Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Dungeon Twister: Fire and Water

This isn't my Multiple Uses post, sorry. It's a few muddled observations:

In Germany, they are (so far) following the English order of release for Dungeon Twister.

That is:
Base Set
Paladins and Dragons
3/4 Player Expansion
Forces of Darkness
Fire and Water

Now, I'm not positive about the German order of Mercenaries vs. Fire and Water, but I am sure about the US order to that point.

I just find it interesting that out of two "secondary" releases (meaning "Not in the original language of the game"), two of them have moved Fire and Water out of order.

Having played it a few times, I can very easily see why. It's a difficult, frustrating set. Once you grasp it, I'm told that it's amazing, but reaching that point has been (for me) very difficult. I enjoy the play, but something just hasn't clicked, yet.

I've seen play from people who have grasped it. It's wonderful and terrifying. I've also seen some amazing combinations of characters using some from this set.

It's an interesting set, with an average speed of 4.25 and an average strength of 1.625. That's 14.5% faster than the overall average and 30.7% weaker than the overall average.

But on their native maps, their speed is significantly reduced.

Were it not for their speed, I'd tag most of these characters as Specialists.

But I'll go over that in a few weeks, once I've had a chance to play the set through a few more times.

Monday, October 29, 2007

English Games of the 1500's

Google Analytics has informed me that my recent interview notes have caused a number of hits from people looking for games played during the 1500's in England.

Those of you who are looking for them, here are a couple of links which may help:

Rather than looking for the 1500's specifically, it may help to search for Renaissance-Era Games. Medieval games wouldn't be a bad search, either - Nine Men's Morris is still played today.

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Sky Is Falling! The Sky Is Falling!

Okay, not really. But Mayfair Games recently announced that they are requiring a 20% cap on discounts for their games.

Retailers who sell below that line will suffer "sanctions" and may be cut off from their supply. It'll hurt online retailers more than brick-and-mortar

Tom of Boards and Bits broke the news here. There's some good discussion mixed in with the ranting.

Here are my scattered thoughts:

It's not new to gaming. Games Workshop has done this for a while. They even go after eBay sellers.

It's legal - there was a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling on this that didn't change the law, it adjusted the interpretation of the law which put more more power in the hands of manufacturers.

This sort of price control has been going for a long while in other industries.

I currently work in car audio. Various manufacturers have "Authorized Retailers." If you buy product from a non-Authorized retailer, then you don't have warranty coverage. MTX Audio has a page all about it: MTX - Unauthorized Resellers.

In order to become an Authorized Retailer, you get to jump through all kinds of hoops and sign a number of contracts. One of these contracts concerns "MAP" - depending on who you talk to, MAP is "Manufacturer Authorized Pricing" or "Minimum Advertised Price."

This gives the car audio-buying public a choice: Buy a speaker without a warranty and hope it doesn't die, or more and get a warranty backed by the manufacturer.

And there are ways around it:

1) Buy Product X, and we'll throw in Product Y.
2) Here's a Coupon Code for X% off your entire order.
3) Free shipping for all orders over $X
4) Buy Product X, save $Y on Product Z

So why would Mayfair do this?

1) It supports the FLGS. Internet retail is hurting the FLGS. I've ranted about this before. This levels the playing field a bit.
2) They can. Mayfair is the US publisher for The Settlers of Catan, arguably the best-selling Eurogame of all time.
3) It won't hurt internet retailers as badly as people think it will, because it means higher profit margins on Mayfair items (and because of the numerous ways around it).

There was discussion a few months ago about game companies possibly doing something like this. A ICV2 interviewed a few industry insiders:
Jay Tummelson of Rio Grande Games
Joe Hauck of WizKids
Loren Greenwood of Wizards of the Coast

... and that's all I have time to say.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Formula Dé

Asmodée announced on their website that a new edition of Formula Dé was coming in 2008.

It led to this thread on BoardGameGeek. Three posts in, and people are already complaining.

Let me see if I understand this correctly:

Asmodée negotiates for months so that they can release Formula Dé - an OOP game for which there has been a great deal of demand. Their contract is for a single printing of the basic game.

To avoid giving the wrong impression or raising false hopes, they make sure the public knows that all they have the rights to do is this one final printing. No track reprints, just the game. One time.

It sells out in pre-order.

Meanwhile, they begin (or continue) negotiating with the designers of the game, hoping to be able to do more. Not just because there is a lot of demand for more, but because it's a great game.

When BoardGameNews quotes Christophe Arnoult, they're talking to the head of Asmodée US. He's not just a businessman, he's also a gamer. Yes, Asmodée is a business. Yes, they want to make money. At the same time, I know Christophe is excited at the chance to make this game available again just because he loves the game. I remember how excited he was at being able to put out the reprint earlier this year. He was also frustrated at not being able to reprint the tracks. Again - not because there is demand, but because they make a great game even better.

Am I biased? Yes. But Asmodée lives up to what I think is an ideal model in the gaming industry - a game company run by gamers, with gamers involved at every step along the way.

Getting annoyed or upset because they managed to pull off something more than they had originally anticipated is something I don't even have the words for.

Monday, October 22, 2007

New Moon: Enroute

I just received an e-mail confirmation that my copy of Werewolves: New Moon will be en route very soon.

As someone who enjoys Werewolves of Miller's Hollow (with a good moderator), I'm looking forward to the expansion. The expanded play options will, I think, make this an exceptionally good choice for our group.

Friday, October 19, 2007


For those of you who are paying attention, Essen Spiel (or Spiel Essen, depending on who you talk to) started yesterday. It is the world's largest game-focused convention.

It makes GenCon look tiny.

And the focus is board and card games.

