Infrequent essays and irregular updates on my work


Posted by admin on April 6th, 2016 at 12:24 am

Judges’ comments on The Blood of an Englishman

“I loved this game. Very solid and fun game. The theme and mechanics are meshed perfectly. Great job!”

“I want this game now. If I were a publisher, I’d be signing this now. Great work.”

“Great integration of theme and mechanics. I think I played about four-and-a-half games. Both sides feel great, and really really distinct.”

“Everything about it is really tight and it always feels like you have many ways to try to win. Quick and clean.”

cardboard edison awardRead all about the award here.

Posted by admin on January 20th, 2014 at 10:22 am

Back in November, Chris Kirkman’s Dice Hate Me Games announced a game design contest specifically for card games with 54 cards or less:

1) The game must be comprised of NO MORE than 54 cards. The game can incorporate fewer than 54 cards, but designers should bear in mind that this contest is not necessarily for a “mini-game”; the use of 54 cards offers the chance for a lot of depth-of-play, so design accordingly.
2) Rules should fit on a single 8.5″ x 11″ sheet of paper. The rules may be double-sided.
3) Cards MAY contain game information on both sides of the cards, essentially creating a 55- to 108-card deck. However, designers should bear in mind both the form and function of their designs – if the game is awkward to play just so you can fit more cards in the deck then it is ultimately not worth the risk.
4) Games should utilize minimal counters or components. Any possible counters or components to be used in the game should be something that is easily found in a typical household, such as loose change or, possibly, a six-sided die. Bear in mind that the final, published design will NOT include any additional components other than cards, so design accordingly.
5) Regarding themes – designers should consider themes with a “family first” mentality. No vulgar or pornographic themes will be accepted. A good rule of thumb is to bear in mind the typical themes that are produced by Dice Hate Me Games – approachable by a wide audience, yet rich with character. The final theme may be discussed and altered with the winner. However, designers are encouraged to think about how their theme is incorporated with the mechanics of the game. Judges’ points will be awarded accordingly.
6) Prototypes should not include any artwork or photos that have a copyright. Creative Commons License artwork is acceptable. Final artwork for the winning entry will be created/provided by Dice Hate Me Games, unless otherwised discussed and arranged with the designer.
7) Clones of other games are not allowed. For instance, a retheming of the classic card game “Hearts” would be automatically rejected. Utilizing classic mechanics such as trick taking or set collection is allowed, and new twists on old favorites is encouraged.
8) There is no minimal player count. Solo games are acceptable.

And as luck would have it, I just so happened to be working on a card game that fit those criteria very nicely. I was also sort of bummed that family obligations were going to prevent me from attending Unpub4 in Delaware, so this seemed like a perfect opportunity to get some feedback on my game as well as have some sort of presence at the convention, even if I couldn’t attend myself.
Well, I submitted Jack and the Giant to the contest and learned this weekend that it has been named one of 15 finalists out of over 100 submissions!

Posted by admin on July 26th, 2013 at 8:23 pm

When I read The Random Wizard’s 10 Troll Questions, I had to weigh in.

I’m a long-time D&D player. I grew up playing 1E AD&D with my friends. It’s an excellent list for identifying what sort of D&D player you really are.

(1). Race (Elf, Dwarf, Halfling) as a class? Yes or no?

(2). Do demi-humans have souls?

(3). Ascending or descending armor class?
Descending. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

(4). Demi-human level limits?
Nope. Never liked this.

(5). Should thief be a class?

(6). Do characters get non-weapon skills?
Nope. Unless you count background notes and such. Too much bookkeeping.

(7). Are magic-users more powerful than fighters (and, if yes, what level do they take the lead)?
Yes. Around level 9 or so.

(8). Do you use alignment languages?

(9). XP for gold, or XP for objectives (thieves disarming traps, etc…)?
Objectives. Killing monsters usually counts.

(10). Which is the best edition; ODD, Holmes, Moldvay, Mentzer, Rules Cyclopedia, 1E ADD, 2E ADD, 3E ADD, 4E ADD, Next ?
I like to play a 2E mechanical core with a 1E feel.

