Board games that tell stories

You can follow me on Twitter at @trzewik. This is BGG copy of my blog BoardgamesThatTellStories.com

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No new ideas in Mille Fiori, but...

Board Game: Mille Fiori

Ideas are nothing. Execution is everything. You heard this a thousand times already. You nod, you agree, but let’s face it – do you really understand it? Do you know what exactly it means?

I’ll give you an example. It’s called Mille Fiori. It’s been done by Reiner Knizia.

Mille Fiori has no single new idea in it. It’s a well done family eurogame. Each year hundreds of games like that are published in Germany. Most likely Reiner designed it during a lunch break, between his other bigger projects. It’s a simple play a card, put your piece on a board and score points. There are 4 unique areas on the board, therefore four unique ways of scoring. There is literally nothing new. I bet, and I am dead serious, most of you could play the game without reading a rulebook. I’ll give you your cards, your pieces, and you’d start playing.


And yet, Mille Fiori is one of the most discussed light eurogames of last months. And yet, Mille Fiori has a strong 7.4 rating on BGG. And yet, I already have five games in, and more to come.

Mille Fiori is an example of perfect execution. Your action in the game is always playing a tile on the board and scoring what the space shows. The spaces on a board create various shapes, they are part of different regions and groups – you need to have a good look at the situation and what already has been covered to score smart.

Hence, the tiles are transparent.

Each time you put a tile, you score and the board is as clean and as easy to read, as it was before. You secured the space, and you got your points, but the board doesn’t feel crowded, the tiles don’t cover important information, and what is more, the board looks more and more pretty with these glass-looking tiles.

The game looks appealing. The game is easy to understand. The game is easy to navigate in-game. On top of that, tokens are cool when you play with them in hand. Everything here is right.

Mille Fiori has no single new idea. And yet, five games in. And more on the horizon. Perfect execution.





P.S. Photo by my friend Henk Rolleman.

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Visit my blog at ignacytrzewiczek.com for updates about my new games
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Mon Nov 7, 2022 11:26 am
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Subscription for board games?

I’d be rich. If the idea I want to discuss today were reality, I would buy a castle – just like Sting. I would have a massive library in it and would not work for the next 20 years. Are you ready for a ride to an alternate reality? Let’s go.

***

We are living in the subscription era. The new format became popular a few years ago and spread like a virus in all different directions. Movies? You can subscribe to Netflix to have a vast majority of movies and tv shows. Video games? You can subscribe to Origin or Xbox Game Pass and have countless titles at hand. Music? We all use Spotify these days, right? The same goes for audiobooks, comic books, and any other content we consume.

Except for board games.

Board games are physical objects, and the subscription model I discuss here is impossible to execute, but for the sake of exercise, for playing for a few minutes with this interesting thought, let’s try to imagine the world with board games being offered in a Spotify format.

You get Robinson Crusoe for free. Each time you play Robinson, you pay 10 cents, though. That’s a reasonable price. You wouldn’t hesitate, would you? Two hours of pure fun with your friends for just a few cents.

From these 10 cents you pay, a provider would get their margin, and in the end, I’d probably get like 3 cents. You know how it is. We constantly get ripped.

BoardGameGeek website has this fantastic future – you can log in your plays. I have no clue what percentage of you, gamers, log in plays, is it 1%, 5%, 10%? Since the whole post is one extensive theoretical exercise, let’s play with these numbers.

78k plays of Robinson Crusoe logged in into BGG. That would give me 2340 USD. Well, that is not enough to buy a castle. For 2340 USD, I can buy a flight ticket to Scotland and see a castle.

What about Antoine Bauza and his 7 Wonders? 400k plays logged, 12k usd. He would be able to buy a massive tent in the shape of a castle. That’s a good start.

***

The insane replayability, and the power to draw gamers back to the title, would be a game-changer in such a format. Designers would do everything they can to keep players playing – as we see being done in all mobile apps that monetize your time in front of the screen.

