Apr 022014
 

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Last week I started a contest to give away three copies of my new game. That contest is over, and we have three winners! Congratulations to Entry #670 Michael C., Entry #8 Jason L., and Entry #708 Nathan S. If you’re one of the three winners, and you have not received an email from me, please get in touch and let me know where I can send the game!

About Village Idiot

Life in a medieval village can be very political. On one side you have the Mayor – respected, powerful, able to affect real change. On the other side you have the Village Idiot.

I’ve been working on this one for a little while – finally the art came together for me and the last bits of play testing concluded. The proofs arrived a little over a week ago! The PnP version will be free. DriveThruCards will be $6.75 plus shipping, but comes with no tuck box. The Game Crafter will be $10.99 plus shipping but comes shrink wrapped in a nice tuck box. In both cases my profit margin is pretty damned slim.

Honestly I’m not looking to make a ton of cash off of this fairly simple title – but more I want to stay active in design and keep new and titles arriving every three months or so if I can.

The Game

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Challenge other players to a battle of skill and luck. Add to the rules of the game as you seize power but beware! No one is above the law. Claw your way to the top and do your best to stay there in this fast, fun, trick taking game with a twist! Village Idiot plays in less than an hour for 3-10 people ages 10 plus. You’ll be jumping right out of your seat!

Based on several classic party games, Village Idiot combines trick taking, rules making and six rounds of play with every round progressively changing as players build upon the basic rules.

Easy to learn as all of the rules fit on two standard, poker sized cards. Village Idiot can be played with family or friends and be as fun or as cutthroat as you want it to be!

If you’ve ever played the game ‘President’, this is fairly similar. I’m also told it’s pretty close to the Great Dalmuti (but I’ve not played that one) with a few tweaks. It’s got a definitive end now, a point scoring system and is family friendly. I’ve got it listed as ages 10+ but I should note that my 8 year old has no problems with the game. She’s an old hat at play testing and game playing though so your mileage may vary when it comes to other 8 year olds.

Where to Purchase Village Idiot

TGC

dtcDriveThruCards for $6.75 plus shipping

The Game Crafter for $10.99 plus shipping.

About Ben

I'm a geek. A nerd, a dweeb, whatever. Yes I owned garb, yes I still own medieval weaponry. And yeah, I could kick your butt in Mechwarrior the CCG. I love video games, role playing games, tactical board games and all forms of speculative fiction. I will never berate someone for wanting to be a Jedi and take everything Gary Gygax ever wrote as gospel. Well, all of this but that last bit.

Mar 262014
 

cardback3Village Idiot is a fast, trick taking game of medieval village politics!

Life in a medieval village can be very political. On one side you have the Mayor – respected, powerful, able to affect real change. On the other side you have the Village Idiot.

Challenge other players to a battle of skill and luck. Add to the rules of the game as you seize power but beware! No one is above the law. Claw your way to the top and do your best to stay there in this fast, fun, trick taking game with a twist! Village Idiot plays in less than an hour for 3-10 people. You’ll be jumping right out of your seat!

Based on several classic party games, Village Idiot combines trick taking, rules making and six rounds of play with every round progressively changing as players build upon the basic rules.

Win one of three copies

Between March 26th and April 2nd, I’ll be running a give away where you can win one of three copies printed through DriveThruCards! One of these copies will be reserved for a winner outside of the united states. Use this handy Rafflecopter widget to enter! Feel free to retweet and get your free daily entries every day the contest is running.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Purchase Village Idiot

TGC

dtcDriveThruCards for $6.75 plus shipping

The Game Crafter for $10.99 plus shipping.

What’s the difference? They both use the same, high quality card stock.

VI-dtc

From DriveThruCards with the plastic case.

DriveThruCards do not offer an option to create a tuck box in which I can ship the game. They do have nice, plastic cases that retail for $1 to go along with the game.

VI-tgc

The Game Crafter version comes in a handy tuck box.

