5 Quick Questions about Civil Unrest from Upstart Games

5 Quick Questions about Civil Unrest from Upstart Games

Editor’s Note: As a kind of content geek, I try new formats. So, here’s a new interviewette for tabletop designers. We promise no TL;DR. Let’s see how Upstart Games, publisher of Civil Unrest (coming to Kickstarter soon) does, shall we?

BGB: Attention is money, my friend. What is the elevator pitch for Civil Unrest:

Upstart: Civil Un-rest is a strategic board game with miniatures. (The game) takes place in an alternate modern-day fantasy world where magic and technology have been combined. Players take control of law enforcement or political activists who are trying to take control of Three Circle City, a place where all fantasy races are welcomed but have not been able to get along peacefully.

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

Upstart: I began creating this game in my college days. The funny thing is, during the game’s conception back in the early 1990’s, I believed that political movements becoming waring factions willing to commit acts of violence was a thing of parody. Now, unfortunately, it has become a reality. It is my sincere hope (that) by creating this satirical alternate reality, people can gain some perspective on political violence.

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

Upstart: I believe the miniatures are unique, but also can be great proxies for other games. The game is a fast-paced miniatures game, which is rare. Also, it’s satirical theme (that) can be a conversation starter.

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

Upstart: Well, there are no good guys in this game. Though Civil Unrest is political in nature, the game itself does not paint any one side as good or bad. So, if you are sensitive about politics you may want to skip this one.

Thanks for telling us a bit about Civil Unrest. 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?

Upstart: 2 Players, play time is between 30 to 60 minutes. Right now, all I have is a Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/upstartgames/

JOKE TIME

Upstart: My day time gig is IT so here goes:

A Network Tech walks into the doctor’s offices and says, “Doc it hurts when IP…”

DISCLOSURE: Boardgame Babylon is not liable for damage to your sensibilities from the jokes these game designers submit.

Check out the promo video:

Love 5 Quick Questions? There are more!

REVIEW: SECTRE from Peter Mariutto and Freshwater Game Company

REVIEW: SECTRE from Peter Mariutto and Freshwater Game Company

SECTRE is a new abstract strategy game from the Freshwater Game Company, an organization with a credo to admire. Freshwater is committed to environmentally sustainable games sourced from local businesses and assembled by hand. This Minnesota company has the right idea and Boardgame Babylon certainly supports their effort to create games in this kind of format. After horror stories about mass-produced games with mildew in them, Kickstarter campaigns with copycat titles, and the environmental record of some of the companies producing gobs of plastic for our amusement, Freshwater’s mission is a worthwhile one.

SECTRETheir first game is here: SECTRE

So, great company and vision but how is SECTRE? The video on their Kickstarter page won’t tell you very much. What is clear is that it is a tile placement game with domino-like cards players use to form patterns and score points on a grid. Players are given a hand of these domino cards (in that they have two ends with different colors) and receive a solid distribution of variants from subtle markings on the cards (nice abstract art, by the way). These are the cards you get for the game; it ends when you have played them all. I can also tell you that the game plays with 2-6 players and is over in maybe 20-30 minutes, from our experience. We’ve played with 2, 4, and 5 players so far.

Each turn, players place one of their cards on the grid board, taking up two spaces and potentially claiming one of the scoring cards available to players. These score cards (which range from 5 to 15 points) are acquired by building certain patterns using the cards. While some are just about a certain number of spaces of a color being diagonally connected, others are specific patterns that players need to cleverly get on the board without the other players noticing and potentially grabbing the scoring card before them. These score cards are limited as well, so there is a bit of a race for who can score the cards first. Notably, a single play can lead to multiple cards being collected.

Of course, you can’t just place cards anywhere. They must be placed so that the color on each side of the card is not orthogonally adjacent to the same color. In this way, it helps build the patterns while also providing some restrictions to guide placement. Again, if you create a pattern that matches what is on offer, you can claim it. Also, after the first turn, a little stacking can take place. As long as you follow the other placement rules, your cards can cover other cards. Breaking a previous pattern doesn’t matter; once a card is claimed, it is owned by the player who scored it.

The game ends when all players have played their hand of cards. The player with the most points wins.

