5 Quick Questions About Builders! with Tyler Omichinski

5 Quick Questions About Builders! with Tyler Omichinski

Editor’s Note: As a kind of content geek, I try new formats. People seem to love our interviewette for tabletop designers that is a quick read. We promise no TL;DR. Let’s see how Tyler Omichinski, one of the designers of hot new game Builders! does, shall we?

BGB: Attention is money, my friend! What is the elevator pitch for Builders!?

Tyler: Builders! The Building-Building Deck Building game is a fun and fast paced game about competing to be the best construction company by any means necessary. Build a deck of employees, use them to construct zany floors in skyscrapers, and knock down the stuff your opponents have built.

Ed. Note: BGB fully endorses the amusing subtitle of this game.

BGB: Making games is hard work, so you best have a great reason for making this thing. What inspired this game?

Tyler: There were three main things that came together for this game.

One of the designers, Nat, is from the trades and loves deck builders. He pointed out that most construction games focus on the end result rather than the people involved in the process, so we worked to make that a reality.

This led into, once we were focusing on the people behind major projects like these, to ensure that it was inclusive. The industry is getting better for this sort of thing, but there are unfortunately still places that we can and need to get better, and the response we’ve been getting for this has been amazing.

Thirdly, most of our experience in game design is in RPGs or cooperative games, so we wanted to cut our teeth on something relatively light and accessible to get started on our own project.

The intersection of these three factors led to Builders!

BGB: There are too many games out there. What hole in my game collection does this fill?

Tyler: Probably the most likely spot to fill is an introductory deck-builder. It’s a good time (45 mins to an hour on average), has a lot of light-hearted humor, and has a good deal of depth to the mechanics without having a ton of them piling on the players, meaning that it isn’t intimidating. It’s a great in-between game, or the kind of thing that on a game-night you can run through a few times in a row.

BGB: This is Boardgame Babylon, so out with your dirty secrets. What DON’T you want to tell me about this game?

Tyler: I mean, that there’s a 12 year old that we met at a con that can school every one of the designers and is probably the best player in the world is a bit embarrassing. That kid is amazing at card games!

Seriously though, there is a couple of small stories hidden within the cards that set up a series of small stories between the different characters. No one has caught on to it yet, and it was a thing that the art team crafted and we fell in love with.

BGB: Thanks for telling us a bit about Builders! Let’s wrap up with the key specifics (play time, number of players, and the link to the game) and also, since I think you can tell a lot about a person by understanding their sense of humor, what’s a good joke to close this interviewette?

Tyler: Yeah! 2-4 players, MSPR is 19 USD, for ages 13+. It’s a good thing to bring more people into gaming, and there’s plenty of interaction between players. One of the best parts is that, invariably, almost every table starts taking pictures of the buildings they’ve constructed and giggling about the implications of, I dunno, a dragon hanging out underneath a goat on the roof. You can check it out here.

BGB JOKE TIME

As for a joke, we’re just saying that if you arrange all the occult floors in the game you summon our team into your living room. Be careful!

No, we can do better, what about… what’s the difference between Gloom and Monopoly? One is a game about destroying families, and the other is Gloom.


5 Quick Questions About Dice Summoners with Eoin Costelloe

5 Quick Questions About Dice Summoners with Eoin Costelloe

Editor’s Note: Continuing in our popular interviewette series for tabletop designers, we travel via blog post to Dublin to hear about Dice Summoners from the designer Eoin Costelloe. The game is now live on Kickstarter and nearly funded. But I promised no TL;DR so let’s get to it. We can get all we need to help you feel good about supporting Dice Summoners on Kickstarter with these 5 Quick Questions.

Attention is money, my friend. What is the elevator pitch for Dice Summoners?

Ever wondered what it would be like to pit a Triceratops against an angel warrior, or to fire a magic arrow at a charging zombie? Dice Summoners is a two player game that allows you to do just that. Roll dice, match them with cards, build your army and attack your opponent. It is a game that is quick to set up and quick to play, with high replayability and a mythological theme.

Making games is hard work, so you best have a great reason for making this thing. What inspired this game?

I’ve loved trading card games like Yu-Gi-Oh since I was kid. So when we thought of an idea to curb the randomness of a deck and replace it with dice, we couldn’t resist. We’ve played a lot of heavy strategy and heavy luck based games that we loved. We wanted to create a game that was a nice balance of both with some cool modern mechanics like a common pool of cards.

Dice Summoners

There are too many games out there. What hole in my game collection does this fill?

This game is fast and quick to play. We think there aren’t enough good two player games out there. This game is great for two people waiting for that friend who is always late for a game night. It has 44 interchangeable decks that make for hundreds of different versions you can play. It’s a painstakingly balanced game, meaning there are many different strategies that players can win with.

This is Boardgame Babylon, so out with your dirty secrets. What DON’T you want to tell me about this game?

We nearly killed each other trying to make a 4 player version of this game because we just couldn’t get the balance right. We aren’t ruling out a 4 player down the line because we have some good ideas for it but we have some couples counseling to get through before we can start working on that version again.

Thanks for telling us a bit about Dice Summoners. Let’s wrap up with the key specifics (play time, number of players, and the link to the game) and also, since I think you can tell a lot about a person by understanding their sense of humor, what’s a good joke to close this interviewette?

Dice Summoners is a two player duel using cards and dice that plays in about 30 minutes for ages 14 and above. It’s aimed at players who want a light competitive card game with high replayability. The game has an engaging strategy using dice based action selection and an extensive variety of cards. Immerse yourself in it’s mythological theme as players deplete their enemy’s health to win the battle.


