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Subject: So... It's like Piecepack...?! (the Green Box of Games) rss

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Jørgen Brunborg-Næss
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Hi folks,

I had this incredible idea about six months ago: To make a boxed set of board game components to essentially be a "deck of cards" for board games.

So I came up with a system of symbols, colours, numbers, tiles and pieces to enable the creation, and re-creation, of a myriad of different games. Sound familiar?

Anyway, after some months of development, testing and preparation I start telling people about it, and it takes about 5 minutes before someone goes "soo... it's like Piecepack?!" Having never heard of Piecepack I head over to Google, and after a few minutes of reading I realise that "yep, it's like Piecepack".



After slapping myself for not having done good enough research earlier, my mind is filled with a bunch of conflicting thoughts and emotions:
1: Wow, someone else had the exact same idea, this means it must be a really good idea, and double-wow, there's a whole bunch of people who think this is a good idea!
2: Darn, someone else had the exact same idea, like 15 years ago... So much for ever coming up with something original, time to pack it in.
3: Argh, but my design is better, I have...like...cooler symbols...and proper wooden cubes, I will destroy this other thing and take over the world!
4: Hmm, my idea was to create a deck of boardgames, because I really want such a thing to exist, and if it already exists then maybe I should just embrace it and help it move forward?
5: Dammit, I didn't put down this much work just to abandon it at the first sign of resistance!

While I don't quite know where I stand on thoughts 1-4, I'm at least sticking with number 5 for a while. I'll keep working on the project, and my plan is to produce a limited number of copies and bring them to Essen in october. Then we'll see where it goes.

So what is it?

I call it the Green Box of Games, and I have a whole blog about it over at www.greenboxofgames.com. You can even follow me at fb.com/greenboxofgames

Obviously, it's not exactly like the Piecepack, let me run through a couple of the differences:
- There are 6 different symbols (which makes it more like the SixPack)
- There is no fixed link between the colours and the symbols, so considering there's numbers as well this provides three dimensions that can interact in a given game, or not.
- The tiles have only a symbol, not a number or a colour
- I use standard wooden cubes as pieces, so they have only a colour (no symbol or number)
- There's a deck of 54 cards that link it all together, combining symbols, colours and numbers
- There are a lot more components than a standard Piecepack, with 36 tiles, 54 cards and 80 cubes forming the base set.

All this might of course just be irrelevant details of course, what really matters is the game experience the material can provide. I haven't yet had the time to dig into the plethora of Piecepack games available, so I'll not attempt a comparison. As far as the Green Box goes, I have currently published 15 games on the blog, and have got about 10 more in drafts. A few are original ideas developed for the set, but the majority is more or less direct adaptations of existing games. I consider the ability to mimic existing high-quality games to be a crucial strength of the Box, so this has been my focus so far. To mention a few:
- The Sutlers of Kansas (Catan)
- Son of Kark (Carcasonne)
- Hey! That's my stuff (...Fish)
- Gemstones (Diamant)
- Tunnel Run (Cartagena)
- Skyline (Manhattan)

I'll wrap it up now, you can of course read more at www.greenboxofgames.com.

To those of you thinking "Geeze, why does everyone have to reinvent the wheel, can't he just get himself a Piecepack and be done with it", I apologise for wasting your time and wish you a good day. If any of you are thinking, however, something like "Cool, I like the idea of game systems in-a-box, so I'd love to check out another one", I'll see you over at the blog :-)
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foksieloy
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All my piecepacks have 6 suits as well, the decktet suits.

Combined with Looney Pyramids and a decktet it is really versatile.
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Jørgen Brunborg-Næss
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I'm sure it is, and I certainly won't try to "win you over".
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foksieloy
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Nah, I meant it more in the way of... consider already established symbols perhaps?

I am always up for more gaming systems, main issue I see is, how many original games can you produce for it. That is what mainly is a selling point, not remakes of existing products.
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Russ Williams
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Gwarv wrote:
- There is no fixed link between the colours and the symbols, so considering there's numbers as well this provides three dimensions that can interact in a given game, or not.

So... it's like a Mystique deck?

I kid, I kid!

Carry on, and good luck to you! Certainly it can be fun to explore such things, even if they don't end up being wildly popular.

Personally, my main "generic game kit" remains Looney Pyramids, which as far as I can tell gained more traction than Piecepack. I play a lot of different games (mostly abstract strategy) using the pyramids. Decktet also seems to be successful and have many card games which people play.

FWIW: I suspect that more general kits like Piecepack (and Green Box) with lots of different types of components (tiles, cards, pawns, dice, tokens, etc) may have a harder time gaining traction because they attempt to be too general and to recreate full-blown euros - for which many players seem to prefer dedicated components with specific thematic art - instead of pure abstract strategy games, pure card games, and other minimalist type games (like Looney Pyramids and Decktet do). But I don't know.
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Jørgen Brunborg-Næss
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foksieloy wrote:
Nah, I meant it more in the way of... consider already established symbols perhaps?


