to work and when I go back home. It's 45 minutes every day, it's nearly 4 hours of podcasting every single week.

In my Itunes library I have plenty of podcasts subscribed. I have:
- The Dice Tower,
- Rolling Dice & Taking Names,
- The Cardboard Jungle,
- The Secret Cabal Gaming Podcast,
- The State of Games,
- Creator Cast
- Heavy Cardboard
- Blue Peg, Pink Peg
and last but not least Punching Cardboard.

The Dice Tower takes 1.5 hour.
Rolling Dice takes 1.2 hour
The Cardboard Jungle takes 2.5 hour
The Secret... I don't know. When I am done with The Cardboard Jungle, Tom publishes new episode of The Dice Tower and I start again. The Dice Tower, Rolling Dice, The Cardboard... I never make it to Secret Cabal and rest of the gang.

***


There is so many great podcasts. There is so many great people recording stuff. I met the crew of Secret Cabal at Gen Con and I love them. I met Dice Hate Me Games crew and I met Scott King from Creator Cast and I played Pret-a-Porter with Heavy Cardboard and man, we have the same sens of humor, it was hilarious experience.

I wish I could listen to all of them, but I can't because Anthony, Matt and Paul are talking for nearly 3 hours and taking the whole time I have!

So here is my open letter:

Dear podcasters,
Think about other podcasts, give us, listeners chance to listen to variety of different podcasts. Please, cut your podcast couple of minutes here and there. Don't take whole time we have only for your programme. Let us listen to you and your fellow podcasters.

You fan
Ignacy Trzewiczek



***

I know I am exaggerating a little bit. I know I could cut some more time to listen to podcast, I could try to listen them not only when I am in a car. I am interested in your opinion?

How many different podcast do you listen?
Do you have such a problem as I have or not?
Would you prefer to listen to more shorter podcasts or one longer?
Please, leave feedback. Let podcasters hear my opinion and hear your opinion.
Thank you!
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Wed Feb 11, 2015 2:39 pm
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Connecting the dots

Ignacy Trzewiczek
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It was some time ago when I heard about VivaJava: The Coffee Game for the first time. What a stupid idea I thought. In my defense I can say only two things: I don't drink coffee and I don't know what even VivaJava means. I didn't pay attention to any news about this game and I labeled it as a stupid idea. Game about coffee? Really?!

It was also some time ago when I first heard about Compounded. Game about chemistry. OMG, that was bad theme for a game! For me chemistry equaled school and serious problems. Yeah, I had some problems with chemistry when I was in college. When I saw cover art for Compounded and its logo I really liked it. If only it is not about chemistry, huh?

It was a few months ago when I saw cover art for New Bedford. I saw it on the front page of BGG site and I gave this cover Thumb Up even though usually I don't do this. Some publishers are my friends, some are not, I try to not thumb up too often. It's geeks, gamers, users job to give thumbs, not publishers. But well, this cover was a masterpiece. Thumbs up from me.

Three dots. VivaJava, Compounded, New Bedford. Believe it or not, but at this point I wasn't able to connected these dots yet...

***


It was BGGcon when I was playing Black Fleet with a bunch of gamers, having a tremendous time and talking about games. At some point discussion was about good game for 7 players and they mentioned VivaJava.

This coffee game?! I asked really surprised.

It's very good, especially with 6 or 7 players! they replied.

A coffee game?! It was hard for me to believe it.

Yes, it is pretty neat. You should try it.

That was a surprise for me but, well, if they say I should try, I have to try. I noted down to check coffee game later.

That was an epic moment of my ignorance, but well, I am just this funny dude from Poland, right? After I came to Poland, it finally clicked. Listen to this...

The cool guy with whom I was battling like crazy in Black Fleet happened to be Darrel Louder, designer of Compounded. I began to investigate this. I discovered that Compounded was published by Dice Hate Me Games, publisher who also published VivaJava. And then I discovered that not only Compounded looks amazing, but VivaJava also is a beautiful, stunning graphic design. And yes, of course, few seconds later I discovered that this amazing cover for New Bedford is part of the team - Dice Hate Me Games.

