CCG Diagnosis

Post by: Grant Rodiek

Daniel Solis has been Tweeting about researching and designing a CCG lately. CCG stands for Collectible Card Game, which is similar to Trading Card Game, and somewhat similar to Living Card Game. No game better embodies this moniker than Magic: The Gathering, the gorilla of the table top industry. However, simpler titles like Pokemon and newer contenders like Android: Netrunner, bring in plenty of revenue and customer satisfaction for their publishers.

Me and Joshua Buergel have been emailing each other back and forth about CCGs in a private discussion. It’s something we do often as a topic meets our fancy and this one, for once, seemed appropriate to write about for the blog.

What are the core elements of a CCG? What does one need to consider when designing one? I don’t claim to be an expert on these, though I’ve played quite a bit of Magic, Netrunner, and games with similar to characteristics over time. Nor am I designing one myself. And no, I don’t presume to write this to inform Mr. Solis. No, it just seemed like a fun topic and I haven’t written in a week or so.

A few things at the top: I’m going to assume a basic familiarity with some CCGs. I’ll be primarily using Magic and Netrunner as my examples, as those are the ones with which I am most familiar. I’m not getting into the business model, which for simplicity’s sake you can assume is: players will buy more cards in some fashion. The goal of this article is to identify things that may be a smidge less obvious and pertain to the design of a CCG.

Tight Economy: Many CCGs have very tight, carefully tuned economies to limit player actions and gate strength of a single player over time. A well-tuned CCG provides a ramp as players go from insignificant to a crushing behemoth.

If I recall correctly, Mike Fitzgerald said the cost-curve was one of, if not the most significant decision in designing a CCG. If it wasn’t him who said it, it was Mike Elliott. Both should know a thing or two about the topic!

In Magic, players can only place 1 Land per turn. Assuming a player’s deck is playing nicely, he’ll grow by 1 Land every turn until mana is almost irrelevant as a decision point. Hearthstone works like this: 1 more mana every turn.

In Netrunner, players begin with a small amount of money, which is used to fuel almost everything in the game. However, players are also limited by clicks, or actions. The corp player receives 3, with a free card draw, and the runner player receives 4.

There are exceptions to these rules. In Magic, there are more powerful lands and artifacts that provide bonus mana. There are elves and other creatures that will do such things. In Netrunner, players can play Assets that generate additional income every turn, or can score Agendas that will reward additional clicks.

The tight economy is not always strictly about money and resources. Summoning sickness gates the explosive growth of a wizard’s army in Magic in order to give an opponent time to counter the play. Plus, this introduces the opportunity for exceptions, such as Haste (i.e. ignore summoning sickness). In Netrunner, Ice must first be installed THEN rez’d. Again, it gives the game time to unfold without slowly it in an undue manner.

A good CCG is a tense back and forth between players. It’s not much fun if one player launches out the gate with the hammer of god. A tight economy restrains this and provides a nice ramp of complexity and threat.

Focused Deckbuilding

Either with implied rules or explicit rules, good deckbuilders require focus for success. This constrains the options available to a player and reduces the burden on design teams from having to tune so many combinations. CCGs need to have these limitations and rules in order to constrain their options.

In Magic, players CAN build with every color of Land and use all 5 spell colors. However, that is unlikely to lead to success. Now, I’m sure someone can (and will) point towards a 5 color deck that has worked, but by and large, players stick to 1 or 2 colors. Why? For one, with the exception of Spells that modify this, your Land draw is unpredictable beyond what probability dictates it should be. If you have 3 different colored creatures in your hand and need 3 different lands, you may find yourself in trouble. The rule is implied that you need to focus your deck to increase the probability of paying for the Spells in your hand.

In Netrunner, players must choose an identity upon which to build their deck. The identity will specify a minimum number of cards as well as a maximum amount of influence that can be brought in from other factions. This number is often approximately 15 Influence. Low value cards tend to cost 1-2 influence, with really potent cards costing 4 or 5 influence. If you only have 15, that’s a careful balance of 5-10 cards from outside your core faction.

Be sure to constrain the deckbuilding properties with either implicit or explicit rules.


A good CCG supports multiple play styles and personalities. David Chott, designer and publisher of Lagoon, once said that he knew which friend designed which deck in college based on its contents. The deck’s play style would have his friend’s finger prints all of it. I think it is SO crucial that like a good RPG, or MMO, or Moba, a CCG supports different play styles through factions.

In Magic, blue, red, green, black, and white mean something. Blue is about control of the board. Red is about direct damage (fireball). Black is about trade-offs — take damage for power (necromancer). Green represents life, druids, and the power of the forest. White represents health, buffs, and paladin-like powers.

Netrunner is no different. You have Shapers, Anarchists, and Criminals in the runner side. You then have four distinct corporations on the other side, who hate the runners and each other.

When a player picks up a new CCG, they’re looking for a familiar foundation. This doesn’t mean your CCG needs to have a black necromancer faction with a few renamed cards. But, you should fundamentally understand why each faction is satisfying and try to emulate those qualities in your design.

These qualities could be overt aggression, subtle and clever card play, setting up big combos, or nickel and diming someone with an efficient setup. I tend to prefer focused decks with 1 or 2 side tricks. Others love to find broken exploits they can somehow turn into a winning strategy.

Support this! Start from a high level position, then drill down and create content examples for each. Without good, clean factions and play styles, you might not satisfy your audience.

Exception Driven

CCGs are complex and intensely inelegant. CCGs often have simple core mechanics, but a million exceptions, conveyed through every card. Although it has gone hog wild in the past, the Magic R&D team tends to introduce 1-2 new mechanics every new cycle and retire old ones. That means every cycle is built around 1-2 completely new mechanics, which are then introduced and twisted with decades of content and ideas.

Netrunner is full of exceptions, with the key being that it is full of knobs to twist. When you begin Netrunner, you must first learn a long list of terms, which are unfortunately asymmetric per faction. Yes, it’s thematic, but it’s confusing that a runner’s hand is called a grip, and a corp’s hand is called HQ. Here are some of the term concepts:

  • Click (i.e. action)
  • Credit (i.e. money)
  • Bad Publicity (Runner gets resources on a run)
  • Trace (an action in which each player contributes money, often to give a tag)
  • Tag (triggers many card powers, allows the corp to trash runner Resource cards)
  • Multiple card types, including Identities, Operations/Events, Resources/Assets, Upgrades, Hardware, Program, Ice, Agenda
  • There are also standard actions, like draw card, gain 1 credit, purge Tags, initiate a Run

Every Netrunner card tweaks how these terms mix and work.

