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Penguin Slap! is an adorable game I played at the Boston Festival of Independent Games.  The game fully funded on Kickstarter with the campaign running until October 28, 2018.  It only costs $15, plus shipping, to get a copy of the game. 

 

Can you give us a “Tale of the Tape” for your game? The title, genre, playtime, age ranges, etc.

Penguin SLAP! It’s a take-that style card game for 2-4 players, ages 9 and up. Players need basic reading comprehension to play. My name is Rich, and I co-developed the game with my partner Jewlz.

What is the elevator pitch?

In Penguin SLAP! each player assumes the role of a hungry penguin hoarding fish. There are lots of goofy penguins to choose from. There’s a secret agent penguin, an emperor penguin, a polar bear dressed as a penguin, an alien dressed as a penguin, and more! To win the game, you want to be the last penguin holding fish cards. You can make other players drop fish by slapping them with your fish cards (no physical slapping required.) But you’ve got to be careful, if your opponent has a “counter” fish, they can reverse your slap back to you! The game is casual enough to play with younger audiences while also having enough strategy to entertain more advanced players.

When is your Kickstarter going live?

It’s live NOW until Oct. 28th. Check out the Kickstarter right here.  Where are you in production/development? How close are you to complete?The game is complete, except for any additions that we’ll add as a result of the kickstarter.

Are there any other games that you think are comparable to your game?

We tend to describe our game as “super” Uno but backwards. In Uno you want to run out of cards first, in Penguin SLAP! you want to be the last player with cards. Our game also gives players more strategic options, which gives players more control over their fate. Since fish cards are colored on both sides (each color doing something different) and each player has two draw piles, players choose which pile (and which color of fish) to draw. Penguin SLAP! also has an equipping mechanic which adds to the strategy. Green fish can be equipped in front of a player and later are used to augment other cards. We’ve also seen players get “Mario-Kart syndrome” with our game, where it no longer matters if they win or lose. They just want to get back at that one player that blue-shelled (or slapped) them earlier on.

You’re a game designer. You could have made any game you wanted. Why did you make THIS game?

We’ve played some longer, more strategy-intensive games and, while enjoyable, sometimes a player gets a clear lead and they can be hard to catch up to. We’ve also played shorter, more casual games and found that they lack the depth that makes them interesting beyond the first few play-throughs. So we wanted something short and fun that had enough strategy to be interesting, with enough balance so that players who get a strong lead can get reeled in quickly and players that lag behind have a chance to catch up (If you run out of cards you can draw back in on your next turn.)

Penguin SLAP! games generally end very close, often the winning player wins by a single card. Each time you play you can choose a different penguin persona card to represent you, which will give you different abilities and influence your strategy. Games feel engaging and since they’re short, it’s easy to replay again and again, trying different personas. Besides, who doesn’t like penguins?

What was your design process like?

We started out with cut up sheets of computer paper. To color our fish we colored the backs of the paper with highlighter. (We couldn’t find any markers, but we had 4 different colors of highlighter. At first the cards were simple and said “+1 fish” or “+2 fish” or “-2 fish.” Once the mechanics were solid we brainstormed the penguin narrative. We’ve been playtesting for over two years now at game cafes and in Boston as members of the Boston Game Makers Guild. (Shameless plug! If you’re designing a game I HIGHLY recommend finding a Meet-up group of game designers to play with. You get GREAT feedback.) Jewlz does all the art for the game. Her amazing art is all over our YouTube page (our username is “Penguin SLAP!” Check out her speedpaints here!)

What is the number one reason why a family MUST purchase this game?

Penguin SLAP! aims to be entertaining and engaging from start to finish. Our game doesn’t implement any player-elimination (at least, until the very end when someone wins) and younger players seem to love the goofy story (Only penguins live on Tuxedo Island, so to get in on the prime fishing area other animals disguise themselves to blend in. All the penguins fall for the disguises except this crazy-haired conspiracy theorist penguin who wears a tin-foil hat.) The game is playable casually with kids or more aggressively with older players. The gameplay is short enough and dynamic enough that it can be played as a starter game before a longer game night, or repeatedly throughout the game night.

How long has this game been in development?

Two and a half wonderful years.

What obstacles did you encounter making this game?

This is tricky. Game-mechanics-wise there were a few, but designing those out is part of the fun of game design! Finding a company that affordably prints on nice cards without the image drifting too much has been a challenge.

