After publishing this game and having a big success with it. We sold a lot more games than I was expecting, there was always the idea to have a similar simply game to follow it.
As a designer I have at least 15 ideas for simple games every single year, but normally they are all buggy or just not fun. The problem with this simple ideas is: If they do not work immediately they will never do work as a good game. This means I trash every year at least 15 game ideas just because.
After working on a game called "5 cards" (in January) which was promising but I had to trash it, a new idea showed up (in February) and..... it worked, Yeah.... All players said that this is better than "Five Cucumbers", but has even easier rules.
Now what to do. First idea is easy: just publish it for this year as one additional game, but a new idea showed up....
We had a very good success with 504 not only by creating a big buzz. The buzz had two aspects, first the main concept and second a great expectation from not so few gamers: They thought in that game system the one new favorite game should be included.
I always tried to talk this expectation down, because this was never really the idea of 504 and sadly afterwards some people were really disappointed by 504 not fulfilling this "false" expectation.
The interesting aspect was: What happens to expectations to games and how to create the right ones, because for me as a game-designer and -publisher this is important to create the right expectations, so the gamers are interested in buying/playing the game and second not to be disappointed by what they get.
The idea was born to create a game with the least expectations possible....
The designer name Friedemann Friese creates special expectations, no way! High standard artwork creates expectations, no way. Just do it by myself Problem: How to get this game to the gamers without expectations. Impossible to just offer it and hope somebody will buy it, no way! I had to donate this games to the gamers directly.
But giving it personally would cause the problem of being asked questions where this comes from. Send it via classical mail anonymously to more or less randomly chosen gamer, whose adresses I had or which were easy to get. After sending a sample to Henning it was clear that the stamp on the letter will tell its origin of "Bremen". So I sent a big box of letters to Christian Frank in Freiburg and he put them in the mailbox. The experiment had started....
and he also created a variant, but sadly I do not like his idea of playing more than one card at a time. Not that I think the idea of getting rid of the low cards faster is appealing, but I dislike the fact of a winning hand with two high cards and you can just end the game with them, so the other are not even warned. On the other hand I like it a lot that this game is just a easy as it is, the rules fit 4 cards in the game.
What will happen next, after this promising first reaction....
There was the reaction from Markus Brand on his blog, a nice thanx to unknown and I was told there were some active discussions on Facebook on the private site of Ulrich Blum. I was kind of happy, that the fact that the game came from "Freiburg" was the main clue to follow. The right clue would have been the authors name, but the fact that the name of my brother is the same as a famous Austrian singer from the 70s with himself having a brother in the european politics was kind of misleading
I did send a another 50 copies 2 weeks later from Lauterbach near Fulda personally because I went there for a gaming weekend, with only minor reactions.
Just as it should be "Do little and wait". the next big event would be the Gathering of Friends in Niagara Falls held by Alan R. Moon. I took a list of another 60 persons, put stickers on the games and left the games in the big ballroom. The ballroom is always full and crowded, but a game designer at a gamers meeting dropping and carrying games is not interesting enough to draw attention. I tried to put the games near to the persons belongings. Dale Yu left earlier got his game in the Expansion Box for Cacao and I'm sure he found it.
Here I made my only strategic mistake. Dropping games near games means they do not create attention, so they were overseen. Second and more crucial, on the box was written: "Donated to....". So if someone else found it, he had no idea to give it to that person, because he did not know that this person did not know of owning this. I should have written "If you find this game, give it to..."
The reactions at the Gathering were not as I expected. I saw the game was only played 3 times at the Gathering. This is ok, because it was a test, but I hoped for more....
Now we have a bgg average of 6.1, but only 7 voting, not so much. Ok it is what I expected, Five Cucumbers has 5.95 and sells very well and I believe Futschikato aka Doppelt und Dreifach is better, so a 6.1 is the right direction. It is just a fun filler and games like this will never get higher ratings.
I will focus on some reactions: Joe Huber declared it as his best gaming experience for April because he was not allowed to talk about the others he had played, because these were prototypes. Fun Fact: At least one of the games he is not allowed to talk about it one of my game. For him the sweet spot is 6 players.
Punkin312: "Interesting card game to try and dump your hand first. Essentially the game could be broken and never EVER end but generally does." Sorry but the game is not broken. It has to end, because whenever you beat cards, you put out a better combination and there is not an endless possibility of better combinations. So somebody has to have the best number (normally not alone), so he can get rid of one card (and maybe others, too). Mathematically spoken: There is a finite number of cards in the game and after a finite number of turns there is at least one card gone for good and the number of cards can never increase, there must be a finite number of turns when the game ends.
A review of Reich-Der-Spiele concluded, that you can lose track of who is the person with the actual turn, because of so much laughter as a reaction on a special turn. Not a bad sign I would say.
Many thanks to Chris Schreiber: "Wow, played this 14 times at Origins 2016 after borrowing someone's copy who got it at the Gathering of Friends. I was having solid fun with the 3-player game, but once I played it with 5 and 6 it shined much more brightly. Reminded me of Abluxxen light ...and that's a favorite of mine. This is one that I will be able to get my family into.
I heard it called a "No Thanks-killer" and was told by an at-first-skeptical designer, "There's no reason this should be this much fun!" It won him over. It became an easy game to break out and play with new friends at the con.
The central conceit of lower numbers teaming up to defeat higher numbers is dead-on brilliant. So simple, but it still felt innovative. There's room for clever play and you can approach a bad hand or having high cards early in different ways. Big surprise from an unassuming package. I want my own copy ...right now." What else should I say....
There was always the tension of being detected as the creator of this game. William Attia and Jeroen Dolmen directly talked to me about it at the Gathering and I had to remember all my bluffing skills to not be detected.
Only one time I was directly accused to be the man behind it via geek mail, golden gamer sent to me: "Do I win a prize for figuring out that you are the designer behind this game? Haven't played it yet but am excited to try. "
I did not really know why he was thinking I could be the one. So it was difficult to answer, but I wanted to answer. Some people will call this lies, I prefer "good bluffing": "Interesting. I'm interested to know who send this game to me and who designed it. And you think I did it. My first question was: why me?
Yes the game is in german. Yes the game was send to some, many (I don't know) people via postal from Freiburg. I marked it as owned on bgg and this is the only game I marked as owned. Yes the game appeared in the USA at the Gathering of Friends and I was there, too. I agree there are some good reasons to think I could be the one.
But the next question for me was: Why should I ever do something like that? If I want to push one of my game designs, I will publish it by my own with my name and brand. And I would write a designers diary and get all the attention I want to have. It worked very well with 504 and other former games. Why should I produce a game and sending it to some random people? I do not see any reason for me to do something like that.
And than I had an idea: You are interested to know who it was. As a gamer as you are, you just pick all people talking about it (own it, whatever) and send them an email that you know that this person did it and look for the reaction. I like that idea. If you find out who it was, I'm interested to know.
Yes golden gamer you were right, but I wanted to keep my disguise....
And now Futschikato will be ready. The experiment "Doppelt + Dreifach" ands here. What do I have?
I spent a lot of money in an experiment. I'm happy about the reactions on the game as they were expected, but I'm slightly disappointed about the amount of reactions. Sending out about 150 copies to gamers and "only" this is not what I dreamt of.
Futschikato will have more cards (and higher and less lower cards, more in the middle) and can be played with up to 8 players. It is what it is: A nice filler with a lot of laughter. Hopefully it will find its audience.