If you aren’t comfortable with exceptions, you shouldn’t make a CCG! At the start, you must identify your core mechanics: how will a player take a standard turn? What does a turn entail?

Once you can answer that question, you need to list and design your standard terms. You need to work from a glossary that is crucial towards keeping yourself constrained and limiting undue card text and terms. Note: try to stick to standard card terminology. Look to Dominion here, not Netrunner.

If you can define a core term and have a list of core terms, you can begin making cards. If it typically costs 1 Click in Netrunner to gain 1 Credit, then a card that costs 1 Click and gains 3 Credits is valuable. Exception! If it typically costs 1 Click to start a run, then a card that starts a run AND lets you bypass the first ice on the server is valuable. Exception!

These are the obvious exceptions and therefore the simple ones. Often times, you can’t create outstanding and devious ones until you’re deep into the game. You need to know it. My best Farmageddon, Dawn Sector, and Sol Rising cards (all of which are exceptions!) were derived from testing, not a brainstorm.

Think of your exceptions like a sitcom: often, the first season is full of a few good jokes, but otherwise weak, forced comedy. However, the truly good shows often have incredible subsequent seasons as the writing team and actors really figure out their characters. Give your CCG time to grow into its exceptions so that it can be more exceptional.

Look to Similar Games

When designing a CCG, you should look to other games that are clearly inspired by CCGs. Why? They did something unique upon the foundation. Some examples that come to mind include Dominion, a game that took the pre-game deckbuilding and exception-based card combos to create a new genre.

How about Summoner Wars, which took head to head, asymmetric, exception driven card play and added a spatial element?

There’s also Lagoon, which is all about combos and unique cards used on a shared spatial platform.

You should also most definitely play Innovation, which is one of the most phenomenal, absurd, and emergent card games ever. The game is defined by game-breaking combos, counter-moves, and exceptions.

Look to the Greats

There are so many CCGs it’s difficult to keep track. When building a CCG, you should conduct research in the best. Magic: The Gathering is required reading for this course. It is a phenomenally influential and profitable design. You can experiment with the digital version for cheap.

Netrunner is also required. It’s Fantasy Flight Games’ best selling Living Card Game and also designed by master mind Richard Garfield. It introduces deep asymmetry, which is fun, and is incredibly thematic. It also has a steep learning curve, which you can learn from. You can get the base set for $25 on Amazon. It comes with 7 pre-built decks to learn.

Pokemon is a simple CCG that has been around a long time. This is a game that is beloved by children and younger players all around the world. You can pick up 2 starter decks at Target for not much at all.

Hearthstone is an emerging monster in the digital space. They have done incredibly well and have gained the attention of many people. Hearthstone takes many of the best elements of Magic, streamlines it (or improves it, depending on your view point), and takes advantage of its digital platform. They are able to do mechanics, like persistent damage, that would be tedious in a table-top CCG.

Other than these, go to your FLGS and find one that has a theme that excites you. If it’s still in print, it’s likely successful, and therefore worth a look.


What did I get incorrectly? What did I gloss over? Share your thoughts in the comments below to counter my potentially poor blog play. Thanks for reading!

BGG Prep

Post by: Grant Rodiek

Board Game Geek Con is this week and I’m rounding up any loose ends to be prepared for it. Cons are a really big part of our niche hobby for many, but for me they’ve always been a mixed bag. I tend to have a good time, but, what can I say, I’m weird.

This year’s con planning was strange. At one point I was going to attend Gen Con, then Essen Spiele, then BGG, and it’s been a while now since I’ve had direct exposure to publishers to pitch and network. Really, that’s my primary interest in Cons.

I’m hopefully going to be busy at BGG Con and I wanted to write about some of the things going on. Take a look. Hit me up on Twitter if you want to meet up. I’ll be rooming in the convention hotel. I’ll be there from Wednesday afternoon until Sunday afternoon. I’m volunteering at the Portal Games booth, so you can probably find me there most mornings and such.

Why will I be at the Portal Games booth? Well, you should watch Ignacy’s latest video blog for details.

The Pitches

Sol Rising: I have quite a few games that need homes that’ll be in attendance at BGG Con. Most important, to me, is finding a home for Sol Rising. Sol Rising is my 2-4 player space opera tactics game. I’m proud of its narrative setting, 12 unique scenarios, and the persistence between scenarios. I’m also pleased that I’ve created an intuitive, thematic, light to medium tactics game with a lot of fun randomness in combat and Events.

I started working on Sol in the early spring of 2013 on my way to the Protospiel Milwaukee event. I’ve put in a great deal of work designing, writing, testing, and developing it. But, it’s a bit of a niche game. I knew that going in and didn’t really care. If I don’t find a home for it at BGG, I’ll need to find a more humble destination for it. The game is too big for me to self-publish with a big print run. Just too risky for me at this time. However, I think I can, and would, make a limited print run using assorted POD services to create copies for any takers.

Hocus Poker: Ah yes, our little problem child. Hocus Poker is a design with seemingly a million ups and downs, but it’s finally coming together. We (me and Joshua Buergel) have been tweaking, testing, and re-designing this sucker all year. We finally think we have the framework we need.

The current iteration of the game is quite interesting. 2-4 players are dealt 10 cards, shown in the image above. Cards have a suit (their illustration), a strength (1-13), and a gem value. Play takes place in sequential turns, on which, the active player will play 1 card from their hand to one of the two communities (up to 4 cards), as a gem to one of the 2 communities to build a Pot, or as a Pocket card to USE on one of those 2 communities. When the communities fill up, players assign each of their 2 hands to one of the Communities. Best Poker hand takes all the Gems played to it.

The twist, beyond that, is that every player has 3 unique Spells that let them do the 3 basic actions above in weird and unique ways. We’re excited in that we think we have a unique, original game that borrows some elements from poker, but doesn’t feel like a lazy modification to the game.

John Ariosa created some awesome art for our prototype and we ordered some slick DriveThruCards for fancy prototype copies. We’d love to find a publishing partner at BGG. If we don’t, we might self-publish it, or bring it with us to Gen Con 2015 to pitch some more.

Landfall: This is the mysterious (or not so mysterious if you haven’t cared) title I refer to as LF on Twitter. It’s another collaborative project between me and Josh that we’re keeping close to the chest. The key word there is project.

I’ll be testing this game at BGG and sharing some of the details on it with folks. This one is for self-publication. We’re hoping to have it ready by late 2015. We’ll see!

