Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Doug Doug Goose Caboose, by JR Honeycutt (me)

Normally I avoid posting about projects I'm involved in, but Doug Doug Goose Caboose is a design that I'm incredibly proud of, and that comes from a place of love for the gaming community.

I've spent 5 years hosting Nerd Night parties in Chicago, Dallas, Fort Worth, and at Gen Con, Metatopia, and BGG.Con. Something I've seen consistently is a tendency for folks to forget the names of the people around them, and in doing so, socially disengage a bit, as it's awkward to ask somebody for their name once you've already heard it. Even though ALL of us forget names, there's still a social stigma that says "you're a bad person if you forget somebody's name after you've been introduced."

To that point, we use nametags at our Nerd Night events, but that's not always possible at game nights, or in social groups, or at church or work or in a youth group. Doug Doug Goose Caboose is a game designed to reinforce the names of the people in your group in such a way that they'll stick with you much longer than a simple introduction might provide.

If this sounds interesting, please click the widget below and check out the campaign. If you're interested in the story of how DDGC came to exist, plus muppets explaining how to play, click for more!


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

JR Plays, Episode 7 - Star Trek Ascendancy, Betrayal: Widow's Walk, Trajan, and more

I finally had a chance to play Star Trek Ascendancy, a game I had my eyes on at Gen Con and didn't pick up. It didn't disappoint! I also played new versions of Unspeakable Words, Escape from the Aliens in Outer Space, and Spyfall, plus I had my first crack at the expansion to Betrayal at House on the Hill, Widow's Walk.



Please subscribe through your favorite service:

on iTunes 
on Google Play
on BoardGameGeek

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

JR Plays Episode 6 - The Networks, Mexica, Star Realms iOS, and more

This week I played The Networks, Mexica, more Mechs vs. Minions, a bunch of party games, and jumped back into mobile gaming with the Star Realms iOS app!

(challenge me on Star Realms, I'm "jayahre")



Please subscribe through your favorite service:

on iTunes 
on Google Play
on BoardGameGeek

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Board Game Review: Cobras, by Cardboard Edison



Trick-taking games are straightforward: win as many tricks as you can, keep your opponents from winning tricks, and be sure that you keep control of the lead to make sure that happens. While there are roadblocks that other players can throw in your way, the upshot of most trick-taking games is that. Cobras from Cardboard Edison (Suzanne & Chris Zinsli) upends those rules in ways that lead to a compelling and highly-replayable game that offers meaningful decisions throughout - and just a smidgeon of push-your-luck.

In short, Cobras claims its place in the pantheon of trick-taking games next to Mike Fitzgerald's Diamonds as my favorite trick-taking game - and one that's more welcoming for and easier to teach to new players.


Sunday, October 9, 2016

JR Plays Episode 5 - Mechs vs. Minions, Charterstone, Kemet, and more

Last week I played Mechs vs. Minions, a campaign-style miniature game from Riot Games, the makers of League of Legends. Light spoilers, since everything is technically revealed during the campaign, so I cover the tutorial and the first scenario, which is much less than other reviewers have already revealed.


I also played through a bit of Charterstone, an upcoming Legacy eurogame from Jamey Stegmaier and Stonemaier Games (Scythe, Viticulture, Euphoria), and it was great! I can't talk much about it since it's still in development and nothing is final, but I do give a few thoughts about the general experience.



 

Listen on iTunes 
Listen on Google Play

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Board Game Review: Ambyria, by Paw-Warrior Games


During Gen Con, I had the chance to get a second play of Ambyria from Paw-Warrior Games in at the Nerd Night event (which was amazing and everyone should come to that next year - but that’s another post). I had the added benefit of playing with Josh, one of the co-creators.


In Ambyria, you and your opponents (the game plays up to 4) compete to acquire the most ember stones (victory points). Players collect these points by as gathering five cards in their “emberscape” (a set of faceup cards they place to the table, playing their effect.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

JR Plays Episode 4 - Secret Hitler, Sushi Go! Party, Stonemaier Games Design Day

Last weekend Cody and I packed our bags and headed out to St. Louis for the Stonemaier Games Design Day. We played games with new friends and some folks we hadn't seen since last year's event, and had a great time trying testing our games and seeing what else our friends had.