It took me a few years. I was receiving different signals and finally I managed to connect it all, to put it on the map along with a Dice Hate Me podcast, with Unpub events and with T.C. Petty III, with whom I was tweeting like crazy at Gen Con 2013 trying to set a session of Robinson Crusoe. It was all here, in front of my eyes.

***


Every story needs an ending. I prefer good endings and this story has one. First of all, I have Compounded on my desk, signed by Darrell. Precious gift which will remind me this story for a long time. Secondly, VivaJava is in my Top5 games to bring home from Gen Con 2015. But there is more. I realized one more thing. Super tiny but funny detail. It was Chris Kirkman, CEO of Dice Hate Me Games who bought the very very last copy of Why Can't We Be Friends at BGG.con

In the evening I found one lost copy of this expansion in my luggage and I think I tweeted about this or something, and Chris found me and bought it. Of course, I had no idea that he was the guy behind all these great designs and games. It was few days before I connected the dots.

***


Two weeks ago Imperial Settlers won Dice Hate Me Game of the Year runner up award. Luckily, at this point I had all dots connected.
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Wed Jan 21, 2015 5:21 pm
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Visiting old friends

Ignacy Trzewiczek
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Last weekend was pretty unusual for me. Believe it or not, but I did not play any new games. Yeah, I know. It's like hashtag woow, hashtag really?!

It was crazy rush to discover all those new releases from Gen Con, and then to discover all those releases from Essen, and then to play games I brought from BGGcon (and in the meantime trying to catch up with different releases on Polish market). It was six months of reading rulebooks, setting up new games over and over. Playing new game once or twice and opening a new one. And another one. And another one.

So last weekend we did with Merry something extraordinary. We closed (literally!) all those new 'to-play' games in a closet and we decided we won't open it for a few days. Then we took old games from shelf. Those with dust on them. Those we love and we had no time to play for a long time.

We played Lewis & Clark. We played Dragonheart. We played Theseus. And I tell you, it was a tremendous weekend.

With old game it is so simple. When you play it, you feel like home. You know all rules, you don't browse through rulebook, you don't feel confused. You feel comfortable, you feel safe.

You can really explore the mechanisms. You start seeing all those small cogs that fuel the game. You can easily understand what does opponent (this is so important!) and prepare and react for that. You see the whole picture, the whole game play instead of just trying to understand what's going on on your part.

If I can make a crazy comparison I'd say that playing those new games over and over is like watching one episode of a great show. It's like watching 5th episode of House of cards. It's like watching 8th episode of Homeland. It's like watching 11th episode of Lost.

You watch this episode, you understand there is something here, something you like, but to be honest you don't exactly understand what's going on.

Playing old game, is like starting to watch first episode of second season of House of Cards after you just finished season 1. You now everything, you understand the plot, you know characters, you are ready to taste it with all your senses. It's a treat.

So my message to you today is - give old games some love. I promise you, you won't regret it. Hashtag treat.
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Wed Jan 14, 2015 11:34 am
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Let's rise the bar

Ignacy Trzewiczek
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You saw plenty of Top10’s these days, huh? Many blogers and vlogers published their Top10 of 2014. These lists are super popular and are really fun to watch or read.

(BTW: There is even a geek list dedicated to different Top10 lists and it calculates the ultimate winner from different lists).

Craziness but I like it. We wait the whole year, we play lots of games and now we want to sum up the year and prepare for 2015.

Imperial Settlers appeared on some of these list. The game made it to some of these Top10’s and let me tell you – this is super flattering and super kind. Seeing my own game in one of the tops of the year is something extraordinary and really really cool.

But!

But it wasn’t on all of these list! Really! There are some people out there who doesn’t think Imperial Settlers is that good! Tom Vasel? No! Dan Thurot? No! Dan King? NO!!!

So much disappointment for me!