The Plays

I typically saunter into a convention rather lazily with no preparation. I play what I happen to get to and keep it at that. This year, I tried to be more proactive about what I’m playing. I found a forum on BGG for war gamers and signed up for 3 games that should be VERY fun, including:

  • Fief: I Kickstarted this earlier in the year and am very excited about it. The rules make it look fantastic, like a rich, complex, medieval Rex.
  • Command and Colors: Napoleonics: This is a great Richard Borg design from a favorite time period. What makes this even better? It’s an 8 player game.
  • Space Empires 4x: I like this game, but have only played it once. It’s a pretty great candidate for a convention game. I’m also excited that I’m going to be bringing the copy and teaching it to folks. We’ll see how that goes.

I’m also very eager to play a great deal of Netrunner. A few months ago my friend and I stopped simply buying the game and actively began playing it. It can be difficult, in a large game group, to carve out 2 player game time. But, we made it a priority and we just love the game. I’m bringing 4 decks and all of my cards to BGG. I don’t think I’m any good, and I’m sure I’ll be made a fool with every encounter, but I’m nonetheless eager to play.

Imperial Settlers is a game that I very much want to play. I was one of the people Ignacy asked to double check the rules, yet it sold out at Gen Con and I haven’t bought it yet. I am already in for 3 copies of the expansion for a Twitter follower, so I might as well play it, right?

I very much want to play Specter Ops from Plaid Hat Games. They just announced a preview will be at the convention. I really love the work these guys do, so this is an insta-demo.

Finally, Geoff Engelstein of Ludology noted he’s bringing his prototype Fog of War. I read the rules for this a month or so ago and it looks like a really, really clever war game. I want to play it oh so badly.

The Purchases

I’m an eager consumer and I don’t expect to come home empty handed. For one, my copies of Fleet Commander: 1 Ignition and Mysterium from Essen will be handed over. As listed above, I’m eager to try (and let’s face it, buy) Imperial Settlers. The Bots expansion for Theseus might be there.

I’d also love to see if Rattlebones or Temporum are at BGG. Both of these titles seem neat and I’d love to check them out.

Finally, I love when cons have weird, out of print game to try and purchase. I plan to find some gems.


If you’re at BGG, be sure to hit me up. I’d love to try your prototypes and show you mine as well. If you want to meet for a beer, we can do that too! Hope you guys have a fun convention.

Posted in Blog | Tagged bgg con, , hocus poker, hyperbole, landfall, publishers, sol rising | Leave a reply

10 Great Lunch Games

Post by: Grant Rodiek

The majority of my gaming occurs at lunch, usually 4 days per week at work. Anywhere from 3-6 of us play games, which means we have a great regular group of known quantity, but also, we’re constantly diving deep into our favorite games AND looking for new games that play up to 5 (the most common quantity) in an hour or less.

I wanted to begin the week on a bright, cheery note. Discussing 10 great games seems like a fun way to do just that. Therefore, and in no order (because I find the debate on whether an item should be #9 versus #6 and so forth tedious), here are 10 great lunch games.

Oh, one more thing. Every game on this list plays with 4 or 5 players in an hour or less. That’s how it fits into this lunch group list. If your lunch is only 30 minutes long, I’m sorry. Some of these games will exceed that half hour.

Oh, one more thing one more thing. These are lunch games for people who play games. I don’t think most of these should be flopped down in front of co-workers who don’t game at least occasionally.

Let’s get 3 out of the way real quick. These first three games are layups. They should be so non-contentious that I just want to get them out of the way quickly. Each of them plays quickly and is packed with strategy. They are games that are 10s for many people.

Dominion: Few games pack so much strategy and replayability into a single box. If you have a few of the expansions, as my co-workers do, you can play this game hundreds of times. Once you know what you’re doing, you can knock out a game in 20 minutes, making this one a 2-3 games per lunch kinda game. It’s also great in that it takes up very little table space. When it’s not your turn? The downtime lets you take a bite of your sandwich and ponder your next play.

Downsides? Doesn’t really work well with 5 or more. Might get a little samey for some without expansions. Definitely appeals to certain mindsets more than others.

7 Wonders (for drafting, see also Fairy Tale): I love this game for the pacing, strategy, ability to eat while playing (at least for me, as a quick decider), and plenty of time to trash talk. We have 7 Wonders weeks where we just play it four of five times in a single week. Dave is super good, by the way, and a pain to beat when he’s “on.” Especially once every knows how to play, the speed of the game is near unrivaled. Toss in the Wonder Pack to really up the variety.

Downsides? A pain to teach to new players, especially in the lunch setting. The slow down to count at the end is a bummer, no matter the setting. Leaders expansion is good, but probably best saved for game night.

Race for the Galaxy (plus Gathering Storm expansion for up to 5): Wow! This game. I just learned it last month and after a handful of plays I think it’s a favorite. There are so many decisions to be made and it’s slightly interactive in a way that’s particularly fun with a lunch group. Ugh! You DIDN’T pick the action we all needed? It’s a great light-hearted (yet deeply strategic) mid-day gas. Once you know what you’re doing, you can easily knock out two games in the hour.

Downsides? Requires an expansion to play with 5. Big learning curve with all the iconography and depth of experience. The game keeps you fully engaged with a lot of moving parts. It’s difficult to hold a side conversation or get too involved in a platter of food. This game pairs best with an easy-to-eat sandwich and container of grapes.

And now for the less-obvious selections. 

One Night Ultimate Werewolf: This is not only one of the best games I’ve ever played, but a brilliant lunch selection. The game is basically a conversation with rules, which makes it perfect to sit back and chew when you’re the werewolf trying to stay under the radar. If you’re playing with the timer, you should finish in under 10 minutes, which means you’ll knock out a good 4-5 games in the lunch hour. There’s definitely some good thinking, but mostly, this game is about laughing and pondering things that are infinitely more fun than what’s awaiting you back at your desk. This game feels good to win OR lose and I think it’s such a good midday de-stresser.

Downsides? You should get a big enough room to let people sit comfortable around the table AND one that’s sound proof when everyone yells “WHAT?!”

Chinatown: This is a pure, simple game of negotiation and trading that plays wonderfully with 3-5. It’s so simple. Each round, every player is dealt properties, of which they choose a subset, and a few business tiles. Business tiles will specify a number, say, 4, which means the number of adjacent spaces that must have that tile to be complete. For example, a Laundromat requires 4, so you need 4 adjacent spaces with a Laundromat. You’re trading the property spaces, the business tiles, and money to ultimately end with the most money after a set number of rounds. It’s great, social, and perfect for lunch.

