Noisy Person Cards at Con of the North

Thanks to our good friend Taylor LaBresh, we got to play Noisy Person Cards from Paracosm Press at Con of the North. It was a ton of fun and there were lots of laughs and silly voices! This one’s a biggy, unedited and uncensored! You can play the Print and Play version of Noisy Person Cards until it’s ready for retail at paracosm.com. Thanks to James D’Amato and Kat Kuhl for making a great game!

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/noisy-person-cards-at-con-of-the-north/id523045887?i=1000382228998&mt=2

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Con Talk and Obsession

In this episode Traci, Kurt, Kim, and Dan talk about the two wonderful conventions that they got to go to: Con of the North and Dreamation 2017! They talk about the camaraderie, the fun, and the community of gamers! Then they tie it all together into the pros and “cons” (Get it? Cons?!). We’d like to thank everyone from both cons for making our experience great! Dan and Kim would like to throw a shout out to Dean and Brad from gamingwithswag.com for showing them a good time. Check out their blog at gamingwithswag.com!

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/con-talk-and-obsession/id523045887?i=1000381927074&mt=2

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An MFGCast Interview with the BadCat Games crew about ElemenZ, now on Kickstarter!

We got to talk to the crazy cats for BadCat Games about their “Out of This World” game, ElemenZ! Check it out:

So…what’s with the name ElemenZ? Are you guys rap artists in your spare time?

Ha! That would be a fine thing indeed. Truth is we struggle to put more than a few… what are they called?… words together coherently most times (influence of Scotch Whisky see?)

No but joking aside, ElemenZ the name makes an important distinction between our dice game and the traditional fantasy tropes of Sorcerers and Elementalists wielding the typical 4 elements through magic spells. In ElemenZ – it is all about four Shamans controlling the ‘wild’ or Zee energy – through the energy dice, bending it to their will, shaping it to their goals while taking the risk of losing control and becoming vulnerable to retaliation from other players.

Every one of the twenty-eight energy dice in the game has a single side with the ‘Z’ symbol – so we wanted to make it very clearly different (and accessible for all players) from the other icons used in the game.

We’d like to say we saw the symbol glowing in the depths of BadCat’s feline countenance… but we’d be uh, lying.

Who’s the crazy person who came up with this fantastical world and how is ElemenZ played?

That would be Jason the lead designer. It all spewed forth in a torrent of science-fantasy while on holiday apparently. The Alien races too of course had to be visually appealing and instantly recognizable as belonging very strongly to their element – the Water creatures (Ikzravek) are clearly deep ocean crustacean types with a deep seated Cthulhu-inspired heritage (or is that just our own deep seated fears that old H.P. Lovecraft just new the truth of it!?) The Xyryx (Earth creatures) are probably our most striking race in the game – large hive-minded insectoids that chew through the rock of their world, spinning thick crystal webs. Jason basically had strong impressions of how the four races would look and stand out from each other but it was our artist Ascary who did a fantastic job of making them iconic and as unique as they are – we didn’t want any humanoids and obvious fantasy elemental types. We want the player to ask questions about these creatures – be intrigued by their biology, ecology etc.

ElemenZ is a rapid push-your-luck and risk-taking game for 2-4 players that takes between 15 – 30mins to play. Each alien race character has unique abilities that strongly affect game play. In the 3-4 player game each player has seven energy dice that they can roll three times in their turn, trying to complete special effect combos using the symbols on them (similar to other yahtzee style games) that ultimately aim to drain dice away from the other players until only 1 Shaman is left. It’s a more interactive game than other dice-based battle games out there as players also get to trigger combos in other player’s turns. The 2 player game works differently as it is a tug-of-war over the energy dice in a common pool to be the first to energise the monolith. Same dice concepts – different application.

 

What is Planet Zee? is it full of nasty aliens that are gonna suck my brains out of my ear or burst out of my chest?

