Saturday, March 30, 2013

Emperor's New Clothes at Pax East!

Last weekend at PAX East, we met up with Jonathan Liu and played his game Emperor's New Clothes at the Game Salute booth. The game is currently on Kickstarter right now (ENDS MONDAY), and there is even a Pixel Lincoln version of the game available to the backers. We're joining the ranks of artists such as Munchkin's John Kovalic in the ensemble of talent behind this game. If you haven't seen the game, or heard the many discussions that it has initiated, go check out the Kickstarter page. It's a brilliant take on the classic tale and a wonderful experience for the creative gamer.

George said it was the best game he ever played. I asked if he meant at PAX (where we had just played the awesome and highly anticipated Kingbrick re-make, Cube Quest) and he said "No.... ever." Marty couldn't stop talking about it as well. I felt the same way. Anything that challenges my imagination and encourages creativity is going to score big points for me. 

Now, Jonathan has revealed in his last update that the game is exactly what you see, a blank canvas. This has been shown all along, but in the context of the setting, the game is what you want to see. While the rules are blank, Jonathan has crafted a wonderful suggested ruleset of a game with role selection, dice rolling, resource cubes, and much more. What makes the game so interesting is the order of events. You each choose a role from the pile of cards. THEN you roll dice for resources and take the resources from the piles. THEN you reveal roles. The most exciting part of the game comes into play when the player before you reveals the role that you planned on the entire time. This is where the quick thinking and creativity comes into play. Players have a hand of cards that can be used on the fly, which reminded me of a less permanent 1000 Blank White Cards, and I can say that we were heavy on the instant cards, making a very unique experience. 

I've used the word experience twice already and that's exactly what this is. It's a game that will leave you talking for a long time afterwards. You leave the table with a story, more memorable than a score, a victory or anything like that. It's not for all gamers, but it's perfect for my group. We're thrilled to have Pixel Lincoln as part of the history of Emperor's New Clothes and looking forward to telling our stories for years to come. 

Check it out at:

Thursday, March 21, 2013

We're Heading to PAX East!

With the brothers on board, we're about to head North to the EXPENSIVE city of Boston for PAX EAST! I plan on eating some lobster rolls on the way up whether they are in season or not, and heading right to the Open Gaming area. I'm hoping to catch up with lots of friends and getting in some games of Pixel Lincoln and Maximum Throwdown (find or tweet me @jtagmire to come play!), as well as games I've never played before. This will be our first time at Pax, so you can find us by looking for a bunch of confused nerds with maps.

I know there are a billion panels and events, most of which I'll never even know about... but I'd love to stop by these two.

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Pixel Lincoln Game Design Challenge

Over at the Kickstarter page for the Pixel Lincoln Playing Cards, we're holding a mini game design contest. YOU SHOULD TOTALLY MAKE A GAME!

Submissions must be posted in the comments at Kickstarter by Midnight on April 15, 2013. You can submit more than one game if you would like. Games cannot use any components outside of the Pixel Lincoln playing card deck.

We're going to publish the rules for the best games, along with my design, Big Head Mode, as a free PDF for all backers and will make the PDF available on the Game Salute page for the Pixel Lincoln Playing Cards. We're looking for submissions of games that use the theme in some way. It can be any style of game (trick taking / set building / solitaire, etc), it just needs to incorporate the theme. 

What is the theme? Well, it's a few things. It's 16 bit retro video gaming with Pixel Lincoln. It's also a deck of good vs. evil with Lincoln on the black cards and enemies on the red cards. Which characters are good and which are evil is totally up to you. 

The Pixel Lincoln playing card deck functions is a standard 54 card deck with a few bonuses that may assist in creating a ruleset. 

  • There are 2 additional Jokers for a total of 4 Jokers in the deck. Each Joker has both red and black colors as well as all 4 suits. 
  • The black cards all feature Lincoln facing to the right, and the black face cards (King, Queen, Jack) feature various Lincoln faces close-up. 
  • The red cards all feature Booth and various enemies facing to the left, and the red face cards (King, Queen, Jack) feature various Booth faces close-up. 
  • The face cards have a background color that could represent money. 
  • King (Gold) Queen (Silver) and Jack (Bronze). 
  • The Aces do not have any characters on them.


To get you started, here are the preliminary rules for my game Big Head Mode. I'm still playtesting it, but I wanted to share it with everyone. 

PLAYERS - 2 players. (3-4 players using a second deck.) OBJECT - Out-bluff your opponent to gain powerful items and score big points. 