Posted by admin on July 10th, 2013 at 9:48 pm

Are you going to the World Boardgaming Championships in Lancaster, PA? if so, you can compete in the first ever Cavemen: The Quest for Fire world championship!

New players are welcome! There will be a demo on Wednesday, July 31st at 9pm.

Players will then compete in 3 heats on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and the top 16 players with the most wins will advance to the semi-finals, culminating in a winner-take-all 4-player final game on Friday, August 2nd at 10pm.

Sound the conch… the ultimate Quest for Fire is upon us!


Posted by admin on June 28th, 2013 at 10:40 pm

As much as I hate to admit it, I do read what people say about my game on the internet, as depressing as it may be sometimes.

But then I get one like this, and it makes it all feel worthwhile:

“I found what I was looking for yet again. I’ve got one thing to say. Thank you! I work real hard for my time. Thank you for filling it with value rather than wasting it like the last two new games I tried. Great job on the art and theme. Wonderful job on the gameplay. This is a game that I definitely want an expansion for. I have already previously decided that I really like this type of game, but this one is really the best out of the lot that I have played to date!”

Posted by admin on June 19th, 2013 at 8:21 pm

“I really liked this card game. I was amazed at this little thing. Now, I was surprised, I had never heard of it before, there wasn’t a lot of buzz online about it. Even after I played it I went and looked it up, and I was just surprised, there just wasn’t a lot of buzz about it. I’m surprised because this game is a good little game, for sure! I played it with two different test groups. Both groups: we played it four or five times and every time they wanted to play it again and again and again. Not one person disliked this game out of both groups. It’s just a really cool game.”

Posted by admin on April 9th, 2013 at 8:34 pm

Friend and playtester Mark Salzwedel wrote that he was surprised to have learned that a particular rule was dropped from the final design: something I called the “Double Hunt Rule”.

The Double Hunt Rule was that if your Tribe’s Hunting score was at least twice that required to hunt a Beast, then you would not need to draw for casualties. The idea being that if your hunting prowess as a Tribe increases to a certain point, you no longer have to worry about the little critters.

This is the sort of rule that was hard to let go of. It made sense from a certain point of view. But ultimately I chose to drop it.

One reason I chose to drop that rule is because I truly think that the number of actual plays it will affect in any given game should be quite small. I think that if a player is making optimal decisions, he should not be hunting very much later in the game. But more importantly, I never wanted hunting to feel safe under base conditions. Without a technological advantage of some kind (e.g. the Bow and Arrow), the gaining of teeth has to come with the potential loss of Cavemen.

Lastly, it was one less rule on the page. Cavemen didn’t feel ready to call done until I had removed as many rules from it as I could.

Posted by admin on March 24th, 2013 at 8:39 pm

As seen on Radio Review #16 – Cavemen: the Quest for Fire:

The game itself is light on rules (easy to catch on) but provides a pretty unique strategy. I say unique, because you can delve up all the strategy in the world on loading up your invention score or upgrading your tribe. But if you can’t obtain the Conch shell when you need to, all is for naught. Caveman: Quest for Fire is quite a balancing act, and you’ll find yourself basing your strategy around your opponents tribe and resources as much as your own. Because of this, I find a 2 player game to be the tightest of the bunch, though 3-5 plays just as well. There’s just a bit more going on all at once in a 3-5 player game, with having to keep everyone else in check.

The tableau racing element is something fans of Race for the Galaxy should enjoy. It’s intriguing that Teeth are the hardest resource to come by, yet is what’s needed to control the Conch. And controlling the Conch shell is powerful (gives player’s an extra action), but can cost larger tribes a ton of Food. You can load up on Thinkers to gain enough Invention Points to invent Fire, but you’ll need additional Caves to support them. And unless you have tons of Teeth to obtain Caves with, you’ll need Explorers, which also costs quite a bit of Food. Which leads up to the best way to gain Food….Hunters. All in all, the game is quite balanced in its approach. While Caveman: the Quest for Fire combines a card drafting mechanic with a tableau racing element, it’s the victory condition surrounding the ownership of the Conch shell and the strategy revolved around the timing of obtaining it, that makes this game quite unique.