What did your first prototype look like?

Cut up sheets of white printer paper with pencil on one side and highlighter on the other.

Why did you get into making games?

We like creating things! For our main jobs Jewlz and I do visual effects for film (Look up Rich Hardy Jr. and Julianne Holzschuh on IMDb to find us!) Jewlz is an also an AMAZING artist and I do programming, so we were going to create a video game together, but I figured a card game would be easier to prototype and would help us understand game design better before we jumped into the deep end.

What other information do you want us to know about you, your company, and/or your game?

We’ve got more info on our Kickstarter page, which is live NOW!  We’re adding in extra penguins and art to the game right now, thanks to our AWESOME backers! We’re listening to the community as much as possible and we’re trying to respond to every comment we get.

We have a website at penguinslap.com. On our website you can read about the penguins in our game and you can download free puzzle pages and coloring pages. (Our puzzle page is a “publication” from Tuxedo Island called “The Tuxedo Telegraph.” It’s like the newspaper that the penguins read. We also have an email list that we occasionally give things away on, you can subscribe here if you’re interested.

Our YouTube channel is full of videos of Jewlz painting the artwork from our game. It’s mesmerizing to watch, and easy to get lost in.

We’re also on Facebook and Twitter as penguinslapgame.

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Kickstarter of the Week: Clear the Decks!

Naval warfare has never been so exciting.  In Clear the Decks! players are working together battling an enemy ship with their own navel ship and crew. Clear the Decks is designed by Christopher Pinyan of Crispy Games Co.

The Engaged Family Gaming team has had the pleasure to see Clear the Decks evolve over the past year.  Our first look at this game was at the 2017 Connecticut Festival of Independent GamesClear The Decks was again at the 2018 Connecticut Festival of Independent Games.

Can you give us a “Tale of the Tape” for your game? The title, genre, playtime, age ranges, etc. 

Clear the Decks! is a 1-4 player cooperative card game depicting ship to ship combat in the age of fighting sail. For ages 10 and up.

What is the elevator pitch? 

On the high seas, you have met your enemy. By yourself or with shipmates, you each have 3 gun crews using different ammunition, tactics, officers, and marines to attack the enemy ship’s guns, crew and structures. Can you smash enough leaks in the enemy ship before they have destroyed all of your cannons? It’s time to beat to quarters and Clear the Decks!

When is your Kickstarter going live?

The Kickstarter went live on July 17, 2018, and runs through August 16th.

Where are you in production/development? How close are you to complete? 

All the line art for the game is complete. We have a couple weeks’ worth of coloring still to do and will provide updates over the course of the campaign. Some of the stretch goal cards are already designed and just waiting for enough funding to include them in the game. We estimate that by end of August we will be ready to send to printer for production review.

Are there any other games that you think are comparable to your game? 

The closest I would consider is Castle Panic. It is also cooperative (though there still is a “winner”), there is the concept of impending danger and you have to come up with certain combinations of card and location in order to attack your target.

You’re a game designer. You could have made any game you wanted. Why did you make THIS game?

The movie Master and Commander was always a favorite. I got hooked on reading the book series, which then led to reading several non-fiction books on the US and British navies during the late 17 and early 1800’s. Reading through the sea battles, watching them in the Horatio Hornblower series on BBC made me of puzzle combinations – which cannon, which ammunition, which part of the ship, all the other issues to deal with during a battle and all of the different people on a ship – with different roles and how they all had to work together to be successful. That sounded like a great game to me. It had to be co-op and I didn’t want semi-co op where people are working together but ultimately still looking out for themselves to the possible detriment of the team. I love to see families sit down and work together, sometimes the parents coaching the kids, but plenty of times the kids getting excited and telling mom or dad what they should do. I loved the theme and it made designing now promoting the game fun. Sprinkling in a little history to maybe get people interested in reading up on the time period is a possible bonus.

What was your design process like? 

