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Shaken, not stirred

Occasional ramblings on playing and designing boardgames (by the designer of Extra! Extra!)

Archive for Andrew Bond

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Shaken #42. What's it all about, Alfie?

Andrew Bond
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Surrey
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Previously: Shaken #41. The slow reveal...

A key part of playing Extra! Extra! (my newspaper-themed boardgame) is collecting stories from the Editor's Desk....



(PLEASE NOTE: final artwork may vary from what I am showing here)

There are four sizes of story:

6 size-6 = 2 x 3 squares
4 size-4 = 2 x 2 squares
3 size-3 = 1 x 3 squares
2 size-2 = 1 x 2 squares*

(*not shown in the image above - these appear a little lower on the gameboard)

Each story is represented by a tile, something like this:



where the typewriter and camera symbols indicate the cost for claiming the story.

The red numbers at the centre of the Story gives the number of Circulation Points (oh, alright VPs really) that a player gets for having that story on his or her newpaper at the end of the game. In this case: 15 CPs standard with another 6 CPs if a bonus tile is played on the story.

So, where do the stories go?

Tune in next time to find out.

Expect to see Extra! Extra! in the Spring of 2015.

Next: Shaken #43. Fill that page up with stories
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Fri Jan 9, 2015 6:21 pm
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Shaken #41. The slow reveal...

Andrew Bond
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I have now been given the go-ahead by Mayfair Games to release information about my upcoming newspaper-themed game Extra! Extra!, which was previously known by its working title 'Hold the Front Page'.

So, to fit in with all the other things I have to do to get this game over the finish line, I am going to reveal different aspects of the game over the coming days and weeks, one aspect at a time starting with...



... the start section of the SOURCES game board (one of three games boards that portray a 1920s period newspaper office).

More to follow!

Expect to see Extra! Extra! in the Spring of 2015.

Next: Shaken #42. What's it all about, Alfie?
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Fri Jan 9, 2015 12:36 am
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Shaken #40. Should Clowns transform into Old Amsterdam?

Andrew Bond
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I am trying out a complete re-theme of the pattern-matching card game that Jenny (my wife) and I have designed, current going under the name Send in the Clowns.

The reason for the change is the general apathy towards clowns as a whole, the problem that clowns lull people into thinking this game is a light, friendly game (it isn't), and my inability to garner any interest in Clowns from publishers.

So, the cards we are using have been changed from this...



To this...



So, if anyone is reading this, what do you think? Do the new cards appeal more than the old?

Would a game called 'Old Amsterdam' appeal more or less than 'Send in the Clowns'?
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Thu Jul 31, 2014 12:44 am
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Shaken #39. Late-breaking news

Andrew Bond
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This weekend has seen two BIG playests of my newspaper-themed prototype, Extra! Extra!.

A massive thanks to JimS, (Crispy) Chris, Kirsty, Jon, Steve, Will, James, Nick, Paul, Malcolm, and Gordon for spending their valuable gaming time helping me out. The two playtests each involved 6 players - the first with all new players, the second with all experienced players.

The Front-Page Berliner Scenario lasted 6 rounds and took 65 minutes to complete and the Cover-Pages Berliner Scenario lasted 8 rounds and took 2 hours and 35 minutes. Result! Exactly what I wanted for a serious strategy game that can also be played in 'quick' mode.

Comments from some of the playtesters have been posted here.

Feedback from the players was excellent, giving the game ratings (out of 10) of 6.71, 7.29, 7.86. 8.71, 8.43, and 10.00.

Changes from the current ruleset that I am thinking of introducing can be summarized as follows:

The ‘Late-Breaking News’ space is only used in 3-6 player games
Add a 'Stop-the-Press' space in 5-6 player games
Reduce the overall card count to 120 - making the number of suits 6 (instead of 8). This makes collecting sets easier.

Have two Extra tokens for each story type when playing a Cover-Page or Centre-Spread Scenario (but only one for a Front-Page Scenario)
Re-jig the Features Deck so it comprises 12 Extras (split across two suits), 12 Headlines/Columns, and 12 (split) Newswire/Interview cards
Separate the Interview space from the Headline/Column space and place it just before Late-Breaking News

Stories must be placed Side A upwards (with 'A' readable, i.e. upright) but adverts can be placed either side up
Typesetting allows complete reorganization of all tiles, including flipping from A to B and vice-versa
Recruitment should have 1 space in the 2-player game, 2 spaces in the 3-4 player game, and 3 spaces in the 5-6 player game

Reduce the Page-Completion Bonuses from 15, 10, 6, 3, and 1 to 10, 8, 6, 4, 2 instead (I am unsure about this)
Once a Page-Completion Bonus had been scored, then that page is locked
There should be only one row of Classifieds available

Your Newspaper’s theme is now a joker suit for you alone. So, whenever you claim a story, you can use one card (maximum) in your theme as if it is any suit - again I'm unsure if the impact this will have on the overall gameplay, so it needs to be tested

I'd welcome the thoughts of my fellow playtesters on these ideas (most of which are theirs anyway whistle)
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Mon Jun 23, 2014 10:29 pm
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Shaken #38. The Geek is such a valuable resource

Andrew Bond
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Having previously toyed with the idea of self-publishing my Send in the Clowns game, whose development is now virtually complete, I am always looking for tips how to keep production costs down.

