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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Prepping for the Con

Banners to be Used at Con of the North 2012I seem to be working on a dozen things at once during the times I have available to prep for Con of the North.

I’ve put together a set of banners (pictured to the left — click for a bigger view) that I plan to display in my space.  I’m still working on how they are going to be held up, but I think I have a good approach so far.

I’m working on getting my for-sale products ready: the Dicey Curves are all ready, about half the Jump Gates are ready and the other half will be done tomorrow, and the copies of Subtilla were shipped from on Monday and I expect them to arrive tomorrow (cutting it a bit close with that one).

As I mentioned in my earlier CotN post, I will be bringing a few copies of some games just to play, and those are all ready to go.

I’m also going to have 2 different prototypes for testing — the DANGER! Expansion for Dicey Curves, and a heavier “Waro” that I’ve been working on for a number of years.  I was originally hoping to have at least 2 more ready, but they just simply aren’t.

Subtilla: Stealthy Sub Movements

Stealth Markers Between Boats in SubtillaThere are a couple of neat mechanics that I really like in Subtilla (click for original sneak peek), which I hope to have out via before the end of December.

My favorite is how the Sub can move around while submerged.  The spark for this idea originally came from my son, Seth, who has been my main tester and idea man with this game.  During an early test, he said “what if the submarine could actually go below the surface of the board and you didn’t know where it would come up again.”  And that was all it took for me to get the idea of “stealth markers” going.

When a Sub is submerged, its potential position on the board is indicated by Stealth Markers — little peg pawns.  More of these markers can be added to the board to grow the number of possible positions that the sub could resurface at.  When it’s time to resurface, the Sub can be placed anywhere there are markers on two adjacent spaces.

The Sub is able to move more quickly underwater, and usually gives you more possibilities than your opponent can cover with his Boats.  However, the Stealth Markers can be removed from the board by Boats and the other Sub moving onto the space a marker occupies.  If all of the markers are removed from the board, your Sub is forced to resurface and its location is chosen by your opponent.

Also, you can’t fire Torpedoes while in stealth mode.  Oh … the Torpedoes are pretty cool too — but I’ll save that for another post. Hall of Fame

TheGameCrafter.comToday, I had the honor of being inducted into’s Hall of Fame.

Primarily, this was due to having first published Jump Gate at TGC, and the success that has followed for that game.

However, if you click over to the article, I think you will agree that my best hopes are for my freakishly-huge logo to take over the world! 🙂

Thanks to Tavis, JT, Jamie, and the rest of the team at TGC … it’s a great crew, and a great site for a guy like me to make some games!

First Peek at “Subtilla”

SubtillaI want to get one more game available via so folks can get it in time for Christmas.  Subtilla was originally designed in response to TGC’s Vehicles contest … but I couldn’t get the rules ready in time.

So, I put it on hold for a bit … but now I’m ready to finish it off and get it out on TGC.   Not sure on the exact timing, but I’m hoping to release it sometime in November.

Subtilla ComponentsThis is a two-player, head-to-head naval battle game.  Each player has 1 sub, 5 surface ships and a base on their side of the board.  A player wins by either destroying all 5 of the opponent’s surface ships or by occupying both spaces of the opponent’s base at the end of the opponent’s turn (they get a chance to knock you out of their base).

There are some nifty stealth and movement rules for the subs … I really like how that aspect of the game works.  And, of course, the sub gets to fire torpedoes! 🙂  The ship-v-ship battles are dice-based … so this doesn’t really fit the definition of an “abstract” game — it’s very “themey” and has strong chance elements.  To say it has a bit of “take that!” is also an understatement.

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Getting Dicey Curves “Retailer-Ready”

Dicey Curves

All components fit nicely into the handy drawstring bag.

I’ve been working on making Dicey Curves into a form that will work for retailers to re-sell.  While I will continue selling the game through, I also wanted to be able to sell through some of the web retailers I’ve built a relationship with, and for any FLGS’s that would like to sell the game.

However, I did not want to create another full-scale manufacturing operation (like I with with Jump Gate, Second Edition).  So, to find the best mix approach, I’m ordering the cards and bits from TGC (nicely bagged-up and ready for packing), I found a different source for the drawstring bags (a slightly smaller and less soft bag, but functional), produced my rulesheets at a local printer, and added a yellow security ring around the neck of the bag and an “info tag” that will hang from the security ring.

Back from the eWilderness

Hard Drive CrashI’ve spent the better part of the past 10 days responding to a hard drive failure on my main laptop.  At first I wasn’t sure if it was actually a physical disk issue, or if my OS had become corrupted somehow.  In the end, it turned out that my hard drive actually completed died — went full “paperweight mode”.  A have a techy friend of mine to thank for a replacement drive, and some additional hardware to test out my old, faulty drive in case I’d still be able to read it somewhat.

I also want to say how happy I am that I had been running Carbonite as my file backup system!  Except for about 3 days worth of e-mails that I lost (there were a brief few hours in the middle of those 10 days where my old hard drive started acting normal again, and I turned on Outlook and it downloaded 3 days worth of e-mails, but Carbonite wasn’t able to archive the updated Outlook DB file before the hard drive crashed for good), everything else was restored onto my laptop within a day of having the new drive up and running.

Now that I’m back to having a working machine, there are a number of things I need to catch up on: someone won copies of a couple of my games (thanks to Father Geek), there was another positive review of Dicey Curves, I donated a copy each of Jump Gate and Dicey Curves in an auction, I received my copies of Space Mission (Schmidt Spiele’s take on Jump Gate), and I played the game with my son — and I loved it!

Oh, and I should be bringing out another new game via … something called Subtilla … a return to the head-to-head 2-player format.  Not an abstract game this time, though. 😉

So, watch for posts from me the next few days.  Also, if you’re not already following me on Twitter, please do so … and send me a tweet if you have any questions or comments about my games (or life in general). 🙂

Dicey Curves Targeted to Retailers Soon

Dicey Curves - Mid-GameMy new “Rollin’ Dice & Racin’ Cars” party game, Dicey Curves, is currently only available on-demand via … and I plan to have it there in the TGC Shop for some time.

However, I am also looking at a way to re-package the game so that it can also be sold through traditional internet and FLGS game sellers as well.  I should have the details worked out some time in October.  Target MSRP will be the same $19.99 that the game is sold for at TGC.

Retailers who are interested, should e-mail me at