Game Testing Recap

Hey everyone! As I mentioned in my last blog post, rather than playing other people’s board games I have been working on a board game of my own. I came up with the idea for this game almost two years ago, and I have been fine tuning it ever since. Last weekend, I invited a group of my friends over for a play through of the game and gave them a chance to mercilessly rip it to shreds. Luckily, their criticisms weren’t all that bad, and I’m hoping to make the game even better thanks to their help!

A few highlights from the game testing:

  • 13 players attended, giving us the ability to play 3 separate games with 4, 4, and 5 players. I was able to watch the games and give guidance/answer questions which was extremely helpful.
  • In preparation for the game, I ordered 5 prototype boards and printed out playing cards. It’s not a finished product, but it works well for our purposes and it’s nice to be playing on an actual board rather than cardboard. Below are a few pictures of the board and the pieces!
  • While two of the three games used the standard set of rules I originally created, I gave the third game a set of variable rules to try out. It was a success, meaning that I now have two gameplay options to include in the rules and am even creating a third option for shortened gameplay!
  • I received feedback from every player in the form of a survey, with a number of recommendations for improvement. I am now in the process of making tweaks based on their suggestions.

Now that my friends have helped me with their thoughts/critiques, I am excited to say that the next phase is where all of you come in!

I Want You to Test My Game

 

Now that my friends have given me their thoughts, I am hoping to branch out and get some critiques from neutral parties. Since I know you’re all board game enthusiasts, I’m hoping that you will help me out by giving the game a try and letting me know what you think!

So, what is this game about you ask? And how do you get a copy to try? Both great questions! Currently I am in the process of making some tweaks to the game and getting some better-quality pieces. Once that is complete, I will be sending out a new blog post with a description of the game and some basic mechanics. I will also be creating a new tab on this blog with an online application to receive a copy of the game for playtesting. If the game sounds interesting to you and want to give it a shot, complete the application and I will send you one of the prototype boards to try out. All I ask is that you give me some feedback about your gaming experience, and if you liked it then spread the news!

Alright, that’s all for now- be on the lookout for the next post, I’m excited to see what you all think about my game!!

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Back In Action

Hey everyone, long time no post! I’ve been putting this blog on hold for a very long time (almost a year to be exact) for a number of reasons. Work has been crazy, I’m getting ready for a wedding, and while my love of board games hasn’t diminished I find myself with less time to dedicate to finding and playing new games. All of that being said, I’ve decided to pick this blog back up for one major reason: I am currently in the process of designing my own game!

I’ve had this idea for a game for at least a year now, but I have finally started dedicating time to it and it’s turning into something really cool. I have recently ordered prototypes to use for play testing, and I am hosting a game night next weekend. If all goes well, I should be sending out the game to other bloggers for reviews, and getting a Kickstarter campaign up and running!

I will be setting up a separate page on this site to dedicate to the new game- it will have a basic rundown of the gameplay, some pictures, and an option to sign up to be a play tester yourself. If you have any interest in playing the game and letting me know your thoughts, or if you have any game design experience and are interested in working with me (I have minimal Photoshop experience and need a good designer/manufacturer), send me a message and I’ll follow up as soon as possible!

 

Board Game of the Week- Bang!

Bang! Full Set

  • Game Title: Bang!
  • Release Date: 2002
  • Number of Players: 4-7
  • Average Game Time: 20-40 mins
  • Game Publisher: dv Giochi
  • Website: https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/3955/bang/
  • Game Designer: Emiliano Sciarra
  • Expansions/Alternates: Yes
  • Available in Stores: Yes

Bang! is a game that was recommended by one of my coworkers, who got it for me in an office Secret Santa. It’s taken me some time to play it, but I finally was able to bust out the western-style card game this Cinco de Mayo. After playing two rounds of the game, it was easy to see why it is a regular for my coworker: the game is easy enough to learn, involves enough strategy to keep you engaged but not too much to over-complicate things, and overall was a great way to spend an hour with my friends.