Our Kickstarter is now live so check us out and consider backing us.https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/870869293/dice-summoners
And if board game development doesn’t work out, I think I’ll become an optician. People will say it’s a bad idea but they’ll see. They’ll all see.

Just love these 5 Quick Questions things? There are more here.

Book Impression: Port of Shadows by Glen Cook

Book Impression: Port of Shadows by Glen Cook

Port of Shadows by Glen Cook

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(mostly spoiler-free)
Port of Shadows is the newest in the Black Company series, my favorite fantasy series when I was a young lad. As much as I respected and enjoyed Tolkien, revered Eddings, was dazzled by Zelazny, was charmed by the Dragonlance books, and enthused about Moorcock, Cook was the guy who wrote the book that inspired my own creation of a D&D world. Looking at Orphel, the fantasy world I created for RPGs back in high school, is heavily influenced by the gritty Black Company novels. While none of them live up the original book, many in the series get close and Cook’s characters are real people like you see in Game of Thrones, not perfect fantasy-book archetypes. I found this far more interesting than regular ‘quest-fantasy’.

I excitedly read through Port of Shadows new Black Company book since it’s the first one in ages. Cook is the same guy he was before, lots of excellent plotting (if they are sometimes more complex than they need to be), names that are sometimes awesome and sometimes ludicrous (and he goes full Russian Novel here with people going by three names), and the often lazy writing (the anachronistic phrases members of the Black Company slide into and the tendency to leave all the voices sounding the same. This was always a bit of a problem but it’s maybe worse here than ever before. A good editor could make Cook’s books all the more wonderful but he’s never found his own Maxwell Perkins.

I’d also caution readers who are sensitive about his treatment of women (others have commented on it and his racially-insensitive language in the past), but he’s fully writing about a society with a different attitude that is in line with historical views. My 2018 sensibility made me cringe at times, but I cringed at A Column of Fire earlier this year, too, which is a historical novel. I don’t think Follett or Cook advocate these views, they just write about them. Anyway, a word to the concerned.

While it’s nice to have series star narrator Croaker back after Murgen’s fussiness (who narrated a bunch of Black Company books more recently), the narrative takes some odd turns and there is more focus on an intriguing history than there needs to be (it’s good, but less of it would have been better). There’s also a truly bizarre epilogue that kind of gives Cook the option to kind of dismiss things he brought up that sounded kind of problematic for the lore. Insurance for inconsistencies that hardcore fans might find? Perhaps so.

All in all, a fun read and I hope the next book is also earlier in the timeline like this one. The grittiness of the series (which I re-read this year in anticipation of Port of Shadows) reminds me of the strong influence he was on GRRM’s Game of Thrones. Even a lot of his language goes directly into phrases used in GOT, although Martin does a finer job of turning that language into a real vernacular where Cook just spits out tough-guy talk. This is also one of the longer Black Company books and I’m inclined to think that Cook is best when he is briefer.

If you love the Black Company (as I do, warts-and-all), you will enjoy Port of Shadows for sure – which is why this decidedly three-star review has a fourth one up there. Pure nostalgia, folks – uncut and effective.

Buy it here! Amazon has a great price for it.

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5 Quick Questions About Machina Arcana with Juraj Bilich

5 Quick Questions About Machina Arcana with Juraj Bilich
Editor’s Note: Continuing in our popular interviewette series for tabletop designers, I give you the return of the dark and mysterious world of Machina Arcana – the 2nd Edition of which is now live on Kickstarter. But let’s not get all TL;DR. We just need to get the skinny on the game with 5 Quick Questions.

BGB: Attention is money, my friend. What is the elevator pitch for Machina Arcana?
Juraj Bilich: Getting slaughtered with your friends was never been more fun! Does a surreal orgy of Hellraiser, Giger, Cronenberg, and The Thing sounds interesting?  Are you searching for a hard dungeon crawler with occult undertones? What about a story-driven game wrapped in psychological anxiety and cosmic existentialism?  If these things are tempting, then Machina Arcana is a game for you.
 
Machina Arcana
 
BGB: Making games is hard work, so you best have a great reason for making this thing. What inspired this game?
 
Juraj Bilich: You sound like there was any choice involved. Some people are inspired, while others have an obsession that drives them do great things. But She doesn’t appreciate any of that nonsense. The thing is, She wants to get out into this world.. and the only way to make the pain go away is.. is.. to let her use my hands. My teeth. My blood. It is all for Her.
 
BGB: There are too many games out there. What hole in my game collection does this fill?
 
Juraj Bilich: The unique environment, interactive inventory, combat mechanics and tactical diversity are all enveloped in an integral storytelling experience that provides both total immersion in the dark world and full replay value. There is no need for a game master, and no special conditions based on the player count.
 
Players take on the role of explorers that are thrown into dreadful halls, scratching for survival and progressing through the chapters from one of many horror stories. Even if they manage to stay alive till the end of the story, they will face a special mini game at the finale of each scenario.
 
Machina Arcana
 
BGB: This is Boardgame Babylon, so out with your dirty secrets. What DON’T you want to tell me about this game?
 
Juraj Bilich: I am already working on different modes for the game that completely change the gameplay experience. These include deathmatch, and a puppeteer mode.
 
BGB: Thanks for telling us a bit about Machina Arcana. Let’s wrap up with the key specifics (play time, number of players, and the link to the game) and also, since I think you can tell a lot about a person by understanding their sense of humor, what’s a good joke to close this interviewette?  
 