The Game Crafter does have the option to create tuck boxes, which I happily took advantage of. The game comes with a nice tuck box, and all the cards packaged inside it, with the whole thing being sealed in shrink wrap.

Playing the Game

You can download the rules and get a Print and Play version from Board Game Geek!

Objective: Become the mayor of your small, medieval village.

Game Play: The entire deck is dealt out to all of the players. The deck consists of numbered cards from 2 – 15. Several cards have special abilities or act as wild cards.

VImyhand

In round one, whoever has the Start card (a 4) begins play. Each player must then play one or two cards of a higher number. Play continues clockwise. The first player to discard all of their cards becomes the Mayor and scores 5 points. The second becomes the Councilor and scores 4 points, and so on.

The last player with cards in their hand becomes the Village Idiot.

VIcardviews

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Players then rearrange their seating So that play begins with the Mayor, proceeds to the Councilor and so on. The player who has become the Mayor then gets to add one rule to the game, which must be followed until the game ends. Any player who does not follow this rule finds themselves drawing more cards rather than playing them.

The game continues for six rounds, with seating changing and new rules entering play. At the end of the sixth round, the player with the most points wins.

Easy to learn as all of the rules fit on two standard, poker sized cards. Village Idiot can be played with family or friends and be as fun or as cutthroat as you want it to be!

Rules1 Rules2 Rules3 rules4

About Ben

I'm a geek. A nerd, a dweeb, whatever. Yes I owned garb, yes I still own medieval weaponry. And yeah, I could kick your butt in Mechwarrior the CCG. I love video games, role playing games, tactical board games and all forms of speculative fiction. I will never berate someone for wanting to be a Jedi and take everything Gary Gygax ever wrote as gospel. Well, all of this but that last bit.

Mar 182014
 

cardback3

Life in a medieval village can be very political. On one side you have the Mayor – respected, powerful, able to affect real change. On the other side you have the Village Idiot.

I’ve been working on this one for a little while – finally the art came together for me and the last bits of play testing concluded. The proofs arrived a little over a week ago! The PnP version will be free. DriveThruCards will be $6.75 plus shipping, but comes with no tuck box. The Game Crafter will be $10.99 plus shipping but comes shrink wrapped in a nice tuck box. In both cases my profit margin is pretty damned slim.

Honestly I’m not looking to make a ton of cash off of this fairly simple title – but more I want to stay active in design and keep new and titles arriving every three months or so if I can.

The Game

cardsVI

Challenge other players to a battle of skill and luck. Add to the rules of the game as you seize power but beware! No one is above the law. Claw your way to the top and do your best to stay there in this fast, fun, trick taking game with a twist! Village Idiot plays in less than an hour for 3-10 people ages 10 plus. You’ll be jumping right out of your seat!

Based on several classic party games, Village Idiot combines trick taking, rules making and six rounds of play with every round progressively changing as players build upon the basic rules.

Easy to learn as all of the rules fit on two standard, poker sized cards. Village Idiot can be played with family or friends and be as fun or as cutthroat as you want it to be!

If you’ve ever played the game ‘President’, this is fairly similar. I’m also told it’s pretty close to the Great Dalmuti (but I’ve not played that one) with a few tweaks. It’s got a definitive end now, a point scoring system and is family friendly. I’ve got it listed as ages 10+ but I should note that my 8 year old has no problems with the game. She’s an old hat at play testing and game playing though so your mileage may vary when it comes to other 8 year olds.

ranksVI

About Ben

I'm a geek. A nerd, a dweeb, whatever. Yes I owned garb, yes I still own medieval weaponry. And yeah, I could kick your butt in Mechwarrior the CCG. I love video games, role playing games, tactical board games and all forms of speculative fiction. I will never berate someone for wanting to be a Jedi and take everything Gary Gygax ever wrote as gospel. Well, all of this but that last bit.

Nov 252013
 

Seasons Redux

Seasons is a game that in which you are a mage, dueling other mages as you battle through four seasons and three years (for a grand total of 12 Seasons). I wrote a review of this game for the Google + games community, but I’m revisiting that review.

