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Game Design Notes (and other random thoughts)

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Archive for David (Tony) Gregg

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MACE West, Podcast Questions and More

David Gregg
United States
Franklinville
North Carolina
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MACE West

Just got back home from MACE West yesterday. The con lasted from Friday through Sunday, but I had to work most of Friday, so only managed to get down there as things were starting to wrap up for the evening. Did manage to try out Wooly Bully with the family, which while being a light game, was pretty decent.

Saturday was my main event day as I ran a demo for my WIP Just in Time, a demo for Nightfall and a Nightfall tournament to round out the evening. The Just in Time demo went very well with the guys enjoying the overall mechanics. Only real comment was that the game wasn't quite keeping up the pressure as I had wanted (we were able to catch up with the tasks being created). The players had some good ideas for various ways to tweak the difficulty that I'll be trying out very soon.



As for the Nightfall stuff, I mixed all 4 existing sets together so everyone could really see the various cards and even made the starters decks from 1 of each available starter so they could try out the new ones. The demo had 3 players (not including me) and went very smooth with everyone picking up on the game right away. Two of the guys who demo'd ended up playing in the tournament with a total of four participants in the tourney (I didn't play). For the tourney we played a sort of End of the World Series (4 rounds, no elimination) with everyone swapping seats between games and the player with the least total wounds being the winner. We also used the Aggressive Wounds variant to put extra emphasis on quality deckbuilding, which the players enjoyed quite a bit. At the end of the 4th round we actually had a tie between the top two players, so they played a final 1v1 game with standard rules (2 player draft rules). The final winner won a copy of Nightfall: The Coldest War.



I did have a bit of downtime Saturday between demos, so I wondered around a bit to see what was going on at the time and found a game of Lords of Waterdeep. I've seen this one being mentioned a lot on BGG lately, so sat down to watch the game. For those that don't know, Lords of Waterdeep is a Dungeons & Dragons themed worker placement game. Players are dealt a character card (note: not 100% on my terms, so don't quote me here) which give them a secret way of gaining points at the end of the game. Players also receive a couple quests (public knowledge) and a couple intrigue cards (kept private) which give them 1 shot abilities to mess with their opponents or otherwise affect the condition of the game. Players start with a certain number of meeples of their color and take turns placing them in various locations around the board. Location abilities vary from gaining new quests to building new buildings which contain new locations to recruiting heroes for your party to playing those intrigue cards. Your heroes are represented by colored cubes (fighter/warrior, rogue/thief, wizard, cleric/priest). If you have enough gold and the correct combination of heroes to complete a quest at the end of the turn, you gain that quest's rewards. The game plays a fixed 8 rounds and the player with most victory points at the end wins. Overall I thought it looked like a great game (added at #2 on my want geeklist), looks to be rules light (rules are short and easy to understand) while maintaining some nice depth of strategy (looked like plenty of combo engines and ways to mess with people).

Podcast Questions

I caught wind that Tom Vasel is going to be putting together a podcast discussing Christian game designers, so offered up my time to assist. Looks like he's being swamped with such offers though, so he's asked me to put together a short 3-4 minute clip and send his way. Now the reason why I bring this up is that I'd like to see if you guys and gals have any questions you'd like me specifically to address. I know that some have questioned how my religious beliefs relate to Nightfall's theme, so I'll most likely be addressing that one, but I'd love to hear what other questions the community might have for me.



Just in Time

After the demo at MACE West I'm starting to feel pretty good about the game. I plan to work on some ways to add additional bursts of tasks to the timeline occasionally to keep the pressure up and that should pretty well wrap up the majority of the core mechanics. For this version I added some minor penalties that can occur each time a task is generated, but they only effect players that are in the same day as the task, so they don't always take effect and sometimes can hit multiple players. Those extra little penalties made things pretty interesting as someone's d8 roll would land on your day and you had to see what penalty awaited you. Now that the core mechanics are pretty well solid, the main things that I need to tweak is the balance of the location abilities (and to make sure each is useful and/or fun) and to make sure that the difficulty is balanced for 2, 3 and 4 players, preferably with a few difficulty options as well (easy, medium, hard).

cool

Guild Wars 2

Guild Wars 2 will be available for pre-purchase starting April 10th and one of the benefits is guaranteed access to their beta weekend events for the remainder of the time up until release day. I think the game looks awesome (as if you couldn't tell from my want geeklist) and plan to order the digital deluxe version ASAP. Can't wait to try out the various professions that I've been reading up on and watching on YouTube these past weeks. Originally I was planning to roll a Sylvari Mesmer, but the more I see in the vids, the more I find myself drooling over the Elementalist and the Charr is really starting to grow on me as well. Perhaps I'll just make 1 of each.

arrrh

New Hire

We had a spot open up at my workplace last week and as I'm the new trainer I got to see how the applicant process works and am working on training the new guy starting today. I've seen how training works already, but last time was done with the previous trainer, while this time I'll be on my own. New guy is looking pretty like a pretty solid, nice guy, so should be pretty easy to train. Still, wish me luck.

Reddit Awesomeness



If a video never loads for ya, try this page instead.
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Mon Apr 2, 2012 3:11 pm
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Playtesting, Gaming and MACE West

David Gregg
United States
Franklinville
North Carolina
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Got in a good bit of gaming this weekend between a get-together with my folks and a dedicated gaming day with my BFF and our mutual friends.

Playtesting

Our dedicated gaming day was yesterday and involved myself, Daniel and Mitch. Mitch has been working on his own game design project and our first game of the day was to playtest it. I won't go into much detail on mechanics etc as that's for him to discuss, but I'll say that it is coming along very well and Daniel and I both enjoyed the overall mechanics. Some things still need balance / tweaks of course, but I can definitely see it being a game that goes all the way to publishing.

