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Friday, 19 July 2013

First Impressions: Space Dice

My collection doesn’t include many Filler games, as we have moved away from the shorter playing games, preferring games that take around an hour, however when Jon asked me to take a look at Space Dice, I couldn’t say no.


Theme

In Space Dice the players are each trying to create their own habitable galaxy, however black holes and space debris has it in for the masters of the universe.


Unboxed

What do you get in the tube?

  • 15 12-sided dice

  • 1 rulesheet

  • 1 cardboard dice holding tube

So, not a lot, but what you get is nice. The symbols on the dice are nicely coloured and easy to see and the dice themselves are of a good quality, as is the tube they come in. Unfortunately the dice use red and green which could be a problem for players with r/g colour blindness. Also the symbols are not engraved into the dice, so they could wear off after a lot of use, but so far I’ve had no issues.

Overall, Jon has put together a great little package, the dice are big and easy to use and see from a distance and the game has a feeling of quality. The rules however could use some work as I’ll explain below.


Playing the Game

Playing Space Dice is easy.

Take four dice and roll them, DO NOT TOUCH THE DICE! This is important because the position of the dice on the table matters. Firstly check to see if you have rolled any Suns. If so then any Planets you have rolled will score you points (Hoorah). You only need one sun to make all rolled planets habitable. Each habitable planet scores you a point, if you have 10 points at the start of your turn you win.

If you have rolled any Black Holes you’re going to keep those too. Three Black Holes ends your turn and you score zero for the round.

Now look at the comets (Space Debris) in your galaxy. If you have a sun or a black hole the space debris stays in your system. It now moves in the direction that it is facing through your galaxy. It travels in a straight line, if it hits a planet that planet is destroyed and cannot score.

Any remaining planets are moved to your score pile along with any black holes. You can now choose to stop and bank your planets or you can roll again, any dice that did not roll scoring planet or black holes are used again, adding additional dice from the tube until you have four dice. You can continue to roll until you score three black holes or a super nova, see below for more details.

Space Debris that is not held in by a Sun or Black Hole i.e. if you only roll planets and space debris, can be used to knock 1 point per dice off your opponents. In this way you can stop a player who has ten or more points from winning the game when their turn starts.


Thoughts

First up, this game is very similar to other dice rolling games like Zombie Dice, but it’s a little more interesting because the position of the dice matters. Also it features a little more player interaction in the form of free floating Space Debris.

The rules are written in a very light and easy to read manner, however, they don't really describe the Space Debris rules very clearly, in fact I only realised how Space Debris worked when I looked at the diagram. Overall I love the style of the rules but I think in this instance more clarification is needed.

I also didn’t play with the full rules for the Super Nova. In the rules when a player rolls the Super Nova, everybody’s scores are reduced to zero. In our first game we rolled more than half a dozen of these, the game would have gone on forever. So instead we house ruled that a Super Nova simply counts as 3 Black Holes, ending your turn immediately.

Other than these two minor niggles I found the game enjoyable. It’s quick and easy to explain, although getting players used to NOT picking up the dice after they’ve rolled can be tricky. The ability to attack other players with your Free Floating Space Debris can extend the playing time but you could house rule this out if you want a shorter or less confrontational game.


Final Thoughts

I like it. As a push your luck dice game intended to bookend a longer game, it’s fun, with a couple of house rules, and easy to get people going with. As a full evenings entertainment, no, but there again it’s not really what it’s designed to be. It’s very portable though and it works well with gamers of all ages. If this sounds like your cup of tea then why not check out Jon’s site and pick up a copy for yourself.

Until next time, have fun gaming,

Chris

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Board Game News Special: Realmsound

A reader brought this campaign to my attention a couple of weeks back, but as the Kickstarter draws to a close it doesn’t look like it’s going to make it’s target.

The guys behind Realmsound are doing something pretty special in creating a massive library of very good quality sound effects and music tracks for use with any fantasy Roleplaying Game.

I loved what I heard so much that I had to jump in, making this only the third KS I’ve backed, but one I would love to see succeed.

If you’ve been looking to enhance your roleplaying with an audio component, then go pledge and help make this happen!

Visit the Kickstarter page or watch the video below.

 

Monday, 15 July 2013

Incredibrawl–Warning: Contains Fun!

Sometimes you sit down to a game, like Agricola or Power Grid and although you have a good time and you definitely feel like you played a game, did you actually have fun? Well that’s what this week’s guest post from Jake Leeman is all about, designing games to deliver fun in a box. Take it away Jake.

