Sam Mercer
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Mine and Matt G's incoming game about the dawn of the Scottish Whisky smugglers: Malt

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In malt, players take control of a smuggling family across the golden era of illegal Whisky dstilling from the 18th to 19th century in the highlands of Scotland.

It all started when the Act of Union brought the 'rebellious' Scottish clans under the yoke of England. Furious with the amount of untaxed and illegal "Aquae Vitae" in production, the Crown sent out tax collecting Excisemen or "Gaugers" to bring back money for the independence war in America. Unhappy with these foreign invaders taxing and shutting down the small Bothy stills that were hidden throughout highlands; grain farmers turned to smuggling.

The illegal Scottish whisky trade was cut in half by the Wash act, locked down with Excise Act, advanced with the advent of the Coffey still, and blessed by the Phylloxera beetle plague and the French brandy collapse - Whisky Production in Scotland has been through a tense, profitable, and often bloody history...

"Malt" is currently in development, and we will keep this thread updated with where we are in the design process.

2-4 Players
60-90 Minutes
Ages 10+
Polar-rondel and land control market game.




We'll mak our maut, and we'll brew our drink,
We'll laugh, sing, and rejoice, man,
And mony braw thanks to the meikle black deil,
That danc'd awa wi' th' Exciseman.

The Deil's Awa Wi' The Exciseman - Robert Burns 1792



(This is also our entry to Pablos Historical Themed Board Game Comp)
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Matt Green
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Sam and I are going to going at this at as fast a pace as we can. Given this is NaGaDeMon we are going to try to get this worked up to playable prototype stage until the month is out.

Rondel fans: We would be particularly interested in your input into the process. This germ of this came from a chat about why I suffer "rondel-rage" and how to make that mechanism work a little differently. hopefully we can get a picture of the rondel up soon for a bit of discussion.
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Richard Morris
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Cogentesque wrote:
We'll mak our maut, and we'll brew our drink,
We'll laugh, sing, and rejoice, man,
And mony braw thanks to the meikle black deil,
That danc'd awa wi' th' Exciseman.

The Deil's Awa Wi' The Exciseman - Robert Burns 1792


Burns was, of course, an excise man...
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Sam Mercer
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AnnuverScotinExile wrote:
Cogentesque wrote:
We'll mak our maut, and we'll brew our drink,
We'll laugh, sing, and rejoice, man,
And mony braw thanks to the meikle black deil,
That danc'd awa wi' th' Exciseman.

The Deil's Awa Wi' The Exciseman - Robert Burns 1792


Burns was, of course, an excise man...


Yes he was! That Deil turncoat! Good money in the Excise back then though, we were thinking of actually including him and another of the famous excisemen as actual character representations, but better judgement reined us in to keep the excisemen as generic "baddies" much like the thief in settlers of catan.

Once we're finished, hope you get a chance to have a look at the game Richard

Edit: Roburt Burns' requisition to the good Earl of Glencairn to become an Exciseman
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Richard Morris
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Cogentesque wrote:
Once we're finished, hope you get a chance to have a look at the game Richard

It's about whisky. Of course I will look at the game.
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Richard Nelson

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Ordinarily I only buy or have interest in war games, but for this one I will make an exception. I'll get it as soon as I get a chance. My family is of Scottish descent, and one branch allegedly ran (or runs) a single malt distillery in the Hebrides.

In addition, I'm from what was a whisky smuggling area, the northern Vermont border with Quebec. There is a story there about a farmer then who came through customs every day with a loaded manure spreader, supposedly for his fields on the U.S. side. After simply probing his load unsuccessfully several times, Customs (who were sure he was smuggling whisky) made him go a block down from Customs in Derby Line, Vermont and spread his entire load in one spot on the village green. They expected to hear breaking glass. There was none. When the spreader was empty, the farmer turned to the Customs officers and pointed to the manure and demanded that they reload his manure spreader, which was the law since they hadn't found anything. They were in uniform and though they did go buy the few shovels available to scrape the grass with, they ended up putting part of it back in by hand as it was getting dark. After that, the farmer came through with a smile every day...with a load of whisky under a tarp only inches below the manure piled on top.
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Sam Mercer
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Richard, that is a fantastic story!
The best one I heard in regards to the 19th century smuggling in Scotland:

Some gaugers had intercepted a smuggling party on the way from an illicit still hidden deep in the highlands. They had disbanded the smugglers and taken their prize: a huge barrel of whisky, made up of the contraband of the entire party.

Unbeknownst to the Gaugers though, the crafty smugglers had trailed them to the inn they made rest, in hopes of retrieving what was rightfully theirs.

As they were banned from entering others' rooms and the Gaugers kept the contraband under tight lock and key, they hatched an ingenious plan. They paid the young woman chamber maid, and explained the situation to her (everyone hated the Gaugers back then, not just the smugglers) and asked her, when she next went in to clean that she note down the exact location of the huge barrel.

Then they hired the room in the inn directly below the Gaugers room, followed the instructions on where the barrel was and drilled a hole through the roof exactly where the barrel was, puncturing through and draining all the whisky back in to their own hands!
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I love the stories, awesome!

I'll keep an eye on this game since my boyfriend's rather partial to a wee dram (he likes the really peaty stuff).