So now – the whole purpose of this post – is replayability the main and the only factor to describe the quality of the game?

I myself designed Robinson Crusoe (insane replayability) and Detective (zero replayability), and I find both games great, and I am proud of both of them. In a Spotify format, though, Detective would never exist.

What do you think?

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Visit my blog at ignacytrzewiczek.com for updates about my new games
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Fri Nov 4, 2022 12:27 pm
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We knew this truth for years!

Don't get me wrong, I am a massive fan of all those new technologies. I adore the XXI century. And yet, it makes me smile when I see them trying so hard. They are not even close to what we have here for years already. Listen to music on Spotify with your friends! Use Amazon Watch Party, Hulu Watch Party, Twitch Watch Party... Yeah, they are trying hard because they know there is nothing better in life than sharing memories with your close ones.

That is why since 70' we have been playing RPG. We were sitting at the table, telling stories together, together exploring ancient ruins, and fighting Vecna together. Nothing in life can compete with those pure moments of joy shared with friends.

That is why the Escape Room phenomenon began a couple of years ago. We love to get stuck together, brainstorm, debate, find a way to crack the puzzle, and run away from the room before the clock ends. Cheering, jumping, hugs, and high fives. That's a shared victory.

And this is the same with board games. Whether this is a classic board game or a cooperative game, the joy of sharing the moment with friends is the sauce that makes it magical. Since 2017 I have been designing, demoing, and playtesting Detective games. These games are all about that experience. That "aha moment" when you guys figure out the plot when you connect the dots and find out who did it. The notes, the mind map, the handouts, and the theories all make a pot of incredible experience.

Last year we released Vienna Connection which allowed players to become spies in the Cold War era and together fight KGB. Then we did Dune, and players visited Arrakis fighting evil Harkonnens. Baron is almost as evil as Vecna, right? Now we invite them to Gotham.

Dim the light, put the Batman soundtrack in the background, prepare notepads and pencils, and invite your friends to Gotham. Together figure out what Penguin is planning, together outsmart Carmine Falcone, and together visit Arkham Asylum. Be a Catwoman, or Harvey Bullock, have a laugh making Batman's voice when you meet him and have these incredible brainstorming moments trying to solve the mystery.

You can read a comic. It's fun. I do it almost every day. But maybe invite your friends and visit Gotham with them, together.

I have said it for the past 20 years - board games for the win! #together #memories
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Fri Jun 10, 2022 11:13 am
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4 characters you can choose from in Batman: Everybody Lies

Batman: Everybody Lies consists of a series of stories that create a unique campaign. It’s a mystery that takes place in Gotham, and players investigate it over the course of a few game nights.

In this game, each player takes the role of an iconic character that lives in Gotham. Two of these characters are Catwoman and Vicky Vale. The first one is a famous thief, a controversial ally of Batman, and a complex character that walks the line between hero and villain. Her special ability in the game is that she has access to the Batcave. She is the one character who can reach Batman or Alfred if players need to.

Vicky Vale is a passionate journalist who works for the Gotham City Gazette. She is a strong woman who fights for the people of Gotham. She exposes politicians’ schemes and fears no one, no Gotham councilmen, not the wealthy elite, nor even the dangerous mobsters. She is respected by the common people of the city and she might be one of the last hopes of Gotham. Being a reckless journalist, Vicky has the in-game ability to refresh all Locations and make them available for players to visit again.

Now, let’s introduce you to the other two playable characters: Warren Spacey and Harvey Bullock. The first one is an investigative reporter working for the Gotham City Gazette. He is known as the first reporter to write an in-depth article about the Joker. Having lived in Gotham for decades, Spacey has survived countless attacks by supervillains, and today, though a man with many enemies, he refuses to put down his pen no matter what criminal attempts to intimidate him. With his enormous experience and a network spreading over the entire city, Spacey’s ability allows players to reach and investigate the criminal Underground of Gotham City.