Why?

I played Seasons a number of times prior to writing my review. I have played it several times since. Some of my early criticisms are stronger criticisms now, but some of my early thoughts about gameplay have changed significantly.

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Gameplay – Planning

The game starts by players drafting a hand of cards which they will use for the rest of the game. Each player has 9 cards, and takes 1, and then passes the rest on to another player. Then each player takes 1, and then passes the rest on to another player. In this manner each player starts the game with 9 cards, but most of the cards have been seen by other players at the table.

A planning stage happens next, each player has to divide their cards by year. There are three years in the game, and you get three cards per year. This leads to a decision of “what do I need right now” versus “what could I use later in the game”.

Once this planning stage is complete, the actual game-play begins.

It should be noted that though the above drafting and planning doesn’t take a lot of the game time they are key activities the entire rest of the game will unfold in large part based on the effectiveness of your early plan.

Gameplay – Battling

Each turn begins with a player rolling the dice that belong to the season of time that the mages are in. These dice will represent actions that can be taken on that turn. There is always one more dice than players at the table. The player is rolling for the entire table – dice are not re-rolled until the next turn (which may be in a different season).

Each player takes one of these dice, which represent their turn action. Then each player takes a turn, using the action on their dice and playing a card as they want to (each card has a cost associated with it, so a player will need to plan to gather the supplies necessary to pay for that card in order to put it into play).

Once each player has taken their turns, the die that has NOT been selected by any of the players will have an indication of how many spaces the wheel of time will move – in short, determining how quickly time moves and whether seasons will change.

There is a different set of dice for each season, and different options for resource collection based on that season. Players are trying to collect elements (there are four elements) in order to play cards in front of them. Each season makes one element more plentiful. This is the pull of the game – players need to maximize their turn in any given season, even if the season isn’t giving them the elements that they need.

After the passing of four seasons the year changes. Players get to add the cards to their hand that they set aside for that year. Then play continues much as before. Dice are rolled, actions are taken, cards are played.

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Points. Tell Me About the Points.

Players accumulate points by playing powerful cards (cards in front of them have victory points associated with them), and by moving their marker along the “crystal tracker” – which is essentially just a means of keeping score of overall points. At times players will sacrifice points on the tracker to play more powerful cards – since cards add points, and the tracker adds points, it is the combination of the two that will determine the winner.

This is combination of the scoring in a tableau-building game (like Race for the Galaxy or Fleet) with the scoring track found on many games (like Carcassonne or Ticket to Ride).

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Component Quality

My review of the components is strongly mixed.

On one hand, I love the dice. The colors are bright, they are well etched, and the symbols are clear and consistent. Many of the photos that accompany this review are of the dice, and they are the highlight of the game from a component perspective.

But then there are the cards. They are thin and inflexible. The artwork is busy. The theme of the game is fantasy-kitsch. Many of the cards have a strong fantasy theme, but others have more of a kitschy feel. If you are trying to paint a visual picture of the theme of the game, think of fantasy art with rabbits in the mix.

This vibrant artwork is on the card, along with the cost necessary to play the card, and text explaining the card’s abilities. I find this aesthetically to be too much information on any given card, and really wish that the art was simpler and more minimalistic.

The scoring track is crowded and oddly shaped. Initially this wasn’t important to us but after multiple plays this became a strong annoyance. Trackers are moved up and back on the score track at times multiple times in a turn, and this action takes a bit of time as players try to puzzle out where their markers are located.

The dice are best in class – they are chunky and weighty and well structured. It is a shame that the cards don’t have a similar overall quality to them.

Review of Gameplay

There were a few surprises for me in this game.

I anticipated that this would be a game where a lot of cards are drawn through the game, and this isn’t the case.

