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Subject: Biblios author seeks your opinion on Merchant of Death rss

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Steve Finn
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As some of you know who have purchased Biblios, I have self-published my games and manufactured them myself in small quantities. The great benefit of this is that I lost my time, but not a lot of money. The drawback, of course, is that the production quality of the games was a little low and I only made small quantities (sometimes fewer than 200).

In any case, I am about to take a chance and self-publish [thing=103723][/thing]. However, this time, I am having it professionally manufactured. That being said, I'm taking a little gamble on it. Before I do, I would like to hear your initial thoughts on the game based upon the information I have provided on the site. The summary card, if it is not yet in the "files" section, will provide a good overview of the game.

In short, does this seem like a game you might enjoy?

Thanks in advance,
Dr. Finn
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Ryan Twombly
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The theme is a little murky. On first read I thought it cast players as arms dealers, which seemed a polarizing gambit to say the least. Now I see that you're trying to "confiscate" weapons crates, so you're playing as...some kind of spymaster...? There also seems to be a Knizia-level of connection between theme and mechanics, which is a little light for my tastes.

Still, I like the idea of the "Merchant of Death" himself (or herself, but I picture a greasy, evil dude in an expensive suit) being pursued by the agents. I'd like to have a better understanding of "shipping crates", which seems to be outside what the player is meant to be doing; surely it's the Merchant who is in charge of where the weapons go? And I'm troubled by the notion of not knowing the winner until cards are revealed at the end - a dramatic game mechanic if players have managed to bluff or outwit their way to victory, but a potential deal-breaker if the hidden information just amounts to a random bonus.

Haven't played Biblios or S&S, but given the reviews I'm willing to give some benefit of the doubt. Not going to pre-order base on what's been shown so far, though.
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Steve Finn
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Thanks for the comments. Let me make a couple things clearer in response. Each player is technically the head of their country's secret service who sends agents into the different locations.

Thematically, the agents who pursue the Merchant of Death may be viewed as agents who influence the Merchant to deliver weapons to particular locations. Admittedly, this is the one place that the theme is stretched a little. The other interpretation is to say that by pursuing the Merchant of Death, you "scare" him into getting the weapons out of his possession.

In response to the other worry, the hidden information involves players playing cards to locations, so there is little randomness at the end. It is clear to everyone who is playing cards to which locations and (in the case of the "Spy", you are allowed to find out some of that hidden info.) There is much less luck in this game than in Biblios (though you haven't played it).

And, yes, given this is a quick, filler, lighter game, there is a Knizia-level connection between game and mechanics, though I would say that the secret agent cards (and their powers) all make sense given the theme.

Thanks again
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Roland W. est. 1984
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loving biblos...I will buy for sure...
 
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Jacovis
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I've been hoping to get my hands on a copy of Biblios, so I haven't played it. But I like the look of this.

One thing that I want to suggest is instead of making it a person selling weapons, I think the way the mechanics work would better represent protecting VIPs from assassins, and getting them to their destinations. As it is, the theme of stopping the weapons merchant then controlling where you can sell the weapons doesn't feel quite right. But it did remind me of all those movies where they are delivering "the package," which is whatever kind of VIP. President's daughter, Princess of Timbuktu, Prime Minister of (insert country of choice). And all of the other actions can still interfere with the assassins' plans within the mechanics of the game.

At any rate, it looks interesting for sure! Keep up the good work!

Cheers,

Jacovis
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Hank Panethiere
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Changing the name is my best advice...and I'd buy the game based upon your track record alone.
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Steve Finn
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Jacovis wrote:
I've been hoping to get my hands on a copy of Biblios, so I haven't played it. But I like the look of this.

One thing that I want to suggest is instead of making it a person selling weapons, I think the way the mechanics work would better represent protecting VIPs from assassins, and getting them to their destinations. As it is, the theme of stopping the weapons merchant then controlling where you can sell the weapons doesn't feel quite right. But it did remind me of all those movies where they are delivering "the package," which is whatever kind of VIP. President's daughter, Princess of Timbuktu, Prime Minister of (insert country of choice). And all of the other actions can still interfere with the assassins' plans within the mechanics of the game.

