Unpub Preview: Operation: Paperclip
Mar09

Unpub Preview: Operation: Paperclip

Unpub Previews allow designers the opportunity to talk more in depth about the development of their games in the Unpub Network. I’m pretty excited to run people though Operation: Paperclip. In game terms: its a two tier-auction game with simultaneous turns reminiscent in structure to Libertalia, Eminent Domain: Battlecruisers, or Eggs to Empires, though player’s decks are a-symmetrical which they draft through a bidding process. The skin of the game is post World War 2 Germany; as players take on the rolls of Russian and American agents scrambling to assemble superior technical teams, or Jewish vigilantes hunting down the worst perpetrators of the war; or finally players can assume the roles of agents of the ODESSA network attempting to sneak high-ranking German officers to safety in South America. Let’s see what else Ben has to say about Operation: Paperclip, which will be showing up on tables soon… What was your inspiration for the game? I set out with the goal of trying to represent the real life Operation: Paperclip into a game, so theme really lead all the design choices- which was quite the opposite experience from other game’s I’ve made which was mechanics first. Operation: Paperclip is set in post-World War 2 Germany and players take on the role of either the Americans or Soviets trying to recruit German scientists to assist in their own technology development, as Jewish vigilantes hunting down the worst perpetrators of the war, or as German operatives of the ODESSA network trying to smuggle high-value Germans to safety in South America. One challenge with this subject matter is to stay true to the historical themes, but still make a game that’s enjoyable to play. One of the themes that I need to convey is a risk-reward assessment with imperfect information (in real life -and in the game- the dilemma being: “we want this scientist for our rocket program, but he probably did some pretty bad stuff- what should we do with him”?) So risk/reward itself seems an easy translation for a game, but the heavy subject matter is a challenge to shape into an experience that gamers will want to be a part of. I think it’s important to figure things like this out though, or else we will never get games that deal with any weighty moral questions- and simulation adds dimensions to experiencing issues beyond what just reading about them will do for us. What is your favorite part of the game? I like the mix of mechanics that blend a medium weight game into a short time span. We are still working out some of the scoring, but the base feels very solid to...

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Unpub Preview: Mithral Chef
Mar09

Unpub Preview: Mithral Chef

Unpub Previews allow designers the opportunity to talk more in depth about the development of their games in the Unpub Network. In Mithral Chef, the dwarven king has captured a dragon and plans to use it as an oven for his new cavernous palace! The greatest chefs in the land – you – have been summoned to prepare the celebratory feast. With your right-hand Meeple and your left-hand Meeple, you must hunt game, raid the pantry, cook with dragon flame, and present with a flourish to win the title of best chef in this quick 2-4 player dexterity game inspired by Food Network cooking competition shows. Let’s hear what John has to say about Mithral Chef, which will be showing up on tables soon… What was your inspiration for the game? I’d been wanting to try to do a cooking-themed dexterity game for a while, and when Jon Gilmour and I started talking about it, he suggested the fantasy theme to set it apart from the other games trying to capture the feel of Food Network shows like Chopped and Cutthroat Kitchen. The dragon oven idea just seemed to follow after that. What is your favorite part of the game? I’m having lots of fun with the “ambidexterity game” aspect of Mithral Chef – that you can be doing two things simultaneously, but you have to dedicate one hand to each task. To your knowledge, What do other people find most interesting about the game? Playtesters have gotten into the “right hand man” and “left hand man” aspect as well – the motor planning required to pull it off in real time is something people aren’t used to in the hobby market. Yet. What has been the most challenging part of designing the game? This game has always had difficulty with its ending. Getting the game to last under 15 minutes, but not end too abruptly, has been difficult. What advice would you give to players attempting the game for the first time? On the first play, playtesters don’t always do well at keeping their options open, going after one particular recipe to the exclusion of others. I’ve seen players who’ve played more often grab a couple recipes early, letting them make use of a larger variety of ingredients in the other areas of the board What has surprised you most in play-tests of the game? The game works better with less structure. It started out as a turn-based game where your turn lasted until the player to your right finished their action, but in early playtests, the players discovered that everyone going after everything all at once was much more fun....

