Monday, April 30, 2012

POLL (update April'12)

This article is meant to stay alive, we will update it every month with 4 additional poll scores. It will work a little bit like a Poll Archive with the difference that we will actually comment on it ...*cough*rude comments*cough*

As you may have already noticed, we have a new poll on our Blog every week, for the past month. We are asking you questions which tend to split our team into two opposite fronts. Most of the times, when even after a long debate we cannot find a consensus and to agree upon one answer, we let You to decide for us! How cool is this - you are our final vote! (by the way, thanks! - I managed to win twice so far!). Sometimes we are just curious how are things for other gamers and non-gamers, for example we asked you about your favorite playing color - we'd just like to get to know You better!

We hope you like our polls. If you do - thanks and keep up the good work, if you do not - send us your questions and propose the answers and we will* (in 99.99999...%) publish them.

*no curses, no adult content, no personal questions - please (this will be the 0.000...001% out weight for not publishing your question)

Polls from March-April 2012

And here are our polls, from the oldest to the youngest :)

Do you find video reviews useful for learning games?
Comment:
Really? But really? Nobody thought that video reviews are useful only and only if they are in their native language? Phi! Let me just clarify something for you. Are you most of the times playing board games where the rules are in your native language? If yes (if your answer is always 'no' than you are a Champ! My honest congratulations!), than how do you find the correlation between words..hmm..: Board Game [EN] vs. Gra Planszowa [PL] and this is an easy one! :P

When I play I have to play with my color which is.....
Comment:
I was disappointed that 'red' did not win, but what can I say, it's your choice!

Wooden tokens vs. plastic miniatures
Comment:
Ha! The fight was really staunch between "Wood is good as long..." and "Plastic miniatures all the way..."
I would call it even, because let's face it - the best games are the ones which have both of them, a few wooden cubes, cylinders etc. and some great miniatures. This time You voted well! ;)

What is the best name for NSKN's new empire building game?

Ok, at leas this one was easy. The majority voted for Exodus: Proxima Centauri.
And so, Exodus: Proxima Centauri it is! :)

Cheers! Till the next one!
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Thursday, April 26, 2012

The new NSKN website and the struggle within

We've been silent for a few days now, but it all happened for a reason. The whole NSKN Team was involved in redesigning our company's website. People have been telling us for a while that it was too gray (no worries, now we made it a little bit lighter gray), to hard to see, too... well there were too many "too something", so we heard it and made it better.

It is the same place, www.nskn.net, but with a new look. Like everything else that needs to be done fast and well, there are all sort of things happening in the worst and unexpected moments.

Preview of  NSKN Legendary Games new website (main page)

First of all, you may have noticed that we switched to a WordPress platform. This decision was made because no one in our team is an actual web expert and updating the website became a pain in the.. team. We went for an easy solution... or so we thought. This face-lift was planned to last one day. The first day we spend only on choosing a look-and-feel that would satisfy us. The ironic part is that once we chose our winner theme, it turned out that it was not really free (there are about 1500 free WordPress themes). We moved on past this "little" inconvenience and we proceeded to updating the pages, the news, pretty much everything except for the online store which was working just fine.

Early this morning, there came the time to put everything online and to announce the world that we have a new website - that's kind of what I am doing right now. Well, fate or the guys operating the server reserved one last surprise - they went for maintenance about 20 seconds before I started uploading the new files online.

But all that is behind us now, check out our new website and tell us if you like it or not. A preview above.

We  cannot wait to hear your opinions!

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Monday, April 23, 2012

Traders

When we gave the name "Warriors & Traders" to our first-born game, we could not imagine that it would end up on a currency trading website. We do have gold in our game, but it's not really for trade on the stock market, it's rather useful for building armies, Forts or Victory Points.



I've been puzzled to see a review of Warriors & Traders here, but you know what people say, any publicity is good publicity, so why not, maybe this will bring stock market traders into board games or maybe reading about inside trading will make all of us better players of Warriors & Traders :)


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Warriors & Traders can also be found on its own website | Blog | Facebook |  BoardGameGeek
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Friday, April 20, 2012

Giving thanks

I won't talk about Thanksgiving but about giving a big thanks to all those who made this project possible and I am talking about NSKN and the games we released and we're planning for the future. 