We got to try Secret Hitler, a game that's been on my radar since the successful Kickstarter earlier this year, and I am very happy to have had a chance to try it.


Listen on iTunes
Listen on Google Play

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

JR Plays - A Podcast of Weekly Game Reviews


It's been increasingly difficult to make time for writing full-length game reviews while managing all my other commitments - Nerd Night events, full-time work as a game designer and developer, spending time with Amy, and doing all the other things that seem to take up my free time. I still play a TON of games (just scroll down and look at the right side of the screen to see the last 20 games I've played), and I still love talking about them - I just have less time to write than I would like.

With that in mind, I've started a new weekly podcast, aptly named 'JR Plays', in which I'll talk about all the games I've played each week. Sometimes I'll go into detail, and sometimes I'll skim over things that weren't particularly interesting, but I'll definitely have something to say about each of them.

Please click the link for whichever service you use to listen to podcasts and subscribe. I'd love to keep filling your mind with my thoughts about games, and of course, I really appreciate your taking the time to stop by and lend me your eyes, or ears, or I suppose your fingertips possibly?

Subscribe to "JR Plays":
on iTunes
on Google Play
on Soundcloud
on Stitcher

We'll still be publishing reviews at The Nerds' Table, so don't fret - tune in for more soon!

JR

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Developing SeaFall

The folks at Plaid Hat Games have been posting a series of articles from Rob Daviau about SeaFall, his legacy game that's set to release at Gen Con. I had the awesome opportunity to develop the game with Rob, and wrote an article for Plaid Hat talking about the experience.

I also wrote about what I learned in developing SeaFall for the League of Gamemakers, a game design community I contribute to.

If you haven't already, check out SeaFall at the Plaid Hat Games website, and consider pre-ordering it - you'll want those sweet metal coins that come with the pre-order!


--
JR Honeycutt is a full-time husband and game-player, and co-host of The Nerd Nighters.  He makes games for Artana, and also writes games with the League of Gamemakers. You can find him on Twitter at @JayAhre or at a Friendly Local Game Store in Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Mega Civ, For the Eighth Time

When I picked up my copy of Mega Civilization at BGG.Con last fall, Nate told me I'd never actually get to play it. Surely, he said, a game for 18 players that takes 12-20 hours isn't something I'll be able to get to the table more than once in a lifetime - and not just because the box weighs more than 20 pounds! I told Nate I'd play it 10 times before BGG.Con the next year.

Fast forward 8 months and I've now played it 8 times, including live-streamed sessions at Plaid Hat Games and Gen Con's headquarters in Seattle. This game brings people together like few I've seen - I've got friends who've travelled from Connecticut, North Carolina, Chicago, Houston, Oklahoma, and Colorado just for a chance to spend the day playing an amped-up version of a game from more than 30 years ago.

Our map at the end of the game. Maurya and Dravidia not used in the game.
I played again last night at Collected Comics in Keller, TX, this time in a 16-player game that took about 15 hours to finish (Basic AST). I played as Minoa and won after three tiebreakers, 147-147. It's the most fun I've had playing the game so far.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Board Game Review: Rampaging Jotunn by Lost Cog


At last night's North East Nerd Night, I had the chance to play another great two-player game, Rampaging Jotunn. It wasn't the first time I'd played (and it certainly won't be the last, since I was a first-day backer on Kickstarter), but I wanted to share my thoughts about the game as its Kickstarter enters its final days.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Board Game Review: ABXY by Broken Games

At Dexcon over the weekend, I had the chance to play one of my new go-to two-player games, Jack Rosetree's ABXY, published by Broken Games. The company's name is a misnomer - the game's amazing. Over the course of the weekend, I played five games, and then taught it to a friend of mine on the 4th of July, right after the convention ended.

Yup, that's me in a Big Bird party hat playing ABXY at DexCon.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Thoughts After Playing the SdJ Nominees at BGG Spring


Each year, a jury of German-speaking board game critics evaluates dozens (maybe hundreds?) of board games and produces a list of nominees for the Spiel des Jahres (German for "Game of the Year") award, widely considered to be the most prestigious award in the board gaming world. For nearly 40 years this award has shaped public opinion of board games in Germany and abroad, and over the years two other categories have been added: Kennerspiel des Jahres (Enthusiast Game of the Year), and Kinderspiel (Children's Game of the Year).

