Thursday, September 10, 2015

A Comfy Chair


Back when I was a gamer who had nothing to do with designing and publishing of board games, the last month before Essen would always be a bit of a sweet torture. I’d look at all the new and shiny boxes that I would still have to wait weeks to get my hands on. Now, things are obviously a bit different.

Would you like to read more? We're moving to the New NSKN Blog. You will find the rest of this article here. Oh, and do tell us what you think of our new blog!

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

A Boardgaming Hobbit

Multiplayer solitaire. Two words that more often than not are used these days to condemn a game, as if automatically making it somehow worse than any a design that will have players at each other’s throats in a matter of minutes – or at least make players fight tooth and nail for scarce resources or territories.

Multiplayer solitaire. Two words that more often than not are used these days to condemn a game, as if automatically making it somehow worse than any a design that will have players at each other’s throats in a matter of minutes – or at least make players fight tooth and nail for scarce resources or territories.

Would you like to read more? We're moving to the New NSKN Blog. You will find the rest of this article here. Oh, and do tell us what you think of our new blog!

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Thursday, August 20, 2015


The concept of player elimination is a thing of the past. Unless we’re talking about games that are short, random and light – or about “classics” like Monopoly – straight up elimination is gone from most European and American style games these games. Or is it gone in name only?

Would you like to read more? We're moving to the New NSKN Blog. You will find the rest of this article here. Oh, and do tell us what you think of our new blog!

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Thursday, August 13, 2015


We started talking about Simurgh and its beginnings a few weeks ago and it is now the right time to tell the rest of its story. In 2013, with a cool name, dragons and a designer on the rise, Simurgh seemed ready to "go to Essen" and have its first encounter with the general public. But before we present a game to such a demanding audience, we usually take the game through a stress test - those of you working in the banking system should know exactly what this means.

Would you like to read more? We're moving to the New NSKN Blog. You will find the rest of this article here. Oh, and do tell us what you think of our new blog!

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Tuesday, August 11, 2015


So, you’ve been gaming for some time now, long enough to know that it is a hobby worth exploring. You’ve bought your first few games, you’re slowly becoming the board gaming go to gal or guy of your group, and you are thinking about creating a slightly bigger and more wholesome collection of games. Well, you’ve come to the right place.

Would you like to read more? We're moving to the New NSKN Blog. You will find the rest of this article here. Oh, and do tell us what you think of our new blog!

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Thursday, August 6, 2015

Making Mind Games


You might say that making a good deception-based game is a task more difficult than making, say, a Eurogame. After all, games that make us question the truthfulness of our friends are based on a set of concepts much more nebulous than a well-written and tested mathematical model that will run your trading in the Mediterranean game.

Would you like to read more? We're moving to the New NSKN Blog. You will find the rest of this article here. Oh, and do tell us what you think of our new blog!

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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Other Gateway


Here’s a story (a true story) for you: I once met a person who refused to be introduced into board gaming via Ticket to Ride, just to eagerly delve into the first edition of Descent. That person, who had had no experiences with any kind of gaming – including Dungeons & Dragons – was my wife: today an avid gamer by any conceivable standards.

Would you like to read more? We're moving to the New NSKN Blog. You will find the rest of this article here. Oh, and do tell us what you think of our new blog!

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Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Steam Theme


Last week I talked about games that share a system, a set of rules designed for a specific game that later on came to – officially or not – spawn other games, and in some extreme cases, create a new genre. But it’s obviously not the only way to create a group of games some people are fans of, as equally – if not stronger – ties can also come to exist between games that share a common theme. Very much like the ties that exist between different train games.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

A Viking Thing (Part 2)


So it’s a fact: Vikings are coming. Last time I talked about the violent Northmen being a part of the tabletop gaming culture for some time now, making appearances in different types of games – games that do not necessarily make a great use of the Viking theme. But it looks like the times they are a changin’, and we’re about to get some new wave Euro games that will really make us feel like raiders, explorers and traders of the early medieval era.