Reading and taking notes on gun sizes, the different ammunition types and what they were used for. Lots of notes on the different parts of a ship. Reading about the different other things – good and bad – that might randomly happen during a battle lead me to create Event and Fortune cards. Tricks of combat became player tactics cards and of course – all the different people became Crew cards. Then allowing myself some creative license to be less restrictive on what combinations would be allowed to attack certain cards. Some mathematics to determine a good ratio of certain cards in the game (Round shot vs Chain shot for example). Then on to gameplay – lots of testing and making sure the tension remains to the end and putting in some resource management requirements – saving the right cards for the right part of the game, but keeping the temptation there to get the unwary to use them at the wrong time and jeopardize a victory. Wanting the game available as a solitaire, and for younger and older families generated the concept of different sizes and difficulties of the ship – making lots of opportunities for interesting play among different age groups.

What is the number one reason why a family MUST purchase this game?

Work together for a change! Show how teamwork and giving can help everyone succeed together. Can’t we ALL be happy and have fun on family game night? If we do – then maybe getting people interested in another family game night is easier. This is a way to get kids interested in this topic.  It may put them down the path to developing their own reading habit. This was not the original goal of the whole game process, but if happens to be an unintended side effect – great.

How long has this game been in development? 

About 2 and a half years.  Around Feb 2015 when I started evolving the mechanics of an earlier game I was working on for 18 months previously into this one.

What obstacles did you encounter making this game? 

Number one is time! With a day job and two teenagers its tough to get even an hour of uninterrupted time to focus on something. On a personal level, getting outside the comfort zone.  First, to go out and show it to playtesters. Then take the feedback of something you worked so hard on – without taking offense. That is a real personal growth opportunity.

What did your first prototype look like? 

Blank cards I ordered online that I drew on with markers. On the back, I got a tall ship ink stamp from a scrapbooking friend and red and blue ink pads for the two card types.

Why did you get into making games? 

I grew up playing games – at home, at the park during the summer. I discovered local game conventions and once the indie game craze started – I thought I could do it.

What other information do you want us to know about you, your company, and/or your game?

Clear the Decks is driven by theme, and the theme is driven by my passion for it. I worked in a lot of little details that I love to share during demos. I hope people will discover on their own as the play the game. Inspiring people to search for a couple of my references, maybe more people become interested in an amazing period and some amazing people in history.
You can learn more about Clear the Decks! by checking out my website www.crispygamesco.com
or by following me on Instagram and Facebook at Crispygamesco.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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Your Family Rocks! is a family /party style game by Ludyo.  It is a new type of tabletop game that transforms your family photos into real cards in a real game. By merging photography and tabletop games, “Your Family Rocks!” lets you not only look at your photos but to play them as well. They took the time to answer some questions for us about their campaign. Take a look below and check out the campaign! It is live on Kickstarter now until July 13, 2018. 

Can you give us a “Tale of the Tape” for your game? The title, genre, playtime, age ranges, etc.

Your Family Rocks! is a family /party style game.  The playtime is 20 to 200 minutes and age range is 10+. Your family photos are transformed into real cards, which makes it really unique.

What is the elevator pitch?

Don’t just look at your photos…play them! Your Family Rocks puts your family memories at the center of the board game. The game uses your own family photos as the 60 “family cards” in the game, making it the first your-photos-transformed-into-cards board game. Your photos play the central role in the game, influencing your strategy, your score, your control over pieces, and in the end, how the game plays out.

When is your Kickstarter going live?

The Kickstarter went live June 12, 2018 and runs until July 13th. 

Where are you in production/development? How close are you to complete?

All production and logistic issues have been taken care of. We were waiting for a couple of reviews to strengthen our Kickstarter campaign page and completed a promotional campaign before the project launched.

Are there any other games that you think are comparable to your game?

As far as we know, this type of customized tabletop game has never been explored. Some dynamics though might resemble other card dynamics (storybuilding, theme selection, card association,…) but we have had no comments about it reminding players of a specific game.

You’re a game designer. You could have made any game you wanted. Why did you make THIS game?

1) Purpose Reason: The most important reason is the meaning associated with the concept. I think that fostering family moments based on their unique memories has value per se.

2) Uniqueness Reason: There is no such type of game yet.

3) Market Reason: If the concept is well communicated and gets track among the board game and parenting communities the potential can be quite interesting, we might expand the same concept for other types of memories (“Your Friends Rock!” for example)

What was your design process like?

Longer than expected! 😉 It started a gift for my family and the initial idea was to play our memories. As time went by, and after some plays with family and friends, I have decided to try a Kickstarter and this implied some changes. I had to simplify the mechanics in order to reach younger audiences and had to cut on some customization elements we had (people faces on meeples and family name on discs). I also had to combine the game design with the game art to make it more appealing.