The last available character is Harvey Bullock—a detective of the Gotham City Police Department. He is known for his hard-shell style of work. Criminals have little hope when Bullock is involved. Receiving as much praise as reprimands for his sometimes brutal methods of work, he is one of Jim Gordon’s most trusted allies and friends. Though not the most righteous member of the Gotham City Police Department, he may be the most stubborn and reckless. His ability in the game allows him to access the criminals at Blackgate Penitentiary.

Learn more at: https://batman.portalgames.pl

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Sat Mar 5, 2022 6:59 pm
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4 characters you can choose from in Batman: Everybody Lies

Batman: Everybody Lies consists of a series of stories that create a unique campaign. It’s a mystery that takes place in Gotham, and players investigate it over the course of a few game nights.

In this game, each player takes the role of an iconic character that lives in Gotham. Two of these characters are Catwoman and Vicky Vale. The first one is a famous thief, a controversial ally of Batman, and a complex character that walks the line between hero and villain. Her special ability in the game is that she has access to the Batcave. She is the one character who can reach Batman or Alfred if players need to.

Vicky Vale is a passionate journalist who works for the Gotham City Gazette. She is a strong woman who fights for the people of Gotham. She exposes politicians’ schemes and fears no one, no Gotham councilmen, not the wealthy elite, nor even the dangerous mobsters. She is respected by the common people of the city and she might be one of the last hopes of Gotham. Being a reckless journalist, Vicky has the in-game ability to refresh all Locations and make them available for players to visit again.

Now, let’s introduce you to the other two playable characters: Warren Spacey and Harvey Bullock. The first one is an investigative reporter working for the Gotham City Gazette. He is known as the first reporter to write an in-depth article about the Joker. Having lived in Gotham for decades, Spacey has survived countless attacks by supervillains, and today, though a man with many enemies, he refuses to put down his pen no matter what criminal attempts to intimidate him. With his enormous experience and a network spreading over the entire city, Spacey’s ability allows players to reach and investigate the criminal Underground of Gotham City.

The last available character is Harvey Bullock—a detective of the Gotham City Police Department. He is known for his hard-shell style of work. Criminals have little hope when Bullock is involved. Receiving as much praise as reprimands for his sometimes brutal methods of work, he is one of Jim Gordon’s most trusted allies and friends. Though not the most righteous member of the Gotham City Police Department, he may be the most stubborn and reckless. His ability in the game allows him to access the criminals at Blackgate Penitentiary.

Learn more at: https://batman.portalgames.pl

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Sat Mar 5, 2022 4:52 pm
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4 characters you can choose from in Batman: Everybody Lies

Batman: Everybody Lies consists of a series of stories that create a unique campaign. It’s a mystery that takes place in Gotham, and players investigate it over the course of a few game nights.

In this game, each player takes the role of an iconic character that lives in Gotham. Two of these characters are Catwoman and Vicky Vale. The first one is a famous thief, a controversial ally of Batman, and a complex character that walks the line between hero and villain. Her special ability in the game is that she has access to the Batcave. She is the one character who can reach Batman or Alfred if players need to.

Vicky Vale is a passionate journalist who works for the Gotham City Gazette. She is a strong woman who fights for the people of Gotham. She exposes politicians’ schemes and fears no one, no Gotham councilmen, not the wealthy elite, nor even the dangerous mobsters. She is respected by the common people of the city and she might be one of the last hopes of Gotham. Being a reckless journalist, Vicky has the in-game ability to refresh all Locations and make them available for players to visit again.

Now, let’s introduce you to the other two playable characters: Warren Spacey and Harvey Bullock. The first one is an investigative reporter working for the Gotham City Gazette. He is known as the first reporter to write an in-depth article about the Joker. Having lived in Gotham for decades, Spacey has survived countless attacks by supervillains, and today, though a man with many enemies, he refuses to put down his pen no matter what criminal attempts to intimidate him. With his enormous experience and a network spreading over the entire city, Spacey’s ability allows players to reach and investigate the criminal Underground of Gotham City.