Would you like to read more? We're moving to the New NSKN Blog. You will find the rest of this article here. Oh, and do tell us what you think of our new blog!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Systemic Success


Modern board games thrive on repeating, remixing and remaking. Taking a few well known elements, adding a few new twists, assembling them in a new way is – in most cases – all the innovation needed for a game to be successful. Thus, it should come as no surprise that some game publishers not only openly reuse old systems, but make it a selling point.

Would you like to read more? We're moving to the New NSKN Blog. You will find the rest of this article here. Oh, and do tell us what you think of our new blog!

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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

A Short Story of Civilization

It’s no secret we like civilization games at NSKN. You could say that it’s a company thing, but I’ve liked them ever since I played Through the Ages, and it was some time before NSKN Games was actually established. This love, a love probably also shared by every other board gamer alive, is bringing me today to talk about civilization games that were able to do two things: present a new take on civ games and amuse us enough to remain in our collections.

Before I talk about newer games, let me first pay my due to the two most important and formative civilization board games – at least in my opinion. The first one is (obviously) Civilization (later upgraded to Advanced Civilization) designed by Francis Tresham. It’s a game a too young to remember in its original incarnation, but its second edition still sits on my shelf – and I do play it on a semi-regular basis.

The second civilization game that seems a cornerstone of not only civ games, but board games in general is Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization. It was one of my first heavier Euro games (yes, I do believe TTA is a Euro game as well as a civ game), and one of the most fascinating experiences in my personal history of gaming. It’s also the civilization game I personally love to go back most often.
Image Source: BoardGameGeek

Through the Ages is a game I wanted to mention also for another reason. Although the game is not new by any stretch of imagination, it was quite innovative for its time, and in a way has never been successfully imitated by another game. Some innovative elements from TTA surfaced in other games, but only two years ago a game with a truly similar approach to civilization games emerged. Nations (if you’re a fan of civ games you probably already knew which game I was referring to) with its strong design and depth managed to find its way onto many gaming tables – but failed (in my opinion at least) as a civ game, remaining “only” a rock solid Euro.

Over the years we’ve had some novel approach to civilization games – as well as some games that would simply take the rather obvious, but still quite entertaining route when it came to game design choices. While extremely fun, FFG’s Sid Meier’s Civilization follows a rather safe path, not really trying to re-define the genre, but solidify it and create a kind of a template many other civ games would be compared to. It also certainly fared much better than the previous Sid Meier’s Civilization which, over the years, has almost universally attracted scorn from its players.

Image Source: BoardGameGeek
It seems that the way to innovate civ games lies in making them shorter. While no less than impressive, Francis Tresham’s design takes six to eight hours to play properly, and with both of its expansions, the FFG Civilization may take a good few (five or six) hours to complete. Building a game that would have this civilization feel without actually taking a whole afternoon (and/or evening) is something many have dipped their toes in. 

This is how we got the spectacular 7 Wonders, which reduced a whole civ game to a few decks of cards, a bunch of player boards and a pile of tokens. This is also where Golden Ages probably came from, this time not doing away with the map component, but still managing to squeeze the civ feel into a much smaller frame – and a smaller footprint.

Image Source: BoardGameGeek
And speaking of 7 Wonders, we’ve also tried out hand at a civilization game that consists mainly of cards and player boards – for that reason many people would instantaneously compare our Progress: Evolution of Technology to Antoine Bauza’s phenomenal design (which only made us blush a little), and will try again in the not so distant future, this time with a completely different design (a light sprinkle of deckbuilding, anyone?).

Innovating in civilization games is no easy task, as it’s very easy to misplace those precious few elements that make a civ game what it is: the sense of building something grand, and the feeling of great progression, of one thing evolving from another. That is why I personally never found Nations appealing as a civ game, that is why Innovation never really spoke to me. And that is why when come around to making another civ game, we’ll not forget its basic building blocks while trying to innovate.

Just to wrap it all up: are there any smaller civilization games you love? Perhaps you know of some undiscovered little gems we should definitely check out? And before you say anything: yes, we’ve Olympos, Historia, Uruk and Uruk II. We like them.

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Thursday, July 16, 2015

A Viking Thing (Part 1)


Vikings are getting more popular again. With the phenomenally good TV series the Northmen once again entered the pop culture stage, this time sporting only beards, but no horny helmets. Vikings are also once again becoming more and more popular as a theme for a game. Does that mean that Vikings are the new Zombies?

