Ridere, ludere, hoc est vivere.

Showing posts with label Kickstarter. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kickstarter. Show all posts

Friday, September 25, 2015

Kickstarters that should have funded

The proliferation of boardgames on Kickstarter is no secret.  In preparing the Dice Tower News Kickstarter report, week in and week out, I find countless boardgames and card games that don't fund.  Many fail to fund for understandable reasons - many never coming close - but from time to time a campaign that seems to have everything going for it somehow falls short of the mark, goes unfunded, and has to return to the drawing board.  I thought it would be interesting to reflect on a few of those "projects that should have funded" as cautionary tales that remind us that nothing on Kickstarter is a sure thing - and perhaps to begin to understand why.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Statistical review of seasonal effects on Kickstarter funding

Lately, as I've been compiling notes each week for the Kickstarter report on the Dice Tower News podcast, I've come to notice an evident seasonal pattern:  fewer boardgame projects tend to fund on Kickstarter this time of year.  In recent weeks, the number of projects likely to fund has been particularly low.  Do longer-term statistics bear out my recent observations?

Monday, February 3, 2014

UnPub 4 Part III: Sunday publishers

Publishers' Panel
Sunday of UnPub 4 opened with a pancake breakfast sponsored by Eagle and Gryphon Games and a panel discussion featuring eight publishers in a question-and-answer format.  UnPub convention director Darrell Louder moderated the panel.  Panelists included

Friday, November 15, 2013

Dice Tower News Interview - the uncut version

Chris Kirkman (l.) of Dice Hate Me Games is introduced
to Brew Crafters for the first time by designer Ben
Rosset at UnPub 3 in January, 2013
On Dice Tower News Episode 180, I included a severely edited version of an interview with designer Ben Rosset and publisher Chris Kirkman of Dice Hate Me Games to talk about their current Kickstarter project, Brew Crafters.  But I didn't want anyone to miss out on the rich experience I had speaking with these two enthusiasts just because of the time constraints of a news podcast.  So I have posted the entire interview on boardgamegeek so that everyone can hear Ben describe the experience that inspired him to design Brew Crafters in the first place.  Also not to be missed is Chris waxing on the passion that he brings to every game that Dice Hate Me Games publishes.  I always enjoy every minute I spend with these guys, and I hope you do, too.

[Update:  I'd previously tried to post the interview here on this page, but due to technical difficulties, I am just including a link to the interview posted on boardgamegeek instead.]

Friday, November 8, 2013

Latest micro-game addition - Council of Verona

(c) Crash Games.  Used by permission
Earlier this week I received my Kickstarter reward copy of Council of Verona (designer Michael Eskue, artists Darrell Louder and Adam P. McIver, publisher Crash Games).  I was intrigued by the description of this game as soon as I read it, both for the Shakespearean theme and for the apparently tactical gameplay in such a small package.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Revisiting Brew Crafters

Ben Rosset and Kathy Owen in a
three-player round of "Brew Crafters"
Last January, at UnPub 3, Chris Kirkman (Dice Hate Me Games) and I had the opportunity to playtest Ben Rosset's beer-brewing themed worker-placement game, "Brew Crafters" (at the time under the working title "Brewmasters").  About a month later, Chris and Ben reached agreement to publish "Brew Crafters" under the Dice Hate Me label.  Ben has continued to playtest "Brew Crafters" throughout the year in anticipation of a Kickstarter campaign later this month to fund the initial print run.  A couple of weeks ago, my wife Kathy and I participated in a playtest of the most current version of "Brew Crafters" with Ben.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Podcast debut: The return of Dice Tower News

Last June, on the Dice Tower Network, podcaster Remy Gibson signed off his 150th and last episode of "Dice Tower News."  He mentioned that he and Tom Vasel hadn't found a replacement, so it looked like there wasn't going to be any more DTN after that episode.  Well, as it happened, I'd been wondering in the back of my mind for several weeks about whether I would enjoy podcasting, but I didn't want to get into an hour-long format like so many popular shows do.  I liked Remy's ten-minute three-times-a-week format, and I thought it would be fun to do a news spot like that.  So when the opportunity opened up, I decided to contact Remy and Tom and see whether I might be able to step up and do the show.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

"For the Win" on the deck

For the Win final position
This evening I got home from work late, so we only had time for a quick game out on the back deck before Kathy made dinner.  So we played For The Win (designer Michael Eskue, artist Eric J. Carter, publisher Tasty Minstrel), a nice little open-information zero-luck abstract that I picked up in the first Kickstarter I ever backed.  We hadn't played since last July, when I wrote about my initial impression of the game in some detail, so it was fun to come back to this one with fresh eyes.  We just had time for one game, but it was a nice satisfying diversion while the chicken marinaded until it was time to put it on the grill.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Boats, coffee, and gladiators: Gaming after work

Yesterday after work, a bunch of us gathered for games at our Friendly Local Game Store (FLGS) Game Parlor Chantilly.

