This is, one of the most shameful post I'd ever post here: Not a single post or thread during all 2021. Not even a self-promotion one at Spiel with all the goodness about seeing our Redca topping the Kosmos booth. Not even the post of pictures of gorgeous people posing with a Lama-toy substitute (which I'll post here eventually). Not even a post how amazing it was to see about 20 people queuing at Ludonova's booth to get Shinkansen: Zero Kei signed by Shei and me. Or maybe a post about how cool it was to be in the November issue of the legendary board game magazine Spiel box.
So my idea is to keep updated this blog as often as I could.
We're still here!
But yes, this is totally a new year's resolution that I don't know if I'll make it, but definitely I'll try.
See you tomorrow with the stuff played in the first week of the year (although it was only 2 days long).
A blog about what we (Llama Dice) play and sometimes design.
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This year has been a hella of roller coaster. Not only for us, for the entire world.
If you don't attend to Spiel (and specially if you are used to) is one of the worst things that can happen to you in October (we didn't attend in 2017 because we ran out of our yearly budget for trips since we get married and traveled to Japan) and it was awful.
But this year could be one of the worst years to skip Spiel because we will finally see The Red Cathedral published but... there's no Spiel this year for no one.
But there's one more thing that is not getting in touch with amazing people, eating things that only can be eaten in Germany, the rush for the halls, the compulsive purchases that probably your back will suffer pushing through the airport your suitcase, there's THE THING. This stupid thing we did every year.
We took pictures from people of the boardgaming world with a lama (or alpaca) toy. And oh boi, we miss that very very much.
We uploaded here the album from 2019 with Paqui and 2018 with Beni, but never upload here the 2015's Bernarda and 2016's Vicenta.
So, to relief the urgency of sharing a huge collection of nice people smiling, here's the pictures we took in our very first Spiel. Hope you enjoy it!Ediciones PrimigenioGonzalo from Salt & Pepper GamesRichard Ham - Rahdo
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I know that I've got a couple of subscriptions and I only get visits when I tag a lot of played games but that's not the point. The point is that I miss write in English about my preferred topic ever: Board games.
I've been playing more than ever due to the confinement but I don't know. It's a strange feeling. I DO miss writing here but yet don't have the impulse to start writing.
And I love to talk about it here and chat with you all. Maybe too much extra-work from prototypes that keeps me away from writing hre.
Shei and I we're currently finishing some touches about a couple of boardgames that will be published in 2021-2022. We're in our finest moment as designers and that means a lot of work since we love to work close with publishers.
We do know that The Red Cathedral will be published sometime near September probably in USA too. So, this project started in 2015 finally will be released. What a ride !
Flowar will be postponed to early 2021, but with one good new! Mihajlo Dimitrievski will be the one in charge of the illustrations and cannot wait to see his work!
So as you can see, we're perpetually doing and playing things but, for reasons beyond my comprehension, I don't have the impulse to shout them out loud here!
Whenever I can share some pictures about The Red Cathedral I'll do for sure. It's easier just to show pictures rather than write about them hahha
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Well the title is rather clickbaity since I bought two sets of Carcassone tiles at the thread: Hunt for second hand games for Spiel 2019: HERE
The idea was simple: Buy a set of basic game of Carcassonne to frame the tiles. The idea, also, is buying them as lower as you can since you don't need the score board, rules, box etc.
So thanks toRukus (André Heines)(Rukus)Germany
30 km from EssenTobias Lunte(Tobl)Germany
And (with a lot of delay, you know, one thing is saying that your'e going to do a thing and another completely different is actually doing it) spending some isolation time, finally we made it! The Covid nightmare we're living in Spain mixed with the clear "Stay at f**** home" message helped a little bit.
So here they are the steps and the how-to:
The perfect size for this (including the enough deepness to hold the base+tile+standing meeple) is the Ikea's Ribba 50x50 frame:
Every Ikea item has its own instructions. So we took as guidance (to put every tile perfectly centered) those instructions to paste the Carcassone starting tile:
The original idea was playing a Carcassonne game ON the sheeet and then paste the tiles but since sometimes the map gets really ugly, we more or less designed a map in our taste. Once the map was designed, then we glued (with sticky tape) every tile to the instructions sheet. After that, glued some meeples in the tiles and some spare tiles in a sort-of drawing pile. It supposed to be a game in progress!!