At any rate, it looks interesting for sure! Keep up the good work!

Cheers,

Jacovis


Thanks for the suggestion. While the change in theme might work in the sense you mention, it would be hard to get all the Special Agent cards to fit into that theme. I'll think about it though.
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Steve Finn
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metalchorus wrote:
Changing the name is my best advice...and I'd buy the game based upon your track record alone.


Thanks for the vote of confidence on my track record. I'd have a hard time changing the name, since I was inspired by the fact that there really is an international arms dealer whose been given this name.

Is it too dark? The funny thing is that it actually plays as a light and enjoyable game.

I guess my main concern is with the artwork. For others, is the artwork acceptable?
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Jacovis
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I think the artwork is awesome, personally. Very fitting for the secret agent type theme

Cheers,

Jacovis
 
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Michael Schwerdtfeger
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Steve -

Based on your track record, I'd definitely be interested in the game. The theme, while probably preventing it from becoming "mainstream," will definitely be a welcome addition to the discerning gamer's collection (as a similar example, see After Pablo).

The graphics might be a slight turnoff, though. There seems to be a lot more criticism these days on art, given the high quality of other small print run games.

My two cents.
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Hank Panethiere
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drfinn wrote:
metalchorus wrote:
Changing the name is my best advice...and I'd buy the game based upon your track record alone.


Thanks for the vote of confidence on my track record. I'd have a hard time changing the name, since I was inspired by the fact that there really is an international arms dealer whose been given this name.

Is it too dark? The funny thing is that it actually plays as a light and enjoyable game.

I guess my main concern is with the artwork. For others, is the artwork acceptable?


I understand why you called it "Merchant of Death", but if I didn't know the theme it would sound overly violent and the theme wouldn't be readily apparent...other than it has something to do with A LOT of death and killing.

On the other hand for a small print run it's probably OK, it won't be on store shelves so the people who want it will know what to expect.

I agree with the other poster about the art. The first thing I noticed was the very bright card colors (that green hurts my eyes). So I agree that the artwork could be improved.
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Steve Finn
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Thanks again. Changing the name is quite easy. I'm going to seek more opinions about the name. Anyone else out there think a different name would be better?

I can also work a little on the art, especially the backgrounds, since that's easiest to change.

Your opinions are appreciated!


metalchorus wrote:
drfinn wrote:
metalchorus wrote:
Changing the name is my best advice...and I'd buy the game based upon your track record alone.


Thanks for the vote of confidence on my track record. I'd have a hard time changing the name, since I was inspired by the fact that there really is an international arms dealer whose been given this name.

Is it too dark? The funny thing is that it actually plays as a light and enjoyable game.

I guess my main concern is with the artwork. For others, is the artwork acceptable?


I understand why you called it "Merchant of Death", but if I didn't know the theme it would sound overly violent and the theme wouldn't be readily apparent...other than it has something to do with A LOT of death and killing.

On the other hand for a small print run it's probably OK, it won't be on store shelves so the people who want it will know what to expect.

I agree with the other poster about the art. The first thing I noticed was the very bright card colors (that green hurts my eyes). So I agree that the artwork could be improved.
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Steve Finn
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So, how about any of these names?

Surveillance

International Crime Fighter

Secret Spies

Secret Agents

Secret Agents and the Merchant of Death

Does anyone like any of these in preference to Merchant of Death?

Thanks
 
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Jason K
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I prefer 'Surveillance' to 'Merchant of Death'.

Also, the art could be a bit more professional, imho. If the game ever rises to the success level of Glory to Rome, you don't want the same storm of complaints to hit it as well. Some geeks can be very vocal when it comes to game art and component design.
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Jeon Yang-seop
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The front cover looks like Mafia game. However, it should be fix so that the game looks more interesting. Maybe...not final box cover?

I want to translate the rules of the game :D
 
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David C
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*I like the name "Merchant of death" because I think it sort of plays off of the typical eurogame type theme lead-in of "merchants". I don't know if everyone works like me.

*the art reminds me too much of Glory to Rome's gaudiness.

If I had to sum-up whether it has curb appeal...I've got my doubts.

