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The Village Square: November 24, 2014

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We hope you enjoyed our Holiday Gift Guide last week. Things are returning back to normal around here and we’ll be enjoying a midweek break for American Thanksgiving. Time to check in with what’s going on around town. Be prepared, things might get a little silly.

 

Community Talk

Portrait - Andrew
Welcome back! I’m on my way to the Village Square now and…
RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAWWWWWWWWRRRR!!!!!
Dragon Avatar
Portrait - Andrew
Oh no! We didn’t visit the Dragon’s Peak last week. Hopefully he doesn’t rain destruction on our humble town. Where’s a brave adventurer when you need one?
Villager 4
At your service. Now where’s that dragon!??!?
Portrait - Andrew
Did you try looking up in the sky? You know, where that menacing roar came from.
Hi. I mean… RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAWWWWWWRRR!!!!
Dragon Avatar
Villager 4
Oh, hey Kenith.
Portrait - Andrew
Wait, aren’t you supposed to be dragon slayers?
Villager 4
Yeah. But Kenith is cool.
Portrait - Andrew
I think he just set that house on fire…
Villager 4
That looks likes Filip’s place. Kenith really doesn’t like Filip.

Wiltgren Design Going On Hiatus

Sorry folks, but [Wiltgren Design] is going on hiatus until February 1. It’s become a bit much for me and so I’m cutting back on extra activities right now…

Hope to see you back when I resume again.

Community (Avatar) - Wiltgren Media

Filip Wiltgren
Wiltgren Design

Portrait - Andrew
We hope your break is refreshing Filip! We’ll try to rebuild your house while you’re gone. Or at least make it less on fire. In the mean time there will still be plenty of great articles here at iSlayTheDragon and all around town.

Now can someone please get that dragon out of here before he burns everything down?

Villager 3
We just need to give him something and he’ll leave peaceful. How about that copy of Twilight Imperium 3 over there?
Portrait - Wolfie
Hey, that’s mine!
Throw in that guy over there and you’ve got yourself a deal!
Dragon Avatar
Portrait - Jason
Is he talking about me?
Villager 3
Sorry Jason, it’s for the good of the village. You see, dragons can be bought if you know the right price. The challenge is setting the price. I bet that applies to board games as well. Perhaps the folks over at the League of Gamemakers can share their thoughts on the topic.

The Price is Right!

I have heard the standard is 5 times the cost of printing and freight. That works ok and I don’t really have a problem with it. It makes it very easy, but I wonder if there is a way to determine if you are hitting the sweet spot in the market. What other factors go in to setting MSRP? What makes a potential buyer look at a game and say either, “That game is priced too high” or “That game is way under priced”?
Community (Avatar) - League of Gamemakers

Jeff Cornelius
The League of Gamemakers

Portrait - Andrew
If you like thorough analysis accompanied by charts and graphs then this is an excellent article. If you’re looking for help in pricing your game then it’s a must read.
Villager 3
Another great source in our community for a business perspective is none other than your Friendly Local Game Store. TGIK Games share their experience with how it can serve as a useful tool for designers.

Ask Your FLGS (If You Have One)

I went to a game night at my local store and the owner happened to be manning the shop. Since no one else was in the shop, I started asking questions. How did they decide how to organize their shelves? What kinds of games are people picking up and looking at the most?

Portrait - Andrew
I think that Dragon is finally gone.
Villager 3
Actually, they’re playing Twilight Imperium now.
If I lose I’m going to eat that guy!
Dragon Avatar
Portrait - Jason
Please let him win.
Villager 3
Dragons are notoriously bad losers. Perhaps we could all learn a lesson on losing from Dr Wictz.

Thoughts on Winning: Losing

While players are emotionally invested in the games they play, they are very tolerant to losing.  But win, or most likely lose, what keeps players involved is the gameplay, not the ultimate ending.  So when I begin a game design I need to shift my focus and ask ‘How do I lose?’ And, what I really mean by that is “How do I keep players engaged while losing?’