Bang! splits up each player into a number of different roles based on the main players of a classic Wild West showdown. Each role has a different objective as they play the game, and roles are distributed randomly so that nobody knows who is who (minus the Sheriff). The roles and their objectives are listed below:

Role

Objective

Sheriff

Must eliminate all the Outlaws and the Renegade, to protect law and order
Outlaw They would like to kill the Sheriff, but they have no scruples about eliminating each other to gain rewards!
Deputy They help and protect the Sheriff, and share his same goal, at all costs!
Renegade

He wants to be the new Sheriff; his goal is to be the last character in play.

Because nothing says Wild Wild West like a good chart…

The number of roles differs based on the number of players, so the game scales in intensity based on how many people are playing. There are also character cards that give each player specific traits and skills that help them reach their objective.

Once both roles and characters are dealt out, the game starts with the Sheriff and goes clockwise. Each turn consists of three actions: drawing 2 cards, playing cards from your hand, and discarding cards until your number of cards match your current hit points. Bang! LogoPlaying cards is the majority of the turn, and there are a number of different cards with varying immediate and long term effects. The most crucial cards are Bang! cards, which allow you to shoot anybody within range. Once you declare who you shoot, that player has the opportunity to play a Missed card, which lets them avoid taking damage. If a Missed card isn’t played, that player loses one hit point. Lose all of your hit points, and you are out of the game. The game ends when either the Sheriff is killed, or all Outlaws and Renegades are killed.

Bang! CardsThe strategy involved with this game took some getting used to, but once you get the hang of things it becomes fun and engaging. Knowing who the Sheriff is gives him/her a disadvantage, but the Sheriff also gets an additional hit point, gets to go first, and in certain instances has deputies to help. In addition, the Renegade only wins if the outlaws are killed before the Sheriff, so the player who is the Renegade has to work to harm the Sheriff without them dying and take out the rest of the characters first. The outlaws seem to have the easiest job, but with a number of other characters having different  motivations sometimes tipping your hat too early and going straight for the Sheriff can make things difficult for you. Overall it feels like you are able to win as any of the characters (in our first round the Sheriff won and then in round two the Outlaws won), so there’s a good sense of balance that some competitive games lack. Another fun aspect of the game is the shooting distance- shooting distance is based on who you are sitting next to, meaning it is easier to shoot someone next to you than someone with multiple people in between. There are weapons and abilities to enhance your ability to shoot, but there are certainly times when you are restricted in your ability to use Bang! cards on people.

The only real negative I saw in this game is that it seems to be tailored more towards larger groups. The first time I played with 4 people, the minimum number for a game, and because of that we had fewer roles to choose from in the game. We only had one Sheriff, two Outlaws, and one Renegade, meaning no Deputies were included. This made the game less strategic and I found myself wanting to see how the Deputies affected the outcome. In addition, the distance restriction is very low for 4 players because you can always hit two players and then you only need a slight boost to get to the fourth player. I found myself enjoying the game a lot more the next time I played it, when we had 6 people. The game included a Deputy which added strategy to who the Sheriff shot, and the ability to shoot everybody in the game was much more limited.

Bang-Box

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this game: it’s engaging, the style is cool, the cards are all useful to the game and the character abilities add a nice bit of extra flair as well. I recommend the game for anybody who likes mid-level strategy games and the ability to shoot your friends in the face… metaphorically, of course.

Jack’s rating: 4.5/5 stars

Board Game of the Week- Joking Hazard (for players 18+)

joking-hazard-box

  • Game Title: Joking Hazard
  • Release Date: 2016
  • Number of Players: 3-10
  • Average Game Time: 30-90 mins
  • Game Publisher: Breaking Games
  • Website: jokinghazardgame.com
  • Game Designer: N/A
  • Expansions/Alternates: Yes
  • Available in Stores: Yes

Disclaimer: This game has adult themes and is meant for players 18 and up. Do not buy this game for children and then get mad at me that it is inappropriate. Please and thank you.