Later on in the day we also got in a game of my WIP Just in Time, this time as a pure cooperative. Mitch had to leave a bit early, so I played with Daniel and his wife. Overall I'm pretty happy with the switch to pure coop as it lets the players be a bit more tactical with location upgrades and helping to make each other time travel to best beat the game. Unfortunately we found things to be a bit easy and by roughly 2/3rds through the game we had caught up with the game's threats to the point that it was going to be nearly impossible for the game to really do any damage to us.



Fortunately Daniel and his wife both had great input on possible tweaks, so I'll be reworking the following for our next session:

● Some of the locations currently allow solving a task within 1 day of your current time. This is overpowered as we were able to pretty much just focus on getting those locations upgraded and then using their abilities to focus down the tasks around us. I'll be changing these to still allow completing a specific task type, but only on the current day (so will only be helpful if you're far away from the actual task location). This change alone will do a lot to make the game harder, so I'll probably have to reduce the cost on these locations a bit to balance them.

● Currently there are 3 locations that can distort (remove upgrades, force players at location to time travel) which is really helpful if another player landed on a bad day and needs some help, but there's 1 location type that can't currently be distorted. I'm thinking of dropping one of the movement spaces in exchange for the 4th distort type. I'm also debating as to whether I want the distort to remove all of the upgrades or just one.

● Another change that I'm considering to increase the difficulty is for new task to cause some extra damage to the players. Since there are only 4 task types, it should be pretty simple to assign a penalty to each type (lose a time-travel disc, an action point, a location upgrade, etc). At first I was thinking that the player who's ending their turn should suffer the penalty as they place the new task, but now that I'm thinking about it, I have another idea: since these penalties are a bit harsh I'd rather them not happen every turn, so instead of penalizing the current player, I'll just penalize whichever players are currently located on the day that the task is added to. This way there will be roughly a 50% chance that someone will be penalized, but the players won't know who until the die is rolled to assign the task. I think this will add a good bit of difficulty and help to prevent the game from becoming too predictable/solvable.

Now I just need to get the bits updated ASAP for the next playtest session this coming weekend!

Gaming

Saturday evening we celebrated my step-sis' birthday party with my folks, who request to play some sort of game pretty much every time we get together, though they prefer classic card games (Hearts or Euchre mostly) or lighter games (recent favorite has been Ticket to Ride). This time however, we went with an old party fav: Spoons. For those of you who've never played Spoons, it can be hilarious, though you'll need to be pretty quick at nabbing the spoons if you want to actually remain in the game for long. We play with actual metal spoons as I can imagine the plastic ones just getting shattered after a few rounds from the way we play. It isn't uncommon at all to see people diving across the table or wrestling it out on the floor to obtain that last remaining spoon that went flying from the initial grab. We've even had to get the ER involved a time or two (such as when my wife sprained her wrist during such a match).

Was good times, even though I came in 2nd



Back to our Sunday gaming day, between the prototyping testing we also got in a game of Chaos in the Old World, one that I'd heard of several times, but never had the chance to play. Mitch had obtained a copy and brought it with him, so we tried it out. I played the blue dudes, Daniel was red and Mitch was green. I think Mitch was the quickest to understand his win condition and really powered through his dial pretty well, with me catching on fast as well and mostly keeping up with him. Daniel took a bit longer to get his war engine running, but once he did, his points took off much faster then what we were able to keep up with. The game ended via VP's from Daniel with Mitch and I being only a couple dial rotations from our respective wins. The overall game was decent, but the quantity of counters that end up laying around the board seemed fiddly and I'm not a fan of games with overly dark theme such as this.

To wrap up the evening I started up a game of Ticket to Ride with Daniel and his wife, but my wife showed up to retrieve me before we could get very far. As my wife and his chatted for a bit, I showed Daniel how to play Hearts and Euchre so that we could get in some games of them next time our families get together.

MACE West

So this weekend is MACE West and the family is ready to get in some serious gaming! I've got my events lined up for Saturday, specifically: Just in Time demo from 9am - 11:30am, Nightfall demos from 1pm - 4pm and a Nightfall tourney from 5pm - 11pm.



I plan to have the Just in Time tweaks listed above ready for MACE and am looking forward to getting some fresh perspective on the game's mechanics. As for Nightfall, I plan to use the base game mixed in with Nightfall: Martial Law with some specific commons / private archives to ensure some lovely combos / kickers. As for the tourney, I'll be mixing all 4 currently released sets into custom draft decks with each deck containing 2 of each color from each set. The players will play with starter decks consisting of 1 of each starter minion both new and old. The tourney format itself will be a End of the World series mixed with the aggressive wound variant with best final score after 4 rounds being declared the winner and any ties being worked out with a single game of the life total variant. Hopefully there'll be enough participants that I can really mix up the match-ups to prevent playing the same people over and over again.
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Mon Mar 26, 2012 2:38 pm
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Ticket to Ride, Cool Stuff Inc saved the day and a bit more

David Gregg
United States
Franklinville
North Carolina
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I've been slacking a bit on my blog posts, so here's a decent variety of things to make up for it arrrh

Ticket to Ride

Ticket to Ride remains one of my families favorite games to play in the evenings and basically just have a good time together. Since we've been playing it a ton I've been going after the expansions and have even nabbed Mayday's wooden train tokens. My latest map addition to our collection was Ticket to Ride: Europe and we finally got in a couple games of it over the weekend (the tunnel system is interesting). I haven't quite gotten the feel for how the tickets link to go after the longest route yet, so my wins have been a lot closer then usual (beat wifey by just 3 points). Everyone has liked the wooden trains so far, though I do wish there were some wooden train stations to compliment the Europe set (would've been cool to include them in the Ticket to Ride: Europa 1912 expansion).



