Building Better Board games Together

Preview: Mars Needs Mechanics

I’ve been waiting a while to post this review. I’m really excited about this game and you should be too. Mars Needs Mechanics was designed by Benjamin Rosset and has been a part of no less than 5 Unpub events! It’s a game we’ve had our eye on for over a year. We’ve seen it develop along the way and it’s absolutely beautiful. The first I heard of the game was in June 2011. It was called the Market and I didn’t get to play it at our first unofficial Unpub Mini. A few weeks later at the WBC I was given the opportunity to play the game and I have to admit I was luke-warm on it. I liked it, but it felt slight.  The game felt like a solid core waiting for something more. The basic concept was buying and selling of goods. The goods were limited to what was randomly available each round and their price was determined by what was bought and sold in the previous round. It was neat. Felt solid in it’s concept. It was interesting because the way you interacted with goods affected their future price, which meant you had to consider each buy and when you made it. Sometimes that meant you might lose out on an opportunity. Wait a tad too late and you lost the good to someone else’s buy. It became a game of wits where the goods were tools and the players were where the game lived. I really loved that aspect, but that was all there was to it. Well, the game continued to develop and in January of 2012, Ben brought the Market to Unpub2. He sold one of his prototypes to an attendee. Someone loved the game so much that they couldn’t go home without a copy! It was shortly after that weekend that Ben sold the game to a publisher. Nevermore Games was going to publish The Market, but the name and theme had changed. It was now Mars Needs Mechanics. Ben brought this new version to an Unpub Mini in Washington, DC’s Labyrinth Game Shop. It was one of the hits of the event. people came specifically to see Mars Needs Mechanics. I opted not to give the game a play that day because…well, I was busy and I knew I’d have another chance to play at Origins in a few weeks. Ben barely got a break as people signed up for a waiting list to play Mars Needs Mechanics, so I didn’t need to deny anyone a seat at his table. As mentioned, a few weeks later Origins came along. Ben and John...

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GenCon: The Unpub Perspective

Wow. Yes, it’s taken me the whole week to get to the point where I could talk about  GenCon! I arrived in Indianapolis Friday afternoon. Prototypes were already being played all over the place. A lot of what I got to see was at the Game Salute Booth (2035) where every time I stopped by a new set of games were on the tables seeing demos! It was glorious! All I had to do to see more new independent games and some soon to be released, but not yet released titles was spend some time at the Game Salute tables in Hall E. I think they had the highest concentrations of designers, would be designers, and publishers throughout the entire convention. Heads of several companies were almost always camped out there trying their new games and talking about their upcoming games. It was only natural that is where the Unpub Noodle would fly. More on that in a few minutes! Independent and unpublished titles were also available at the First Exposure Play-test hall. I stopped in to visit them several times over the weekend and heard great reports. First Exposure was being run by a company called Double Exposure and I was so impressed with what they were doing and the stories I was hearing, we’ve started to work together to bring you more services. Keep your ears out, we’ll be talking about Metatopia soon. I also spent a few minutes in the game library which was packed every night. Players playing all kinds of games (including play-testing prototypes) were in there almost 24/7 all weekend long! It was an awesome sight. I took meetings with a lot of people and we have a lot of exciting things coming down the pike that I’m very happy about. You will be too. We truly are poised to go nationwide and we’ll be talking more about that next week. I want to get my ducks in a row and keep the contacts fresh from GenCon. My day times were spent meeting with people and playing demos of my game Flummox which is due by the end of the year from Clever Mojo Games! I haven’t talked about it for a while because we’ve been in a very unique development place. The game had been announced and we had moved very fast and far along the path to getting the game on your table…when I pulled the brakes to fix something. We didn’t start from ground zero, but we did ramp back up slowly. We’ve been play-testing a lot and in secret as we make sure this newest iteration is up to...

