The Stockholm Board Game Design Meetups started again and I took the opportunity to bring
Apokalypsis to get fresh ideas. The result was a new
"Gods Variant", where they player have two secret colors each, one that they want to save and
one that they want drown. The result was a success (although I lost miserably) and the variant included in the updated
Speaking of reviews, I finally got my promised copy of
a thank you for letting the company use my review in the Kickstart campaign. I look forward to revisit the final game,
but it's literally a big game and I expect it to take some time. At the same time, I invested in some more sleeves and
took the opportunity to add Patrician
and Res Publica.
Industry on the other
hand had to leave the collection.
Lisboa also reminded me of my loose idea to create a city building game set in 17th century
Stockholm, where the city planning would "evolve" due to game events in the Swedish Empire (the need
for certain goods, the tendency of similar shops to group together etc.). Hence, the city building would
only be one mechanic in the context of the greater empire building game, but it struck me that this
mechanic could be used in the Game Pieces Only Challenge,
a contest for non-printed material only. Using colored dice to represent both goods and prices, I could
let the players build shops on an imaginary grid to attract merchants buying and selling those goods.
The natural setting was dye merchants in a medieval city with the fictive game of Dyce (Dyes + Dice) but
when I realized that there is such a city in Scotland, the setting was changed to whisky blending. It's
too early to tell if the idea will work but the initial game tests looked promising and the game
of Dyce was born!
Finally I was happy to record yet another sale of Gulag. My Comrade
games will soon compete for the title of my best selling games!
My ambition to focus on old game failed quickly, however, as I got a stroke of inspiration and
designed a game for the Game Crafter contest
Hook Box Challenge:
Find the Treasure - The Card Game!. The idea is that the players get
to lay the map themselves first and then compete to find the most treasures on it. It was so simple and
yet unique that I couldn't resist designing the game.
Speaking of Turn of Time and last month's updated Comrade series, I could record additional sales
of those games, which of course further boasted my energy. I had already decided to order more copies
of Find the Bug! for my presentation at
in March and took the opportunity to replace the bug gems with real bugs.
In addition, I rushed to complete a prototype of
Peoples - Civilizations to test more effectively. The work
was further prolonged when I finally found a good mechanism for the events: a book of events
inspired by Africana.
Another updated game was Apokalypsis, where I shortened the game slightly
by letting it end when the last meeple of any color is removed. This was a learning from a game during last
month's game convention, where a game proceeded until the very last tiles were removed.
All this work didn't prevent me from adding new games to my collection:
After some busy months with little time left for game design, December and the Christmas vacation
becamen an opportunity to catch up.
Afterwards, the unpacking of my received games could be concluded with a satisfactory opening and
photoing of Politeia and the new components for
However, I did notice some color deviations in the Comrade series and decided to modify them all,
Politburo, which got less text and more icons instead.
The game test of
Knights & Damosels was completed with further modifications that
brought the game closer to what it's supposed to be about: outguessing each other. Of particular
interest was a prisoners' dilemma mechanism where one player can betray the others at wars and quests
to score more (but potentially risk the score for everybody).
As if this wasn't enough, a new and inventive abstract game,
inspired me to have another look at my own abstract games. Particularly, it encouraged me to move away
from the perception that an abstract game must have a predetermined outcome of an action and add an
out of turn conflict resolution for Lucca, where the colors choose which tiles
to remove. The idea is pending further testing but much more promising than the "remove neighbor tiles"
My return to Peoples - Civilizations, however, had to wait for
all the cards to be changed to a smaller size. The reason was a decision to allow each player to physically
hold a card and hence a need to reduce the cost.
Finally I could welcome Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective
to my collection. It was a gift as thanks for sending games to a German fellow geek and its
story-telling cooperative gameplay turned out to strike a chord with my wife.
The game test of
Knights & Damosels was finally started and overall the simplified
rules work well. The mechanics for gaining and losing worship may feel more random compared to what I
prefer to design today but they are really just incentives to the core mechanic: tempting targeted
players to take your damosel cards.
I also got a chance to play one of my favorite games,
a long session that also inspired me to resume the game test of my own shorter civilization attempt:
Peoples - Civilizations. Perhaps something for the Christmas vacation?
