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Review for One – Dreams of Tomorrow

Thank you for checking review #71 by Cardboard Clash. My aim is to focus on reviewing board games and how they play for two people and, on occasion, how they play for one person. Because my wife is my primary gaming partner, a lot of consideration goes into finding those games that play well with 2 players, and we typically prefer to find those games that do not require a variant (official or otherwise) in order to play it with just the two of us.

**Note: a review prototype of the game was provided in exchange for an honest review.

The game is on Kickstarter: http://weirdgiraffe.games/DreamsKS22

An Overview of Dreams of Tomorrow

 

box cover

Dreams of Tomorrow is a game designed by Philip Falcon Perry and will be published by Weird Giraffe Games in 2019. The box states that it can play 1-6 players and has a 45 minute play time.

Gameplay differences for 1 Player

You are playing against the score of a Robot player, who has three difficulty ratings available. Each Robot difficulty has a different set of instructions, which essentially tell you how many spaces it will move, what types of spaces it will stop on (hint: it stops on the same 2 space types for all difficulties), what happens when it does its action. It also has you use two cubes of another color to track its turns which, essentially serve as a method for its score.

 

So while this robot is not competing for scoring the same way as the player, it serves as a clock for the player and a measurable bar to try and overcome for scoring. It forces the players to strike a balance between scoring points and ending the game quickly.

Rules Rating

I feel as though I cannot comment on this, as I am credited as one of the contributors to help go through and provide edits and suggestions regarding the rules. Needless to say, I feel they are done well and will be going through them at least one more time now that I have a few more plays of the game under my belt.

My Thoughts

01_Eclipsed-Aftermath_Update#1 (1)

 The rondel system in this game is delightful, and I wish more games would implement rondels. Your meeple moves around this rondel of 4 cards, spanning 8 spaces. Where you land often provides a benefit for you, as well as a benefit for everyone else (Robot players do not gain benefit from your moves, but you can benefit from their moves!). You can move 1-3 spaces for free on your turn, and you can spend those easy-to-gain resources to move further.

 What really sets that rondel apart, though, is that it will not always stay the same. The cards are double sided, and you can gain abilities to flip and/or move the cards, and the Robot will have ways of doing the same. That action space you were planning to use next turn might suddenly be a long ways away from you, requiring an expenditure of resources or taking several turns to get there – all the while hoping it doesn’t move again before that happens. It can be frustrating in all the right ways when your perfect plans get foiled.

 

 The resonance for the set collection is interesting, and was something that I struggled to fully grasp in editing the rulebook. However, it took almost no time during gameplay to figure out how this works. It sounds like there are a ton of points to be scored here, however there is definitely a cap on there. See, each specific card has 4 copies in the deck, meaning that you can never score a set of 5 on both the top and the bottom. It is simply impossible. Which means the best you can hope for is a 5 and a 4, which would require getting all 4 of the exact same card, and one that matches either the top or bottom resonance. That was my first game, by the way. Most games after that had a 4, with the other half getting a 2 and a 3 as a pretty common result.

 One of the best things here is when you weave a dream. This is where you take a dream you’ve caught previously and add it to your eventual string of 5 dreams that you want to have at the end. On one side of every card is its action. When you weave a dream, you can add it either at the far left of your sequence, tucking that action under the other cards and removing it from your selection. Or you put it at the far right, making that the new ability you have. Granted, you can use the ability of dreams you’ve caught and not woven, but I like the decisions presented here as you’re trying to keep a useful ability while working on that set collection aspect.

 Night Mare Mode. Seriously, this adds so much fun to the game, making a mostly predictable sequence of events just a little more interesting. If you love being able to perfectly math out your turns 3-5 in advance, you’ll probably never use this mode. The Robot on its own can muck things up enough as it is. But you’ll be missing out on a fun variant for the game by skipping over this mode.

 The resources are too freely in abundance. I get it was a design choice, but it made it feel too easy to access the higher-point cards. Either they should cost more to gain and build, or the resources should be tapered down just a little. I’m sure it took a lot of playtesting to get here, and that the balance feels better at a higher player count. Then again, with 5 other players potentially triggering resources for you I don’t see how there can ever be an absence of resources.

03_HalcyonCity

 That abundance of resources makes it equally confusing as to why anyone would ever want to take a 2-point card when they could take a 4-5 point card for just a little more in every resource. The only time I did it was when I was trying to end the game and a card in the rondel was moved, making me choose between getting what I could buy now and end the turn on the next round, or play a full cycle around the board. I probably just don’t have the right mentality, situation, or player count to understand it…and that’s okay. But unless I really need the card for set collection, I’m likely to look at my other options instead.

 The Robot’s score is heavily influenced by its turn tracker. I’m not going to say that I cheated, but I’m convinced that I miss moving its cube at least once per game. Its action is just so quick and easy to do, that I jump to that and sometimes forget to do that small, simple bookkeeping. If you are as prone to human error as I am, this could be a problem for you as well. And since it affects both its score, and what happens on certain actions, this could affect your overall experience (even if you never realize it). Bumping is also a very, very dangerous thing to consider.

 I’m all for language independence in games. I’m not going to say this game has iconography on a Race for the Galaxy level or anything, but it has some pretty heavy iconography. So much so that it takes both sides of a card to show them all. However, that isn’t even the real issue. The problem comes in there being only two of these in a game that plays up to 6. Solvable problem here, and I hope they consider adding in extras so that each player can have one.

Final Thoughts

 

08_RunawayCapitalism

I wasn’t supposed to be interested in the game. It always sounded a bit simplistic for what my wife and I usually try out, but after I read the rules I knew it stood a chance. Because the rules didn’t provide much info about the solo play, it had me curious. When Carla asked if I wanted to review the game, I said yes mostly on the strength of the solo experience from both Stellar Leap and Fire in the Library.

I’m glad that I did.

Carla does it again with developing a solo mode that is interesting, challenging in the right ways, and leaves you ready to challenge it again. I wasn’t convinced after my first play against the Easy difficulty, but I’ve come to accept that I had a perfect run of luck on that one based on the other plays since that one. The Medium mode cranks things up enough to make you uncomfortable, and Hard is downright frustrating to any plans you’re hoping to make. In all the right ways. They all use the same core mechanics for the Robot player, just refining what happens when the Robot does certain things. Which is why Hard takes 2 cards.

I’m here to say that Carla from Weird Giraffe Games is designing some underrated solo experiences, and if you play solo games at all you NEED to pick up one of these games. This one has the least input randomness of the three I mentioned, and it still delivers an unpredictable and fun experience.

And then comes the Night Mare. Holy crap, that takes a fun game and cranks it to eleven. Well, unless you hate randomness. My wife would never play with the Night Mare mode. I would guarantee that right now. But for a solo game, sometimes adding in that extra element really enhances the experience.