What is the number one reason why a family MUST purchase this game?

It’s their photos, their memories, their game. Families take tons of photos and they look at it, but being able to play them, while remembering good times and building relations is a different thing. The best reason is: by playing their past memories we believe families will strengthen their future relations.  To transform photos into real game cards, you just need to upload 60 photos to the Ludyo platform, and we’ll turn them into real game cards. We will assemble the game and deliver it at your doorstep.

How long has this game been in development?

3 years

What obstacles did you encounter making this game?

Having the game dynamics/mechanisms closed was the first one. But the most important issue was logistics. The current supply chain of the board game industry is not capable of providing this type of customized solution so we had to make sure we were able to assemble potentially thousands of customized games . We are now very solid on this, but it took as a long time to get to it.

What did your first prototype look like?

Very different from the current version. The design was completely different, the mechanics were more complex and the game components were more customized than they are now. (as explained on “What was your design process like?”)

Why did you get into making games?

The inner desire to make a game has been inside for a long time. When I was 20 I tried making a board game about guards and prisoners, but I failed. Then I created a deck building game for standard 52 deck cards. I reached a new level when I decided to make a board game as a Christmas gift for my family. Family and friends liked it and gave me the incentive to try a Kickstarter. I am continuously provoked with new ideas for board games through daily conversations or simply walking on the street. It just comes naturally, which I believe is a sign that I should at least give it a try.

What other information do you want us to know about you, your company, and/or your game?

Feel free to visit our Facebook page where you can find a couple of videos explaining the concept and how to play: https://www.facebook.com/YourFamilyRocks/ One point we have been asked many times: Why Kickstarter? Kickstarter is a good way to 1) test market acceptance of such new concept 2) clarify who our authentic demand is (those who cannot not try the game) 3) global reach and brand association with the concept and 3) support the project development only if succeed (no production costs if the project is not succeeded) 

We hope that, by playing their memories, families will strengthen future relationships. This has always been our guiding star.


What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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Kickstarter Campaign of the Week: Christmas Lights Card Game

Summer has just begin, and Christmas is the last think on our minds.  It is time to think cool, plan ahead, and check out Christmas Lights Card Game, a holiday-themed set collection game.  It has the 9 additional bonus games that can be played using the cards.  The game is currently live on Kickstarter, and runs until June 27th. The cost for one copy is $15 and the shipping in the U.S. is only $2. The game is for 2-6 players and is recommended for players age 6 and up.

Can you give us a “Tale of the Tape” for your game? The title, genre, playtime, age ranges, etc.

Christmas Lights Card Game – holiday themed family-friendly set collection game ages 6+ for 2 to 6 players

What is the elevator pitch?

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, Christmas! Players will swap, play, trade, and draw Christmas Light Bulbs into their own sets of lights as they race to be the first to complete two strands.

Christmas Lights Card Game features art by Dave Perillo and was designed by Adam Collins and Chad Head.

 

When is your Kickstarter going live?

We went live Tuesday May 29th and were quite excited to see us fund in under 8 hours! The campaign runs until June 27th.

Where are you in production/development? How close are you to complete?

The game is complete and will be ready to go to production shortly after the Kickstarter campaign concludes.

Are there any other games that you think are comparable to your game?

It gets a lot of comparisons to a competitive version of Hanabi, mainly because players hold their cards facing outward. Each player cannot view their own hand, but can see all of the cards other players are holding.

 

You’re a game designer. You could have made any game you wanted. Why did you make THIS game?

I love the Christmas season. I’m one of those people who decorate their house right after Halloween and keeps it up through mid January. When I saw the design that Adam Collins and Chad Head made with Christmas Lights, I just had to contact them about partnering up with me to publish their game.

What was your design process like?

The game was largely complete when I brought it on board. One of the first things we did was start to trim down the card counts by making a few modifications. Next I wanted to create a little more player interaction, so I worked with Adam and Chad H. to add more variability with the wild and event cards.

What is the number one reason why a family MUST purchase this game?

Value and variety. For what is a very reasonable price point, you can play 10 different games with a variety of player counts and ages.

How long has this game been in development?

I started with working with Adam and Chad H. back in February to get the game ready to launch on KS in late May.

What obstacles did you encounter making this game?