Your initial cards, and the way you portion them out by year ends up being a huge part of how the game plays out. Make no mistake about it, this is a programmable game. The dice add a bit of a surprise element, but only in how many elements are available and what actions are available at a given time. If there is a “bad” roll of the dice, it affects every at the table equally – so this isn’t a scenario where you should think dice = individual luck.

The initial planning ends up being extremely important. This is essentially a game about planning what you can do on any given year from before the gameplay actually starts, and in addition you will typically have an idea of what cards your opponents are choosing because you are drafting off the same initial draw.

Pros and Cons and Pros and Cons

Pros

  • This game is fun. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, and mainly features rolling big colorful dice and playing cards with vibrant art.
  • This game is competitive.  Players learn how to counter other player’s cards, how to set up card combinations, and how to pace the cards.

Cons

  • The theme feels pasted-on. I expected that this game would be saturated with theme, and instead the theme feels like an afterthought. Technically this is a game about battling mages, but if I hadn’t read that in the rulebook I wouldn’t have known.
  • Artwork on cards is busy, and the cards feel thin.

Overall, I’m happy to have this game in my collection.  After a mixed initial experience, the gameplay became highly competitive and strategic.  This is not a game for everyone, and one I suggest trying before buying.

 

About Jon Beall

I am obsessed with all things related to board games. I suggests playing board games every day, even when my only audience is my three meeple-loving cats. I am married to the Political Mastermind, a gamer who beats me at least 70% of the time. This has led to the creation of "Losing at Board Games", a column which I write bi-weekly on Mondays.

Oct 232013
 

beards

Today we’re going to talk card stock and long, flowing beards. And who better to do that with than Brian Liberge? And who even better to that with? His partner in crime, the longest beard on the podcast, Dan Curran! He’s got an ongoing Kickstarter that handily covers both of these topics! We’ll also touch on the formation of this card game, development and how Brian got into the gaming business in the first place. Check them out at Beer Star Games, on DriveThruRPG and please do check out the Kickstarter below. This looks like a hell of a party game!

Extra Life

I’d also like to mention that this year’s Extra Life campaign is live! I’ll be playing table top games for not 24 hours straight, but 25 hours straight to raise money for Children’s Hospitals. Please check out my Extra Life page and if you have a few bucks, I’d greatly appreciate your sponsorship!

We would love to get your feedback about our show! Contact me with comments: ben@trollitc.com, follow me on twitter @trollitc, and also check us out on iTunes! Hell, you can even catch us on Stitcher.  While you’re at it, there’s the Indie Talks Facebook page and the Indie Talks Google+ page. MySpace…well, I won’t go there if you wont. Please do rate this podcast on iTunes, and leave feedback through any of these links!

 

About Ben

I'm a geek. A nerd, a dweeb, whatever. Yes I owned garb, yes I still own medieval weaponry. And yeah, I could kick your butt in Mechwarrior the CCG. I love video games, role playing games, tactical board games and all forms of speculative fiction. I will never berate someone for wanting to be a Jedi and take everything Gary Gygax ever wrote as gospel. Well, all of this but that last bit.

Oct 212013
 

4x Champion (Copy)The Fools Print and Play PDF is available! Grab it here or at DriveThruCards directly – both for free.

A quick, fun trick taking card game in the land of Fairy!

Available at DriveThruCards - as both printed cards and now at DriveThruRPG downloadable Print and Play PDF!

Fools! Is a fast paced and fun card game that can be played with 2-4 players in less than half an hour. Each player takes the part of a Fairy Lord who brings their vast host of fairies to a grand tourney held once a year.

Over the course of a day, many battles are fought in the Grand Tourney, giving individual fairies a chance to show their skills on the field of battle.

As a Fairy Lord, you will use all of your magic and power to fill your armies with the most powerful fairies. If you sometimes slip a poor little sprite (or even a fool) into your opponents army, or replace one of your brownies with a knight, well it’s not cheating if it’s done magically! But be careful for the Fairy Queens, Kings and Champions will not stand for any trickery!