Downsides? If you don’t like trading or interacting…don’t play this. I don’t really know many downsides. It’s such a simple, quick-playing game with nice depth.

Lords of Waterdeep: I’m both surprised to find this game in the top 100 (around 50, I believe) of BGG, but also, in the ire list of so many gamers. While Lords of Waterdeep doesn’t bring much new to the world of mid-weight worker placement, it DOES do it incredibly well and smoothly. If you bypass the expansion and keep it to 4-5 players, it fits easily in a lunch hour, which means you can have some thinkin’ with your puddin’.

But Tzol’kin (or however you spell it) is better, you shout, as you shake your fist, dislodging lunch meats with every to and fro. Maybe, but it doesn’t fit over lunch.

Downsides? Your more AP co-workers might drag this one over the lunch hour. It might also not work for your lunch group, especially if you don’t work at a game company like me. It is a strategy game with many moving pieces.

Side note for Waterdeep: Can we stop calling this game thematic? It has great art and pieces. But, you’re collecting orange cubes to spend them because the card will give you points for spending the orange cubes you collected. This should not be our poster child for thematic euros, lads and laddesses!

Libertalia: This is a desert island game for me and it’s shameful I don’t own it yet. I need to rectify that. Like 7 Wonders, the game benefits from simultaneous action selection. There’s great fun in double and triple guessing what your opponents will play to go after cards as, initially, you all have the same cards. This is where it gets brilliant. By the third round, everyone will have a few nasty cards they’ve kept since the first round, leading to shouts of “why do you still have the monkey noooo!” followed by “shhhh!” and such. I love it.

Downsides? The pirate ship names are really awkward. The Slackey Jack? Eesh.

Ra: This is a brilliant design. It is just layers of bidding and point salad and interaction and timing. The key element are the suns, which have a numerical value of 1-16. You spend these to win auctions of tiles, worth points. The key, is that you trade the tile you spent to win for the one that was last used — often a lower value sun. Do you really want that tile set? Enough that you’ll cripple yourself in future auctions? But, are you really crippled?

Downsides? The game isn’t really thematic at all and has quite a few tiles. They are all simple, but it’ll take a few games before everyone stops asking “what are the Nile tiles worth?” I’m reaching here. It’s so good.

Ginkgopolis: This gorgeous and highly interactive euro combines area control, drafting, and resource management. You’re building a city, or stack of tiles, whatever. It has simultaneous drafting, but then turn-based execution, which gives you a moment to munch and explain “you jerk!” when someone builds on top of your building and cuts your points in half. It has a lot of pieces and a bit of setup time, but it still manages to fit within that hour, assuming everyone takes their turn and gets moving.

Downsides? Not great with 5, as the game reaches the end a smidge too quickly. But, boy does it sing with 3-4. The game can also be a tinge confusing at first for some mindsets as it has a bunch of numbers, letters, and isn’t terribly thematic.

Last Will: This one just barely squeaks in under the time limit, but squeak it does. This is arguably the heaviest game on the list, yet it’s full quick, yet meaty decisions that let it fit within the lunch hour. The game will definitely scratch an itch for those who want to think at lunch, yet provide plenty of interaction in its worker placement phases to jab one at your co-worker who just sent that rather obnoxious email.

Downsides? You may want to play this one outside of lunch the first time for the learning game. The AP prone will definitely send this one into that 1 pm meeting, so keep folks deciding and moving. There are quite a few bits, so it may not work for the sticky fingered card fetishist.

The Appendix

Games that I desperately wish fit within the lunch hour but often fall just a smidge outside of it: Princes of Florence, Legacy: The Testament of Duke de Crecy, Ascending Empires, 1775 or 1812.

Anything jump out at you on this list, for better or worse? What are some of your favorites I forgot? Chime in and turn this top 10 into a top “much larger number.”

Making Games with Girls

Post by: Grant Rodiek

I snapped the above picture yesterday during the lunch portion of a marathon meeting to interact with our community to discuss issues, explain features, and generally be there to support our game. I’ve worked for Maxis for about 9 years now and we just launched The Sims 4. I don’t snap a ton of photos at work for fear of sharing something that’s going to leak and get me a stern talking to, but this one somewhat accomplishes what I need.

You’ll see two women in this photo and the shoes of another. The empty chair on the right belongs to another woman, and behind the back wall sits our executive producer, who is also a woman. We’ll get back to why this is important.

There’s a kerfuffle going on right now in the video game demographic that I believe is called “Gamer’s Gate” at this point, which is a hilariously hyperbolic comparison (as all “Gates”) to Water Gate. Under the pretenses of protecting the hobby from corruption and casual influence, an internet mob of men have begun harassing women in a blanket manor. It’s ignorant, disrespectful, and ridiculous.

I don’t have much to contribute to this topic that hasn’t already been said, except a brief mention of my personal experiences. I’ve worked at Maxis for about 9 years now and that means I’ve made a lot of games with women. I don’t have comparative stats, but I would wager we have one of the highest percentages of women on a development team in the industry. Obviously, an indie team of 6 with 3 women will beat our 20-30%, but as an organization with hundreds of people, I’m proud of that statistic, and proud of where it will continue to go.

We have women in all roles: Engineering, production, design, all art disciplines, UX, Audio. I have been excited and taken aback by the 50/50 split along gender lines in many meetings. I’ll be a dad one day and there’s a good chance I’ll have a girl. These sights are promising, especially if she wants to enter tech.

Our production team, and therefore our leadership team, has a very large female contingent. The producers who led our efforts in Build Mode and Create a Sim for The Sims 4 are both women. My boss, my dotted-line boss, my bosses’ boss, and my bosses’ bosses’ boss are all women. In fact, Lucy Bradshaw is the highest female in our corporate organization on our CEO’s advisory staff and she runs our studio. Pretty cool.

So, we’re still mostly a dude fest, which takes time and cultural shifts to correct, but we have a lot of women and we have them in positions of authority. As you might expect, working with women instead of men has its differences, so I thought I’d outline them.

  • For starters, I’ve seen my female co-workers take maternity leave. Oh…wait. I actually have 2 male co-workers on multi-month long paternity leaves right now. Okay. Scratch that difference.
  • Well, I definitely work with some women who aren’t very good at their job. Hmmm. Never mind. I work with some duds who share the opposite chromosome.
  • Oh! I know for a FACT that the women’s bathroom is far cleaner than ours. Boom! Difference.