Emphasize the Fun

It’s amazing how much thinking goes into every little detail. Some might think that creating a casual game somehow means it’s less work, but we’d beg to differ (but we’ll readily concede that creating a full-blown board game is an even more daunting task!).

Something that I’ve been particularly keen on lately is in keeping “fun” as a core tenant of my game design philosophy. There are lots of great games that I’d classify as strategic, or intense, or some other fancy adjective… but how many are just plain fun? Creating a fun game has been the main focus for the development of IncrediBrawl, from both a gameplay and visual standpoint.

Throughout the initial stages of the game, the first thing that tried to creep its way into the game was complexity. Can we make the combat more complex? Shouldn’t all the characters fight different ways? Should they have stats? While none of these ideas are bad in and of themselves, each time something like this was added to the gameplay, it turned into a very different game experience. Gone was the beauty of simplicity, as combat became the focus instead of the characters and their unique abilities. The fun was missing, so the complexity had to go.Location_CardsThis emphasis has carried itself through the whole development process. Each game rule, character concept, and special ability has to been viewed through this lens of fun. Another great example was in the Locations game mode option. Locations are the areas that the characters’ brawl takes place at each round. Each has a unique condition that if met gives the winner of the brawl a bonus Glory (VP). Several of these abilities are based on character type, classifications such as “Humans”, “Sci-Fi Characters”, “Supernatural Characters”, etc.

Several playgroups expressed concerns that the characters weren’t typed on their cards. Was a Werewolf human or animal? Was a Robo-Shark a Sci-Fi character? Our rules stated that this was up for player discussion and debate, encouraging table-talk and fun banter. We looked long and hard at this ambiguity after that feedback, and it really came down to what best kept with the tone of the game.

Our initial inclination was to keep it as is, as that really fit the spirit of the game. However, one of the beautiful things about Kickstarter is the ability to listen and adapt, before the game is printed. The feedback we were getting was that while some liked the humorous banter, even more were put off by it. We deliberated on what to do, if anything, for some time. But again, we came down to using the lens of fun to guide our decision. Was it fun to use clear-cut definitions to avoid arguments and frustration? We could see that to a lot of groups, that would indeed be more fun. And in the end, we decided to shift the rule around to use this “typed” way first, with the optional rule to play more casually if desired – that way each group could easily play the way that is more fun for them.Location_CardsLately we’ve been getting down to some very nit-picky, but important, details on the design side for IncrediBrawl. One example I’d thought I’d share is something as simple as our card backs. We designed so many options on these backs… with the main goal being differentiating between the four player decks clearly and quickly.

In the end, we had two great options. One was in perfect harmony with the card fronts and matched completely, and the other introduced something new to the printed cards that felt slightly different, but also felt a lot more fun. In the end, we decided on fun. That’s the point of the game, after all. So why not let it shine, wherever possible, and let it shake things up? Well we did, and we love it. So much that it’s now creeping its way into the other design-related aspects of the game, from our ads to our Kickstarter graphics.

Fun_CardBacks

In the end, for a casual game like IncrediBrawl, tone is everything. The theme, the art, the game rules… they all need to live in harmony and emphasize that key element: fun. To me, it results in a more cohesive experience for the players, and makes for a more memorable game. And hopefully leads to a whole lot of laughter and good memories, game after game.

You can get your own copy of IncrediBrawl on Kickstarter now

You can learn more about IncrediBrawl on the V3G website

Follow V3G on Twitter and like them on Facebook to stay up-to-date on their latest games.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Fortress Moon – One Giant Step for Father and Son

This week’s guest post comes from Thorin Thompson as he presents the ideas behind Fortress Moon and the work that has gone into making it a reality. Take it away Thorin.

My Father and I are creating a Boardgame!

Hi, I'm Thorin Thompson, Co-creator & Graphic Designer for a brand new game called Fortress Moon! Fortress Moon is a strategic boardgame set in a 1950s Retro Future.FM_ Main Picture

The initial idea to make a boardgame came from my Father, Alan Thompson, who for eons has wanted to develop his own games and had done so on a very small scale before, but never farther from the prototype stage.

One day he was telling me about this old scifi dime store novel he was reading and, “Wouldn't it be cool to turn something like that into a boardgame.” I decided why the heck not and that's how it all started.