The last available character is Harvey Bullock—a detective of the Gotham City Police Department. He is known for his hard-shell style of work. Criminals have little hope when Bullock is involved. Receiving as much praise as reprimands for his sometimes brutal methods of work, he is one of Jim Gordon’s most trusted allies and friends. Though not the most righteous member of the Gotham City Police Department, he may be the most stubborn and reckless. His ability in the game allows him to access the criminals at Blackgate Penitentiary.

Learn more at: https://batman.portalgames.pl

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Sat Mar 5, 2022 3:59 pm
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Game Designer Journal – Design challenges when working with the epic IP

No, we weren’t at the private screening of Dune. We knew the book by heart, we knew every bit of the story, but the movie itself we watched as all of you – when it hit theatres.

Today I discuss the experience of designing the game tied in with the Hollywood blockbuster.

***

“The book has been available in bookstores since 1965. What spoilers?!”

This is the question I heard in the previous year the most. The common reaction when I discuss the strict policy we had about revealing the story presented in Dune: House Secrets. We could not tell about the plot of the movie, and therefore we should be cautiously introducing the plot and concept of the story in Dune: House Secrets.

“The book has been available in bookstores since 1965. What spoilers?!” you say.

“I know,” I reply.

I am myself a bookworm and know the whole series of books, and yet, I understand and sympathize with this difficult restriction we work with. Dune is a fantastic novel. Dune has more than 600 pages. Most of you never read it and never will. Most of you will know Dune only from the movie. Being very vocal when I promote Dune: House Secrets about the events on Arrakis may ruin your experience when you finally decide to watch this epic movie.

I am not happy with the limitations I have. I wish I could tell you more and more about Dune: House Secrets timeline, how it fits in the book timeline, how it uses events described in the book and how it engages players with the new intrigues on Arrakis.

Working with blockbuster releases must come with some limitations. To know more about the Dune: House Secrets fascinating story, you must play it.

***

“You read the book. You know the story. What’s the problem with writing your plot?”

The problem is that the book has 600 pages. It’s hard to translate it into the movie. I don’t know which fragments of the novel will be sacrificed and removed in the movie. I don’t know if some of the characters will have less screen time than they had page time. I am building a story based on the book that will be sold to the people who watch the movie.

We all remember the surprise of the fans of Glorfindel when they saw in the Lord of the Rings movie that suddenly it is Arwen who saves Frodo.

When writing the story in Dune: House Secrets, we hoped the movie was as close to the original material as possible. The plot in our story is based heavily on the events and some characters portrayed in the book. Any changes Denis Villeneuve introduces might throw our story off the track.

And although the movie is a magnificent adaptation and is everything fans could ask for, still some small details, some tiny cuts that were made here and there, slightly touched our plot. It was inevitable.

I can easily divide players into three groups. The first group – those who never read Dune or saw the movie. They will enjoy our game as a fun science fiction story about rebels fighting the evil oppressor.

The other group is those of fans who saw the movie – you enjoy the plot, recognize some characters, feel the theme and atmosphere of the story, enjoy the visuals and world-building that brings them to the Dune they know and love.

And then the third group, those who read the book, know all about Paul, Leto, Thufir Hawat, Bene Gesserit, their motivations, and goals. This third group can see all the layers and subtle motives hidden in the game.

Designing a game like that, set in the existing universe, is a new type of challenge, a challenge to create a product that speaks to all groups of fans. Seeing the praise in social media the game gets for the story, I think we achieved almost the impossible. I couldn’t be more proud.

***

“It looks pretty much like in the movie!”

The whole art direction of the game was a unique experience for the entire team involved in the game’s production. In Dune: House Secrets, the artwork played a significant role – it had to transport players on Arrakis, on the planet they saw in all its glory in IMAX.

The team behind visuals had access to a dedicated bible file and the style guide – a collection of guides and concept art pieces created for the Dune. Soaking with style, our illustrators began the work to bring the experience from cinema onto cards and into your living room, where you play with your friends.

