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Game Design Notes (and other random thoughts)

A simple place to collect random thoughts with a focus on game design

Archive for David (Tony) Gregg

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The Coldest War, Just in Time and a New Design

David Gregg
United States
Franklinville
North Carolina
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The Coldest War

The rulebook for Nightfall: The Coldest War is now online both on the official site as well as here on the geek.

Some big changes:
● There are now effects that take place during the combat phase, usually by simply discarding the card you want to activate.
● There are a couple of actions that attach to a minion and stay in play until that minion leaves play.
● There is an official constructed deck format in which you get to design the makeup of your private archives.
● There is a new moon phase mechanic which can be added for some extra global effects on the game.

Also, since several cards are shown in the rulebook, I've added all of the ones shown to the official FAQ.



Just in Time

Got in a playtest session last night and was able to play a full game with 3 players using all of the new tweaks and updated files. Both of the other players were also new to the game for a fresh perspective.

Couple issues still linger and there are some new ones:
● The new job cards aren't quite balanced yet. Since your player color is already being collected for "prestige" points, I want to remove all player colors from the job cards. Another issue is that the jobs really aren't that secret as it becomes obvious pretty quickly as to what your specific job color is. I think for the next test I'll have all 3 non-player colors on each job, with them being work 1,2,3 points, ordered differently depending on what job card you get. That way all players will be going after those 3 colors to some extent, but it won't be obvious which are your high scoring and which your low scoring. Of course this also means that I need to increase the value of your prestige to match, probably either 3 points or even 5.
● Some of the locations are able to sabotage other places. I'm not quite happy with how these work just yet. I think I'm going to change them to completely remove all discs from the sabotaged building instead of just one. The sabotage buildings also currently match the type of building they are able to sabotage, but I don't like this at all since it allows a player to build it, use the action for free to sabotage it, then build it again for easy discs.
● We started playing with 15 tasks per player, but it was going to cause the game to run pretty long, so we dropped it to 10 tasks mid game. The game took 90 minutes to play including the time needed to setup and explain the game (which took a long time due to my wifey chatting up one of the players...).
● The end game isn't right yet. Currently it's triggered when the bag of tasks runs out, at which point there are 3 more rounds of fairly easy play while the last remaining tasks work their way off the timeline. It felt really anticlimactic, so something needs to be changed, but not sure yet how I want to go about it.
● The penalties on the top left side of the board didn't really add anything to the game. We experienced the first 3 and they really weren't an issue. I don't want to increase the penalties as you won't be scoring a ton of points, so even removing a couple is a big deal. Really the only one that we dreaded was the 4th (pass job to left) as it would have drastically changed the final scores. I'm thinking that instead of removing stuff from the players, that I should instead be doing more with the board such as adding more tasks, further shifting the timeline, destroying an additional building, that sort of thing.



New Design

Recently on a trip the thought crossed my mind that it'd be nice to have an ultra-portable game that required zero table space. So over the past couple of days I've been brainstorming ideas and have so far come up with what I'm calling Wizard's Duel.

Essentially you'll be quickly constructing a hand of cards that represent your wizard, then alternating phases of preprogramming the order and power level in which you cast your spells, followed by actually resolving the spells 1 at a time simultaneously with your opponent. The spells use a rock-paper-scissors mechanic to counter and downgrade opposing spells and you'll even be able to steel an opponent's spells for your own use if you can time it right.

As the game is entirely made from cards I should be able to have a prototype up pretty quickly, perhaps even for the weekend meeple

Bonus

Just a quick mention that I've gotten in some more games of Eminent Domain and am continuing to enjoy the combos that you can pull off in the game. Still haven't gotten to try out Dungeon Run or Troyes, perhaps I'll be able to try them out this weekend.

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Thu Feb 9, 2012 1:21 pm
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Just in Time, MACE West, Wedding Photography and Light Gaming

David Gregg
United States
Franklinville
North Carolina
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Just in Time

This past playtest made some great progress, so spend the last couple days working on updating the bits for my prototype. Getting ready to send them all off to my local Staples to have them print it for me. Here's the new board:



Mostly the same, though did add a player aid, a simple penalty system for when you fail a task. Also put circles all over the place so I have plenty of room for testing various ways to countdown to the end game.