NSKN Legendary Games has its roots in Romania, a country without much tradition in board gaming. However, the few gamers are very passionate and among them there are some of my good friends. It is them who I am praising in this post. 

It looks just half eaten...but it's a whole cake - 1st year cake!
I won't say names just because I will forget someone or misspell a name and because they did not help me just so they can read their names in an article, but because they are true friends. Some of them shared their houses and their other friends, some of them left work early and spent late nights testing prototypes. There were long evenings, sometimes angry feedback and these efforts sometimes went by almost forgotten. 

I want all of you to know that I appreciate your effort and patience. You should know you played an important role in what NSKN is now and what it will be in the future. Thank you!

__________________

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Warriors & Traders can also be found on its own website | Blog | Facebook |  BoardGameGeek
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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Agnieszka's thoughts on Going Cardboard: A Board Game Documentary


A few days ago, after travelling to Romania and Poland (you can read more about it here), I finally got back home to Brussels. A few weeks ago I had ordered Going Cardboard: A Board Game Documentary from T-Cat Productions  directed by Lorien Green and when I entered my home there it was, waiting quietly in the cardboard box, the DVD, the movie I was waiting to see for some time now.

Brand new Going Cardboard DVD

Of course, before I even unpacked I was already tearing the box of my newest gift (I need to explain here: I tend to make gifts to myself, for example board games every week or so, new CD's and DVD's, books... and let's face it - it's expensive, but I believe every woman needs to be spoiled, so I do this on a regular basis). That night I was extremely tired and it was long past midnight. I've decided to watch the movie the next day. "Going Cardboard" also has nice goodies included, which are one Shoot-out game by Reiner Knizia and at least 90 minutes of additional footage, on top of the main movie.

Breakfast at Agnieszka's with Shoot-out 

Early morning next day I've decided to have a breakfast with Shoot-out. Andrei and I had lots of fun while playing it. We discovered another way to play board games! An amazing way of starting a day. As a board game addict, I honestly cannot believe that I did not see that before, playing games at breakfast, with coffee and scrambled eggs and of course another player.  Especially Shoot-out, which is a very simple and entertaining game, served its morning purpose of warming up your brain and getting ready for the day. Wonderful thing! I highly recommend! :meeple:

Coming back to the documentary, I have to say that I did not know what to expect from a movie about board games. Maybe this is one of the reasons that I wanted to buy it and watch it - pure curiosity - what is "Going Cardboard" about? Of course, the most obvious answer would be board games.. but after I've watched it, I have to say - it's not so simple.
"Going Cardboard" touches many deeper subjects, usually not so visible for the board gamers. This movie helps you understand how the board gaming world looks like from behind the scene. I will not write a review of the movie or even try to tell you what games, companies, publishers or persona are mentioned, you will have to see the movie by yourself, as it's worth seeing.

There is no doubt that Lorien Green did something unique here. Making videos, especially review videos is very popular in board gaming, however a documentary is an approach I've seen for first time.

There are two more things worth of mentioning. First of all, my very personal thought and concern: Are there really so few women in the world playing board games? While I've been watching "Going Cardboard" I was actually counting how many women appeared (this are the names which I actually captured while watching: Alison Hansel, Robin Hill, Tery Noseworthy, Sheila Davis) in the movie. I am not a feminist and frankly I do not care if I play board games with men or women. I am just concerned why are women not into board games?

Second of all, something really worth of noticing and mentioning is Lorien Green's extraordinary way of filming and combining all the parts into a whole movie. "Going Cardboard" shows and tells you how the gaming industry evolved in the past years. Personally I would like to see more different games mentioned in the movie, however I understand that this will require a few more years of filming. :)

Thanks for reading and till the next one!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Part3: Warriors & Traders vs. Exodus: Proxima Centauri

This is the third (Part 1, Part 2) and final part of my comparison between Warriors & Traders and Exodus: Proxima Centauri. I left the most difficult and interesting parts for the end.

As most of you know already, Warriors & Traders is placed in the Dark Ages in Europe, while Exodus  takes place in a post apocalyptic world, when humans left Earth and found a new universe to settle in and explore. What might be less transparent is the restrictions that each theme bring to the design space, so I will take them one by one.