I would say time was really the biggest obstacle. We had a lot to do in a very short window of time in order to bring this game to KS early enough in the year to give us the runway to fulfill it to backers by the holidays.

 

What did your first prototype look like?

When I signed the game, they already had some placeholder art for the game. I wanted to give it a retro vintage styling with a modern touch. I’ve been a fan of Dave Perillo’s artwork for some time and he has that look to the work he creates. I was fortunate to have him work on the project and it looks drastically different from when the game was first signed from the designers.

Why did you get into making games?

I’m a board gamer first and foremost. I love playing all kinds of tabletop games. As such, I approach every new game project with the same enthusiasm and passion for creating something I can be proud to put on the table.

What other information do you want us to know about you, your company, and/or your game?

This is my fourth tabletop project, having published two puzzles and one prior game. I am currently working on art development for the next game 25th Century is going to publish in Q4 called “Winner Winner Chicken Dinner.” I also have two additional game designs from different designers for 2019 that will begin development efforts soon.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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Kickstarter of the Week: On Their Merry Way
On Their Merry Way is a Robin Hood themed game we first saw at the Boston Festival of Independent Games (BFIG).

Can you give us a “Tale of the Tape” for your game? The title, genre, playtime, age ranges, etc. 

On Their Merry Way is a path building game for 2-5 players ages 13+ that takes roughly 45 to 60 minutes.

What is the elevator pitch? 

On Their Merry Way is a unique path building game for 2-5 players, who take on the role of Robin Hood’s Merry Men, setting traps along the trails of Sherwood Forest and trying to fool the wealthy merchants during their travels.

When is your Kickstarter  live?

May 15th 2018

Where are you in production/development? How close are you to complete? 

On Their Merry Way is in the final prototyping stages and will be in production as soon as it reaches its funding goal.

Are there any other games that you think are comparable to your game? 

On Their Merry Way is a one of a kind game that stands alone in the tabletop community. Some have compared it to tower defense style games but its unique path building mechanic is completely new.

You’re a game designer. You could have made any game you wanted. Why did you make THIS game? 

At New Experience Workshop we strive to make games we want to play that don’t yet exist. On Their Merry Way is a completely unique experience that is fun and strategic in its own way.

What was your design process like? 

We were inspired by the Tiny Epic model’s use of a low component count, three types of resources and a rich selection of choices to be made. However, as On Their Merry Way came to be, it developed into an entirely unique game that broke that mold and forged its own.

What is the number one reason why a family MUST purchase this game?

It’s a new type of challenge that provides something for all age levels. It provides a new challenge for older players who will enjoy figuring out the puzzle of path building, but provides equal footing for younger players as it is a completely new genre of game for everyone.

How long has this game been in development? 

One year

What obstacles did you encounter making this game? 

We struggled at first to find balance in all the moving parts of the game, but as we cut away some of the superfluous parts and got to the core of the game, we found that while certain aspects were fun in their own right, they added more complexity than necessary and ultimately detracted from the main experience.
What did your first prototype look like? *
Our first prototype was themed around the hay-day of Route 66 travel and featured cars in the traveler positions and roadside attractions in place of traps.

Why did you get into making games? 

I feel fulfilled when I’m making games. Games provide a shared social construct for people to interact and have a good time, which I feel is more and more important in our ever-technologically involved world.
What other information do you want us to know about you, your company, and/or your game?
We are a two-person team working as hard as possible to bring our games to the world and share our joy with as many people as possible!
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Fire Tower board game logo

Hello and Welcome to Engage!: A Family Gaming Podcast! This is episode 130. This week we are talking board games and this week Stephen and Rob are joined by the team at Runaway Parade games to talk about Fire Tower!

Host:

Stephen Duetzmann @EFGaming

Co-Host:

Rob Kalajian, A Pawn’s Perspective

Runaway Parade Games

Around the Horn

The Legend of Korra: Pro Bending Arena

Streets of Steel

Qwirkle Cubes

Sumer

Topic

Fire Tower Kickstarter!

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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Kickstarter Campaign of the Week: Goblin Grapple Preview and Q and A

Sometimes goblins need to go to war. Goblin Grapple is a strategic card game from Silver Gaming Company which is launching on Kickstarter on May 6th. In Goblin Grapple players compete to build up their goblin armies by besting their opponents in combat. Its a family-friendly card game that kids will enjoy (ours did) and will act as a great filler game for your board game nights.