(c) Calliope Games
Used by persmission
Tsuro of the Seas
Not all of us had arrived before five of us (Keith Ferguson, Carson, Brian, Grant Greffey, and myself) got impatient enough to start a quick game of Tsuro of the Seas (designers Tom McMurchie and Jordan Weisman; artists Ilonka Sauciuc and Dawne Weisman; publisher Calliope Games).  In our limited experience with this game, the dragons that were added to the original Tsuro only serve to prolong the game and randomize the outcome, so we elected to play with just the original rules and no dragons.  I didn't realize until at least halfway into the game that the TotS board is actually larger than the original - I think seven-by-seven squares rather than six-by-six.  Regardless, the game play is largely the same, and with five players, it unfolds much as you would expect.  Four of us made something of a beeline for the center, while Grant meandered in looking for a good opening.  Of course, once the wakes start to meet and players find themselves facing the same empty tile space, the real strategy comes in.  Tom and Traci M. arrived just as things were getting frantic, and it wasn't five minutes before players started falling off the map one by one until I had the last boat left facing the last empty tile space on the board to win the game.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Dice Hate Me trifecta!

(c) Dice Hate Me Games
Used by permission
In just the last few years (as anyone who has followed Man OverBoard already knows), I've had the pleasure of getting to know Chris and Cherilyn Kirkman of Dice Hate Me Games.  Dice Hate Me was one of the first blogs I ever started following, and it was great to meet them at WBC 2011.  That's where they introduced me to T.C. Petty III, with whom they were playtesting VivaJava: The Coffee Game.  I've since had the opportunity to hang out with Chris and T.C. at multiple conventions over the last couple of years.  They also introduced me to Ben Rosset at PrezCon 2012 when he was playtesting "Stranded."  Last summer I got to try out Ben's Mars Needs Mechanics at WBC and have since had a number of great conversations with him about our thoughts on game design.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

UnPub 3 Part IV: Brewing beer and getting GIPF

Brewmasters
Chris Kirkman (left) fermenting a concoction in
"Brewmasters" by Ben Rosset (right)
In the last prototype game that I played at UnPub 3, I joined Chris Kirkman and Ben Rosset in a three-player round of Ben's "Brewmasters."  I have to say, this game is neck-and-neck with "Post Position" for my favorite game of all of those that I played at UnPub.  Players represent presidents of microbreweries, and the goal is to score the most points by producing beer.  Beer options include basic, tried-and-true recipes like porter, stout, and ale, while other more exotic concoctions like "pumpkin spice ale" score more points per unit brewed.  Players need to manage not only the acquisition of ingredients but the throughput of the brewing operation, from storage to fermenting to bottling to shipping.

Friday, January 25, 2013

UnPub 3 Part III: Three players, four publishers, and plenty of pancakes

East India Company - Three-player playtest
Ben Rosset (left) and Stephen Craig clearly enjoying the
game playing excitement that is "East India Company"
Late on the first day of UnPub 3, designers Ben Rosset and Stephen Craig joined me for a three-player game of EIC.  This game unfolded in a couple of unusual ways.  Ben gradually built up his fleet until he had four ships - two small, two medium - and fell into a pattern in which his four ships went to four different colonies, bought four different goods, and returned to Europe to unload all four ships in the same turn.  It was kind of an odd cycle, but it worked, because the diversification of commodities meant that he wasn't competing with himself.  Stephen tried a couple of different things before he eventually invested in a big ship and started making the long China spice run.  I think he might have made that trip twice by the end of the game.  I decided to try the "chaining markets" strategy of buying tobacco in one place, bringing it to another colony that bought tobacco and sold ivory, buying ivory to bring it somewhere else that bought ivory, and so on.  My method must have worked, because I ended up winning in a pretty narrow range of scores.  Although the game ran 150 minutes (a little on the long side for a three-player game), I was pretty happy with how it turned out.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