Jesting aside, there really aren’t any differences. I have just as many female co-workers who wear Dr. Who graphic tees as the guys. Both groups are annoying and have terrible taste in television. I have female co-workers from whom I learn daily and try to emulate. I have male co-workers with whom I do the same. Women, like men, offer a unique perspective on various aspects of life. The views of a mothers differ from those of a father at times. The perspective of a woman in a romantic relationship might vary. The things a girl raised in the 80s versus a boy raised in the 80s bring to a design discussion are also different shades at times.

All of these perspectives are good, especially for a game like The Sims. Traditionally, our audience is split very close along the gender line of 50/50. Yes, that’s right. It’s not a game for girls, but a game for people. I, for one, know nothing about pregnancy. My tuning suggestions are based on stereotypes and pop culture. My boss, however, has had a child. I’m going to trust her instincts on such a feature, much like I would trust the foodie’s input on our cooking system. I know by referencing pregnancy I’m perhaps lending my argument to that of girls only know girl stuff. So, if it helps, my boss and I argue about UI, gardening, Emotions, the tutorial, videos, and more.

I’m most definitely preaching to the choir, but that’s generally how these discussions go. I’m thankful to work with so many women as I’m confident otherwise I would be a different, less interesting, and less whole man otherwise. There are numerous cases of dude focused offices acting horribly to their different co-workers, be they women or people of color, and I’m blessed to be surrounded by a culture that doesn’t do that.

The key thing to take away is this: we all make or play games because it’s what we like to do. And for the former, it beats a real job. Remember that one person’s involvement in a thing does not preclude or affect your involvement in any way. Be fair, be kind, be accepting.

Game on, regardless of your private parts.

Posted in Blog | Tagged gamers gate, , women, women developers | 1 Reply

10 Games I want to Play more

Post by: Grant Rodiek

Josh of Board Game Reviews by Josh wrote a fun post this morning about the top 10 games he wants to play more. I really liked this idea, so I’m stealing it for myself. But first, go read his post!

What I find most interesting about this post is how my tastes and preferences have changed. When I shifted my gaming primarily to print games about 4-5 years ago, my one strict rule was that the game couldn’t take longer than an hour. I had a very realistic outlook on my play chances and games longer than 60 minutes were just never played.

As evidence, I owned Twilight Struggle for 3 years before I played it! However, about a year ago, we began a daily lunch game group. This means I play all the one hour (or shorter) games that I can stand. When game night comes around, which we try to do about 3-4 times per month, I want to play the big stuff.

This list reflects that shift in desire.


#10: Legacy: The Testament of Duke de Crecy

This game makes me really happy. It just makes sense to me and is the right mix of light strategy and tactics. It’s also my kind of euro – interactive, thematic, and not too many moving parts. I’ve played it 5 times and would love to see that number be 15 times.


#9: Memoir ’44

I’ve played Memoir quite a bit, but not enough to justify the amount I’ve invested in the game. I own, more or less, everything for the game and I’ve barely scratched the surface of the expansions. I feel more like a hoarder than a player and I’d love to get this to the table. Ideally I’ll make it through more of the air campaign and get the breakthrough cards to the table. I’d also really love to play the new Normandy maps.


#8: Horus Heresy

I bought this beast one or two Christmases ago during Fantasy Flight’s excellent Christmas sale. It cost $25 and is normally at least $100. I’ve read the rules 2-3 times, ogled the minis and amazing components…and just haven’t gotten it to the table. It’s a big game, but it looks very good, and shares some similarities with York, which I find interesting. Naturally, I’m curious. York was designed without any influence from this, so I’m fascinated to see how two designers independently arrived at a similar solution.


#7: Dropzone Commander

I’ve been eyeballing this tabletop miniatures game for a year plus and finally took the plunge into their very reasonably priced start set. It comes with 2 beginner armies, a paper craft cityscape (YES), and everything you need to play.

I’ve assembled all of my human armies and done the basic painting on them. What’s left is some touch up detail on the humans, assembling the last few aliens, and painting the aliens.

The rules were very well put together, so I’m excited for this one. Its focus on mobility and using dropships to rapidly deploy troops around the city really grabbed me. It essentially looks like Halo/Aliens the table top game. I’m in!


#6: Last Will + Getting Sacked Expansion

As with Legacy above, this game is the type of Euro that just makes sense to me. I love the theme and decisions throughout the game. We’ve played the base game quite a bit and I recently acquired the Getting Sacked expansion. Criminally so, I haven’t read the rules OR played it yet. That must be addressed.


#5: Race to the Rhine

I played Lewis and Clark a few months ago. This game is a racing euro, where you’re trying to build an engine to reach the finish line first. I thought the game was good, though a bit dense for my tastes. When I read the designer diary for Race to the Rhine, I was fascinated. Here too is a thematic euro designed around the Allied push into Germany on the Western front. I love the theme, but was also drawn into their visual approach where they combined actual photographs with stylized touch up.

When Funagain had it on sale (only limited copies), I dove in. I’ve read the rules for this one a few times and I think I’m really going to love this. It’s relatively simple with some economics, some light asymmetry, the right kind of randomness for this game, and fun card play. Really eager to play this.


#4: Combat Commander

The four games I’ve played of this have just been a delight.  I think this game is a masterwork of tactics, sandbox play, scenario design, and combat mechanics. It’s just a beautiful lesson every time I play and it tells such great stories.


#3: Netrunner

Shame. On. Me. This is another game I’ve invested deeply in, but have played very few times. It’s utterly brilliant and I need to play it hundreds of times. Shameful.


#2: Rex: Final Days of an Empire 

When I first played this, there was a .08% chance I wouldn’t like it. Fundamentally asymmetric and based on Dune? Yes. Yes, please. I’ve since played the game twice and it’s just a wonderful, beautiful design. I want to play this game until I die.


#1: Twilight Struggle

My #1 matches that of Board Game Geek. I’ve only played this game twice, but what experiences! This is an incredible design that beautifully merges history, conflict, card play, randomness, and some other things. Man, just a great game.

What did you think? Anything I’m missing? What’s in your top 10?

An Interview with Ty Franck

James S.A. Corey is the writer of The Expanse trilogy of sci-fi books, beginning with Leviathan Wakes, continue with Caliban’s War (my personal favorite of the trilogy), and ending with the recent Abaddon’s Gate. I recommend these books as strongly as I am able. If you love great stories and characters, read them.

The problem is, Corey doesn’t exist for me to interview. It turns out, Corey is the pen name for a duo of writers, one of whom is Ty Franck. Franck is not only half the writing team for one of my favorite books ever, but he has experience writing for games.