Juraj Bilich: Machina Arcana is a cooperative steampunk horror game for 1-4 players. It has a modifiable duration and difficulty setting. For the complete scenario it can take up to 4 hours, while in shortest mode you can finish the game in 30 minutes.
 
Considering the occult and dark images and stories, the game is not for kids (ages 14 and above). Our Kickstarter launch date is 4th of September (10AM EST time)!
 
In the end, I want to thank my dad for always believing in me, he has the heart of a lion… and a lifetime ban from the zoo.
 
 
Editor’s Note: Why, yes, there are MORE 5 Quick Questions Articles. You can find them here…

PRESS RELEASE: DIZED OPEN EARLY ACCESS AND KICKSTARTER ANNOUNCEMENT

PRESS RELEASE: DIZED OPEN EARLY ACCESS AND KICKSTARTER ANNOUNCEMENT

Tuesday, August 14, 2018 (Helsinki) – After a successful showing at Gen Con 2018, North America’s largest board game convention, Playmore Games’ Dized app has released in open early access on Apple’s App Store and Google Play. Players can download it for free on their smart devices. Used in conjunction with board games, Dized removes the most common barrier to playing games: learning the rules before playing. Through interactive tutorials, players are guided through their play sessions without any previous knowledge of the board game, much like how video games teach players today.

Dized’s interactive tutorials differ from videos. They adapt to the number of players, seating positions (if required by the game), turn flow, and more, ensuring players are constantly interacting with the board game, each other, and the app for a learning experience like no other. Gone are the days of waiting for the designated rules reader of a group to figure out the game before playing or constantly scrubbing through a tutorial video to find exactly what you need.

The open early access gives every user access to interactive tutorials for the award-winning games Blood Rage from CMON and Kingdomino from Blue Orange Games completely free, with Brain Games’ ICECOOL premiering on the app later this month as well. Dized’s first set of publisher tools arrive this month and promises to grow the app’s content even further by allowing companies to create living rules and FAQs for their games. Future interactive tutorials and living rules are planned with fan-favorite companies like CMON, Steve Jackson Games, IELLO, Horrible Games, and more already partnered.

As part of the app’s growth plan, Playmore Games will launch a Dized Kickstarter campaign in September of 2018 that will allow the team to further their external tool sets by providing the game industry with one for creating their own interactive tutorials. Currently, tutorials are made in house, which is a significant bottleneck when combined with the app’s overall development. The campaign also allows Dized to be introduced to a wider audience through Kickstarter’s passionate community of backers supporting projects they believe in.

“Board games are all about community, and Dized wants to support that by ensuring families, friends, and all other types of game groups can come together to play more games by removing unnecessary barriers. Getting that community support is vital to accomplishing this dream, and we believe Kickstarter will help us reach that goal,” explains Playmore Games’ CEO Jouni Jussila.

Playmore Games will continue to update users about Dized’s upcoming Kickstarter project and the app on its social channels, including Facebook (@getdized), Twitter (@getdized), Instagram (@getdized), and their website (www.dized.com).

About Dized
Founded in 2014 by enthusiastic players and game designers Jouni Jussila and Tomi Vainikka, Playmore Games’ goal is to show there is a better way to learn and enjoy board games together. While the board games industry is booming, a significant obstacle remains: learning rules is a slow and tedious process. Playmore Games’ first app, Dized, will offer smart tutorials, setup guidance, a blazing fast rules lookup tool and other exclusive features to make the board game experience all about fun.

About Playmore Games
Dized is being built by Playmore Games, founded in 2014 by Jouni Jussila and Tomi Vainikka. After a successful release of the Race to the North Pole board game, the company has been developing the smart device application. Dized has been in development since 2015 and is a registered trademark of Playmore Games.

iOS Review: Hardback by Tim Fowers

iOS Review: Hardback by Tim Fowers

Hardback is the delightful sequel to Paperback, the deckbuilding word game from always-interesting designer Tim Fowers. This is a sequel worth having 

As a second-generation bibliophile, I do love games with a book theme. I had the pleasure of playtesting Tim Fowers’ delightful Paperback (which originally had a longer title that might have gotten him in trouble with The Beatles’ record company) so I knew this excellent twist on the deckbuilder genre was going to be a hit.

While I like the physical game, in iOS form, Paperback is one of my most-played games. The game captures the wonderful feel of Scrabble with the clever mechanisms of deckbuilding optimization. This is a tight design that delights this wordsmith. I really enjoy coming up with the best word for the letters I’m dealt.

With that in mind, I was delighted to hear that Tim decided to return to the concepts of Paperback with a sequel. The game takes the deckbuilder concept and refines it to give the game a different, more open feel.

Hardback versus Paperback

Hardback plays like Paperback on a basic level. You are building words with the cards you draw in deckbuilder-style (if you’re reading this blog, I’m going say, you get it.) Points are scored by playing letter formed into words that give you enough money to buy additional letters that may have special powers. While the letters are in rows (Ascension-style), you can also buy victory point cards that act as wild cards and big words get you a bonus card once in a while. Also appealing: your change can be used to ‘Buy Ink.’ This lets you flip cards without losing their benefit. No more leftover change with no value, which was a gripe with Paperback.

The difference is that Hardback lets you turn every card into a wild card if you would like to do so. This gives you a lot more opportunity to come up with the words you really want to create. But it’s not a free-for-all or something. Turning the individual cards into wilds actually sacrifices the benefits of the card, which may be gaining cash to buy more cards or it might be awarding victory points.