No, they’re not – and a short trip to the BoardGameGeek will prove that during the last two years we’ve had many (and I mean many) more Zombie-themed games, than we had board games with Vikings. Still, with games like Raiders of the North Sea doing quite well, games like Villainous Vikings quietly entering the stage, games like Nord awaiting a more general release and games like Viking Fury getting a reprint, we might be on to something here.
Image Source: BoardGameGeek

But let’s start with the simplest question: what makes Vikings interesting for board game designers and publishers? After all, the violent raiders, crafty merchants and bold explorers don’t quite fit the bill when it comes to traditional Euro games (with the “violent raiders” being the part that does all the damage), and history has more than a few explorers and merchants that without the violent streak. So, why Vikings?

The first answer is that it’s because they are popular again. They are popular, so board games having some Viking characters on the cover will most probably be more popular than those without. And it mostly doesn’t really matter if there is any raiding and seafaring in the game, as proven by the excellent Vikings by Michael Kiesling.

Image Source: BoardGameGeek
Vikings (also known by its original title Wikinger) is a rock solid, innovative and exceptionally intriguing design that mixes a tile laying game with auctions and an absolutely unique game of chicken all players will have to participate in every turn. It looks gorgeous, it plays really well, and it almost purposefully does Vikings as wrong as possible. Starting from horned meeples, through absolutely non-violent gameplay (in which our Vikings were more like victims than victimizers) to putting horned warriors on the cover of the game, everything was wrong with the game’s theme.

Nowadays, when Euro games are being designed with the idea of theme and mechanisms coming together more tightly, Vikings are making a comeback – and this time the designers and publishers don’t have to shoehorn the theme into a bunch of mechanical ideas that barely fit the idea of the Northmen. Elements of Euro games have entered American games, more aggressive mechanisms seeped back into European games, and that made a topic like Vikings something that can be fully developed in more or less a Eurogame.

In this new climate Vikings are actually incredibly attractive, as they have almost unparalleled potential: a designer can focus on seafaring and explorations, blend trading and raiding (Merchants and Marauders style – making Vikings the new pirates in the process), go for the power struggle with the titular Viking Thing, or simply show that a compilation of older mechanisms with new ideas can also make for a great game with a really cool theme.
Image Source: www.wallpapers.net
Next time I'll talk a little more about the more current Viking games and what they bring to the table. In the mean time, do you have any specific likes of dislikes when it comes to Viking games? Or maybe there should definitely by an aspect of the cruel Northmen that should be done well in a board game, but has not yet been up to date?
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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

A dragon's tale (part I)


Simurgh was the first game ever picked up by NSKN Games after a pitch, and it is the first ever project in which we had to work with a designer who was not part of NSKN Games.

It all started at the Nurnberg Toy Fair back in 2013. It was our first appearance at a large fair besides Spiel and it was as surprising as our first presence is Essen. A lot of famous designers come to Nurnberg to present their new ideas because unlike Essen which offers some incredibly busy four days, Nurnberg it 6 days long and quite relaxed, with fewer visitors and time to catch a breath.

That's where we met Pierluca Zizzi, a charming Italian game designer who pitched a "board building game with some awesome worker placement mechanisms and...dinosaurs", and we were intrigued. The game was sharing some game design principles with one of Pierluca's other designs, so we had to wait for another 5 months to actually play the game.

Our first game of Simurgh (back then Mu) took place in GobCob later that year. We said yes to the game the very same day and we brought along the prototype for further testing, but we already knew known that we had found a gem.

You need to know a few things about the earliest prototype we've seen. It did not feature dragons, but dinosaurs. Everyone, including the designer, knew that dinosaurs are not there to stay, nevertheless we had lots of fun imagining dragon... pardon me... dinosaur raiders foraging through some ancient forest. Dinos are not a bad thing - take a look at Evolution or Dominant Species - they were just totally out of place, not fitting at all with the game mechanics. But the game itself was so good that we decided on the spot to publish it after we found the perfect theme.