As a burgeoning hobbyist swept up in the excitement and pomp of these awards, I've tried before to evaluate the list on our YouTube show and in print. It's our hobby's version of the Oscars - I just wish the award ceremony were televised! - and, along with the Origins awards and the Dice Tower awards, forms a triumvirate of accolades that I find deeply interesting.

Unlike other awards, the process for deciding the winners of the Spiel des Jahres involves no industry professionals. It's required that jury members be in no way connected to the board gaming industry, and as a consequence their nominations are often surprising. They're also restricted to only those games available in print in Germany (the motherland of our treasured hobby), so often games that are popular in the US aren't eligible yet, or at all.

BoardGameGeek, the hobbyist's source for all board gaming information, has in recent years hosted the Spiel des Jahres leaders at a local convention, BGG Spring, and provided a special section of the convention for all of the nominated games. The visiting SdJ folks take the time to teach these games to con-goers, allowing us the chance to experience the games that our German counterparts found to be the best of the year in the various categories.

For a full list of past nominees and winners, click here.

I played the nominated games at BGG Spring - continue reading for my thoughts!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Tesla vs. Edison: Developer Diary, Part 2

Developer's Diary, Part 2: 

In part 1, I talked about how I got involved in Tesla vs. Edison: Powering Up!, some of Dirk's original design goals in the game, and how we prioritized the balance between "adding new things" and "providing a familiar experience". 

After making the change to HQ cards, Dirk and I felt like the expansion started to hum. We started focusing on balancing the inventors against each other, creating abilities that were both thematically appropriate and powerful enough to be interesting, and tweaking various things to get the game length and experience where we wanted it to be. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Tesla vs. Edison: Powering Up! Developer's Diary, Part 1

Howdy - I'm JR Honeycutt, the developer for Tesla vs. Edison: Powering Up!, the expansion to Tesla vs. Edison: War of Currents by Artana. I'm writing this developer's diary to talk about some of the things introduced in TvE: Powering Up! and how I got involved. This is part 1 - parts 2 and 3 will come later in the campaign. 

The expansion is currently on Kickstarter, and I'd love it if you took a moment to click here and check it out! 

In November of last year I was at Rob's place in Massachusetts finishing up dev work on SeaFall. Dirk Knemeyer and Marcus Muller, the folks who run Artana, stopped by for a playtest of one of the early iterations of Chronicles: Stone Age, which I tagged along for since I was already in the room. 

It was a blast, and I noticed right away that I had good chemistry with Dirk and Marcus. They asked me to be involved in demoing the game at BGG.Con, which turned into a lunch conversation with Dirk about developing the Tesla vs. Edison expansion. 

I had never played Tesla vs. Edison when Dirk first offered to let me work on it, and it took me a few weeks to get it the table enough times to start doing real development. One of the criticisms of the base game was that the rulebook was hard to understand, and sure enough the first few times I played I got a fair number of things wrong. That was an early hiccup that Dirk and I worked through by playing together on Tabletop Simulator - an awesome resource for long-distance testing. Huge thanks to Andrew Christopher Enriquez for building the module for us and keeping it updated through the process. 

Monday, April 18, 2016

Board Game Review of Monster City Planners

Monster City Planners by Gary Dahl, published by Sugar Pill Studios
2-4 Players, 20 minutes, ages 12+

TL:DR Version
A genuinely unique city building and destroying microgame of Kaiju proportions.  The hard decisions between actions and points make a think meaty experience despite its smaller box.  Primary Mechanics are Card Drafting, Multipurpose Cards, and Environment Manipulation.

The Pitch
A couple years ago, The Game Crafter hosted a Microgame Design Contest sponsored by All Us Geeks and Father Geek.  Many great games were entered including Monster City Planners, which featured card drafting, city building/destruction, and multiple use cards.  So let’s see how destruction and construction via Kaiju Rampage can work for you.


Thursday, April 14, 2016

Board Game Review of Inca Empire

Inca Empire by Alan D. Ernstein, Published by Zman Games
3-4 players, 90-120 minutes

TL:DR Version
Inca Empire is a Euro style classic of expansion, exploitation, and empire building which weighs in heavy on time to play but genuinely feels like you’re building up an empire.  While you’re trying to win, there’s a hint of a cooperative element to see how far the Inca Empire can stretch.  Primary mechanics are Route Building, Empire Building, and Civilization Lite.