Hardback

Genre Cards

Hardback also includes Genre cards, much like the faction cards in Clank!, are cards that interact with each other when you have more of them. Thus, having more Horror or Mystery cards in your word will get you some bonuses, as stated on the cards. So, instead of a restriction based on only the letters you have, your choices are about what you sacrifice to get the right combination of letters and benefits. As much as I love Paperback, this is a really interesting implementation of the original concept.

Hardback played solo has the same addictive quality of Paperback. As much as I can enjoy the game in person with other players, like Dominion, it’s really competitive solitaire. Thus, they both work better (for me) as solitaire experiences. The gameplay is compelling and it’s one of those peanut games (i.e., you can’t play just once).

Graphic Design Challenges

If I have a complaint about Hardback, it’s that the digital version is rough on the eyes. While I admire the excellent artwork of Ryan Goldsberry, whose delightful visions have appeared in all of Tim Fowers’ games, Hardback feels like a slight misfire from the logo page onward. While his development of the snappy style of Paperback takes the feel backward in time, it has also gained an ornate look that makes it hard to read.

Capturing the mood of the different book genres with different fonts is a good idea. Yet, in practice, it makes the game look less appealing. Some of the genre fonts (the Romance font is probably the worst) are hard enough to see on my iPhone 7 Plus that I’ve bought a different letter just to avoid it. The flashy letters are even less appealing when contrasted with the tiny size of the iconography (including the Flip spot).

The cards aren’t the only problem. The game has so many fonts elsewhere that are hard on the eyes as well, including the Submit button that is on a kind of flag or something and the various stylized but oddly large card names elsewhere. Worse, the score marker is so subtle that I didn’t notice it at all my first game. When you do notice it, it’s hard to tell numbers – you can just basically say you are winning or losing. That’s fine for me, but players with a more pointed need for precise will suffer at the colorful and perhaps overly-stylized score tracker.

The Final Word

Hardback is a delightful offshoot of the original Paperback that absolutely deserves a spot on your shelf. As a solo game players on you mobile device, it’s a winning title that well suits my ask that games be playable in a 5-8 minute timeframe. This is about as long as I want to really hold the device while playing. Longer games are fun but I need to use the iPad for them.

Lovely but squinty art aside, Hardback is a winner. The game is definitely worth the money to add this compelling little word game to your digital collection. Here’s hoping that Softcover, eBook, or perhaps Limited Edition is the name of the inevitable third game in Fowers’ trilogy.

Hardback is available now for download to your iOS device.

Boardgame Babylon Rating for Hardback

BIN (Buy It Now) PIN (P)lay It Now TIF (Try It First) NMT (Not My Thing)

Disclosure: A complimentary copy of the app was provided by the publisher for independent review.

Review: Thanos Rising by USAOPOLY

Review: Thanos Rising by USAOPOLY

Thanos Rising is a winning cooperative game for 2-4 players that has garnered BGB’s highest rating. Read on to learn more:

Gamers, both video gamers as well as board gamers, have been disappointed for so many years so many times when a great movie or TV show gets turned into a terrible play experience.

As somebody who worked in the video game industry for many years and made games for many Disney properties, I know that there are additional challenges that are faced when you have to work with a licensed product. Sometimes you don’t know the exact story and you still have to make a game anyway. At other times there are restrictions put into place by the IP holders. Yet sometimes it’s just a lazy publisher or designer figuring they don’t need to work that hard because the property is so popular. This happens A LOT, particularly with one publisher in particular.

Thank goodness this didn’t happen with USAopoly’s enjoyable, thematic Thanos Rising.

Thanos Rising
What’s the big deal, scrotum-chin? I’m holding them in my BARE HAND.

I don’t think I’m in the minority when I say that Avengers: Infinity War was a great cinematic experience. I’m baffled by the naysayers (presumably DC fanboys and people who just hate fun). I call myself a fan but not raging fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Some of the films are fantastic, others definitely fall short of that description. I was never a serious comic book reader but I’m impressed with the way Marvel has put out fairly consistent films in the last 10 years and Infinity War is probably the best of the lot. So I came to this game wanting to enjoy it and, frankly, a little fearful that it would fall short. I’m glad to say that didn’t happen.

Taking on the Mad Titan

Thanos Rising is a cooperative game that plays in about 45 minutes with 2 to 4 players playing on a three space board around an awesome Thanos statue. Players take on the role of a leading Marvel character who’s responsible for gathering at team of heroes and defeating villains (your pick of Captain America, Black Panther, Gamora or Dr. Strange). Thanos himself is far too powerful to actually defeat so you aren’t going to be asked to actually take down the mad titan in the game. Instead, you win the game by defeating seven or more of his villains while working to save and recruit other heroes to your team.

Thanos Rising

That’s the only way to win the game, but there are three different ways you can lose. First, Thanos can defeat 10 heroes in the game with his strikes that happen before each player around. Two, he can defeat any one of the players entirely by wiping out their team. Lastly, he can collect all six of the Infinity Stones. I am fond of the deep theming here and how it adds tension to the game.

Roll For The Multiverse

The narrative of the game is created through a series of die rolls each turn, in the style of many cooperative games where the players and the game each get a turn. In Thanos Rising, the big purple baddie goes first, with two die rolls determining his progress on collection of an Infinity Stone and some other element. For the stones, he needs to roll that same one five times and then he gets the stone, making future rolls for that stone cause grief for the heroes. The latter die has him an attack heroes, activate villains or make another step towards acquiring a stone.

