Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A new prototype

These days I'm in Belgium, with Andrei. After two days of playing Magic: The Gathering and Spoils, we started working on the next generation of NSKN boardgames.

Here's how one of them looks like, at the moment:

The game will have a large map and it took us a while to get to the same place and have some battles

As we work on it for the following days, you can find more pictures on the facebook page of NSKN.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Warriors & Traders in Thailand!

The most amazing thing just happened today...

As you may have noticed already, we are updating at least weekly the list of stores where Warriors & Traders is already available. 

The list is growing very fast, from just a few stores in November to more than 150 store right now and this is just the beginning!

One might wonder why am I saying this... Well, today was that day of the week and we found our game in a store in... Thailand! 

So, the fact that we reached our first store Canada became far less spectacular, not because Canada is less important, but because we've never had any contact with a distributor in Thailand.

As a conclusion, it seems that by Christmas everyone can find a store and get a copy of Warriors & Traders, without travelling very far from home.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The new website

Warriors & Traders has a new look! Since Warriors & Traders reached a new stage in it's 'life',being on the shelf in stores across Europe and in the US, we decided that this should come with a new and improved website

We added the list of distributors and retailers, to help our customers find the game with the least amount of effort and we're updating this list on a daily basis.

Warriors & Traders comes now with a detailed description of the game components, with more images from the game and with a short introduction into the game play.

Our continuous effort to bring Warriors & Traders to customers from everywhere reached another milestone. Thanks to our partners from Czech Republic, REX Hry, we have now a rule book translated into Czech

This will be the last new translation for 2011, bringing us to a total of 9 languages covered, but we have no intention of stopping here and we'll try to bring you 3 more languages in 2012.

Friday, December 9, 2011

What's new in Warriors & Traders world

First of all, Warriors & Traders is spreading across Europe and North America. The game is already in more than 100 stores, in most of Europe and United States. A list of stores will be available in a few days on the official website.

We also have a nice surprise for our Italian fans! Thanks to Stefano Carluccio, we have a brand new translation of the game rules in Italian. You can download it here and we hope that it will make your game plays easier and more fun.

Last but not least, you can enjoy the first video review of Warriors & Traders in Romanian. Our friends from ce-jucam.ro have just posted it on their blog. It catches all the relevant aspects of the game and it immerses the players in the Warriors & Traders universe, explaining not only the game play, but also the story behind it.

And, just before the winter holidays, we are preparing more surprises for all Warriors & Traders fans, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Love it or hate it

So, it's been a while... we haven't been lazy, just so busy working on getting Warriors & Traders to board games enthusiasts and, of course, playing.

As one might guess, we're playing also other games besides Warriors & Traders. We put passion into it, we even fight and, ultimately, we learn and we enjoy.

Last Week I had the chance to play for the very first time 3 new games, all famous and all intriguing. The first and the best one was Sid Meyer's Civilization

It started slowly, with a 2 hours setup and with failing to understand what is what. So, we hated it, actually I will only speak for myself, I hated it. It seemed to me that if a game takes more than 180 minutes just to set up the game board, cards, armies and players, it's just too long. After a short break, I started over, this time trying to understand what I am doing. After only 1 hour, we stormed past the setup and started playing. Three hours and two liters of water later, I decided that I love this game. 

Usually board games are more interactive than single player computer games, but the later play much better. There's just more design space when you're not limited by the physical size of a box. I expected the same with Sid Meyer's Civilization, but I was wrong. It is the very first time that a board game plays better than the computer game. For all those looking for a complex strategy game, this is the answer. With the low amount of randomness and the huge amount of options, guided by one of the four possible ways to win, this game offers big space for re-playing and. This reminds me of Warriors & Traders.

I am so enthusiastic about this that I will not even say what are its minuses, very few, but noticeable.

Secondly, I got to play an incomplete game of Britannia. It was, least to say, one of the best war games I've seen. A big Bravo to the team making their way through Britain history and putting it in a box full of surprises. I will not comment more as I did not even get to finish the game (yes, it's long but it's worth your time), but I can say one thing for sure, it does not punish harshly the new player who makes a mistake in the very beginning. Even as a new player, you have a decent chance of winning or, at least, coming close.

Last but not least, I tried out Alien Frontiers. Although I am not a big fan of games with a lot of random, I had fun. We played twice, we spent three hours and we were laughing half of the time. It's not for strategy fans, it's for fun fans.

