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The team at Runaway Parade Games has taken their hit game Fire Tower and created an expansion with more fire spreading and fire fighting components. They incorporated Firehawks into the game, added new cards, added events, as well as expanded the Shadow in the Wood card. Click here to see the preview of the base game Fire Tower.

Expansion Components

  • 27 Core Expansion Cards (these include a hawk symbol in the bottom right corner to distinguish them)
  • 18 Fire Hawks
  • 1 Shadow Power Card
  • 1 Shadow Die
  • 4 Heavy Wind Cards
  • 4 Lookout Cards
  • 3 New Event Cards
  • 4 Lightning Meeples

Gameplay

The basic gameplay follows most of the original rules with the following changes in the expansion;

  • The starting hand size increases from five to six cards
  • New cards included: Rolling firebrand, A Crown fire, Creeping fires, Helitack’s, Backburns, Northwest, Southwest, Northeast, Southeast
  • Firehawks and special Firehawk cards
  • New events
  • New abilities
  • Expanded The Shadow in the Wood role in games with three or four players
  • Solo mode

Firehawks

Based on the Australian birds, the real life birds carry burning branches to areas not burned trying to flush out prey. In the game, Fire hawks start in a vacant space in the players quadrant of the board. If a fire gem lands on the same spaces of a Firehawk, that Firehawk is activated. The player of the activated Firehawk immediately moves the fire gem to any vacant space on the board adjacent to a pre existing fire gem.

New Cards

The new cards add a few new ways to spread the fire, and a few new ways to put out the fire. What is so intriguing about the base game a fire tower as well as the expansion is that all the terminology is authentic firefighting terminology. The new cards include:

  • Rolling Firebrand is a rolling flaming log, and it allows the player to move any two orthogonality adjacent fire gems two spaces horizontally or vertically.
  • A Crown Fire is what occurs when the fire spreads across the treetops. With this card players can place two fire gems orthogonality adjacent to a fire gem on the board. This card has one special feature and if you have two of these cards you can play both and place up to four cards.
  • Creeping Fires a caused by bits of burning plant matter that spreads the fire to the surrounding trees. To play this card the players can add three gems to anyplace on the board that is adjacent to existing gems and are not orthogonality adjacent to each other.
  • Helitack’s use helicopters to transport in supplies or crews in to support fire fighting efforts. This card allows you to remove two adjacent gems and one other gem that can also be adjacent or separate.
  • Backburns is the strategy of intentionally burning an area in controlled manner to consume the fuel. Playing this card allows players to remove one fire gem and replace it with a firebreak token.
  • Northwest, Northeast, Southwest, Southeast wind cards allows the players to either change the wind direction in either cardinal direction, roll for a new wind direction, or place one gem in the direction on the card.

The Shadow

The Shadow of the Wood represents the vengeful spirits of eliminated towers. In the base game the Shadow exists as a single card and has a single time effect. In the expansion, the role of the shadow is expanded and re-imagined. Players can choose to add in The Shadow in a game with three or more players. Any eliminated player immediately becomes the shadow. The Shadow wins the game if all the towers in the forest are burned before the start of the next active towers turn. This feature removes the player elimination element from the game. Once a players tower burns their role merely shifts.

To add to the mayhem, the actions taken by the Shadow have a random element. On their turn the the player rolls a 6 sided die, and performing the action corresponding with that number on the Shadow Power card. Some of the actions the Shadow may take include: Activating a firehawk, place a fire gem, draw three cards and play two. The most interesting option provided a push your luck element. The Shadow players can roll as many times as they want. If the roll is under 5 the Shadow gains a fire gem, and can continue adding gems as long as their rolls are one through four. The player can stop rolling and place the accumulated gems at any time. However, if the player rolls a five or six before they stop, all the gems get discarded.

Ability Cards

Rising Flames adds two new abilities, and like the bucket card in the original game, these abilities have two sides to them. One is the Heavy Wind/ Light Breeze. This card allows the player the one time use of Heavy Wind where they can play as many wind cards as they want, and add fire gems as noted at the bottom of the card. The card is then flipped over and the player has the Light breeze ability for the rest of the game. The light breeze allows the player to play one additional; wind card on their turn and place a fire gem in that wind direction.