Funny you hint at that – its been mentioned that any game with a misspelled Z should be a zombie game. Maybe we should do a zombie re-theme of the game in the future…

But anyway, no. We wanted to steer clear of the nasty aliens vibe and try to instill the feeling that these are fascinating sentient races with their own ancient cultures. It so happens that they meet on this rocky, windswept planet (Z) every seven years to pay homage to the enigmatic monolith and challenge each other to decide which culture gains the top spot; they are Ambassadors of their race, not Champions.

Having said all that, baby alien chestbursters are kinda cute though.

 

You say that the 2 player game and the 3-4 player game play completely different. we don’t believe it. What’s so different about the two?

Right, so with ElemenZ you get 2 completely different games in 1 box. The 3-4 player is a battle game where each Shaman player uses their energy dice (which is also effectively their life points) to trigger combo effects that remove dice from their opponents – a battle of energy attrition. Dice rolled must then be assigned to combos. The wild ‘Z’ side of the dice is a ‘joker’ effect that can match other dice, but rolling 3 of them at any time causes a ‘wild surge’ that blocks the player from doing anything that turn so its a risky tactic to push your luck too far.

The Kickstarter limited edition version also contains a mini expansion for free! In this expansion, each alien gets to summon their spirit energy totem (a side playboard) at the start of the game and these are energized with single-use power tokens that can buff a Shaman’s abilities. Tokens can be used at any time to support combos but each use drains the totem of it’s energy. Players can heal back dice, replace or even remove tokens from others, can force re-rolls of dice or can effect ‘Z’ symbols rolled with these tokens but they come from a common pool that dwindles as the game progresses. So as well as trying to maintain your pool of energy dice a good player must also be concerned with how their totem is holding on. If the totem’s buffing effects is lost, a player is at a clear disadvantage to survive and win the game. Hence why we call ElemenZ more of an Energy Management game rather than a Dice Battle game.

The 2 player game by contrast uses the same idea of combos but combines two similar elements (e.g. Air and Water) into a dual playboard with combos that focus on gaining or manipulating dice from the common pool or from the other player or in energizing each location on the monolith. It’s a tug-of-war with dice, since you must use your dice pool wisely to be the first to energize all spaces on the monolith which becomes increasingly hard and more costly in dice as you progress.

We for one love dice games but some people don’t really like them because of a “too much randomness” factor. Do you think the ones that don’t could still get enjoyment out of ElemenZ? What sets ElemenZ apart from other dice games?

Absolutely. The initial reaction when we mention ElemenZ is a dice game is sometimes “uh, don’t like dice games because I always roll terribly!” Well, I do too so you folks are not alone. But Elemenz was designed specifically to elliminate this randomness as much as possible. The wild ‘Z’ joker effect goes a long way to solving this because it opens up many more tactical options to mix-and-match dice within various combos. Of course you could still roll the 3 Z wild surge on your first roll, but again, statistically the player winning with the most dice has the greater chance of rolling 3 Zs than someone losing with less dice. We’ve seen it in countless playtests that a player currently winning gets a wild surge allowing other players to ‘heal’ back their few dice into a stronger position and fight back. It’s not a swingy game – the best tactical player will most likely win.

Using the totems and energy tokens also helps to alleviate random rolls by giving players more choice in which dice to keep and which to risk re-rolling.  It’s a deceptively simple seeming game that actually has much tactical depth as the wild ‘Z’ dice (if used well) can give excellent advantages. Players can use combos to mess with each other’s options and set each other up as softer targets for future rival’s attacks. With only 7 dice and a reducing pile of tokens, players must plan ahead as to how they will retain their energy, play offense or defense, burn through tokens fast to deny others or try to stock up the best ones to hold out in the late game. Lots of thinky thunky choices!

 

What are the “little secrets” about this Kickstarter that you’re not telling me about?

Ahah! That would indeed be uh… telling! Well all we can say for now is we have some plans for some new game components that continue with the Shaman theme, offering additional strategies within the 3-4 player game. The word for now is Avatars!

 

What’s next for you bad felines?