Dreams of Tomorrow is a nice, fun, light game with amazing aesthetics. I love rondels, and this one has a small but pleasant rondel that sees plenty of use during your plays. This would be a great game with more players, but the fact that it stands up as a solo game is reassuring. If you want a game that is quick to setup and play, looks great on the table, and has multiple difficulties to challenge your abilities – this is a game you should definitely check out.

 

Again, this game is on Kickstarter: http://weirdgiraffe.games/DreamsKS22

***

Hopefully you found this article to be a useful look at Dreams of Tomorrow. If you’re interested in providing support for Cardboard Clash so I can continue to improve what we offer, check out my page over on Patreon: http://www.patreon.com/CardboardClash.

Check out more of our reviews at the following Geeklist and be sure to let me know what you thought of this game.

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/220300/cardboard-clas

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Prayers for Elowen – 9/21/18 Update

My apologies for the long delay between updates on here. All has progressed better than the doctors expected since Wednesday night. All of the prayers, messages, and shares have reached us and helped us work through the chaos and emotions of this time. She’s doing fantastic and has had sets of visitors since yesterday afternoon. I’m sharing the three updates my wife messaged out to people, with the first being what was sent last night and progressing up to the one sent out tonight. I will do my best to provide another update tomorrow if there appears to be an interest in keeping tabs on her well-being.

Confused? Check out the first post and the first update regarding Elowen.

Thank you all, and God bless!

-David, Nicole, Archer, and Elowen Wiley

***

Elowen got her procedure to drain the kidneys today around 1:30. It took about 2 hours. She was sedated before, during and still sedated now, resting and the sedation is going to slowly work its way out of her system. Though they don’t want her very awake anyway so that she rests.

It is hard seeing her not moving much. Haven’t gotten to see her eyes open, David has though. Going from feeling her move in my belly to barely being able to touch her is rough at times.

With the kidneys draining her belly is beginning to deflate and is looking so much better! Love that, that pressure is going down. It will hopefully give her more room to breath on her own as well.

They will reevaluate the kidneys tomorrow with ultrasound and also look at the blockage they think are in her ureters.

I am recovering well. Walking on my own, though on pain medication. I was pretty emotional this morning but a nap helped.

My milk production isn’t as strong as it was but it will hopefully go back up soon. They still are not feeding her yet, just an iv, so i’m not too concerned about not having milk for her.

She is doing really well, better than they expected.

Please continue your prayers! Still have a long road.

Thank you all so much for your support!!

***

They are happy with how well her kidneys have drained. They are still unsure on if the kidneys have been damaged but she has made some urine production since the drain. They think about 80-100 ml of urine made since drain.

They plan on doing another ultrasound today to look at them more now that the swelling is down and to look at the possible blocks as well.

If you remember she was 13 pounds at birth due to the amount of fluid in her kidneys, she is now weighing 9.8 pounds after drain! That is a much better newborn weight that will be going down in my records! She is a chunky little thing!

There next course of action is to have surgery sometime this weekend or monday to place a PD catheter in her belly. This is for dialysis if she should need it later on incase the kidneys are not healthy. They want to get it in and have it healed before it comes to her needing dialysis. She may end up not needing it at all but even if she does this is the type of dialysis that she can eventually come home on.

They are going to start giving her my breast milk slowly through the ivs in her belly button to let her gut get use to it. Only about 3 teaspoons a day but so happy she will begin to get it. All of her nourishment will still be through her iv though.

Her lungs are doing well enough that they will be weaning her off the ventilator slowly this weekend.

They are also going to be weaning her off the morphine so she will hopefully be more alert and less sleepy soon.

The genetics team wanted to wait till swelling goes down before they assess if she has dwarfism. They will take more precise measurements soon and possibly run blood work but she is so much more proportional now that her stomach is down that we are hopeful she will have a normal skeletal system.

There is still a lot going on but she is strong and she is surprising the doctors alot! God is healing her with their help!Thank you so much for your continued prayers!

***

Her surgery is scheduled 8am tomorrow. Should take about 2 hours. Everything should go smoothly. There is always risks but they don’t seem worried. Prayers are always good and appreciated. We will have a update on surgery and her plan of the day by noonish tomorrow.

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Prayers for Elowen – 9/19/18 Update

Because it is late, this will be brief:

Elowen was born at 2:51 pm, is 18 inches long and weighs 13 pounds! Most of that weight is from the fluid trapped in her Kidneys. Her stomach is so large! It is scary to see! They plan on draining the kidneys tomorrow and will hopefully have a more accurate weight afterwards. They believe she has a blocked valve in both sides of bladder which has been causing the fluid retention in the kidneys. They are going to see about doing a procedure tomorrow to correct that. No word yet on how the kidneys are functioning.She is currently on a ventilator for breathing so we can not hold her. Might be a few days until they take her off that. They say she is doing so much better than they thought she would with breathing. Hopefully the the kidney drain will help the pressure on lungs and she will breath better. They are not currently feeding her mommy’s breast milk but pumping is going well. She does have dwarfism just do not know what kind yet. Do not have more to say right now. Thank you all for the prayers! Will update again when we know more!

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Prayers for Elowen

I’ve been torn on writing this for a while, but I find this cannot delay any longer. For those who are only here for the board games and don’t wish to read anything more personal, full disclosure: this is a 100% personal post.

I had planned on writing something lengthy, uplifting, and faith-filled in contrast to the uncertain situation we have found ourselves in right now, but I think conciseness (for a change) is the best approach here.

Tomorrow (September 19th, 2018), our daughter will be born at 37 weeks into my wife’s pregnancy. We have had a really rough pregnancy, with talk our daughter having Down Syndrome (ultimately tested and came back negative), skeletal dysplasia (commonly associated with dwarfism), underdeveloped lungs, and severely enlarged kidneys. The talks have ranged from “she might prove us all wrong and do just fine” to “you may only have hours with her” and everything in between. We’re having a scheduled c-section at a hospital about 90 minutes away from home and are optimistically looking at several weeks or months with her staying there in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

This uncertainty about what trials we, as a family, may face when she is born has been weighing heavily on our hearts and our minds for several months now. We have a 2-year-old boy (Archer) whose life may also be about to change in ways he can’t expect. All of that uncertainty will end, in one way or another, tomorrow.

If you have provided us with a review copy of a game, I ask for your patience as we try to figure out what our lives will look like going forward. I have a list, and several of them are ready to be reviewed as soon as I have the time to write them and those should appear soon enough. There are others that still need played more before I feel comfortable with a review, and that timeline is something I cannot commit to yet.