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Unpub Preview: Chef’s Choice
Mar09

Unpub Preview: Chef’s Choice

Unpub Previews allow designers the opportunity to talk more in depth about the development of their games in the Unpub Network. Chef’s Choice is a quick and simple game about influencing consumer choices. As a small restaurant owner, you hand out samples on the street to build diners’ appetites for the menu you plan to serve at meal time. Keep an eye out on the samples your competitors are giving away, and you might be able to offer the right menu that lures more customers. (This game evolved from an earlier Unpub game called Space Station Vacation) Let’s hear what Charlie has to say about Chef’s Choice, which will be showing up on tables soon… What was your inspiration for the game? I like the idea of a game where the environment is shaped almost entirely by choices that players make.  It started as a game where players voted (with ballot box antics) on the outcome. But I found that using the word “vote” gave many play testers expectations that didn’t match the game play. Thus the re-theme to restaurant owners handing out samples. Back to the original question, the inspiration of a voting game was just a launch point for a game that ended up somewhere different. What is your favorite part of the game? When players suddenly abandon the dish that had appeared to be everyone’s favorite and start handing out samples for an underdog. To your knowledge, What do other people find most interesting about the game? The players who enjoy this game most are those who like to slyly observe what other players are doing. What has been the most challenging part of designing the game? Trimming the play time. Some early feedback was that as a light casual game, the play time should match. The first versions of the game lasted 30-45 minutes. I made an effort to identify and trim anything that added unnecessary minutes to the game. Play time is now 20-30 minutes for a 4-8 player game. What advice would you give to players attempting the game for the first time? Pay attention to which dishes the other players are favoring.  Players (by design) have too little influence to single-handedly assure that preferred dishes will receive the most samples.   With higher player accounts, forming loose alliances may help you influence which dishes become the customer favorites at the next meal time. What has surprised you most in play-tests of the game? Play testers who afterwards tell me they’d buy it on the spot if the game were available for purchase.  I’ve had several gamers tell me this is a game they could easily play...

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Unpub Preview: FireBreak
Mar03

Unpub Preview: FireBreak

Unpub Previews allow designers the opportunity to talk more in depth about the development of their games in the Unpub Network. FireBreak is a cooperative game – players must work together to contain an outbreak of raging forest fires. Save as many cabins, airports, lakes, and conservation areas as possible for the highest team score. However, every turn the flames spread, and in which direction is as unpredictable as the wind. FireBreak has a basic (Campfire) & standard (Smoke Eater)version, with some expert (Inferno) rules for the bravest of rangers. Let’s hear what Charlie has to say about FireBreak, which will be showing up on tables soon… What was your inspiration for the game? My younger son thought I should make a cooperative game. I laughed and replied “easier said than done”.  It was during the drive  to Unpub3 in Delaware that I had the idea that an unpredictable wind spreading a wildfire could make a great cooperative game. What is your favorite part of the game? When you start to contain the flames right after the moment when you think all hope is lost. To your knowledge, What do other people find most interesting about the game? The unpredictable wind. The best fire containment strategy can fall apart with an unexpected roll from the dice. What has been the most challenging part of designing the game? To find the sweet spot of consistently  neither too easy nor too hard. In competitive games, other players can supply that balance. In a cooperative game, the game itself must be better tuned to consistently offer the players a game that is challenging yet winnable. What advice would you give to players attempting the game for the first time? Protect the airports, protect the wildlife areas.  I have seen games lost because players underestimated the value of keeping the flames out of those spaces. What has surprised you most in play-tests of the game? Repeat play testers never tire of the game. The game has a small loyal fan club eager to play again at any event where this game goes on the table. My favorite blind play tester logged over 200 solo plays as we experimented with rule variations to get the game just right. Yet he was always eager to play the next game. People who like_____will like this game. Why? I’ll answer Forbidden Island or Forbidden Desert.  Designer Nat Levan (New Bedford) described Firebreak as Pandemic for families.  It is a game easily taught to casual gamers and families. Yet there are enough choices to make you second guess whether your team made the right moves, and you will get burned...