The Pitch
They say the Inca Empire wasn’t built in a day but rather two hours.  Two long, excruciating hours where that one jerk won’t stop connecting to all of your cities and garrisons like some Incan Coattail Riding Jerk Face who should just go off and do his own thing.  That jerk who places the gods wrath in your empire while his gets an easy path to glory… that jerk!
Welcome to Inca Empire, one of my favorite board games and that one jerk mentioned in the blurb above?  I’m usually that jerk.  Inca Empire is a game with a ton of bits and a long run up to the end game that feels satisfying every step of the way.  The goal of Inca Empire is, of course, points which is achieved primarily by both building and connecting to the most areas on the board.


Board Game Review of Le Havre: The Inland Port

Le Havre: The Inland Port by Uwe Rosenberg, Published by Zman Games
2 Players, 30-45 Minutes

TL:DR Version
Two player Euros are fairly rare and even more rare when they are actually good. The Inland Port provides all the building purchasing, cube pushing, and resource wheel manipulation you expect in a tidy little box. Primary Mechanics are Empire Building, Resource Management, and Economics.

The Pitch
Playing a good Euro with 3 or more players is fairly easy but with 2 players, many of these games fall apart. Most 2 player games are often directly confrontational and most Euros are, well, not. This is one of the reasons why I was interested in giving Inland Port, a two player Le Havre spinoff designed by Uwe Rosenberg, a shot.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Warhammer Quest Solo vs Other Solo Games

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on BoardGameGeek by JYoder. I've reposted it with permission from the author. 

I've played Warhammer Quest: The Adventure Card Game (WHQ) several times and would like to give some thoughts about it, and how it compares to a few established fantasy games. I'm coming from the perspective of someone who has only played it solo, and has played other solo fantasy adventures, including Lord of the Rings: The Living Card Game (LotR), PathFinder Adventure Card Game (PACG), and Mage Knight (MK).

Right off the bat, I'll say MK is very different from the others, and I'm only including it because it also gives a solo fantasy adventure, which is the main thrust of my review. Most of my comparison will be leveled at LotR, as WHQ seems inspired by that game system.
I approached my review in a Q&A format, with questions I had about the game before I purchased it...

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Playing the Top 100: Pandemic Legacy and 7 Wonders: Duel

Hi there, so as we continue our trek across the top 100 games that were pulled from the list in January, I spent much of the last week planning and scheming as I did playing games. The math is easy, if I complete two games a week, I will finish before the end of the year. The execution is a little more difficult due to some scheduling changes in my life. After long discussion with my friends who are not only playing the games with me, but also helping me find the ones that we do not already own, Nerd Night and the larger BGGcon will be used to play catch up. This is all fine and dandy, till you realize that a few of the games take 6+ hours to play, so a little more planning is required. But enough of that nonsense. You came to this page to see me write nonsense about games.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

A Rubric for Game Design

Rubrics are one of the most misunderstood tools in teaching, and one of my concerns in working on a rubric for looking at games was that this, too, would be misconstrued. So, before getting to the rubric, I want to talk a little bit about the purpose of this rubric.

(1) The big thing is that there are two kinds of rubrics: definitional rubrics and evaluative (or scoring) rubrics. A definitional rubric is one that’s meant to help people accurately look at a product and talk meaningfully about it with common terminology. Ultimately, you can use the rubric to define the qualities of the product (in this case, a game) – but it doesn’t mean that something is better or worse than another. This rubric, as it’s designed, is a definitional rubric. Its purpose is to help people look more objectively at games.

A scoring rubric, or an evaluative rubric, has a different purpose. While it, too, will seek to define aspects of a product, there will be an additional layer, one that rates the product based on those definitive criteria. This rubric, as it’s designed, is not evaluative. There is no scoring system associated with this rubric, so this is not a way to rank games or reduce the aspects of the design to a mere set of numbers.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Design As Disease

Maybe it’s because my first game was about medicine or that my dad’s a doctor. Or, most likely, it’s that everyone’s talking about Pandemic: Legacy. (Damn you, April.) But I was thinking recently about how designing a game follows the same course as an illness – and I’m all about over-extending my metaphors. So let’s do this thang.