Well, we are going outside for a while only to come back in again as soon as you close the door on us and… oh yeah – so our next game is a rapid fire combat card game called Gladiatores (pl. of Gladiator) that combines the visceral cut and thrust of up close arena combat (FPS style) with secret roles, double dealing and backstabbing to gain enough glory to be welcomed at Caesar’s Colosseum. Although there are a fair few gladiator games available we feel strongly that only this one properly catches the deadly flurry of blow and counter blow of two gladiators fighting for their lives.

After that we have a family tile game about insects, a competitive trading game set in the historical orient and a 2 player war game set in middle-ages Europe – to name just a few.

Thanks to Justin, Grant, and Chris from BadCat Games for talking to us about ElemenZ! It looks great and like a lot of fun! Go to https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/jdee/elemenz-the-dice-game-of-battling-alien-shamans/community to make this game a reality, or we’ll send 100 black cats to attack your face! Not really, but do the right thing! HELP FUND THIS GAME!

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An MFGCast Interview with Chris Rowlands and Matt Christianson about The Last Garden, on Kickstarter February 21!

The Last Garden, a beautiful looking game with art by the talented Beth Sobel and designed by Chris Rowlands and Matt Christianson, is funding on Kickstarter February 21. We had the wonderful honor to talk to Chris and Matt about it.

Where did you guys get the inspiration for making The Last Garden?

Matt:

Oddly enough, it all started with a weird dream.  A dream that was about putting hot glue drops on fake flowers to simulate dew, you know, the kinds from craft stores and such.  At the time I was in in full board game design mode and thought I would challenge myself to try and make a game about these faux flowers.  So, naturally I cut out some paper flower petals and started placing glass beads on them to try and make it resemble a game.

Chris:

Matt had originally called the game Glue Gun Dew Drops, and we all sort of laughed at the theme. After playing the game though, we thought the bones were really fun so we tried to figure out why somebody would be doing something like this.

Matt:

We are huge fans of Mad Max movies and after watching The Road Warrior for the hundredth time, I had this crazy idea of a malicious Queen ruling over a barren waterless land and making her minions create flower gardens from scraps and mined gems.  Chris and I felt it was a bit dark, and came up with an awesome idea of giving it more of a Pixar feel with a loving Queen surrounded by these old mining robots she calls Robotanists.  Her Robotanists are programmed to help build the Gardens from her memories as a young child, and because the world has no more moisture they are doing it with scavenged metal and gems.

Chris:

Somewhere in there is commentary about consumption. This idea that when the world ends these valuable gems just become something else to look at. The story evolved into being something very cool: this badass elderly woman trying to bring something beautiful back into the world. We loved the idea that she isn’t doing this for somebody else, she’s just doing it to do it. It’s really exactly the type of game we wanted to make when we started our publishing company One Thousand XP – a game that hints at a larger world and that will inspire folks’ imaginations. What happened? Why is the world like this? Who was this woman before she was Queen? These are all things that we want people to wonder about.

What happens in this game?

Matt:

The Last Garden can play with 2 – 4 players, and each player will control a group of Robotanists.  It is your job as Robotanists to create The Queen’s vision of the gardens from her youth.  It is a little abstract in that gems represent the many flowers being built within the gardens.  Play starts by a player playing a card that will manipulate the garden somehow, either by adding gems, moving gems or changing garden numbers.  Then you place a Robotanist, worker placement style, upon the board to either score Favor Points or download new programs which boost your cards.  Play continues until a number of rounds are played and the player with the most Favor Points wins.  Each Robotanist team is competing with one another to become The Queen’s favorites, so there is a take-that element to the game as the garden gets shifted around.

Chris:

Yeah the Robotanists aren’t the best at what they do, and the Queen is constantly changing her mind about what she wants so everything is constantly in flux. Because of that, players can really interfere with one another and get in each other’s way. It ends up being a really cool mix of worker placement and direct interaction.

 

How does the betting/wagering work in The Last Garden?

Matt:

The betting and wagering aspect of The Last Garden was inspired by many nights of us playing rowdy games of Camel Up and our experience with casino games such as Roulette and Craps.  Except, instead of chips and luck we use Robotanists and the worker placement mechanic to make attempts to get that “Jackpot” of Favor Points.  Now it is not necessarily a gamble, as you do get to manipulate your bets by playing cards to swing the game in your favor.