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Unpub Preview: Nyctophobia
Mar02

Unpub Preview: Nyctophobia

Unpub Previews allow designers the opportunity to talk more in depth about the development of their games in the Unpub Network. Nyctophobia is a cooperative tactile maze game for 3 – 5 players. The catch? The players are blindfolded and have to feel their way around the board. The players play as a group of friends who went camping in a forest only to find out that the rumors of a crazy axe-wielding madman were true. Players take actions on their turn in an attempt to locate their car so they can call for help before one of them gets killed. The madman is controlled by a deck of AI cards resolved by the Moderator who oversees the gameplay (the only sighted player). Let’s hear what Catherine has to say about Nyctophobia, which will be showing up on tables soon… What was your inspiration for the game? I have a blind uncle and whenever we wanted to play games, we’d have to play games that were altered so that he could play. Scrabble with braille tiles or Monopoly with braille cards, for example. When I started getting into hobby board games, my family gave my cousin Dixit. It’s loads of fun, but my uncle couldn’t play. So I came up with an idea where the players don’t use sight. What is your favorite part of the game? My favorite part is “the reveal.” After the game ends, whether in a win or a loss, it’s always exciting to finally see the board. The Moderator can help players recount their movements around the field. Players can see how they walked past the car so many times or how they kept walking into dead ends. To your knowledge, What do other people find most interesting about the game? The experience of playing a board game without seeing what you’re doing. Also no one player has all the information, interaction with the other players is required. What has been the most challenging part of designing the game? The most challenging part of designing Nyctophobia is choosing when to make changes and what those changes are. Coming from an engineering background, when you experiment you test only one variable at a time. Sometimes I have two or three ideas that I want to add, but most of the time I test it out one by one. In experiments, you also want to repeat it a number of times to ensure your data is accurate. Unless something is completely not working, I’ll test the change a number of times. What advice would you give to players attempting the game for the first time? When people play...

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Unpub Preview: Bigfoot vs. Yeti
Mar01

Unpub Preview: Bigfoot vs. Yeti

Unpub Previews allow designers the opportunity to talk more in depth about the development of their games in the Unpub Network. Bigfoot vs. Yeti is a rummy style game with lots of twists and turns. In Bigfoot vs. Yeti you are an up and coming cryptozoologist mounting expeditions in the hopes of proving the existence of unknown creatures such as Bigfoot, Yeti, The Loch Ness Monster, the Jersey Devil or Extraterrestrials. Your ultimate goal is to gain fame and fortune by being the first cryptozoologist credited with the actual discovery of a new species, making you world famous. As a cryptozoologist you of course have an opinion on who the king of the cryptids is. Some of you say it’s Bigfoot and others of you claim it’s the Yeti. Choose your side as it will help shape the fate of your research and ultimately your success! Let’s hear what Diane has to say about Bigfoot vs. Yeti, which will be showing up on tables soon… What was your inspiration for the game? The inspiration was the old TV shows In Search of… and Arthur C. Clarke Mysterious World and the old tabloid newspapers like the Weekly World News. What is your favorite part of the game? The discrediting mechanism I came up with and have also used in Conspiracy! where at the end of round cards in the discard pile (called the Tabloids) that match creatures that are trying to be proven discredit them and cause them to lose a card. To your knowledge, What do other people find most interesting about the game? I think the theme and the combinations that you can do if you plan correctly for them What has been the most challenging part of designing the game? Finding the right way to handle the Bigfoot vs. Yeti back and forth I wanted in the game. Also, and this still is not settled is the name. The central theme is Bigfoot vs. Yeti, but it has many other cryptids too like the Loch Ness Monster, the Jersey Devil, Mothman, etc.. The title needs something more to express that I feel. What advice would you give to players attempting the game for the first time? Play test, play test, play test and then play test some more. Also, get people you don’t know to play test (UnPub is a great place to do this). What has surprised you most in play-tests of the game? People sometimes are so sure they know what strategy will be most effective and are then surprised when others are able to counter it. People who like_____will like this game. Why? Set collection and...

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