Next step is to get the game sleeved and find a better way to organize it all. Currently I've taken the insert out of the base game and am using the boxes from 1912 and Ticket to Ride: USA 1910 to store the cards, with all the bits from a given color in separate bags (e.g. red trains, train stations, depots and scoring token all in one bag). I've then placed both the USA and Europe maps on top, which allow the box to be closed rather perfectly. Unfortunately I'm fairly certain that the cards will no longer fit in the 1910/1912 boxes once sleeved, so I'll probably look into some deck boxes to store the various sets of cards.

Cool Stuff Inc

I recently placed a large order with Cool Stuff Inc and decided to go ahead with sleeving the vast majority of my game collection. I have a thing for Dragon Shield sleeves, but they didn't have quite enough in stock for what all I wanted, that is until I noticed they also carried packs of 50.

laugh Yay!

I happily placed my order checked the tracking info everyday until they arrived. Opening the box and unpacking all those sleeves was quite fun, right up until the point where I tried to sleeve a card... and while the first corner went in just fine, the second corner was quite obviously not going to fit...

surprise

After checking back online I noticed that these "mini" packs were not mini as in "50 is mini compared to 100" but rather they were Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game sized, meaning narrowing then what I had needed...

cry

I emailed customer service to ask if I could exchange and they had no problem with it. Then, as I was packing up the sleeves to ship back, I figured I should probably double check the game entries on BGG to see what size cards each game uses and come to find out that I needed FOUR different sleeve sizes...

wow

So I emailed customer service again to explain what an idiot I am and detailed the odd exchange I would need to sleeve my collection. They again had zero issue with the exchange and noted my account to make sure the exchange went smoothly. Woot! Newb mistake aside, I'm quite happy with this transaction as Cool Stuff Inc continues to be my favorite OLGS.

Wifey and Youngest AFK

My youngest got to head out to Washing D.C. to check out the monuments etc with her school and my wifey went with her. They left out early Wednesday morning by bus and returned late Friday night. This means I was going to have to both cook (wifey rocks at cooking, I, well, suck) and drive (wife hates to be passenger, I could care less either way, so she always drives). Not only would I be driving, but my sis-in-law (who was going to be watching my eldest) lives a pretty good hike away from home and I've never driven there before, so I got to break out the GPS for the last half of the week. Food was pretty straight forward, mostly sticking to easy stuff (spaghetti, ordering pizza), but I did try out something a smidgen fancy the last night and was glad I did, because it was DELICIOUS.

For the curious, I made pork chops (diced) with a ginger-cherry sauce over short grain rice (recipe).

SO GOOD zombie

Anyways, other then food, also took my eldest out to a local park that has a disc golf course (been wanting to try it out for a while now). We both had a blast. Even got to semi-dip her in a large creek as she had thrown her disc into the water and needed to retrieve it (hey, I wasn't going in there, the stronger of us needed to stay on land to fish the other out, or so I told my wife, lol). Now that wifey is home we plan to take the whole family disc golfing in the near future.

Kittens!

The kittens we had a while back are growing up nicely and just about ready to be handed out to friends / family. We'll be giving them their first round of meds something this week or next and then putting out the word that they're ready to pick up. We have 1 orange, 1 grey and 2 calico (1 light and 1 dark), though I've not sexed them yet, so not sure on the female/male count. Also need to get the mother spayed, can't afford to keep having these litters (and can't keep them either, no pets per landlord). They are quite cute though, as expected of kitties =^.^=



Geek & Sundry

Two of my fav geek celebs are starting up a cool web-show called Geek & Sundry, namely: Wil Wheaton and Felicia Day. Shows include: The Guild (they're uploading the past eps in HD as well as new eps as they're released), The Flog (which is Felicia's video blog thingy), Written by a Kid (which looks promising), Sword & Laser (show about geek books etc), Dark Horse (awesome looking motion comics), Tabletop (geek celebs playing board games, this one has me pretty stoked) and Learning Town (comedy musical to release later this year).



Guild Wars 2

For those that've been following my want list, you'll know that I've had my eye on Guild Wars 2 for quite a while now. More and more info has been releasing slowly these last few weeks and it all looks to be coming together quite nicely. The gameplay mechanics alone look amazing, but then they just keep revealing more and more polish, from little things like letting crafting speed up exponentially so you don't have to wait forever to more critical things like ensuring that their in game economy doesn't get trashed from gold sellers (quite happy with their $/gem system).



Currently I'm planning to play a Sylvari Mesmer as I think the Sylvari have a pretty cool look about them and an interesting story (or lack thereof) for their race. I tend to lean toward caster races and love classes with lots of utility, especially if they have things that I can use to confuse my opponents, so Mesmer was a perfect fit (cannot wait to spam those clones).

Bonus!

Funny moment just now!

Backstory: Wifey made beef stew last night, it was delicious, I had 3 heaping bowls (so full).

Funny bit: Wifey made a comment that I must have liked the stew, I replied that it hit the spot, eldest commented that it must have hit all the spots...



They grow up so fast
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Wed Mar 21, 2012 2:03 am
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Synergy, Training and a Ton of Sleeves

David Gregg
United States
Franklinville
North Carolina
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Synergy

Finally managed to get version 2 of Synergy worked out and printed up. Haven't yet gotten to playtest (hoping sometime today), so just have pics and info for now.