Some of the illustrations were rejected, some sent for correction, most got immediately green-lighted. Week by week, piece by piece, Dune: House Secrets was part of this epic cinematography, and the locations created for the game looked as they were part of the film set.

The experience we had when we saw the movie for the first time in IMAX was priceless. The architecture, the technology (film book, ornithopters, shield), clothes, all of that felt so familiar to the team who worked on Dune: House Secrets for the past months.

***

Working on a big IP brings a significant number of new challenges and, at the same time, many great experiences. It’s a year of hard work and many exciting lessons. It’s a process that will give a topic for many more interesting articles. It’s the adventure that let my team bring a great story-driven experience for all of you, who love to experience a good story. Thank you.
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Fri Nov 19, 2021 3:21 pm
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GDJ - Breakdown of design process in Dune: House Secrets, part 2

In the previous article, I discussed most physical components of Dune: House Secrets and what their purpose was in the game, and how they helped immerse players in the story. Today we continue the breakdown of the design process - I'll discuss one deck and the website.

Mindmap
One of the most famous components in Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game, were photos. A square-shaped deck of cards with portraits of every non-player character in the story. As the game progresses and players meet these witnesses, suspects, and consultants, the photos land on the wall creating the beautiful, insane mind map of correlations and interactions between story characters. Players are detectives. They must find the murderer. The photos and mind map does the purpose.

Your experience in Dune: House Secrets is quite different. In Dune: House Secrets, player characters are now rebels, not investigators. So while players are still challenged to explore a world and unravel a complex mystery, the story itself unfolds in a new, exciting way. When players are given visual glimpses into this world, it's less about building a mindmap of suspects and case evidence, and more about navigating this rich, foreign setting. We hired an army of illustrators to visualize the various key characters and locations that you encounter during your missions. As the game progresses and players visit new places and cross paths with new people, they draw cards that transport them to the deep deserts of Arrakis and help to bring this immersive experience to vivid life.

This one small change in the art direction, moving from non-player character portraits into environmental artwork and location visualization is another small piece that adds to the new experience in Dune: House Secrets.

Antares database
As mentioned in the previous article, Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game, is known for its integration with the website — the tool that allows players to log into a sort of FBI system and browse through databases, compare fingerprints of suspects, check DNA samples, and do other cool things.

I guess you heard about The Butlerian Jihad, the war that ended up removing computers from human life in the Dune universe. That was one of our first topics when discussing the game with Legendary. What about the website that the Detective system uses? Will Dune: House Secrets use a companion website?

Yes, with the twist.

We decided we would use it as a tool for players, not player characters. Let me explain.

In Detective, the player uses Antares website, but they do it roleplaying as their character. It's their character who logs into the system and checks DNA samples.

In Dune: House Secrets, the player characters cannot use an in-world website during their adventure, because there is no such thing as a website to access within the Dune universe. May it be in Portland or Poland, only the players themselves can access our website for their own purposes, so we needed to find an authentic way to use the website to enrich the gameplay.

How's that?

We decided we would use the website as a guide into the rich lore of Dune. We use it to educate players about the Houses, conflicts, politics, and all things their character living on Arrakis already knows, but players living in Dallas don't.

Also, being aware that so many players will be discovering the world of Dune for the first time, and we cannot leave them behind, we decided that the Learn History feature is a must.

Beautifully animated cutscenes, two minute long videos assist players in some crucial moments educating them about Atreides, Harkonenns, Geidi Prime, and other important facts. Facts important to understand the depth and all layers of political plot we have in the game. Not only does this material establish the existing Dune canon, but also explains new stories exclusive to the game.

These videos are visually stunning, but more importantly, they make the complex mythology of Dune more accessible and help players comfortably navigate this world and solve the mystery on their own terms.


