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Links: Dominion's Secrets Revealed, Bauza and Menzel on Their SdJ Victories & More

W. Eric Martin
United States
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• Designer Donald X. Vaccarino is commemorating the coda of his Dominion card game series from Rio Grande Games by returning to the game's beginnings with "The Secret History of Dominion", a revised version of a history previously told on, the site I edited before joining BGG. (When I started at BGG in 2011, I had contacted designers about reprinting designer diaries from BGN on BGGN. Vaccarino was the only one who said "No", so it's good to see him bring this story back for those who missed it the first time around.) An excerpt about the game's origin:

My initial idea [for Spirit Warriors II] was that you would draft four heroes, and then get a packet of 8-12 cards per hero, shuffle them together, and draw cards from the resulting deck. When you drew one of your Ranger's cards, that would be something your Ranger could do. Each hero would have two skills and you could build them up as you gained experience. A card might be, deal 3 damage per level of bow skill.

While working on this game I realized that the math was too hard. You look at the first card in your hand. Deal 3 damage per level of bow skill. You look down at your Ranger. Bow level: 2. You multiply, that's 6. Now remember that number and move on to the next card, a sword card for your Paladin. Figure out its total and add it and then move onto the next card. You're looking back and forth and back and forth and remembering numbers. I made a sample situation to test on my friends. People took forever and then got the wrong answer.

What I needed was cards that just said "deal 3 damage." Bam, end of story. But I wanted you to build up your heroes, that was a key fun part. The obvious solution was to gain cards as you levelled up. You'd start with say 2-3 cards per hero, and when your Ranger gained a level of Bow, that would just mean you took the next Bow card and added it to your deck.

Once I had that idea I realized I could make a game out of just that concept - building a deck - with none of the rest of it, no quests and monsters and things. I jotted down some notes on what that game might look like, then went back to work on Spirit Warriors II.

Spirit Warriors II was going to be another 500-unique-cards monster. It was slow going. One weekend in October of 2006, I was desperate for a new game to play that Monday night, and decided, hey, I could whip out the simpler pure deckbuilding thing. It didn't need 500 unique cards; most of the work would be googling for art and cutting and sleeving. So I whipped it out.

I will comment a moment on this line: "Valerie also had playtesters, but they never really had an effect on card power level or anything, they just reported what they liked and didn't." Well, I'd like to think that I did more than that, being a part of the playtesting group for the base game, Intrigue, Seaside and Prosperity. I do know, for example, that "Masquerade" was pulled after multiple reports from my group in which we netted 20+ coins on a single turn. In a two-player game I managed 41 coins on a turn thanks to the card, and then:

After a test game with Feast and Festival to get a feel for how it works, my friend Max went to town in game 5, first reducing his deck to six cards with Chapel, holding on to Festival, Market x2, Moat, Throne Room and Chapel. Then he bought Masq, slowly bought out the Markets and more Festivals and Moats (with me trying and failing to keep pace), then cranked out 55 coins on a single turn. Game over.

In these games money is an imposition. You don't want any! Not a one! Cellar lets you bypass coins in favor of actions, but ideally you want it out. Remodel lets you extract it slowly, while Chapel takes it out in clumps. However you do it, though, your deck will be better for it.

Okay, I'm attempting to toot my own horn, and few people like it when you toot in public, so I'll move on...

Twister inventor Charles Foley died on July 1, 2013. As noted in an Associated Press article about his death: "The game became a sensation after Johnny Carson and Eva Gabor played it on 'The Tonight Show' in 1966." Ah, yes, Johnny Carson - the Wil Wheaton of the 1960s... (HT: Chris Kovac)

Ars Technica speaks with designer Jordan Weisman about "microdot miniatures", which he aims to use in a board game titled Golem Arcana"

He shows me a few beastly creature "minis", (some of which he insists I don't photograph just yet) with plastic bases covered by numbers, text marking abilities, and defense scores.

Each of the minis – and the board itself – has a series of "microdots". Invisible to the naked eye, these can be read by the game's stylus (currently in an "ugly prototype" stage, Weisman says). Competing players tap with the stylus to make decisions in the game, whether ordering a move, an attack, or other powers. Tap one mini, tap the board, then consult a tablet or smartphone screen to confirm the action you want to take.

• Stefan Fatsis, author of Word Freak: Heartbreak, Triumph, Genius, and Obsession in the World of Competitive Scrabble Players, writes in The New York Times about the closing of the National Scrabble Association, noting that Hasbro has withdrawn its financial support of the NSA over the years from a high point of $700-800,000 to nothing in 2013.

• Video game site Kotaku reports on Chess 2: The Sequel, an Ouya exclusive design from Ludeme Games and David Sirlin that features six different cutomzied armies instead of ye olde traditional chess armies. From the article:

That means Chess 2 will involve 21 different matchups. "Longtime chess players and beginners alike will rejoice that that this makes memorizing an opening book impractical," Sirlin boasts. The game also adds a new win condition: Crossing the midline of the board with your king. "This makes the game very aggressive and practically eliminates draws from the game."

• Following Antoine Bauza's Spiel des Jahres win for Hanabi on July 8, 2013, Sebastian Wenzel interviewed the designer while he was still on the victory stage in Berlin:

Wenzel also interviewed Michael Menzel, designer and illustrator of Legends of Andor – which won the 2013 Kennerspiel des Jahres – but that interview is in German:

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