Cards: Below is an image of each of the cards a player would be holding and are the middle skill level of each:



Rules

Hand Construction
● Players both construct their hand of cards at start of game
● Players have 18 skill points to spend
● Pink/Purple icons in the center of cards are their skill cost
● Players must select 1 of each type of card for 9 cards total

Setup
● Place the mana card to the far left in your left hand, followed by 4 health, then 3 health, then the 6 spells
● Rotate your 3 health card to show initial health

Round - repeat until a player is reduced to zero health
● Phase 1
     ○ Players organize their 6 spells in hand, rotating them to the desired end, with the 2 rightmost getting ready to take effect
     ○ Players reveal their hands and resolve their rightmost 2 spells
● Phase 2 - same as 1, but organize spells 3-6 and resolve spells 3 and 4
● Phase 3 - same as 1, but organize spells 5-6 and resolve spells 5 and 6

Spell Effects
● Damage = reduce opponent's health
● Defend = reduce incoming damage
● Boost = increase the level of your next spell
● Steal = opponent's spell is negated and you resolve its effect as if you had played it at your steal level
● Heal = gain health
● Mana = gain mana

Spell Level
● Spells start at level 1
● Spells can be boosted by 1 level if preceding spell matches its synergy element (e.g. Overgrowth as spell 1, then Fireball as spell 2)
● Spells can be boosted by spending 1 point of mana to boost 1 level (once per spell, chosen after spells are revealed)
● Spells can be further boosted if your preceding spell had a boost effect or if you stole your opponent's boost effect
● Spells are reduced by 1 level if opposing spell's element matches either of your counter elements (e.g. you played Fireball, they played Stone Wall)
● Spells can be completely negated if opposing spell's element and synergy element match both of your counter elements (e.g. you played Fireball and they played Waterfall)

Notes
● Spells cannot be reused during the same round
● Health cards have 1 time effects (for entire game) that can be played in addition to your current spell effect
     ○ After using the effect, move the health card to the left of your mana card to track that the effect has been used
● Mana card dictates at what point you harm yourself from overcharging your spells
     ○ Pain = 1 unblockable damage to self, regardless as to how far the spell was overcharged
● Defensive effects (heal / defend) are resolved prior to offensive effects (damage / pain)

Pretty sure that's everything

Training

With my new work position, even though the bulk of my work is tech related, my official title is Technical Trainer, meaning that I'm also responsible for training new and promoted employees. Part of that training involves forklifts and in order for me to be able to certify other employees, I first must become a certified trainer. So this past Friday I spent the day at my local community college taking their Train the Trainer course.



Actual material was pretty simple, so was mostly just trying to stay awake for 8 hours, but now I'm certified and good to go.

cool

Ton of Sleeves

I love cards. So it makes sense then that some of our most played games are card based. Unfortunately that means they get worn out. On the bright side, card sleeves do exist. Currently the only game I really make sure to sleeve is Nightfall along with my various prototypes. Decided this week to go back and sleeve my entire collection (aside from Thunderstone, simply too many cards...). Ended up ordering 2,100 sleeves! Most of my cards are still in excellent condition, so clear sleeves made up the bulk of my order. Some games however were acquired via math trade and are already a bit beat up, so did order a few different colored backs for those games.

Gonna be a big sleeve fest the day those come in

While I was shopping around I also went ahead and nabbed the wooden train set for Ticket to Ride from Mayday games along with the Ticket to Ride: Europa 1912 expansion. Ticket to Ride has been seeing a lot of plays and has been a favorite with my family, so I'll be continuing to hunt the expansions any time I get the chance.

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Sun Mar 11, 2012 10:38 pm
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Gaming with old friends, Mouse Guard and Nachos!

David Gregg
United States
Franklinville
North Carolina
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Gaming with old friends

We had a bit of a get-together this past Friday night with some friends of ours and one of the couples that attended happened to be some that I used to hang out with when I was in middle / high school. They've turned out to be rather nice people and interested in board gaming, so we invited them over to our place Sunday for some lunch and light gaming.



We started things out with a couple games of 4 player Crokinole, which the couple loved (and she wanted to play more). Then we moved onto a 5 player game of Coloretto, which she liked as their little girl was able to help, but it looked like he was wanting to play something deeper. After that we started a game of Ticket to Ride, but had to cut it short as it was time to head out for our evening church service. Pity too as they were both really enjoying the game (she won via longest route bonus).

All had a good time, so they'll definitely be back and were already discussing which of my games they'd like to try out next time.

Gamer convert: success!

Mouse Guard

I received a copy of the new Mouse Guard Roleplaying Game Box Set for Christmas this past year (my very first RPG), but haven't yet gotten to actually try it out. Someone a city or two away said they also had a copy and might be able to run a game for me if we could get our schedules aligned, but that hasn't worked out yet. So after reading through the rulebook as well as some session reports on BGG and elsewhere, I decided to just give it a shot on my own, GMing for my daughters.

Normally we don't have multiple hours at once to devote to gaming, so setting up the session was a bit of a challenge, but this past Saturday my wifey got word of a sick relative and so took a long drive out to visit.

Instant game day! meeple

As my girls and I were discussing which of my collection they wanted to play (I have a few unplayed that I was trying to sway them toward) they suddenly declared that they wanted to try out Mouse Guard. Woot! It'd been a while since I last skimmed through the rulebook, but the majority of it was still familiar, so we jumped in.



Now I know that for a first game it's recommended to use a premade character, but my daughters can handle some pretty decent gaming and I was quite sure they'd not only enjoy the game, but would make some attachment to their characters, so we went ahead with creating their own characters from scratch. Sarah, my eldest, wanted to play a protector, a guy who was always there to defend his friends. Awna however wanted a fiery lady who was quick to jump into battle, especially against mouse predators. Both took varied skills, with Sarah grabbing things such as apiarist and healer, while Awna nabbed fighter and carpenter. Both chose to be standard guard mice.

The session started out with a messenger beetle delivering a letter to the duo to report to Gwendolyn who assigned their mission: "A section of the bridge out between Shaleburrow and Barkstone collapsed during a recent delivery of pottery. The river was low and so the pottery was destroyed on the rocks below. The mice transporting the goods were only lightly injured and have already been treated. Find out what caused the collapse, repair the bridge and bring back a report of what you found."

Without even prompting the girls they immediately ran to their homes to grab supplies; Awna taking along a carving knife and saw, while Sarah offered to carry nails and ran to the bakery for some berry bread. As they prepared to leave I mentioned that the Spring weather could be a bit unpredictable and that there were grey clouds, but nothing ominous. Sarah decided to attempt beginner's luck at weather watching and rolled successfully, holding her finger to the wind and estimating that the breeze would carry away the rain clouds.