Player turns are quick but provide simple options about how to contain Thanos. You deploy to one of the places on the board and then get your own dice to roll and act. You begin with a few dice depending on your character and you can improve your dice pool by acquiring other heroes. In this way, the game borrows a bit from Quarriors, a game I thought was a good idea that never really worked as well as I would have liked. To acquire a hero, you need to roll the right icons on your dice.

We Have A Hulk

Bigger heroes like the Hulk or Iron Man are tougher than pushovers like Hawkeye, so it behooves you to acquire the easier ones first. With three cards in each vector, there is bound to be someone who can help, especially since many of the characters are complementary. This is maybe the heart of the design working; USAopoly’s design team didn’t cop out and just say, “They’ll want to acquire Black Widow because Scarlett Johansson is on the card.” Instead, they made the abilities make sense for the character. This is not too much to ask, but it is often overlooked by lazy people who spend a lot of money on licensed games.

Back to it – so, if you recruit heroes, they add to your team in the future, offering you their special ability. These can range from extra dice to special powers to affect the collection of the Infinity Stones. It is definitely worth adding to your team and discussing with the other players which hero should join which team.

There is another reason to recruit heroes. When Thanos hits a vector, he hits all the heroes there waiting to be recruited. If they die, they are out of the game and that helps Thanos win. If you recruit damaged villains, you get them back at full power. Thus, it makes sense to let them take a little fire and then pull them out before they are defeated…if you can do it. I really like this factor that makes you take chances with the heroes’ lives.

Say Goodbye To The Villains

The other main option is to defeat villains from Thanos’ team (since you can’t just knock Thanos Risingout the guy himself). Similar to the way you recruit, you use your dice to roll enough to defeat the villains. Some are generic villains you can knock off with one or two rolls. Others need enough firepower that you had better recruit some help before you go. There is a very real gameplay reason to defeat them, too. When they activate, their abilities range from annoying to devastating. So, that element may play into which ones you target. You also get bonus tokens when beating villains, which helps motivate their defeat (against endlessly adding to your team).

As I said, this is also how you win the game and you can set the difficulty of the game for between 7 and 10 villains to defeat to win. Experienced gamers will want to set it high for a real challenge. I like the easy variability of that setting, which calls back to Pandemic, one of the classics in the genre of cooperative games.

We have played Thanos Rising a half dozen times and it has been tense and fun each play. The richness of the character collection weighing against the villains containment and the stone gathering is just right for a game that plays in 45 minutes. Like the best thematic games from films (looking at you, Star Wars: Rebellion), Thanos Rising unfolds like your own version of a story you enjoyed. We expect to play it for many years to come.

End Game

Look, if you are a Warner Brothers apologist that tries to convince your friends that the DC movies aren’t THAT bad just because Gal Godot is magnificent as Wonder Woman (she really is), you may not like Thanos Rising for reasons that have nothing to do with this very fine game.

But if you’re one of the zillions who loved Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War, this is a worthy addition to your game collection. Thanos Rising is snappy cooperative game that will engage with both theme and nice design touches that keep the game clean. This is on a shelf with go-to games this year. I expect it to make my dime list for sure.

The components are solid, with quality cards and all but it is that massive, cool Thanos figure that makes this production. We love it so much, it’s on a coveted shelf in our game library.

Thanos Rising

Thanos Rising has been a huge hit with our gaming group, from casual gamers to serious folks that saw it as a pleasant super-filler. The game has staying power, I’m sure. Here’s hoping that USA-opoly gives us an expansion when Avengers: End Game comes out.

Boardgame Babylon Rating for Thanos Rising

BIN (Buy It Now) PIN (P)lay It Now TIF (Try It First) NMT (Not My Thing)

5 Quick Questions about Raccoon Tycoon with Glenn Drover

5 Quick Questions about Raccoon Tycoon with Glenn Drover

Editor’s Note: As a kind of content geek, I try new formats. So, here’s an interviewette for tabletop designers. We promise no TL;DR. Let’s see how Glenn Drover, the legendary designer of hot new game Raccoon Tycoon (published by Forbidden Games), shall we?

BGB: Attention is money, my friend. What is the elevator pitch for Raccoon Tycoon?

Glenn: Raccoon Tycoon is an easy to learn (and teach) game of commodity speculation, auctions, set-collection, and tableau building set in the gilded age in Astoria (a land of anthropomorphic animals). The artwork by Annie Stegg is insanely beautiful, and together with the shallow learning curve makes the game appealing to a wide demographic: families and non-gamers, while the multiple strategies and challenging decisions will make it appealing to core gamers.

BGBMaking games is hard work, so you best have a great reason for making this thing. What inspired this game?

Glenn: My wife finally played Catan with friends last year and hated it. This shocked me, so I asked her why. She told me that she was frustrated by having to wait for her turn, and then often not being able to do much or anything if her numbers didn’t come up. That night I decided to design a game that would appeal to Catan fans (Gateway à Gamers) with commodities, low luck, and where you could ALWAYS do something interesting on your turn. Raccoon Tycoon was born.

BGBThere are too many games out there. What hole in my game collection does this fill?

Glenn: The game that you will play with non-gamers or casual gamers who you want to bring into the gaming world…or anyone who likes Catan or Ticket to Ride and is ready for the next great Gateway Game.

Raccoon Tycoon
Editor’s Note: I have never heard of this publication.