At the end of every battle, you will be presented with the three fairies in your army who were the bravest and most impressive. If your three fairies are more impressive than your opponents, you’ve scored a victory point! After all, it’s not the actual battle that counts in the Realm of Fairy, it’s the style and cunning it’s fought with that counts.

Each player draws a small ‘army’ of 3 face down cards and a hand of three cards. The army cards represent those fairies who will distinguish themselves in battle. Your hand represents fairies and fools you can use to hinder your opponents or strengthen your own army.

Cards can be played as Standard Bearers, some with special effects. Players are then required to replace a card in their opponent’s army with one from their hand. They may then replace a card in their own army with one from their hand. Through this all, their army cards remain hidden from everyone.

At the end of each turn, your hand is discarded and your army cards are revealed. Points are added up and the highest score wins the turn.

2 player games play to 5 points, 3 players to 4 points and 4 players to three points.

About Ben

I'm a geek. A nerd, a dweeb, whatever. Yes I owned garb, yes I still own medieval weaponry. And yeah, I could kick your butt in Mechwarrior the CCG. I love video games, role playing games, tactical board games and all forms of speculative fiction. I will never berate someone for wanting to be a Jedi and take everything Gary Gygax ever wrote as gospel. Well, all of this but that last bit.

Oct 152013
 

card-back1

Gaido, the simple, fast and amazingly fun card game of traveling through Medieval Japan has reached a new version! In V0.95, entirely redesigned cards! Same awesome artwork, new iconography. New rule book, with more pictures, better examples and simplified rules and language – everything is getting streamlined!

Grab the PDF right here! All you’ll need to play is this PDF, some scissors and 24 bits of some sort or another – cubes, pennies, paper clips.

Journey through medieval Japan

Medieval Japan has so much to offer in the way of scenery! Vast mountains, quaint villages, hidden shrines and much more. The real treasures however are those that jump and fly – the rare brown squirrels, cranes, egrets and eagles who make their homes in remote locations. These hard to find creatures are the ultimate destination of any tour of the countryside.

In Gaido, players take on the role of guides and travelers journeying through the countryside of medieval Japan. Guide duties are shared, with each player taking the responsibility for one day of their journey. The guide directs the group of players through the Japanese landscape, to their journey’s end. Only the current guide can decide when a journey is over.

There are four animals the group is trying to spot, squirrels, cranes, egrets and eagles. These animals are found in four different locations and represent the end of a journey. On the play table, players will create four stacks of cards, called Journeys. These stacks represent the different paths to the four animals.

Every Journey card has a Kanji symbol on it which indicates how many points each player will receive when that stack is scored. Cards can be played facing any direction. There are sixteen Journey cards and four Journey’s End cards which, when played on one of the four journeys will immediately end that journey and score that stack of cards.

Gaido offers interesting play choices, with a strategy that’s deeper than it first appears and a simple play style. Only 20 cards and 24 counters in size, it’s played in an average of 15-20 minutes.

journey 4aaaa

 

About Ben

I'm a geek. A nerd, a dweeb, whatever. Yes I owned garb, yes I still own medieval weaponry. And yeah, I could kick your butt in Mechwarrior the CCG. I love video games, role playing games, tactical board games and all forms of speculative fiction. I will never berate someone for wanting to be a Jedi and take everything Gary Gygax ever wrote as gospel. Well, all of this but that last bit.

Oct 082013
 

journey 2aaa

Gaido

Medieval Japan has so much to offer in the way of scenery! Mountains, quaint villages, hidden shrines and more. The real treasures however are those that jump and fly – the rare brown squirrels, cranes, egrets and eagles who make their homes in remote locations. These hard to find creatures are the ultimate destination of any tour of the countryside.

In Gaido, players take on the role of guides and travelers journeying through the countryside of medieval Japan. Guide duties are shared, with each player taking the responsibility for one day of their journey. The guide directs the group of players through the Japanese landscape, to their journey’s end. Only the current guide can decide when a journey is over.

