via Hyperbole Games: Tabletop Gaming Folks 2014 In Review

Merry Christmas from Matt Worden Games

Merry Christmas from Matt Worden Games

Grant Rodiek at Hyperbole Games (whose blog I link to nearly each month) has collected community-sourced 2014-in-review blurbs from quite a few tabletop game designers and publishers.

CLICK HERE to read the one where my blurb was included! In it, I mention things like leukemia, Dicey Curves, Aether Magic, and punching pumas … you should go over there and read it now! 😉

And, if your blurb isn’t already included there, feel free to chime-in via the comments at his site.

Focus 2015: Return to non-POD Games Publishing

Archery Illustration from Pearson Scott Foresman via Wikimedia Commons

{tl;dr – skip down to the 3rd-to-the-last paragraph for the announcement}

In the distant, distant way-back past (around 2010), I self-published the Second Edition of Jump Gate after the POD-produced 1st Edition was named the “2011 Traditional Game of the Year” by GAMES Magazine.

I wanted to get it “out there” as quickly as possible after the award was announced, and so — looking back now — I did just about everything the hard way. Here’s a quick-hit list of a few of the many things I did wrong: Continue reading

Wrapping Up King of Danger

The King of Danger Card from "King of Danger, v7"After the Michigan Protospiel this past July, I wrote about my planned changes to King of Danger. Well, you can pretty much ignore all of those things … because I tried them and didn’t like what it turned out to be. Plus, it became obvious that I was starting to overlap too much with Danger at the Walls (now on the back-burner), which had the same background theme, but different game design goals.

So, I reset once again, reviewed what I liked and didn’t from the previous 5 versions, focused on my original goals and the notable advice I’ve gotten from other designers and players, and set out to make version 7.0 the game I really want it to be … and I think I’ve done it. 🙂 Here’s how it looks … Continue reading

New “Sand” Cards PnP for Jump Gate, 1st & 2nd Editions

"Sand" Resource Card in 1st/2nd Edition FormatEvery now and then, I hear from someone that has a 1st or 2nd Edition copy of Jump Gate and takes issue with the “Nothing” Resource cards.

Jump Gate "Nothing" Card ExampleOriginally, they were in there to make it something of a risk when scanning new resources — you may not find anything there. Plus, it allowed for a little bit of thematic flavor text humor … some might say “very little!” 😉 However, I understand how it can leave a bad taste in your mouth when you get absolutely nothing from a scan.

So, in order to give 1st & 2nd Edition players a new option, I’ve taken the “Sand” resource cards from the 3rd Edition and put them into 1st/2nd Edition format. Using the PDF (linked below), you can put all 48 Resource cards into sleeves and print-and-cut these 12 Sand cards to put in front of each of the Nothing cards.

Here’s the PDF: Jump Gate, Sand Resource Cards, for 1st or 2nd Edition (29)

Holiday Buying Guide for MWGames – 2014

Merry Christmas 2013 from Matt Worden Games

Order by December 3 to get it by Christmas!

Currently, I sell the majority of my games through … here is the link to the games I have available there: (For an explanation of what print-on-demand games is about, and why I use it, click here.)

In a recent news announcement, TGC has stated that in order to get games in time for Christmas, you’ll want to order them by the end of November. (Technically, they say December 3rd is their suggested deadline, but I think that may be pushing it this year as they get really, really busy in the run-up to Christmas.) With that said, if you are considering buying any of my games for friends and family this year, here are my recommendations … Continue reading

Updated “Danger at the Walls” Print-and-Play

Danger at the Walls, Castle Sketch, June 2014FREE GAME: Danger at the Walls (125) (2-players, 30 minutes, area control)

Based on the feedback from Protospiel-Michigan this summer, and as one of the first steps that I needed to take as I get my games projects fired up again, I’ve updated the Danger at the Walls print-and-play file (above).

The Leaders are now mostly place-at-a-wall-and-leave, without any of the fiddly “you can move a leader around at the start of your turn” nonsense. Also, I’ve replaced the weak-and-confusing Archer Attacks with Flags, which are placed on walls to lock their control in place and can be used to trigger the game end.

I’d really love it if you would try the game out and let me know how it goes. It’s going onto the back burner for a while.