Another Kickstarter funded game that takes a popular comic series and warps it into a fun, ridiculous, and inappropriate game came into my life last week. Joking Hazard is a card game based on the comic Cyanide and Happiness, which you’ve probably heard of if you’ve spent more than five minutes browsing the Internet. In case you haven’t, Cyanide and Happiness focuses on awkward and inappropriate reactions to situations and condenses them into a three-strip comic panel. Joking Hazard takes these elements and turns them into an extremely clever, wild, and raunchy game with Cards Against Humanity-esque decisions and a feeling of depravity that just can’t be beat.

The game is very similar in gameplay to Cards Against Humanity or Apples to Apples. You have a set of 7 cards, there is a judge that rotates clockwise every round, you play a card facedown and the judge chooses which card is the winner. The differences are fairly straightforward, but are important to the flow and style of the game. For starters, the cards are all single panels of a comic that you use to form a complete strip with two other
panels. The first panel is drawn from the draw pile, the judge places the second panel either before or after the first one, and then each player other than the judge chooses a panel to place at the end, completing the strip. This means that there is only one deck of cards, rather than two like in CAH and Apples to Apples, and each one is meant to be paired with other cards to form the final joke. The person who played the card that the judge picks keep their card to tally the score, and then play continues until you decide it’s time to stop.

The positives in the game come from the amount of creative ways you can play the cards and the game’s ability to keep you on your toes. Because each card is suited for a different situation, there joking hazard wife left meare a huge number of possibilities and directions you can take when playing a card. At first when I read my cards I assumed there was no way I would be able to use some of them, but sure enough a round came along where they were the perfect fit. In addition, the fact that the judge gets to play one of the cards is a huge positive in comparison to CAH and Apples to Apples. The judge actually gets to shape the story the way they see fit, which can very quickly add to the hilarity.

One downside to the game that I saw was that there are definitely times that your cards aren’t a good fit to the panels that have currently been played. This is an issue that comes up with any of these games, but the times when everything is a dud seems more noticeable when shown in comic style. This was rare when I played, but after a few more run-throughs I wouldn’t be surprised if it became more noticeable. In addition, the game seems to be a lot better in small groups. I’ve played once with 4 players and once with 10, and ultimately the game with 10 was still fun but it took longer and felt like some good cards got lost in the shuffle.

Joking Hazard 1

Ultimately this is the type of game you want to have for get-togethers, parties, and alcohol related shenanigans (if you are the type for that). I once again want to stress that this game is not one you want to be playing with or around your kids, but when you have a group of fun loving adults it is a great game to have in your collection.

Jack’s Rating: 4/5 stars

Who Plays Catan Anymore?

settlers-full

For what felt like my entire childhood, Settlers of Catan was a staple of my game nights. My High School friends wanted to play any time we hung out, and it felt like I would be trying to conquer the resource island weekly. The first article I ever read about board games online was about how Settlers of Catan started the board game revolution and brought about a “golden age” in board gaming. I was under the impression that the game settlers-boxwould never get old… but I have started to realize that the Mayfair Games classic may not be as bullet proof as I previously thought. The reason that this idea popped in to my head was simple: over the past few weeks I played a few rounds of Settlers with two different groups of friends. After the last time I played, I randomly started thinking about how long it was since I had played and I couldn’t even remember how long ago it was. I’ve had so many other games to play, and it seems like Catan always finds its way onto the bottom of the pile. If I ever recommend it to my friends they usually say that they like the game, but would rather play something different. So I started to think about why I’ve been seeing this trend over the past few years. What makes Settlers the less popular choice nowadays? I think this is due to three big factors.

The first reason why Settlers isn’t as popular nowadays is the amount of games that are available to people now. Back ten years ago it felt like the only new game people had on their shelves was Settlers of Catan. I know from personal experience that if I wanted to board-game-shelfplay a board game, I would either be playing an old school game my parents bought me or I would be playing Catan. Games like Pandemic and Ticket to Ride started to catch on in the early 2000’s, and slowly but surely game shelves started to grow and grow with new, exciting games. Fast forward to the present, and it feels like there’s no end to the amount of game options available to the average gamer, making Settlers a secondary option.