Due to work and vacation, not much time was spent on game design this month. I didn't get to start
Knights & Damosels game test but did modify the disaster cards so that they
strike specific chivalries to make the decision to choose them more interesting.
I also decided to submit Fair Trade to the
to give it some exposure and it turned out to reach the semi-finals.
More changes took place in my game collection. Kickstarted games like
Tortuga 1667 and
Keyper arrived, as did a used copy
Industry. Tortuga, however,
was sold immediately as I came to realize that card management, a mechanism I'm not very fond of, was more important
than social deduction. Another long awaited arrival was my big game order from The Game Crafter so now I know what
to do next month...
The news triggered a long due update of the game. When the original large box was replaced by the
sturdier retail, the original 10"x10" board didn't fit and had to be replaced by two 5"x10" half boards.
I now decided to replace this with a quadfold board, which gave room for a new mechanism:
integration and performance tests between components, whereby two test cases are partially executed.
This adds a new tactical dimension whereby test cases can be checked and "booked" in advance but at
the cost of an extra tester if both test cases would contain a bug.
This also triggered the even longer due order from
The Game Crafter, where both old but given away games
like Find the Bug! and new games like Politeia were ordered.
Besides this, I also completed the game test of Lucca with good results.
As expected, the 4 player version can be a bit swingy but the game is solid and with precise play, it's
a very tense affair.
The game test of last month's updated game Knights & Damosels has yet
to start but the video was updated from its current still format to my later animated format.
Finally the shipping details for my finalist game Apokalypsis were
announced and the game sent to
As said, the competition will be fierce but all finalists are granted a prize so Apokalypsis is now officially an
August started with some great news: Apokalypsis
qualified to the Survival Design Contest Final!
The competition will be fierce but just being a finalist gives my perhaps simplest game good exposure.
The final may also explain the rise in likes at Nova Suecia Game's
The game test of the new advanced rules was hurried and the
and I now only wait for further details about shipping the game.
Once this was completed, I returned to the last of the three games in my "Greek series":
Demokratia. The rules had already been revised earlier but the
video needed to be updated from its current still format to my later animated format.
Yet another game to be revised was my first card game
Knights & Damosels, which was further streamlined by leaving
all cards on the table rather than taken to the players' hands. It was successfully demonstrated
at Stockholm Boardgame Design Meetup and its unique double goal may help distinguishing it in the
Finally two more games made it to my collection:
and Modern Art.
I particularly liked the time aspect of the former, where later production facilities are more
expensive but get more benefits than earlier ones, and may find use for it in a future game
revision. They replaced some seldom played Settlers expansions
and 5-6 players
as well as the already previous month sold Euphoria.
I've simply learned more about what I like and don't like and games with dice often belong to the
The next old game I returned to this month was Politeia.
It's been over a year since I last worked on it and I could tell when I started to read the
rules. There were a lot of redundant things that I could remove or streamline. The main change
was the removal of the action Maneuver (previously Defend) with the much better and "missing"
action Revolt. This gives the demos citizens a much more active roles where they initiate attacks
themselves rather than being passive supporters of the archegos citizens' attacks. Another
often changed action, Trade, also found a better function where resources can be exchanged
for either talents or more resources.
Of course the changes had to be extensively tested but the finally approved
iteration turned out
to have just the right balance between the different actions. I also updated the video, this time
"The game has some unique interactions as you evaluate when to keep playing or retire for the round.
Players noted that the concept was intriguing and different than what they were used to in games.
I think it’s a game other companies may be interested in exploring. In particular, I think the current
game could serve as a pretty good set of mechanics to be part of a more complex game with moving parts.
The card play and passing could simply be what happens at some part during the game round, with benefits
received from retiring and taking the tokens resulting in gaining different resources or taking more
diverse actions on the board."
Perhaps I will take all three games to this years'
This time I'll try to set up several test sessions and I hope to place an order with
The Game Crafter later next month
(when the queue clogging game convention of GenCon has ended).