As they passed through Shaleburrow Awna made a bit of a fuss over whether or now we should stop to visit Sarah's friend who happened to live there. Sarah was in a hurry to get to the bridge and check things out, so Awna eventually gave in and they continued on.

When they arrive at the bridge I give a bit of a description: "a side section has collapsed, with the bridge still usable for mice on foot willing to cross the other side. The weather has cleared up and it's getting a bit warm."

The girls decide to have a look around the bridge for clues of what caused the collapse, with Sarah checking around the perimeter and Awna underneath. Sarah doesn't find anything of note, but Awna finds some damage near the collapse. Upon closer inspection she finds some oddly straight cracks. She has the idea to hold up her saw blade to compare it with the crack and finds a near perfect fit (so proud that she thought of that on her own). She decides to cut out the small section with the crack to bring back as evidence and I allow it without a skill check (though thinking back I should have as it fit perfect with her carpentry).

With evidence of sabotage the girls decides to scout around the area for any other traces of evidence, but only find bits of broken pottery. Upon closer inspection they find multiple potter signatures among the broken bits, but nothing that seems out of the ordinary.

They give up any further hunt for clues and begin to actually work on the bridge. The sun has risen high, becoming abnormally hot for this Spring day and giving rise to our major conflict of the day.

The sun vs the mice surprise

The sun's goal is to dehydrate the mice, having a general skill of 3 given the harshness of the spring weather. The girls' goal is to repair the bridge and they team up to pool their skills: Sarah's healing makes for a great defense (clean water from stream) while Awna's carpentry works for the attack (work hard, also Awna's trait). I used their general health for feint (breeze) and maneuver (shade).

It's a long battle lasting about 6 rounds with lots of maneuvering to go after some extra dice. The girls managed a big back-to-back attack to drop the sun to 1 disposition, but the sun recovered with a maneuver / defense combo that brought it back up to 4. After several bad rolls in a row, the sun found itself near defeat again and was finally polished off in a huge attack of 8 dice by the girls. They had only lost 2 disposition, so I gave Awna the thirsty condition as she worked the hardest and didn't have Sarah's healing skills. The girls were overjoyed with their victory, having a blast with the conflict mechanic.

After finishing up the bridge they head back to Shaleburrow, this time stopping in to check on Sarah's friend. Turns out that the some of the destroyed pottery from the bridge collapse was headed to Sarah's friend and she was able to give another clue: there was only 1 potter sending items in that shipment! The girls didn't quite catch what was going on just yet, but later picked up on that something wasn't right with the clues they had found.

They returned to Lockhaven to give their report to Gwendolyn, who was quite happy to hear of the successful bridge repairs, but troubled over the multiple potter signatures. She gave them leave to rest, but also mentioned to stay in town as she'd be assigned them to take letter to Barkstone soon to inform of the repaired bridge and to investigate the signatures at Barkstone's potters. Awna's eyes lit up at this as her enemy happened to be a potter at Barkstone.



As for the player turn, Awna used up all of her checks removing the thirsty condition as she had some bad rolls and Sarah used her checks to advance her weather watching skill, which is now just 1 point away from becoming an active skill. We discussed awards and assigned them, giving Awna MVP for her carpentry and for bringing back the evidence of the cuttings.

Four hours later and the girls have had a great time of it, wanting to make sure we play our next session soon

Nachos

Since wifey was out late I got to cook dinner gulp

Fortunately Awna had requested my wife's nachos for dinner which are pretty easy to make whistle

We use 1 lb of lean beef, 1 packet of taco seasoning, 2 jars of cheese sauce and 2 cans of spicy cheese dip all mixed together. The final product is quite delicious, though not healthy in the slightest. Unfortunately the corn starch content is rather high and Sarah ended up having a mild allergic reaction later in the evening (hasn't had a reaction in a couple years now). So we'll be stocking benadryl and keeping on eye on what she eats again.

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Tue Mar 6, 2012 2:11 pm
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Computer troubles

David Gregg
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Not a whole lot going on these last few days as I've been pouring my free time into fixing my in-law's computer. They've been running Ubuntu for a while now and apparently it's been shutting down sporadically for a while now. Well, just so happens that it decided to do one of these shut downs during an upgrade, more or less frying the OS.

So, I'm moving them back to Windows where the vast majority of my experience resides so that I can better support them in the future (they prefer Windows also, was just using Ubuntu as it was free).

Thing is, I can't for the life of me get their files backed up... I spent several hours trying to use a live CD of Ubuntu on their machine while connected to my home network to simply share a folder and move the files over (27 GB, so too much to just use blank CD's or my USB drive). After a ton of googling around and trying various mount methods I'd only seen various versions of "permission denied" style messages and so I gave up on that method.

I ended up pulling their hard drive and installing it into my own system, then booting my computer with the live CD so that it could read the EXT file system and transfer the files over.

So now that the files are backed up I set out to install Windows, which was no problem at all. What is a problem, is transferring the files back... Not a network problem this time, but rather its the sporadic shutdowns that are keeping me from finishing the transfer.

Looks like the system is overheating (installed HWMonitor), so opened it up to take a look...

gulp

The grime (no longer just dust) on the inside looks like some dust bunnies mutated, had babies and then exploded over all of the various bits.

Between my air blower and manually wiping down the parts I've gotten it all cleaned up and have also added another case fan for the time being. The system runs a lot cooler now, but still tripped off from high temp after continual load after about 20 minutes or so.

This time I opened it back up and pulled the heatsink to get a really good look to make sure it was really clean. When I pulled the heatsink though, the processor came out with it...

surprise

The thermal paste had hardened and was flaking off like old paint. I finished cleaning up the heatsink and reseated the processor and then I find out... I'm out of thermal paste...

shake

Fortunately I loaned some out to my BFF a while back and he still had the last remaining bit, so will be reapplying it when I get home from work today and hopefully finishing up this project.