SECTRE

Components

SECTRE does feel handmade, which is pleasant. The cards are cardboard and feel good in the hand, but I do wonder about durability of them after manyplays of SECTRE. I welcome the lack of plastic in the game, but it could affect the length of time enjoying the game (although we’re talking decades, not just years). While I was looking at a prototype copy, the principles of the game company suggest it will feel similar. Nice to know your fun isn’t doing terrible things to the environment.

Thoughts on SECTRE

SECTRE is lighter, but still an abstract strategy game. Casual players sometimes won’t take to this kind of game, but ours mostly did. Of course, they were challenged by this GIPF-loving gamer, who won every game. Some players were frustrated when I would claim multiple cards with a single play, so this might be house-ruled away as a handicap.

The game operates on ground that is widely covered in the abstract strategy world, with the use of domino-style pieces and a grid board. At times, I thought of patterns from Hanging Gardens, the old game M, and a few others that wanted to do something new with this combo. Serious gamers will probably prefer something like Tash-Kalar for a game of placement and patterns, or maybe Kris Burm‘s GIPF project for a little less detail than one gets with Vlaada Chvatil’s work.

Yet, SECTRE works as a very light, almost party-level game that plays closer to traditional abstract strategy games like checkers and chess than with modern gamer games. Not every casual gamer is as grumpy as the crowd I schooled. Played quickly, SECTRE is an enjoyable pastime that handles up to six people, and that might be a hole in your collection. How many times can you play Tsuro in one night?

SECTRE comes to Kickstarter on November 15 with attractive pricing, free shipping and no guilt over another game being added to your shelf (and carbon footprint). For more information ahead of the Kickstarter, check our Freshwater Game Company on Facebook.

Boardgame Babylon Rating for SECTRE

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

Disclosure: Publisher Freshwater Game Company provided a pre-release prototype for independent review.

PRESS RELEASE: Janken Deck offers a new dimension to card games LIVE ON KICKSTARTER

PRESS RELEASE: Janken Deck offers a new dimension to card games LIVE ON KICKSTARTER

What would card games be like if the suits outranked each other like in Rock, Paper, Scissors? That was the question that led artist Jeffrey Daymont to create a new deck of playing cards, the Janken Deck. The deck uses five suits: Rock, Paper, Scissors, Water and Lizard. Each suit is “Stronger” than two other suits (Rock blunts Scissors and crushes Lizard) but is “Weaker” than the two others (Paper covers and Water erodes Rock). Every suit has the familiar ranks of Ace, King, Queen, on down to 2, plus its own Joker for more advanced games.

The games for the Janken deck range from the very simple (War) to the mind boggling (3-D Sudoku). Some games focus on the Rock, Paper, Scissors logic while some games are just more fun with five suits. The deck can be reduced to three suits for children’s games or you can combine the cards with a standard deck to play with nine suits at once. All of the official rules for the games can be found at JankenDeck.com. For players who would like to try their own hand at game theory there is a place on the website to submit your own favorite games for the deck.

“As soon as I came up with the concept for the deck I had all these game ideas. ‘How would you play solitaire with these cards? How would Hearts or Spades play differently?’ It’s so cliché to call anything a game changer, but this kinda literally changes the game!” Jeffrey Daymont, artist and creator

And where does the name “Janken” come from? In Japan, the hand game Rock, Paper, Scissors is called “Jan-Ken”. Not to mention it is a lot easier to say than “The Rock-Paper-Scissors-Water-Lizard Deck”.

The Background

California artist Jeffrey Daymont was inspired during an episode of Big Bang Theory when the character Sheldon explained the game “Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock”, a game that was actually invented by Sam Kass and Karen Bryla years earlier. In this five weapon game you still try to outguess your opponent, but the odds of getting a tie are smaller. “The game sounds complicated but the math and geometry behind the concept are actually pretty simple” says Jeffrey, “and some of the best games have very simple foundations.”

“As far as I could tell, no one had made a deck like this already, so if I wanted one I’d have to make it myself. And If I was going to make it myself I’d better do it right!” After getting permission from Sam Kass to expand on his original idea Jeffrey started laying groundwork for his biggest art project to date.

About the Art

The goal was to keep a very traditional look to keep everything familiar to new players. The pips representing the suits are simple and bold, the face cards represent real kings and queens from history. “I think a main objective for classic face card designs was to make them hard to counterfeit. The patterns are pretty but that also makes it harder to cheat!”