Finally, with more sticky tape, glued the sheet (without any sign of being the instructions sheet) to the frame base to hold all the components
Close the frame (recycle the passepartout or use it in another frame) and there you go!
And see how it looks hanging on the wall
Saty safe everyone!
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In 2015 Shei and I started a thing when we travel to Essen for our very first time at Spiel. We brought a tiny llama toy that we planned to put on the top of games, things and so on but suddenly we took a picture of a designer with that toy called Bernarda and everything changed. We took pictures of designers, artist and people we know from the boardgaming world and it was super fun.
Then, we came back on 2016 and did the same thing with another different llama toy called Vicenta and many of them remembered that odd moment in which two stupid people with a smile in their faces asked them "to take a picture with Vicenta"
In 2017 we got married and didn't attend to Spiel, but in 2018 we came back again and took pictures with Benigna 'Beni' and it was amazing.
This is the 4th year that we do this thing, now with Paquita "Paqui", and we think that this will be a tradition every year we attend to Spiel but... do you know why?
At the end of the fair, we end with about 70 pictures of people smiling, doing shenanigans or crazy things with the toy and everyone looks happy and enjoying this wonderful boardgame world. Those smiles and faces remain us why we are here: To make people happy.
So here it is, the pictures we could take at the fair, enjoy them as much as we didUli Blennenman, master of SpielworxxSteven Buonocore from Stronghold GamesKlemens Franz & AndreaAntoine BauzaLivia from MOZI GamesJoey Schouten from Inkwell Games
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Well... that was an amazing SPIEL for us professionally and personally in which we have experienced a lot of love and kindness from every people we approached by. And sometimes it's something difficult to approach to someone and ask them to take a picture with a tiny llama toy, but we did it and it was a blast (You can check the pictures from Beni last year)
But today I'm going to show you the pornographic haul that we gather during the whole fair. The worst part is the one on Saturday we saw our purchases and said "We haven't bought that many this year, we can bought some more", tried to pack and realized that yes, we have bought THAT many
We already played some and this is what was our first impression:
Tee oder Kaffee
A small -very small- card game where you have to take sets to score them. Nothing sounds amazing and probably is a bit random, but we're addicted to it. Will be included in every trip due to its size and, at least with two, is quick and fun to play!
Skytopia: In the Circle of Time
I loved how the gears work and despite thinking that with more players will be cooler I enjoyed the first game of it!
Masters of Renaissance: Lorenzo il Magnifico – The Card Game
For me, can be the biggest deception of the Spiel Will play it again soon and will decide but the first impression is a game that I didn't like (but the marble mechanism is really really cool)
Ingenious: Travel Edition
It's one of the biggest findings in the Math-trade thanks to my friend Thanasis! This is the travel version only for 2 players of Ingenious. And it's amazing because is really hard to find!!
Silver & Gold
I loved it! A kinda different "reveal and write" drawing in the cards. Phil Walker-Harding, I love you. I like this a lot!
We bought this one without even looking at the box because, you know, this format always is a winner but... this time is not. It has some good ideas, but we found playing this without having any fun like we have plenty in Twenty-one, Qwixx, Qwinto and so. A little deception. Will play through all the sheets twice and play with the family and then decide.
Paris: La Cité de la Lumière
My god. MY GOD. I loved it!!!!!! Through the production, to the artwork, to the gameplay, to the scoring... everything. This could become one of my 2 player favorites for sure!
We expected to have fun this one only with my destroyer nephew but we found ourselves playing it and laughing a lot!! This is very fun!!
Humboldt's Great Voyage
A 5 Tribes style game. I liked the first game (and the mechanic of where to start is one of my favorite things) but I'm not sure how many plays of it will do. But the first impression is very very good.
Ka Pai & Ka Pai: Ranu
Our first game of Ka Pai was kinda just ok. But the more we play it, the more we like it!! And the expansions are awesome; when you think you know how to play, that new score sheets breaks you. I liked it a lot!!
We found this game in the Matagot booth kinda buried in their big boxes and Shei grabbed it and said: LOOK AT THIS ARTWORK AND THEME. WE MUST BUY IT. So we did. And we played. Twice. And we loved it!! Will be included in our list for trips since the game only have a few cards and the sugar cubes could be replaced by any other thing.
I don't know why I found fun in this game. It has 0 decisions and all the randomness of having a bad hand of cards... But I do like it! Will play it with my family to see if it worth to keep it.