Final report
At the end of each game of Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game, players must complete the Final Report and answer questions. They answer who was murdered and what the motive was. Although this element seems absolutely mandatory in the murder mystery game, we’ve struggled with it for years. What we see in the feedback and playtesting is one big issue: players have a blast feeling like they’re awesome detectives for three hours, only to give a few wrong answers during the Final Report at the end and learn they weren't that awesome, after all. The positive energy, the fun, the amazing memories, and the experiences are all gone in a split second. You finish a 3-hour game session, and the game leaves a bad taste in the mouth… all because you gave one wrong answer at the end.

We played with this system and changed it for the Vienna Connection game, and then, seeing very positive feedback, we followed up this design direction in Dune: House Secrets.

In Dune: House Secrets, we went for the concept of the RPG campaign. When you play a tabletop roleplaying game, the game sessions flow, one after another, without Victory Points or the Game Master judging your efforts and achievements with some Final Score. You just get to play, enjoy the story, and wait for more.

At the end of each mission of Dune: House Secrets, players read the epilogue together and choose one topic that interests them the most. The one plot element they feel is most important, but they just scratched the surface. They ask Zarzur, one of the leaders of the Fremen rebellion, to tell them more about this particular element and help them prepare for the next game session.

We know this is an unexpected shift for all of you who’ve played Detective before, but it's a natural and satisfying conclusion for the game and anyone who has played tabletop RPGs.

Final words
It's fascinating for me, as a designer, how much you can play with the system, how much you can tweak and change even in such a simple game mechanic like Detective. How we - designers - achieve our goals, specific player experience by changing a few small elements here and there, and how it was possible to change a full-blown investigative best-seller into a brand new beast about sabotage and rebellion.

I wish you all the best with the game, and I hope that you and your friends will have a great game night on Arrakis.
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Fri Nov 5, 2021 9:22 am
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GDJ - Breakdown of design process in Dune: House Secrets part 1

Dune: House Secrets is a story-driven game inspired by award-winning Detective: a modern crime board game. The game uses the same system to tell an engaging story, but at the same time, with some tweaks and changes in the rules, it brings a very different experience. In this article, I'd like to discuss a couple of these changes.

The board
Detective: a modern crime board game was all about putting players in the shoes of characters from procedural TV shows like CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. Players take the role of law enforcers and detectives. They visit the Lab to examine DNA samples, they visit Court and City Archives to dig in old files and cases, they visit Richmond PD to question suspects and witnesses. The game comes with a small board to help manifest this simple structure - Lab, Richmond PD, Court - this is your terrain, this is your playground, this is your procedure.

Dune: House Secrets invites player characters to Tel Gezer, a small city on Arrakis they never visited before. They are members of resistance on a secret mission. There is no structure, there is only unknown, there is only the fog of secret war.

In Dune: House Secrets, I decided to throw out the board as players know it from Detective to remove the safety of well-known locations. I gave them the map of Tel Gezer, a big paper map like in RPG sessions. I marked on it 26 different locations - tavern, palace, landing pod, gallery, market, all different places—the whole big city, the city that is unknown to the newcomers. Instead of solid structure from Detective, they are given a handout with things they need to explore and places they need to learn about.

It's a simple design change. Remove the board with four familiar locations and give a map with 26 unknown ones. Suddenly from the confident law enforcer, you turn into a traveler that visits a new place.

The resources
In Detective, at the beginning of each game, characters add their ability tokens to the pool. This represents their skillset and how they can add value to the team by excelling in some areas. These tokens are then used in the game to dig deeper into some cards and learn more about certain plot elements.

One of the characteristic elements in Dune is Fremen's frugality, their sacred care for water and spice. They are quite the opposite to today's society in which the word waste goes along with every day. I wanted to show it in the rules, both the scarcity of resources and the respect to what a person has. The ability tokens received one simple tweak. Once spent, they are gone. They don't replenish at the beginning of the next game.

Players begin the campaign with a few resource tokens. That is all they have for the whole 4 mission-long campaign. Each time they want to spend a token, they think twice. Each time they spend resources, they debate if this is the moment. Each time they spend resources, they feel the gravity of the action.