Chris:

From Camel Up, we really liked the idea of being able to participate in different ways. You can send Robotanists to the mines and they will score favor based on the color of gems, or you can send a Robatinst to work directly in the garden and score favor based on how many gems are in that area. There is also a luck-pushing element that we call “wilting.” If there are too many gems on a single location the Queen will think it looks to gaudy, so she’ll have the Robotanists remove all of the gems and start over the next day. Because of that, you need to be careful about putting too much work into an area that your opponents can make wilt. It’s really a very tactical game, where you’ll need to constantly readjust your strategy to fit the current situation.

 


To win this game, the player’s Robotanists must get the most favor from the queen. Is that whomever gets closest to what the Queen wants for the last garden? Does how the last garden looks change per game played?

Matt:

The Queen’s favor in The Last Garden is represented by something we call Favor Points, and these points are tracked by tokens that each player keeps hidden from round to round.  Players will earn Favor Points based on where their Robotanists are placed upon the board and at the end of the game the player with most wins.  In the story of the Last Garden, The Queen’s childhood memories are a little clouded and she cannot remember exactly what the gardens look like.  So yes, the final result of how the garden looks changes from game to game.

Chris:

In addition, the garden is not reset between rounds, so each game will play different from the previous one. There are games where a wilting happens in the first round and the rest of the game is trying to fight over the few remaining gems, and there are games where there is never a wilt and there are a ton of gems in the garden.

You were able to get the great artist Beth Sobel to work on The Last Garden. What was the inspiration for the art involved in the game?

Matt:

Yes indeed!  Beth is an amazing artist and one of most kind human beings I have ever met.  First of all, we all live in the same state which is awesome, and we go to the same board game conventions which leads us to where we met.  Chris had interacted with Beth on social media, and then we had the opportunity to  meet Beth in person at a local convention called Orcacon. Both of us are fans of her artwork, her portrayal of people are remarkable!  We ended up playing some games together at the convention and asked if she wanted to do the artwork for The Last Garden.  It was really exciting for us when she accepted.  So, the inspiration for the art were from Mad Max movies with a whimsical Pixar vibe and the idea of potential hidden beauty within a desolate wasteland.  There is a somber note in that The Queen is the last known human on this world, but she not necessarily alone in her endeavor.  Her Robotanists are there to keep her company.

Chris:

To be honest, we met Beth and thought to ourselves “she would be a pleasure to work with someday” but we really didn’t think of her for The Last Garden. When we explained the theme to her she really liked it, and then Matt and I sort of looked at each other and were like “well, it couldn’t hurt to ask!” We’re first-time publishers, and couldn’t have asked for a better artist to work with for our first project. We gave her some references, but her work totally took our world to the next level. She also gets all the credit for the trompe l’oeil style of the box, and it turned out so great.

 

With so many games being Kickstarted these days, what makes The Last Garden unique?

Chris:

One of the biggest elements that I think sets The Last Garden apart from other campaigns is that this is truly a throwback to the earlier days of Kickstarter. The Last Garden is a labor of love, and we know that the theme is going to be a big departure from what people are used to. Without Kickstarter, we’re sure that the game couldn’t exist in it’s current iteration. The theme is too weird! To be honest, we had a publisher that was interested in the game, but they were very hesitant about the theme and wanted to restructure it. Eventually Matt and I decided that we would try and make the game true to what we wanted to make, and we’re excited that Kickstarter exists as a way for interesting and quirky projects to become reality.

 

Matt:

The Last Garden also has a very unique gameplay to it, unlike any we have ever played or designed.  Sure some of the mechanics may feel familiar, but the way they meld together works really well.  We’re a small team, so it took over a year of extensive playtesting to fine tune the mechanics to where they finally felt seamless.  I think that visually the game is striking and the gameplay is fun and satisfying.

What are your pledge levels going to look like for The Last Garden?