Villager 3
How did that ancient proverb go? Oh yes, “Quitters never win, winners never quit, but those who never win AND never quit are idiots.
Portrait - Andrew
I’m pretty sure that’s a not-so-ancient demotivator. That might not apply to us board gamers.
Villager 3
Agree to disagree then. While I’m at it here’s another grain of wisdom, “If there is a dragon burning your sheep, play a game that will put him to sleep.

Dimensions of Games: Downtime

This week’s dimension of gaming is Downtime. We’ll define downtime simply as the portion of the game for which you’re not actively playing. Downtime can happen during other players’ turns, during setup or cleanup, or during intermediate steps of a game like dealing cards for a new round.
Community (Avatar) - Game Precipice

Matt Pavlovich
Games Precipice

Portrait - Andrew
I know people love to harp on Analysis Paralysis being the bane of gaming. I appreciate how Matt’s article is respectful of this problem and explores the many facets that can cause games to slow down, not just the players. Compelling and comprehensive writing as always with tons of excellent examples. Highly recommended!
Villager 2
Psssst… Keep it down. Kenith fell asleep, we don’t want to wake him up. We’re going over to NSKN Games to play some Dice Brewing. Or maybe some Nations: The Dice Game. Or Pandemic: The Cure…
Villager 3
Sound like we’re going to play a dice game.
Villager 2
Or Roll For The Galaxy. Or Roll Through The Ages: The Iron Age. Or Ciub…
Villager 3
We get it.

A Touch of Fate

why are dice games so popular? Maybe it’s because the dice versions of other games are usually faster, simpler and lighter than their “bigger” cousins, so they may appeal to those of us who wish a similar experience, only in a shorter time frame? Then again, the same can quite often be said about “The Card Game” genre, which tries to distil full-blown board games into a smaller, more manageable, card-based experiences.
Community (Avatar) - NSKN Games

B. G. Kubacki
NSKN Games

Villager 3
Is she actually going to join us or is she still out there listing games?
Villager 2
Or Castle of Burgundy. Or Troyes. Or…
Portrait - Andrew
Guess we’ve got some time to kill. She’s got to run out of games at some point, right?

I’ve shared before how excited I am about all these new dice games. Unfortunately I also like to be in control and don’t like having to fight with randomizing mechanics in order to do what I want. It sounds like Issac from Cephalofair Games shares some of my concerns on the matter.

The Mitigation of Randomness

My hatred of randomness has already been discussed at length, but to sum up: randomness takes control of the game away from the player, such that if you are playing a game specifically to win a game on your own merits, randomness makes the game less fun on all fronts.
Community (Avatar) - Cephalofair Games

Isaac Childres
Cephalofair Games

Villager 2
Or Quarriors! Or Marvel Dice Masters. Or King’s Forge.

Well, what do you want to play?

What About Dungeon Roll?!
Dragon Avatar
Villager 2
Oh yeah, let’s play that!
Villager 1
So much for keeping the dragon asleep.
Villager 3
That reminds me of another pertinent proverb. “If you’d like to keep dragon’s fire off of your homes, tempt him with gambling and he’ll roll them bones.
Villager 1
That doesn’t even rhyme.
Villager 3
It rhymes in the original elvish writings. That’s a crude translation.
Portrait - Andrew
I’m guessing we have time for one more stop before Kenith loses Dungeon Roll and burns down this whole village.

Asymmetry

One of the things I most enjoy about asymmetrical games is the way in which playing each side of the game feels totally different, replaying from the other perspective refines and redefines what you learn in the first game, it’s almost like getting two games for the price of one.
Community (Avatar) - 3DTotal Games

Greg Carslaw
3DTotal Games

Villager 2
I win!
Those dice were loaded! Well, I was hungry anyways.
Dragon Avatar
Portrait - Jason
Wait, I’ve got a review to write!
Portrait - Wolfie
I think we can find a replacement…

 

Dragon Slayer Roundup

 

Games On Our Table

Portrait - Andrew Andrew’s Plays

Play 2014-Nov-24 -DominionDominion – I had the opportunity to teach Dominion to some new players this week. I love watching someone experience Dominion (or deck building) for the first time. Those early mistakes and the learning process of how to build your deck is great. Action chains that don’t go anywhere and the realization that boring old treasure cards are sometimes the best investment. It’s addicting and we ended up playing 7 games in one sitting that lasted until 1am. We were back at it a couple of days later and feeling adventurous so I got to pull out a couple of Dark Ages cards. After 10 plays I was happy to share that we’d probably only seen about a third of the cards (if that). It’s amazing how much replay value Dominion offers. Even after over 200 games I’m still enamored by it.