My to-do list after I finish the computer: reprint Synergy, playtest cooperative style Just in Time, start calculating the color wheel for NF6 and play all of my most recently acquired games. Gonna be a busy weekend.

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Thu Mar 1, 2012 5:59 pm
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Just in Time, Synergy and More Gaming

David Gregg
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Just in Time

Got in a playtest session yesterday with my BFF (my primary playtester) and tried out some changes, mostly for the better. Also finally got in a 2 player game to test it with that many players. Report info:

● With 2 players the amount of influence that is returned to you between turns is at a lower ratio compared to the incoming tasks then what you see with more players. Though we didn't lose the game, we were too stressed over staying alive to be able to mess with each other much. Proposed solution: change amount of available essence depending on number of players (10 for 2 players, 8 for 3 players and 6 for 4 players).

● Tried out a new hidden information scoring system. Players are dealt a card at the start of the game showing 2 of the 4 task types (fire, health, weather, crime), 1 of which is worth 3 points, the other worth 2 points and the other task types being worth 1 point. These cards are revealed at the end of the game for a bit of a surprise ending. In our game, my opponent thought he was winning as he'd completed more tasks, but I had focused on my specific job tasks more and ended up winning by a fair margin. I like this scoring system and will continue to playtest with it as is.

● I wasn't happy with the way we tested the location tiles last time. Old system was: circles on tiles represent the action point cost to use the tiles, with each circle also representing an upgrade that can be performed on the tile to decrease the action's cost, eventually making the action completely free to perform. To prevent abuse, we used the rule that you can only activate each action a single time per turn and even though it worked, it felt fiddly. During yesterday's session, we dropped the number of circles on each tile by 1, making that 1 action point always required (so same cost, just 1 less upgrade available) and removed the limit on the number of times an action could be used. I was much happier with this since it automatically prevented abuse, though it did skew some of the abilities into being rather weak. I also think that I'd like to try going back to allowing full upgrades, but placing a limit that a location cannot be upgraded more then once in a single day (meaning that while an action could become free, it'd be difficult to time it so that you could actually make use of all of the building's upgrades).

● In the previous session we had played a 3 player game and stopped at 40 tasks as the timing felt right. With yesterday's 2 player game I was planning to try to play with 40 tasks again (for a static number of tasks), but decided to go with 30 as it just sounded better to me when thinking it over (# of players + 1 * 10). The 30 tasks ended up feeling great for the 2 player game, though we may increase it after making the changes to the number of essence available, we'll see. The setup is a bit fiddly though, as with the current hidden info scoring I have to shuffle each task type separately to ensure an equal number of tasks for each type (we actually played with 32 tasks, 8 of each type).

● In yesterday's test we went back to using discs strictly for time travel, with a player being able to spend a matching color disc to fudge their die results by 1 per disc. This worked out a lot better this game since we weren't hoarding discs for points and we both made great use of the discs when needed. I'd still like to try out other things though, such as instead of fudging a die roll by 1 (which is pretty weak when fudging the location die), perhaps you get to reroll just 1 of the dice instead, so if you like what day you landed on, but the location is on the wrong end of the board, you can keep the day and just reroll the location. Will probably try that out next session just to see how it plays in comparison.

● For this game we decided that we'd simply end the game when we were no longer able to draw another task from the bag, immediately handing out any completed tasks remaining on the timeline and discarding the others. It was a bit anti-climatic, but it's what we had for the time being. The idea was suggested to have a final goal to achieve after the tasks run out (similar to Dungeon Run's need for the new summoner to escape), but for now I've no idea what would work well even if I wanted to try it out. The ending is the last thing I really need to figure out, so will be continuing to brainstorm options.

Overall a great session with lots of good feedback and continuing to improve the game's balance

Was a bit sad though that my board had warped since the last test, so it wouldn't lay flat the whole time... gulp

Synergy

Finished creating the initial prototype for Synergy and had it ready to playtest yesterday too. Unfortunately as I sat there playing around with the cards a bit I noticed that I had drastically overcompensated the levels on the spells, making it near impossible to use the more powerful effects on the cards... so I'm gonna have to rework them all and reprint without even getting to play it yet...



More Gaming

I have gotten to get in quite a bit of gaming these last few days, including my first games of Dungeon Run, Troyes, YINSH, Discworld: Ankh-Morpork and Ticket to Ride: Switzerland. Also got in games of Chess and Eminent Domain.

Dungeon Run: I've played other dungeon crawlers before, but haven't yet encountered one that I really enjoyed. This one however, was a lot of fun! I only played 2 player, so wasn't a ton of player vs player combat, but even the minor interactions such as forcing a player to reroll dice when fighting certain monsters or stealing someone's intended treasure was quite entertaining. The combat mechanic was both clever and simple to use and the leveling system worked great as well. Now that I fully understand all of the game's rules I plan to get this one to the table with my family several times in the near future.

Troyes: This one has some cool mechanics and I enjoy looking for those combos that crop up through the course of the game. Unfortunately it is pretty mathy, so my lighter gamers are going to shy away from it. I do think this is a great game for those who don't mind the "mathiness" as well as for school aged kids who could use the practice. I'm definitely going to be holding onto this one and hopefully will have some good chances to get it to the table with my kidos.

YINSH: My BFF just acquired this one and has been playing it with his wifey. They've really enjoyed it, so when I came over to game he wanted to teach it to me and get in a game.

I won, almost 3-1

I'm not a huge fan of abstracts (thinking multiple moves in advance gives me hurty brain), but I don't mind playing one every now and then (great, now I regret trading off my Go set...). This game does have some interesting mechanics and I think makes for a great little abstract which I'd gladly recommend to anyone that's a fan of the genre.