SETUP - Each player chooses a black suit (clubs or spades) and takes the 3 Lincoln Face cards (J, Q, K) and sets each card face up in front of him. These are known as his "Big Heads". Each player then takes the A, 2, 3, 4, and 5 card in his suit and forms his starting hand. The remaining red and black cards are shuffled together and placed into the center of the table. Draw the top 25 cards to form the game deck and place the remaining cards back into the box. 

GAMEPLAY - A player flips the top card of the deck. It will either be an enemy (red - provides points at the end of the game) or an item (black - provides power during the game). Players will then bid on this item using a card from their hand. Both players will chose which card they would like to bid with. Ace is the lowest, 5 is the highest. The cards are placed face down and revealed simultaneously. The high bidder will take the card. If the card is red, he will place the card into his score pile. If the card is black, he will place the card into his discard pile. In the event of a tie, the card is not claimed by anyone and it is removed from the game. 

BIG HEAD - After the high bidder of a round is determined, a player may yell out "Big Head Mode" and throw in a big head from his supply of face cards to then become the high bidder. His opponent can yell out "Bigger Head Mode!" and play a bigger head from his supply. This continues until a player does not or cannot play a bigger head card. All used Big Head cards are removed from the game, and the player with the biggest head takes the winnings. This will repeat until the players run out of cards in hand. Then both players draw 5 new cards. If a player cannot draw a card from his draw pile, he must shuffle his discard pile and create a new draw pile. 

BOSSES - Bosses can provide big points! They are red cards with big heads (J, Q, K) of John Wilkes Booth. A boss is defeated as usual but will score differently than the other cards. See below for scoring. 

JOKERS - Jokers get in your way. They have both red and black on their cards, so the high bidder will choose to place a Joker into his discard pile or score pile. If placed into a discard pile a Joker will count as a "0" when bidding. If placed into a score pile a Joker will count as −5 points. 

GAME END - The game ends when the deck runs out and the score is tallied. The winner is the player with the most points. In the event of a tie, it's the winner with the most pairs. 

SCORING - Aces through 10's - Each pair is worth the value on the card, but a single card without a pair is worth nothing. Example: A pair of 5's is worth 5 points. A single 9 is worth zero points. 

FACE CARDS (J, Q, K) - Each card is worth 10 points, but only if you have a pair or a set of all three in the same suit. Example: A pair of Jacks is worth 20 points (10 points each). A single King is worth 0 points. A set of all three Red Hearts Face Cards is worth 30 points. 

3 PLAYERS - choose one red suit, one black suit and two jokers from a second deck. Two of the players will play as the same suit, otherwise the game is played as normal. 

4 PLAYERS - Play with 2 full decks. All of the players will share their suit with another player as the same suit, otherwise the game is played as normal.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Maximum Throwdown at GAMA Trade Show

Friday, March 15, 2013

Pixel Lincoln Playing Cards!

Along with Island Officials and Game Salute, we're releasing a deck of Pixel Lincoln Bicycle brand playing cards! The deck, along with some cool bonuses (THE LINCOLN COIN!) is now available on Kickstarter. It's a low priced and fun campaign, and I hope you guys will enjoy it.

The cards were designed in the style of the deckbuilding game, with little nods to the NES and classic gaming in the layout. The deck is split with Lincoln and his weapons on the black cards, and Booth and his minions on the red cards. The face cards are actual faces, with Lincoln and Booth's face up close. Real close.

I've mentioned this briefly before as I was laying out all of the cards, but the project has really taken shape in the last few days. W. David Mackenzie from Clever Mojo Games / Game Salute has worked non-stop on making this campaign look awesome. He came up with all of the flavor... the wonderful pledge level names and the idea of the "Seal of Puke". That turtle has come a long way since Luke Milton's original 8-Bit version. Love that little guy.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Moving Into My New Design Space

I've only been there since January, but I'm moving from my Collingswood, NJ design space over to the basement of a submarine in Audubon, NJ.

It's actually the basement of The Auction House, where I've ran events for a good part of the last decade, so it'll be nice and comfortable while also being nice and weird. Why so weird? Well... below is my space. Only I need to clear out the things that are in there, which consists of some lamps, NES games, and MGM Records singer Connie Francis's couch?!

Would you expect things to be any other way?

It's actually going to be an awesome spot. A sealed off, quiet room situated in the middle of the charismatic bubble of The Auction House. On a given day you might find an original signed Abraham Lincoln letter there, a live performance by The Hooters or Danielson, a screening of The Big Lebowski, and now me making and testing board games. I can't wait. 

Here is some Connie Francis Goldfinger action to set the tone.