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Introduction to prototyping

Hello. My name is Tony and I like to play games and make ... stuff.

That's enough about me. My plan for this series is to do two or three entries over the next couple of months and then abandon it. I'm fairly confident of success with the bar set at this level.

So anyway, over the past few years I've played a few board games and this means I also think about making them. There are a lot of blogs about game design already, so I'm going to take a different approach - and write mostly about how to prototype things using random crap. Unfortunately this means my children are also in on the deal. Here is something I came home to a couple of years ago.

New designers

I'm not going to claim that this was a 'good' game, but it did have an expansion called "the blacksmith". That's actually pretty much the sort of thing you're in for, I'm afraid.

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My top ten UKGE 2018 moments

UK Games Expo: better than Christmas for gamers

Those were the thoughts of my friend Kev, but I completely concur. This year, my UKGE experience was better than ever...and also rather different. I went on the Friday and Saturday but wasn't heading into the convention with masses of plans of demos and buying. Instead I had a couple of stands to visit, a few purchases/sales to pickup/deliver, and nothing else concrete. Instead, I would play some games, stroll round the halls seeing what piqued my interest...and spend some time with friends. So, here's my top ten UKGE 2018 moments.

Open gaming

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Solomon Kane @ GI2018

Solomon Kane

What is Solomon Kane?

Based upon the stories by Robert E. Howard (creator of Conan), Solomon Kane is a narrative adventure board game featuring exceptional 35mm miniatures. It is a highly innovative co-operative game of storytelling, resource management, and tactical miniatures play. Players take the part of the invisible powers of good and light who aid Solomon Kane in his quest to overcome the forces of Darkness. Each player is one of the four Cardinal Virtues: Courage, Prudence, Temperance, and Justice, each with special powers that reflect their unique role. Drawing upon Howard’s famous tales of the Puritan avenger, the core box allows players to tell their own versions of the Rattle of Bones, Skulls in the Stars, and Blue Flame of Vengeance. Expansions recreate Howard’s other Solomon Kane stories, as well as adding original adventures for the hero, created especially for the game.

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GI2018

What's on

If you've been waiting patiently (or otherwise) for news about The Great Indoors 2018 then your wish is now granted. Check out everything we've got in store for you so far. Hopefully we'll have more to add to this list of features in the weeks building up to the event.

Loads of open gaming space with signal system for finding games/gamers

People who've attended our first two events in 2016 and 2017 told us how much they valued lots of space for open gaming. This year's venue is much larger than last year and has masses of space for people who just want to game. We also have our signal system to make it easy to find games with open slots or attract gamers to join your game.

Open gaming

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The Great AireCon

I attended my second AireCon over the weekend of 9th-11th March. 2017 was my first visit to both Harrogate and indeed AireCon; I spent much of that weekend wandering around feeling a little lost in this new place with very few people I really knew also in attendance. This year would be rather different. Firstly, Emma agreed to attend on the Friday which was the first convention she's voluntarily attended purely as a consumer (rather than at The Great Indoors, or exhibiting at UKGE last summer). Secondly, thanks to a natural progression of meeting new friends at various board game events- and the magnificent Board Game Trading and Chat UK Facebook group- there were plenty of lovely gamers who I would have the pleasure of meeting for the first time in person, or spending time with again.

AireCon sign

Photo courtesy of Allen O'Connor, featured on his blog Glass Bead Boardgames

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The Uwe Rosenberg progress report

As readers of my recent Top 50 games (as of 2017) blogs will have noticed, one designer's games occupied the positions of No.1 and No.2: Uwe Rosenberg. Anyone who has been involved in the hobby for even a short amount of time will likely have come across his games and/or know his name. He's managed to publish hit after hit in recent years and the announcement of an upcoming Rosenberg release generates a lot of interest; this is not just due to the hype bug but a result of his great popularity amongst gamers who enjoy challenging Eurogames. He has 7 games in the Boardgamegeek Top 100, and 4 within the Top 50, a record that no other designer can rival. Vlaa Chvatil: 3 in the Top 100 (3/0 1-50/51-100) because I do not count two versions of the same game. Matt Leacock: 2/2. Stefan Feld: 1/1. Eric Lang: 1/2. Martin Wallace: 1/1. You get the idea. While the BGG rankings cannot be anything but a collection of subjective opinions, they do at least give us a useful indication of the relative merits of thousands upon thousands of games.

Uwe's Top 100 representatives

So...I thought I'd give a brief account of all the Rosenberg games I've tried so far. 11! Wow. Maybe a better blogger would've checked that first before deciding to write an article about them. I knew I'd played a few...! Read on, if you're brave enough.

