Monday, September 28, 2015

Campaign Trail, by David Cornelius

I typically think politics belong in late-night Facebook posts and arguments with my Granddad, and certainly not in my board game sessions. There are few things more divisive than a quick chat about energy policies, or the role of government in healthcare, or the more hot-button issues that we yell about every day.

Somehow, Campaign Trail manages to avoid all of this negativity, while capturing the fun of watching the twists and turns of a Presidential campaign. Republicans have a 15% lead in Illinois? Just wait until the Independents launch their huge ad campaign and claim the state. Democrats are polling well on Environmental Issues in California? Great, but they've been overtaken by the Republican candidate with a strong message on international trade.

These swings and targeted strategies push and pull electoral votes (the score markers in the game) and create some of the most compelling drama I've felt in a game. Keep reading, and I'll go into a bit more detail about what I like in Campaign Trail.

Updated Update: Campaign Trail is now live on Kickstarter, with a lower price, free shipping in the US, and a deluxe version available that I've happily snapped up. Check it out by clicking here! 

Back It! with Luke Crane, Head of Games at Kickstarter

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Self-Publishing Isn't a Hobby. It's a Hob.

Some people say they do their best thinking in the shower. I, on the other hand, am only nominally awake in the morning. My wife knows not to tell me anything important because I’ll forget it. And if I want critical thinking in my first half hour of being awake, I’m talking to myself. Like a crazy person.

"Heeeeeeeeeere's Dougie!!!"
So one morning, I was talking to myself about how stressed I was with some things going on with being a publisher. I’ll spare you the full details, but at one point, I told myself, “You started this as a hobby, but now you’re treating it like a hob. No, not hob. Job. Well, not a job exactly. Because you’re not really making any money…”

And then it hit me: “hob” is the perfect way to self-publishing. Making games started out as a hobby, but it ended up like a job. Just, you know, a job that doesn’t even pay as well as forced labor in prison. And that was the moment that crystallized everything for me: I don’t want to publish games anymore, even ones I’ve designed.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Back It! with Jeff Cornelius of Campaign Trail

Upcoming Interview with Luke Crane, Head of Games at Kickstarter

I'd like your help in picking questions to ask Luke Crane, the Head of Games at Kickstarter, in our upcoming video interview.

Kickstarter announced today that they've restructured their company to be a "Benefit Corporation", and also their intention to "commit to donate 5% of annual post-tax profits to arts education and organizations fighting inequality."

Luke and I have been working to schedule an interview for a while now, and this announcement gives us an excellent reason to finally video chat and have a nice discussion.

Please use the Google form below to submit questions on any gaming- or Kickstarter-related topic, and I may use your questions (and credit you, if you provide your name). Please keep your questions short, specific, and respectful.


Unboxing Tiny Epic Galaxies

Monday, September 14, 2015

A Battle of Wits, by Matthew O'Malley

A Battle of Wits, by Matthew O'Malley

Fans of The Princess Bride who’ve always wanted to see if they could outwit Vizzinni and survive the poison cup challenge - this is the game that you’ve been waiting for. Now, for once and for all, you can find out who is right - and who is dead thanks to Matthew O’Malley and Game Salute.

 Like this, but minus the actual dying.

First Impressions of Epic, by Rob Daugherty

$15 tuck box with four factions? Seems good...
Epic isn't just an exclamation anymore; it's also the next in the line of Rob Dougherty's genre-defining card games, which includes Star Realms and various Ascension expansions. Epic's not a deck-builder, so that's new territory from one of the hobby's giants, but the rest of the game will look very familiar to fans of Rob's previous work.

Epic was delivered to Kickstarter backers this weekend, and I've played about 10 games, including a quick two-player draft session. I've already had a half-dozen heated conversations on such subjects as "is it good" and "of course it's good" with my close gaming friends (also backers), so it's time for a quick first impression for those who aren't getting KS copies, or who may have a chance to pick up the game elsewhere. 

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Pixel Tactics, by D. Brad Talton, Jr.

"I'm too dumb to play this game," I said to Ben (who's the closest person to a gaming brother I have in the world) during the third round of our first game of Pixel Tactics. It was nearly 40 minutes into a "30 minute" game, and neither of us saw the end coming any time soon - especially because it's supposed to be best out of three victories.

"Yeah," he said. "There's too much going on here."

Ben's sort of right: there's a lot going on in Pixel Tactics, but, to be fair, part of our discomfort with it was that we're not used to playing tactical games. Each card in the game can have one of five effects - usually closely and thematically-related to the name of the card - based on whether it is played in the first, second, or third combat row, if it is played as the single Leader of the other units, or as an order (a one-and-done effect gained by discarding the card from your hand rather than playing it to the field).

However, by about the fifth round, we had the hang of it - though as first time players, I'm confident that we made a lot of tactical errors. If we had more time, we would have played again - but like I said, the "30 minute" play time is a significant underestimation, especially for a first game, which took Ben and me about an hour and a half.