A very good game of city building for non-core gamers. I'm saying this because I felt that for us, we need more. I liked their scoring mechanism of scoring right at the moment you're placing the tile! This is a really fine game! But probably too light for us
And that's it. Now we're heading to Ikea to buy another shelf... so yes, we have a problem. A big problem. But what a blessed problem <3
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There's only 24h to go for the awesomely successful Kickstarter campaing in which 1987 Channel Tunnel is included
This is last diary entry, hope you like them!!!
Previously on 1987 Channel Tunnel Design Diary (1) , (2) , (3)...
We went to Protos and Tipos 2018 with the changes we had in the last post and we didn't stop demoing for the whole weekend. The plays followed one after the other and each one of us liked the way it was working.
At the end of the fair, Pedro Soto took the prototype under his arm and soon gave us the great news that it would be the first game of the 19xx series that would not be designed by Perepau. As you can understand, this was huge for us.
But that's it? What is this, the end of Game of Thrones? No! The diary doesn't end here. Once Perepau finished the development of 1906, he started with the development of 1987. He reviewed the cards and added a few little things that have given him the feeling of a complete game. We were able to test a version of that prototype in Essen in 2018 and we practically didn't need any additional rules to play. Shamely, it was the only game we played in the Spiel, but it was so special that we didn’t even notice. This game was a special illusion
Among the changes proposed to us by the chief developer were the financing as an action and the misalignment of the tunnel boring machine, which is a side effect of tunneling. Like when you drill a wall and you twist the hole (true story).
Since this change made the game was a little longer, they eliminate a section of the tunnel (before there were 7 cards, now there are 6, divided into 3 portions) and that made the game 10’ shorter. In addition, when you added the misalignment of the tunnel boring machine you had one more spark of uncertainty about when the end of the game would come, and we liked that very much.
The player's boards and tracks were also modified, which was to be expected since the model we show at Protos and Tipos was a "we need something functional" version. Let us explain ourselves. Sometimes in order to reach a fair, or a goal, you have to have something that works even if it is not perfect, it has to be functional. And that's what we did with the tracks and the board. We had to get to the Protos and Tipos and we didn't have the time to design a proper board. Perepau added financing as a requirement for the advancement of the tracks.
They gave us a first version to test the changes made by Perepau and between comings and goings we finished the development together. We want to highlight the documentation that the guys from Looping did added thematic decisions like the one that UK starts with less warehouse because they did not have where to store the rubble or that the cost of financing is different on the boards because each country faced it in a different way.
These modifications together with the misalignment and the asymmetry of the warehouses form the final version of the player boards. And the best of all is that everything is documented and has a reason!
And with this, some previews of images made by Pedro, a successful Verkami campaign with a lot of work, a lot of documentation and more enthusiasm behind it, we arrive at what you are seeing now. If anyone still wonders if the 19xx are made with love, bear in mind that they have 4 people who make a team. Víctor, César, Perepau, Pedro: Thank you for this opportunity!
For our part, these are the last lines of this 1987 Chunnel diary. Shortly, the following entries will be written by you playing this project that we love so much.
We hope you like it! See you at the table!.
Shei & Isra
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There's only 4 days to go for the awesomely successful Kickstarter campaing in which 1987 Channel Tunnel is included and we're on hurry to finish the diary before it ends.
This is the 3rd chapter and the final one will be on Friday with the end of the campaing!
Previously on 1987 Channel Tunnel Design Diary (1) and (2)...
The game was horrible, partly because they misapplied the central action mechanic, which is the coolest thing about the game. They didn't apply the obligation to go with all the discs of the same color, and that was awful. Apart from that, was also bad for more things that we saw, among them the payment of discs to get the cards and sometimes little interaction between the players in the actions. So we sat down to hit the head. We are engineers, and where we see a problem, we have to give it a solution.
The luck factor was still there and when there were no interesting cards, it was still stuck. The game was in a boring state that we wanted to avoid: draining-tunneling and starting again. There wasn't always an interesting card offer. And suddenly we got it!
To counteract the randomness and the poor offer of cards, we came up with the following: Each card was going to have an associated action. Therefore, with one card you could do two things: either get the card for the cost of discs or execute the associated action by discarding the card (unlocking the supply as the game advances).
Adapting it to the particularities of this design, we turned the randomness of the card display into a good thing giving the user several and variable actions to carry out! But the fact that the players lost actions in order to get cards in a round did not convince us; the game is fun when you’re performing actions!, so we took the cost in discs and change it in rubble tokens.
