Party Hat Potato

Board game blog, reviews, projects, and more!

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Ridiculous Box Sizes: How Much Shelf Space is Wasted?

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There is an insidious affliction that has plagued the board game industry for quite some time: ridiculously oversized boxes. It fills my soul with fury when I open up a brand new game and realize that it probably could have fit in a box a quarter of the size. I have a hard enough time fitting games on my shelf as it is, I don’t need to be storing so much empty space...

Recently (in the middle of another one of my fits of rage), I got curious: exactly how much space would I actually need on my shelf if all the boxes were only big enough to store the actual components? How much space is actually going to waste? And since apparently I had nothing better to do, I decided to find out.

That’s right, I actually went through and measured the wasted volume of all the games in my collection, and I think you’ll be surprised at the results. If my shelf is at all representative of the average, game shelves all over the world are a lot more bloated than most people realize.

It’s time to call out the publishers that are guilty of this heinous crime (spoiler alert: it’s most of them).

Read the full article here: http://www.partyhatpotato.com/blog/2018/2/wasted-shelf-space...
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Sun Feb 11, 2018 4:54 pm
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Junk Art Review

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Great dexterity games are a bit hard to come by, and that’s a shame because it’s one of my favorite genres. Their goofy, quick, and imprecise nature often make them perfect fillers, and they frequently showcase a lot of what I love about the board gaming medium. When you think about all the board game apps out there that work just as well as the original game (if not better), it’s nice to experience a truly physical design every once in a while.

Therefore, when I first heard about Junk Art, I knew I had to try it. It is a modern dexterity game about building strange-looking towers out of a bunch of random junk. As for the art part...maybe if you’re talented you can create something mildly impressive...but it’s more likely you’ll spend most of the time praying that your tower doesn’t collapse.

Read the full review here: http://www.partyhatpotato.com/reviews/2018/1/junk-art-review...
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Tue Jan 16, 2018 12:54 am
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One Year Retrospective (And My Top 10 Games)

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On this day one year ago, I published my very first blog post, which makes today the first anniversary of Party Hat Potato! On this special occasion, even though I don’t usually like to write such personal posts, I thought it might be fun to take a look back on the year and do some reflecting.

As a bonus, I also decided to finally compose my obligatory "top games of all time" list. I actually love making lists, and people seem to enjoy reading them, so now is as good a time as any to reveal my favorite games. I decided to limit myself to ten games though, since, as anyone who’s read my articles knows, I have a hard time keeping things short…

Read the full article here: http://www.partyhatpotato.com/blog/2017/12/one-year-retrospe...
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Mon Dec 18, 2017 2:45 pm
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Biblios Review

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Biblios is one of those games that is exceptionally interesting to play, but convincing new players of that is no easy task.

"Want to play this game Biblios?"

"What’s the theme?"

"You are an abbot at the head of a monastery who is building a library collection. You’ll get to collect holy books, hire copyists, work on decorative lettering, and persuade bishops!"

"Uhh...OK...What do you do in the game?"

"You collect different colors of cards. Then you have an auction where you bid for different colors of cards."

"....."

Despite the unimpressive-sounding theme and mechanics, Biblios turns out to be a clever and layered card game. It also has a surprising amount of staying power, especially for a filler.

Read the full review here: http://www.partyhatpotato.com/reviews/2017/12/biblios-review...
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Sun Dec 3, 2017 5:46 pm
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Board Game Achievements

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Some readers might remember that before I became a board game fanatic, video games were my main pastime, and one of my favorite parts of playing video games was earning XBOX achievements and improving my gamerscore.

For anyone who isn’t familiar, every game that was available for the system had a list of special goals that, if you completed them, earned you points. The points were completely arbitrary and had no real value, but of course that doesn’t stop gamers from competing for them. There’s something very satisfying about watching that number go up.

The best achievements were the ones that gave you something new to shoot for after you completed the main objectives. Often, they were a great excuse to explore a game’s extra content that most players would have otherwise overlooked.

Anyway, ever since I made the shift to board gaming, achievement collecting is one thing that I’ve missed. It’d be difficult to pull off, but I think some sort of app that mimics this system for board games could be a lot of fun. Until someone designs that though, I decided to write some of my own for a few of my favorite games. If you have any achievement ideas of your own, feel free to add them in the comments!

Read the full article here: http://www.partyhatpotato.com/blog/2017/11/board-game-achiev...
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Sat Nov 25, 2017 6:33 pm
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New Prototype: Dig Deep

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I have another prototype that I want to share with you guys; I'm calling this one Dig Deep.

Dig Deep is an economic dice game where players lead mining operations. The goal is to secure the largest profit by finding the most valuable gems, upgrading your tools, and manipulating the market. In addition to its core mechanics of dice rolling and resource management, the game has light area control, engine building, and commodity speculation mechanics as well.