Discworld: Ankh-Morpork: I've read a few of the Discworld books my Terry Pratchet and have enjoyed them immensely, so when I heard about the game coming out I was... concerned that it wouldn't live up to the books. I did keep an eye on it though, in hopes that it would turn out good and when my wifey found out about it, she made a point to make sure I ended up with a copy (love her so much). The family and I got in a 4 player game and everyone enjoyed it. The rules are pretty light and your turn is pretty quick and simple. Player interaction is decent and straight forward. Overall I think it's a pretty good game and will likely continue to hit the table in the near future.

Ticker to Ride: Switzerland: Ever since trying out Ticket to Ride at last year's Gencon my family has been hooked on the game. It's requested at nearly every game night and even my Uncle Dad requests it each time we head over to their house. TtR Switzerland has some interesting mechanics that were new to us, including tunnels (added in TtR Europe iirc) as well as tickets that allow you to end in multiple locations (the various other counters around the border) with different scoring options. It is a pity though that the map only supports 2-3 players as we tend to play 4-5 player games, so this map will be a bit limited in how often we play it. I was very happy though to see that they included the larger format cards with this one, as the 1910 expansion for the base game is nearly required unless you actually like the original tiny cards.



Chess: My BFF finally got his own chess board and asked me to show him some techniques etc (I used to compete back in high school). After showing him a few things we played a game and I got to demonstrate nearly all of the techniques that I had mentioned (much to his demise). It was an interesting game though as I described why I was making my moves and got to watch him come to understand much of the meta game (e.g. dominance in the center, control of pawn structure, etc). I think that his intention was originally to use the board as a display piece and for teaching his kids, but looks like his interest might now be sparked a bit beyond just that.



Eminent Domain: I've been playing this one quite a bit lately, but am starting to lose interest. The interaction is very low (strike 1), players' choices have very little effect on each other (strike 2) and you can pretty much just find a favorite strategy and repeat it each game without interference from opponents (strike 3, your out!). I don't "mind" playing though, so if the wifey or kidos want to get in a game, I'll still play and put up a good fight. I also don't plan on trading this one off as it's a great gateway game to the deckbuilding genre.

TL;DR

Just in Time changes played great, need to rebalance number of essence and action point cost of locations as well as come up with a solid end game.

I goofed my initial numbers on Synergy, need to reword and reprint before playing.

Got in a good chunk of gaming with Dungeon Run, Discworld and TtR Switzerland in the 8-9 rating range; Troyes probably sitting around 7; and YINSH and Eminent Domain likely at 6. I also now want my Go set back...
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Mon Feb 27, 2012 2:58 pm
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Math Trade, Synergy, a Mystery Noir and Some Sketches

David Gregg
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North Carolina
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Math Trade

Just finished up the Spring Training Math Trade and did pretty well IMO. Only traded gift certificates this time around, but managed to nab Power Grid, Shadows over Camelot, Sorry! Sliders and Ticket to Ride: Europe!

I keep hearing good things about Power Grid, so looking forward to trying that one out. I've played Shadows over Camelot a couple of times with my BFF and given that my family enjoys coops, I think it'll go over pretty well. Sorry! Sliders keeps popping up on my radar as people unexpectedly enjoy it and seeing how much we like Crokinole, this just may be a hit as well. Since we've been playing a lot of Ticker to Ride lately, only makes sense that I should go after the expansions (might even nab the wooden trains soon).



Synergy

Made some good progress on my brainstorming for my latest idea and managed to whip up a basic card template:



Lots of stuff going on here, so let me explain:
● Each player begins the game with 3 copies of 6 different spells (3x Fire, 3x Water, etc) as well as 2 health cards and 1 mana card (will probably have a few different copies of these as well).
● Players select 1 spell of each element to use for the game, placing the rest aside.
● When choosing cards, players will have 12 skill points to spend, with cards costing between 1 and 3 skill points (so you're free to take that level 3 fire spell, but you'll have to take a level 1 elsewhere to balance it). Note: The levels aren't yet depicted in the card template above.
● The games is played in rounds of 3 turns, with turns having 2 phases: cast and resolve.
● During the cast phase, players organize their unused spells in their hand to pre-program what spells they wish to cast and to what power level (unused spells to the right of health/mana cards, used spells to the left).
● Spells are double ended, so you can choose which set of stats to use along with which synergistic element.
● Spells can be boosted by leading into it with its synergistic element, by boosting with mana and/or via a specific boost spell.
● In the resolve phase, players reveal their entire hand and the first 2 of the players' spells takes effect, one after the other, with both players resolving effects simultaneously (their card #1 with your card #1, their card #2 with your card #2).
● When checking the effect of a card, if an opponent's spell's main element matches either of your spell's counter elements, your spell is degraded by 1 level. If both their main element AND synergy element match both of your counter elements, your spell is completely negated.
● The effectiveness of your spell is therefore a combination of: your own synergy, mana usage and boost spell timing minus your opponent's ability to guess what you are planning and plotting against it.
● At the end of the turn, place your 2 used spells to the left of your health/mana cards and begin again with pre-programming your hand and then resolve the effects of the next 2 spells.
● In this way the 2nd and 3rd turns will be easier to plan against your opponent as their spell options become limited.
● At the end of the 3rd turn, move all spells back to the right of your health/mana cards for use in the next round.
● The game ends immediately when either player drops to zero health (might need to add a bit of a timer to prevent endless games, perhaps 1 health penalty to both players at the end of each round).

So, in the card frame above, if you turn the card so that Fireball is up top and it is placed 2nd in your hand after a wind spell AND you boost it with mana, then it would inflict 3 damage on your opponent (assuming their spell isn't earth or water) without you suffering any pain in the process.

Mystery Noir

Came across the Overtext Treasure Hunt 3- Murder!!! contest and thought it looked pretty cool. So I'll give it a shot, assuming I have any spare time put into it, though really I have no idea what I'm doing...



Wish me luck!