Someday, I will have an opportunity to go.

In the meantime, there is continuing coverage on BoardGameNews, and the usual random splat of updates at BoardGameGeek.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Update Schedule

I've been pretty good about updating twice a week for a while, now.

Things are about to get bumpy.

I'm in process of changing jobs to one with a longer commute and less internet access at my desk.

This cuts dramatically into the time I have to write up blog entries.

Because of this, my update schedule may get a bit odd until I get settled into the new routine.

It's still a month or so off, but I figured I'd give fair warning.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Writing For Pay - Interview is Now Up

As I'd mentioned previously, I was interviewed for Writing For Pay.

The interview is now up, as are The Show Notes.

Here are MY show notes (and clarifications):
1:20 - Wow. Do I really sound like that? Admittedly, I did have a cold at the time ...
2:04 - I chose a bad example in a few seconds here. The "Frequency" vs. "Availability" is not the best example I had. I just froze. "Scenery" vs. "Terrain" would have been a much better example. Also: "English games" should be "English-language games."
3:30 - I reference BGG.CON as being "a large convention" here. It's not large, but it is fairly influential. And I do want to go at some point. Very badly.
4:30 - I mention that the translation was "in-house," - I realized after the interview that, while some of it was in-house, not all of it was. Oops.
4:50 - Their translations have improved dramatically: Very true. They have a new group of translators who are also gamers, as well as being really neat people. I feel lucky that they still want my help. I love working with these guys.
5:27 - Wooly Bully was the first game to leap to mind. The translation for Wooly Bully is quite good. I could have chosen a better example.
5:40 - It's true. Some of their translators were non-gamers. I was shocked the first time I heard this. Their current translators are gamers.
5:55 - I believe this strongly: If it's a game product, involve gamers. By all means, run it past a non-gamer or two to check for clarity, but make sure you're not alienating gamers.
6:40 - Publishers bringing across European games include Asmodee, Rio Grande Games, and Z-Man games. There are (of couse) others.
7:35 - I love reading French games. I have a stack of French RPG books like you wouldn't believe. They were a gift from Christophe Arnoult after my first Origins. I'm still puzzling through them and considering running a game of C.O.P.S.
8:10 - Yep. Hell Dorado. I'm not comfortable discussing it too much, but I can acknowledge that I'm working on it. The official forums are here.
8:40 - It's the Thirty Years' War. I can't belive I blanked on this. And yes, it was the 1600's, not the 1500's.
9:20 - "We realized," meaning ... um ... I'm not sure. Although, in Hell Dorado, the Thirty Years' War is (if I recall correctly) paused. The "Westerners" faction includes both Catholics and Protestants.
9:50 - Items, Objects, Tokens, Markers, and Counters. Any errors on these in Dungeon Twister are my fault. Something I learned the hard way.
10:50 - I love the fact that I'm comfortable enough to contact Christophe Boelinger directly to ask for help. I was pretty incoherent the first time I met him. He put me at ease pretty quickly. I got an e-mail from Bruno Faidutti, once, and was incoherent for days.
11:20 - Werewolves of Miller's Hollow: New Moon is in Customs right now.
11:50 - We went back and forth and back and forth and wound up directly contacting the designer to find out what happens with the card in question. And then we figured out how to phrase it so as to avoid confusion.
12:30 - It's true: I'd love to help anyone with their games.
13:01 - Talking Game is a successful gaming blog. I'm just not all that influential. Yet. I'd love to have Tom Vasel's readership/listenership.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007


Okay, I've now had a chance to play Tannhäuser, and I don't know if I like it.

Derek put it pretty well: It's like they should have included a bit more with the base set, rather than spacing them across multiple expansions.

It's a decent game, and it has potential to be a great game - but nothing in the basic set grabs at that potential.

There are a few rules questions after a first play - there nearly always are.

I'll probably decide whether I like it or not after a few more plays.

Friday, October 05, 2007

A Quick Brain Dump

I've finished the current batch of my editing project (for now), and ordered a French copy of Hell Dorado, so I should have enough time to provide a normal update, right?

Those of you who monitor my games played (and why don't all of you?) may spot some interesting things in there.

Or not.

Tomorrow, I get to play Tannhäuser for the first time. A lot of the reviews on the 'Geek have been negative because, "It wasn't what I was expecting." I've managed to refrain from pointing out that Fantasy Flight posted the rules on their website several months ago, so people should have had some idea of what they were getting themseles into.

Pizza Box Baseball is coming. I really enjoy Pizza Box Football, so I'm going to give it a shot, even though I don't like baseball.

... and that concludes this late-night brain dump. More focused posts to follow once I've had some rest.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


There is something magical about holding a prototype game in your hands.

Christophe Boelinger sent a couple of prototypes back with me after GenCon a few years ago, to see if my group would like them and provide feedback.

Last week, I received another prototype to try - this one from Asmodee. The game is going into production in France, and they wanted to know if it would appeal to the American audience.

The difference between this prototype and the ones from Christophe was that this one is already going into production in French. It's a prototype that was accepted, and will be available in its finished form at Essen.

I tested it with three different groups - one group provided more than three pages of feedback notes.

I learned a lot about game testing.

It was interesting to see how many people were uncomfortable with providing any negative feedback, even though I told them repeatedly that I wanted honest opinions, especially if they were negative. I also made sure that they knew I had no emotional investment in this game - it was all about seeing if they liked it and noting any suggestions.

When my games are ready, I'll be testing the games with the same three groups. All three had different comments - there was some overlap, but every group had different focus points.

If you played the game in question, thank you. If you didn't and would like to, I'll be bringing it to my regular game nights for a bit longer.