BGBThis is Boardgame Babylon, so out with your dirty secrets. What DON’T you want to tell me about this game?

Glenn: It used to have a really annoying mechanic where you had to draw a bunch of cubes every turn to change the price and supply in the market. Dan Vujovic suggested that a card mechanic would be cleaner. After months of resistance (I really like the perfect supply/demand impact of the cube draw), I relented and created the Price/Production cards that drive the market now. They not only worked better, they gave the player another interesting (and sometimes agonizing) decision.

BGB: Thanks for telling us a bit about Raccoon Tycoon! Let’s wrap up with the key specifics (play time, number of players, and the link to the game) and also, since I think you can tell a lot about a person by understanding their sense of humor, what’s a good joke to close this interviewette?

Glenn: Time: 60 – 90 minutes, Players: 2 – 5, Learning Curve: 2/5, Strategy: 4/5

Joke

What’s the difference between a dead Raccoon in the road and a run over copy of Monopoly?
A: There are skid marks in front of the Raccoon.

The game is now LIVE on Kickstarter

Good Men: A tribute to my father, Robert Leo Burgess

Good Men: A tribute to my father, Robert Leo Burgess

2018 got off to a rough start for me, as I spent a lot of January with family concerns. My father’s health failed and my mother is also dealing with issues. At the end of the month, I lost my father to long illness and I wrote this note about him on Facebook. I heard from a few people that they had shared it because my note on Facebook about the wonderful father I was honored to have seems like it inspired some good discussions and consideration about what it means to be a father. I’ve slightly edited it to remove some personal points that are not as relevant to the casual reader, but kept what I think was the heart of the piece.


January 30, 2018 – Late Sunday night, as I was watching a Netflix film about funny people and trying not to think about what was imminent, my father passed away after a brief time in hospice.

I have been uncharacteristically silent on social media because I am still processing the loss, which I can only do with words. There was further delay from a paper cut on my right index finger that I gained while filling out the paperwork to release his body for cremation just moments after I arrived at the hospice. I was first to arrive, had driven over in a haze and, at that moment, appreciated the sharp pain of the cut popping my consciousness back into place before I went in to see my dad one last time.

As I sit here in the dark of morning a day later, I am thinking one could say that my father was not a great man. Great men change the whole world in some way. Maybe it’s how business runs in a particular space, how we think about something important or even how we view change and evolution in a broader sense. What I do know about great men, as I’ve known a few, is that they make sacrifices for their greatness and for whatever cause that matters more than anything to them.

That wasn’t my dad. He was a good man.

Good men attend to everything across their lives at some level from acceptably to amazingly. They love their families, they work hard to get educated and then at a job to make sure, as they say, the ends meet. They are far from perfect but their desire to make sure everything across life happens well enough is admirable because they don’t believe in kids getting ignored for a job or constantly needing to be off in their man cave or out with buddies to pretend they don’t have family obligations in real life. Good men make room in their lives for their spouse and their children; the best of them give their family an outsized space.

The good men find balance. They shift gears when the family is formed. They might even seem a bit boring, at times. But, good and boring pays the bills. Good and boring shows up to their children’s recital. And good and boring leaves a legacy of loving memories and kids who adore them.

And, if you knew him at all, how could you not adore my dad? If you found a way, well, too bad for you. The rest of us were crazy about him.

Robert Leo Burgess was born on December 7, 1933, a while before that date was Pearl Harbor Day. The youngest of nine kids, he was shorter than all of the men in the family, which he often attributed to there ‘being nothing left’ when he finally came around. As the baby of the family, he was very loved and received a lot of attention. I feel confident that my father’s passionate commitment to our immediate family came from the constant support and love he got from his own mother and siblings, who might have been compensating for my grandfather being less than affectionate.

Dad was a bruiser and a tough guy all his life, but it manifested much differently later because he was gregarious almost to a fault. He could walk into a room with ten people and they were all his friends before he left it. Now, if you’re reading this, you probably know what it is like to be in a conversation with a Burgess. We talk and talk…sometimes you’d think we just like to hear our own voices (yes, they do sound good), but, really, we like telling stories.

In my dad’s generation, I often say the nuance in the stories and their purpose changes from sibling to sibling. My dad focused on the funny. He was far more likely to tell you a joke than a story. He was always fond of them but, after his stroke a decade ago, he became a veritable sit-down comedian. Everyone nearby was subjected to them and he left most of the many, many hospitals since his stroke with nurses sorry to see him go because he kept them laughing and always had a positive attitude. It could be a problem, though. When we’d tell him, “Dad, that waiter kind of needs to actually go put in the order,” he’d say, “It’s good for his health! I’m helping him!” No one was safe from his laugh therapy. I tried to give him new joke books every year but he stuck to the old faithfuls most of the time, including one-liners that would make Henny Youngman proud. As he became increasingly difficult to understand, it wasn’t hard to listen for the moment when he was going to laugh so you could laugh along with him at the right moment.

My father’s major passion in middle life to late life was reading. He took a speed reading course as a younger man and never lost it. When I was young, he took the bus to his office in East L.A., reading on the way there and back, plus he’d hit the pages during two tea breaks in the morning and afternoon and also at lunch. With that, he’d polish off close to two books a day. Of course, these were not studies on neuroscience or impenetrable postmodern novels; his interest was in mysteries and biographies of pop culture icons. He also had zero interest in retaining those yellowed paperbacks like talismans of accomplishment – he was constantly moving the books he’d read out for the next batch and watching like an addict for the next library sale where books were a buck a bag. In the last year, I was his dealer, hitting all the library sales and used bookshops to round up enough books to keep him reading all day, every day. My Saturday morning ritual was to show him the books I’d gathered all morning in hopes that I’d get approval for more than 50% of them. I succeeded most of the time.