It wasn't long until Simurgh found its name and theme. It took some 12-hour car ride, a ridiculous amount of emails (if you have not tried brain storming by email, do not miss this unique opportunity... just kidding) and a few months later we were ready to dress the game into some beautiful artwork and present it in Essen. That was still back in 2013.


Dragon sketch by Enggar Adirasa

A legitimate question at this point is "Why dragons?" and what does the name of the game mean. We must admit that we were somehow conditioned by the original dinosaur theme and we were not able to shift our thinking into a completely different plane, so we gravitated around "stuff which can fly, stuff which can be ridden" and "a mythical universe", "of man and... (add word here)". Add to this mix another key ingredient - we like dragons  -  and we had the cocktail ready for a dragon themed game. The truth is that all the game mechanisms fit perfectly with the theme we chose and we were very happy to see the metamorphosis of Mu into Simurgh.

Our dragons were never meant to be evil. Scary - yes, by all means, but never evil. The legends of many peoples are filled with dragons, from Asia to South America and from Europe to Africa. We search the mythology for a perfect match and the Persian Simurgh came as the obvious choice.

Stay tuned for the second part of the story, coming up in a few weeks.


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Thursday, July 9, 2015

Roll them Bones

Designing a dice game is incredibly easy, so easy in fact, that I’ll do it here, now, in the blog post header. Ready? Roll off 57 times between any number of players, each of them rolling the same die (six sided would be the best and easiest to obtain). Roll off on each draw. The player with the highest number of wins is the winner of the game. Roll off in case of tie. Done.

Image Source: BGG
Yes, I can already image your smirk as you’re smiling at my silly little game, and I know what you are thinking. But, honestly, I am too young to have had seen the prototype of Talisman over thirty years ago, and too smart to actually push for publishing a game which is won by the person able to roll the highest number of sixes. There are simply too many such games on the market already. 

Here’s the downside of working for a company that publishes board games: you can’t always write about stuff that frustrates you in gaming, simply because you’d have to point fingers at products made by your competitors. And that would make you look like a jerk. So, I decided that – if I am to proceed – I will use a very limited number of negative examples, and I will use only games I really enjoy, so that at least those who know anything about my gaming habits know that there is no ill will or bad blood here. 

Now, the essential problem of a not-so-good dice game (or of a game that relies heavily on dice), is the correlation between winning and rolling high (or, to put it in a more universal term, rolling within a specific range the game mechanisms tend to favour). If rolling a six always gives you more power, more resources, more options of using such a die, then it means that the game has a potential of being driven by luck more than by player actions. 

Image Source: BoardGameGeek
Let me use an example of a game I love – and a game that for the most part does dice very well. In Alien Frontiers it mostly does not matter whether you roll high or low, because almost any set of dice can be used productively on your turn. However, if you never roll high, you’ll probably never use the action that allows you to place a colony for the price of permanently removing one of your dice (one that came up with a six), and might have a big problem getting any Alien Tech cards (and without them your ability to manipulate scores is virtually nonexistent). 

Apart from the above example, Alien Frontiers is a splendid game, definitely one that’s been in my all time top ten since the first time I played it. It’s a game that will allow a better player (or a more experienced one) to win most of the times, but if two players of equal skill face off, the game will probably be won the player who rolls more fives and/or sixes, as only one location favours low scores, while the others either favour high, or use sets with any numbers. 

Image Source: BoardGameGeek
I’ve used Alien Frontiers as an example not to belittle the game (by Jupiter, it would be like belittling a good friend!), but to show that even the greatest of the dice genre are not completely free of the high roller problem. As far as I can tell, the only game that completely does away with favouring specific scores is Castles of Burgundy – and even the great Stefan Feld was not fully able to repeat this, as Bora-Bora seems to slightly favour rolling low. 

So, what should all this teach us? Well, that really good dice games should be built in a way that allows the players to use any rolls to their advantage – and that designing them so that they do exactly this is not easy, but we should still try. After all, the slight imperfection of Alien Frontiers does not prevent it from being a magnificent game, and a design many aspiring creators can draw inspiration from.

PS. Does all the above mean that we're working on a dice game? No. Nooo.

Yes.