Unfortunately I got very drunk on nasty blended stuff like Bell's too often as a teenager and I'm really not keen on any whisky now since it reminds me so much of being somewhat ill. gulp

But anyway, the game sounds cool, looking forward to seeing it.
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Matt Green
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I thought I'd post an update as to where we are.

We are not ready to go to the printers. Fantasy Flight are not waiting on line #1. We have, however, thrashed out a few things about what sort of game we want to make and what mechanisms we want to include and those we want to avoid. The concept for this game started out with a rant against rondels. I suffer from 'rondel rage' in that if I make decisions quickly I then am forced to wait until my turn with little to think about. Even if my preferred decision is not optimal by the time it gets to my turn, often there are very few other options to take. Constantly waiting for AP prone players in rondel games really winds me up too: it's not like the contents of the rondel is hidden information, but the way that some player act shocked at the plethora of options open to them when their turn come round would make you think that. It's enough to drive me to a third coffee in an evening.

My response to this situation (after calming down from the hissy fit) is to make a different kind of rondel. Rondels give players limited action choices, but there are other ways to achieve that and often they are more to my taste. I particularly like the major/minor actions that role selection games like Puerto Rico, San Juan and Race for the Galaxy give players. Sam liked this idea and sprang into action creating a fantastic diagram for such a rondel with major action spaces that the player landing on it uses and minor effects that are generated for all players when any player lands on it. For example:

Major action: build or improve your still (move up a space on the technology track and pay the appropriate cost)
Minor action: move your marker one space forward on the rondel (but don't take the action)

That might look negligible, but suddenly I have a whole lot more decision making to do beyond thinking that next turn I am going to move two spaces forward and then three more the turn after. Sam and I both liked what was coming together with this despite the fact that we had no idea what game we were going to use it for. It's a gamer's game already though, just with this sort of mechanism in place the rules are looking steep for a family game.

Neither Sam nor I have a love of wargames, exactly. I'm alright with them occasionally, but I want to design something that I will enjoy bringing to the table. Antike is not such a game. I want Antike to be Malt's weird uncle that no one mentions. With warfare sidelined economics seemed like a way forward: each point on the rondel alters the price of a commodity in some direct or indirect way. Then we could have the board as a table/matrix with a rondel and the players could manipulate prices. Sam is a fine fellow to work with. When I suggest something so boring that even Esperanto speaking Linux programmers start backing away slowly, he can tactfully steer the design back towards something that other people might find interesting. His usual fall-back is the jazz music scene in the southern US and I've made my peace with the fact that we will have to design that game at some point, although, equally I think there is someone other than me ready for Code: the fun family game of bar code building.

From jazz we got to bourbon and from there to the US prohibition and then we noticed this competition and decided than whisky production was clearly the way forward. Neither of us are Scottish, but we count as one nation. At least at the time of writing. Sam and I do, however, both like whisky so we hit the internet and a whisky time-line was drafted in Google Docs and slowly a path became clear:

Timeline:
1494 - First written record of “Aqua Vitae” made by Friars and monks as a alcoholic health tonic
1644 - First tax per pint on the popular Aqua Vitae
1707 - “The act of union” brings in ever increasing British law and tax. “Exciseman” hunt illicit stills

1784 - The Wash Act creates “highland” and “lowland” divide. American War of Independence finishes; tax lowered.
1823 - The Excise Act requires license fee of £10 for whisky distilleries. Reduces illicit stills.
1831 - Aeneas Coffey invents the Coffey Still, enables production of less intense grain whisky
1853 - Andrew Usher discovers blending (malt and grain whisky): consistent whisky.
1870 - Phylloxera beetle devastates French vineyards. Scotch Whisky now preferred spirit.

1898 - Start of the Whisky recession - Pattison Brothers found to be trading fraudulently
1916 - Law passed for “Malt Whisky” to be aged for 3 years minimum
1920 - Prohibition
1933 - End of prohibition and start of second whisky boom - modernization & computerization

The century between 1770 and 1870 has ripe pickings for a board game. The prospect of ending the game by selling all your stock to France seemed particularly on theme. We have a time period and a central mechanism agreed upon. The players are families of whisky producers that vie to sell as much of their produce as they can whilst skirting the law as it changes. Whichever family is in the best position in 1870 wins the game. This is the skeleton of the game from which we will hang the rest of it on. We have a feel for the weight, the length, the target age group and the feel of the game, which won't change.

We are currently working on:
*The game board
*Actions and effects to populate the rondel
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Pablo Schulman
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Love the idea of a major and a minor action on a rondel, I'd like to see how you would implement it.

As a side note, Sam and Matt, are this your entry to the Historical Themed Board Game Design Contest as written here? If so, would you be kind enough to point the contest here, and the WIP thread there?
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Jake Staines
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mgreen02 wrote:

1784 - The Wash Act creates “highland” and “lowland” divide. American civil war finishes; tax lowered.


Point of order, but the American Civil War was fought in the 1860s - I suspect you mean the American War of Independence. Which started out as a civil war, but war naming rights are traditionally granted to the victors. ;-)
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Sam Mercer
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Pablo: Thanks, Matts idea for a major/minor rondle, or the "Polar Rondel" as he coined it is a really great idea, look forward to getting it fully developed.

Jake: Yes you are quite right! Will change it now, thanks man
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Matt Green
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Cogentesque wrote:
Jake: Yes you are quite right! Will change it now, thanks man


10-4. Changed.
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