Magistrate: Final Pre-GenCon Tweaks

Magistrate in a 2-player solo-test in mid-August 2012

I am getting very excited to show Magistrate to people at GenCon … and I leave early tomorrow morning.  So, last night was my final chance to run through a couple of recent tweaks to the game — mainly around how the 2-player game works.

Magistrate really shines as a 3- and 4-player game, because the player interaction is very key in how everything comes together.  It also works as a 2-player game, but has shown that a player that gets a quick jump on developing can run away with the game. To combat this potential run-away feeling in the 2-player game, I’ve been modifying the way a few things works and giving special “in a 2 player game” rule adjustments.

First, during “Influence” there is now some random/system-generated movement of the Judge Pawns, so that they aren’t completely player-action controlled.  This automated movement is stronger in a 2-player game and very light in a 4-player game (since you have 4 opposing forces already playing on those pieces).  This means that instead of having different starting positions for the Judge Pawns based on the number of players, they will always run the full length of the Judge Track.

Second, I’ve increased the length of time needed to trigger the end-game conditions for 2-player games.  Normally, the game ends when a player has either gained more than 20VPs or has gained 3 different colored rings that show they had been the top scorer in that area during one of the scoring rounds … and a player can not have more than 1 of each color ring.  With a 2-player game, now a player may have up to 2 of each color ring, and must collect 5 rings to end the game.

My hope is that this will extend the game enough that someone with a slow start will still be able to recover and catch-up later in the game.  My test of these new rules (as shown in the pic above) showed that this might be working.  Blue jumped out way ahead with top scoring in all 3 areas during the first scoring round for each.  But Red had recovered enough to have won the next People scoring round and force a tie in the Agent scoring round … and was positioning itself very well to have the best score when the Military Judge Pawn hit the end of the track in the next couple of turns.

Of course, this may all fall apart (including the shiny 3- and 4-player games) once I get it on the table in front of motivated game-breaking players! 😉


Colonies of the Jump Gate: Last Big Solo-Test Before GenCon

Colonies of the Jump Gate - Example Player Components

I just took my Colonies of the Jump Gate prototype for another solo-testing ride tonight … this will likely be the last one before I need to pack-up and head off to GenCon.

The main pieces of the game are starting to come together.  I think my latest attempt at the action-selection system (“Tech Array”) is starting to work.  You start with 6 cards out of your 13-card “Tech Library” and 2 Rockets in-play.  Throughout the game, you’ll have a way to add up to 2 more Rockets, and with each Rocket you add, you get 2 more cards in your Tech Array.  Each card has an action or two on it that you can take.

When you take an action, you need to mark the card with one of your chips and tip over the Rocket that took the action.  You can continue taking actions as long as you have a card in the Tech Array without a chip on it and a Rocket standing upright.  Certain actions have requirements around where the Rocket is located — so that can limit you as well.  Once you’re done taking actions, you remove a chip from one of your Tech Array cards.  Your Rockets are always stood back up at the start of your turn, but since you start with 2 Rockets in-play, you generally will take 2 actions and then clear 1 of them … over a few turns, your Tech Array becomes more and more limited.  So, you can choose to “Rest” on your turn instead of taking actions … and then your Tech Array becomes completely cleared and ready to use again. (more)

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Scheduled Playtest Times at GenCon Updated

My scheduled playtest times in the First Exposure Playtest Hall at GenCon have been tweaked a bit as they tighten things up heading into the con week.

Here are my official playtesting times as of right now (updated 12-Aug):

  • Friday, 9am – Magistrate
  • Friday, 8pm – Colonies of the Jump Gate
  • Saturday, 9am – Colonies of the Jump Gate
  • Saturday, 8pm – Magistrate

Looking forward to getting these games played at GenCon!

Getting Game Prototypes Ready for GenCon – Magistrate & Colonies of the Jump Gate

Updated 12-Aug: Changed playtesting times scheduled in the First Exposure Playtest Hall

In one week’s time, I will be in Indianapolis for GenCon, which may very well be my “best four days in gaming” this year.

There are a number of reasons why I’m excited to go.  First, it’s a big party and it’s all about gaming in many different forms — it’s just fun to be there.  Second, there will be other specific people that I am very excited to meet in person … most of these folks (other designers, publishers, writers, reviewers, passionate gamers, etc.) I’ve only gotten to know via the Internet (primarily Twitter) over the past year.