DTC-Journeys End 2

Download the Print and Play prototype

Gaido is a simple game of guides and journeys with some interesting mechanics and a deeper underlying strategy than may first be apparent. It’s also now available as a public play test, which you can try out by downloading the 9 page PDF.  All you’ll need to play is this PDF, a pair of scissors and 24 pennies or other counters.

Overview

There are four animals the group are trying to spot. Squirrels, cranes, egrets and eagles. These animals are found in four different locations. On the play table, players will create four stacks of cards, called Journeys. These stacks represent the different paths to the four animals.

Every Journey card has a series of arrows on it which indicates how many points each player will receive when that stack is scored. Cards can be played facing any direction. There are sixteen Journey cards.

There are also four Journey’s End cards which, when played on one of the four journeys will immediately end that journey and score that stack of cards.

Gaido offers, I think, some very interesting play choices, with a strategy that’s deeper than it first appears and a simple play style. Only 20 cards and 24 counters in size, it’s played over three rounds and takes an average of 15-20 minutes to complete an entire game.

I talk about my rational for designing this in the previous Game School Article. Unfortunately I also show a bit of the goofy initial play test PnP artwork as well. Play testing has been fast and furious and the game is shaping up to look pretty good. Now I need eyes on it that are willing to be much more critical. So go ahead and try it out!

How I design a play test prototype

For those interested in my process for designing and playing a prototype – I first wrote down all of my ideas in a Gdrive document. That’s where I’ve ended up doing most of my work these days in just about any game development.

After I had the rules written up in very rough form, I created the quick and dirty (and awful) print and play cards shown in the previous article. I printed out a few sets of these, ended up grabbing some paper clips at work and pennies at home and I started playing against myself.

journey 3aWhen I had determined that the mechanics were solid enough with a few tweaks and one change about how the Journey stacks were scored, I invited in a few other folks I know to play test. Some co-workers helped out and some family members and I got a fair number (over 20) full games in. This pointed out some further tweaks that either went into the rules (lots of working changes to make more sense, and I’m still not there) and will go into the finished components. For instance, of the 24 cubes, they’ll be 12 green and 12 blue to help better pick and put aside Reward cubes as opposed to cubes that will remain in play for the rest of the game.

Now that I had that done, It was time to do some art. I have all of my artwork in one folder, and narrowed it down to the art I wanted to use for the box art/card backing, and each of the four Journeys and four Journey’s End cards.

From there, I had to create the only text on the cards – initially they were going to be some pretty fantastic Japanese symbology, but in game play it proved to be to hard to figure out. So I settled for a few < and > in a fancy psuedo-japanese font. Putting it all together in GIMP, I re-sized the artwork so it would match up with DriveThruCard’s 2.75″ by 3.75″ template. This included making sure nothing important like the arrows or the chop on the images fell off through the bleed and was chopped out of the cards.

We’ll see how I did in a few weeks as I’ve already ordered a prototype from DTC.

To set up the Print and Play portion of this, I went through all of the game play directions I had and did my best to sift and sort, cut and change until I have the least amount of text with the most and easiest description.  I’m not there yet, but I’ve gotten it down from 5 pages of text to 4 pages with images, so I’m making good progress!

I also imported all of the card images into a Word document, gave each image a solid white border to space it out and then combined the two documents, the instructions and the cards into one PDF. Saved as a reduced size PDF it’s about 1.1 MB in size and 9 pages long.

Now that you’ve read all this, I’d really love it if you’d go read about the game itself, and perhaps give it a whirl! Let me know what you think!

Join us at the Game School on Google Plus – a community of designers, developers and enthusiasts.

card-back1

About Ben

I'm a geek. A nerd, a dweeb, whatever. Yes I owned garb, yes I still own medieval weaponry. And yeah, I could kick your butt in Mechwarrior the CCG. I love video games, role playing games, tactical board games and all forms of speculative fiction. I will never berate someone for wanting to be a Jedi and take everything Gary Gygax ever wrote as gospel. Well, all of this but that last bit.