Next up: Updated the timeline cards and added some job cards:



The job cards are designed to add a 2nd color of disc to collect toward points, but that remain hidden info until the game ends. Also optimized the location tiles and task chits:



The location tiles now have circles equal to the action point cost to use the effect. Upgrading the building places a disc over the circle, reducing the cost of the effect. As for the tasks, I've removed the "1 past to 2 future" bits as now you must be on the same day as the task to complete it or use a special effect that lets you be within 1 day.

Next playtest session is Wednesday evening, hopefully it goes well

MACE West

MACE West is March 30th - April 1st in Hickory this year, which is pretty close to me, so I'll be attending. Already got the hotel booked.



Got up with the con organizer and will be demoing both Just in Time and Nightfall on Saturday, then will be running a Nightfall tournament Saturday night. They have the full schedule on their OGRe page.

Wedding Photography

My sis-in-law got married this past Saturday (woot) to a pretty cool family (who wants to learn Catan, double woot). She let me use her very nice camera (Nikon SLR) of which type I've had the pleasure to use before, so was excited to get to play with one again. I only took around 500 shots...



Hopefully they turn out good, would hate to have her look through them all for just a dozen good shots laugh

Light Gaming

Haven't gotten to play a whole lot the last few days, though I did get to play a few games of Coloretto, a game of Hive with my recently acquired ladybug and finally got to try out Eaten by Zombies!. Still enjoying Coloretto as a nice filler and Hive is pretty much the only abstract I still play, though I'd definitely pick back up Go if I ever ended up wanting to pursue a lifestyle game. Eaten by Zombies was pretty simple to pick up and play, though I'm fairly certain that we all did a terrible job as we saw 8 damage turns multiple times, game might have lasted 5-6 rounds...

zombie
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Tue Feb 7, 2012 2:23 am
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Eminent Domain, MACE and More Life

David Gregg
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Franklinville
North Carolina
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Eminent Domain

The first pack of my new additions arrived Tuesday, bring in Dungeon Run, Eminent Domain, Hive: The Ladybug, Troyes as well as a token set for Agricola. Being a huge fan of deck construction / deck building I had to try out Eminent Domain first. I had preread the rulebook via PDF Monday (really well written btw), so was ready to play when it arrived. The game reminds me heavily of Race for the Galaxy, Puerto Rico and of course Dominion.

So far I've played one each of the learning game, level 1 tech only and a full game. The learning game was really easy to grasp and it gave a good understanding of the game's mechanics. Adding in the level 1 tech immediately felt like there was now a lot more that could be planned and strategized. Having tested heavy colonizing in one game and an even mix of stuff in the other, I knew that I had to test going heavy research / warefare.

It was a thing of beauty cool

I was able to secure two level 2 techs pretty early: can spend ships as resources and -2 cost to attack, but planet doesn't generate resources. At that point I was just cruising through, piggy backing on my opponent's survey roles and using my own turns to either dig further into the research decks or rack up even more of a military fleet. Near the end of the game I also scored the level 3 tech that allows basic research cards to gain all role icons... that was sick...

My only con so far is that player interactivity is rather low with the only real options being to attempt to plan your roles to maximize riding the wave of other players while denying them the same as well as trying to deny them critical level 2/3 tech cards.


MACE West

I attended MACE last year and had a great time learning Ticket to Ride with my family and demoing Nightfall for a few others (as well as a Nightfall a tournament!). So when I heard that MACE West is taking place near to some extended family, it became a done deal. So far I'm planning to demo my WIP Just in Time, demo Nightfall and run another Nightfall tournament. Hopefully I can get hold of some promos from AEG to hand out as well.

meeple

More Life

Few quick things here: looks like BGG is getting into full swing with beta testing their new layout and I've gotten an invite!

thumbsup

It's an interesting design and I'm trying to find my way around where the more major changes were made, but so far I'm liking what I'm seeing.

Also, the new job is going very well. Tons of tiny projects popping up, so having to stay on my toes and keep reacting to all the issues these people are generating for me.