Welcome to Arrakis.

Taking risks
In Detective players are law enforcers. Confidence is their unlimited resource. They can visit crime scenes, they can question witnesses, they can check police databases, they are in control of the situation.

In Dune: House Secrets, you play a rebel fighting against evil Harkonnens. You act undercover, you run in shadows, you watch every step you take, and your every action is a risk.

To represent that with a simple mechanism, we decided to add a small Push your luck mechanism in the game. When taking certain actions, like passing behind guards or breaking into a Harkonnens building, players must take a risk test and draw a Consequence token. We have 2 good ones in the pool and 3 alert ones. When you draw the red one, the Consequence track moves, and if it ever reaches the final spot, the resistant forces are in trouble.

It's a simple mechanism added to the Detective system, but it adds this moment of uncertainty, the split-second-long thrill when you draw a token knowing that you are just doing something very risky...

Epilogue
These are three small changes, small tweaks in the Detective system we introduced in Dune: House Secrets that allowed us to change the feel of the game and help players immerse into Dune. They are no longer detectives. They are rebels in the city of Tel Gezer.

In the second part, I will discuss how we approached the Antares website and adjusted it to the world in which computers do not exist...
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Fri Oct 29, 2021 9:46 am
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My wife said - you will never play it again!

I am not allowed to play Bohnanza. It was 2009, we were on vacation at the Polish sea with friends, and I epically won Bohnanza. In the evening, when we get back to the room, my wife Merry, with a solemn tone, said to me: 'I forbid you to play this game ever again. You embarrass our family.'

Since then, over the past 12 years, I have played Bohnanza twice. Secretly, so Merry doesn't know. I am petrified of her anger.

***

She forbids me from playing this game and many other games where you need to talk a lot and negotiate because, in these games, I somehow turn into a crazy salesman that yells, outtalks everyone at the table, begs and threatens other players, throws money, grabs cards from people's hands... I cannot explain it. Something is happening with me. I lose control. It's pure madness. It is really embarrassing.

***

My wife Merry didn't playtest Dreadful Circus. If she did, though, she would be proud of me. Over the years, I grew as a player. I don't yell. I don't grab other player's cards. And I still win. Because instead of yelling, I think. In Dreadful Circus, there are so many layers to discover and then take advantage of. Let me explain.

In Dreadful Circus, in each round, two players put one of the cards from their hand on auction. The rest of the players can make an offer for these cards. If a player wins the bid, they add the card to their tableau. These cards modify final scoring. It's super simple - see what cards are offered, pick the one you prefer, and make an offer.

And then there are these beautiful layers and levels of thinking the player who sells the card discovers. Should I take a better offer? Or should I be satisfied with the smaller bid but be sure that the offered card won't end up at John's table? Should I sell this card to Martha because this card has no synergy with her other cards, so basically, I will get money, and she gets nothing?

Nice. But what about we take one step backward. Before you choose offers... You look at your hand. You see what cards you may offer for sale. Do you go with the card that Robert would loooove to have, and you expect to earn good money? Are you going with the card that would help Mathiew? He is in a terrible position, and with this card, he could come back into the game. Will he pay a lot for it?

Nice, huh? But what about we take one more step backward. The setup is done. You have 7 cards in hand. You will put one of them in your play area now. It will tease a bit of your strategy for this game. You will sell four of these cards to other players during the game. These will help them score points. You will play the sixth card in your tableau at the end of the game. And you will discard the 7th card. No one will get it.

You smile? You see yourself building the strategy when you get the cards. And then in each round, you are adjusting strategy, and you put differently than the planned card on auction. You see how players' tables are growing, what they need, and what you have in your hand.

Dreadful Circus is a brilliant set collection game with the perfect mix of planning, negotiating, and outsmarting opponents. Bruno Faidutti did something exceptional here.

And most importantly, Merry allows me to play it!

Board Game: Dreadful Circus
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Fri Aug 20, 2021 9:27 am
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