Western Europe map in Warriors & Traders
Placing a game in a known world, in my case medieval Europe, comes with a series of constraints which determine to some extent the design of the game. Making the map for Warriors & Traders was one of the biggest challenges. With European countries fighting on a yearly basis and borders changing dramatically from decade to decade, I had to adapt the asymmetric reality to the symmetrical rules of the game and the other way around. I wanted to give every country at the same time something specific and the same chance to win the game. The rules are the same for all the players, no matter if the start in a small or big country, so the balancing was done through the Unification event and through the way the countries are divided into provinces and the connections between them. An additional layer of difficulty was added by the lack of luck, making Warriors & Traders nearly impossible to balance. 

Being my first game, little did I know of how much effort it would take to make Warriors & Traders a balanced game set in medieval Europe, making as few compromises as possible. Establishing the theme before making the game and choosing a well-known theme pose some challenges that I would now think twice before undertaking again.

Exodus universe - five players setup
Exodus: Proxima Centauri is placed in a sci-fi universe. This makes the design space almost unlimited. Also, working at the same time on the game and the theme allowed me to adapt one of them to fit the other. I have to admit that even though Exodus is a more complex game, it took me less time to balance than Warriors & Traders. But not to worry, I am compensating by making Exodus: Proxima Centauri the first of a trilogy.

The liberty I had with Exodus allowed me to bring a lot of flavor into the game. This is visible to some extent in the prototype, the rules already incorporate the story of the human exodus from Earth, but the final game will have flavor everywhere, thus making the game more interesting. The flavor in Proxima Centauri will also introduce the second part of the trilogy, by bringing a new light on the events that led the humanity to the Centauri system.

Due to the immense work to balance it and my limited experience as a board game designer, Warriors & Traders is not a game with intense flavor. The graphic design and the technologies are bringing the players to the Middle Ages, but I did not introduce any extra elements just to emphasize the historical theme.

To draw a conclusion, Warriors & Traders is a historical game with a clear theme but it is not a thematic game. Even though the historical reality influenced the design, the focus remains on the game play. Exodus: Proxima Centauri is a thematic strategy game and the player have a choice, they can focus on the strategic part, they can enjoy the theme and try look behind the curtain and to discover the untold and or they can do a little bit of both.

__________________

More about NSKN Legendary Games on the website Facebook | Twitter | BoardGameGeek
Warriors & Traders can also be found on its own website | Blog | Facebook |  BoardGameGeek
Follow us on Twitter: AgniAlexandraAndrei and Vlad 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Part 2: Warriors & Traders vs. Exodus: Proxima Centauri



In my previous article I was writing about the similarities and differences between Warriors & Traders and Exodus. Without further delaying this...

Victory Points and winning the game

Like in many other games, the victory is achieved by gathering Victory Points. This rewards different approaches and strategies and gives an incentive to players to be creative and figure out new ways to outsmart their opponents. Usually the players are more creative than the designers and I already talked to a handful of people who managed to find synergies in Warriors & Traders that I was not aware of.

In Exodus the number of turns is fixed and the player with most points wins at the end of the game, while in Warriors & Traders it is the number of VPs which (if surpassed) causes the game to end. This is all about limiting the game duration, but the two games are similar and they stimulate creativity and allow options for player who find themselves in difficult situations.

Resources

Resources are scarce in both game, otherwise managing them would stop being a challenge. Following the same principle, the two games implement it differently. In Warriors & Traders players must choose carefully how to use the few resources they get. In Exodus, the players get to choose how many resources they get and pay tax for it (I promise it is not a communist system ;)). Also, the amount of (good) options to spend resources is so high that players end up making tough decisions. 

Actions

Both games are 'powered' by Actions. They give choices to the players, bring things (units, upgrades, etc) in the game and represent the core phase of a turn. But the similarities stop here. In Exodus, the limitations are not given by the rules, but by the amount of resources. Players get to do a lot of extra actions if they're willing to pay for this, while in Warriors & Traders they need to develop to be rewarded with an extra action (and this is usually happening in the mid- or end-game).


Don't judge me too harsh, but I will leave the last part of this comparison for the next article on Tuesday (April 17th). I will talk about the flavor and the theme of the two games and about... one more thing. Stay tuned!

__________________

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Warriors & Traders can also be found on its own website | Blog | Facebook |  BoardGameGeek
Follow us on Twitter: AgniAlexandraAndrei and Vlad 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Meeting report

I cannot even tell you how tired I feel right now, but I cannot help it, I have to share the [good] news with you. The 17 hours of driving accumulated in less than 2 days paid off, we (NSKN) had several meetings with game manufacturers, with the focus on producing our future releases - Exodus, Wild Wild West and a third game which may come as an absolute surprise.