One of my goals for Mars Rising is to create a narrative for two friends to enjoy together. Franck’s experience with both games and stories made him someone I very much wanted to interview.

My questions are marked by Hyperbole Games (HG), with Franck’s responses following (TF).

Hyperbole Games: What do you think of the current use of story in games, print or digital? Have you encountered any that are particularly impressive to you?

Ty Franck: I think digital gaming is experiencing a golden age of storytelling. Gamers have told developers, with their buying dollars, that graphics and game play are less important than a compelling story.

Telltale recently won pretty much every game of the year award there is for a graphically primitive media tie-in game entirely because the game had an incredible story.

My favorite games of the last few years were Dragon Age: Origins, Mass Effect, and Last of Us. All games with strong narratives and powerfully told stories with great characters.

HG: I haven’t yet played Last of Us, but I have played Naughty Dog’s other PS3 titles and I think they are masters of interactive fiction. I’ve enjoyed most of Bioware’s efforts, as well.

The key element that distinguishes games from other platforms (books, movies) is interactivity. Do you personally prefer to experience a game story that is told to you (ex: Call of Duty), or do you prefer to affect and create your own story (The Sims, Skyrim)?

TF: I don’t like sandbox games. Never have. Honestly, after a few hours playing I get bored. I need a compelling narrative to truly engage with a game. If a game tells me I can do anything I want, it has also told me that nothing I do actually matters. Now, if a game can match a strong narrative to a feeling of making important choices, like Dragon Age did for me, then I’m hooked. That’s the perfect structure for making me love a game.

HG: In my prototype Mars Rising, I’m trying to provide some narrative for each scenario to set the scene for the players. What are some of your preferred methods to quickly establish a scene?

TF: Sensory details and familiar situations.

A man walks into his dining room. His wife is sitting at the table, a cup in front of her and the bitter burnt smell of coffee that’s gone cold filling the air. Her eyes are red, her face tracked with tears that have long since dried. She says, “We need to talk.”

Four sentences, a bit of sensory detail, a situation we can all relate to, and the reader will immediately fill in all the bits you left blank with their imagination. No matter how outrageous the setting, anchoring it with the familiar engages the reader. If the dining room above is the galley of a space cruiser, it doesn’t change the familiarity of the moment or the tension of the scene.

HG: That’s fantastic and simple, thank you! One of your main characters in Caliban’s War, Chrisjen Avasarala, is such a rich and hilarious character. What makes a great character for you?

TF: Honestly? It’s pretty simple. They want things. The things they want are hard to get. They work hard to get them, in spite of all obstacles. Along the way, they act like real humans act.

HG: The execution required for that seems quite difficult to pull off, but the guiding note is again, quite simple. Thank you.

You write collaboratively with a partner, which to me doesn’t seem terribly common. Could you briefly describe your process?

TF: Short version is, we plot together, we outline together, we split the actual writing with each person doing half the book, we edit each others work along the way.

HG: You and your writing partner chose a technological level for The Expanse that seems “realistic.” Far more so than the more fantastical technology of Star Trek, for example. Why?

TF: Because we wanted to write stories that focused on the humans, not on the tech. And if the setting is incredibly exotic, it’s easy for the human stories to get lost in it.

HG: Do you have any favorite stories from other mediums that you’d like to see as games?

TF: If somebody figures out how to do a Jack Vance Dying Earth or Roger Zelazny Lord of Light game that respects the original source material, they can have all of my money forever.

HG: I just bought both of these as I realized I’ve never read them. Who knows, maybe I’ll earn all of your money forever?

The Expanse trilogy is full of so many experiences. In Leviathan Wakes (the first novel), we read about shoot outs, limited ship-to-ship engagements, some sci-fi horror, some detective business, and even a love story. Do you have a particular element you would want to play as a game?

TF: We’ve had lots of space flight games, including some great ones. We’ve had lots of SF RPG games. I want to play a game that does both well. I want to fly my spaceship from planet to planet, getting in space battles with pirates, then get off the ship and walk around having adventures. I know for a developer it’s like making two completely separate games, but I’d love to play it if someone does it.

HG: That would be very fun. I have friends who play the new Fantasy Flight Star Wars RPG, but when they are in space they use the X-Wing Miniatures game system.

Do you have anything you’d like to add?

TF: Thanks for the Mars Rising game. We need more space battle games.

HG: I certainly hope I can find a publisher who shares your sentiment! Thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions.

My Personal Favorites of 2013

Post by: Grant Rodiek

2013 is near its end and I wanted to write about some of my favorite games and publishers of the year. According to my Board Game Geek plays, which I update regularly, I played just shy of 400 games. I have no doubt others can trounce that number, but considering the average length of games I play is about an hour, that means I spent, on average, about an hour per day playing games. That’s pretty cool!

One thing to note is that I’m not really holding myself to the calendar year of 2013 for my selections, as you’ll soon find. My opinions are based on the best games I played in 2013, regardless of when released.

My Favorite Game of 2013: Mice and Mystics

  • Published by: Plaid Hat Games
  • Designed by: Jerry Hawthorne
  • Illustrations by: John Ariosa

I reviewed Mice and Mystics earlier this year, so you shouldn’t be terribly surprised that I enjoy the game. This game was released in the final weeks of 2012, so the fact that 12 of my 14 plays were in 2013 shouldn’t be shocking. I’ve now finished all but the final 2 chapters of the first storybook, which means I’m only 2 chapters from experiencing the glorious expansion I’ve already purchased.

Mice and Mystics is not so much a revelation in mechanics, but as a package, it is near unrivaled. The components are outstanding! Gorgeous, detailed miniature sculpts. Gobs of artwork from John Ariosa, a personal favorite. Tons of tokens, custom dice, and big, beautiful location mats. Then you factor in the delightfully whimsical fairy tale and lightweight cooperative action and you just have a treat.

I was so excited every time I brought this game to the table and I look forward to playing it for years to come. This is such a special game from the great team at Plaid Hat. Great job guys, especially you, Jerry.

Best Game for a Large Group of People: Space Cadets Dice Duels

  • Published by: Stronghold Games
  • Designed by: Geoff and Sydney Engelstein

This game is ridiculously stupid, laugh out loud funny, and armpit stains intense. Two teams of up to 8 people total square off in one of my favorite Star Trek parodies of all time. Every player mans a station on the ship, such as the helm, weapons, sensors, or shields. Your station comes with a set of custom dice that, when rolled properly, can be assigned for bonuses or to execute actions. Like moving the ship, or shielding your left side.