We began by creating a storyline for the world the game was set, so that we could further develop the pieces/ cards/ and mechanics of the game.

The Story goes something like this:

The Second World War lasted longer than expected. It wasn't until 1953 that the fighting ceased. War torn Earth was in shambles and precious energy sources has been fast depleted.

However, technologies brought about through the war allowed Man to land on the Moon. There scientists discovered Element X (remember this is set in the 50's), which when refined was found to be a powerful source of energy.

Mine-bases were soon built by the Great Nations of the Time; the United States, the USSR, and the Republic of China. With the new energy source being sent back to Earth times were looking up, but the Lunar Miners and their families felt they weren't being treated fairly. Conditions were getting worse everyday. Riots began and soon a Great Revolt. The Miners stood as one calling themselves the Lunar Colonists. They drove off anyone not sympathetic to their cause. Earth was feeling the strain of this Revolt and as a last ditch effort launched space ships loaded with armies to the Moon!

This is were are game takes place. The beginning of a 6 Wave Attack from the combined Earth Forces. The Lunar Colonists have converted their mining equipment into weapons of war. Why even the Mechanical Operated Miners (or M.O.M. Units) were reprogrammed for fighting!

We've even gone as far as writing up stories for different units in the game, like the MOM Unit that was designed by a company that first started making vacuums. There's a unit called a Battle Craft that is a converted McCarthy Shuttle that transported VIP Personnel from one Mine-base to another.

My Father and I love telling stories (which is why we have bi-weekly D&D sessions and why he played a monster in my short horror film 'Oil & Blood.' But that's a whole other story!)

 

Game Play:

So with the story established we when onto developing what the ascetics would look like. It wasn't always gonna be a Retro Style Scifi and in fact we had some early designs that were pointing more along the lines of Halo. Not something we wanted! So we scratched all those idea and started from beginning. We hired Jordyn Boci to sketch out our designs and together we looked from dozens of old pulp art from the 50's

In the mean time I started designing the game board. Having never designed a game board before this took a lot of trial and error before I got it right. There were always going be Mine-bases, that one player, posing as the Lunar Colonists, had to hold against 3 Invading Earth Armies.

FM_Game Board_1

I first found a bunch of high res images of the moon and pieced them together then started spacing out all the zones. Like I said it took it a long time to get it right. Then I went out and took pictures of different metal textures and doo-heckies and started piecing them together to form the “control panel” for the board. My idea was that all the players could pretend to be looking down at a computer panel from some hidden bunker on the moon!

Initially all the Earth Forces were on one side of the board, but that's been done so many times that I decided it'd be fun to stick the USSR player at the top of the board. Once that was all figured out it was time to design the Game Cards.

Game Cards:

The cards in the game are like transmissions from command and so with the metal textures I had for the board I began working on the cards, giving them a rusty used feeling. Like this is some transponder that an infantry guy would carry around with him to receive the messages

.Card Display_1

The Cards were just another idea that we eventually decided to bring into the game to change it up from other war games that focus mainly on how many troops you have on the board. They really do a wonderful job of changing up the game entirely and I honestly can't remember a playtest where the game has been exactly the same.FM_Comic Artists Sketch_1

New Artists:

Some time along the way my Father met up with Buzz Setzer, Darryl Banks, and Charles Barnett III, all these guys have worked with Marvel and DC comics in the 90's! They became interested in our boardgame so we sent them some sketches that Jordyn did for the Units and they began drawing up pictures. We loved their art work and decided they were the right guys to draw up not only the cover art for the game but also the pictures that will be associated with each of the game cards.

FM_Comic Artists Sketch_2

Mudd Sculpts:

We just recently got our sculpts in and they're really cool! We can't wait to get some copies made for the prototype so that'll start feeling like a real game.

 

Current Events:

It's be a little over a year since we sat down with Jordyn in a coffee shop and started spit balling ideas back and forth about what the story was and what the pieces should look like. It's been a fun ride and we're all ready to see this journey through.

Right now my Father and I are “taking the game on the road” and playtesting it with strangers in local game/comic shops around the area. At the same we're getting ready to go the DragonCon and Launch our Kickstarter Campaign. We're hoping to raise enough funds to make a small run of a 1000 units of the game.

Earth Forces

Social Media:

We're sending out transmissions all the time via: Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Instagram

And of course our website: www.fortressmoon.com

Contact Thorin Thompson at plus1hammer@gmail.com

Lunar Colonists Banner

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