Gaming for a living

When one designs and published board games for a living, one tends to rant a lot about it. This is where we do that, the folks involved with Board & Dice and our special friends and supporters. We'll post here our ideas about gaming, about life, about gaming more often than not, about the specific challenges of making a business out of a hobby and... did we mention games?

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In the Name of Odin - Designer Musings

Krzysztof Zięba
Poland
Kraków
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Check out my first published board game: In the Name of Odin!
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The Kickstarter for In the Name of Odin completed successfully around a month shy of half a year ago. Since then, I kept my ear to the ground, looked at every Kickstarter update and asked NSKN directly about how things are going a few times. I expected to sweat every detail, but in fact it was a pretty quiet five months. And then, just two weeks ago, it happened. The boxes reached Europe and started reaching the US, they went out, and soon the backers started receiving them. That included me.

From gallery of irondeav


I wasn't overly excited, if you can believe it. I wasn't nervous. I didn't jump with joy, or cry tears of laughter. Mostly, I felt mildly surprised. It's here. It's done. My first board game, published after several years of development, some disheartening bumps, and many nervous months. And there it was, in my hands. Huh. „How does one react to something like this?” I wondered. Being a more introvert, inward-looking kind of person, I just found it amusing, and I felt at ease about this game for the first time since it sprouted in my head.

For me, personally, In the Name of Odin is an achievement in more ways than one. What you have to know about me as a creator is that I'm terribly insecure about my work. I have a hunch that what I'm doing is good or enjoyable or well-thought-out etc. but you won't find me praising my own game. The furthest extent I go to is saying „Yeah, I am pretty happy with that mechanic” or „I'm really proud of this game.”. I'm of the mind that the author is the worst possible person to rate his work, adhering to the latin proverb In propria causa nemo debet esse iudex („No one should be the judge in his own trial.”).

The first confirmation that the game was fun, was that NSKN even considered it, let alone took it in with open arms. But now that its in the hands of players, comes the ultimate test – and it's performing well! I'm reading people's thoughts on the game, I saw the reviews around the Kickstarter and now new ones will likely pop-up, and it seems like you're liking In the Name of Odin – and that's really the best thing I could hope for!

I am very happy with how the game worked out, in terms of production. I like the quality of the material for the figurines, I love the art, and I think the board looks gorgeous. One thing which I really liked was that we mostly managed to keep the style of the art on the side of history, and less on the side of fantasy. Don't get me wrong – I'm a sucker for epic Viking illustrations, and fantasy renditions of bearded warriors with axes in their hands. But I also think the aesthetic of the Norse and of the Dark Ages is attractive enough that it doesn't need embelishment. As such, I like that the final art in In the Name of Odin strikes a balance between what modern culture imagines Vikings should look like, and a bit more conservative, true-to-history approach.

What I also really liked in NSKN's approach was that when we hammered out the final kinks in the rules, their solution to some of the issues correlated with what I was thinking. Often they would say something to the effect of „We suggest tweaking this and that because it makes more sense that way.” and I would do a facepalm and respond „Yes, of course it's better the way you propose, why have I kept to that previous version?”. An easy example of this was that I insisted that the card offer should be replenished only after a player has completed a turn, instead of right away – when in fact it would prolong the game by making the subsequent player spend more time figuring out his moves when his turn comes along. There's no doubt in my mind that In the Name of Odin is a better game for having been published with NSKN than it was before they decided to release it.

Is there stuff that I'm less happy about? Sure. There's a few very minor things that I would've probably done differently in terms of presentation, but there wasn't time to revamp them endlessly if NSKN was to deliver you the game on time. I opted for a different naming scheme for the Raids, more abstract categories than specific places, but that was another thematic detail which most players wouldn't even register.

I apologise if this note ended up being a bit chaotic, but I'm really only just growing to understand that this is a huge thing that happened – and a very important thing to boot. I hope In the Name of Odin will end up not just a well-remembered, well-liked game, but also a stepping stone. Like all creatives, I have many other projects in various stages of completion – from stuff I consider ready-to-publish, through games which clearly need some reworking, to just bare-bones prototypes, or games which went through one-off tests and are now are tucked away in boxes, waiting to be salvaged. And that list doesn't even cover the ideas written down in a notebook, with a few sentences of „rules” jotted down on each of them.

So what's next? Hard to say, but hopefully the answer is „More published games.”
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Thu Aug 4, 2016 4:37 pm
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Odin's Finest: Egil

Krzysztof Zięba
Poland
Kraków
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Check out my first published board game: In the Name of Odin!
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Microbadge: I beat video games relentlessly and post my victories on VGG!Microbadge: I'm a GM!Microbadge: What the heck was I doing again?Microbadge: Please vaccinateMicrobadge: I abandon video games without mercy and post their flaws on VGG!
Though some would like to see age as an obstacle and time as thief of all that makes a Viking what he is, there’s still much to be said for the truly cutting edge of experience. And if there ever was anyone who could prove this with their skill and mettle, it’s none other than Egil.