I was worried that we might be forced to make some compromises to fit inside the budget, but I am now confident that we won't have to. I am actually hoping to deliver our games to their fullest potential, with a lot of plastic miniatures and wooden tokens... the whole nine yards.

I would talk more about this, but we (Agnieszka and I) have another 12 hours of driving ahead of us tomorrow. The news are good and the next step is to start showing you what we have planned for Essen 2012 an beyond. The first encounter.... UK Games Expo in Birmingham!
__________________

More about NSKN Legendary Games on the website Facebook | Twitter | BoardGameGeek
Warriors & Traders can also be found on its own website | Blog | Facebook |  BoardGameGeek
Follow us on Twitter: AgniAlexandraAndrei and Vlad 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

NSKN @ 11 months

NSKN has just celebrated 1 year of existence... wait, we're only 11 months old. So, why the confusion? Now, you may not know, but we're quite an international team and we very rarely manage to meet all together in the same place. Last week we were all together in Bucharest, Romania, just for one day. We seized the moment and bought a cake and a bottle of Champagne and we spent a few hours as friends - a nice alternative to Skype meetings, emails or hour-long phone calls.

Bringing the cake
Feeding the cake :)
We're approaching the 1 year milestone and it is time to see where we stand. You know what they say, the first year is the toughest one and if you survive it, things will slowly fall in place. Most companies end their existence withing the first 12 months from establishment and I am proud to say that we're not one of them.

For the first 11 months of NSKN, I can count one game in stores around the world (27 countries as far as I know) - I am talking about Warriors & Traders of course - and many ongoing projects. Two of them are worth mentioning, since we're already looking for options to produce them. Wild Wild West is a party card game, with a little strategy and a lot of laughter and back stabbing and Exodus: Proxima Centauri is a strategy game with a sci-fi theme and all the ingredients to offer the player a true empire building experience.

We have another three games which we consider "work in progress" and this means that the original prototype was tested and worked, but they still need work, art and more testing. They are our projects for 2013 - 2014.

I guess there's no bigger purpose behind this post other than to say that I am proud of the NSKN Team, we all deserved the cake and I hope this was just the beginning.

NSKN Legendary Games @ 11 months, soon to be 1 year
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Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter!

To all of you who are celebrating Easter today, a good thought from


Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Game production and a few big questions

I am in Poland now, together with Agnieszka, preparing the meeting with two of the big manufacturing companies for the hobby industry. While most people celebrate the Catholic Easter, we have a few busy days ahead of us, finalizing the specs for 3 games that we'd like to bring to your attention in 2012 and 2013 (you've heard already about Exodus: Proxima Centauri and Wild Wild West, we'll talk about the third one later this year).

Exodus: Proxima Centauri - ships and tokens

Working on the specifications we came across some big questions that we have to answer before we even get close to producing any of our games. 

1) Ergonomic or beautiful?

There are three types of game
- beautiful but not-so-functional
- functional, ergonomic, practical but without one of a kind graphics
- functional, beautiful and very expensive

I just won't compromise on the quality of the design and the graphics, I need to know that I am not cheating on the gamers offering a sub-standard product just to keep it cheap, so I will have to go with "rather expensive". However, rather expensive games are hard to place on the market.

The way I look at this, I have to work out either a miracle or a very good deal. Suggestions are welcome!
Exodus: Proxima Centauri prototype

2) Wood or plastic

Most games have either wooden or plastic tokens/units/etc, very few of them have both. Without openly disclosing what I am about to negotiate, I am asking myself and the whole gaming world what would be better, a lot of wooden tokens which will ensure a high ergonomics to the game and a multitude of options for the players or fewer but really beautiful plastic tokens? (e.g. the ships I used in the prototype of Exodus, see picture above)

If you have an opinion and you want to express it, please take a look at our poll. Every vote counts! :-)

__________________

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Warriors & Traders can also be found on its own website | Blog | Facebook |  BoardGameGeek
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Thursday, April 5, 2012

Part1: Warriors & Traders vs. Exodus: Proxima Centauri

The past weekend was all about playing and testing our new prototypes. Being out of my usual playing group, I had to face a new wave of questions about our games, about NSKN, the future and much more. The most difficult question I got during these extensive sessions was how does Exodus: Proxima Centauri compare to Warriors & Traders. And I got it twice!