If anyone is interested in trying it out, I have the full instructions and print-and-play files on my website: http://www.partyhatpotato.com/games/dig_deep.html

Cheers!
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Sat Sep 2, 2017 9:34 pm
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Camel Up Review

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Have you ever been to a camel race? It’s a real sport that is somewhat popular in the Middle East and Australia. I’ve always thought of camels as slow, thirsty lumps of fur that like to plod around deserts, but apparently they can run up to 40 miles per hour!

If you don’t live near a camel racing circuit but you’re dying to get a taste of that sweet camel action, Camel Up could be the perfect game for you. It is a quick, wacky betting game with some unique and charming components. Five camels are racing to the finish line, and your job is to gamble your way to a large profit. Sounds easy enough, but choosing the right camels is easier said than done.

Read the full review here: http://www.partyhatpotato.com/reviews/2017/8/camel-up-review...
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Sat Aug 26, 2017 10:34 pm
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Mega Hits of the Board Game Industry

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Each year, hundreds of new and interesting board games hit the market, and most people never even find out they exist. In the grand scheme of things, the board game market is relatively small. When most people think of board games, antiquated titles that have had decades to ingrain themselves into pop culture (Monopoly, Clue, Scrabble, etc.) are still at the forefront of people’s minds.

The games that are released today, in most cases, are heads and shoulders above these classic titles in terms of quality. However, competing with the tried-and-true titans of the industry is no easy feat, and most games don’t have what it takes to break through to the mainstream.

Every once in awhile though, a game is released that transcends the hobby gaming niche and achieves a following that reaches far beyond what’s expected. These are the games that not only sell well, they sell well enough to share store shelves with the aforementioned "titans of the industry" and get played by people who have no idea how vast the world of hobby gaming actually is.

These are the games I want to talk about today.

I thought it might be interesting to take a look at a few examples of uber-successful games that have grown out of the hobby market in recent times and compare them to see if any patterns emerge. Obviously there’s no foolproof formula for creating a hit board game, but these games do tend to share certain characteristics that are worth taking into consideration.

The way I see it, the games that become mega hits all have three important characteristics:

1. They are easy to learn and easy to play.
2. They have a core mechanic that is unique, memorable, and engaging.
3. They are exceptionally well-designed.

For this article, I’m choosing six games that I think best exemplify the "mega hit" distinction and measuring them against these three criteria. Hopefully this exercise will be useful for generating discussion about what the average game consumer is likely to enjoy.

Read the full article here: http://www.partyhatpotato.com/blog/2017/7/mega-hits-board-ga...
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Sat Jul 29, 2017 5:40 pm
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The Great Dalmuti Review

The game where you become a peasant, suffer from taxation, and celebrate economic inequality!

Ah, the good old social hierarchy. Where the poor have nothing and the rich have everything (and do everything they can to make sure it stays that way). In real life, working your way up the pyramid is very difficult, but in The Great Dalmuti, it’s as simple as winning a hand.

The Great Dalmuti is a light-hearted card game that is all about clawing your way to the top of the social ladder (at the expense of everyone else, of course). It is a simple climbing game with a few interesting twists that, as long as you don’t take it too seriously, can make for an amusing and memorable experience.

Read the full review here: http://www.partyhatpotato.com/reviews/2017/7/great-dalmuti-r...
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Sat Jul 15, 2017 11:58 pm
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The Designer vs. The Players

Discussing a fundamental dilemma for board game designers: what can we expect from players?

As an aspiring game designer, I have a large collection of prototypes that are in various stages of development. I’ve run a lot of different playtesting sessions for these prototypes and, of course, have heard my fair share of constructive criticism. The potential difference between how fun an idea is on paper and how fun it is in reality consistently baffles me.

Today I want to discuss a phenomenon that I haven’t read much discussion about, but has become one of my biggest design challenges. Recently, I’ve noticed that a large portion of the dilemmas I deal with for my designs can be boiled down to this one concept, and it has to do with the variance in player behavior.

My question is, in essence:

What assumptions can designers make about the players of their games, if any?

As designers, we have to make certain inevitable assumptions about how players will interact with our games. For example, a reasonable assumption might be that, before starting a game, at least one person at the table has read through the rulebook or has already played it. A designer has a responsibility to write a clear and effective rulebook, and players have a responsibility to play the game correctly.

A game designer’s job is to provide a fun experience for the players, but in order for that relationship to work, players must take on certain responsibilities as well. Problems arise when the expectations that designers put on players aren’t met, and that’s a tricky situation because player behavior is a variable that designers can’t always (and probably shouldn’t always) control. Nonetheless, it’s still an essential aspect of the game experience, so figuring out which expectations are reasonable and which aren’t is an important consideration.

In this article, I want to provide some examples of this dilemma from a designer’s perspective and offer my opinion on where certain lines should be drawn. Obviously different designers have different philosophies, and in a hobby as open-ended as board gaming there are exceptions to every rule, so I’d love to hear other opinions as well.

Read the full article here: http://www.partyhatpotato.com/blog/2017/7/designer-vs-player...
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Sat Jul 8, 2017 5:10 pm
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