And, possibly the biggest excitement for me: I will be bringing prototypes for two game designs with me to playtest and hone even further … and, possibly, find someone that might want to eventually publish them.  While I expect to play these with some of the people I mentioned above (and see the games they brought along too), I also have signed-up for some structured playtesting via the “First Exposure Playtest Hall” at the con. {more …}

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So, hey … how ya been?

Matt Worden Games Logo

It’s been a while since I’ve posted here.  It’s summer time and everything seems to be going on at once.

I’ve been coaching my daughter’s travelling softball team, and working the day job.  I’ve spent a little time working on game stuff, but not enough.  And, there’s been a severe lack of camping and fishing so far.  But we are hoping to get that to change in July & August.

My game-related priority right now is to get the DANGER! Expansion for Dicey Curves finalized and published via TheGameCrafter.  I’ve sent my rules draft over to a few designer friends for review and got some very good feedback, which I need to incorporate.  So, yes — very, very close now.

My secondary game-related priority is to get copies of Subtilla out to reviewers so that people can get to know that one better.  And, my third priority has to do with getting a couple of my current prototypes ready for testing in front of other designers.

There are two up-coming games-related trips that I had put on my calendar for this summer:  Protospiel, a couple weeks from now in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and GenCon Indy, in the middle of August.  Not sure I have the funds or time to make both … so, I may skip Protospiel and use the time to go camping/fishing/canoeing with my family.  We’ll see how are plans go.

Also … I have a computer-based game project brewing … not exactly sure of the form that it’s going to take yet, but I’ve broken open my Visual Studio again for the first time in quite a while and I’m tinkering … so, let’s see what comes of that.

That’s all for now.

See My Big Shiny Head in the July 2012 Issue of GAMES Magazine

GAMES Magazine July 2012John J. McCallion, the boardgame-centric editor at large for GAMES Magazine, published an interview with me in the July 2012 issue of GAMES.  So, go out and buy a copy (if you aren’t already subscribed), turn to page 75 and look for my big, shiny, disembodied head floating in the middle of the page.

If you’ve read any of his boardgame reviews in the magazine, you know that Mr. McCallion has a way with words … especially an exceptional ability for packing great density of information into a very efficient wordcount.  So, one of the last things I sent to him during our back-and-forth series of e-mails (which was our method for conducting the interview) was that he should feel free to edit my words as needed to fit into the space he had available for the article.  He did that and I think he did a great job of coaxing my original intended meaning out of many fewer words than I originally provided him with.  However, this means that you may notice some phrasing or word choices that you wouldn’t normally hear from me.

Matt's Head

My Head: It floats!

I was quite happy that he was able to include my prompts for a few of my favorite game design related things … namely:

  • Board Game Designers Forum — — A very good online community of designers, from absolute beginners through industry vets.  Such a good resource to learn and to share.
  • The Game Crafter — — the publish-your-own-game specialists, where you can buy most of my games.  There is a special paragraph specifically dedicated to discussing the merits of TGC on page 76 of the interview.
  • Protospiel — — an annual designer get-together held in July in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  I’ve only attended once, in 2009, and I do plan to be there again this year.  Also, there are a number of these sorts of get-togethers throughout the year and all over the country … but my trip to Protospiel had such an enormously positive impact on my designing that it hold special importance for me.

This is quite an honor and exciting thing … please check it out and let me know what you think!

-Matt 🙂

Magistrate – still tweaking (after all these years)

Magistrate Card BackOnce upon a time … maybe 4-or-so years ago … I had an idea for a game that was played out on a map and involved controlling provinces of a small country.  I first called it Uncivil, and shared it with a handful of other designer friends from the Board Game Designers Forum.

After a year of work on it, I changed its name to Show of Power, and was able to test it at the Protospiel event in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in 2009.  (I even did a little post-spiel recap at BGDF.)

Since then, this game has switched between sitting on the shelf and getting my full attention … and it’s back to getting attention again.

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Final DANGER!-ous Tweaks and then Launch Next Week?

Dangerous Curve card from the "DANGER!" Expansion for Dicey CurvesI had great playtesting sessions at Con of the North with Whitney, Cyrus, Jeff and Anna, and then some follow-up testing with my buddy, Jon, on Monday.  From that, I think I have made the final tweaks needed to bring the “DANGER!” Expansion for Dicey Curves out for public launch on TheGameCrafter.