At first I was thinking that I am being asked to compare apples - well, board game apples - with plums :). Since that would not have qualified as an acceptable answer, I gave it a deeper thought and realized that the question is not only valid, but it requires some kind of analysis.
Warriors & Traders - the game starts!

Luck

Warriors & Traders and Exodus: Proxima Centauri are both strategy games, with a medium to high level of complexity and they address the experienced gamers rather than beginners. Gamers' games, as many will say. While  Warriors & Traders  is random-free,  Exodus incorporates dice and cards. Even though there are ways to manage it, in  Exodus: Proxima Centauri luck is part of the game and of the fun. One thing is worth mentioning, rolling many dice improves the chances of getting a number of hits that is close to the calculated probabilities. The more dice, the less chances of getting peculiar results in combat. This is a way to mitigate randomness and also, it is so much fun to roll 20+ dice at once.

Exodus: Proxima Centauri - the battle!


Grand strategy

Warriors & Traders is a combination of a Euro game and a war game, with a unique flavor - the deterministic way of solving battles. Some consider it an empire building game, some believe it is too specific to fall under this category. In my opinion, Warriors & Traders is a game for those who are looking for a different experience in board gaming without being and actual empire building game in the classic sense.  Exodus: Proxima Centauri strives to be a grand strategy game. It incorporates mechanics of resource and territory management, political decisions, bidding, researching technologies (and there are many of them) and fighting opponents. The range of decisions and of options in the game makes it, in my opinion, qualify for the category of empire building games.

This is just the first part... second part coming soon.
_________________


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Warriors & Traders can also be found on its own website | Blog | Facebook |  BoardGameGeek
Follow us on Twitter: AgniAlexandraAndrei and Vlad 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Warriors & Traders preview of a... review



Wee Gamers are again full of surprises! They posted some time ago an interview with the NSKN team. Now they prepared a preview of Warriors & Traders (in English) and announced more great videos coming up soon. We are very proud that our game is the the first Wee Gamers took under their lance.

I am sending a huge amount of positive energy to all of YOU who share, re-share, tweet, Like... our news! 

Let's spread the great happiness!


For more videos check also Stay in the loop
__________________


More about NSKN Legendary Games on the website Facebook | Twitter | BoardGameGeek
Warriors & Traders can also be found on its own website | Blog | Facebook |  BoardGameGeek
Follow us on Twitter: AgniAlexandraAndrei and Vlad 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

paint-and-play or play-and-paint


There were many things happening last week in the NSKN world, however I have a problem with defining what exactly they were. Working hard on new projects and additionally to that preparing new surprises for Warriors & Traders, developing and improving existing prototypes... You can imagine what actually happened. :) I've shared these pictures and the story on Board Game Geek yesterday. And then I fell asleep. I promise I will try harder next time and drink additional coffee or two to keep me awake! :)

Sometimes you need a break! Yes, you need to rest from all the strategies and ideas popping up out loud at random. The worst are those which will not let you to fall asleep. They are like a herd of sheep jumping in a circle in your head and the enlightenment is "beee..beee...-ing" you hard every 5 minutes. As you know I am working on Exodus: Proxima Centauri and Wild Wild West. Two extremely different types of games. To keep myself sane, I decided to play relatively "easy games" this weekend.

And to be honest, I do not know if my hyper-activity was generated by hard work throughout the week or by the type of work I did on Friday (pics talk for themselves). 




Home painted wooden tokens for Exodus: Proxima Centauri prototype

So I've played: 
World Without End

Alien Frontiers (from the left: Florin, Dan, Andrei)

Romanian version of Risk - brain-relaxer :)

Ticket to Ride (from the left: Ina, me, Ducu, Simi)

Ticket to Ride (later in the game)

This weekend we met many great people with different gaming tastes. We were asked many questions about our games/prototypes. Next story is coming on Thursday - Andrei's attempt to answer one of the least expected questions we were asked. 


__________________

More about NSKN Legendary Games on the website Facebook | Twitter | BoardGameGeek
Warriors & Traders can also be found on its own website | Blog | Facebook |  BoardGameGeek
Follow us on Twitter: AgniAlexandraAndrei and Vlad