Thursday, January 31, 2013

How To Throwdown

At the recent Unpub 3, I had the opportunity to shoot a quick Intro / How To video for one of my games. I figured that everybody has already been introduced to Pixel Lincoln and ZombieZone, so I took the opportunity to Throwdown a little with John Moller and Brian Elligson. 

If you're curious how the game works, check out the video where I explain the various icons in full detail (kind of!) and we even throw a few cards around. Also be sure to visit for more of these "Video Moments" from the event.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Unboxing Pixel Lincoln

From the Kickstarter blog:

Hello friends. Things are moving forward with everything Pixel Lincoln over here, as we just received the test print for review. Are you prepared for a ton of images? Thanks to everyone who pledged we exceeded all of our initial goals and in the end, we have a jam backed box of awesomeness. I am so happy with how this came out, and I hope you guys are as well.

Note: The printing may look light and that's because it is. This is simply a test print for review purposes. Along with the printed materials came some high quality prints, showing the actual print quality. It's going to be super vibrant when finished. In the meantime, here are some images. Dialup users beware!

Also Note: I tried to color correct / white balance these a little, so they are a bit more contrasty than the ones posted at Kickstarter. I definitely need a better setup for photography.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Unpub 3 Mega Recap!

Last year, we kicked off the board game convention (pre)season by heading down to Delaware for the intimate, yet innovative Unpub 2. This past weekend was the 3rd year for the Unpub program and it was bigger, longer and better than ever.

With two days and 65 unpublished board games, there was a lot of ground to cover. I was also running up to 15 sessions of my own games so it was tricky. In the end, I only played about 8 other games (mostly quick ones) but still had a blast.

Click through the jump for my full recap!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Pixel Lincoln Coin!

The Pixel Lincoln test print is shipping to me today and I hope to have it in the next few days. But until then, I have an image of one of my favorite components that we made. This wasn't part of the base game, but it's in the bonus pack along with the celebrity cards and bunch of other fun stuff.

Who would have ever thought we would get a coin with Lincoln's face on it?

I was so excited that I had to immediately send the image out to a few people. I was very happy to see they were just as excited.

Look for more images this week as I get the test print in the mail, and I get the actual coin in my grubby Gollum hands.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Unpub Games - 3 of 3 Pixel Lincoln 2

The third and final game that I'll be testing at Unpub is (codename) Pixel Lincoln 2! Of course, Pixel Lincoln is still at the manufacturer right now, but that won't stop me from getting a head start on the next version of the game.

So what will be in the next version? I have a lot of ideas and I've heard a lot of ideas from the relatively small number of people who have actually played the game. One of the first ideas that we will be implementing are Environment cards.

Environments are global cards that impact the levels in very different ways. Each level starts with a random Environment card, which is replaced by a new Environment each time a Checkpoint is reached. A game should run though 8 total, and I've made 20 to start testing out.

Off the top of my head, a few examples that I will be testing at Unpub are:

Spikes - Players cannot jump (really hard!)
Auto-Scroll - The level moves forward one card at the end of each turn.
Enemy Lair - All enemies get +1 Power.
Dark - New level cards are played face down until they are reached.
Bank - Players can carry over unused coins each turn (really good!)

So.. if you are at Unpub this weekend and want to be the first to try out some all new Pixel Lincoln cards (there will also be some new enemies, items and characters too), come stop by and see me!

I will also have Maximum Throw down, ZombieZone, and my contest entry game, Fatal Flaw.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Top 10 Games of 2012

Last year, Risk Legacy took the top spot because of it's innovative campaign mechanics, where players modify the board as they play the game. Writing on the board? Tearing up cards? It's all crazy and had a huge impact on me last year. Now... which game will take the trophy for 2012?

First, two 2011 games that made a huge impact on my gaming sessions were King of Tokyo and Cards Against Humanity. I play King of Tokyo until a few months ago and didn't even get a copy until late 2012, but man that game would have been high on this list. Cards Against Humanity has dominated our game nights as well and the expansions have been better and better.

And there are plenty of games that I haven't had a chance to play yet. The most important one to note is probably Android: Netrunner, which has been sitting in its shrink wrap since Black Friday. 

On to my top 10 Board Games of 2012!

This is a newly themed version of The Resistance, a social deduction game where players put together teams to secretly vote on missions. But some players are spies and fail the missions. The Resistance was great, but it was basically cards. There were cards to assign people to vote, cards to vote with, cards for another kind of vote… The Resistance: Avalon tightened a few things up, and had a component overhaul that makes the game flow so much better. Plus, it added Merlin, a player who knows who all of the spies are, and needs to publicly get that information to his fellow players without revealing himself. So much loud, angsty fun in The Resistance: Avalon.

