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Update on SteamRollers and where I'll be at Essen Spiel

Mark Gerrits
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Wow, almost a year since I last posted. With Essen just a few days away, I thought I'd give a status report on SteamRollers and things in general.


SteamRollers

SteamRollers is now scheduled for a 2017 release, very probably with a kickstarter campaign. The delays have not been because of anything to do with the game itself but because of internal publisher stuff (and boy, am I glad I'm not a game publisher). I have no idea of an exact (or even rough) release date or time schedule. There's been some interest from other markets for localized versions so when it comes out, it will hopefully be very readily available.

At the start of the year, I came up with three mini-expansions (ideally suited for KS stretch goals) and they've been very thoroughly tested by now. They're pretty small and simple but work great. Hopefully they'll all see the light of day.


Essen Spiel

I'll be helping out at the Flatlined Games booth again this year, demoing Argo by Bruno Faidutti and Serge Laget. So feel free to drop by booth 3-O107 for a demo or to say hi! I'll be the rotund dude with the big beard (last year it was confusing as there were two of us but this year I'm the only one who fits the description).

This'll be the first Spiel where I'll also be meeting with some publishers to show a few game prototypes. Excited and nervous about that. One of the designs is sort of SteamRollers' sister game, my take on a simplified stocks-based train game.

Wish me luck with those!
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Mon Oct 10, 2016 9:02 pm
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Back from Essen!

Mark Gerrits
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Essen is over and I survived. This was my fifth year helping out at the Flatlined Games booth and as usual it was stressful, exhausting and fun. Never again I say each year, until I forget those first two.

Big difference of course was that this year we were selling my game, SteamRollers, so it was extra stressful and fun! We sold most of our limited print run but didn't sell out. I guess we started out too much under the radar and never built up enough buzz to become visible enough, even though there was some great feedback, off- and online during the fair.

But whatever, it was incredibly satisfying to see lots of people trying my game and hearing their enthusiastic reactions. It was also a great thrill to have designers and publishers I deeply respect buying copies. Heck, everybody who bought my game, you're all heroes.

The immediate future of SteamRollers: Funagain Games bought 24 copies and they should have them at BGG.CON. And from what I understand, there are talks to make the unsold copies available through a European e-tailer. More news on that as it develops.

The long-term future of SteamRollers: The publisher really wants to release the game in a normal print run. But there are lots of things happening behind the screens for them, so for the moment it's unclear when and how that would happen.

Like every year, I bought waaaaayyyy too many games. I tried to focus mostly on games that would be hard or expensive to get outside of Spiel. There's a geeklist here. I'll try to update it as I try out the games (I hardly had any time to play anything during Spiel).

From gallery of Runkst


From gallery of Runkst
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Mon Oct 12, 2015 8:27 pm
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SteamRollers: At Essen!

Mark Gerrits
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Quick and dirty update from my iPhone.

From gallery of Runkst
The empty booth yesterday

From gallery of Runkst
All filled out

From gallery of Runkst
Our special SteamRollers tables

From gallery of Runkst
All the stock

From gallery of Runkst
Then I passed by Japonbrand for my preorders...

From gallery of Runkst
And TBD and TwoPlus Games...
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Wed Oct 7, 2015 2:26 pm
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SteamRollers: Ticket for One

Mark Gerrits
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From gallery of Runkst


redtrain I've posted a solo variant for SteamRollers! I'm really happy with how it turned out. The player has a lot of control over the actions of the A.I. which makes for very interesting decisions when drafting the dice, yet the A.I. feels like a real player, growing in strength during the game and becoming more and more dangerous.

greentrain If you're wondering, the A.I. in the solo variant is named after Olive Dennis.

bluetrain SteamRollers can be preordered from Funagain Games! It's expensive but as far as I know it's the only way to get the game if you're in the States and not going to Essen. And to be fair to Funagain Games, the game + international shipping would probably cost about the same.
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Mon Sep 28, 2015 7:15 pm
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SteamRollers: Full Steam Ahead

Mark Gerrits
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redtrain SteamRollers' production is finished! Bring on Spiel 2015!