The fifteen kings, queens, and jacks in the deck were chosen partly for their influence in history and partly for who had the best looking portraits and statues. The side arms and patterns were all chosen to reflect their respective cultures. The characters in the five jokers are all tricksters from folklore like China’s Monkey King and the Pacific North West’s Raven. Since there is no high card in the Janken Deck, all five aces get a big fancy pip too.

“You would think that coloring in a few square inches of art should be easy…  but every card needed to have a different look, a new arrangement of patterns and shapes. Every card that I finished was like solving a puzzle. Then I would start the next one, looking at the blank space and wonder ‘how am I going to make this one special too?’.”

Each deck of cards contains the whole art collection, but there will be some larger prints of the artwork available too.

About the Games

Designing the artwork for the cards was just the first challenge. The second part was creating fun games and writing rules that are easy to understand. The new element introduced with the Janken Deck is the idea of “Stronger” and “Weaker” suits. For any two suits, one is stronger and one is weaker. For example, Paper is stronger than Rock, so a 2 of Paper can beat a King of Rock. In games like “King of the Hill” you play stronger cards on top of weaker ones. In “Klondike” you can play a 5 of Paper on the stronger 6 of Scissors or 6 of Water. Each deck comes with a “Rule Card” and “Diagram Card” that shows the relationships between all five suits.

For more challenging games you can play with the Jokers. When these are in play, Weak suits become Strong, and Strong suits become Weak! “What’s fun for me is that I haven’t even figured out the best strategies for these games yet. Everyone will be starting on a level playing field and discovering tactics as they go!”

Of course the real challenge in game theory is creating an experience that is not too easy but not too hard. Something in that sweet spot that is challenging and fun so it is rewarding when you win. The games and puzzles at JankenDeck.com come in a variety of levels and many have easy and hard versions, so there should be something for everyone!

About Jeffrey Daymont and the Janken Deck:

Jeffrey Daymont is a Southern California artist who has been a professional juggler for over 30 years. The Janken Deck is his first project for the gaming community and he’s excited about finding a new way to entertain people through creativity.

Website: JankenDeck.com

email: jeff@jankendeck.com

Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1891787367/janken-deck

Campaign runs through November 20th, 2017

Review: Echidna Shuffle from Kris Gould and Wattsalpoag Games

Review: Echidna Shuffle from Kris Gould and Wattsalpoag Games

Echidna Shuffle is a fun game that your family and casual gamer friends will love.

There’s something magical about games that are easy enough to let 6 year olds play but that also delight adults. Sure, we all love the idea of ‘easy to play, challenging to master’, but that’s not all there is. The right components are a treat, a theme that can gain a smile from players young and old helps, and certainly a quick play time so it’s easy to play again are all winning attributes. Kris Gould’s Echidna Shuffle, which IS NOW LIVE on Kickstarter, has all of this in spades.

Echidna Shuffle
Images by E.R. Burgess, Prototype Copy

What’s an Echidna? Well, they’re a bit like a porcupine with a funnier name taken from Greek mythology. While the echidna of Zeus’ world was a half-woman and half-snake monstrosity, the real-life echidna is closer to a hedgehog or an anteater. This little bit of trivia is fun to tell the kids as you explain the rules of the game, which is pretty simple to play and, even with a full group of six players, it should finish up in half an hour.

Traffic Jams

In a way, the shuffle is a traffic management game. Players are trying to guide their three bugs (each player has their own plastic bug in their color) from a specific starting place to three plastic tree stumps that get placed on the board by your leftmost competitor. Unfortunately, your bugs can’t traverse the distance on their own – they ride the echidnas wandering through the grass and all over the board.

The echidnas cover the board and follow paths shown on the space directing where they will go, usually in winding paths. All players can move any echidna, whether or not their bug is riding on its back. The goal is to get them into the space where you placed your starting space, and then to guide them to your stumps. Yet, it’s not that easy because:

  • Echidnas can’t go straight to a space, they need to follow a paths laid out on the board.
  • Echidnas can’t jump over each other or sneak by. Players need to move the other Echidnas out of the way.
  • All players are doing this at once so people might move echidnas you just put into a specific place.

How Many Echidnas Can You Move?