The other ability card is Look Out. This one time ability allows the player to draw three cards, play one of them and discard the other two. After using the Look Out ability, players flip the card and gain the Patrol ability. Patrol allows the player to discard on card from your hand without taking that action. Then draw two cards from the deck, play one and keep the other in hand.

Event Cards

Just as in the original game, new event cards go into effect as soon as they are drawn. Also, players have the flexibility to incorporated as many or few events as players want. This flexibility allows players to make the game more challenging.

The new events include:

  • Dry Storm, which is a weather event with lightning but no rain. At the beginning of the game four lightning bolts are placed on the board. These lightning bolts moved around over the course of the gameplay as fire moves into their spaces. Once the Dry Storm card comes up, the player rolls the wind die and adds fire gems in that direction off of each lightning bolt. The lightning strike four times, so this process is repeated three more times!
  • Kettle Flight has the group of Firehaws, move about the board. A group of firehawks is known as a Kettle . Each player in turn order starting with the players that drew the card, can active or add two firehawks, depending on the number of players. Players can also rearainge their firehawks.
  • Mobilization has the player who draws the card then draw one more card than the number of player. They then pick and play one card, and passes the cards to the next player who picks an plays a card. Each player picks a card from these drawn card, and the one extra is discarded.

Family Game Assessment

The base game of Fire Tower is a wonderful family game. Rising Flames add rich gameplay and enhances the game experience. Both the base and the expansion list the age as 14 and up, but it is a great game for much younger players. The prerequisite for accessibility of this game is reading ability, once a player can proficiently read the different cards then they can play the game. The readability needed is typically approachable by children about age seven or eight. A precocious reader who is experience in board games and strategy could be even younger and successfully play. I played with my whole family and my youngest just turned eight, and he needed little help with reading the cards, but still was able to play with little support.

What makes they perfect for the family is there are so many ways to pick and choose different elements in the game to make it easier or harder. Players can pick and choose the event cards they include in the game. For younger players, they can skip the events altogether.

The other element that adds a huge family friendly component is the Shadow in the Woods. This removes the player elimination from the game. With children, it can be very frustrating when their tower burns and they is only a chance the will get to effect the game again. With the expanded Shadow roll now there is no elimination, only a change in roll. This makes the game a better fit for more families.

One final feature that is noteworthy is the firehawk meeples. Fire Tower has a beautiful board that looks more amazing as it fills with fire gems. The fire hawk meeple adds another amazing visual effect to the board.

Conclusion

If you have a copy of Fire Tower it is a must to get the expansion Rising Flames. If you have not played Fire Tower it is a great addition to your game collection, and Rising Flames adds such wonderful new elements, and it is a must buy! For more information you can click here to sign up for the mailing list or get more information.

FCC disclosure: a preview copy of Rising Flame was provided for review.


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Kickstarter is a great place to find interesting ideas. It is full of brilliant creators looking for a market for their projects. The team at Move38 is among them now. They launched their campaign for the Blinks Game system today and I think it is definitely worth checking out!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/move38/blinks-game-system-20-new-smart-tabletop-games?ref=discovery&term=blinks
Blinks Game System: 20 New Games
Games with living pieces that think for themselves.

I have to admit. When Move38 reached out to me a few weeks ago. I was perplexed. I hadn’t seen anything like Blinks before. But, as I dug into their YouTube channel, and their posts on Instagram is all became clear. Blinks is a gadget that bridges the gap between video games and board games (and a pretty cool one at that).

“Blinks are intelligent game pieces that respond to touch, communicate with each other, and think for themselves. … Blinks were designed with the hand in mind and with modular board arrangements for endless possibilities.”

Move38

In a nutshell, each Blinks hex-piece is both a game piece, a portion of a potential game board, AND a virtual “cartridge” with a game on it. Connecting multiple Blinks hex-pieces together will allow them to “learn” to play games on the different hexes. This is a fascinating concept that have a lot of cool options. As of right now there are 20 different games available on the system.

The Blinks pieces are also programs using the Arduino platform. This is a simple coding language that is used in some of the most popular STEM kits. This means that budding game designers can pick these things up and use them to build their own games! In fact, four of the twelve games launching with the system were made during short term game jams.