With this change, we saw the mistake we made associating the cost of the cards with the actions.
Okay, and now that cards are "bought" with rubble tokens, what do we do with the board? Should we remove it or put something else in it? As we are eurogamers, there is nothing we like more than a good track, so we put not one, but 2 that were unlocking things. Just as it works to see how you fill a board, it also works to see that you are given things as you move forward. But we're Uwe's kids and Uwe doesn't like to have things stored just like that, so we added an rubble token storage so you couldn't just accumulate for the sake of accumulating. And if it's full, you can't keep tunneling! It's up to you to be organised in this game.
Then we went from having the actions of draining and tunneling on separate action cards and put them together into one to make the turn by turn more tense. Because in the disaster game we saw with our friends, when the tunneling machines were "out of sync" (when one is tunneling and the other draining) there was no struggle with the actions. So we wanted to fight? Well, take a fight! And although it was a success, the setup was lame and the game asked us more things to do rather than two cards.
Having the tracks on the board and following the flow of the game, the action of uploading the tracks, "advance technology", we put it together with an action that until now only appeared on the cards you bought: Pavement, which consisted of, once a whole card was tunneled, you could turn it over to score 2 VP more at the end of the game.
We don't like to make a lot of changes to a design at once, but this time we didn't have much time. We made a first game and we loved it. This time much more than the time before the rural house.
We loved it so much, we finished one game and started another. At the end of the work session that day, we kept talking about the games and the design and what to modify here and there. We knew that we had something firm to work on and that we would reach Protos and Tipos without problems.
We had achieved it, we had made a huge turn to the prototype, we liked it a lot more than before and we had done everything before the Protos and Tipos. There was light (and what a light!) at the end of this tunnel.
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As you could see in the photos of the previous post, wooden discs were shown. In this post we are going to tell you where the concept of action discs comes from and how it was one of the motivating factors for the design of the game.
Once the theme was chosen, we were very clear about the main actions, where to spend those records. It was going to be necessary to drain water (drain, or what is now the action of planning) and it was going to be necessary to excavate (the action of tunnelling). The question now was how to bind those actions with the disks.
To do this, we rescued from our backlog an idea scrapped from another previous game (Marble Empire, which some of you will know that is the previous name of The Red Cathedral): the incremental cost of actions. A mechanics that worked really well for 2 players, but not so much when the number of players was higher. With this system we got that the different actions were auto-incrementing in their cost. For the first tests of Dover - Calais we used money to represent the cost, with the idea of having a single resource -some of our favourite games only implements one resource. But, it didn't go very well and the feeling was that all the weaker points remains the same.
Trying to reduce it down to the max, we opted simply use weights for the actions, which were reset turn by turn, and you could also get previously used discs. All discs are equal to effects but the cost of the actions is determined by the colour of the ones you play. It took only a few turns to see that this mechanics worth a game for itself.
So we had the central mechanics and its 2 main actions of the game, but if we stayed there, it was going to be a very bland game. We'd already had problems in the past with just scratching the surface and not adding something to give you the feeling of completeness. So we decided to include one more layer and add a random supply of cards. Along with that we added a couple more places to spend your discs, as well as the double drain/drill, get-card/play card.
In a design session, we thought to include an additional use to the cards. So that the card purchased on the display could be used and discarded to perform a main action. The use of cards for multiple actions also came from an earlier design that one day we’ll resume. But how could we get them, if we didn't have any resources to "spend" to buy such card? Of course! With the action discs!
Another thing we were looking for in this design was that the rounds could happen without a certain number of actions. The player could do as many actions in a round as coloured discs managed in turn. He could block an option for his benefit, but doing less action in that round, spending discs in pursuit of doing something less now, but then more powerful, resulting in very fast rounds or slow rounds as the players wanted.
We didn't want to use personal boards for this design, having the rubble tokens and the discs seemed enough materials (and if we wanted to make a 19xx game, that it means, a few materials) but it was crying for them. At the end we incorporated a pair of boards, to give the player a sense of development and give another uses to other components of the game. Because when you tunnel, you get a rubble token that... was useless!
Some time ago (before this design) we looked at many eurogames we played, wondering why we found them so satisfying and realized that the feeling of development and "I've done something" in a game can come in two ways: Either by emptying the board you that have full of things (Terra Mystica, Clans of Caledonia, Scythe...) or by filling it with things (Castles of Burgundy, Grand Austria Hotel...) so we already had the emptying part (the channel) we added the feeling of filling with the personal boards. We put goals and special actions (which ended up on the cards) on the board that you will get them covering with those rubble tokens.