The Weird, Bio-Rhythmic Nature of My Creative Process

"Biorhythm cycles over a 66-day period" by Life of Riley at  Wikimedia CommonsSomething I referred to in my previous post was what I termed “the weird, bio-rhythmic nature of my creative process.” For the most part, I work in natural bursts and I have a hard time forcing creative work. I know it’s possible to teach yourself to do that — and I’ve been able to do it at times — but I’ve yet to get good or efficient at it. This means I have periods of ups and downs along the way.

I generally just let things flow in whatever way they go and try to get as much output as possible in whatever area is working. I ride that initial energy and excitement when it hits until — like a boarder on a wave approaching the shore — it simply wanes and grinds to a stop. I think this is why I always have a half-dozen-or-so projects that I consider to be my “current” projects. They are all in different phases of the design, requiring different sorts of creativity, and I let my brain push on whichever of them it grabs on to.

I sometimes think of game projects as being similar to sculpting or pottery-making … Continue reading

Getting this Train Rolling Again

"Steam Train on Watercress Line" by Jenny GillelandSo, it’s been a couple of months of downtime on the games front for me.

Part of the time off had to do with the start of the school year and needing to focus on what my kids were up to, along with organizing the teaching program I run at church. Part had to do with a severe lack of motivation following Protospiel-Michigan in July, and not being able to attend any of the cool up-coming events this fall (GenCon, Gaming Weekend at the Geek Compound, Protospiel-Madison, BGG.Con, etc.). And a strong part of it had to with the weird, bio-rhythmic nature of my creative process (expect a blog write-up on this soon).

Those last 2 items are kind of related. So is my need — apparently — to do an annual pruning process in order to re-focus my game design time. I nearly always have too many creative project irons in the fire, and I have to pause here and there to do a mental reset to gain some perspective. So, on to how I am getting the train rolling again … Continue reading

Building Abbottsville: Less Puma, More Cowbell

Abbottsville Village Alarm - Prototype, July 2014Taking Abbottsville with me to Protospiel-Michigan was another example of why I really, really enjoy these sorts of designer get-togethers. You get a lot of smart people around a table to look at your game in a spirit of creative improvement … and the results of those moments have always made my games better.

Thanks to those that played the game and gave great feedback, I now have some really good take-aways on Abbottsville:

  1. The game needs to get wider and deeper … more narrative (“more cowbell”) about the people and the village, a wider array of things for players to be after, more asymmetry between players’ objectives (quick aside: a nice article about asymmetry by Grant at Hyperbole games) … make it less about “go out and gather resources” and more about proving yourself as a village leader.
  2. Abbottsville People Card Example for Doco, May 2014 Have the character cards drive that narrative and have the narrative drive the scoring. In other words: remove the generic “reward card” scoring and go with a more specific “complete mission X to score Y points.” (A special thanks to Gravwell designer, Corey Young, for spending some 1-on-1 time to discuss possible options here.)
  3. Having the predators all descending on the village isn’t as fun of a game element as having them wandering the map and interfering directly with other players. (“less puma”)
  4. Have the map spread out more and give a larger array of different types of tiles.

Abbottsville, Center Starting TilesThese are some bigger things to work through and will change the feel and flow of the game quite a bit, while still retaining it’s original core — adventures around an 1800s village on the American prairie. At this point, I’m letting the design sit for a bit so that the ideas can percolate.

So, here’s a feedback request for you: What sort of things would you expect to run into or want to go find while exploring the wilderness around a village in this “old west, but not too far west” type of setting?

Interview with AJ Porfirio on Thematic Games

A.J. Porfirio of Van Ryder Games

A.J. Porfirio, the man behind Van Ryder Games

There is often a discussion of theme-versus-mechanics among board game designers. As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, I wanted to get a Q&A with A.J. Porfirio, of Van Ryder Games, about this topic. So, here it is.

Matt: Howdy, AJ, great to chat with you on this topic. Of all of my game designer/publisher friends, you are the one that specifically mentions looking for and loving “thematic games” … can you give me your definition of what you mean by that term?

AJ: Thanks Matt! I’m honored that you think of me in that respect as it is basically the mission statement of my publishing company, Van Ryder Games, to publish great, highly thematic games. Locking down a definition for exactly what the term “thematic games” means would be difficult, but here is what I would say … Continue reading