Campaign

The goal in Goblin Grapple is to race your opponents to 100 points. You do so by winning combat challenges with your opponents and capturing their goblins over a series of rounds. You start by drawing five numbered goblin cards. On your turn you draw another card and can either place a goblin card from your hand face down to defend you or challenge an opponent by placing a goblin card from your hand face up. Combat is resolved like the card game War or the board game Stratego. Higher value cards will capture lower value cards (unless the card has a power that states otherwise).  Take a look at the video below for a great demo video from Silver Gaming Company themselves!

Goblin cards can be used for either offense or defense, but not both. I really enjoyed that tension because every decision I made impacted the rest of the round. Unfortunately, I felt like that tension was held back by a lack of card variety.  There are only six different card types and of those card types only three of them have unique powers. I am sure this was a result of play testing and that it was a necessary concession in order to balance the game. But, that is still a limitation for me.

With that said, I don’t think that lack of variety hindered my children’s fun at all. In fact, I think that the relatively small number of card types made the game MORE fun for them. Kid’s don’t get to enjoy light gaming experiences very often. They either get forced into crunchier games with their parents or stuck with mass market “games” that are often more activities than anything else. Goblin Grapple hit a sweet spot with my boys where they could play together while chatting about other things. That’s something that they can’t normally do while still enjoying the game they are playing. That is worth the purchase all by itself in my opinion.

Travis Haglund, the designer, took some time to answer some questions for us about his game and its Kickstarter campaign. Take a look below for the Q and A!

What is the elevator pitch for Goblin Grapple

A fast paced strategy game based on elements of Stratego and Classic War

When is your Kickstarter going live?

May 6

Where are you in production/development? How close are you to complete? 

Finalized internal prototypes.

Are there any other games that you think are comparable to your game? 

There are elements of Stratego in our game, but this game plays much quicker.

You’re a game designer. You could have made any game you wanted. Why did you make THIS game? 

My goal with this game was to invoke suspense and laughter while player. I needed the learning curve to be low to be family friendly, but still wanted strategy for more serious gamers – plus the goblin theme!

What was your design process like? 

We rapid-prototyped this game with inspiration from Stratego (one of my favorite games as a kid). I wanted the cards to be simple to learn with only a single stat per card! In order to achieve this, special goblins with abilities were added. Getting the synergy to click between them took some time, but with a lot of family and local gamers’ support I am confident in the balance now.

What is the number one reason why a family MUST purchase this game?

Its fun!

How long has this game been in development? 

6 months

What obstacles did you encounter making this game? 

Card Synergy

What did your first prototype look like? 

We used placeholder art for the first prototype and printed it on our home printer so not the greatest. 🙂

Why did you get into making games? 

To see other people enjoy something you created. It is an incredible feeling.

What other information do you want us to know about you, your company, and/or your game?

We are in this for the long run, and want to build a community slow and steady. We are always open to feedback and suggestions, so please reach out!


What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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Episode 128: Darryl Jones and Dobbers: Quest for the Key

Hello and Welcome to Engage!: A Family Gaming Podcast! This is episode 127. This week we are talking video games and Stephen pitches Jonathan his favorites of PAX East

Host:

Stephen Duetzmann @EFGaming

Co-Host:

Rob Kalajian, A Pawn’s Perspective

Linda Wrobel

Darryl Jones, Dobbers: Quest for the Key!

 

 

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

Follow us on Facebook!

Like us on Twitter!

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Most fire fighting games are cooperative, but in the game Fire Tower, you compete with other players to protect your fire tower from the fire and spread the fire to your opponent’s tower. There are components of hand management and area control incorporated into the game. Fire Tower is for 2-4 player ages 13 and up. Game play takes approximately 15-30 minutes. Fire Tower launched on Kickstarter April 24, 2018.

Setting the Stage

Smoke rises on the horizon. A fire rages somewhere in the heart of the forest. From the height of a fire tower, you command the efforts to defend your tower and take down your opponents. With each turn, the inferno grows. Harness the power of the wind to push the blaze towards the other towers, clear tracts of land to fortify your tower, hinder the plans of your opponents with torrents of water, and unleash an arsenal of fire cards upon your foes. Each card has a unique pattern with its own tactical advantage. You must effectively direct the resources in your hand and use sound spatial planning to deploy them.