From gallery of Runkst
Just some of the boxes...

greentrain I signed all boxes (or to be more precise, all cover stickers) last weekend, my rockstar moment.

From gallery of Runkst
Hard at work...

From gallery of Runkst
This copy is mine!

bluetrain The game has gotten its first two ratings on BGG, both 8s! One from a local player and another from someone in Spain who seems to have cobbled together their own version from photos on the 'geek. But they really liked it, so more power to them!

yellowtrain I made a video! This was a truly horrendous experience and I don't exactly recommend viewing the end result... The publisher will probably put an intro and such on there and try to save what can be saved before posting it to BGG.


Little aside: I named the first player in the video Alice because I just finished Julie Phillips' biography of James Tiptree Jr (aka Alice Sheldon) and Tiptree's "Best of" collection Her Smoke Rose Up Forever and both are absolutely amazing.
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Sun Sep 20, 2015 9:39 pm
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SteamRollers: Boarding soon

Mark Gerrits
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Things have been pretty quiet on the SteamRollers front as the publisher has been waiting on the printed materials. But they arrived today and he sent me a photo of an assembled game!

From gallery of Runkst


I'm very happy with how it has turned out, especially considering the limitations of producing it by hand on quite a short time schedule. Obviously, the box isn't very glamorous but I've tested it out and it's really sturdy and will do a great job holding the game. From the looks of the photo, the supply map, setup aid and cards are nice, thick and glossy. You will have to cut the cards yourself I'm afraid, but it's only six of them. The big bloc has 100 double sided sheets, so enough for 40 games with five players or 100 games with two players. I'm sure there'll also be a PDF available online afterwards. No pens, I'm sorry. But damn, it looks nice! Like a real game!

Sunday I'll be signing the 200 boxes. Hopefully my wrist will hold up! And I'm thinking about maybe making a rules video next week, once I have a finished copy of the game.
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Fri Sep 11, 2015 5:41 pm
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SteamRollers: Still on track

Mark Gerrits
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redtrain All the wooden components have arrived at the publisher's.

greentrain The rules have been translated into French, German and Dutch.

bluetrain All the printed components have been ordered. So everything's pretty much finalized now.

purpletrain Which is good as I've been steadily losing all the latest playtests. zombie

blacktrain Now for some pictures!

From gallery of Runkst
All the wooden components!

From gallery of Runkst
The medieval contraption the publisher built to count the cubes.

From gallery of Runkst
My kind of cocktails

From gallery of Runkst
And finally in ziploc baggies. Cubes and dice living together, mass hysteria!

yellowtrain If you have a keen eye, you might've noticed that the first player marker locomotives are yellow. That's because it's impossible to play a game in Brussels without at least two players fighting over yellow. And if there's no yellow, there is much despair. So as SteamRollers doesn't have player colours, the first player marker has by necessity become yellow. (Or at least that's what I suspect has happened here!)

whitetrain (Shameless reminder that the rules are available here and you can preorder here)
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Wed Sep 2, 2015 10:39 pm
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SteamRollers: Things keep rolling along

Mark Gerrits
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redtrain SteamRollers now has a BGG entry! Suddenly it feels a lot more real

greentrain The English rules are online, at the publisher's site and on BGG. Everybody's now busy translating them into French, German and Dutch (well, everybody but me, I still need to get started on the Dutch translation)

bluetrain I played a game with the final artwork. Very nice, even though I pretty much got steamrolled by one of the players! It's fun to see how many players draw actual railroad track on their maps instead of just simple lines.

yellowtrain The publisher has ordered all the wooden bits (including the locomotive-shaped first player markers!)

blacktrain John Bohrer gave the game a really a nice plug on the Winsome mailing list. That was awesome to find out during yesterday's gaming night.
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Wed Aug 26, 2015 1:34 pm
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SteamRollers: First official images!

Mark Gerrits
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Flatlined Games just sent me two images of the game!

First off is the cover. It looks proper old timey. Maybe I should come to Essen with a bowler hat and monocle. The lightened square beneath the title is for the limited edition numbering and signature.