For those that have played using the expansion, here are some of the changes:

Slight Card Frequency Mix – I reduced the number of “debris” and “challenge” cards in the deck, in order to increase (by 1 each) the Lane Closed, Instant Repair, and Nitro Boost cards.

Slight Card Power Tweaks – A few cards needed rules tweaking in order to either make them have a better impact, or make them play a bit more naturally:  “Nitro Boost” now adds 2 dice to your initial roll (instead of just 1).  “Repair Shop” and “Lane Closed” can now be played on any type of track card, not just Straight-Aways and Wide-Opens.

Reduced Hand Size … Increased Hand Refilling – Originally, each player had a max hand size of 3 cards and could only add to it by drawing at the end of their turn.  Instead, the hand size is now 2 cards, and you immediately refill when you play a card … and you can immediately play the card you just drew, if it fits the situation.

Bigger Track Preview – Normally when playing Dicey Curves, you flip over 2 track cards in front of the race leader.  When playing with the DANGER! Expansion, you need to increase that in order to make better use of the track modifier cards.  Still want to play this one out a couple of times, but I now like having 4 cards out in front of the race leader.

These changes, although very subtle, have gotten the expansion to flow much closer that what I originally intended.  It plays quicker, is more “dangerous” (cars deal with gaining/repairing damage more often) and allows players choice of whether to work around the troubles or take damage and go faster in the short term.

Can’t wait to show it to you all!  Now, on to the rules-writing. (yeah)

Warriors of Destiny, Father Geeks, Games and Games

Playing Dicey Curves with Cyrus and JeffSaturday was a long (yet fast), fun day of meeting people, talking about games (and gamers) and playing games of Dicey Curves, Subtilla, and Space Mission.

I need to give a big “thank you” to the booth babes of the day (they each got to wear my secondary booth badge labelled “Warrior of Destiny”): Whitney Watts (pictured to the right), my wife Britt, my daughter Anna, and my son Seth.  Whitney has a bad tendency to beat me at my games — winning Dicey Curves twice (once as a playtest of the DANGER! Expansion) and also winning Subtilla twice.

Playing Dicey Curves (with DANGER! Expansion) with Whitney WattsThere was also a Father Geek sighting (see picture above and to the left).  Cyrus Kirby of and another local Twin Cities game designer named Jeff spent (also a TGC user) a couple hours at my booth to talk games and gaming, watch a game of Subtilla, and then play both Space Mission and Dicey Curves.  I also gave Cyrus a sneak peek at what’s up with the DANGER! Expansion.  Good times and glad to have these guys stop by.

The rest of the time was spent doing more games-playing and games-talking and even got some more discussion in with Donovan about multiple things, including additional progress on the “Magistrate” prototype.  Met a couple of people who had liked the “Jump Gate geocache” contest I ran a couple weeks ago.  They reassured me that I can keep the clues tricky, knowing who the target audience is. 😉  So, we’ll see what I work out for my planned “Dicey Cache” find-it-keep-it event in April.

In the main room where my space is located, the miniatures games have definitely taken over today.  I love the way these games look.  Here are a few examples:

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Con of the North Exploded into Gaming

The Matt Worden Games Vendor Space at Con of the North 2012So, I guess I was wrong about posting again once I had my vendor space setup at Con of the North.

As soon as I was setup, I was playing a game — seriously.  So, it’s really not my fault … I’m guessing you all would have been doing the same thing.

Sadly, my original “booth babe”, Whitney, is fighting off a bug and hasn’t been able to attend yet … but I’m guessing we’ll see her at some point this weekend. 😉  Just got word that my wife and kids will be coming to stay with me at the hotel tonight, which is pretty cool.  Very likely to have Britt or Anna working in the space tomorrow for some of the time.

I do want to give grand thanks to Donovan Loucks, who I ran into right away.  He came up with a novel way to get my “T” shaped table setup to work (and he is the reason for my instant gaming).

First Magistrate Playtest at Con of the North 2012He and I played through a 2-player game of “Magistrate” — the prototype I’m excited to test a lot this weekend … and it really helped to reveal a number of areas where balance issues still abound.  We were also able to “talk shop” about different ways to improve the design.  As for the result of the game … he smoked me!  He played as blue and I as green … that’s his flag pawn near the end of the VP track and mine *way* down toward the start of the track.  See the final shot to the right.