But ultimately why I am writing this, and all I am genuinely asking for, are prayers. I believe in God and have a strong faith. It has been tested these past few months and has come out even stronger than it was before. I am firm in my conviction that, no matter God’s plan for our little Elowen, it was according to his plan and we will one day be able to look back and see the reasons for our pain and tears throughout this process.

But as we approach the time where my daughter will come into this world, I am convinced that we cannot have enough people praying for her to be a fighter and to come out strong. I’ve wanted a daughter for so long now, and I pray she will get that chance to grow and be a presence in our home. Here are the messages my wife, Nicole, sent out yesterday regarding Elowen and her conditions:

Had appointments in Iowa city today. Elowen’s kidney’s are bigger than 2 weeks ago so there is still concern there. I am also starting to have excess swelling and higher blood pressure. Not currently having preeclampsia but borderline. They have decided due to Elowen’s stomach size that I should have a c-section so she does not get stuck coming out vaginally. Also due to the blood pressure I am having the c-section will be this Wednesday the 19th which is 37 weeks gestation. Do not know the time yet. They are still unsure about how she will do after birth. I had a steroid shot today to help with her lungs and getting another tomorrow. Lots of prayers needed especially for her when she is born since we do not know what God’s plan is for her life here. Thank you all for your prayers!

***

Sorry about my short post earlier about the baby. Wanted to get some prayers in. Throughout my pregnancy Elowen has had many medical concerns. Her most pressing concern is she has very enlarged kidney’s. Doctors are concerned on if they are working properly. She may need dialysis or surgery after birth or a kidney transplant later on. Due to the fact that her kidneys are so enlarged, therefore making her stomach enlarged, it is putting a lot of pressure on her lungs, which may cause them not to work well. She also may have a form of skeletal dysplasia (dwarfism.) I was originally going to be induced October 3rd because of all of this but now I have started to develop high blood pressure and swelling. Not yet preeclampsia but borderline. Due to this they have decided to do an c-section on Wednesday the 19th. This is 37 weeks gestation which is not too early but still early, and with her health concerns we are unsure of Elowen’s future. We may be in the NICU for a week or months or she may pass away at birth. I do know, weather you believe it or not, that God is powerful and his power is supernatural. If it is his will he can heal her. It is all up to his plan for her life here though! I ask that we all be calling on his name and that power in the next few days to heal Elowen if it is his will.

I want to thank you, in advance, if you are reading this and you say a prayer or two for Elowen. Whether you pray or not, your sharing of this post is equally appreciated so that it may reach more eyes and receive more prayers than it ever could through my own efforts.

Look for an update, possibly with pictures, a little later this week as we find out how she does and get a better idea of what the next weeks and months have in store for us. Thank you and God bless you for prayers and for sharing. If you have any questions, you can reach out to me directly via email at: cardboardclash7@gmail.com

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Update on 9/19: Elowen was born at 2:51 pm, is 18 inches long and weighs 13 pounds! Most of that weight is from the fluid trapped in her Kidneys. Her stomach is so large! It is scary to see! They plan on draining the kidneys tomorrow and will hopefully have a more accurate weight afterwards. They believe she has a blocked valve in both sides of bladder which has been causing the fluid retention in the kidneys. They are going to see about doing a procedure tomorrow to correct that. No word yet on how the kidneys are functioning.She is currently on a ventilator for breathing so we can not hold her. Might be a few days until they take her off that. They say she is doing so much better than they thought she would with breathing. Hopefully the the kidney drain will help the pressure on lungs and she will breath better. They are not currently feeding her my breast milk but pumping is going well. She does have dwarfism just do not know what kind yet.Do not have more to say right now. Will probably keep to no visitors right now apart from our parents. Thank you all for the prayers! Will update again when we know more!

Board Gaming · Gen Con 2018 · Uncategorized

Gen Con 2018 Recap – Day Two

Friday marked my one and only full day at Gen Con, and I was determined to never leave the area throughout the day. I was successful in that task, although it was a painful and exhausting process. I still have the soreness and bruising to show for it, and this day taught me a LOT of lessons that I’ll use going forward if I return to Gen Con.

Day One Recap
Day Three Recap

Math Trade

I made a mistake in listing way too many items. Of those, I traded 12, plus a few other things I sold in the marketplace that I had to lug 3/4 of a mile to the trade location. Three bags of stuff. Boy, it was heavy. Then I walked about 1/2 a mile to the convention center and shuttled back to my car. It was a packed area, an in spite of the immense crowd it was relatively well run and I was able to make all my trades and head back out in under an hour. So I consider that a bonus, since I had to find about 24 different people.

Carla Kopp, Weird Giraffe Games

Carla was on my must-meet list and I specifically sought her out early after the Hall opened. It was great interacting with her, as she’s been really receptive to solitaire gaming and I helped provide some feedback during Stellar Leap’s testing that might have impacted its solo progression. The time was short, though, as she was the one manning her small section of a booth and I didn’t want to prevent her from making sales. It was incredible seeing the final product with Stellar Leap, though. Sadly, when I tried to get with her later she was teaching a game and I was at a point of exhaustion myself so I never made it back in to catch up more. Next time, I’ll be better prepared so that I’m not lugging around such cumbersome items and will be able to stay longer and move around better.

Carthago, Capstone Games

One of my top must-try games for the Convention was Carthago by Capstone Games. And as luck would have it, I was able to try it out with 2 players! The ships available in the ports, and the number of seats to purchase, both scale based on player count. There are also some dummy discs that go on the action selection space, essentially making certain actions cost a little more to use. This was every bit as fun as I anticipated, and after much debate on which Capstone title to bring home I settled on this one. I love the market of cards, and how they can be used for the actions depicted, the goods shown, or the value of money. Multi-use cards are the best, after all. You get 15 actions over the course of the game, promising a very tight experience. I played an Age, which was 5 of those actions, and played those poorly but still had fun and could see the incredible experiences that await us when we play this one. It’ll be hitting the table tonight, in fact, being the first game I punched and prepped after I got home from Gen Con.

Call to Adventure, Brotherwise Games

I wanted to sit down and demo this game, but never got the chance because there was always a crowd surrounding the table and they were always just starting in on the games. But I did take 15 minutes to observe as it was being played, so that I could at least report back some here.

The game looks like it will uphold the fun that it promises in the campaign. I didn’t see a single thing to deter me from how the game’s experience will be. I’m excited, as a fantasy genre fan, to hear that the Stormlight Archive is going to be an expansion for it in 2019. However…

I can’t picture this being a game my wife would want to play. I’ve tried and failed in the past with games that had any emphasis on storytelling, and while it is a side feature of it some of the appeal would be in actually coming up with stories after a game ends. This game is one I would love to pieces, but she would likely only play it when forced to do so. The runes looked like fun to cast, but she’d associate them too much with being dice.