On the negative side of things, our septic line under our house broke the other day... smelled like someone let out some terrible gas right by the air intake so it spread throughout the entire house...

gulp

Fortunately we rent and the landlord does a great job of getting things fixed in a hurry
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Thu Feb 2, 2012 4:11 am
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Just in Time progress and a ton of new stuff

David Gregg
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Franklinville
North Carolina
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Just in Time

Finally got to playtest Just in Time today, this time with quite a few tweaks. So, first up, the (many) changes:
● Action points are now "Essence"
● Essence per player is still 10
● Players start the game with 1 essence on each day in timeline
● Essence is returned to the player after the timeline shifts, but only from the day that is now aligned with the player's current day
● Each day now has 3 "hour" spaces, which is where tasks are placed
● When a task is first placed on a day, it is placed in the first hour space near the top of the day card and is given a disc matching the color of the player whose turn it is
● At the end of a player's turn, they complete 3 steps in the following order: all tasks matching the player's color shift down 1 hour, they roll the d8 to place a new task on its day (8 = task on current day, then roll again, repeating as necessary) and finally shifting the timeline, giving back essence to players appropriately
● All tasks now require you to be on their day to complete them (no more "1 past to 2 future" mess)
● When a player completes a task, they place a disc matching their color on the task and these can no longer be taken away by another player
● When a task shifts off from the 3rd hour, it either A) is incomplete and thus destroys its indicated building, removing all discs from it or B) is complete and the player who completed it get both discs from the task as well as the task itself
● Completed tasks are used for scoring by squaring the number of each type that you complete (health, crime, storm or fire) as well as an additional 5 points per set of all 4 types that you collect
● All buildings are now completed by a single build action to unlock their special ability
● Building a building still awards a disc matching your current day
● Players time travel by spending a single disc of any color and can modify any results by +/-1 by spending discs matching their player color

Some of these changes were made mid game as we were discussing things while playing. Making both tasks and essence cyclical to match the way the time discs move was a great change and everyone enjoyed the overall time mechanic. The others requested some sort of place on the board to place tasks that went uncompleted and have a simple chart describing a different penalty for each one. So for example, the first failed task might cause each player to lose a disc, the 2nd to lose all discs, the 3rd to permanently lose 1 essence etc. I need to toy with ideas for this as I think I still want the tasks to destroy their respective building (probably will flip it over to a rubble side with no name or effect). During the time we played 3 tasks went uncompleted, so I'm thinking that 5 will be a good number of tasks to fail before the game wins.

Another thing that was brought up was the way building effects are currently worded. I knew that they needed recosted with the major tweaks that I made, but the testers brought up a good point: let the buildings still allow multiple levels of building with each step improving the effect. So, the air port might start off as 3 Essence to fly to any space, but for each build action taken on it, the cost could be reduced by 1. So not only are you improving your abilities to use the board to your advantage, but you'll also be generating a lot of discs to use in time traveling, which you'll need to get to those hard to reach tasks and position yourself well to recollect your essence for your next turn.

The last issue that was brought up was the scoring / game end condition. We played that each player received a free task at the start of the game to keep face down, then play until someone has 25 visible points, at which point that extra task is turned face up to add to your score and a final score is calculated to determine a winner. This was pretty anti-climatic and doesn't do much to explain why the time vortex has stopped, so I need to think of something else.

TL;DR: Tweaks were good, need to add more bad things that happen when tasks go uncompleted, need to recost the way building upgrades work and need to reword the scoring system as well as the game end scenario.

Ton of new stuff

Between a math trade, Games for GeekGold raffle, an AEG shipment and an order at CoolStuffInc, I've got a ton of stuff headed my way, which has me pretty excited. So far I've already received Coloretto and have played three 2 player games as well as two 5 player games. Everyone that's played it so far has really liked it, so it'll likely make a good standing in my filler category. Also on the way is: Eaten by Zombies!, Nightfall: The Coldest War, Thunderstone: Heart of Doom, Thunderstone Advance: Towers of Ruin, the new Nightfall Deluxe Promo Pack, a Premium Euro Token Box Set to pimp my copy of Agricola, a Premium Token Storage Box to keep them in, Hive: The Ladybug, Dungeon Run, Troyes and Eminent Domain.

surprise
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Sun Jan 29, 2012 4:29 am
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Nightfall Promos, Just in Time and Life in General

David Gregg
United States
Franklinville
North Carolina
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Nightfall Promos
First up: The Nightfall promos for the first 3 sets have all (except Zombie Horde) been put up for sale on the AEG website in a single pack. Seems the international shipping is really high for some reason though, which they're discussing on the forums, so might want to wait a bit to see if that's an error somewhere before ordering to ship outside the US.

