Print and Roll Games - a self-publisher's diary

This is a project that I've been considering for quite some time now - so it's exciting to be finally embarking on it. I've been designing games for about two years now. I particularly enjoy dice allocation games such as Alien Frontiers, Troyes, Lords of Vegas and Castles of Burgundy and have been working on a range of dice based games of my own. I have looked at conventional publishing and self-publishing but found that the cost of repeatedly shipping dice would make the games rather more expensive than I would wish. So, I hit on the idea of a print and play website - providing the rules, boards, cards and everything that you would need to play the games, except the dice. As a gamer (first tabletop then euro-games) I already had a large selection of dice and have found a great many affordable sources for the few that I was short of - I hope that this will be the same for plenty of other gamers. I currently have two games coming towards the end of beta-testing and two more at the early prototype stage. I hope to be posting new games over the coming months and years. Each one will be available for a few pounds (GBP) and will use common and readily available dice and counters. I hope to have the site fully up and running within the next couple of months with the first two games available to buy. As soon as the site's up and running, I'll post a link on this blog. Adam Taylor June 2012
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Faust Among Equals

Adam Taylor
United Kingdom
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Since Print and Roll game Muses has been featured on www.goodlittlegames.co.uk, it has received somewhat more attention than previously (in the sense that it's been played by some people who I don't know personally) and it hasn't really stood up to scrutiny.

It was always meant to be super-light and quick but I think it's a fair criticism of it that there isn't much of a game there. So, having learned some lessons from Muses, I've decided to have another go at a solitaire game which will fit both the Print and Roll and goodlittlegames moulds.

In keeping with the literary theme of Muses, and following a theme which I explored in my first board game design Invocation and pursued further in Familiar (one of the first games I conceived for Print and Roll which I still haven't got to work yet), the game is based on the Faust myth (and particularly Christopher Marlowe's Dr Faustus). I had intended to call it Faustus but have found that someone registered the name on BGG last year so I'll likely go with Mephistopheles instead.

Thematically speaking, the player is attempting to summon a series of demons in order to gain enough power to summon Mephistopheles and win the game (obviously I've only drawn upon the earlier, more cheerful parts of the story). But, as I learned from Muses, a game cannot stand on theme alone - so, this time I thought long and hard about the mechanics.

I started by thinking about what I'm looking for in a dice game. One of my favourite games, and the one that got me hooked on dice-allocation games is Alien Frontiers. Each turn you roll your dice and are then presented with a puzzle; how to use those dice and your alien-tech to the maximum possible advantage - I often take an alien-tech-heavy strategy to maximise the complexity of moving points back and forth, flipping dice etc. as I really enjoy this element.

One of the criticisms of AF is that this central element of it is essentially a solo activity - so what better start for a solitaire game? In Faustus you start with a small number of dice and an initial setup of five cards set out in a pentagon. As with Muses, you capture a card by meeting a requirement: a run of three, an even pair, a seven etc.

Captured cards give you power points (needed for victory) and sometimes an ongoing or one-off benefit, to be used in future turns. However, they also give you a benefit to use immediately, which is more or less powerful depending on the positioning of the next card you take. Your goal (the puzzle you have to solve) is to chain these abilities in such a way as to capture as many of the five cards as possible.

Once you've used up all of your dice, you deal out fresh cards and any not captured may or may not be discarded. You play until Mephistopheles appears (he's seeded randomly into the last few cards of the deck) at which point you need to have enough power available and three dice showing fives in order to capture him and win the games.

I've really enjoyed the initial playtests of the game and have ironed out most of the kinks so my next step will be getting others to playtest it. If you're interested, drop me a line and I'll geek-mail you the files.
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