So if I picked this up, it would probably be for solo play and to use with friends. Thankfully, I know a friend who is as big into Stormlight Archive as I am, so this might have to be something I pick up to play with him when that arrives in 2019. Watching this played confirmed everything I expected to see, which is a good thing for the game. If you’ve been on the fence for the game, I think you may be pleased with how this one turns out.

Mystic Vale: Havens event, Alderac Entertainment Group

The event was cancelled. This was something I discovered only after walked clear across the convention center to the corner of Hall A, rushing to beat the noon start time. I get that things happen to prevent an event from being able to be held. But this was one of two events I was super excited for, and my disappointment at hearing this was cancelled, only after getting to the table, was tremendous. I was told something about an offer to get sleeves instead, paying just shipping, but in my frustration I can’t be sure. Nor can I find my worthless ticket to the event. So I’m out $6, and still so very sad. I LOVE Mystic Vale, and they promised stuff to take home as part of the event. But the bright side was it bought me a little time.

Escape Plan, Eagle-Gryphon Games

This was another must-see game on my list after my glowing experience with the other Vital Lacerda games. Unfortunately, the game was only on display and not for actual playing. However, I was able to talk at length with Randal Lloyd, the Marketing Director for Eagle-Gryphon Games. He showed off the mechanisms in the game, and did a great job of explaining how the game will function. Like any Vital Lacerda game, the core action choices are simple but the interactions and ripples from those actions are what makes the game incredible. This is a “lighter” game design, but still quite a meaty, thinky game. The components looked incredible, and the game is going to have quite an impressive presence on the table. I love the premise of the game, having performed a heist as a group and you start playing at the point where it has become every thief for themselves in trying to avoid capture and escape the premise with as much loot as possible.

It has a modular board that is built by the players over the course of the game. There are 3 exit tiles, but only one of them will be revealed as the true exit. There are asymmetric player goals. You can influence and recruit the gangs to help distract the police, you can bribe the police, you can put on disguises, and so much more in your attempts to thrive. I am so sad this wasn’t playable, as I am seriously excited for this game after seeing it in person and hearing it explained. Don’t miss out on your opportunity to back this one on Kickstarter. It is going to be excellent, as every Lacerda game has already been.

Bosk, Floodgate Games

This one came by happenstance, as I knew a local gamer (Josh of the Board Boys Podcast…be sure to check their podcast out. It is FANTASTIC listening every 2 weeks, and they almost exclusively play games in the BGG Top 100 and give their thoughts after playing the game) would be at the Floodgate booth volunteering his time. He was showing off Bosk, which was very much in prototype form but looked pretty interesting. The game is played over two halves, with the first being placement of trees onto the board on the corner intersections of squares. Scoring happens based on majority in each vertical and horizontal row (so essentially every tree helps score on two lines).

After that it moves into the falling leaves phase, where the wind direction is dictating where the leaves fall, and players start off their 1-value trees and move up to the 4-value trees by playing a card to determine essentially how many leaves are placed down. So if I played a 4 card, I would get to make a path of 4 leaves on squares going in the direction of the wind. Each placement essentially has two options from the tree, and then from there three options. Let’s see if I can make a visual:

Wind ->>>

Placement beginning from the corner between the two 1’s on the grid below. The number with an * indicates the placement, the other numbers show the other placement options.

1 2 *4
*1 2 *3 4
*2 3 4
3

So as you could hopefully see, there are plenty of options to spread out from a single tree. The snag comes if you want to place on a space where someone else’s leaf already exists. It costs you an extra movement per leaf on that space, so to put yours on top of an existing leaf would be 2 of the movement. So on, going up. Only the topmost leaf, at the end of the game, will score points so there is room for some pretty aggressive play here. Finally, there is a squirrel card which lets you place a squirrel on any space without a squirrel. That secures the space for you, regardless of what is showing on the leaf pile, so it is a powerful one-time play.

This one was a fun little game, and I enjoyed the demo of it. It sounded simple at first, but I can see where some competition can jockey into the game for certain spaces, and how things can get very tight since all leaves are blowing in the same direction on a turn. I also like how the board shrinks based on player count, simply making the box a little smaller to play in with 2 but keeping everything else in tact. Photosynthesis failed to impress me, but this might be a much better tree-themed game to have in a collection. The game should be on Kickstarter late this year, and I can’t wait to see what this is going to look like when it is closer to that finished product.

Jason Tagmire, Button Shy Games

This man deserves a separate entry here, because I was able to chat with him a while as we walked to find a table to play on. As with everyone else, he turned out to be a really awesome guy to get to know, and it really pleased me to hear that he’s finding his niche market to be the 1-2 player count. Since that aligns so perfectly with my channel’s focus, I’m hoping to take a lot of looks at future Button Shy titles (and digging into their past catalog, too!) So titles like Ahead in the Clouds, Avignon: A Clash of Popes, Herotec, Pentaquark, That Snow Moon, and Twin Stars: Adventure Series all might be ones I’ll pick up in the future to play and add to the collection. And future titles, like Liberation and Penny Rails, will be must-buy games for me. The games themselves are good, but what really sold me on the company was talking to this guy for 20 minutes while we walked. I love his passion and dedication, and I can’t wait to watch Button Shy continue to grow and thrive in a market where everyone seems to want massive, miniature-filled games.

It might be time to kick around some 18-card game ideas soon…

Liberation, Button Shy Games

Have you played Star Wars: Rebellion? Meet the miniature version of that game, packed into 18 cards. Yes, it is possible. Yes, it is a lot of fun. It shouldn’t work, but it does and it delivers in spectacular fashion. He played as the Liberation, and I was tasked with finding his base. And, as it only fitting, I lost. On my last turn, I could attack one of two spaces. I chose wrong, as his base was on the planet I didn’t attack.

My other biggest regret was not having more time to play it again, but I was cutting it close to the next appointment. The art on here is great, and the only thing it truthfully might need would be a small player aid that defines some of the terms used as I had to look at the rules sheet quite a bit to make sure I was doing it right. But that would make this a 20-card game, which would go against the mold. I expect most people will need to do the same, though, for their first few plays. After that, I imagine it will be a lot better.

Circle the Wagons, Button Shy Games

I’ll keep this one brief. After talking a little about Sprawlopolis, which I enjoyed and reviewed, he asked if I have played Circle the Wagons. I hadn’t so he pulled it out and we played a quick round. Like, 5 minutes from overview to completion. Clever game, and takes the things I liked about Sprawlopolis and implemented them into a competitive format that I think my wife might like. He sent me home with a copy, and more thoughts on this will definitely follow in the future. If you liked Sprawlopolis, you’ll enjoy this as well.