Echidna Shuffle shines here, pleasantly mitigating the randomness of dice with consistent numbers. While players roll at the beginning of their turn to see how many spaces they can move as many echidnas as they like (between 2 and 7 on a modified six-sided die), the lucky factor is managed by assigning players an opposite value to move next turn. So, if I roll a 7, next turn I will be moving only 2. This is tracked on a simple board, but it’s also an enjoyably elegant way to keep everyone feeling like they had a fair shake and weren’t losing just on the die rolls.

For the younger players, there is a little planning involved, but this will teach them some skills there. Downtime isn’t too bad because even though the board “shuffles around” every turn, players know how many spaces they will move every other turn, meaning they can plan ahead. While there are a lot of echidnas to consider, it isn’t too overwhelming for players because you can trace your options back to your bug space and the stumps.

Winning Echidna Shuffle isn’t hard but it is fun to play and quick enough that it is easy to start it all up again right away. Trapping friends’ bugs in dead ends, blocking them with more echidnas, or sending them the wrong direction (don’t walk bugs riding an echidna over his own stump because he knows to stop and will jump onto the stump). There are a few more rules (like trying to move more than two bugs at once), but that’s the gist of the whole amusing affair.

Echidna Shuffle
Images by E.R. Burgess, Prototype Copy

Shuffling Echidnas

Echidna Shuffle
Images by E.R. Burgess, Prototype Copy

Since I received this prototype copy, I’ve played Echidna Shuffle five times and it has been a hit with kids, teens and adults alike. The adorable echidna figures and bright colors on the board are sure to attract many players and they will be happy to see the game is worthwhile, too.

A couple of years back, I had the pleasure of playing Kris’ MASSIVE prototype of Echinda Shuffle at the Gathering of Friends and I recall thinking it would be tough to bring to market, even though I hoped he would since it was a hit of the convention. Yet, all Kris and his Wattsalpoagians had to do was address the scale issue. The rather large animals got smaller and cuter so they could fit into a regular box. They will charm players big time, as they have at all of our plays of the game.

If you like casual games at the level of Tsuro, that involve a little thinking and planning but nothing that will overwhelm people, Echidna Shuffle is for you. Anyone else, I’d still recommend giving it a go because it has a feel that isn’t like every other game you can play in that amount of time with six players. And if you have kids, I’d upgrade that rating to Buy It Now.

Echidna Shuffle is now LIVE on Kickstarter and I hope you will grab one and enjoy it with the family.

Boardgame Babylon Rating for Echidna Shuffle

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

Disclosure: Publisher Wattsalpoag Games provided a pre-release prototype for independent review.

PRESS RELEASE: Rogue Squad is live on Kickstarter

PRESS RELEASE: Rogue Squad is live on Kickstarter

Leverkusen, Germany: Rogue Squad is a cooperative science fiction board game that combines thrilling combat action with exciting strategic challenges. In this action game, 1 to 4 players step into the boots of a misfit band of mercenaries who must battle their way through swarms of bloodthirsty aliens to fulfill their mission.

Each player controls 1 to 4 mercenary troopers. Steer the squad’s combat robot, share equipment, upgrade weapons, use special items and – above all – cooperate to stay alive and carry out your mission. Only a combat unit that works together can hope to stand against the aliens’ overwhelming numbers. Rescue your comrades, argue over the best routes and tactics, upgrade your combat skills, and even fight for leadership – but whatever you do, be quick about it! Because one instant, you may be the predator… but the next, you will become the prey.

Rogue Squad is an exciting turn-based game with easy-to-learn rules. Depending on the mission’s level of difficulty, one game lasts from 45 minutes to 3 hours. A fully developed universe, intriguing characters, and thrilling scenarios allow you to focus as much (or as little) on roleplaying as you like. For more details, check out their nice site: http://roguesquad-game.com/

For more information – check out their Kickstarter page and their social accounts.

Preview: Wizards of the Tabletop – A Game Designer Portrait Book – On Kickstarter

Preview: Wizards of the Tabletop – A Game Designer Portrait Book – On Kickstarter

Wizards of the Tabletop is a worthwhile addition to the non-game shelves of any passionate tabletop gamer.

Do people still read paper books much? I like to call them “dead-tree books” as sort of a poke at people who collect books like they are secret talismans that somehow makes them more powerful or more prestigious since they keep all that knowledge in their home. Don’t we all have that knowledge on our phones all the time, every day now?