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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Flirting with the Classics

Every now and again someone comes either to some gaming forums, or directly to Kickstarter, and says that they are going to revolutionize modern tabletop gaming, just to follow it up with a roll and move game, or with a groundbreaking invention of a six-sided die with symbols instead of numbers. Gamers always get a good laugh out of such individuals.

Image Source: BoardGameGeek
There is no better way to prove that being familiar with some of the modern classics of board gaming is essential to becoming a designer – and a publisher. If you know what tabletop gaming is today, you’ll also instantly know that your revolutionary idea to make a game where you collect sets of cards and roll no dice (balsphemy!), is not as revolutionary as you’ve thought. That will allow you to save some time – and save yourself some grief. But what about designers and publishers who already know the world of boardgaming?

Well, if you’re business is publishing new games, you should know new games. You should know what’s going on. You should know who won the Spiel des Jahres (congrats, Colt Express!) and Kennerspiel des Jahres (congrats, Broom Service!), you might even want to know who received the Spiele Hit Fur Experten award (wink-wink, nudge-nudge, Progress!). You should go to conventions to see what people enjoy the most now, check the BGG Hotness… and still find the time to play the classics. 

Image Source: BoardGameGeek
Seriously, if you missed Goa and you’re design/publish Eurogames, go play it now! Go play Ticket to Ride, fall asleep over Caylus (oh yeah, I went there), sit down to a game of Puerto Rico and see what the original game of role selection is all about (or even try the famous corn strategy). Make your buddy put that old copy of StarCraft on their table and see where Forbidden Stars (and possibly a few dozen other Ameritrashy-wargames) takes its mojo from. I think you already get the gist.

Because, seriously, sometimes going back to the roots gives you a perspective no new game ever will. And I’m telling you this as a fan of deckbuilding, as a designer of a game that uses deckbuilding mechanisms (Mistfall, if you had any doubts), and as a person who goes back to Dominion regularly to bathe in the glory that is the fluidity, the speed, the unique dynamics of a simple and yet refined game another deckbuilder is still to achieve (with Ascension being the only one that ever came close – but trading in some of its depth for theme). 

The truth is that no matter who you are – a designer, a publisher, “just” a gamer – you really should not only follow the new, but also get down with the old. And it’s not because of some silly idea of paying one’s due, not because of some nostalgic fad, but simply because you might find some really good things you’ve been missing on as a player – and some pretty damn inspirational stuff perfect if you are a creative.

Image Source: BoardGameGeek

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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Allow Me

There’s a saying all creative people have heard, and a lot of them have also uttered during their lives: “Show, don’t tell”. Simply put, it means that if you want a scene in a novel or a movie to be heart wrenching, you cannot simply tell your readers or viewers what they should be feeling or doing at this given moment. Similarly, you cannot simply make somebody laugh by telling them to laugh – or by telling them to do a thing that is definitely going to be hilarious.

Image Source: Boardgamegeek
It’s no secret I’m not a fan of party games – whenever people ask me about my gaming habits, I tell them that I am mostly a gaming omnivore, although I will rarely be convinced to play a real time game, or a party game (often actually being also a real time game, so that gives us one strike more). In fact, I will often admit to specifically not liking party games as a genre and actively avoiding playing them, choosing to rather not play than play a party game.

If you’re starting to feel slightly confused by how detached the two above paragraphs are, let me now tie them together. I don’t like party games, because a lot of them try to force me into making silly stuff just for other people to laugh at me – or make other people do silly stuff so that I could laugh at them. And they try to do it in such a ham-fisted way, that the only thing I do feel is embarrassment.

I’m not going to point my finger at any specific transgressors. Suffice to say that if a game simply orders me to cluck like a chicken instead of talking, or play with my forehead on the table, I’ll probably pass. I can make other people laugh at my expense, but I refuse to be the butt of primitive jokes made by someone else. I will not be happy about that, and I will certainly not pay for this type of entertainment.

Image Source: Boardgamegeek
What I will pay for is a subtle but engaging system that will allow me to make an idiot out of myself – and allow other people to laugh at my expense. And here, I will name names: Anomia, Apples to Apples, Spot It, 5 Second Rule – games that do not start from insulting their players by forcing them to do stupid things. No, by creating a seemingly neutral gaming environment they allow us to do silly things as we try to play according to rules that do not tell us to do a specific funny thing to amuse others.

