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 …}

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

Magistrate Solo Test of a 3-player game, 2012-Mar-4Okay — so what are these 2 games that I’m bringing?  I’ve mentioned Magistrate before when I was playtesting it at Con of the North.   But I’ve tweaked it a bit since then … honing and simplifying somethings, expanding/deepening others … and I’m really excited to be bringing it along.

In the game, you play the roll of a Provincial Governor in a rather small kingdom.  The King is going to be appointing one of the Governors to be the kingdom’s new Magistrate, but first he needs to find the one that can be the best at gaining the favor of the People, controlling their Militia, and building a network of Agents.  There’s a fair amount of resource planning and management, economics engine building, and influencing when scoring takes place … all while trying to score high in all 3 areas.  There’s some subtle indirect “build it now to benefit later” stuff and some very blunt and direct “break his stuff so that he doesn’t score as well as me” stuff.  Layers and interactions and noodly goodness.

Colonies of the Jump Gate Playtest - August 2012 Colonies of the Jump Gate is a sequel to that one other game of mine that did pretty well for itself.  I am planning a full trilogy around the theme, with each game getting heavier and heavier from a strategy perspective.  The original was a very tactical, do-what-you-can-with-what-you-have-in-your-hand game … not a lot of deeper strategy, although you might be able to get 2 or 3 turns worth of planning put together.

“Colonies” will be a mid-level strategy game. It’s even more “in theme” as you use the resources you collect to build up your capability throughout the game.  You can score a lot of points by building colonies on planets but you need to get the right things in place in order to do that.  It is using an action-taking system that limits what you can do at what rate and includes some interesting things around allowing you to “aim to misbehave” on occasion when it serves as a benefit to you.

I’m not quite ready to publicly post the rules yet … but those of you attending GenCon will be able to get an in-person walk-through.  And, of course, I’m pretty willing to discuss things via E-mail, Twitter, Facebook, etc. … so, send me a message if you have a question or comment about anything.




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