While my attitude about this subject is somewhat informed by the fact that I was an early e-reader who pulled PDFs off the bibliophile’s version of the Dark Web, it also comes from being raised by a voracious reader who never kept books. As soon as my father read something, and he was an Evelyn Wood-trained speed reader who polished off a book and a half a day, he would get them into a bag to be sent off to his friends or the library for donation.

Amusingly enough, the reason my snarky comments stopped is because I started buying dead-tree books on Amazon at ridiculously cheap prices. I think the turning point was when I purchased a copy of Morrissey’s autobiography for eight cents plus shipping; that’s quite a bit less than the cost of the Kindle edition. Suddenly, these dead-tree bits were showing up on my doorstep and I ended up rediscovering the beautiful, tactile experience of reading a physical book rather than simply paging through it on an iPhone. It’s not the first time I found something that seems like going backwards is actually just a new path to happiness. I doubt it’s the last.

Wizards of the Tabletop: This is a review, right?

Yes, I was getting to that. So, when I saw that Douglas Morse, who has already made one of the best board game movies that we have yet to see (The Next Great American Board Game), has a new coffee table book on Kickstarter that included photos of game industry folks, I was intrigued. Certainly, I thought Wizards of the Tabletop: A Game Designer Portrait Book sounded like something that was worth a little space on my largely uncluttered shelves. I’m glad to say that I was able to obtain a preview copy of the book’s photos and accompanying text. In the book, Mr. Morse has captured some terrific photos of various game designers and industry luminaries at conventions or, in some cases, in an environment suited to the kind of games that they produce.

Wizards of the Tabletop
The great Matt Leacock in a preview photo from Wizards of the Tabletop.

In his travels to put together his original documentary, Mr. Morse had an opportunity to visit many of the conventions that are the gathering places for our hobby, including both public and private conventions. He captured signature shots of great designers like Reiner Knizia, Friedemann Friese, Alan Moon, Steve Jackson, Matt Leacock and so many more. Frankly speaking, it’s just a lot of fun to see these creative, intelligent, and witty folks hamming it up for the camera. But Morse also captured the more reserved among them (that’s the minority, in my experience) in a manner that suits their personality. There’s just so much joy in this shots. And why not – game designers and people in this hobby are incredibly friendly. When you go to tabletop conventions, it is so easy to meet game designers, so simple to try out their new game, and even contribute to its development. Few other hobbies have such a close relationship between creators and enthusiasts.

I should note that Wizards of the Tabletop isn’t all pictures. Morse has interspersed text with the photos that lightly touches on the modern history of gaming, tying it to some key points in the last fifty-ish years that led to the current sustained renaissance in the hobby. To that end, he’s also included photos of a cross section of games that highlight key moments or movements within modern board game design. These complement the designer photos to tell a compelling story about how the hobby has crawled out of the college campuses, geek basements and back rooms of game stores into the charming board game cafes, libraries, and homes of regular folks everywhere.

It’s a wonderful tale that is well-told and one that is dear to my own heart; indeed, it should be for anyone who has a deep love for “These Games of Ours,” as they were often called in the past. I’m glad they aren’t just ours anymore. I love that I can’t contain the size of the board game night I started at work. I’m thrilled that board games are having their day and saving us from endlessly looking at screens. I still delight in seeing a big shelf of quality games at Target or Barnes and Noble. To commemorate how far the hobby has come, I think having this particular talisman in my home makes good sense.

Wizards of the Tabletop is live on Kickstarter and will close in just a few days. You can pony up $20 for the PDF but I can’t imagine not wanting to get the physical copy for another ten bucks. It’s worth a few more trees. Any gamer who enjoys this hobby should delight in the images and story contained in this fine book. While it won’t ship until next June but, in the spirit of the season, it would make a lovely gift to be enjoyed for years to come. After all, a printed out Kickstarter order confirmation email fits nicely into a stocking.


You might also want to read this other Boardgame Babylon article: Movie Review: The Next Great American Board Game


Disclosure: The publisher sent me an early-preview PDF copy of the book for independent review.

PRESS RELEASE: U-turn Games announces new Sortie card game

PRESS RELEASE: U-turn Games announces new Sortie card game

Company announces their first card game is color-blind friendly and features new “Ability” mechanic from creator Homar Herrera

Pittsburgh, PA – November 14, 2016 — Sortie — Today U-turn Games announced the launch of Sortie, a new color-blind friendly—card shedding game on Kickstarter.