The second reason for the decline in the play of Settlers is tied directly to the first reason- a lot of people don’t play Catan anymore because of overplay in the past. As good as any board game is, there is a limit to the amount of times you can play it before you need a settlers-boardbreak. Collectively as a community, board gamers almost all played Settlers religiously for years after it came out, to the point where it feels like a drop-off was inevitable. I know from personal experience that I played the game so much in High School and College that I was practically begging for a change, not because I disliked the game but because overuse breeds disinterest. That, coupled with the bevy of new games that arrived on the scene, meant that everyone’s favorite game became just another one of many great options.

The third and final reason for Catan seeing a drop in play is because of the continuing emergence of technology. While video games have been around for a while, the accessibility of smart phones and the mobile app explosion has certainly created a dip in a number of areas, including board game play. While board games are continuing to increase in popularity, a lot of that success is attributed to the game industry adjusting and adding technology into their games. Settlers is a more traditional game, and although it has embraced technology by creating an online game (you can find it here if you’re interested) ultimately when you think Settlers of Catan, you don’t think high tech.

catan-online-page

I firmly believe that Settlers of Catan is a game that will be around for years to come. It’s still one of the most sold games in existence and is considered a top 10 game by multiple different sources. Still, it’s important to realize that no matter how successful a game is, eventually its popularity will wane. And even though Settlers isn’t as popular as it was before, the positives that come with this change are apparent. So when I look at my game shelf and realize that Settlers hasn’t been played in some time, I like to think that it just means there are more and more great options out there to enjoy.

 

New Games for 2017

As always, my friends and family were extremely generous over the holidays this year. I was lucky enough to receive a number of new games for Christmas that I am looking forward to playing, some of which are particularly interesting to me. Here is a list of the games I received and how I got them:

Game I Got: BANG!

Where I Got It: Secret Santa (work)

Have I Played it Yet?: No

Any time you get a Wild West style game with English and Italian directions, you know that you have an interesting gem of a game. BANG! is a competitive game with 4-7 players that involves a number of characters (7 unique ones) and roles for each players such as Sheriff, Deputy, Outlaw, Renegade. Each player plays cards to shoot at other players, boost your stats and skills, and heal yourself after wounds. My coworker Maddy got me the game as a gift for our Secret Santa. She gave it very good reviews, and even though I haven’t gotten to play it yet I’m looking forward to trying it out on the next game night!

Game I Got: Clue, Firefly Edition

Where I Got It: Roommate Gift Exchange

Have I Played it Yet?: No

Similar to the multiple different versions of Monopoly I’ve collected, I am never against getting different versions of a classic game. My roommate Ian found a game that is a perfect fit for me- Clue with Firefly characters. The premise is the same as traditional Clue: you travel from room to room of the Serenity and accuse characters of the show by using items to aid the Alliance in kidnapping River. The items are all rather odd (Wash’s dinosaurs are an item, for example) but as someone who loved Firefly I think it’s a great addition to my collection.

Game I Got: The Oregon Trail Card Game

Where I Got It: Gift from Parents

Have I Played it Yet?: Yes

Continuing on the nostalgia train, The Oregon Trail was a staple of my childhood. Almost everyone has either played the original game or a newer version, and the Card Game equivalent definitely plays on the experiences of the computer game beloved by many. The object of the game is to travel as a group from Independence, MO to Willamette Valley, OR as a group. You move along the path by playing road cards with varying effects, and do your best to avoid the disasters that crop up on the Trail. The game is cooperative and only one player needs to reach the finish line, so I would expect to see at least a few people dying of dysentery or any other number of diseases and calamities along the way. I gave the game a shot and it is a simple concept that walked me down memory lane for a while… until I died from cholera.

My board game New Year’s Resolution, 2017

I have a number of New Year’s Resolutions that I’m working on this year: get in shape, eat better, save some money, all the usual ideas are on my list much like plenty of people going into 2017. Sometimes resolutions get thrown away by the end of the month, but I’m feeling confident that I can follow up with a number of the ones on my list if I work hard and stay focused. Ultimately I feel like 2017 is a great year for me to grow, and I’m hoping this growth will come in a number of different areas.