Problem is, you can only roll if engineering “activates” your dice to roll. The game quickly turns into shouts of  “dear god give me a 4!” and “shiiiiEEEEEELLLLLLDSSSSS!” Both teams are doing this, by the way.

The game is entirely in real time EXCEPT when someone shouts “FIRE.” Then, you evaluate to see if they were successful or not. The game plays in 30 minutes or less and I’ve never not played two games in a sitting. Everyone always says “one more!” in between breaths immediately following the destruction of their ship.

Best Storytelling Moment of 2013: Bodies washing ashore in Robinson Crusoe

  • Published by: Portal Games
  • Designed by: Ignacy Trzewiczek

GenCon 2013 was a great deal of fun. I know more people than ever in the board game space and GenCon is a great way to meet them all. My good friend Cole and I took Ignacy up on his offer to teach us Robinson Crusoe after hours. Me, Cole, and a lad named Mike sat down while Ignacy took on the role of teaching and overseeing the game.

Robinson is a very difficult game, but also a dark one. Bad things happen to you and they aren’t just boo boos. At times, the disaster is just a continuing series of waves. You know your doom is imminent, but you don’t quite know what the final straw will be. Like survivors starving on a deserted island, Cole and I more or less went mad and couldn’t stop laughing.

We finally lost it when the bodies of our shipmates washed ashore, which further damaged morale. Or was it when Cole suffered a head injury from a spider? It doesn’t matter, really. Between the game being brutally, hilariously hard, and Ignacy’s dry sense of humor (and Polish accent), we laughed heartily and I knew I had to buy the game (which I did).

Best Euro of 2013: Ginkgopolis

  • Published by: Z-Man Games
  • Designed by: Xavier Georges

I reviewed the game here. I bought this game purely because I loved the art style, but was happy to find it’s a very compelling, interactive euro experience. The drafting mechanic is well-implemented, but it’s the incredibly tense area control mechanic that really won my group over. Just when you think you own a district, an opponent plops down an unexpected tile to completely re-wire the city.

The graphic design is also top notch and really helps teach this game that can be a bit kooky to learn. This is a great lunch game and I think it’ll be the one I bring in this week. Thanks for reminding me, Grant.

Note: I would have nominated The Speicherstadt, but it won last year, so I’ll let it rest. For now.

Note Note: We don’t play that many euros, nor do we play really hefty ones, so you shouldn’t be surprised that we didn’t pick something like, say, Terra Mystica.

Games I really like but didn’t play enough to give an award

  • Legacy: The Testament of Duke de Crecy: This is a really fun Euro-ish worker placement-ish game. You’re managing a family tree and building your aristocratic legacy. It’s an odd theme, but it totally works here (and as players my group really gets into it). There’s a lot of tiny info to process, but it’s the type of game my mind really processes well. I’ve played thrice and expect this to become a favorite.
  • Theseus: The Dark Orbit: This is a really clever game and I feel I’ve only scratched the surface. I’ve played it in head to head, team, and four player free-for-all and it offers something different for each. I need to play more to understand the balance and really dig into the game, but I love the art, the theme, how you dynamically build the station every game, and how the game hides a great deal of complexity behind one really simple mechanism.
  • Shogun: This is a game I played, sadly, only once. What a neat game! This is a grand game of strategy and area control. It has a classic euro aesthetic, the unique battle tower mechanism, and pre-planning of actions. This needs more love in my future.

Games I Desperately need to play more of in 2014

  • Android: Netrunner: I just learned it and I want to play it quite a bit. Scratch that. Need. Complex, but intuitive. Beautiful art and highly thematic. A great opportunity for deckbuilding and developing a sense of meta-play among friends.
  • Conflict of Heroes: Storms of Steel: I bought this game last year and have only played it once. I re-read the rules every few months to longingly express my desire to play.
  • Twilight Struggle: I’ve owned this game for I think 2 years now. If I don’t play it soon, I’m selling it. After all, what’s the point of a game you don’t play?
  • Tales of the Arabian Nights: I played this with Cole last night and loved it. We just laughed so hard. My favorite part was how, for a VERY random game, the story of us and our world was somehow consistent. We kept seeing hints of continuity that just made the game better and better.

Favorite Publishers of 2013

I define my favorite publishers as folks who consistently make games I love. These are games that I really want to play and have beautiful aesthetic qualities. Furthermore, the publishers act in ways I greatly respect. When I play the game of “What would I be like as a publisher?” these are the folks I’d try to emulate. These three publishers really scratch an itch for me and teach me things about the industry.

One thing I noticed about all three is that all of them are very designer-driven companies. In fact, the head of each company has had a big hand in the company’s biggest games, if not designed them outright. Another thing is that I’ve met the owner for each of these companies. That may be a factor of my fondness for them.

Here they are in no particular order.

Plaid Hat Games: Plaid Hat publishes some of my favorite games (Mice and MysticsSummoner Wars), hosts a weekly podcast that is actually quite informative if you pay attention and piece the details together, and are all around great guys. My other favorite thing is that they are open with their community, bust their butts to improve constantly, and in my opinion, do things right. As a final tidbit, they introduced me to John Ariosa, who is one of my favorite illustrators.

I recently received City of Remnants (rules read, unplayed) and can. not. wait. until Seafall arrives. I love watching Plaid Hat succeed and can’t wait to see where they go next.


Portal Games: Portal is a company I’ve been aware of for some time, but haven’t played many of their games. I played Neuroshima Hex extensively on the iPhone a few years ago and really enjoyed it. But, this year I really dove in, starting with the excellent Robinson Crusoe. Then, I took a chance on the company’s Essen pre-order and bought everything on offer. Guess what? LegacyTheseus, and Voyage of the Beagle are all excellent.

It’s not just the games, though. Ignacy is ridiculously responsive and frank on BGG. If you have a question, post, and he’ll be there immediately. You can also read his blog, filled with hilarious, informative, and brutal entries about development and publishing.

He recently announced his game based on the popular The Witcher IP is going to print. After playing his other titles I was so interested I read the book (it’s good) and now really want the game. Ignacy tries to create games that tell stories and I’ll continue watching him in 2014 to see what new stories he’ll bring to my table.

Academy Games: These guys take historical premises that are typically mired in 6 hour, overly complex simulations and distill them into games you can learn, play, and love. 1775: Rebellion is this year’s excellent example, much like 1812: The Invasion of Canada, or the Conflict of Heroes series.