From gallery of irondeav


Egil

Egil is a shrewd sailor. While others may become starry-eyed and idealistic about sailing, he knows the sea for what it is – a ruthless force eager to crush a man’s dreams along with him. And in his long life he’s seen that happen on more than one occasion. Therefore he is known to visit taverns to hear rumours from lands close and far, and he pays good coin to be prepared before a journey.

Those who sailed with him say that Egil spends much time planning out each raid, trying to find the best way to reach his destination. His weather-watching skills allow him to avoid storms and his longship always returns to port in such good repair, that it seems it never left it in the first place.

From gallery of irondeav

Egil by Victor Perez Corbella


Ability

Egil is one of the most powerful Heroes of In the Name of Odin, as his ablity allows him to not only avoid any damage to his longship, but also to switch positions of two Raid cards on the main board. And while the former ability seems more straightforward and always useful, the second one may turn out almost pivotal.

As the ability can be used either before or after choosing the Raid card, a player can either level any shortcomings of their ship (like having shorter range, or having range reduced by damage), use long range to its full potential (and score more points) or make a late change to the board situation, denying their opponents the option to reach a given Raid easily. Either way, Egil is a character more than worthy of your attention.
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Thu Feb 25, 2016 3:12 pm
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Odin's Finest: Bard

Krzysztof Zięba
Poland
Kraków
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Check out my first published board game: In the Name of Odin!
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Microbadge: I beat video games relentlessly and post my victories on VGG!Microbadge: I'm a GM!Microbadge: What the heck was I doing again?Microbadge: Please vaccinateMicrobadge: I abandon video games without mercy and post their flaws on VGG!
It’s time to introduce another Viking Hero from the In the Name of Odin line up. This time we take a look at Bard – another character known for his skills on the sea, a skilful captain, and a reputed child of the Aesir.

From gallery of irondeav


Bard

It is said that Bard was conceived on a longship during a storm and born on a remote island, but nobody in his family ever confirmed it. While some call him Aegirsonn for that reason, after the master of the seas – Aegir, those who sail with him know Bard to be of the same flesh and blood as his clansmen.

He is an exceptional captain, and the rumours surrounding his parentage make him a popular choice with sailors young and old. After all, supernatural or not, Bard’s skills have proven to be more than a match for the sea’s fury many times in the past.

Board Game: In the Name of Odin

Bard by Victor Perez Corbella

Ability

Similarly to Halfdan, Bard also grants the owning player a set of symbols that can be used during a Raid, allowing the player to either remedy a lack of specific cards in their hand, or save up on those symbols that will allow them to repair damage, bring the ship to port – or build a new vessel.

Although Bard’s ability may not seem as powerful as some other ones allowing for immediate repairs or ship returns, there a degree of flexibility to Aegirsonn that – when used with some skill and a little bit of luck – may give the player exactly what they need to make an impressive use of their turn.
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Fri Feb 19, 2016 1:12 pm
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Odin's Finest: Halfdan

Krzysztof Zięba
Poland
Kraków
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Check out my first published board game: In the Name of Odin!
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Microbadge: I beat video games relentlessly and post my victories on VGG!Microbadge: I'm a GM!Microbadge: What the heck was I doing again?Microbadge: Please vaccinateMicrobadge: I abandon video games without mercy and post their flaws on VGG!
During your struggle for fame and glory, you will need allies – notable characters ready to help you both on land, and at sea. Here’s the story of Halfdan: first of the Viking Heroes unlocked as a Stretch Goal during the In the Name of Odin Kickstarter campaign.

Halfdan

A warrior, sadly, cannot live on battle, sailing and fame alone. Halfdan understands this well, and those that join him on raids are always very well compensated. As a ring-giver, he is as gracious and open-handed as a leader of men can be – but he is also stern and demanding. Halfdan will reward you well for your services, people say, but you will have to work like an ox to earn it.

From gallery of irondeav

Halfdan by Quico Vicens


Still, there is no shortage of karls, well-to-do warriors and landowners, who flock to Halfdan's mead-hall by the sea, and who are more than eager to join him on his travels. Those, who do, return with many a new arm-ring and exotic goods from far-away lands.

Hero Ability

Halfdan makes it much easier for a player to score high for a Raid, as he provides three symbols – one Craftsmanship and two Recruitment – that can be used to cancel some of the unforeseen difficulties on the way.

That alone makes this Viking Hero more than useful, if you’re planning a turn that only starts with a Raid, and continues into recruiting and building, as Halfdan will allow you to keep those precious symbols in your hand.
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Wed Feb 17, 2016 11:24 pm
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