Thoughts by Bez

I am a full-time designer/artist/self-publisher and I am available for freelance work. I go to cons as a trader and help run the all-day Friday playtest sessions in London. I left my last 'real' job in 2014. I was getting benefits for a few years. I'm currently writing sporadically, but getting back into the habit of daily posts. If you have any questions/topics you'd like me to address, send me a geekmail and I'll probably address the topic within a week.

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7 reasons why running a KS is exactly like an umbrella.

Bez Shahriari
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You need to think about other people.


Whether it's making sure to have something worth sharing, or simply not poking folk with your brolly.

It's an investment.

Whether time (for the KS) or money.

But you choose how much to invest.

You could buy a cheap brolly from the £1 store. Or run a KS without much forethought. If you invest a bit more, you might get better results.

You'd always love it to be bigger.

I mean, even if you have a big brolly, you might want to be able to have many folk under it.

It involves more than one person.

Not just because you can hold an umbrella above multiple people, but because there's so much technology and stuff in the creation of it.

There's a lot of preparation.

Whether it's the R&D of the umbrella or the playtesting.

Sometimes, they come in different colours.
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Sun Mar 1, 2020 10:53 pm
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Top 9 mechanisms I'd like to see listed on BGG

Bez Shahriari
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I've not actually read the book, but a skim of the existing categories suggests that none of these things are represented on BGG.


Throwing objects


Physically very different from flicking. If only because it uses a 3d space rather than just one plane. Might involve flinging or bouncing.
E.g. Mini Mölkky, Cubiko


Removing objects

Feels very different from Rhino Hero, Stack Market imo, which are part of the 'stacking/balancing'
E.g. Jenga, Villa Paletti


Indirect manipulation

Sometimes you have to move/stack things using chopsticks, a crane attached to your head, etc.
E.g. Chopstick Dexterity MegaChallenge 3000, Lift it!


contortion

Maybe 'contortion' is a bit of a strong word (suggesting a higher level of difficulty than is true), but this is basically how I'd describe Twister, Body Party, and Yogi.


Judging

A decision from one single player on which thing was 'best'. Might be done after public contributions (e.g. Snake Oil, Phrasell, Say Anything) or after private contributions (e.g. CAH, Apples to Apples)
I would almost suggest having them be 2 separate categories as one is far more susceptible to player bias. But I was surprised to not see any form of judging represented.


Drawing

This is a fairly major mechanism and something that will really distinguish any game it appears in.
Pictionary, A Fake Artist Goes to New York, Art Deck


clues

Totally different from 'targetted clues', in which you don't want everyone to guess. Here, you want everyone who is eligible to guess to get the answer as quickly as possible. The eligible guessers may be just one person.
Creationary, Taboo
I'm not sure where the games would go wherein you want folk to get it correct but only after some time. E.g. Good Question!, Dohdles!. I guess that would fit best under Targeted clues?


Attention-grabbing

Shouting in Pit to stand a chance. Making your body movements obvious in Happy Salmon.
These games are dependent on being noticed and will be terrible for shy folk.

grabbing/slapping

Slapping a comunal thing, or grabbing it. + (plus), Jungle Speed, Grabbell
This can turn some folk off because of the potential for slapping/scratching other players. Far more than if you've got communal speed-placement like some of the Spot it! games. Conversely, it's an easy way to show who did something first.
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Tue Oct 8, 2019 12:15 pm
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10 ways to show something evolving/upgrading

Bez Shahriari
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Replace the object
Game rules imbue each object with inherent characteristics. Remove the object and replace it.

E.g. Maybe you have a wooden token representing wheat. After taking an action, you replace it with a wooden token representing bread.

Add chits onto the thing
E.g. Maybe it's a mini and you slide in card chits to show it has some additional powers/properties. Or you can use the base of a standee.

Add cards onto the thing
E.g. Creature enchantments in MtG.

Putting other things onto the upgraded object
E.g. small cubes onto chits, swords onto meeples with grippy hands...

A separate pool of cards representing stats
E.g. Evolution.
By separating the stats from the physical object, you allow for a lot more space for info and added readability.

Adding chits/cubes to a player board
E.g. Dominant species
Similar to the above, but adds the barrier of knowing up-front what icons mean, or (as with DS) a very simple/elegant system.

sliding cubes/other markers on a sheet/player board
Susceptible to being knocked on the table

But when it's a cube on the stock market of a massive board (e.g. 18xx) I think it's fine.

Writing numbers on a player sheet
E.g. D&D

Placing cards onto a human
E.g. a financial/stock market expansion for Yogi that I conceived but will probably never sell, because of reasons. (As an aside, I would like to get this ready for my next birthday. And I'll probably offer the expansion as a free PnP if it's ever good enough.)

The pool of cards IS the object.
Maybe the company/animal is represented by the collection of cards. To modify it, you simply add cards. This is the same as having a 'separate pool of cards' but without any representation on a board.


As you can maybe tell, I found this list quite challenging to write.

Do you have any other ideas? Have you seen any other ways to represent things evolving/upgrading? What is your favourite method?
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Tue Aug 28, 2018 6:46 pm
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10 things I'm proud of last week

Bez Shahriari
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Taking Sunday off
Maybe a weird thing to be proud of, but running my own business is something that occupies a lot of my thoughts. It's super-tempting to check my email and social media several times a day, even though I might not reply right away.

It's tempting to push myself to always do more.