Cardboard of the Rings Listener Event

My time here was cut to nothing by everything before and after this. Seriously, it was a 5 minute sprint across the hall to the area they were at so I could get my ticket for the Wizard’s Quest event on Saturday. But they still wanted me to get some swag if I had some generic tickets, so I gladly dropped $4 worth of those in for the most impressive item I took home. This box is the crown jewel in my Lord of the Rings LCG collection right now. I really wish I hadn’t booked so much stuff in this time slot so that I could have spent time there getting to know them all better.

Crusader Kings, Paradox Interactive

I felt fancy for these next two demos, as they were conducted in a private dining room at a restaurant a few minutes off-site from the Convention Center. It took a lot longer to walk there than I expected, but I was glad to arrive and find they hadn’t started without me. The game looked nice on the table, especially considering it wasn’t a final product or anything. It looked to be a bit of a table hog, but for a game with a Medieval theme and ambitious enough to try and capture a legacy across generations, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

The theme is something that really appealed to me. I haven’t played the computer game this is based upon, but that doesn’t appear to be necessary for the enjoyment of the game. The map is small and tight, but the focus looks like it will be as much on family legacy as it is about conquest. Each round has players drafting cards from several decks, each one containing 1-2 action types. Each card also has an event that will trigger upon the use of the card, and not all of those events are good. And not all of them will target you. So you can see what areas the other players are drafting heavily into, and make a strategy around that. There is also a small bag-building element with tokens that have traits and are either good (green) or bad (red) traits to have. These tokens enter into play during combat, crusades, and even marriage. It promises to be an interesting approach, and this demo was definitely cut too short. It was enough, though, to raise my interest in the game a little more.

Europa Universalis, Paradox Interactive

The other half of the table had this game, and it had a very busy board with discs and cubes of four colored factions throughout. This one is further from completion, but we got a longer sample of this game (at least it felt that way). Right now this experience was hindered without any sort of player aid listing the possible actions, so we kept things pretty standard overall. We got to see some conflict resolve, and some rebels took foot in England. There were some marriages, some trading for funds, and many of us hired some infantry and cavalry in our armies and hired generals. This game was being explained as a historical-flavored Twilight Imperium or Eclipse experience. Having played neither of those, I cannot confirm nor deny the accuracy of that statement. However, I can see how this sets the stage for a long and interesting epic of warfare and influence. It is like Risk in a small sense, but far more interesting and with many more layers added to the game. I came in more interested in Crusader Kings, but I might be as interested in this one when it arrives in (hopefully) 2019 on Kickstarter.

Lord of the Rings: The Card Game, Asmodee Digital & Luke Walaszek, Fantasy Flight Interactive

I won’t keep it secret, nor keep it safe. This is what I wanted in a digital reimplementation of one of my favorite board games. It does so many things right, providing an entry point into the game for someone who has never played the LCG, while also offering some fun and fresh challenges and experiences for the veteran player. If you’ve played Hearthstone, or any of the other multitude of digital “CCG” games, you’ll find some similarities in here with marshaling troops onto the board and choosing who attacks what. You’ll also notice it does a back-and-forth action sequence between the player and Sauron. This is a great change for the digital format.

Some people may have wanted a straight port of the LCG into a digital model, but I don’t think that would have been the right move. It would have made things hard to follow on the screen, for one, as the game progressed. Furthermore, it would have offered very little to current players that they couldn’t already obtain with their collection or on the existing digital tabletop platforms. No, I think they made the right choice here.

This was HARD. I thought I was doing really well, and then things progressed and it all started to fall apart on me. Getting a challenge out of the demo was a reassuring moment.

Also, I got to talk to Luke quite a bit during the time for this and his enthusiasm for the game and getting it right was to be commended. I wasn’t sure, going in, if I would be interested at all in the digital version of the card game. After all, if I am going to be playing a game at home I would rather set up the physical product and sit down to play the game. However, I can see this being a game I could play when I have a limited window for relaxing, playing through a quick quest or two when I can’t set up and play something bigger on the table. I went from being not at all interested in shelling out $99 for the Limited Collector’s Edition, but now I am very tempted. It would get me early access to the game, unlock some Founder’s Packs, and get me a 2-player set that can only be obtained through this bundle.

Coming from someone who left computer and video games behind about 2 years ago, this speaks volumes about the game. It is good. Not quite the same as the game I’ve come to know and love, but it shares the right similarities and has the right differences to allow it to thrive harmoniously with the LCG.

Mario Sacchi, designer of Wendake

The final scheduled meeting of the day for me, and one I didn’t know what to expect. I hadn’t played any of Mario’s games, but I was very interested in Wendake due to the worker placement and the Native American theme. He was looking to meet interested reviewers, and that one game was enough to make me interested to meet him and discuss whatever he had in mind.

Let’s just say that I’m very, very glad I did.

He started by showing me an overview of the upcoming Wendake expansion which will add French and English forces that can be recruited as allies. It was really interesting, and I love the idea of bartering furs (a Native American resource) for firearms (from the allies).

But the star of the time together was a preview of a game he has coming in the future, which has a working title of Masamune. Worker placement. Recipe fulfillment. And the theme is that you are crafting swords in Feudal Japan. Yep, I can’t think of another game like it. And the most interesting part of the game involves a personal player board where you are placing the swords that you need to craft and how future actions will move them across and down the board to make them more valuable.

Since it is an early enough prototype I don’t want to spoil too much here, as a lot can change between now and its kickstarter. But it sounds like Cardboard Clash will get a copy to review prior to that Kickstarter launching, and so you should be very, very excited for this one. It is going to be a great, thinky game for a collection.

And I almost forgot to mention that Mario designs all of his games to play well with 1-2 players (apart from party games, etc.) so that is a huge win. I’m going to be working really hard to get my hands on Wendake in the future so I can get some plays of that in, and hopefully try out that expansion once it drops. Knowing that the game should deliver an excellent experience at our primary player counts is a huge benefit. I am honored he wanted to sit down with me and show me these two things, and I am looking forward to playing any of these types of games he wants to design.

Fantastiqa: Rival Realms, Eagle-Gryphon Games

The first time I stopped at the Eagle-Gryphon booth I made my first game purchase of the convention when I picked up this little 1-2 player game. I’ve been wanting to get Fantastiqa for quite some time now, and still want to get that in my collection. However, I couldn’t pass up this game based on the player count and the price. So when I found myself sitting alone later that evening, I popped this open and started to set it up while going through the rule book. A young boy who couldn’t have been older than 12, came up to investigate based on the box. He sat down and wanted to play. I explained I didn’t know how yet, but if he was willing we could learn together.