Among the lighter reading, he’d find time for some of his favorite literary authors and I’d bring them over for a re-read. He had an affinity for authors who seemed to write the same book over and over again – Bukowski, Kerouac (on whom we disagreed), Fitzgerald (on whom we agreed), and Thomas Wolfe – his favorite writer. Something about Wolfe appealed to my dad – maybe the overwhelming emotion in his prose, the questing real-life narratives, or the grandiose diction. Whatever the case, he delighted in Wolfe’s work and life, often repeating biographical details like Wolfe’s tendency to write while leaning against his refrigerator or how he died from TB after contracting it from a hobo he met when he jumped a train. A complete collection of Wolfe’s work is among the slim library my dad retained on his small shelves.

His other passion was the silver screen. He was an avid film lover and moviegoer. But he didn’t travel with film into the modern day. His love for moving pictures remained largely in the black-and-white. As a young man, he worked at a movie theater for some time and all those free movies might have developed the habit. He did love to talk about films and one of our rituals for ages was watching Siskel and Ebert in their various formats on Sunday evenings before dinner. Yet, huge swathes of film, and even music were unavailable to him because he didn’t like the performer. All those biographies gave him details about actors, singers, and directors that were lousy to their families, their wives, or their colleagues. After that, he wouldn’t want to see anything with that person involved. I used to tease him about it – “Who cares if Robert De Niro is a jerk? Raging Bull is amazing.” He wouldn’t budge. Even this last Christmas, he reminded me when he heard a Bing Crosby song on our playlist that the performer was ‘a terrible parent.’ Now, I realize this was just an extension of my dad’s goodness; he didn’t want even exceptional art if it came from bad people.

My dad’s passion for the written word on the page and on the screen inspired my own. Despite my love of technology, I followed in his footsteps and studied literature in college. It worked out in the career I have chosen that blends our great loves. While I tell stories in software more often than I do in prose, there is still the structure and the passion to tell a tale that will enlighten, inspire and enrich the life of the reader, here a user. That came from my dad.

The games came from him, too. Dad was a poker and cribbage player but mostly because of the society of play. Winning meant nothing to him; he craved card play for the chance to interact. When I was young, the monthly poker games my Dad attended was a highlight. Most of the attendees were family, my uncles and older cousins made up the bulk of the group, but some old friends of theirs often rounded out the table of freewheeling dealer’s choice. Yes, it was nice to play but it was mostly about the conversation. Dad played so he could tell and hear jokes, share family news, and spend time with his favorite buddies. The poker nights were an excuse to stay connected with family and friends. I see that in my own board gameplay now, that desire to hold on to my closest friends through regular sessions, keeping the creation of precious hours in regular production.

My cribbage memories are mostly of just the two of us playing. He was an incredibly generous player. He’d call ‘muggins’ if you missed points in your hand, but he’d give them to you anyway. This was a reaction to his own father who was notorious in the family for cheating. He’d back-peg and do all kinds of questionable stuff against even his own kids. I’m glad that what my dad learned from that is what NOT to do. I’ve learned well from his example here.

As we have lost so many of my dad’s generation in the family recently, I’ve often thought about how to distinguish the Burgessness of them all. Yes, that’s a word; it needed invention for that last sentence to work. My generation, of which I’m the youngest, know what I mean. There was a powerful sense of Burgessness throughout them all.

What was my dad best at? Sure, there was the humor I spoke about. Yet, there was also a sense of compassion in him that I admired. As the youngest of his family’s generation, I would like to think he was among the most modern with regard to accepting others. If the decades of time in social work taught him one thing, it was compassion for his fellow man and woman. My dad spent a lot of time with people who were facing the worst days of their lives. He had a positive spirit in his heart at all times so he could console, he could inspire, he could help. While neither of us had much use for organized religion, our Catholic upbringing did instill a concern for the weakest in society, which we both extended to tolerance. He believed in the common good and that America was about all people, not just your own tribe. Dad championed the underdog and the weak like all heroes do. I will always admire him for his lack of cynicism and interest in seeing real action over words.

As a father, he was devoted to making sure we had what we needed. He made sacrifices, neglected to have much of any kind of a mid-life crisis – other than briefly listening to more Willie Nelson and Jim Croce than was generally advisable – and was true to our family and his wife. He was not handy around the house; Dad couldn’t change a light bulb. He was certainly no gourmet unless you consider a predilection for peanut butter and butter sandwiches, or Velveeta on graham crackers to be avant-garde in some way. He blew the Santa thing by walking into the house with an Atari 2600 under his arm from Clarks Drugs when I was a kid, but at least he brought the thing home, despite an irrational fear of anything electronic. He didn’t drink, except for the occasional pina colada (of which I’d get a sip!), and never smoked because his own father had shortened his life with both of those vices. His kids are the same way as a result.

Dad would always drive you where you needed to go, pick you up when you were in a bind, help, throw money at a problem (what is money for, anyway?), and console you when things went wrong. Dad was always okay with your mistakes; he was there to help clean them up and get you back on track. Dad was exceptionally good at being supportive and not throwing something in your face when you failed because you didn’t listen to his advice. He never said ‘I told you so,” never wanted to “teach people a lesson”, never wanted to make it hard on someone when they were already down. He was a supervisor at work and I can remember how hard the employees fought to be on his team – they told me so without asking. They knew he was the kind of leader who worked with you and offered guidance, not the kind who obsessed on hierarchy. The masses at his retirement party years later spoke volumes; he was much-loved at work, too.