I played this first at Gen Con and was floored by the bags and bags of amazing plastic spaceships. Their are 4 armies with 3 different types, and all of them look really cool. Another early draw was the box cover illustration that reminds me of a Ronald Chevalier novel. But aside from the sensory overload, it's a fun and strategic, yet-random game. Each turn you flip a card that tells you how many ships you can move, how far, and then how many sides of the hexagon to twist each ship. Setting up for the unknown next card keeps you on your toes the whole game.

I first played Divinare a few times in a row at the World Boardgaming Championships, and out of the many games I've played, this little one stood out the most. It's a fortune telling themed game, where players have to predict how many of each card is in the deck. There are various ways to gather the information and many ways to prevent your opponents from properly making their choice. Such a simple concept! And done so well.

This is the game that started off the big kickstarter games boom. It was the first to hit $100,000, which, was a really big deal at the time. Since then that number has been blown away, but I don't think the impact of D-Day Dice will ever be forgotten. The game itself is a simple, fun yet brutal little dice game. It's a cooperative fight-to-the-finish game, and I play it more by myself than with friends. Also, it came with a billion maps, which makes the game almost infinitely repayable.

6. Seasons
If there was an award for best production, Seasons would get it. The big, chunky dice are very nice, but have you looked at the box insert? That is a thing of beauty. The way that the components fit inside… it's just perfect. The game is solid too. There is a drafting phase where you set up your bonuses for the entire game, then you roll dice and make it all start to work. This one got a lot of praise at Gen Con, and it deserves it.

Don't let the odd cover art on this one fool you. Floodgate Games may have done the next best thing to figuring out actual time travel… they figured out how to make an awesome time travel board game! Legacy: Gears of Time took about half of a game to click, but when it clicked, it was once of those once in a lifetime feeling. Similar to (spoilers) when you found out Bruce Willis was dead the whole time. It's a great game about making inventions work, with a really cool prerequisite system that forces you to travel back in time.

I picked up Smash Up at Gen Con and wasn't sure at first. My flight was cancelled, I was tired and trudged through the first game. It's a card game where you mash together two different factions (Alien Ninjas, Dinosaur Wizards, etc) and fight over control of territories. My complaints were that it was fairly light but loaded with text, so it felt like it missed it's target. But now, a few months later, I'm drooling over the expansions and having a great time playing Smash Up over and over again.

Viva Java is one of my top games of all time, and the first time I played it I assumed it would be the same for many others. The reason it didn't hit #1 or #2 on this list is because it plays best with a large group, and my group will often peak at 5. The game is a brilliant euro style coffee bean blending game, where players work together in groups trying to create the best blends. Beans are pulled from a bag, but with insight, special abilities, and cooperation the game really comes into play. With a large group of gamers who want to play a non-party game, this is the absolute one to play.

I usually don't like miniatures games. They are usually pretty expensive, have long play time, and I can't paint to save my life. But X-Wing changed all of that, except the painting part, they come beautifully painted. X-Wing is a much improved remake of an old favorite, Wings of War. Two or more players line up their squadrons and go at it. You plan your moves in advance, and then see what happens. If this wasn't Star Wars, I would have skipped over it, but being Star Wars it's a great intro to miniatures for me, and from what I've seen, many others too. I cannot wait for the Millennium Falcon to come out.

Escape: The Curse of the Temple was made exclusively for me. It has all of my favorite things added into 1 game. It's short (10 minutes!), has awesome custom dice and tiles, great artwork and graphic design, and a really cool theme. You play as Indiana Jones-ish folk trying to find relics, then get out of the temple before you are trapped forever. All players frantically roll and re-roll their dice at once trying to get the combination they need for themselves or the group. It's so much fun and made a huge impact on me this year.

There is so much to look forward to in 2013 that I don't even know where to begin. I want more of the same but all new games as well. I want something to blow me away the same way Escape did this year and Risk: Legacy last year.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Most Anticipated of 2013 @ BGG

Monday, January 7, 2013

TGC Pro Box Back

Sunday, January 6, 2013

TGC Pro Boxes!!

I was super excited to see that The Game Crafter started offering Small Pro Boxes this week. These are the first fully-printed, full telescoping boxes that they've been able to offer to game creators. It's a huge move forward for the designer community and like many of my favorites before this, I immediately started working on some designs to try out the new products.

I'm still working on the layout/design for the box bottoms (which I think is the hardest part to create), but I'll share the tops here. I'm ordering today and cutting it close for Unpub... but if they arrive before the event, I will be sure to bring them. Not only do I need something to hold my games (they are currently in a Hula Hippos box), but I know others will probably want to check out the new boxes.

Here are my layouts with some of the fold lines still showing. Keep in mind these are quick roughs just for prototyping.