Just in Time
Had some ideas to try out in tweaking the action point system and thought I'd go ahead and share with you guys. Currently, when you spend an action you place a cube/meeple/whatever on your current day and it is tied up until that day is shifted off the timeline to be moved to the front again. I'm thinking that instead of that, I can either have just 1 or 2 return to you with the rest cycling back around (punishing doing too much at once) or I can have them always cycle around to you and only return when they are shifted onto the day you're currently on.

Example of that 2nd idea: Lets say you are on Day 4 and spend a couple actions there. You could then time travel back to Day 3 (assuming you're able to). When the timeline shifts, your action points on Day 4 will be moved over to Day 3, realigning with where you currently are and thus being returned to you. This encourages time travel and prevents abuse from spending a ton of actions in the past just to have them return to you quickly.

Currently I'm really liking the sound of that 2nd system and at that point I could say that your actions represent your very essence or w/e in time and that as you do things around town you are basically investing yourself in that point of time. Though it does goofy things with tasks since those rely on the end of the timeline as to when the rewards actually get handed out, but I could always allow a task to be considered complete when the essence is returned, as a sort of: place essence on task to show you've begun to work on it and take it back off to complete the work.

Hmm... That means I could let tasks cycle too if I really wanted, perhaps letting them build up and/or "time out" to actually cause their destruction. That would really require a lot of careful planning and seriously encourage time travel. Yep, gonna have to try that out for sure.



Gym
Headed over to the gym with my BFF again Tuesday. Was good times. I intend to get a membership once my budget adjusts to the new pay rate, but that'll be another month or so. For the curious: we worked the upper body (chest and arms) and then walked the treadmill for a while.

Agricola
Got in a murderous game of Agricola with my younger daughter. I focused on an early house addon so I could work on kids ASAP, using extra actions on plowing / sowing. Awna worked toward early fence / stables, but then never built up her house, so I was dominating all game long in number of actions to take. In the end I managed to have a 4 room house with a 5 person family, 5 plowed fields (3 grain, 2 veggie) and the rest fenced in with plenty of sheep, boar and cattle. Check the detailed report for the specific stats.
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Thu Jan 26, 2012 5:45 pm
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Dungeon Lords, Math Trade and a New Training Program

David Gregg
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Franklinville
North Carolina
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Dungeon Lords

Received Dungeon Lords in a math trade recently and have since been waiting to try it out. Finally got in a 3 player game a couple days ago with the kidos. There's a lot of pieces etc to the game, but everything seemed pretty easy to understand for us. The kids and I had a good time and my youngest pulled out the win, focusing on the biggest monsters (and ghosts) she could manage, dispatching her heroes quite handily. I had the most titles, but it just wasn't enough to compete point wise given the number of tunnels that I had lost via conquering.



Math Trade

Speaking of math trades, one just ended in which I've traded off Reef Encounter in exchange for Eaten by Zombies!. Reef Encounter had some interesting mechanics, but was very dry for my groups, so never got brought back out after its initial few plays. We're all pretty much suckers for deck building games though, so I'm hopefully for Eaten by Zombies. Not 100% on the horror theme, but we'll see.



Ultimate Trade

More trading! No seriously, I still have a copy of Wits & Wagers Family left over that I didn't manage to get added to that math trade in time. In reading the discussion thread for the math trade, I stumbled across a few posts about ultimate trades, which are like single chains from a math trade, which I think is pretty cool. So I set one up: N/A



Trainin' the Trainer

New job is going pretty well, though I find it ironic that I'm being trained material that I have to turn around and train other people on less then 30 minutes later, lol. I suppose as long as I can get across all the important info it'll work out fine. We had a large monthly meeting today in which they've decided that I'll be starting a new project: a format training program for or control room operators! I've got plenty of time to work on it (I think) and it helps that I was just promoted from that specific position, so everything's still fresh on my mind. So now I'm mostly working on coordinating with the supervisors on what they need their guys to be able to handle and then I'll be getting to typing (along with some spiffy flow charts).