Some Sketches

With playtesting finished on NF6 I get to sit back a bit as the art sketches pour in and help call the shots on which we move forward with (though my opinion here is less important). Regardless whether they agree with my thoughts, it's very cool to watch the cards we've worked hard on come to life with some great art. Pity I can't actually share any of these for the time being.

zombie

In about a month or so I'll post up another playtest team recruitment thread and get to work on NF7 cool
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Thu Feb 23, 2012 1:24 pm
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Finishing NF6, Game Design and Bundles of Joy

David Gregg
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Finishing NF6

Technically our goal to finish playtesting was on the 17th, but we made a couple last minute changes to boost a few under-performing cards (which have been very successful btw). Today will likely be the final reports before sending on the cards to AEG. So far I've only seen 1 completed card art (which looks awesome) and a few sketches, so will be able to enjoy the incoming stream of art over the next few weeks.

Also on the Nightfall front, looks like some stores are beginning to stock Nightfall: The Coldest War with a few others scheduled to start carrying it over the next few days. I've got my copy sleeved and ready to play, just waiting to get up with my gaming group.



Game Design

Just in Time

I've decided on my changes for the game's next trials:
-> Game length will be a static 40 tasks, divided evenly between the 4 task types
-> Players will be dealt job cards specifying 2 of the types: +1 to one and +2 to the other
-> Players will score 1 point per completed task plus bonus points based on job cards
-> Moving back to using all discs for time travel, with same color discs used for fudging results
-> Changed Sabotage to Distort: removes all discs from location AND forces players at location to time travel (no fudging)
-> Penalties for failing a task force players to discard that day's disc color, distort a number of locations and then shift the timeline an additional day
-> Completing a task no longer awards 2 discs: you place essence on task, so you get the essence back plus 1 disc

I still don't have a good way to handle the very end of the game, so brainstorming continues on that front. The rest of the game is getting very solid though, very happy about that. I might take some time and create a more final prototype, perhaps after I'm sure that there won't be anymore large-scale changes.

Synergy

Ideas for this one have come together nicely. I'll probably be creating some initial card frames over the next week using the same icons I did back with early Chainmaster prototypes:



Bundles of Joy

New Games!

Sorry, couldn't resist listing this tidbit under this heading

Went by my local FLGS and picked up Discworld: Ankh-Morpork. I've read the first couple books in the Discworld series and loved them, so hearing about the game got my attention and it looks like it plays pretty well too, so became a no-brainer. Also received Thunderstone: Heart of Doom and Thunderstone Advance: Towers of Ruin in the mail this week. I'm hoping to get in games of Discworld and Thunderstone Advance today, we'll see how the day goes.



Kittens!

We take care of a couple of stray cats that live under our utility building, one very old black male (Andy) that actually belongs to our land lord, but has basically been left to live outside and then a true stray calico female (kidos named her Cali). There's also an orange tomcat that prowls the area and has been roughing up Andy (we're gonna catch that bugger sometime), but has also impregnated Cali a couple of times now as well. This last litter was born a little over a week ago and produced 1 orange, 1 light calico, 1 dark calico and 1 grey/black striped (almost looks solid dark grey). We've moved the kittens and Cali into our enclosed patio area to keep them safe and well fed until the kittens can be given away, then we're going to take Cali to the vet so we won't have anymore of these surprise litters (though it's mighty tempting to keep 1 or 3).

I took some pictures of the kittens, but my phone's camera is, well... gulp
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Sun Feb 19, 2012 5:33 pm
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Just in Time, Synergy and Some Gaming

David Gregg
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Just in Time

Still brainstorming the next round of tweaks for Just in Time. I've decided that I don't like using discs as points as it keep the players from being able to time travel as freely / often as I'd like. Instead, I'll have players keep their task tiles like they used to for counting points and let the new job cards be based on the type of task (vs location / color like older versions):



The only other thing I'm still trying to figure out is how the game will actually end. Currently I'm liking having the game last a static 40 tasks and having the game end when they run out, but I haven't come up with a good way of just how to end it yet. I've tried simply playing out the game until all the tasks have left the timeline, but it gets pretty boring as the number of remaining incomplete tasks reduces. I've thought of just letting there be 1 last round, but then what do I do with the remaining tasks? If I have them resolve it'll be very likely that the players will lose. If I just discard them, well, that's pretty anti-climatic...

argh... yuk

Synergy

I think I'm gonna use Synergy as the working title for my Wizard's Duel idea. I've been brainstorming this one a lot the last few days and think I'm going to swap which system counters an ability and which simply downgrades. Also, instead of rock-paper-scissors-lizard-spock, I think I may just use my favorite element wheel:



I think I'll have "synergistic" elements boost the level of the following action, while if your opponent played an opposing spell it'll completely negate your action. I'll likely maintain the rock-paper-scissors mechanic via a separate icon set (I'm thinking metal, light and ice or something like that).

By the way, I've got a whole for whoever remembers/solves what that element wheel belongs to cool

Some Gaming

Lately the big games around the house have been Coloretto and Ticket to Ride. Coloretto is just so portable and quick to play that everyone likes breaking it out when we're short on time or getting ready for the main event. It's pretty much stolen the spotlight as our favorite filler. Ticket to Ride is also one of those excellent gateway games that anyone can learn and play decently right away, but still has plenty of depth for others to really dig into. I've recently acquired the Switzerland expansion, which I think looks pretty cool, but haven't yet gotten to play.



Still haven't gotten to play some of the games that were highest on my want list until my recent purchase, including Mouse Guard RPG, Dungeon Run and Troyes. I've had a basic campaign prepared for Mouse Guard for a while now, but needing a decent chunk of time to play it is holding us back from playing as our schedules have been pretty crazy lately. Similarly, we need all 4 of us available to really maximize the back-stabbery in Dungeon Run, but it just hasn't worked out. I did play a 2 player game of Troyes against myself just to learn the mechanics and think it's pretty cool (very combo heavy).
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Tue Feb 14, 2012 2:38 am
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