Board Game: SteamRollers


The second image is the end game scoring example from the rules, which shows a filled in player map. It's funny as I had nothing to do with this example and wow, looks like Tiffany could've really used an extra 4...

Board Game: SteamRollers
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Fri Aug 21, 2015 10:52 pm
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SteamRollers Overview

Mark Gerrits
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Here's an overview of my upcoming game SteamRollers. Hopefully this will give you a good idea of the gameplay while the rules have not yet been released.

My aim was to take a bunch of elements I liked from train games and make a light, simple game out of them that works as a great filler for train gamers but is also fun for others. I hope I have succeeded but that'll be up to the players to judge.

Here's an image of a typical end game situation. Warning: prototype components! (The final version of the game will look a lot niftier)

From gallery of Runkst

Each player has their own player map on which they will draw their railroads. The supply board on top shows all the goods (cubes) that can be delivered. As it's the end of the game, it's pretty much empty now. On the map you can see six regions, each with a numbered city and a small town (the circles). The cards all give special powers that enable to players to change the rules in small (or big) ways.

The image is of an advanced setup. You can tell because certain borders are blocked (like the one between red and grey). There's already a lot of variety in the game because of the different way the cubes and dice fall, but there's also a set of medium and hard map setups to add even more replayability and challenge. (And maybe the cards will be double-sided!)

So how does it play?

Each round the start player will roll one black die and a number of white dice equal to the number of players plus one. The black die is shared by all players. The start player takes one of the white dice and performs one action with it. Then the second player does the same, etc, until each player has taken a die and performed an action. After that the round is over: start player turns to the left, all dice are a rerolled and a new round begins. If at the end of a round, three cities on the supply board are empty, the game is over.

So what are the possible actions?

Build: You draw in one hex. The black die determines which type of track you can build, as you can see on three corners of the player maps (there's always two options). The white die determines in which region you must draw (so 1 = yellow for instance). The only other rule really is that you can't redraw in a hex (so no crossings or junctions).

Improve locomotive: Each white die face can be used once to improve your locomotive. In the example, the left player has a strength of five (having increased his locomotive with all values except 2) and the right player has reached the maximum strength of six.

Why do you need to improve your locomotive? Because of the third possible action:

Deliver goods: (This will sound very familiar to players of AoS or similar train games) The white die here determines the source city of the delivery. You choose one cube from that city on the supply board and deliver it to the city of the same colour as the cube (grey cubes have two possible destinations). To be able to make the delivery, you need a series of connections between both cities (a connection is a contiguous series of railroad tracks between two cities, sometimes passing through the towns). The distance of the delivery is the number of connections plus the number of towns passed through. So in the example, the left player can deliver the blue cube in the red city with distance 5, while the right player can deliver it with distance 4. You're only allowed to make the delivery if your locomotive is at least as strong as the distance. As a reward, you immediately score the distance as victory points (all the marks on the left of the player maps). The cube is removed from the game.

(Another way to think of the distance is to count all the cities and towns the cube would arrive in while following the route)

Take a special card: You can take the card with the same number as the white die, either from the center of the table or from another player (if they've had the card for more than one turn, indicated by tapping and untapping the card). Each card can be used once during your turn. Cards with my badly drawn lightning symbol are one-shots that are returned to the center, while the infinity cards stay with you until the end of the game. (Some of the cards in the photo are out of date and have changed)

And that's it. When three cities are empty, the game is over. Besides the points you made through deliveries (which will be the majority of your score), you also get some points for your cards (negative for the permanent cards), your network and your locomotive.

Final thoughts
I'm very happy with how the game turned out. Each player has the Euro satisfaction of building up their own network but there's also tons of interaction: taking a dice another player wants, stealing cards, and most of all: the race for the deliveries.

If you want to buy the game, the only possibility for the moment is preordering it for Essen 2015 pickup. It's not sure yet if there'll be a regular release afterwards (and if there will be, I imagine it won't be for the first couple of months).
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Fri Aug 21, 2015 3:52 pm
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