Mouse Guard

As a bonus little tidbit: I'm planning a Mouse Guard Roleplaying Game campaign for the wife and kidos. I'm thinking that I'll start with sending them out to investigate a damage bridge. Story will be that a cargo shipment was being escorted (something important) and the bridge collapsed while they were crossing, destroying the cargo. My group's job will be to see if they can find out what caused the bridge to give way and repair it if possible. Back story is that the bridge was sabotaged and whether or not they figure that out will determine how I branch the story after that session. The obstacles for this first mission will be weather and wilderness, with a particularly hot day probably triggering a conflict aimed at wearing out the mice. Whatcha think?

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Tue Jan 24, 2012 4:02 am
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Gaming, More Games and... well, the job's going good!

David Gregg
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Franklinville
North Carolina
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Gaming

Got to hang out with my BFF a couple times this week. The first time he was really wanting me to teach him Agricola, which he had just gotten in a trade. So we played the family game and... he destroyed me... It was really pitiful... His score was roughly half again of mine, even though it was his first game.

Guess I'm just a good teacher whistle

The second time we got to hang out was for his birthday and he was wanting to play Agricola again, this time with the occupations and minor improvements, so we shuffled up the basic deck and got to it. Our hands of cards were near polar opposites, with him having heavy animal combos via food bonuses when taking wood and for having sheep. I on the other hand was double plowing at the cost of food and planing veggies on an improvement, ending the game with 8 plowed spaces. In the end he had zero gain/veggies and I had zero animals (never even fenced in a pasture) and he just barely won by 3 points. Was a great game.



Then yesterday my mom, uncle dad and sis came over for some food, so while the ladies chit chatted, the guys got in some Crokinole. We played a total of 4 games, with the first 2 being pretty one sided in my favor, but then we stopped half way through the 3rd game to eat. After dinner I was a bit off my game and he kept scoring 5 points here, 10 there... ended up being roughly 10 rounds before I finally got in some nice center shots to seal the win. Our 4th game didn't go so well for me though as he made several center shots in a couple rounds and finally won one before needing to head home.

More Games

My auction / trade geeklist wrapped up nicely, netting enough gift cards to Cool Stuff Inc to let me order with some free shipping. I really enjoy Agricola (even though I don't get to play it often), so I intend to grab the big Premium Euro Token Box Set along with the Premium Token Storage Box. While I'm at it, I plan to buy a couple games off of my want list, namely: Dungeon Run and Troyes.



New Job

In case you've not been following along: I was promoted at my work recently to the new Technical Trainer / IT Guy. Today finishes up my first week in the position and so far it's been going really well. I'm having to relearn a lot of stuff that I haven't had to use in the last few years, but that's no biggie. It's really nice to finally be able to put my IT skills to good use and they're happy to hand over all the data I ask for in the process.

Now I just gotta work on not burying myself in too many projects
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Sat Jan 21, 2012 1:43 am
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Work, Work out and Work on NF

David Gregg
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North Carolina
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Not a whole lot to report today wow

Work: Started my new position today at work and it's going pretty well so far. Definitely awesome to finally have my own office and work space. Hopefully the rest of the week continues to go well.

Work Out: My BFF invited me to a gym after work today, so spent 1.5hrs-ish over there. It's been a while since I've worked out, so was nice to get in the session. With the new work schedule I could easily add a few gym visits each week to my routine, something I'm sure my body (and wife) would be quite happy about.

Work on Nightfall: This latest batch of playtest reports uncovered a few cards that could use some tweaks for NF6. It had been a while since the last needed update, so its looking like we're getting really close to a very balanced set.
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Tue Jan 17, 2012 1:05 am
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Games, NF Previews and Life Changes

David Gregg
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Games

In my last couple trades I've acquired Munchkin Cthulhu 1, 2 and 3 as well as Dungeon Lords, all of which I'm looking forward to trying out. I was recently able to observe a good chunk of a game of Munchkin at a friend's house and while the game looks pretty light, it also looks fun. I think my wife and daughters will be able to handle it just fine as well, so I'm having some high hopes for that one. Dungeon Lords has a really cool concept (imo) and I've been wanting a copy for a while now, so I'm excited to try it out. While I'm sure that my family will be able to handle the rules for this one, I'm not so sure that it'll be something they enjoy, but I guess we'll find out next chance we get to game.