These boxes hold up to 128 cards or less cards and some components. They are perfect for some of the games I'm working on right now, but there is one exception. They cannot fit the sticker sheets in the shop, and a few of my games will use the sticker sheets. Hopefully they can find a workaround for that soon enough.

Also I'm excited to see what follows the "Small" Pro Box. Will there be medium and large? Great moves forward, all around.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Featured @ Bellwether Games

I had a few great discussions with Dennis at Bellwether Games over the past few months as part of their featured designer interview series. Previous interviewees were good friends Michael Keller (City Hall), Paul Owen (East India Company) and Angie Hickman Newnham / Julian Leiberan-Titus (Story Realms), each of which were super informative for fellow designers as well as board gamers interested in the other side of things. Dennis is really great at what he does, and I'll be sure to follow him as this series grows.

In my interview, I talk about my 3 tips for Kickstarter project creators, my experience working with Game Salute, go-to game mechanics and much more.

Here's a small excerpt:
BG: In your opinion, what is the most important skill for a game designer to have? 
JT: Game designers need to be jacks of all trades. They need to be super creative, logical and in most cases, mathematic. Then they need to be an artist and graphic designer. With prototyping there is a big hands-on stage where any carpentry or assembly skills come into play. And then it's time to market your game, so you need to be a writer, blogger, editor, proofreader, and promoter. And if you are pitching your game to publishers, you need to be a salesman. If you go to conventions, you need to be a good teacher and speaker. It's a lot to take on. Now, you could just design and sell your games and not have to do all of the rest, but I think it'll take a few years of all of it before you even get to that point.
Check out the full interview over at the Bellwether Games site:

Friday, January 4, 2013

More Unpub Challenge

My entry to Bryan Fischer's Unpub Challenge design contest is rolling along. I have been tinkering with some design ideas and trying out a few tweaks here and there, but mainly we've been working on art and character concepts.

It's a realtime dice brawler, similar to video game multiplayer fighting games... and in those types of games, there were lots of characters to choose from. Right now we have 4, and we already have 3-4 more in the works.

Seeing these characters come to life has been so much fun, especially with Marty's artwork taking everything to the next level of excitement. He's been at the top of his game with these.

I'll post some more card images and some playtest photos over the next few days.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Unpub Games - 2 of 3 ZombieZone Version 2.0

The second game that I am bringing to Unpub is a new version of ZombieZone!

ZombieZone is my head-to-head asymmetric battle game of humans vs. zombies. The Preview Edition made its way to a few events and recently ended its 3 month run at The Game Crafter, and now I'm taking all of the feedback and moving towards the next version of the game. Luckily, most of the feedback was really good. Father Geek gave us a great, gamer-defensive review back in October.
* * * * - Posted on October 24, 2012 by 
If you are looking for a quick game of zombie survival that is easy to teach, well-balanced, and perfect for those times when you just want a quick game€, do lock your sights on ZombieZone. While not the most complex of zombie survival games on the market, it is certainly no cakewalk and was found to be much fun to play. Full review at
The current version is a 12 space x 12 space gridded board where the humans and zombies go head-to-head similar to chess or checkers. 

In the new version, the board breaks apart into multiple pieces so that you can play the classic gaming style, or you can create your own map before playing the game. Along with this, I would like to introduce additional map pieces and additional character types to give a ton of variety to the sessions.

Here are some rough ideas that I'm planning for Unpub.

First up is the modular board. Here is the standard board, broken into pieces and assembled a little differently. You could simply twist and turn each of the corners and keep a standard square OR you could stagger them a little bit.

With this in mind, I would like each of the pieces to be double-sided allowing for more room to mess around with harder areas, changing the landscape of the battle. And with this in mind, we could introduce all-new scenarios. 

This could have a new tile type that is a Dropzone. Each turn, an unarmed human could be dropped there to battle off the oncoming wave of Zombies.

Then we could have quick and brutal battles on just one square. Like this one:

I've also thought about introducing additional tiles into the game. If we can make it all on thick chipboard, we could consider extra pieces like the one below.

With a few of these, you can make tight corridor areas that are tough to pass. 

And finally, it would be great to be able to remove some space from the game board. I've been trying to think of how to handle the overhead view without making it look like a black hole / dungeon. Here are some rooftops for now.

I'll be making about 6 different double sided tile types as well as a few of the little corridor areas to try out at Unpub. I'm also bringing some new character tiles, which I will share soon enough. And if that isn't enough, I have a slightly lighter, trimmed down version of the game, that takes the basics and makes it a very accessible Zombie checkers type game. I'll post that soon too.

If you've played the game before (or not!) all feedback is very welcome. Even if you just want to say that you hate zombies!