The worst part, from a consumer standpoint---is you have a title like, "of Death" and you think "Ameritrash". Then it seems kind of euro in gameplay. It's a problem I've run into before, and it doesn't go well (See also Cave Troll and Drakon). The eurogamers don't play it, outright. The ameritrashers play it once. Once.
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Ken F
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You could always modify the name to "Merchant of Death Squad" which gamers will refer to as MOD Squad.

Never was a fan of this type of flat and lifeless artwork.

I like one-page reference sheets.
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Jeff Binning
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I think Merchant of Death is a great name for this one. I think the art for this isn't nearly as good as Biblios, but the game play sounds interesting.

I very much enjoy Biblios, so I'm sure I'll pick this one up when it becomes available.
 
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Chris Broggi
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I'm sorry, but I do not like the artwork. I think the colors are too garish and the pictures themselves to be poorly drawn. I also agree with the other posters who were saying that theme seems very pasted on and doesn't fit well.
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Spiros Alvertis

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I am sorry for the criticism I am about to do, but I am going to be honest as this is more important than lying.

I am a graphic designer myself and I found the artwork and graphics totally unattractive. Game play sounds interesting enough but I would never buy it with these graphics. Also the name doesn't feel right, but it seems that other people liked it so I guess it is alright.

Good luck!
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Pone McPoneface
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As an owner of Biblios and the original Scripts & Scribes I will definitely be buying a copy of this game.

But, I do have to admit the artwork was a disappointment. For me, the simple, cartoon style of the art just doesn't offer much visual appeal at first glance. Just my opinion, but I do like the theme and mechanics presented and look forward to trying this game out.
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There must have been a moment at the beginning, where we could have said no. Somehow we missed it. Well, we'll know better next time.
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Theme & name:
Definitely a gamble, but, I would hope eurogamers and card game lovers would be open-minded enough to try this. I certainly prefer this to the originally proposed themes of Egyptian or medieval.

With a name like Merchant of Death and cards like "Highjackers" though, while being original and creative, you're also shutting off some of the market - I don't see parents buying this off the shelf for their kids or for family gaming, assuming they don't know anything about the game ahead of time. But then again, if you're targeting the adult strategy gamer then it should be fine.

Someone mentioned Merchant of Death being a play on typical euro-themes/names. Great point and I like that, but, I think it might be too much of an inside joke to let that influence name choice much.

I like International Crime Fighter of the alternate names proposed. The names with "secret" in them sound too generic and too easy to mix up with other existing games (Top Secret Spies, about 8 games named Top Secret, Clue: Secrets and Spies, Project CIA: The Secret Formula, etc).

Art
It's OK, but it's also a gamble. The box front kind of reminds me of the detailed cartoonish illustrations on the Life Aquatic w/Steve Zissou DVD & used in Mighty Tenanbaums.

I definitely don't like the box back. I always prefer to see actual photographs of the game components. If it's virtual, it has to be portrayed REALLY well and realistically. For example, the current cubes are driving me crazy - I can't tell if they really don't have vertical lines, or if it's an optical illusion b/c they're on top of the cards that have some crazy angles going.

Game play
Definitely a game I'd like to try. I'm a big fan of area control/influence games, and the added card play with special powers make this seem pretty interesting.
 
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Bryan Martin
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I own Scripts & Scribes, and would be willing to give this game a try. The only things I do not like are the art, and the card colors. The art is a little too cartoony for me, and the colors make me think of Uno.

Good luck with the game. It would be nice to have another fun, quick filler like Scripts & Scribes.

Bryan
 
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Arthur Dickie
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I like Biblios.

In reading this thread I am reminded of the line from PJ O'Rourke which goes something like: "If you ask a committee to design a racehorse, you end up with a cow".

My advice, therefore, is to go with what you feel is right. After all, you are the one with the proven track record.
 
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Frank Conradie
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Count me as another critic of the art. It reminds me somewhat of Microsoft Office clipart from the 90's - sorry!

Have you ever tried asking for some volunteer artwork from the BGG community? There are lots of good professional and recreational graphic artists among the community, and I'm convinced someone would volunteer to help out at no/low cost - maybe for a copy or two of the finished game.

The name is OK to me, although I like "Surveillance" better. Good luck!
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