Stage 1 – The Germ of an Idea
The Symptoms: This germ can come from anywhere. Maybe you’re at a game day and someone says, “I’m working on a game about building fences,” and you suddenly catch an idea. Or you’re flipping through your notebook and you notice something that came to you in a dream that you feverishly wrote down - and then promptly forgot when you drifted back off to sleep. Or maybe you’re driving with a friend and they tell you about an idea they want to work on.

"Heresanideaforagame!"

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Ten Games to Start Your Game Collection (And Twenty More)

Randolph Pub Ludique's games library. That's a lot of games. 
One of the most common topics I see in board gaming communities like DFW Nerd Night, The Boardgame Group, and /r/boardgames is about folks who are new to the hobby and want to expand their board game collection, but aren't sure what to buy. We're in a "golden age" of tabletop gaming, and with 1,500 new games being released each year, there are plenty to choose from and plenty of ways to evaluate them.

I've crowdsourced this list by polling the members of DFW Nerd Night, and used that list, plus some of my own discretion, to put together "Ten Games to Start Your Game Collection". It's important to note that these aren't the ONLY ten games I think our new friend should purchase, just the first ten that should give her plenty to play for the foreseeable future.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Playing the Top 100: Tichu and Orléans

First I want to thank all of my friends that have offered to find me games, started trying to find me games, helped out with strategies, and most importantly played games with me. We're 5% of the way home people. It's all downhill from here. I also wanted to clarify something that may have been misconstrued in my earlier writing. I'm not limiting myself to playing these games once (though once may be enough for some) and I'm also willing to play other games that are not on the list. I just want to get the top 100 in by year's end.

 Also, if you're interested in playing a particular game with me because it is your favorite thing and live in the metro, let me know of Facebook. Let's set something up. Additionally also, I have requested with the guys that we Twitch stream Battlestar Galactica. You should watch, it's the game that sort of brought our group together and our games are a blast.

This has been pretty fun so far. I really like goals and this has given me a reason to play some things towards which I would not normally gravitate. Tonight I talk about one of those and it is not Tichu. Tichu and I love each other. We are old friends. Tichu knows where it sits in my top 10 list, it is one of the games that regardless what time it is, I will play. My Tichu partner and I have been playing
together for what I would estimate is a couple of years now and we love it. Probably a little too much.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Playing the Top 100: Imperial Assault



Greetings all. So this resolution has sparked something that is unprecedented. I am writing twice in one week. New milestones and all that stuff. Alright, so I was able to play Star Wars: Imperial Assault this evening. It is #11 on the list for those playing at home. It was completely by accident, but since I would probably put the game on my top 10 favorites, I was happy to play it. I won't say that I play the game often, but I do own it. I am in the process (with the rest of the world) of attempting to keep up with FFG's frequent and somewhat expensive release schedule. Tonight I had some non-gamer friends over for a party and they said, "That looks fun." So I totally played it off, but I was screaming with excitement on the inside. One of my gamer buddies decided to watch, laughing and telling them that I was going to crush them mercilessly because that is how the Empire rolls. We had more than two, so we played the first Campaign mission, Aftermath.


Saturday, January 9, 2016

My Gamer's Resolution: Play the top 100 on BGG.com by Year's End

Hi all,

For those of you that do not know me, I do not write often. When I do write, it is usually on this blog. To provide a little background about this exercise, I should state that I think New Year's resolutions are silly. That said, I do create a list of goals for the year in order to provide focus for things that I want to accomplish. In this particular case, I call this a resolution because it involves gaming and I think I will actually finish it.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Ten Games After 2015

In late 2014 I was prompted by a good friend's article to determine which ten games I would keep if I were forced to get rid of the rest of my collection. It sparked one of the longest episodes of The Nerd Nighters in our show's 130+ episode history (and one of my favorites), and has provided a new lens through which I consider new game acquisitions.

My original list was as follows (click here to read the 2014 article):

Betrayal at House on the Hill
Race for the Galaxy 
Medici 
Lords of Waterdeep
Coup 
Ticket to Ride
Summoner Wars
7 Wonders
Disc Duelers
BattleLore (2nd Edition)

This list assumes that each game comes with all its expansions (past and future), and that have enough friends in this apocalyptic scenario to play each game at whatever player count I want. It also assumes that my MtG cube makes the cut as game #11, so it's not considered here.

This year will see some big changes to this list, so let's begin!