And so, after a short stint through the rules, we were off and playing. The gameplay on this one is simple in concept, but not necessarily so easy in execution for the players. You have three rows that will ultimately hold up to six cards each, making it so you’re trying to be the first to get down 18 cards on your side. There are some clever twists, though, in that you need each row to play in ascending order. There are cards numbered from 1-50 in the deck, each appearing once. Across those 50 cards, there are 5 different terrain types and your adventurer can explore a card only if you discard a card matching the terrain type they are moving onto. Those discarded cards go to a pile in front of your opponent, which they can draw from, meaning you need to consider if the card you spend is the one they might need. There are mountains blocking your path from row to row, so you need to make sure you consider how to adventure vertically since you cannot backtrack on the same turn. There are quest cards you can earn by fulfilling certain conditions. There are tokens to collect via adventuring for special abilities or to use in place of a terrain card. And you score more points by having the same terrain side-by-side and explored, adding another layer to consider for end game incentive.

Overall, I couldn’t be more delighted about my purchase of this game. It will likely sit alongside Hanamikoji as one of my favorite small-box thinky filler games in my collection. I can’t wait to try it solo, to teach my wife the game, and to add in some of the other elements that it recommended leaving out for the first play. There is plenty of decision space in a simple game, providing exactly what I hoped for in this box. The only real complaint so far is that this does require a fair amount of table space, which was in short supply at the Convention but should be no issue at all when at home. But it is likely not a game that travels well to a restaurant given the space it requires.

Day One Recap
Day Three Recap

Board Gaming · One-Player Only · Review for One · Solo Gaming · Solo Month · Uncategorized

Review for One (& two) – Circuit Breaker

Thank you for checking review #56 by Cardboard Clash. My aim is to focus on reviewing board games and how they play for two people and, on occasion, how they play for one person. Because my wife is my primary gaming partner, a lot of consideration goes into finding those games that play well with 2 players, and we typically prefer to find those games that do not require a variant (official or otherwise) in order to play it with just the two of us.

**A prototype of the game was sent for review purposes. Opinions remain our own.

An Overview of Circuit Breaker

Circuit Breaker is a game designed by Peter Mariutto and was published by Freshwater Game Company. The box states that it can play 1-3 players and has a 30-45 minute play time.

Circuit Breaker is a casual strategy game that can be played solo or with up to two other friends. All players attempt to successfully re-wire their own houses in time for a hastily scheduled house party, and will score points by connecting a variety of quirky electrical doodads to their home circuits. Resource management and a crafty rodent will be put to use in a fun and cheeky race to be the most ‘happening’ place on the block.

—description from the publisher

Setup and gameplay for 1 Player

Lay out the party favor tiles and place the corresponding cubes on those tiles. Shuffle the Wire stack and place it face-down, and lay out two cards from the top of it next to that stack. Shuffle the Appliance stack and place if face-down beside the Wire stack. Place a breaker box in front of you. Stack the round tokens in ascending order. Deal yourself a secret objective card, 2 Appliance tiles, and a Wire tile. Take a mouse and 8 dice, and setup is complete.

The object is to score as many points as you can before the end of the 4th round. You’ll roll all 8 dice and then start taking one of four actions:

Buy a tile or Party Favor – spend 1 or more dice to take one of the 3 available Wire tiles or a Party Favor, matching the value spent exactly.

Trade for Appliance – Discard an Appliance card from your hand to take the top card off the Appliance stack into your hand. Or you can trade 4 value in Party Favors to look at the top 3 Appliance cards and keep one, putting the other two on the bottom of the stack.

Place up to 2 Tiles – Put 1-2 tiles from your hand out onto your network, making sure everything connects properly (1-wire to 1-wire, 3-wire to 3-wire, etc.)

Move the Mouse – Subtract 2 from an active die to move the mouse. The die must be used for a purchase on the same turn and must happen before movement. Then, the tile that the mouse was on is taken back into the player’s hand. That appliance cannot go back in its old spot on the next action.

Play continues until all 8 dice have been spent, at which point the round ends. Reroll all dice, draw an appliance card, and remove a round counter.

At the end of the game you score 1 point per single appliance not on your objective card, 3 points for each non-objective pair of appliances, 3 points for a single appliance on your objective card, and 9 points for a pair of appliances on your objective card. You also score points for the value of your remaining party favors, divided in half and rounded down (ex. 15 points in favors, divided by 2 = 7)

Changes for a 2-3 player game

Each player gets 6 dice. On a player’s turn they may complete each of the four actions once (so they take 1-4 actions). There is a mousetrap token that can be moved in the same manner as the mouse.

Placing the mouse on another player’s tile will allow you, when you move the mouse again, to bring that tile into your hand. Placing it on their breaker box will allow you, when you move the mouse again, to steal a tile from their hand. Moving the mousetrap onto a mouse will send it back to the appliance stack without losing your tile.

As soon as a player cannot make at least two actions the round ends and progresses in the same manner as above.

My Thoughts

 This game shines with another player at the table. The push-pull with the mouse is what really makes this game come alive. It becomes a fun exercise of trying to decide when to place those key appliances and how early to put out a pair or anything else that might become a target. Using the mouse trap is a great defensive addition, and this interaction here is what is really lacking in a solo game of Circuit Breaker. But I wanted to emphasize that there is a significant difference between the solo game and the 2-player game.

 I like the requirement to move the mouse being to not only reduce a die by 2, but to also immediately make a purchase using that die. The mouse can play a small part in opening up spaces on the board in a solo game, but it becomes a critical element in the 2-3 player game experience. The cost to move it presents some interesting decisions along the way, which is something that is otherwise limited throughout the game.

 There are only three ways to get those critical appliance cards: discard an appliance from your hand to draw a new one, or discard 4 value of Party Favors to draw 3 and keep 1, and you draw one at the end of each round. Well, apart from the mouse being on the top of the Appliance stack, too, which will get you a card once it is moved off there, so technically there are four ways. But for the majority of the game, it is only two. One is simple and costs you little but it is slow. The other costs you something you have to purchase with those dice, which is your finite resource to gain wires in order to expand your network.

 You can’t do the same action twice in a row, which prevents you from endlessly digging for those appliance cards. That means you either need to play cards or spend dice in between that desperate search. And in order to play cards, you’ll need to buy those wires, which cost dice to gain (up to 8 value!) and can bring the round to an end even faster. I like that the game requires you to change things up each turn, which will eventually bring that round to an end no matter how much you might wish otherwise.

 Scoring is relatively simple and straight-forward, rewarding you for placing pairs of appliances and for placing the appliances on your objective card. You also score for those leftover Party Favors, which is a nice touch and allows you to spend those “garbage” dice on something meaningful toward the end of the game if you don’t need wires to place appliances.