Lo, BGG currently has a thread devoted to this topic, specifically how to manufacture a small print run (fewer than 1000 copies). Here is the link for those who haven't come across this thread yet:

Anybody know of a manufacturer that does minimum print runs of less than 1000 units?

And one of the really good sources of information highlighted there is an article by James Mathe entitled "Hitchhiker's Guide to Games Manufacturers". Superb! James has done all of us budding games designers/publishers a big favour by sharing his experience:

http://www.jamesmathe.com/hitchhikers-guide-to-game-manufact...

So I'd just like to say thank you to those who help others in this way.
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Sat May 17, 2014 7:56 am
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Shaken #37. Art Dealer gets a thorough playtest

Andrew Bond
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Paul, James, and Nick came round last night to playtest the latest incarnation of my 'Art Dealer' prototype and I got some fabulous suggestions for improving the game.

This game had died and gone to heaven a few months ago but, following successive outings at London Playtest, I have managed to get it back on course. Last night we had a nearly fully-competitive game (sorry, Nick, that it bombed for you) with James just pipping Paul and me to the 12 VP winning target. And this played out in 1 hour 30 minutes - with lots of chat and ridicule for the game's author (me) - which is exactly what I wanted (well, not the ridicule).

So... what to do next?

A couple of thoughts I had since last night are as follows:

1 Introduce a minimum bid for auctions (representing a third party telephone bid). This will be between £1M and £5M and known before the auctions is taken (via a card drawen from a deck of bids). Minimum bid changes after each auction.

2 History deck: instead of discarded cards automatically going into the History deck, the History deck is seeded as follows: when a player pays to move random cards from Discard to History (as we played) AND when the History event occurs (see below). On taking the Historian's action, you can take any card out of the History deck without further payment

3 Introduce an automatic 'event' when ANY tile drops into the last three places on the action track, just like we did with the Exhibitor tile. If an event happens **every** time, it will be harder to forget to do it for the Exhibitor alone.

Question is: what should those events be? Here are some of my initial thoughts - I'd value comments on them or any other suggestions about this or the game in general.

Events (triggered on tile dropping into last three spaces):

1. Exhibitor: paintings paid out and clear, exhibition discarded replacement exhibition drawn
2. Curator: oldest museum discarded, replacement drawn
3. Collector: oldest commission discarded, replacement drawn
4. Buyer: oldest painting in market is discarded, replacement drawn
5. Seller: ??
6. Auctioneer: minimum bid card discarded, replacement drawn
7. Forger: forgeries are discovered (tokens clear)
8. Historian: max. 5 cards are moved from discard pile to History deck
9. Valuer: lowest valued painting period becomes highest values, all other periods drop one column
10. Restorer: oldest painting in market goes for restoration (this card may be 'reserved' by a player taking the Restorer action later)

Comments please from my intrepid playtesters!
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Thu May 15, 2014 12:26 pm
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Shaken #36. 2010 vs 2011. Which one wins?

Andrew Bond
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Banstead
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My previous two blogposts compared the ratings recorded by the Essen releases from 2011, 2012, and 2013 on a fixed day (31st January) following the Spiel:

Shaken #34. It's official! 2012 was a better year than 2013!
Shaken #35. ... and 2011 was a better year than 2012

And the conclusion was that 2011 pips 2012, which in turn pips 2013.

So, does the "older is better" trend continue into 2010?

The comparison is based on a game by game comparison of ratings, with each year putting up its candidates in rank order. So the top game from 2010 is pitched against the top game from 2011; the second best game from 2010 vs the second best from 2011; etc.

The raw data comes from Emile de Maat's 'Essen Ranked Games' lists located here:

Essen 2011 - Ranked Games
Essen 2010 - Ranked Games

d10-1d10-0
2010's Inca Empire vs 2011's Ninjato
Votes: 381 vs 476
Rank: 437 vs 436
Rating: 7.51 vs 7.61
Score: 0-1 to 2011

d10-9
2010's K2 vs 2011's Kingdom Builder
Votes: 545 vs 1185
Rank: 314 vs 359
Rating: 7.64 vs 7.12
Score: 1-1

d10-8
2010's The Resistancevs 2011's Risk Legacy
Votes: 721 vs 379
Rank: 308 vs 351
Rating: 7.42 vs 8.20
Score: 1-2 to 2011

d10-7
2010's Merchants & Marauders vs 2011's Flash Point: Fire Rescue
Votes: 505 vs 617
Rank: 269 vs 342
Rating: 7.80 vs 7.59
Score: 2-2

d10-6
2010's Vinhos vs 2011's Belfort
Votes: 418 vs 661
Rank: 233 vs 314
Ratings: 8.11 vs 7.58
Score: 3-2 to 2010

d10-5
2010's Navegador vs 2011's Dungeon Petz
Votes: 581 vs 694
Rank: 141 vs 243
Ratings: 7.82 vs 7.77
Score: 4-2 to 2010

d10-4
2010's London vs 2011's Trajan
Votes: 1024 vs 724
Rank: 132 vs 179
Rating: 7.67 vs 7.94
Score: 4-3 to 2010

d10-3
2010's Troyes vs 2011's Ora et Labora
Votes: 780 vs 836
Rank: 101 vs 70
Rating: 7.98 vs 8.29
Score: 4-4

d10-2
2010's Sid Meier's Civilization: The Board Game vs 2011's Mage Knight Board Game
Votes: 1382 vs 863
Rank: 38 vs 52
Rating: 8.09 vs 8.42
Score: 4-5 to 2011

d10-1
2010's 7 Wonders vs 2011's Eclipse
Votes: 3447 vs 1854
Rank: 16 vs 8
Rating: 7.99 vs 8.48
Score: 4-6 to 2011

So 2011 holds onto its crown and breaks the older-is-better trend.
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Wed Feb 5, 2014 10:06 pm
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Shaken #35. ... and 2011 was a better year than 2012

Andrew Bond
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My last blogpost (Shaken #34. It's official! 2012 was a better year than 2013!) attempted to answer the question: which of the Essen releases were better - 2012's or 2013's? You'll have to read that post to find out the answer.*

*or maybe not, given the way BGG creates its hypertext links. whistle

This post is all about comparing the Essen releases from 2011 with those from 2012. To do so, I compare the ratings of each game on 31st January in the year immediately after their Essen release. The raw data for this comparison comes from Emile de Maat's 'Essen Ranked Games' lists located here:

Essen 2012 - Ranked Games
Essen 2011 - Ranked Games

The result is based on head-to-head comparison of the Top 10 games from each year...

d10-1d10-0
2011's Ninjato vs 2012's Clash of Cultures
Votes: 476 vs 449
Rank: 436 vs 447
Rating: 7.61 vs 7.96
Score: 0-1 to 2012

d10-9
2011's Kingdom Builder vs 2012's Myrmes
Votes: 1185 vs 682
Rank: 359 vs 384
Rating: 7.12 vs 7.70
Score: 0-2 to 2012

d10-8
2011's Risk Legacy vs 2012's The Resistance: Avalon
Votes: 379 vs 330
Rank: 351 vs 330
Rating: 8.20 vs 8.01
Score: 1-2 to 2012

d10-7
2011's Flash Point: Fire Rescue vs 2012's Love Letter
Votes: 617 vs 1306
Rank: 342 vs 321
Rating: 7.59 vs 7.36
Score: 2-2

d10-6
2011's Belfort vs 2012's Suburbia
Votes: 661 vs 839
Rank: 314 vs 320
Ratings: 7.58 vs 7.61
Score: 2-3 to 2012

d10-5
2011's Dungeon Petz vs 2012's Escape: The Curse of the Temple
Votes: 694 vs 1690
Rank: 243 vs 284
Ratings: 7.77 vs 7.35
Score: 3-3

d10-4
2011's Trajan vs 2012's Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island
Votes: 724 vs 626
Rank: 179 vs 268
Rating: 7.94 vs 8.21
Score: 3-4 to 2012

d10-3
2011's Ora et Labora vs 2012's Keyflower
Votes: 836 vs 685
Rank: 70 vs 242
Rating: 8.29 vs 8.01
Score: 4-4

d10-2
2011's Mage Knight Board Game vs 2012's Terra Mystica
Votes: 863 vs 1039
Rank: 52 vs 72
Rating: 8.42 vs 8.29
Score: 5-4 to 2011

d10-1
2011's Eclipse vs 2012's Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar
Votes: 1854 vs 1796
Rank: 8 vs 43
Rating: 8.48 vs 8.14
Score: 6-4 to 2011

So 2012 loses its crown to 2011 by the same margin that it beat 2013 by. How will 2011 fare against 2010? Tune in next time...
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Tue Feb 4, 2014 12:06 am
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Shaken #34. It's official! 2012 was a better year than 2013!

Andrew Bond
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Over on the Epsom Games Club guild pages, James Faulkner and I have been producing the occasional 'Top 20' game list, based on various criteria - all highly subjective - to provide amusement and provoke discussion. You can review the lists so far (which date back to August 2011) here:

Epsom Games Club Top 20 Games

The latest list attempts to answer the question: which of the Essen releases were better? The crop from 2012 or those from 2013?