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Peter's Top 50 2017: 10-1

2016 was the first year that I wrote a Top 50 games. Here's the 2017 version and games 10-1. Each game is linked to the relevant Boardgamegeek page. I have adapted/borrowed descriptions of each game to give you some flavour as to what it's about, then follows my thoughts.

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It's hot in here. An interview with AireCon founder Mark Cooke

One of the joys of board gaming, for me at least, is going along to conventions. There's something wonderfully uplifting about walking into a place and seeing masses of people looking at/demoing/playing board games. It makes me feel included; among friends. Last year, whilst attending Dragonmeet in London, I entered a competition to win a brand new copy of Terraforming Mars, the big hotness of 2016. This was being run by the organisers of AireCon who were there drumming up support for their own convention, held annually in Harrogate. You can imagine my disappointment delight when I found out I'd won second prize: a free ticket to AireCon 2017.

AireCon logo

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Peter's Top 50 2017: 20-11

2016 was the first year that I wrote a Top 50 games. Here's the 2017 version and games 20-11. Each game is linked to the relevant Boardgamegeek page. I have adapted/borrowed descriptions of each game to give you some flavour as to what it's about, then follows my thoughts.

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Peter's Top 50 2017: 30-21

2016 was the first year that I wrote a Top 50 games. Here's the 2017 version and games 30-21. Each game is linked to the relevant Boardgamegeek page. I have adapted/borrowed descriptions of each game to give you some flavour as to what it's about, then follows my thoughts.

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Thoughts on The 7th Continent

Today, I would like to share some thoughts about The 7th Continent.

Marion and I are around 20 hours into the game, close to lifting the first curse of the Voracious Goddess. So far, we are having a blast. Marion is even considering calling it her favourite game ever, just to say.

The 7th Continent

There is so much cleverness and elegance packed into this game, it is insane. So many different kind of actions to do, so many places to explore, and always with a great sense of purpose, which leads to tough and exciting decisions. It really feels like a well-balanced open-world type of game, even more than games like Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective, Time Stories or Arabian Nights.

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Peter's Top 50 (2017): 40-31

2016 was the first year that I wrote a Top 50 games. Here's the 2017 version and games 40-31. Each game is linked to the relevant Boardgamegeek page. I have adapted/borrowed descriptions of each game to give you some flavour as to what it's about, then follows my thoughts.

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Peter's Top 50 (2017): 50-41

2016 was the first year that I wrote a Top 50 games. Here's the 2017 version starting with games 50-41. Each game is linked to the relevant Boardgamegeek page. I have adapted/borrowed descriptions of each game to give you some flavour as to what it's about, then follows my thoughts.

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Shogun: a review

We all love new games- at least that seems to be the case for the vast majority of board gamers. There's a thrill of being amongst the first to enjoy a new experience; your opinions and feedback seem that much more valuable because there isn't a long list of people who have been there done it.

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Archipelago

Today, I would like to talk about Archipelago, a game about exploration, expansion and exploitation in the Caribbean (a 3X game) at the time of colonisation. You see, Marion (my wife) and I have just tested a few 4X games (add extermination to the previously mentioned ‘X’s) recently, like Scythe or Twilight Imperium and they haven’t clicked so well with us and one of the main reasons is that we don’t really enjoy destroying what the other has had fun building.

But it is also more complicated than that. Because we enjoy playing Nothing Personal or Food Chain Magnate, which are definitely in your face aggression. So what is it about Scythe or Twilight Imperium that we don’t like? After long discussions, we came to the realisation that we don’t really enjoy the theme of war. Especially Marion. She says that as a girl, she’s never really been playing with plastic soldiers, GI-joes, Call Of Duty and anything related to war... Whereas as a boy, I grew comfortable in that setting, to the point I don’t really see the drama anymore.

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Announcing GI2018

BIG NEWS! The Great Indoors is back for its third year in 2018.

On Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th July GI2018 will take place at Parkside Suite, Bromsgrove. You may or may not be aware but this is the first time the event will run over two days. We are very keen to cater for increasing numbers of attendees and provide the best experience possible. To that end, we have received feedback suggesting there is demand for a whole weekend event; in addition it was always our aim eventually for The Great Indoors to be a weekend event. We feel that the time is right for this and hope that you'll be able to join us for one or even both days. While pricing is not finalised at this point, having the venue for two days will enable us to offer weekend tickets at a reduced rate while not penalising those who wish to only attend for one day.

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Introductory post: Victor Lamy

When Peter reached out to me following one of my blog posts on Board Game Geek a few weeks ago, we got on very well and Peter kindly invited me to join the Great Indoors community of contributors - thank you, Peter, for the great opportunity to be here in front of you today.

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Via Nebula: a review. Martin Wallace + fantasy = masterpiece?