Chris:

Pledge level, singular. We’re probably only going to have one. That could change, but right now we really like the idea of a single level that gets you the game and some promos. We have some stretch goals planned, but most of them are really about getting component upgrades. I don’t know, it just really feels like so many Kickstarter campaigns have so many bells and whistles and we don’t want to complicate things.  We want to make this really fun and quirky game for you, we’re super passionate about it, and we need your help to do it. That’s it. One reward level seems like the most straightforward way to do that.

We had a great time with this interview and we’re STOKED to see this game gets funded! There’s one way you can help out: GO TO KICKSTARTER https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/npcchris/the-last-garden-robotanists-in-the-post-apocalypse?ref=nav_search AND HELP THIS GAME BECOME A REALITY!

Thanks to Chris Rowlands and Matt Christianson for a great interview!

Thanks to you for reading!

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Something’s Fishy

In this episode, we do another fantasy improv with Aaron Catano (All My Fantasy Children), Neil M. (Two Black Eyes Podcast), Taylor LaBresh (Riverhouse Games), and Brandon Leon (Stop, Hack, and Roll)! The setting is a pool party run by rich Merfolk, and man does it get out of control! Join Burgie, Burgie, Tad, Tadd, and Eric on this crazy ride! What does that mean? You’ll see!

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/somethings-fishy/id523045887?i=1000381135692&mt=2

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An MFGCast Designer Spotlight: Alexander Pfister

Broom Service, Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King, Mombasa, Great Western Trail, and more. Alexander Pfister has a lot of games that are rated well on BoardGameGeek. Join Dan and Kurt as they talk about the games created by Pfister. Are his games worth the hype? Find out!

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/mfgcast-designer-spotlight/id523045887?i=1000380838416&mt=2

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An MFGCast Family Review of Dragon Dodge by Hidden Creek Games

In this episode Logan, Traci, and Kurt review Dragon Dodge, a game by Hidden Creek Games that’s a fun cat and mouse game where your wizards are dodging the dragons try to beat them. Use Tile Spells Cards and Element Spells Cards to manipulate the board to be the last wizard team standing! What does the Aumueller think about Dragon Dodge? Find out and go fund Dragon Dodge on Kickstarter now! https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1870586178/dragon-dodge?ref=nav_search

      Dragon Dodge Review - MFGCast
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An MFGCast interview with Dave Killingsworth from SolarFlare Games about Nightmare Forest: Alien Invasion

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In this episode, Kurt talks with Dave Killingsworth about Nightmare Forest: Alien Invasion, a new Kickstarter from SolarFlare games! In Nightmare Forest: Alien Invasion, all players cooperatively try to take out alien and escape the forest without being destroyed! Use cards, dice, and luck to make it out of the Nightmare Forest alive! Dave is always fun to talk to, and what you’ll get with this game will be fun everytime you play it! Make sure to go to Kickstarter February 24th, and help fund this spooky game!

      Dave Killingsworth Nightmare Forest: Alien Invasion - MFGCast
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An MFGCast Interview with Hayley and Veronica from Storybrewers about Alas for the Awful Sea

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In this episode, Kurt talks to Hayley and Veronica from Storybrewers about their upcoming Kickstarter for the amazing Alas for the Awful Sea! What would you do if you lived on the sea and perils were around every corner? Fueled by Apocalypse World, this RPG has a background and theme that seasoned veterans and new players alike can sink their teeth into. After you check out this, make sure to head RIGHT OVER to Kickstarter to help fund this great game by getting the PDF, Softcover or Hardcover books! Thanks for listening!

      Storybrewers MFG Interview - MFGCast
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An MFGCast Review of AssassinCon

In this episode, Kurt reviews AssassinCon by Mayday Games. In AssassinCon, players assume the role of a particular Assassin trying to sneak around and “take out” the competition by going into the same room and assassinating them, or using the Electrical Room/Sniper Booth/Security Office to sabotage the other assassins. Will this 4-6 player game be a “killer” game, or will it be assassinated off of our game shelves? Find out!

      AssassinCon Review - MFGCast
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