Sortie is made up of three types of cards to help you evade and take advantage of different situations: Standard number/draw cards in four different colors. Event cards like ‘Zombie Horde’ and ‘The Big Dump’ can change the flow of the game in an instant.

Ability cards like ‘Raptor Attack’ and ‘Mind Control’ will give you the edge over everyone else. With 22 days remaining, backers can still pledge their support and bring this game to reality! Sortie was laid-out and designed over the course of a year (concept, art, play-testing etc.).

“I have a few color-blind friends, and I wanted them to be able to play too. I’ve created a compelling design/solution to make this game color-blind friendly and now I'm ready to put this game into production. I really hope more games consider designing around color deficiency going forward whenever possible,” said Homar Herrera, designer/founder of U-turn Games.

Sortie is 2-7 players, ages 8 and older and takes between 10-15 min to play. The original Sortie deck includes 118 cards, rules and a stylish box for safekeeping. Sortie Vice is for ages 21 and older and is available as an adult-oriented Kickstarter exclusive add-on.

For more information on Sortie:

www.sortiegame.com

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1187280389/sortie-a-fun-game-thats-color-blind-friendly-too

Sortie

PRESS RELEASE: “Heavy Euro” game Feudum reaches $100,000+ on Kickstarter; Funds first day and Draws Praise for Rich Art and Unique Game Mechanics

PRESS RELEASE: “Heavy Euro” game Feudum reaches $100,000+ on Kickstarter; Funds first day and Draws Praise for Rich Art and Unique Game Mechanics
By hitting $100,000 of funding, The Euro-style tabletop game Feudum from Odd Bird Games enters an elite group of only 806 game projects (out of 27,862) that have done so. Authored by University of Missouri Professor Mark Swanson and designed by Mississippi-based Artist Justin Schultz, the game funded on the first day and continues unlock stretch goals which reward backers with enhanced game pieces, additional tokens and access to new and unique expansions.

One member of the award-winning gaming podcast “The Secret Cabal” hosted by Jamie Keagy exclaimed “Everything about this game gets me jumping out of my pants. They’ve got me frothing.”

Popular game reviewer Richard Ham of “Rahdo Runs Through” has featured Feudum on his top 10 most anticipated games list. On Feudum’s kickstarter page (www.oddbirdgames.com/feudum), Ham states in a video, “If I were ever to design a board game, this is the game I would design!”

Vlogger David Waybright of Man Vs Meeple said “It melts my brain in the most glorious way! The artwork and the whole style is so fanciful, lighthearted and fun that it begs people to play it!”

Feudum

Feudum features the strategic complexities found in games such as Terra Mystica, Brass, Caylus, Dominant Species, Vinhos, The Gallerist, and Madeira but sets itself apart with its meticulously-drawn illustrations, interesting decisions and a fully-functioning economic ecosystem. It is this unique economic mechanic that allows players to facilitate the rotation of goods through different guilds, while competing for status within them.

The new game also includes action programming, area influence and hand management. These nuances are highlighted by Schultz’s artwork for the game.

“There’s not one right way to play it,” said Swanson. “Uniquely powered characters and multiple paths to victory make for an ever-changing, open-world experience. You have to be flexible—ready to adapt.”

“Designing a board game is a dream come true,” said Schultz, Feudumwho is known for his eclectic works ranging from a logo for a tomato farmer to concert posters for Grammy award-winning band Wilco. “It reflects so much of what has inspired me over the years—from 60’s art like Steadman and Crumb to Anime and Saturday morning cartoons.”


The game is for 2-5 players, takes 80 to 180 minutes to play and will include rulebooks in German, French and English. Prospective backers, reviewers and retailers can have a glimpse of the game on its live Kickstarter page at www.oddbirdgames.com/feudum. To learn more, follow Feudum on social media.

Live on Kickstarter: www.oddbirdgames.com/feudum Facebook: www.facebook.com/feudum
Instagram: @feudumgame
Twitter: @feudumgame

Session Review: Guild Masters by Matthew Austin and Mirror Box Games

Session Review: Guild Masters by Matthew Austin and Mirror Box Games

Guild Masters came along at a less than ideal time for me, yet I quite liked it and backed it on Kickstarter. I’ve been struggling with euro games still a bit when they lack an interesting theme or unique elements. While we often marvel at the way a designer melds good ideas from other games into something new, even that has gotten old in my view.