For various reasons I haven’t gotten to play much Dominion this year but playing again reminded me why it’s in my top 5 as well as being my most played game since I started recording my plays in 2011. It’s still my favorite deck builder and I’m more excited than ever for the new expansion.

 

Portrait - Wolfie FutureWolfie’s Plays

One Night Ultimate Werewolf: Daybreak – My good buddy and ‘dragon quitter FarmerLenny brought the new expansion for our group-favorite game to game night, so obviously we had to try it out.  This was my first time playing with 9 players, on top of the whole Daybreak expansion and it was… well, it was overwhelming.  It’s hard to tell which had a greater effect on the game, the player count or the new roles.  I think we made a mistake by throwing too much newness into the first round.  With 9 crazy unique roles, it’s really hard to remember what each one does – and thus, really hard to bluff who you are or are not. Everyone was too confused to try and pretend to be something they weren’t.

In the second round we toned down the abilities and put some villagers back in, and had a much better game. Partway through I (who had started as a villager) realized I was probably a werewolf and tried to convince everyone to kill the so-called “Troublemaker” who claimed to have switched me and another player (who likely started as a werewolf). It would have worked too – a lot of fingers were pointing his way – except the Bodyguard protected him… and I found myself in second place and thus the one who was killed. Wildly enough, the troublemaker (he really was) had gotten confused and actually had switched another card, not mine.  So I, a lowly villager, ended up dead.

Daybreak has some fun new roles, but it also has a few I’m not so certain about. What makes ONUW fun is a little bit of information and a LOT of uncertainty – but now, certain characters (the revealer and the Aura Seer) get a LOT of certain information – they see their stuff AFTER all the cards have been switched and moved. When those roles were in play it quickly became clear who was telling the truth and the discussion was less chaotic and fun. Perhaps it was just inexperience and the roles would be more fun once we knew how to bluff them better… only time will tell.

pic1926145Battle at Kemble’s Cascade – I just received the game this week and was HAPPY to get it to the table after only a demo at Gencon. It was a rough start – my first time explaining the rules, and I could (and will) have taught them much better. I also didn’t enforce the turn order as much as I should have early on, because Threat wasn’t really happening yet. But then, when threats DID start flying in, people got a little confused.No matter, the game was still darn fun. I love the theme, and the low-luck gameplay that puts the emphasis on your actions. The Threat Level does a huge job bridging the gap partway between random dice rolls for attack and simple bigger-numbers-win combat.  It lets you take risks and do ridiculuosly cool things if you plan it out right.  So, I spent my time zipping around the board, firing my fully-upgraded Gamma Ray across the board, sweeping enemies to bits (I’ll have to make sure I did that correctly, it seemed QUITE powerful), and ramming ships to complete my mission. We all got a few achievements, we all shot each other to bits, and I think we all had fun – although we all agreed a future play would likely move along much more quickly, the game would not take as long, and we’d all have a lot more fun. This game will be back many, many times.

 

I love optimization and engine games with tableau builders and card driven ones being my favorite. This usually means medium-heavy euros and medium-light card games.

Discussion1 Comment

  1. I think there were several factors in play for ONUW. I liked the big group game more than I thought I would, but it did seem like it was a little much. I think the problem was big group, new roles, and completely new players. It looked like everyone still had fun (if not just for the spectacle of it), but it was a little crazy.

    I’m eager to try Daybreak with a smaller group. Some of the roles in it are pretty crazy, so it looks like it’s best mixed with the original set. Time will tell whether balance holds, but I enjoyed it. 🙂

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