Dad never made us feel like we were not good enough, that his love had any strings, that his judgment was against us. He was generous with compliments, acknowledged the good things, and praised like no other. Even in the last days before he became largely incoherent, he was telling us we ‘were the best’, expressed his love for us, and talked about how wonderful his grandchildren were. He spoke this way to everyone. He saw value in spreading positivity as often as possible, and in every situation.

Dad stopped walking about a year ago and for most of that time, he was at a board-and-care facility just across the street from my house. I loved the fact that I could look out my front window when I got home from work and see if his light was on to know if I could visit. It was easy to slip over there; the people who ran the place knew me well enough that I didn’t need to sign in. Dad would always be happy to see me. His mind would start clouded and he’d need to get some ideas out of the way; he’d often start mid-sentence as if I’d walked in on a conversation he was already having, talking about the book he’d just read or some detail that was important enough that he returned to it with some frequency (like his brief time on the set of “Touch of Evil” or when he and I met Harlan Ellison, who tried to convince him to kick me out of the house when I commented on Ellison’s car commercials of the time). But once you got past those anecdotes that were sitting on top of his consciousness, you could really talk to him. We had so many good chats about what was going on these days (of course he hates Trump – he’s an awful person) and how the kids are doing (he would cry from joy when we discussed my son’s Eagle Scout rank or my daughter’s exceptional talent as a singer). He hasn’t been at full cognitive power for more than a decade, but he didn’t lose his sense of justice nor his deep love of his family.

I’ve had twenty years to get used to the fact that I would lose my dad one day. In 1998, he had bypass surgery and, in short order, was diagnosed with prostate cancer. I thought I was going to lose him then. But he recovered. Then, the stroke hit in 2007 and again, I thought I was going to lose my dad. But he recovered. Seizures, minor strokes (perhaps) and an endless number of falls occurred in the next decade. We went to the ER a lot, each time prepared for the worst. But he recovered somehow again and again. We have had so many extra years to consider that we might lose him, which gave me a ton of time to express my appreciation for him. He met all of that with love. After his stroke, he often couldn’t contain his emotions so I would do my best to express my love with a laugh so he could laugh, too. It worked most of the time.

For me, this was all ‘bonus time.’ I am so grateful for every day of it.

Last Wednesday was the last day when Dad and I communicated directly. After the doctor called me and let me know he recommended that we let Dad enter hospice, I drove out to the hospital and woke him up. He recognized me by my voice, heard me tell him how much I loved him and responded with the same. He could no longer intake water so I used swabs to soothe him a bit, as I had done with my Uncle Bill just six months before. I was reminded to take that moment to express what I needed to, as I had with Uncle Bill. With Dad, though, I remembered how often I’d repeated what I wanted to say. He knew how much I loved him and appreciated him. He loved how I told him that his brother Bill had added to my personality as much as he had. He loved that I acknowledged my Uncle Ed as a similar inspiration in my life. He thought the world of them both and told me I was smart to not just learn from him because he’d done the same and learned so much from his brothers and sisters, even more than from his own father. We understood each other well. I didn’t have to say it all again. I just had to hug him and hold his hand and tell him I loved him.

So, I’m going to revise my earlier statement. My dad was a great man to the people in his life, to the people he helped and befriended – who are legion – and the people who he loved so much. He neglected being great for the world so he could be greater for all of us, those who knew him and, inevitably, loved him.

PRESS RELEASE: Renegade Games Introduces Fireworks!

PRESS RELEASE: Renegade Games Introduces Fireworks!
San Diego, CA (June 14th, 2018) — Renegade Game Studios™ is excited to announce the next explosive addition to their catalog — Fireworks! This will be the fifth dexterity game in the Renegade catalog by Aza-Chen, designer of other adorably fun games such as Kitty PawDoggy Go!Shiba Inu House, and Circus Puppy. You can find this title on game shelves in beginning September 2018. Pre-order from the Friendly Local Game Store now or through the Renegade Store for Essen Pick-up!

A group of cats has been training very hard to master their profession — shooting off the biggest and best fireworks in the world! Although they are still rookies, they hope to become experts someday. Which cat can put on the most explosive fireworks display?

The goal is to collect Fireworks Tiles and arrange them on your City Board to create stunning displays. On your turn, you launch the Fireworks Die out of the barrel and into the box. You then take some face-up Fireworks Tiles from the box and place them on your city board. The game end is triggered when a player fills up their entire City Board. Whoever has the most valuable fireworks display wins!

Features:

  • Launch the Fireworks Die into the City
  • Create the most beautiful night sky
  • Action cards add silly rules for even more fun
  • Play with Advanced or Speed Variants
  • Purr-fect for 2-4 kitties ages 6+ to play in about 20 minutes

Quick Facts
MSRP: $25.00
SKU: RGS0823
North America Release Date: September
Game Type: Dexterity

READ THE RULEBOOK!

About Renegade Game Studios:
Renegade Game Studios is a premier developer and publisher of original award winning board games, including Overlight, Clank!: A Deck-Building Adventure, Lanterns: The Harvest Festival, and The Fox in the Forest. Our mission is to publish games that are fun, challenging, and unique.  We believe that gaming is for everybody and that everybody is a gamer; you just have to find the right game!

Find out more at www.renegadegames.com