After last month's completion of Peoples - Civilizations
I once again returned to my old games. The next game in turn was my best-selling
Apokalypsis. Due to a change in The Game Crafter's tile sheets,
the game now required 2 sheets of 32 tiles instead of 1 sheet of 40 tiles. My first solution was to
switch to smaller tiles but I felt that they were too small even for such a small game. Instead,
I came up with ideas for additional tiles and ended up with 4 advanced tiles:
Island tiles: Tiles along the coast tiles that flip according to different pattern compared to the ordinary tiles.
Mountain tiles: Tiles that are inaccessible at first but turn into ordinary land tiles after the first apokalypsis.
Castle tiles: Tiles that are accessible only to meeples of specific colors.
Temple tiles: Tiles that flip or not depending on the result of new temple cards.
The result of the new tiles will be new patterns of "holes" in the game board and hopefully lead to
a more varied gameplay.
In addition to the new tiles, I added a rule suggested at an earlier
Stockholm Boardgame Design Meetup
and allowed extension of bridges and also had them placed along tile edges rather than through tiles. The result of this
rule is that meeples will never find them stranded on a small area but always have a change to escape to a larger one.
With those changes, Apokalypsis is one step closer to a future Kickstarter (with stretch goals like
3D miniature volcanoes, custom bridges and extra tiles) and I plan to place a new order of prototypes for testing
Another old game, Politeia suffered from a similar problem with its 35 tiles
but here I decided to replace them with cards instead, since they won't flip during the game anyway.
I also had a less fun reason to retur to my old games. A fellow designer observed that one of my
Vimeo videos appeared cropped. The reason was a
standard feature in iMovie that I had forgotten for my animated videos so I had to redo all of them
(including creating the video on a PC, since Apple's PowerPoint lacks this function, adding music on
my Mac and uploading the new file to Vimeo).
Exactly 1 year after I started working on Peoples - Civilizations
I was able to complete a version ready to submit to the
Big Box Challenge.
It's clear that those kind of sandbox games with plenty of options for the players are demanding
to design and in spite of the long time, I would have liked to run several more tests and iterations.
Will I do it? I'm not sure - although I like the gameplay it's also very different from what I usually
design and from most modern board games. Nevertheless, Peoples - Civilization did change during the
development from a traditional civilization game with focus on wars and conquests to a euro influenced
game where resource optimization and combination of abilities are important so I'm not giving it up,
I'm merely giving it more time to mature.
But in spite of my intentions to focus on Peoples - Civilization, I did take some time to both start
and complete Fair Trade for a
call for game designers by Value Add Games.
It was like an echo of my early game designs, where a few words sparked the inspiration to an entire game.
In this case, it was the idea of simulate the relation between farmers (balancing between cost and quality)
and traders (bidding as low as possible for the highest possible quality). The idea of hidden double bidding
may be too simple for a game I usually design but it may be enough for the family game Value Add Games are
looking for and I do have ideas for further development otherwise.
Nevertheless, it has been an exhausting week and I continued my effort to clear up my game collection
and focus on fewer games that I really like. Games like La Cittá, Comrade Koba, Hacienda, Rheinländer,
Yspahan and Five Tribes. Only the smaller game
Innovation was added,
mainly because I got a good price for a sleeved version.
What's next? I did get good feedback for Cosmoclasm at
Stockholm Boardgame Design Meetup
but those meetings occur too seldom to be very useful. Bringing prototypes to boardgame sessions is another option
to get feedback but I feel that my games have more in common with the cleaner designs of the last decades than with
the more overloaded designs that are popular nowadays. I've also decided to take up chess again, which will give
even less time for game design (or more inspiration for abstract games, who knows?). Until I decide, I'll continue
this year's project to further develop my old designs and see if any of my "ugly ducklings" can become a beautiful swan.
Finally I could devote myself to my next game Peoples - Civilizations.
The first game test provided the right balance and I could
complete the rules and upload the components to
The Game Crafter.
The next step will be a second game test, possibly with a printed prototype.
The discussions with
Piecekeeper Games regarding
Cosmoclasm proceeded well and I even compiled a 2 player variant to accommodate
more player counts. Unfortunately the scheduled designer meeting, where I had hoped to present the game,
was postponed so I'll have to wait for my colleagues' opinions.