In addition to that, I've really been itching to try out Mouse Guard since receiving it for Christmas and I think I've got a decent initial mission in mind for the family. Still, I think I'll reread a few of the major bits before we dive in as I really don't want to mess up our first game and put a sour spin on it. The wife is a bit weary of the RPG genre as it is, so I'm hoping that this particular game will make for a great entry point for both her and our girls.

Wish me luck!


Nightfall Previews

With the release of Nightfall: The Coldest War right around the corner (I'm hearing sometime next month), AEG is starting to release previews of some of the new stuff you'll find in the set. They've already shown off one of the new starters, JAREK, and yesterday put up 4 new previews as well, 1 each of: action, minion, moon and wound.




The first two show off one of the set's new mechanics: combat text. As you might guess, it's used during the combat phase and no, it does not require any color matching to use. As for the moon phase card, there are others and they can be changed mid game, but that's as far as I'm revealing for now. The new wound is one of my favorites, to an extent. A couple of them in your deck can be a huge help mid-late game, but too many and you'll just be chaining wounds... Also note that an opponent holding one of these can't be locked out of adding on to your chains!

Life Changes

First up is my promotion, which officially begins Monday morning. Tonight was my last shift as my current position and the crew that I've worked with for the past 4 years has already said their "see ya around"'s.

soblue

For now I'm some weird mix of excited, anxious and nervous, as I'm finally getting into an IT related job, but I'm not entirely sure yet of what to expect (they haven't fully laid down my job responsibilities, etc).

And as one extra bit of awesomeness: I'm gonna be an uncle! surprise
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Sat Jan 14, 2012 11:25 am
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Auction, Nightfall and a Promotion!

David Gregg
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Nightfall: The Coldest War

Nightfall: The Coldest War made the final cut toward the final vote for the "20 Most Anticipated Games of 2012". So if you don't mind, please head over to the poll and help it make it into the top 20!

The Coldest War is in the following categories: Overall, Horror, Original and Expansion.
[POLLS] 20 Most Anticipated Games of 2012 --- RESULTS POSTED --- 1600+ Votes




Nightfall: NF6

Latest testing on NF6 has been very good. The new starters and wounds being tested for NF7 are already balanced and the new orders for NF6 are pretty well balanced as well. At this point we're mixing in older sets along with NF6 to make sure it remains stable. So far Nightfall aka NF1 as well as Martial Law have mixed in fine. Should be receiving reports of Blood Country and perhaps The Coldest War being mixed in this week or the next.




Auction / Trade

I'm running a small auction / trade geeklist to move out some extra games (mostly left over copies of Nightfall) that didn't trade away this past math trade. Roughly half has already sold, but here's what's left if you're interested:

Bezzerwizzer
Nightfall
Nightfall: Martial Law
Reef Encounter
Wits & Wagers Family

The actual geeklist: Nightfall+ Auction / Trade




Math Trade

As for what did trade this past math trade, I received copies of Train of Thought as well as Munchkin Cthulhu 1, 2 and 3. So far we've only had time to try out Train of Thought and everyone has liked it so far. I'm not usually a fan of word games, but this one has an interesting twist that I find amusing. Planning to try it out with my folks this week.




Promotion

Last, but certainly not least, some promotions have been working their way through my work place and I was one of them! I've been aiming for an IT related job for a while now and this particular position is roughly 25% training employees for their job (rather computer related in and of itself) and the other 75% is a hybrid of whatever skills you bring to the company, so in my case I'll be spending that time working on the company's network, servers, website, etc.

Pretty excited to finally be able to work in my desired field! cool


My wife, family, friends and I have been praying over this for a long time, ever since I started working on their website back in '10. So to see things finally moving in this direction is a huge blessing for us.

Now to secure a 2nd vehicle to help work around the new hours ninja
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Wed Jan 11, 2012 3:51 am
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