I've attempted to answer the question by comparing the ratings of each game on 31st January in the year immediately after their Essen release. The raw data for this comparison comes from the excellent 'Essen Ranked Games' lists put together by Emile de Maat and located here:

Essen 2013 - Ranked Games
Essen 2012 - Ranked Games

I thought it would be interesting to do a head-to-head comparison of the Top 10 games from each year, to find out which one has produced the 'best' games. And the outcome?

Read on...

d10-1d10-0
2012's Clash of Cultures vs 2013's Rampage
Votes: 449 vs 933
Rank: 447 vs 533
Rating: 7.96 vs 7.28
Score: 1-0 to 2012

d10-9
2012's Myrmes vs 2013's Legacy: Duke de Crecy
Votes: 682 vs 684
Rank: 384 vs 497
Rating: 7.70 vs 7.58
Score: 2-0 to 2012

d10-8
2012's Resistance: Avalon vs 2013's Francis Drake
Votes: 330 vs 700
Rank: 330 vs 445
Rating: 8.01 vs 7.69
Score: 3-0 to 2012

d10-7
2012's Love Letter vs 2013's Glass Road
Votes: 1306 vs 1008
Rank: 321 vs 358
Rating: 7.36 vs 7.54
Score: 3-1 to 2012

d10-6
2012's Suburbia vs 2013's Amerigo
Votes: 839 vs 1098
Rank: 320 vs 328
Ratings: 7.61 vs 7.59
Score: 4-1 to 2012

d10-5
2012's Escape vs 2013's Concordia
Votes: 1690 vs 822
Rank: 284 vs 324
Ratings: 7.35 vs 7.79
Score: 4-2 to 2012

d10-4
2012's Robinson Crusoe vs 2013's Lewis and Clark
Votes: 626 vs 837
Rank: 268 vs 265
Rating: 8.21 vs 7.97
Score: 5-2 to 2012

d10-3
2012's Keyflower vs 2013's Russian Railroads
Votes: 685 vs 1229
Rank: 242 vs 109
Rating: 8.01 vs 8.10
Score: 5-3 to 2012

d10-2
2012's Terra Mystica vs 2013's Nations
Votes: 1039 vs 1591
Rank: 72 vs 69
Rating: 8.29 vs 8.13
Score: 6-3 to 2012

d10-1
2012's Tzolk'in vs 2013's Caverna: the Cave Farmers
Votes: 1796 vs 1370
Rank: 43 vs 36
Rating: 8.14 vs 8.53
Score: 6-4 to 2012

So that's it then! By a small margin, six to four, Essen 2012 is declared the better year than Essen 2013.

But then again, I'm sure someone will disagree with me...
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Sun Feb 2, 2014 11:34 pm
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Shaken #33. Half a game board

Andrew Bond
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Following the helpful suggestions in answer to my previous blogpost, Shaken #32. Help needed valuing paintings!, I have redesigned the top half of the game board for 'Art Dealer', my fine-art collecting prototype.

The action-selection mechanism
This new board provides spaces for the 8 Puerto Rico-like action-selection tiles, which form a queue from left to right. On a player's turn, the first tile is free to take, the second costs $1M, the third $2M, and so on, all the way up to $7M.



The active player pays for the tile he takes by putting a single $1M coin on each tile that is skipped. So, over several player turns, if the first tile is repeatedly ignored, then the monetary reward/compensation for taking it will increase.

Valuing the paintings
The two tables on this top-half of the game board are used to value the paintings.

The left hand table is based on the Art Movement the painting represents, from Renaissance through to Contemporary, via Rococo, Cubism, and Surrealism, and 7 other types - 12 Movements in total.

Each Movement is valued initially at $0M. But whenever a painting is bought from the market, its marker moves up one step, to $2M, then $5M, then $9M, $14M, and finally $20M. There are 9 paintings in each Movement in the two decks of cards (104 cards in total), so just over half of them must be bought to reach the top price of $20M.

The right hand table tracks the enhancement in value provided by a painting's two other characteristics - its Style (portrait, landscape, genre, historical, animal, etc - 6 styles in total) and its painter's Nationality (British, French, German, etc - 7 nationalities in total).



Markers for the 6 Styles are randomly placed along the top track and 7 markers for the Nationalities are randomly placed along the bottom track. A characteristic that appears in the final column of the table adds $5M to the value of any painting with that characteristic. If a painting has both the top rated characteristics, its enhancement is $10M, meaning that the most valuable single painting in the game will be worth $30M.

Still to do
Now I need to work on the bottom half of the game board, providing the open market, auction house, and museum spaces.
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Wed Jan 22, 2014 11:59 pm
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