So, if your thinking about designing a fun party game, first look at the ones that (over the years) had the most staying power – and that you enjoy (not dread!) coming back to, and then remember one thing: allow me. Specifically, allow me to entertain other players with my blunders. Don’t make me look like an idiot with a forehead on the table. Instead, allow me to find a way to make an idiot out of myself using your entertaining ruleset. I’ll like your party game that much more, I promise.
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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Fruit of thy labours

If you’ve been following our blog, you already know that NSKN Games went to see how the production of Mistfall is going. We posted both a Kickstarter update, and a blog post for those who had missed it. The visit in Kraków gave me the opportunity to take a copy of my first published game in its final form, lacking but the shrink wrap, and hold it in my hand. And it was a glorious feeling.



It’s still going to be some time before the actual copies of Mistfall are assembled, and we are ready to start sending them, so the copy I got is “semi-official”. It was put together from the components already available at the factory, but it did not go through the full production cycle like all the games the backers will receive – and like the boxes that will end up on store shelves. But it was still a first copy of Mistfall. The first copy of my game.

You might think that after showing the game to a lot of people in a multitude of different forms – from the most basic, black and white, homemade prototypes, to the most advanced ones, printed using the final graphic design and artworks – would allow me to get used to the idea of what the final game would look so much, that it wouldn’t be anything moving. And yet, it was. 

Seeing Mistfall as a finished game, browsing through the rulebook, punching out the tiles and tokens felt at first completely unreal. What I would always see as a pile of cards made using sleeves and some commons from this, that or yet another CCG, and some tokens either made at home, or stolen from another game, was now an actual game. And for a time I could not believe that this box filled with gaming goodness is the essentially the same thing as a black and white prototype I still have.


As you can see, this blog post is yet another personal one, so you’ll not find any professional advice or peek behind the curtain of the publishing process. But I’ll try to make reading this worth your while by telling you two banal but incredibly important things. The first one is that plans and ideas, sometimes no matter how wild, should never be something that is forever in the future, something you think just before going to sleep and smile. You can make them real, if you work hard.

And the second thing is, that in this strange and complicated world, you can still achieve stuff if you simply work hard. And I have the fruit of my labours to prove it.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Mists will fall sooner...

Last Friday the NSKN Games team made a little trip to Kraków. Although it's a beautiful city, our mission there was not to marvel at all its wonders, but to see what is up with the production of Mistfall - our newest successful Kikcstarter. And the news are good.

More than 90% of Kickstarters today arrive late to the backers, and we know that this is something backers have learned to accept, although they never should - and again, in case of Mistfall, our backers will not have to.  All the components have been produced, and assembly was to start a day before publishing this post. And this means that our backers will get the game early. Yes, you've read this right.

So, first, let us show you a bit of an inside story.


At the factory itself we saw live in action the machines making decks of cards, we heard some technical details and met good people at work. No one is ever naming them, but the whole industry relies on their skills, patience and hard work. So, a big thanks to them, even though they preferred not to be photographed.


But arguably the most important picture is this one:

These giant boxes contain all the decks of cards which will become Mistfall in a few days. You're looking here at several metric tons of cards.


And these master cartons contain 6 Mistfall boxes each. For the moment the game boxes are still empty, but this situation will be remedied next week.


Last but not least, it was very nice to see the amazing quality of the punchboards which will be part of Mistfall. Nice, thick cardboard full of tiles and tokens easy to punch out.

So, you've read this far... now it's time for the really good news. Our current estimation is that our European backers will get their games in July, our backers from US, Canada and Australia in August and everyone else by the end of September. The "average" Mistfall game box will arrive more than 1 month early.

The truth is that we are both proud and happy that we will be able to make Mistfall happen before time, not only for the simple reason of proving that we can, but also - and more importantly - because we will be able to deliver a game a lot of our fans are impatiently waiting for sooner, thus making the gruelling wait shorter.

So, if you're a backer - know that your wait will be a shorter one. And if you're not - here's another good reason to become one in the future.