But being serious – 2014 was great and motivating. I look at many of releases and I know I need to try harder now, because our industry is growing like crazy and our hobby is in an amazing shape now. Imperial Settlers was the best Portal Games could put out in 2014 and we were proud that did catch up with big releases at Gen Con 2014 but now we are in 2015 and I have to do something better, I have to try harder, because everybody improves, everybody tries harder, everybody pushes our hobby beyond limits.

I tell you this, it’s awesome feeling. This race for putting better and better games, having better and better components, this competition of talent, passion and creativity.

My friends, fellow publishers and designers. It was a great time to compete with you in 2014. I honestly congratulate you Five Tribes and Star Realms, and King of New York and Spyfall and many more…

But it is January 2015 now.

I challenge you. It’s time to rise the bar. Again.
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Wed Jan 7, 2015 5:19 pm
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Let's rise the bar

Ignacy Trzewiczek
Poland
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You saw plenty of Top10’s these days, huh? Many blogers and vlogers published their Top10 of 2014. These lists are super popular and are really fun to watch or read.

(BTW: There is even a geek list dedicated to different Top10 lists and it calculates the ultimate winner from different lists).

Craziness but I like it. We wait the whole year, we play lots of games and now we want to sum up the year and prepare for 2015.

Imperial Settlers appeared on some of these list. The game made it to some of these Top10’s and let me tell you – this is super flattering and super kind. Seeing my own game in one of the tops of the year is something extraordinary and really really cool.

But!

But it wasn’t on all of these list! Really! There are some people out there who doesn’t think Imperial Settlers is that good! Tom Vasel? No! Dan Thurot? No! Dan King? NO!!!

So much disappointment for me!

But being serious – 2014 was great and motivating. I look at many of releases and I know I need to try harder now, because our industry is growing like crazy and our hobby is in an amazing shape now. Imperial Settlers was the best Portal Games could put out in 2014 and we were proud that did catch up with big releases at Gen Con 2014 but now we are in 2015 and I have to do something better, I have to try harder, because everybody improves, everybody tries harder, everybody pushes our hobby beyond limits.

I tell you this, it’s awesome feeling. This race for putting better and better games, having better and better components, this competition of talent, passion and creativity.

My friends, fellow publishers and designers. It was a great time to compete with you in 2014. I honestly congratulate you Five Tribes and Star Realms, and King of New York and Spyfall and many more…

But it is January 2015 now.

I challenge you. It’s time to rise the bar. Again.
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Wed Jan 7, 2015 5:08 pm
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Let's rise the bar

Ignacy Trzewiczek
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You saw plenty of Top10’s these days, huh? Many blogers and vlogers published their Top10 of 2014. These lists are super popular and are really fun to watch or read.

(BTW: There is even a geek list dedicated to different Top10 lists and it calculates the ultimate winner from different lists).

Craziness but I like it. We wait the whole year, we play lots of games and now we want to sum up the year and prepare for 2015.

Imperial Settlers appeared on some of these list. The game made it to some of these Top10’s and let me tell you – this is super flattering and super kind. Seeing my own game in one of the tops of the year is something extraordinary and really really cool.

But!

But it wasn’t on all of these list! Really! There are some people out there who doesn’t think Imperial Settlers is that good! Tom Vasel? No! Dan Thurot? No! Dan King? NO!!!

So much disappointment for me!

But being serious – 2014 was great and motivating. I look at many of releases and I know I need to try harder now, because our industry is growing like crazy and our hobby is in an amazing shape now. Imperial Settlers was the best Portal Games could put out in 2014 and we were proud that did catch up with big releases at Gen Con 2014 but now we are in 2015 and I have to do something better, I have to try harder, because everybody improves, everybody tries harder, everybody pushes our hobby beyond limits.

I tell you this, it’s awesome feeling. This race for putting better and better games, having better and better components, this competition of talent, passion and creativity.

My friends, fellow publishers and designers. It was a great time to compete with you in 2014. I honestly congratulate you Five Tribes and Star Realms, and King of New York and Spyfall and many more…

But it is January 2015 now.

I challenge you. It’s time to rise the bar. Again.
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Wed Jan 7, 2015 5:03 pm
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