UnPub 3 Part II: Pig Pen, Playtesting, and Post Position

Kevin Kulp (left) explains Pig Pen to Jesse
Catron (right) and another gamer at UnPub3
Pig Pen
I first met designer Kevin Kulp at Congress of Gamers last October, when he playtested "East India Company."  He'd mentioned his set-building card game Pig Pen, but I never got to try it out at CoG.  So I was glad to find him and learn the game in a three-player session.  Pig Pen is just a fun, crazy draw-one-play-one game of assembling a pig pen consisting of four fences or walls, a gate, and a feed card.  Once those pieces are in place, a player can draw a pig and keep it in the pen - at least until something bad happens, such as an opponent taking a chainsaw to your wooden fence or detonating dynamite on your brick wall.  Then you've got one turn to repair the damage, or your pig runs away, potentially into the waiting arms of another player.  Oh, the betrayal!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

UnPub3 Part I: Power Playtesting

I have begun to catch up on my sleep, and now I will begin to catch up on my blogging with a series of postsUnPub 3 event in Magnolia, Delaware, where 45 designers plus other gamers convened to playtest unpublished games in an open forum over two days.
on last weekend's

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

WBC: Designers' forum

One of the great things about a convention like the World Boardgaming Championships is having the opportunity to interact with fellow designers.  The open gaming room at WBC was practically an informal design laboratory of demonstrations and playtesting.

TC Petty III's Viva Java
Image courtesy of
Dice Hate Me Games
My friend Keith F. and I had only the briefest chat with one of my favorite designers, T.C. Petty III, whom I met at WBC last year when he was demonstrating the semi-cooperative Viva Java, a game that has already seen its successful Kickstarter campaign and has a Dice Hate Me release expected this month.  T.C. is working on a couple of ideas that sound characteristically original and off-beat.  It will be fun to see what creations find their way to production out of his unique perspective on game design.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Losing "For The Win"

Kathy (black) wins second game
of For The Win.  Can I blame it
on the martini?
I recently received my copy of For The Win (designer Michael Eskue, artist Eric J. Carter, publisher Tasty Minstrel) from its Kickstarter campaign.  I was intrigued by early reviews that compared it to Hive!, which I enjoy but which my wife dislikes.  Something about FTW struck me as different - a lighter theme, a more approachable mechanic, not sure what - different enough, at least, to kick in and see what Michael E. had put together.

I hadn't bothered with the pre-release print-and-play version because, to me, the appeal of FTW as it was for Hive! is the physical domino-quality tileset.  Yes, the gameplay is important, but as with 24/7 and Confusion: Espionage and Deception in the Cold War, there's a tactile gratification to handling the bakelite-style game pieces.  And FTW does not disappoint.  In fact, somehow I had the mistaken impression that the tiles would be significantly smaller.  I had envisioned something like 7/8-inch (22mm) squares, but they are in fact 1 1/4 - inch (31mm) square, a very comfortably sized playing piece.  
Bakelite-quality square tiles make for a gratifying tactile experience.


We played our first two rounds of FTW at our customary cocktail hour this afternoon.   We found the game to be easy to understand but tricky to strategize, as I suppose any good two-player abstract game should be.  It is also a rather quick play.  I think it took Kathy less than 45 minutes to learn the game and beat me twice at it.  Now, to be fair, the first game we were taking a rather ad hoc approach just to get the feel of the game and the mechanics of the rules.  It was in the second game that we each buckled down and tried to exercise some real tactics.  (And, yes, she won that game, too.)


As it happens, Kathy and I misinterpreted (that is, I misread the rule and misled my wife) the behavior of the monkey's banana.  We assumed that the monkey's banana action renders all tiles adjacent to the monkey face down (inactive), regardless of original state.  Instead, a closer reading of the rules shows that "tiles that were face up are now face down and vice versa [emphasis added]."  So now I see the monkey in a whole new light.  The monkey can be used to activate multiple friendly pieces in a single action.  <Bwa-ha-ha-HAH>  I make no claim that this rule misinterpretation was in any way a factor in my losing the game twice in a row.  I just wanted to point that out.  

All kidding aside, we really like FTW as a two-player abstract short game with simple rules, no luck, and considerable potential for depth.  I'm reluctant to call it a "filler" only because we don't know just how tactically challenging it might prove.  I have to say, I'm very pleased with this Kickstarter discovery.