My game collection also saw some development as I decided to sell the newly acquired Troyes together
with Attika and Tower of Babel, not because they aren't good games (they are!) but because they are not
different enough to get to the table. Instead I added
Tikal and also decided to
With Cosmoclasm completed, I returned to
Iconoclasm and its addition of a mancala mechanism for determining
which elements to play and how they support each other. The
game test was successful and a new version of the
After that I could finally return to Peoples - Civilizations.
The game test confirmed my fear that this game will require a lot of work
to balance but I also like the "sandbox" gameplay so far, where the players get a lot of freedom to form their
strategies to make the best use of the conditions presented to them - just like the real civilizations.
March also turned out to be a very successful month for Nova Suecia Games.
Piecekeeper Games had previously expressed an interest for
Cosmoclasm and now decided to order a copy for evaluation. In addition,
two copies of Demokratia and one copy of Knights & Damosels
were sold. This is the first month where three different games have been sold!
However, the hard work didn't stop my inspiration and two new projects were started as well this month.
First, my attention was caught by two unique Kickstarter
projects that manage to deliver something new in the ever growing game market.
Tao Long combines
the movements of fighting dragons with the mancala mechanism and
Tortuga 1667 combines
social deduction with a board where the players themselves move between the teams. Both games gave inspiration
to a mancala mechanism for Iconoclasm to rule not only which tokens the
players may play but also to let them set the support relations themselves. If it turns out successful, it
will be an interesting example of how completely different games can give inspiration. No matter what, I
decided to back both to acknowledge my gratefulness.
Second, a War Game Exhibit at
the local Army Museum together with reading about supply challenges during Charles XII's Russian Campaign
gave inspiration to an additional supply layer in
Bellum se ipsum alet. Currently, the army's supply is drawn from the cities
but what if it's drawn from the countryside instead, where gold from the citizens must be exchanged for food
from the farmers (but also exhaust the land, forcing the army to be constantly on the move to find new
supplies)? That's an intriguing war economy mechanism I haven't seen before and simply too intriguing not to
pursue. It also gives me an excuse to once more return to the six "original" Nova Suecia games for reengineering
following the successes with Nova Suecia, Christina Regina,
Vasa Regalis and Tre Kronor Infernum.
Last but certainly not least, Nova Suecia Games celebrated its third birthday with an offer to give
away three games. As I concluded last month, I will be busy this year too and expect at least three more year...
The first month of the year got productive. There was a good discussion at my
Peoples - Civilizations and the design work proceeded well,
although I was
reminded one of the reasons I dislike designing component heavy games - creating dozens of unique
tiles and cards takes time. Nevertheless, I carefully selected suitable icons from
Game-icons.net for all the game's needs
and completed all the 80 tiles (each with
a unique combination of resources) and half of the 60 cards (15 for each of the two first Ages).
With that, I expected to start the test game when I was interrupted by a spark of inspiration
similar to the ones that triggered my earlier game designs. I had played through some of my latest
(The Great Zimbabwe,
Torres) and found
several ideas I would like to use. It was particularly Taj Mahal together with the previously
acquired China and The King is Dead that helped me see how I could use some area control ideas
I've had since Iconoclasm and the entire game designed itself in
my head during my bike ride to work. After just a few tests, tweaks and tunings that I discuss more
in detail in the designer notes, the new game
(named after Iconoclasm, although the theme is different) felt good enough to proceed with.
I've also decided to submit it to the
Trick Taker Challenge,
a contest I previously had rejected due to not even having played any good trick taker game. Now
I haven't only played some but also designed one!
Another game that was submitted to a contest was
Apokalypsis, which turned out to be suitable for the
PnP Game Design Awards 2016 for PnP
games being developed on during 2016.
(Actually, all of my games fulfills those criteria but I chose my most popular game for this.).
My second most popular game, Find the Bug!, found another buyer this
month, probably thanks to its exposure during the
EuroSTAR Software Testing Conference,
and I'll soon have to consider a large print run for this popular and eye-catching test game.
Sadly, this also meant less time for my two other games targeted for this year.
My abstract game Lucca got simpler and more streamlined rules after some
tests, including two action turns tower composition linked to block
composition instead of the more clumsy "balanced tower" requirement. However, the new tests are yet to
be completed while poor
Politeia has remained on the shelf for months now, although I really
think its unique mancala mechanism has potential. I will be busy this year too...