I'm proud that I took time off - from Saturday evening until Sunday night - and I want to try to do this every 3 weeks minimum, regardless of what else I feel I have to do. Ideally one day a week once I feel I can afford it. No guilt.

Recorded another #BGWB show
I asked Andy if we could record, then I did so.

It took me a lot longer than usual to sort out the volumes, as I was speaking more loudly and we were on the same channel. In future, I'll avoid that for back-and-forth stuff.

I'm proud that I am making time to do this every week.

This blog
Talking about things I do regularly, I'm coming close to 200 posts. I've not yet missed a day. And I was organised enough to write multiple blog posts on Saturday. Inspired by Adam Porter, I'm starting some lists, which I may continue for a while.

swimming
I do enjoy this sometimes. I like stretching out my body. I like being submerged in water, knowing I can get up and breathe.

I went swimming on Monday/Friday. I want to increase my exercise but this is a start

getting up early on Tuesday/Friday

I used to have so much trouble waking up for work. I would sleep in regularly when working for Tesco. As time went on, I improved. I think over the course of a year at my most recent mundane job, I slept in once.

Even though I love being at work, getting up is still something I hate. And often I don't get as much sleep as I'd like. So I'll applaud myself for getting up early enough to do a quick bit of rules-reading, pondering & then swimming before I got to the Royal Festival Hall for playtesting.

typing up the Yogi 2 cards & sending them to Gigamic
(And also a couple of playtesters on my end.)

emailing a US distributor
Emails sometimes make me feel nervous. But I did it.

Sorting out Essen transport
I am going again, thanks to the kindness of Alan/Charlie Paull. Well done to me for writing another email that just had to be written.

working on the W++ games
Even though all I promised was to ponder the games, a few of them required a bit of fairly substantial (but quick) development to go from being good to great. This wasn't something I could do for most of them, but I could do for many. I'm proud I could do that.

I'm proud of the system itself. I'm proud to have a friend and colleague like David Brain who is so knowledgable and willing to offer their opinion and guidance.

GGG
This is an old game of mine that should be coming in 2019/2020 from another publisher. I'm proud that I wrote the email about it, checking in with the publisher, and then did a little bit of tweaking of the files based on the year or so since I last edited them.
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Mon Aug 27, 2018 3:00 pm
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10+ ways to manipulate dice

Bez Shahriari
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Turn the die to its opposite face


Reroll the die


add/subtract 1 from the number shown


Push the die on a grid
Keeping the number the same, move it in a straight line

'Flop' the die
Imagining one of the lower edges to be a hinge (and keeping that edge static), turn the die 90 degrees and also move it to the next space in a grid

Place the die
Put the die onto one of several spots. Maybe the face determines where it can go.

Move the die on a grid
maybe the number determines how it moves? Or how far?

'combine' dice
Maybe two dice can be changed as you like, as long as the sum total is the same?

stack dice
Maybe the face determines what can go on top.

using a catapult
Maybe you use a tiny see-saw to get the dice onto a board.


flick them


spin them
(Probably too tricky?)
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Sun Aug 26, 2018 7:00 am
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10 ways to determine start player:

Bez Shahriari
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Lowest unique number
On the count of 3, everyone shows any number of fingers. Whoever showed the lowest unique number starts. If there's a tie, go again.

Works well for games with 3+ players, where folk actually want to go first.

My favourite method, as you have a sense of some personal control over your fate.

Roll a die
Ascribe each number to a particular person. (Some numbers can be 'left over' and indicate a reroll is required.)

Roll the die, then the player is chosen.

I find this fiddly and underwhelming.

Roll dice
Everyone rolls a die. Highest number starts. In the event of a tie for highest, the joint-highest folk repeat the process.

Some folk may enjoy the act of rolling dice.


Consider some quality of the players
E.g. 'Whoever is the tallest person starts.' or 'The youngest player starts.' or 'Whoever was born farthest from your present location starts.'

I like learning things about folk, but if you play a game a few times, this means that the same person is likely to always start.


Consider recent activities of the players
E.g. 'Whoever found a leaf most recently starts', 'Whoever had sex most recently starts.' or 'Whoever was on a boat most recently starts.'

I prefer this method, since the start player is more likely to change. If it's something that can be done where you're playing (e.g. finding a leaf when playing outdoors) it can result in a fun leaf-finding subgame. Works well depending on the group.

Of course, like the previous method, it may be better to avoid sensitive topics like sex or age.


Pull pieces out of a bag
Put one piece of each player colour into a bag (or into cupped hands, held high). Someone draws out the start player.

I always find this underwhelming.


Draw & compare cards
Take cards from the top of a deck. Or maybe cut & reveal. Whoever reveals the highest card starts.

Has similar benefits to rolling dice if the game uses cards of various numbers.


A quick subjective contest
E.g. 'Whoever does the best train impression', 'Whoever does the best dance' or 'Whoever draws the best cat impression.'

Can work well for sillier games, and provide an opportunity for some folk to be in the spotlight for a moment, whilst no-one is obliged to share the spotlight.

Fastest player starts
In Kitty Cataclysm, whoever is first to put down a card in front of them does that as part of the first turn of the game.

This encourages folk to start the game quickly and sets the tone of speed of play. I think it works well for a quick, light game.


Check the starting deal
In a game where an entire set of cards is dealt to players, maybe the person who got a specific card begins.

Can help in balancing the game.
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Sat Aug 25, 2018 3:44 pm
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