So, it was a bit of a surprise to find out that I enjoyed Guild Masters so much. It’s a euro game with a variation on a theme we’ve seen a bit. Yet, it’s so tightly designed and expertly implemented that I found myself really enjoying it only a few minutes in.

Guild Masters

I like fantasy themes and I’m drawn to games that try to have some fun with it, particularly when a business is involved. I was drawn to Battle Masters, Fantasy Business and other similar games for that reason. Guild Masters has quests like Lord of Waterdeep but the players are investors trying to supply heroes with the tools they need to complete these tasks. As such, players upgrade their guild in various ways, hire workers and invest in the best quests – sometimes alongside other guild masters for shared booty.

The game has a variety of mechanisms and sub-systems while still feeling like a light-medium euro. Players have a limited number of choices each turn, and then an option to upgrade or hire with the money you have. You can 1) Gather resources, some of which are restricted unless you buy a certain upgrade. You can also 2) Craft resources into something to help a hero conduct a quest by delivering them the item they need. Some quests simply require that one resource and you get paid for it, adding the card to your collection of completed quests that will score at the end of the game. In this case, you want to be the first one in for an advantage (you get the card, instead of just the payout). Lastly, players can also hire a variety of unique workers that help you produce, pay or do something more efficiently. On the same turn, you can also buy extensions to your guild that will help you do more, including getting access to more resource options, getting end-game or in-game bonuses or advantages.

Simple enough but the ease of learning Guild Masters should not make you think the game isn’t really intriguing. There is just the right amount of detail in the varied quests, workers and guild upgrades to provide interesting combos for scoring more points based on the quests you complete.

Guild Masters plays quickly and yet it has enough variation to invite repeat play to explore the various elements and how you can find efficient ways to gain more points than your rivals. I recommend it and look forward to my next play of Guild Masters.

Guild Masters is for 2-5 players and is said to take 60-90 minutes. We were under an hour with three and the game isn’t really prone to AP players (yay!). It’s live on Kickstarter and almost at its end. Support now for a fine new euro you will surely enjoy.

Boardgame Babylon Rating for Guild Masters

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

Disclosure: The publisher provided a preview copy to play once.

Photo Credit: Ta-Te Wu

5 Quick Questions About Guild Masters

5 Quick Questions About Guild Masters

Editor’s Note: As a kind of content geek, I try new formats. So, here’s a new interviewette for designers. We promise no TL;DR. Let’s see how Matt Austin, designer of Guild Masters (a game that just launched on Kickstarter) does, shall we?

BGB: Attention is money, my friend. What is the elevator pitch for Guild Masters?

Matt Austin: Guild Masters is a fantasy crafting board game where you play a guild leader competing to establish the most prestigious guild. You’ll gather resources to supply your guild, craft powerful items to send heroes on quests, recruit new workers with special abilities, and expand your guild by building new rooms. At the end of the game, the King arrives to judge all the guilds and the player with the highest prestige is the winner.

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

Matt Austin: I love fantasy RPG and adventure videogames, so I’ve always wanted to make a board game in that setting. The initial inspiration for Guild Masters actually came from a cute mobile game called Puzzle Forge, where you play as a blacksmith forging weapons for different people in town. I took that idea and ran with the theme, building a board game from that perspective. I love the twist on the genre, having you play as a guild leader overseeing everything instead of the hero going on the quests.

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

Matt Austin: Gamers come in all different flavors, and it can be challenging to find a game that fits everyone’s preferences. My goal with Guild Masters was to design a game that was very accessible and easy to learn, but also one that has tons of depth and replayability for dedicated gamers. Playtesters have been really happy with the result, picking up the game quickly but also wanting to play again and again to master the variety of strategies. I think Guild Masters is a great fit for anyone who wants a rich strategy game that is also tightly designed and full of theme.

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

Matt Austin: I can neither confirm nor deny whether I’ve secretly been working on and testing rules for 6 players and for solo play. I would never tell you about that.

BGB: Thanks for telling us a bit about Guild Masters. 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?

Guild Masters is a 2-5 player game and plays in 60-90 minutes. You can check out the Kickstarter at bit.ly/guildmasters. And I’ll end with a funny board game joke I heard recently:

What kind of games do witches like? Anything hex-based.

DISCLOSURE: Boardgame Babylon is not liable for damage to your sensibilities from the jokes these game designers submit.