The price to back the campaign and receive a 6-pack of the blinks pieces (and six games) is $79 US. That includes a super cool “Sushi-Roll” carrying case. That is relatively expensive compared to most video games or board games, but this is an innovative product that is definitely worth a look for tech enthusiasts.


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

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CMON and Spin Master Games are currently are currently using Kickstarter to fund and generate hype for an adorable cooperative card game set in the Marvel Universe.

Marvel United is a 2-4 player fully cooperative game designed by Eric M. Lang and Andrea Chiarvesio where players each choose a marvel superhero and work together to thwart a villains master plan. The base game was set to include five heroes (Captain America, Hulk, Iron Man, Captain Marvel, and Black Widow), but the stretch goals that have been met through crowdfunding have added thirty one additional heroes and seven new villains to the base game.

The stretch goals have also unlocked six additional expansions that can be purchases add-ons. Each of them includes thematically appropriate heroes and villains as well as new gameplay scenarios. They are:

  • Tales of Asgard
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Remix
  • Rise of the Black Panther
  • Enter the Spider-Verse
  • The Infinity Gauntlet

How Do You Play?

This is a great how to play video that explains provides an overview of gameplay.

Our Thoughts

We haven’t seen this game in action yet outside of some videos and previews around the web, but Eric Lang and Andrea Chiarvesio are talented game designers. Eric in particular has never let us down before.

It is also hard to argue with the aesthetic for families. The Chibi art style looks great when applied to Marvel heroes and villains.

The giant stack of heroes that have been added to the original five is also a great boon. A base purchase of $60 plus shipping gives you more than 30 heroes to choose from. If you elect to go “all in” at $190, then the number almost doubles.

Another advantage to backing this campaign is that there is, quit literally, no risk. CMON has a great track record of delivering Kickstarter projects on time and with gusto. You can back this without hesitation if it sounds interesting to you!

What do you think? Are you backing this one? 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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On the floor of New York Toy Fair I had the pleasure to meet the Ok2 Win team. They showed off their newest game, DOOM ON YOU that is currently live on Kickstarter, and shared the creative process.

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

DOOM ON YOU is a friendly game of strategy, bribery, and destruction. It is a light to medium-weighted game that can be played by kids 8+, while still being fun for gamers of all ages and interests. It takes about 30-40 minutes to play, though the first round may take a little longer as everyone learns the rhythm.

What is the elevator pitch?

The world is ending and there are some surprisingly powerful animals that are battling for each other’s food. Natural disasters, food fights, and destruction await you at every turn. In order to survive and win, you will need some strategy, luck, and maybe even a little bit of bribery.

When is your Kickstarter going live?

The DOOM ON YOU is currently live and runs until March 12th. You can link too the Kickstarter page here.

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

The base game is complete and nearly ready for production . We just have to make a few modifications to the box design and create a pre-production sample with our printer. There is still some work to do to finish the design for the expansion packs, but we are confident that the game and expansions will be delivered as promised for June 2020.

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

It has a mix of Unstable Unicorns with the battles, a mix of Exploding Unicorns with the destructive DOOM cards, as well as some unique mechanics that we think really make it fun.

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

We’ve had the idea to build a game around this name for years. We met a great game designer who had a concept that we loved, and it all just came together.

What was your design process like?

This was a team effort. Ray Nelson, our game designer, presented us with the concept and we quickly fell in love with it. Our artist, Carrie Pine, helped shape the vision of which animals to use and how they should look; she also added some great elements to the game play. I have done my best to guide the process and help all of the great ideas of others come together.

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

If you want a light-hearted way to battle each other and really get the competitive juices flowing, DOOM ON YOU is it. Kids can quickly pick up on the strategy and they learn that they can work together to win a battle, though sometimes they can do it on their own.

How long has this game been in development?

Ray has been working on his idea for years, so it’s definitely been tested.

What obstacles did you encounter making this game?

For every game I create, I do my best to make a high-quality and quick demo video. I still need to create the demo video for this game; and, with some of the nuanced rules and strategies, I want to make sure that I include everything that should be included in that official video. That’s the biggest project that remains, and I’ll be sure it’s completed by the time the rewards ship.

What did your first prototype look like?

Cut out pieces of paper with ink sloppily written all over the place.

Why did you get into making games?