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WBC Recap

Over the weekend I attended the World Board Gaming Championships in Lancaster, PA. This event is put on each year by the Boardgame Player’s Association and is basically a week long gaming extravaganza. They run tournaments for 100 or so games and that’s their main thing, but they have a beautiful open gaming room that lets people like me play games all weekend long! Seriously, just about any game you want to try and play will get played during WBC and most of the variety is going to be found in the open gaming room. What I go for is the people and the prototypes. Here’s what I saw that you’re going to be hearing about soon! The first game of the weekend for me game from Paul Owens. He’s the designer behind Trains, Planes and Automobiles and this new game, East India Company couldn’t be any further from that game if he tried! East India Company is an economic game of shipping in the time of pirates. I would frequently say I’m not a fan of economic games, but I’m thinking about changing that tune. This one really felt good to me. There was a lot of strategy to be had. It was interactive in some really good ways, you need to outmaneuver your opponents and get there first. If you can’t get there first, then get home first. …and that’s going to involve bidding. One of the keys for me is the passive interaction of the game, just keeping track of what your opponents on doing and how they’re choosing to play the game. The key is in the money you make, but more importantly turning that money into dividends, profit to points. It’s a really challenging game, but it was worth it. It didn’t feel like it took as long as it did, which is good. Great game. I’m looking forward to where this one goes next. Saturday I got into several prototypes including The Great Heartland Hauling Company from Dice Hate Me Games (I’ll be posting a full review on soon.) Heartland was quick and simple. Someone said it was easy to learn and difficult to master, I’d agree. It’s a card based pick up and delivery game, a mini-euro. I enjoyed my trucking about the country delivering cubed pork and found it a satisfying challenge. You should seek this one out on kickstarter! I tried a new game from Benjamin Rosset. His first game, Mars Needs Mechanics, will be coming soon from Nevermore Games and he has several other titles in the works. Saturday he presented something brand new. It’s an economic game...

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Recap: Unpub Mini at 7th Dimension Games

What an awesome time we had on Saturday! I even had a chance to sit down and play some games!That’s pretty much my first thought about our Unpub Mini on June 23rd at 7th Dimension Games! Glen and the staff of 7th Dimension were awesome to work with. Their is a beautiful game store in Jenkintown, PA. If you’re ever in the area you owe it to yourself to stop in. The playing space is amazing and the crowds were really building as the day went on. I don’t have a hard and fast attendance number, but we were a little above average at about 6pm, so I imagine we remained above average for the rest of the day. Most games  received nearly constant plays once they began! Six games were on display at the event. We’ve had 4 of the games in our program for a while and added 2 new games to the mix. First up, we’ll talk about the Kenneth Lewis samurai themed war game Daimyo. This hex based board game has a unique fighting mechanic that players seemed to really enjoy. Kenneth is working on taking this game the self publishing route so look forward to hearing more about this one. City Hall is another game going the self publishing route. This is a great little game from Michael R. Keller and Visible Hand Games (his publishing shingle.) I learned it in April, finally getting a chance to play it on Saturday. It’s a great little game and we’ve pledged to support him along his path. It has a lot of what I like in a game where you’re playing your opponents and not playing a system. He was able to get several plays in. He’s hitting a lot of conventions all over the country this summer. Find him and check out City Hall! Another game I finally got a chance to play was the crowd favorite Mecha Mayhem. This game has been at every Unpub Mini that I haven’t been to. It was great to be in the same room with it and play it. I had a great time with them game (I won.) A few more tweaks and this one will be ready. The team from Baked Fresh Daily Games were a pleasure to meet. as well. Derrick Vidal, Greg Miller and Kristen were on hand (and my opponents in the first game of the day.) They let me win, so I won’t say anything bad about them! Two other games that I have seen before but haven’t had a chance to play are Traitor Tavern and Rock Babies. Traitor Tavern is...

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Too Many Games Convention Notes!

Thanks go out to Jason Tagmire for inviting me to help judge a 24 hour game design competition at the Too Many Games Convention this past weekend in Oaks,Pennsylvania. It was a really fun experience for me (despite being exhausted after a long week.) My girlfriend, Katherine, and I drove up on Sunday for the adventure. We were not disappointed. She’s a video gamer at heart and was really taken aback at all the merchandise that was available. I had to leave her alone a while to judge and she got herself involved in some board games! I’m so proud of her. She learned Kingsburg and taught it to me the next night at my FLGS. She also made a valuable connection with a game designer who may be attending the upcoming Unpub Mini at 7th Dimension Games! As I mentioned, my reason for being there was to judge the Analog Game Jam that was being presented by the IGDA (International Game Developers Association.) I had a very good time doing this and played about 20 minutes of some really great and clever games that were less than 24 hours old. I can’t say much about them or the people who created them (I don’t really know the latter and the former is not up to me to share.) We have a great time (we being fellow judges Jason Tagmire, TC Petty III and myself,) and a really tough choice to make. This event has really gotten my brain churning, which is a good thing! I spent some time walking about the convention floor. It was primarily based in the video and digital gaming realm with a smattering of analog games thrown in. AEG was there and demoing. I understand that things were really jumping on Saturday (the main day of the con.) I missed that one. It was a good experience and I may make the trip again next year if the schedule permits. We’ll see. Next up on our Con Schedule is WBC in August. More information on that...

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