 I find the theme and the art to be really fun in this one. Honestly, that is what hooked me when they reached out to me. I think some people might be turned off by the theme, but they shouldn’t be. Unique ideas to a game’s theme, and some fun and vibrant art like the art in this game, should be rewarded and encouraged.

 That appliance deck can really suck. Like, brutally suck. There is a pretty thick stack of appliances and you’re looking for 4 specific appliances. There are a total of 8 cards in there you need because each appliance appears twice. Good luck trying to get that appliance you desperately need, because the odds are against you. And since a non-objective appliance is only worth 1 point (unless you get them both out), the game seems to encourage you to toss cards over and over until you dig up what you needed all along. I like that it is costly in resources to cycle that faster, but every game I’ve played started to feel like a challenge to see how fast I can get lucky and draw that card I needed.

 Dice. I didn’t even try to teach this to my wife after my first two solo plays of this one because I just knew. If the dice in Euphoria: Build a Better Dystopia and in Ars Alchimia bother her, there is no way she’ll like them in this one. Yes, if you are really unlucky and roll a lot of the same number the rules allow you to reroll. But there is no manipulation of those dice once they are rolled. If I roll a combination that is almost all 1-3 and you roll almost all 4-6, I’m way behind. My buying power is effectively half, at best, what yours is for the round so you’ll be able to get those wires (especially if they are all 7-8 cost) and party favors you need for “cheap” whereas it’ll cost me more dice to get the same things. No die roll is wasted, as you can buy party favors, but with no way to increase those dice you’ve very much at the mercy of the random roll.

 The solo game is just not interesting enough as the prototype stands. The mechanics of it are fine, but there is just something lacking from the experience. Yes, there is a scoring system (identical to with more players) and you can try and beat your own high score. But I don’t like these types of solo games that only have that. I need a win/lose requirement in there or some sort of AI or other system that competes against me. Fire in the Library does this well by having the AI score points and burn more of the Library with the cards that are already in the standard deck. Imperial Settlers does this well by having an “opponent” that gains cards and can steal your buildings with a simple set of cards. They both simulate something that can happen in a multiplayer game, and I really think that Circuit Breaker needs something like that to take it to that next level. It has that great mouse mechanic already in there. Now it just needs a way to simulate player interaction points in order to provide both an obstacle to the player and a point threshold for the player to surpass. If they can add something like that into the solo experience of the game, it would help that to be a great solo addition to pull out when you don’t have 1-2 other players to game with.

Final Thoughts

This game was an interesting one to get, and one I hadn’t really planned to review as a solo experience. It simply worked out that I ended up with an empty spot in the month late-in-the-game and I had played this a few times. My first play solo fell flat, but it was definitely on me rather than the game. I played it a little wrong, and that was the difference. It felt way too long and free-flowing. The next play, with the right understanding of the rules, was way tighter and ended up over 10 points lower for a score. It went from feeling sandbox-y to feeling tight with what I could accomplish.

At both player counts my one gripe remains the same: the game feels a little too driven by chance. There is a large stack of appliances, and it is difficult to dig through there without spending dice, which in turn will reduce the wires you can buy (that is one thing I do love). But there are so many different appliances in there. Each appliance has a single pair in that deck. Getting a pair of appliances can cost you a ton of actions. Digging for the ones on your card can cost you the game. If one person gets those cards early and the other one gets non-matching and non-objective appliances for most of the game then it can feel like it snowballs in a bad way. Same with the rolling of dice: if I roll higher than you, I will be able to buy more over the course of the game.

In the solo game, this becomes a chore of trying to dig until you find pairs and/or objective appliances. And it can be really flat when you have to dig for a long time.

In a 2-player game, this aspect can shine. Your opponent draws that appliance you need? There’s the mouse to pull that into your hand. That push-pull system is so much better with a higher player count, which is something I had been told to expect when they sent me the game. And I agree – 2 players is probably the perfect player count on this one. I imagine the 3-player game can be interesting, but could have a small chance of kingmaking or runaway leader. The solo game is a puzzle without any real win/lose conditions (something that, maybe, could be tweaked before the game is published? I’ll be asking for that!)

Overall, if you like a strategic game that does have some above-average dependence upon dice then this is a good one. Its length is a little longer than I’d like for a game with that much luck, especially solo, but the interactions can make this one fun enough to forgive that randomness. Plus my wife and I are pretty averse to random elements as a whole, so we’re not necessarily the target audience here. If you enjoy dice-rolling, interesting decisions, player interaction, and a fun and unique theme, then you should definitely check this out when it hits Kickstarter.

***

Hopefully you found this article to be a useful look at Circuit Breaker. If you’re interested in providing support for Cardboard Clash so I can continue to improve what we offer, check out my page over on Patreon: http://www.patreon.com/CardboardClash.

Check out more of our reviews at the following Geeklist and be sure to let me know what you thought of this game.

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/220300/cardboard-clas

Board Gaming · Interview · Solo Gaming · Solo Month · Uncategorized

Interview with Tristan Hall

As solo month is starting to wind down, I am turning the focus onto more of the people in the community. First up is Tristan Hall, designer of great games such as Gloom of Kilforth and 1066, Tears to Many Mothers. He also has his own game company, Hall or Nothing Productions. He’s a great guy and a great designer, recently getting voted into the BGG 1-Player Guild Hall of Fame as a designer.

***

  1. You started off your solo design career making new, but unofficial, content for the Lord of the Rings LCG core set. What inspired you to design those and what did you learn in the process?

Yes, The Lord of the Rings LCG just blew me away. A brilliant design, beautiful art, addictive gameplay, the whole package. And right back there at its launch we were all eager for new content, but it was several months before the adventure packs started landing so the community was limited to the three scenarios that came in the core box. I wanted to stretch the value of the core set using as many existing components as possible to keep barrier to entry low for other players, and I had some ideas I wanted to see in the game, so I popped my creative hat on, and the geek community seemed to embrace my Ninjadorg (my boardgamegeek handle) scenarios. They were downloaded tens of thousands of times and the positive feedback from other gamers made me realise an important lesson: people might be interested in the geeky stuff I design.

  1. I understand you’ve had your hand in designing other things beyond Lord of the Rings LCG stuff (apart from your own games by Hall or Nothing Productions). What else have you contributed and what inspired you to create them?

Well, I’d often been developing fanmade stuff for other games like the Dungeons & Dragons Adventure System Games (Castle Ravenloft and Wrath of Ashardalon), Fortune and Glory, A Touch of Evil, and Arkham Horror, and also redesigning old games like Sorcerer’s Cave and Mystic Wood – just putting things into those games that I’d like to see really, or in the case of the older games trying to give them a fresh, colourful polish. I don’t really think of myself in this way but rereading some of these games/projects right now I suppose I’m probably a bit of a tinkerer.