I had worked for years in public accounting; however, I decided that I wanted to do something that brought a smile to people’s faces. Creating games is a great way to do that.

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

Company name is Ok2Win. Check out the website here.

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Empty Space is a set collection card game about exploring the vastness of space and, ultimately, landing a rocket on an exoplanet.

It is currently live on Kickstarter. The campaign is asking for less than $2,000 US. That is a very modest goal, and one that they should meet. This is a very cool game.

Empty Space doesn’t have a board. Instead, you deal out an array of cards from the deck in whatever shape you want. It is best to start with a 4 x 6 grid with 4 exoplanet cards on one side, but you (or your kids!) can get wild with it and create all kinds of cool shapes.

On their turn, each player has a choice to either research or explore.

  • Researching consists of drawing cards from a deck blindly or choosing from a pair of revealed cards (similarly to Ticket to Ride).
  • Exploring consists of attempting to move your probe or rocket onto and across the various cards that on the array you created at the beginning of the game.

You’re trying to do a number of things by choosing between those steps and you need to balance them carefully.

  • All of the cards in the array start face down, with the exception of a few that are chosen at the beginning of the game. Players discard non-matched pairs of cards to peek at the cards or flip them over.
  • Building a probe for exploration and a rocket to eventually fly to the exoplanet you discovered requires discarding sets of four matching colored cards.
  • You can “shape the universe” and block your opponent or help yourself by discarding three matched cards. This is, in my opinion, one of the hardest decisions you’ll make as a player. You really have to be careful messing with your opponents because it can bit you in the end by making your own path more complicated.

Our whole family enjoyed Empty Space for different reasons. My oldest enjoyed the map variety and has suggested a whole bunch of differently shaped arrays. My youngest likes the ease of exploration (and messing with her brothers by putting black holes in their path). I just like a simple game that all of us can play together without any real difficulty.

Our friends at the Stay at Home Gamersgot their hands on Empty Space as well! I was able to watch their family of four play the game on a live stream. Their experience confirmed my thoughts. Their kids loved the experience and were chattering the whole time.

I love how easy it is to modify the difficulty of Empty Space. We can make it a little easier when playing with the kids and increase the difficulty when playing with only adults.

Darcy – Stay at Home Gamers

I agree with Darcy on this one. One of Empty Space’s strengths is that is plays well among different age groups. Younger kids can play it together and enjoy it without much intervention from parents or older siblings. Families with mixed skill levels can enjoy it as well.

The campaign will be live on Kickstarter for a little while longer and is definitely worth a look. Head on over!

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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I’m known as one of the family gaming guys. So, naturally, I’m sent and shown a lot of games that purport to be family friendly and accessible to younger gamers.

A lot of the games we see attempt to take complex game types like dungeon crawlers, RPGs, dexterity games, etc and eschew some of the mechanics or components to simplify the experience. This approach works wonders because most kids love to play games and just need a few obstacles cleared out of their way in order to really enjoy themselves.

The Game!

Dungeon Drop achieves this simplicity in an elegant and clever way: it skips the entire concept of a game board.Look. I know what you’re saying. How, exactly, do they do that?

Honestly, the answer is so simple you are going to be embarrassed that you didn’t think of it on your own. (I know I am!) – They skip the board part entirely.

This is an animated gif illustrating the rules of the game.
This is literally the entire game.

The titular “Dungeon” in Dungeon Drop is created by dropping an assortment of colored cubes onto the play surface. Each colored cube represents a different object ranging from grey pillars (which help form the rooms) to orange keys, and green Boblins. (No. I didn’t spell that wrong.)

On their turn, each player sprinkles a few more cubes into the playing field to mix the dungeon up a bit, uses a player power based on their race or class, and “loots a room” by choosing three grey pillars in the play area and collecting all of the cubes inside the triangle that creates.

This simple gameplay loop can be taught in a few minutes and gameplay is fast. My first demo with a member of the Phase Shift Games staff took place between ordering our sandwiches at a restaurant and those sandwiches arriving. Experienced players will cruise through a game in ten minutes.

Don’t let that simplicity concern you though. The race/class combinations are enough to add variety to a game with a fixed board. The fact that the “board” changes every game based on how the cubes bounce is a bonus!