Looking back on 2016, one of the things I am most proud of is the expansion of theboardwalkgames.com. I realized how different my blog has become since the beginning of last year, and have seen the ebbs and flows of my ability to post along with more and more people beginning to read what I write. I then began to think about 2017 and what it had in store for me and my board gaming adventures. I decided that the best way to move forward into the New Year was to create a separate New Year’s Resolution dedicated to my blog and my goals surrounding board games. I came up with what I believe to be 4 great resolutions that I am hoping to follow through on in 2017:

  • Play a new board game at least once a month- I’ve found that recently I have gotten myself into a pattern with playing board games. I find myself focusing on games that I’ve already played before more often than not, because it is easy to play a game that is familiar rather than try something new. I will usually try out new games in bursts, where I try out 3 or 4 new games over the course of a month and then add the ones I like into my routine. While having a group of games that I can bring out for game night is never a bad thing, I’ve realized that trying out new games consistently will help me learn more about the games my friends and I like and also help me make sure I have new material for blogging. Because of this, I plan on trying out at least one new board game each month this year, and hopefully try even more than that.
  • Buy 5 new board games I’ve had my eye on- I realized recently that for whatever reason (time commitment, cost, convenience) I have had a few board games on my “need to play” list for quite some time without ever trying the games out. I have either heard about these games through a friend, a Kickstarter Campaign, or my own research, but however I found out about the games I am going to make it my goal to play them in 2017:
    1. Pandemic Legacy– I have heard nothing but amazing things about Pandemic pandemic-legacyLegacy since the game first came out. While at first the idea of a game board permanently changing based on your play made me nervous I would screw it up, more and more I have thought of it as an exciting and bold style of game. After playing a Pandemic marathon over Christmas I have decided that Legacy is a game I have to try soon.
    2. Arkham Horror– I received a copy of Arkham Horror a long time ago. Known to be one of the most lengthy and brutal board games out there, I haven’t been able to find the right group of people or a good time to play the game yet. I’m hoping that 2017 will finally be the year that I am able to try it out and understand why it is, as the title suggests, a “Horror”. P.S. Everyone should fear Cthulhu.arkham-horror
    3. Firefly the Game– This game goes on my list mostly because I loved the showfirefly-the-game Firefly and the movie Serenity, and I also heard that the gameplay is quite good. I recently gave this board game as a gift to my fiancée for Christmas, so I am looking forward to trying it out with her sometime soon!
    4. Carcassonne– Known as one of the best board games in carcassonne-gameexistence, Carcassonne is up there with Settlers of Catan as one of the board games that drove the recent board game resurgence. I am sad to say that I have never had the opportunity to play Carcassonne, and I am hoping that in 2017 I am able to remedy that. The game is easy enough to find, so hopefully in the near future I will be writing a review of it.
    5. Zephyr: Winds of Change- This game is probably the most obscure one on my list, mostly because the game is still in development. I donated money to the Zephyr: Winds of Change Kickstarter a while back, and I am a huge fan of the look of the game and the demos of gameplay I have seen online. I am extremely hopeful that the game will finish development this year, and if it does I am looking forward to being one of the first people to try it out.zephyr-winds-of-change
  • Write a blog post once every 2 weeks- I wrote recently about one year of blogging, and I noted that my posting frequency started to go down over the last few months. While I do believe that you shouldn’t force yourself to blog to the point of overexertion, I also feel like I have a lot more content to write about and I want to motivate myself to follow up on that. Because of this, my plan is to try and publish a post at least once every two weeks. I feel like this is a good middle ground between posting too frequently and not posting enough. I won’t be too upset if I miss a week here or there, but if I can keep up a consistent schedule of posts I think it will take The Boardwalk Games to the next level!
  • Create a test copy of my new board game- For those of you who weren’t aware, last year I came up with an idea for a board game and have been diligently working on the game mechanics and playtesting for a while now. I have refined the rules multiple times and gotten feedback from my friends who have tried the game out. I believe that I am ready to make a legitimate copy of the game and start having people outside of my inner circle try it out. Hopefully within the next few months you will be hearing a lot more about it. In the meantime, if you have any recommendations for good board game designers or if you want to try the game out yourself, feel free to contact me!