Game Components

  • Folding Board with grid
  • 50 Action Cards
    • Fire Cards
    • Water Cards
    • Fire Breaks
    • Wind Direction
  • 4 Bucket Cards
  • 1 Firestorm Card
  • Custom Eight-Sided Die
  • Rule Book
  • 24 Wooden Firebreak Tokens
  • 135 Fire Gems

Gameplay

First, each player receives one bucket card, which is kept face up.  Next, 5 cards are dealt to each player as their starting hand, and finally the weather vane die is rolled to determine wind direction.   

Player Turns

At the beginning of each players turn they must add one fire token in the direction indicated on the weather vane die.  The fire token must be adjacent to an existing fire token or the eternal flame. The fire occupying four squares in the center represents the eternal flame. The second portion of their turn each player can either play a card and draw a new one or discard as many as they want and redraw to 5 without taking any actions.  This option comes in handy when there are no viable options in your hand.

Player can take  a range of actions depending on the card they play. There are Fire cards that spread the fire regardless of wind direction.  Water cards put out the fire in a small area. Fire Break cards create areas the fire is unable to burn, but may not be added to adjacent spots with a Fire Break.  One exception is that they may be placed diagonally to an existing Fire Break.

Players are working to defend their Fire Tower, the nine squares in the corner of the board, and to breach their opponents. In the Fire Tower squares fire can spread, but water and fire breaks can not be used. This is where the bucket card comes into play.  Players can use it once per turn to extinguish 3 fire tokens in a row, as long as one is within the tower. Once fire reaches the orange square in the corner that player is eliminated.

Eliminated Players and Victory

Eliminated players give their cards to the player that eliminated them. That player adds the cards to their hand, and discards down to six cards. All remaining players in the game add a card to their hand.  The eliminated player rolls the weathervane die to exact their “revenge” and causes a Firestorm. A Firestorm add one fire token in the wind direction to all existing fire. There is also one card which causes the same effect. Play continues and if there is another elimination the hand size increases to seven. The last player without a burned Fire Tower wins.

Family Gaming Assessment 

Fire Tower is enjoyable and accessible. I think that players far younger than the recommended age can have fun with this. The rules and game play are easy to learn and the game play is intuitive.

Fire Tower has core mechanics that are easy to grasp by younger players and novice gamers.  Additionally, it also incorporates a depth of strategy which veteran players can find engaging.  The variety of mechanics and strategy makes this game a good choice for mixed ages and various skill levels.

The theme, while about a spreading forest fire and burning a Fire Tower, is not graphic.  If anything the more the board fills with fire tokens the prettier it gets.  The cards incorporate a description and a grid representation of the effect making them easy to understand.  This is another great way the game scales down to both younger and less experienced gamers.

Conclusion

Fire Tower is a awesome addition to any family game collection.  I have played the prototype and . I was able to teach the game to new players on my second play through. The Kickstarter funded in only two hours, and there is a lot of excitement for this unique games. This is the your chance to get unique and family friendly game though Kickstarter.

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Dobbers: Quest for the Key is an encounter building, deck building, strategy game that is currently live on Kickstarter. It was designed and is being brought to Kickstarter by Darryl Jones. He took the time to answer some questions for us about his campaign. Take a look below and check out the campaign!

Can you give us a “Tale of the Tape” for your game? The title, genre, playtime, age ranges, etc.

Dobbers: Quest for the Key is a whimsical, high-fantasy, family game for ages 8 and up.  It is a 2-4 player game, which usually takes about an hour to play.

What is the elevator pitch?

Dobbers: Quest for the Key is a whimsical, family friendly board game for 2-4 players. It is an encounter building, deck building, strategy game. Create surprise encounters for your opponent while building your deck and equipping your hero. The mechanics are simple enough for children to enjoy with engaging strategies for adults. It has a high fantasy theme, with comic-book style, bold illustrations. There are two basic strategies essential to winning the game:  Placing challenging encounters on the board, preventing other players from being able to advance along their chosen path. Equipping your hero and building up your personal deck so that you can more easily overcome any encounters that have been placed along your path.

When is your Kickstarter going live?

April 16th

Where are you in production/development? How close are you to complete?

The game mechanics and testing are complete. There will be refinement with Kickstarter feedback of course, and there is still quite a bit of illustrations to complete for cards.

Are there any other games that you think are comparable to your game?