I'm definately considering this, as compatibility with other systems is alluring. My current symbols are designed to hint at resources, actions or other concretes, to allow for a semi-thematic and not-quite-abstract experience with games that fit. This is a work-in-progress, though, and all parts of the project are subject to change.

foksieloy wrote:

I am always up for more gaming systems, main issue I see is, how many original games can you produce for it. That is what mainly is a selling point, not remakes of existing products.


Obviously, people aren't going to pay money for stuff that they already have. I am, however, hoping that lightweight adaptations of already familiar games can have it's own appeal and actually make it easier to buy into the concept for some people, as you won't be learning something completely new from scratch. Also, the ability to have 10 (or a lot more) games that you are familiar with, and that are good, in one box should be ideal for stuffed-vacation-suitcase scenarios.

But solid original games will be important, obviously. At the moment, I think the strongest original game i have is Grenade Salad (https://greenboxofgames.com/2016/05/15/grenades/) (Yeah, I'll get them on BGG eventually to allow internal linking...)

 
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Jørgen Brunborg-Næss
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russ wrote:

So... it's like a Mystique deck?


Argh...yes, I suppose it is laughrobot And a bunch of other stuff as well.

russ wrote:

FWIW: I suspect that more general kits like Piecepack (and Green Box) with lots of different types of components (tiles, cards, pawns, dice, tokens, etc) may have a harder time gaining traction because they attempt to be too general and to recreate full-blown euros - for which many players seem to prefer dedicated components with specific thematic art - instead of pure abstract strategy games, pure card games, and other minimalist type games (like Looney Pyramids and Decktet do). But I don't know.


You might be right, but then this is also exactly the thing I want to "fix". Looney Pyramids is excellent for abstract games, and the Decktet looks like a great deck for interesting card games, but I really want to create something that allows for games that feel like proper euro games. They're obviously never going to be "full-blown", and of course I will also prefer to play the complete themed experience any day. For seasoned gamers I guess the set might be considered the "Green Box of Fillers". But then in addition there's the space issue, packing dozens of games into a small backpack, and the appeal to the players creative side in terms of coming up with new games and new variants.
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Gwarv wrote:
Looney Pyramids is excellent for abstract games, and the Decktet looks like a great deck for interesting card games, but I really want to create something that allows for games that feel like proper euro games. They're obviously never going to be "full-blown", and of course I will also prefer to play the complete themed experience any day. For seasoned gamers I guess the set might be considered the "Green Box of Fillers". But then in addition there's the space issue, packing dozens of games into a small backpack, and the appeal to the players creative side in terms of coming up with new games and new variants.


If you aren't already aware of it - you might want to check out Stonehenge: An Anthology Board Game. It was a similar idea - create a "toolbox" but rather than for abstract games, more for Euro games. You can maybe gain some lessons for what they did wrong, b/c I think the general consensus is that the project crashed and burned.
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Russ Williams
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In a weird way, 504 might also be worth pondering. Many detractors (mostly people who never even bothered playing it, as far as I can tell) said it was just a game kit for generic mediocre euros, and they'd rather play a specifically crafted euro.

(Personally I like 504 a lot, but I don't see it as a game kit. I would say it's a single extremely modular game, analogous to Kingdom Builder or Dominion, but far more radically so.)
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Jørgen Brunborg-Næss
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JohnnyDollar wrote:


If you aren't already aware of it - you might want to check out Stonehenge: An Anthology Board Game. It was a similar idea - create a "toolbox" but rather than for abstract games, more for Euro games. You can maybe gain some lessons for what they did wrong, b/c I think the general consensus is that the project crashed and burned.


I remember Stonehenge, I also tried to come up with games for it, but I didn't find that the components really provided inspiration to do "anything". You could come up with different ways of building monuments, but i think a flaw was that it wasn't generic enough.
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Jørgen Brunborg-Næss
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russ wrote:
In a weird way, 504 might also be worth pondering. Many detractors (mostly people who never even bothered playing it, as far as I can tell) said it was just a game kit for generic mediocre euros, and they'd rather play a specifically crafted euro.

(Personally I like 504 a lot, but I don't see it as a game kit. I would say it's a single extremely modular game, analogous to Kingdom Builder or Dominion, but far more radically so.)


I'm aware of 504, although I haven't studied it. My impression is the same as yours, it's not a game kit. It looks like a complete package, with lots of stuff to try out, but it doesn't encourage you to apply your own creativity in making and tweaking games.
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Derek H
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I have left a comment on your blog.

 
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