  1. Gloom of Kilforth has been a smashing success among the solo gaming community. Did you anticipate the level of success that this game has found? What has surprised you the most?

Thank you. I did not anticipate any real success for Gloom of Kilforth originally. What surprised me the most was that we actually funded originally – it took us 27 days out of a 30 day Kickstarter to reach our funding goal for the first print run, so it was a squeaker! Fantasy games with the scale of ambition as GoK are rare but were much more rare back in 2015, and that both hindered and helped us, because people were taking a big chance on this huge game even getting made (at that time I had no other official games to my name), but I think that’s also what made it such an enticing prospect too, like, could we pull it off successfully? And a few years later here we are, and I’m absolutely delighted with the reception the game has received.

  1. What challenges did you encounter in designing/marketing/manufacturing of such a massive game as your first published game? Did any of the content you worked on prior to Gloom of Kilforth help you be more successful?

All of the design work I’d previously dabbled in was tested to its limits – it would probably be easier to list all the elements that were not a challenge! If I had one tip for new designers it would be to start smaller and more sensibly before working your way up to the bigger games. Otherwise you might find yourself juggling setting up your own business (whilst working full time), accounts, legal, logistics, international shipping, foreign manufacturing, sleep loss, community building and Kickstarter management, all whilst corralling together a gorgeous soundscape and 300 unique images to build your world, oh yes, with a smattering of game design thrown in too…

  1. Shifting gears to the game I was so hyped about: 1066, Tears to Many Mothers. That was quite a change, from a massive fantasy game to a small 1-2 player historical wargame. What inspired you to produce this game?

There was a sense of wanting to prove I’m not a one trick pony I guess, but the events of 1066 had a huge impact on me as a kid, and those stories have stayed with me my whole life. I loved the idea of a beautiful card game like Magic or LotR that taught a little bit about history too, so maybe players would take a little ken away from the game with them, instead of say, memorising the stats for a Shivan Dragon or Pikachu. Most history games set in the period of 1066 are quite dry, hex and chit affairs so I wanted to give history a sexy update, with slick, easy to learn mechanics and sweet art, and try to make these incredible true stories as appealing to others as they are to me.

  1. How does the solo play in 1066 differ from the competitive 2-player experience of the game? Which design came first: the 2-player or the solitaire?

The 2-player game came first, and originally I wasn’t convinced about the solo version of the game being possible, but then I started playing games with detailed automa rules (like Scythe and Labyrinth) and seeing some of the incredible work being put out by creative members of the One Player Guild to deliver solo version of multiplayer games, which was something I already had a little experience in too. One of our chief play-testers Paul Ibbs had some really great ideas about how to implement an AI for 1066 that didn’t require sheets of rules and flow charts, and so I worked with him to flesh these out, and I’m really pleased with our results.

  1. I know at one point you were talking about exploring more battles with the 1066 system. Is that still the case? What are the top candidates to appear next?

Having buried my nose in history books for the past couple of months I’m in the thick of the design process for “1565, St Elmo’s Pay” which uses the same mechanics as 1066, Tears to Many Mothers (and therefore will be cross-compatible) to recreate the Siege of Malta. My friends, family and distributors have all advised against it because very few people have heard about this incredibly important battle for the Mediterranean – which is kinda like a latter day ‘300 Spartans’ – but, hey, they said the same about 1066. So let’s see how it goes on Kickstarter next year…

  1. Let’s talk Lifeform briefly! What can a solo gamer expect for their gaming experience if they go and do a late pledge to get the game?

Lifeform is a masterful homage to the movie Alien: a game about an unstoppable space creature hunting down and slaying a team of ill-equipped, space-faring miners aboard a labyrinthine ship. It was created by legendary designer Mark Chaplin, whose work on Aliens: This Time It’s War, The Thing, Revolver and Invaders has impressed me enormously over the years. As soon as I played it I wanted to be involved as publisher, and I twisted Mark’s arm to come up with a set of solo rules too, to appease us ravenous solo players. The expansion he came up with is a completely bespoke take on the game, where the odds are stacked against you as you play a single crew member trying to make it off the ship alive, all the while being stalked inexorably by this horrific space god. I really can’t wait to see what gamers think when it lands.

  1. Why did you decide to publish Lifeform? How did you go about making sure it had the solo experience that you’re becoming known for?

I’d been following its development on BGG for years and kept nudging Mark to let me play it. Eventually he came to stay at ours for a weekend when our group played it solidly and fell in love. He was weighing up publisher offers and I threw my hat into the ring because I saw a great game that I wanted to be a part of. I think one of the key selling points for him was that through our company he could have complete creative control without having to re-theme the game or tone it down to appease his publisher. I made sure Mark had plenty of time to make the solo rules robust whilst I wrapped up the work on 1066, so we waited until that project was safely off to the printers before launching the Kickstarter for Lifeform.

  1. Speaking of being known for solo gaming, why do you choose to make sure your games play solitaire as well as at other player counts? Are there any unique challenges in refining that solo experience to make sure it is just right?

There are LOTS of reasons to play solo games (I wrote an article on this for the UKGE magazine last year) and I play a LOT of solo games. Like, mostly solo. Our group meets once a week, but I play almost every day. So that’s at the forefront of my mind when developing my own games. And over the last few decades I’ve gone from being laughed at on forums for asking about or developing solo play rules for games, to joining various online guilds with tens of thousands of members dedicated to solo gaming, and these days it seems nary a Kickstarter goes by without including solo rules of some sort. The landscape has changed for the better, and it feels great to be a part of that. Sure it requires extra work in the development process, but if you’re going to make something epic you have to do it right.

  1. What else is on the horizon for Tristan Hall and/or Hall or Nothing Productions that a solo gamer might be interested in knowing about?

Apart from the aforementioned “1565, St Elmo’s Pay” next year we also have the sequel to Gloom of Kilforth – “Touch of Death” – Kickstarting at the end of this year, and next year will also see the reveal of our upcoming horror game “Sublime Dark”, which tries a few new things and I hope will again fill a unique niche. I could go on, but we have to keep some surprises up our sleeves, right?

  1. Finally, if people want to stalk you on BGG/Twitter/etc. and keep on top of what you’re working on, get news for when your next projects go live or need playtesters, etc. where can they find you?
  • www.hallornothingproductions.co.uk
  • Twitter @ninjadorg
  • BGG ninjadorg
  • Our #BoardChitless podcast on soundcloud, youtube and iTunes
  • And come join the Facebook groups for Gloom of Kilforth, Lifeform, and 1066, Tears to Many Mothers

Thanks for having me, and happy gaming! 🙂