Clank and Legendary are both deck builders that use a game board, but I’ve not seen any other deck builder that allows you to build encounters for your opponents. I believe it’s a very unique process.

You’re a game designer. You could have made any game you wanted. Why did you make THIS game?

When I was younger, my Grandpa would say, “Keep your dobbers up!” when I felt down. I never really knew what a Dobber was, so I decided to create them. Inspired by the legends of fantasy creators, they became little gnome-like creatures living in the forest. Later, I decided to write and illustrate a comic book. I self published it in 2001. My career as a designer took over shortly after that, and it sat dormant for a while. Marriage, kids, work, all those things progressed.

A few years back I got into gaming in a big way once again. I wanted more games that could “thread the needle” between challenging strategy and young player engagement. The Dobbers never left the back of my mind. I started talking about it with my son and inspiration struck! We were going to make a board game! I focused on mechanics and design while he helped flesh out a lot of theme ideas. He also had a lot of input on what would make the game fun for him. There’s a lot of story involved, though all of it may not come out in our first board game, the story will unfold as we publish more games in the series.

What was your design process like?

It started with index cards for the cards and graph paper for the board. Next I laid out a card template in Illustrator, printed and cut out a bunch. There were blank spaces for each of the stats needed, so I could fill them out, test, replace and do it all again. This made for a quick way to iterate testing and balancing. Slowly I began working on illustrations, icons and other common design elements that would be necessary. All the while, continuing to test and brainstorm with my son. After a few months, we got our first set of cards printed at Staples. They looked pretty bad. My colors were too dark and the difference in groups were too subtle.

I redesigned the borders, frames and color schemes. We took it to GenCon in 2017 to play test with strangers. It went really well. Almost all positivist feedback. I’ve done a little more refinement on the frames and other common elements. Now, in addition to finishing illustrations for the individual cards, I’m working on graphics for the rules, promotional items and box. I expect the process will go through another round of refinement as I get feedback and suggestions from the Kickstarter community.

What is the number one reason why a family MUST purchase this game?

As mentioned before, the goal was to create a game that was engaging for kids, but still something an adult could sink their teeth into. I think we’ve done that. Kids will enjoy the art and be swept away by the idea of equipping their hero while putting cool monsters in front of their opponent. Younger kids will get to practice basic addition and subtraction. My hero’s = 1 +1 for her sword +1 for her armor and she is facing a location that totals 4, who wins? And adults will enjoy finding the perfect card combination to over come even the most challenging encounter. It’s got it all!

How long has this game been in development?

A little over a year.

What obstacles did you encounter making this game?

For Dobbers: Quest for the Key, I am the Game Designer, Graphic Designer, Illustrator, R&D, Marketing, Web Development and everything else guy. Wow, there is so much to do! Apparently most people have a team to publish a game. I completely underestimated it all. I expect to have a little more help for my next game.  I’ve found that the number of individual illustrations to create is a huge time investment. I might have changed a few concepts earlier if I thought there was a way to make some illustrations reusable.

What did your first prototype look like?

Just note cards and graph paper. 🙂

Why did you get into making games?

I’ve been a gamer of all kinds since the mid 80’s. It’s been my goal to be a published creator since high school. I let that goal lie dormant for a while, but now I’m glad to have it back as a passion.

What other information do you want us to know about you, your company, and/or your game?

A little more about me in the gaming industry. I’ve done a lot of behind-the-scenes work. Now it’s time to move a little more into the forefront. I was the designer and illustrator for a lot of classic Dwarven Forge resin sets, Realm of the Ancients, Den of Evil, the Medieval Building set and more.  I Illustrated all of the walls and other assets needed for True Heroes. A True Dungeon event was sponsored by Upper Deck at GenCon several years ago. I continue to work with Jeff on True Dungeon and have designed the logos and ads for TD for the last 10 years. I run a D&D 5 game on the ExplodingDice channel based in the world I created in 2001, the Dobbers.  And the big one – I have a board game coming to Kickstarter also in the world of the Dobbers on April 16th.

You can contact me here:  darryl@splatteredink.com. I share much of my illustration on these social media platforms, including streaming my illustration process on twitch.

Twitter.com/splatteredink,

Instagram.com/splatteredink

twitch.tv/splatteredink

facebook.com/splattered1.

The official website can be found at splatteredink.com and dobbersquest.com.


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