The Downside

Dungeon Drop was a fun game to play, but there is one unavoidable pitfall that you encounter when playing it with kids. Building the dungeon required dropping a bunch of tiny pieces onto the playing surface. One miscalculation when a younger player does the initial drop can lead to a HUGE dungeon, a big mess (as cubes go flying everywhere), and a challenging play experience without a yardstick.

The rules give you guidance on how to avoid it, but the risk is there regardless. I highly recommend that families add the additional house rule that oldest player at the table do the initial drop. (Trust me.)

The Bottom Line

Dungeon Drop’s asking price on Kickstarter is $16 (with a $22 deluxe edition). That’s a very good price when you take into account the amount of game in this tiny package. It’s definitely worth a look.

FCC Disclosure: A prototype copy of Dungeon Drop was provided for the purposes of this review.

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https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/weirdgiraffegames/big-easy-busking-0?ref=discovery&term=big%20easy%20busking

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

Big Easy Busking is an area control game for 1-5 players that plays in about 45 minutes for ages 8+

What is the elevator pitch? 

Big Easy Busking is an area control game for 1-5 players about being the best street musician in New Orleans. The game is played over three days, where players choose which locations to play their set of songs. It takes time to play a song, so players decide on their next turn whether they’re going to use all of their energy at the location or to only use some of it to save the rest for later songs. If a player matches the mood of the people with the song that they’re playing, they can get bonus tips!

Escalating Rounds: The game starts with three locations players can play at, but by the final round, there’s five locations so players have to choose where to play wisely! Engaging Gameplay: Players determine how much energy to allocate to each location after seeing how other players play, so players pay attention to what happens between their turns. Thematic Actions: Songs require differing amounts of energy from musicians and players are rewarded greatly for playing the songs that the crowd wants to hear.

When is your Kickstarter running until?

June 6th.

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

It is live on Kickstarter! Click here to check it out!

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

World’s Fair 1893

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

I’m the publisher, but I signed this game because it’s a really unique take on area control. In the game, you start playing your song at a crowd of your choice, but song playing takes time. So you don’t make a decision on how much energy you’re putting into the song until your next turn. This means that you have an idea of what your opponents are doing, but there’s always someone that surprises you. This makes the game so entertaining and replayable.

What was your design process like? 

I designed the solo portion of the game. My process for this always starts with trying to figure out the player interaction in the game and the different player types. Once I get an idea of the player types in the game, I try to create a different Robot that represents each player type.

I try to make the solo mode really easy to play, but still surprising. So I made the songs that Robot plays a deck of all the other player cards in the game. This created a lot of variety and it wouldn’t be known what the Robot would do, even though the Robot’s actions are easy to make happen. I then play the game over and over, to get the different difficulties right. Then I make sure that each Robot is different enough, easy to follow. Players can master each robot if you play enough and try enough different strategies.

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

Big Easy Busking is a truly unique and player friendly experience. With the wide player count and quick and intuitive gameplay, it should be a great fit for most families. Adding in the unique theme, friendly take on area control, and large amount of player interaction, it gets everyone engaged in what is happening, but not in the negative or attacking way, like a lot of games that have player interaction. 

How long has this game been in development?

Around 3 years.

What obstacles did you encounter making this game? 

I think the biggest obstacle I encountered while making this game was trying to find an artist. I really wanted to find an artist from New Orleans and I asked around and did a lot of searching, and ended up finding an artist living in New Orleans that I really liked! She agreed to do the artwork, but then had some sickness in the family that came up and wasn’t able to work on the project. I finally found an artist that I liked. Unfortunately, it was after months of searching and required going outside the New Orleans region. The final artwork seems to be really representative of the area, though, which I’m very happy about.

What did your first prototype look like? 

Cardstock and numbers! I tend to print out my prototypes, as my hand writing is terrible and even I can’t read it sometimes.

Why did you get into making games? 

I first got into games as a creative outlet, but I was hooked once I made my first prototype and saw how much fun the people that played the game had. I love being able to be part of the reason that people have more fun and I like to think I’m improving people’s lives this way.

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

Follow Weird Giraffe Games on FacebookTwitter, Instagram, and Board Game Geek or visit our website

We also have a Facebook Group called the Weird Giraffe Games Insiders where you can learn all the new things about Weird Giraffe Games, participate in contests, and earn prizes! 

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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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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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