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Thursday, June 18, 2015

4 pieces of advice for first time Kickstarter creators

We've recently proven that a complex project involving lots of cardboard, dice, wood and plastic space ships can be delivered on time (actually early, but that is beside the point). It's all about hard work and proper planning. So, if you decide to crowd-fund, it's up to you to do the same or better.

I am going to keep this short and simple, as what I am about to say has been said before and will probably be the same sentence that any experienced Kickstarter creator will give any "first-timer": deliver!

Advice no. 1: Plan to deliver! Ideally this should done be on time, but late is still better than never. US authorities are taking a closer look at creators who do not deliver and you may face legal action. I need to clarify this... if you're what people define as a "normal person", you will think it is very odd to read these few lines, but NSKN Games has received numerous messages from creators-to-be with questions such as "Do I have to deliver? What happens if I don't?". Now, there is an "official" answer, the FTC takes legal action against creators who mislead and mismanage.


Source: fx24seven.com


Advice no. 2Kickstarter is hard work, not easy money. Start with this idea in mind and the countless challenges you face will seem a lot easier. Well, maybe not a lot, but somewhat easier :)


Source: www.associatedlearningsystems.co.uk


Advice no. 3: The key to success is good planning. This applies to pretty much everything you do in life, but for Kickstarter creators this is especially true. Sound common sense is your first tool, but there are plenty of resources in the digital world which can help you crack open the secrets of strategic planning and project management. You can also hire a professional to guide you through the whole process and this may very well pay off if you are unwilling or don't have the time to learn everything there is to learn, but this is just back-up.


Source: blog.valpakfranchising.com

Advice no. 4: Do your homework. It is very unlikely that you will reinvent the wheel, so take a look at some of the successful projects and see what they have done right. Check their campaign pages, but do not ignore the updates and comments section, they often reveal more than the main project page itself. There are thousands of successful projects so you will most likely be overwhelmed by the variety of approaches. Every single Kickstarter creator will tell you that their way is the right way. Your quest is to discover yours. "Steal" the best ideas from past successful projects and adapt/improve them to your vision. It sounds easy enough, but it's a lot of hard work. 

If these pieces of information sound generic, we will return with some more advice specific for board games.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

More theme - yay or nay?

What do we need a theme in a game for? If it’s a Eurogame, we probably need it to help out in the learning process a little bit, and to not be in the way when the learning is over. And if the theme ever rears its ugly head too much, things may get suddenly worse.

Image source: BoardGameGeek.
Thematic Eurogames certainly exist. The problem here is that depending on who you ask, what is and is not thematic differs significantly. A game considered super-thematic by some, is dry and completely devoid of any theme to others. Just look at Lords of Waterdeep, that was both praised for a high level of immersion (for a Eurogame), and bashed for being a soulless cube pusher, thinly layered with a Dungeons & Dragons theme.

It’s obvious that to an extent it is what we like or dislike that makes us consider a game thematic or dry. Some specific elements work better to anchor us in what a game is supposed to depict. For example, I find Shipyard (a very abstract abstract Eurogame by Vladimir Suchý) thematic despite having to work with several different rondels as well as a pile of disassociated mechanisms working in the game, simply because the goal is to build ships – and build them on a board, using tiles that make the final outcome look like an actual ship.

However, sometimes one of the design goals for a game is to more accurately depict whatever the game is about. And this means introducing rules that would “simulate” some real-life phenomenon or mechanism, with a possible outcome of making a game that is more “realistic” – and often less of a solid game.

Image source: BoardGameGeek.
Among many games Martin Wallace has designed over the years, few have been bashed as much as Tinners’ Trail – a light Eurogame about mining and selling tin in 19th century Cornwall. Wallace (by his own admission) was aiming to create a game that could accurately show the volatility of the 19th century market, which is why he introduced a dice based mechanism that would change the price of tin from turn to turn – sometimes significantly. What he actually did is design a game that was quickly dismissed by many hardcore Eurogamers – or immediately house-ruled to make it more strategic – and probably less realistic.

The question of realism is one we actually tackle on a regular basis. Should a game be more balanced, more well-rounded, and less “realistic” to be considered better? Or should it be maybe a bit less of a solid game, but slightly more thematic? Until now we’ve been walking the “more solid” path, but we are very curious to know what you think.
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