Background

Martin Wallace is a very famous British game designer and many of his games centre around trains: building routes, buying shares, collecting and using resources. Three of his most famous games are Age of Steam, Steam and Railways of the World (co-designed with Glenn Drover). They share certain similarities and design elements and range from medium difficulty (Railways of the World) to the more heavyweight end of the spectrum (Age of Steam).

Craftsman and wheat

In 2016, Via Nebula was published by Space Cowboys and if you've not come across this game before I'd imagine you're wondering round about now what trains have got to do with anything? Bear with me.

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AOX preview

One of the benefits of running your own event is that you get to meet some great people throughout the board gaming world.

Chris 'Shep' Shepperson

Shep

We backed Shep's first published game, Package!?, last year which successfully funded on Kickstarter and were impressed with the design. It's a highly abstract game for 2-4 players that can (eventually) be played in around 10 minutes. It does, however, have a steep learning curve for such an ostensibly simple game and certainly isn't for everybody. Now step up AOX, coming soon to Kickstarter.

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GI2017: the full report

The Great Indoors 2017

Saturday 29th July at Arrow Valley Visitor Centre

Exhibitors

It was great to see many people taking advantage of our exhibitor demos/playtests.

Dice Hospital

Dice Hospital prototype with Mike Nudd

Four Elements

Michael Mita's Four Elements

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My Origins 2017 Highlight Reel

For those of you out there who may not know, Origins is like the American version of the U.K. Games Expo. Think of it as our U.S. Open to your Wimbledon. (What's that? No, it's a tennis tournament. We have one of those over here too. It happens after Wimbledon. Well, it's kind of a big deal. I mean, I thought it was a big deal. Nevermind.)

So Origins is a gaming convention held in Columbus, Ohio in June each year. I went for the first time last year. And couldn't wait to go back this year. The Fun Group didn't go (losers!) but I went with the Hubz and two of our gaming friends from back in the day. I won't bore you with a detailed play-by-play, I'll just hit the highlights.

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Board game terminology: a guide

Contributor Zara Shoosmith recently wrote an article about board game terminology and how their widespread use in conversations can be confusing and intimidating to new gamers. I am guilty of assuming that everyone will understand when I use a term such as 'king-making'; I do not use the term to consciously exclude people from the conversation but that is in fact a likely result. This whole topic is an issue I had not considered before; joining a board game group already has significant barriers to entry and we must do what we can to make new gamers as comfortable as possible. In future I will try to make sure that if I use jargon, I immediately offer an explanation to those who may not understand. If you are a new gamer, there is also something you can do: read around the topic, consume lots of board game media and, if necessary, consult this handy reference guide designed to explain terms that you may come across.

Confused Peter looking at a dictionary

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Kodama: a review. The family game with depth.

Background

Kodama: The Tree Spirits was released in 2016, designed by Daniel Solis and originally published in English by Action Phase Games and Indie Boards and Cards.

Kodama box

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I find making friends hard; gaming helps

I have suffered with depression for a number of years now; it's hard to say exactly how long. Thankfully, unlike millions of other similarly-afflicted people in the world, I'm a board gamer. Out in the real world, being an introvert hinders my ability to make friends and depression and anxiety symptoms have done nothing to improve this. If you can relate to this then my first piece of advice would be to go to a regular gaming group. Emma and I had lived in Bromsgrove for 4 years by the time I formed Bromsgrove Board Gamers. How many good friends had I made in that time? Not many. Fast forward another 3 years and we have made some great friends, all through the joys of gaming.

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Top Ten quick 2 player games

Many games are advertised as suitable for 2 players but really only shine with more. Here is a Top Ten list of games that work very well with 2 players and are played in approximately 15-30 minutes. They are also readily available to purchase at the time of publishing- see links and prices below.

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Hello, I don't speak board games

So, I recently joined a board games group. For context, I have always loved board games. My family and friends also enjoy board games. It’s just unfortunate that they don’t enjoy board games half as much as I do. Consequently, after over a decade of patient participation I decided to give my loved ones a break and indulge my ludological longings elsewhere.

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Emerson Matsuuchi: an interview with the designer of Specter OPS

Those who know me know that I love games in the 'hidden movement' genre. On New Year's eve I published my top 50 games in a blog on boardgamegeek with Specter OPS top of the pile. It is my favourite game so I decided to seek an interview with the designer, Emerson Matsuuchi. Here is that conversation, for your enjoyment. You can also click here for our Specter OPS review.

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Waggle Dance: a review

Background

Waggle Dance was released in 2014 by Grublin Games and designed by Mike Nudd. As is standard operation for Cornwall-based publishers Grublin Games, the game was crowdfunded by a Kickstarter campaign and is now available from retailers. Speaking personally, it can be frustrating when a game is created for a Kickstarter campaign but then unavailable for those who didn't back it. No fear of that with Grublin Games: we salute you!

Waggle Dance

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