I met Uwe Eickert and his son Gunter at GenCon 2012 and again in 2013. Both times they’ve played my prototypes and provided me with invaluable feedback. These are great, friendly guys with much to teach and share. If you find an opportunity to demo with Uwe, do so. The man’s a character and loves games. He’ll also give you outstanding, frank opinions on your designs if he has the time to play them.

Every Academy Games release tempts me. I’m curious to see what 2014 brings.

What are some of your favorites? Share below in the comments!

GenCon Diaries: The Games

GenCon was full of many most excellent games. Due to the fact I had an exhibitor’s badge, I was able to snag a few of the games that sold out very quickly (Seasons, Battle Beyond Space, Cities). And, due to the fact I hang out with a solid core of designers, I also played many prototypes in development.

Let’s go down the list, shall we?

If I’m Going Down 

If I’m Going Down is a solo/co-op zombie game designed by AJ Porfirio of Van Ryder Games. I consider AJ a friend and I was glad to play the final version of this game with him.

AJ sent me an early prototype of IIGD almost a year ago and it has come a LONG way since then. He’s added counters, more art, streamlined the zombies, incorporated some cool features (new heroes, pop up zombies, flame thrower), and it’s generally a completely different game.

IIGD is somewhat of a tower defense. You’re a survivor (not for long) and you’re trying to kill as many zombies before the end comes. The game is a solid mix of choices and luck and it plays relatively quickly. Best of all, it tells a story. AJ and I had a HORRIBLE game in which we killed only 2 zombies (after modifiers were factored into the score) and we laughed about it for days.

You can pre-order the game from Game Salute.


This is an abstract prototype in development by another friend, Eric Leath. I’m typically not a fan of abstracts, but this one intrigued me. In fact, Eric returned home to find two long emails from me about the game. It’s still on my mind.

In Gyre, each player controls a unique deck of 54 cards. These cards have gears on them with colors and symbols on some of the nodes. The goal is to have a set number of your color facing the same direction.

However, players can remove gears, shift them through chain reactions, lock them in place, and manipulate the discard pile. I see a lot of potential for this and I’m looking forward to his progress.


Seasons attracted me with its beautiful production values and short play time. After two plays, I’m very glad that it’s also a very fun game. We’ll see how it goes as I play more, but for now it’s delightful.

The beginning of the game is crucial. Players draft 9 cards which they will obtain throughout the game. Cards are summoned and provide powerful one-time, perpetual, or activated abilities. Then, players roll and draft dice for resources and other benefits. By the end of the game, every player has a set of cards in front of him and each is trying to score the most points.

I’m very curious to see how this game progresses as I move from novice to mastery. For now, it is $50 well spent.

Dungeon Heroes

Dungeon Heroes was a neat game designed by Michael Coe (Rise!). It struck me as an abstract with theme, which, considering Michael’s background, isn’t a surprise. One player plays as a team of four adventurers (standard rogue, cleric, warrior, wizard). The other player is the lord of the dungeon. It’s a very distilled, streamlined game compared to many dungeon crawlers.

The adventurers win if they get four gold. The dungeon lord wins if he kills the adventurers. What stood out is that the two players play entirely different games. The lord randomly draws, then places tiles like traps, gold, and monsters. At the beginning of the game the dungeon is passive. Things are dormant.

The adventurers are revealing tiles, dismantling traps, and more to gather intelligence during this passive phase. Then, the dungeon comes alive and the lord begins moving and manipulating monsters. I’ll be curious to see how this game develops further in the coming months.

Mars Needs Mechanics

Mars Needs Mechanics is a delightful game designed by Benjamin Rosset. Before we go too much further, it needs to be said that Benjamin is an absurdly kind, genuine, sincere person and obviously a very intelligent designer. He went out of his way to say hello every day and that meant a great deal.

In Mars, you are each a mechanic trying to prove his worth and craftiness in order to join the expedition to Mars. The game is fundamentally about buying goods low and selling them high and manipulating the market with a strong timing mechanic such that the result favors you. I can see where a sharp lad with good intuition could be very good at this game.

The game was easy to learn and played in about an hour. It also helped that I played with Cyrus Kirby and his brother, two excellent gentlemen. This game will be on Kickstarter on August 31 I believe. Furthermore, I’m working with Benjamin to get an interview or designer information on Hyperbole Games. Stay tuned for more.

Story Realms

I hesitate to bring up Story Realms, as I literally just watched it played for a few turns over Chris Kirkman’s hulking shoulders. However, its production value was top notch and it has such a great premise (a more accessible board game RPG).

The presentation value, even with the quick and dirty prototype, looked really good. There was magic and wonder and folks were discussing how to tackle the situation (like D&D) without all the headaches. Plus, I also witnessed the dice hating Chris Kirkman, which was a treat.

I’m going to work with Escapade Games to discuss Story Realms further as it approaches its Kickstarter date. Angie and her husband have been killing themselves to make the game perfect and I’m excited to see it enter the stage.

I also picked up Morels, Battle Beyond Space, and got a first-hand look at Matt Worden’s Magistrate.

The rules for Morels read beautifully and were full of little dashes of wit and humor. I purchased a copy with the hand-carved wooden tokens and it’s such an outstanding touch. The husband and wife duo that run Two Lanterns Games were very kind and I hope to chat with Brent more in the future. This will hit the table shortly.

I read the rules for Battle and it looks as if it will be a lot of fun. The game was easy to learn and seems like it has a nice amount of depth. It also has great components and really hits a thematic note for me. It’s on the docket for Friday at lunch.

Finally, Magistrate looks very good. Matt Worden noted he and I are tackling similar goals in different ways with Magistrate and Empire Reborn. If that’s the case, I’m eager to play it. Matt is a great guy and a friend. But, aside from that, if you’ve been playing or following his games (I have), you’ll see that Magistrate stands to be a culmination of some of his best stuff.

It has subtlety and intrigue, like Subtilla. It has some worker placement elements like you’d see in Colonies of the Jump Gate and planning several turns ahead in a chess like manner (Subtilla, Castle Danger). I loved hearing him discuss the breadth of his testers’ experiences, the different strategies, and how well it was received. Jump Gate made a big splash for Matt a short time ago. I really hope Magistrate does so as well. I hope he sends me a copy!

If I didn’t list a game here, it’s because I didn’t buy it or haven’t played it yet. I have many other games I wanted to see, but if I didn’t, well, I figure you should go elsewhere for that information.

What did you play that was excellent? What did I miss?

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