But the randomness. Oh, the randomness! And that static supply of cards that moves less than the Caylus provost in a game with people who don't like to have fun. What to do? We can't put a "discard everything before you pick up a card" rule because when it appears in a game, it's not a mechanic we like. Increase supply? Nobody wants to have 20 cards on the table and see what each one does, you have to dose the information to the player. Although, despite this, we tried it with 3 places to get a card (so they didn't block the actions so much) and there was a kind of double supply.
After these inclusions and after many days of testing (and above all, versions and versions of the cards and the boards), when played the last time, we fell in love. Everything clicked. It was ready to show it to playtesters. And so we did.
Taking advantage of a sort of convention in a rural house with friends, the first two unwary who tried Dover-Calais, were the illustrator Paco Dana and 50% of Spanish famous blog Jugando en Pareja, Fayzah. We explained it to them, they began to play and... they finished it because they are friends, because the game was a real disaster.
We were planning to give them a lot of runs that weekend with friends who play all kinds of games (from heavy to light), but as that game ended, it went to the trunk of the car.
The most important prototype fair in Spain is “Protos and tipos” and in less than a month, we had promised Looping to bring them something they were going to love.
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We are writing this making of because of 3 factors:
1: We had in our collection 1920 Wall Street and we had been fascinated by its mechanics during the prototype con Protos and Tipos in 2017.
2: We had tested the prototype of what would later become 1906 San Francisco and we loved it.
3: Pedro Soto told us during the convention Jesta in 2017: "Let's see if you can design something for the 1900 series".
Why not to accept the challenge? We had defined very well the design parameters but with the freedom of mechanics. It had to fit into a small box (having 1920 at home helped a lot because we constantly tested if the game fitted), the theme must be an event of 19xx and had to be driven by a simple core mechanic but with depth like the rest of the series. We like challenging ourselves so we started working.
When we design -usually- we like to start from a theme. It helps us a lot because having a theme ,we can come up with different actions that suit the theme. So the first thing we had to do was look for a theme that would motivate us to create a new game. We got down to work documenting ourselves about the 20th century by reading Wikipedia for hours and watching a series of Discovery Max documentaries about the decades of that century. How difficult it is to look for a theme that is not a tragedy or a war! And we one of the things we decided: Wouldn’t be about something sad.
But a theme emerged that a priori matched perfectly with these premises: The Radio Row of New York. Sale of radios and electronic components, collectors, scrap that piled up in the streets... in New York at the end of the 20’s...? That’s a good theme for a game!. But on the other hand we didn't want to make a game set in the USA after Wall Street or San Francisco (which we didn’t know that would be set in Frisco so was a good choice).
We toyed with the idea of making a game about the Chernobyl disaster, but in the end we discarded it because three things: Was a very sad theme, maybe it was too soon and the theme suits perfectly for a cooperative -and we’re not fan of them so will be a problem.
We are eurogamers, and one of the most recurrent themes (apart from the Romans and the Renaissance) are the Egyptians. An event that has always fascinated us has been the transfer of the temple of Abu Simbel by the construction of the Aswan Dam in 1968. Perfect. We have Egyptians, temples, logistics, dams... Smells like wooden cubes being pushed up and down the river!
As a result of thinking about the Aswan Dam, we came up with the idea of developing a route that would connect two points, which would be "built" little by little from the ends, with a player on each side, it seemed to us that this had a powerful image in a game. And although the theme helps us to create, sometimes mechanics are imposed. Finally we opted to carry out a eurogame for two, because the layout was screaming for it, but the theme we initially chose no longer served us.
Searching through our list of discarded topics, we spotted the construction of the Channel Tunnel. It had everything! A delimited route(elements to build), that joins two countries (2 players) and has a delimited end (a country builds its part), is set in Europe and is contemporary to us. Besides, what is more euro than a Eurotunnel?
At this point, we had our fears: We didn't know if the nice people in Looping Games would be convinced. We didn’t have all the odds with us: The theme is dry as a desert and being a game for two wasn't an advantage either, as games with a wider range of players are generally preferred.
But designing is taking risks, and we were very happy with what we had came up so we continued. The important thing was to make a game that we could enjoy.
All these premises started the design of Dover - Calais, or as you may know it now: 1987 Channel Tunnel.
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