All three games have one thing in common, they generated strong reactions, some of us loved them and some of us hated them, for various reasons, from length of play, to heavy rule book or fear of loosing. But we all agreed that, whether loving or hating them, these games are from the special "make a difference" category.

This concludes my review for tonight with two promises, we'll write more often about the games we like and  soon we'll bring more news about Warriors & Traders.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Are we actually on the market?

After Essen, many people started asking where can they buy Warriors & Traders - an absolutely legitimate question.

I would translate this question into "Are we actually on the market?" and I will also try to answer it briefly.

The games reached our warehouses exactly one month ago and in the mean time we've been in Essen where more than 200 people bough our game.

What's next? These days we're shipping to the biggest distributors in the United States, Belgium, France, Germany, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Scandinavia and Eastern Europe. It will be a week before our game boxes will reach them and another one or two before Warriors & Traders will be in the stores.

The best estimate is that by the end on November, Warriors & Traders will be available for board game fans all over Europe and US. 

Until then Warriors & Traders is available for buying on the official website.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Going places

First thing I did after Essen was sleep. I slept on the plane back to Romania, I slept a bit on the bus from the airport, and at home I slept a bit more. Then, for the rest of the week, I just went to work and then back home to sleep.

Then on Friday Alex was in town and wanted to play W&T...

We played a 5 player game on the Central Europe map and we had a very nice war in the Balkans. Serbia attacked Bulgaria early in the game and got it down to just one princess. However, in the process they left Vidin empty, and this allowed Romania (who had completed military development by then and was just getting unified with 7 provinces) to attack Serbia in most of their provinces and cut the retreat for some infantry. In the end, Serbia was left with just the capital and one princess and Romania got about 12 victory points in one turn. It turns out double strike is really effective against princesses and small armies.

After that, we played a few rounds of Wings of War, which I got back from Spiel'11.

I have no pictures from the W&T game (light was really bad) but here's one from WoW:

On Saturday, we played again: more WoW and finally I got to try World Without End, a game we had in the group since summer.

Sunday I went to the Red Goblin's lair to demo W&T. We played for a couple of turns and they liked it.
I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that the goblins redecorated since my last visit - I find the new layout more comfortable and welcoming than before.
After the demo game, I stayed a bit more and played some D&D. I even got to met a dragon
And finally, today I got to visit Taraba de Jocuri where we played a demo game in which Mihai managed to wipe my country out completely ...

... and concluded the evening in Ceainaria Tabiet where I didn't take any pictures but promise to do so next time. I also noticed they have a copy of Shadows over Camelot in their library, which is on my "to be played" list.

Anybody want to join this weekend?


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Can you 'compute' the game?

During and after the amazing Spiel '11 Essen experience, many people came to us with one obsessive question: since there's no randomness in the game, can you 'compute' your way to victory?

The answer we always gave was no. For some that was enough, for others, well, they needed to hear the reason.

The simplest and funniest was "can you compute chess?" and if you're no Kasparov, the answer is most likely no. Even though Warriors & Traders is not and never aimed to be as complex as chess, it is still complex enough so that there's no guaranteed winning technique that one can apply in all games and have a 90% probability to win.

Through play testing, and I am taking about more than 200 tests, we balanced the game in such a way that no matter what path you're choosing, you have a chance to win. More than that, we've seen that no one was getting even close of determining the result of the game even two turn before someone actually won.

To conclude, for the skeptics the complete lack of random is a reason to believe that they can actually compute their way into victory no matter what... and this would be true if they played alone. But the truth is that any opponent can and will come up with surprises. So, just like in life, the acts of other create enough randomness so that the game remains non-deterministic and... fun!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Essen - what an experience!

It's hard to find my words after what happened in Essen. 

We're newcomers to the world of board games publishers and the attention we got was overwhelming... in a good way! 

So I will start by thanking all those who came by, asked questions, played, bought one copy, brought some friends or gave us vote on BGG. Thanks to all of you, we made the most out of this event and now we're ready to get the games to all of those who did not get a chance to come by and visit us.

We were planning to have 2, maximum 3 gaming sessions per day and yet, even on Sunday, we managed 5 and still had to refuse a lot of people who wanted to play Warriors & Traders with us. We promise that next year we'll come with a bigger stand and more play-tables for gaming enthusiasts. 

We ended up the fair with no games in our stand and this another reason to be proud and thankful to all of the people who saw the potential of Warriors & Traders and gave or will give it a try.

There are so many things that happened that I wish there were an infinite amount of time and space on the blog to talk about all of them. I'll just say that now we're doing our best to get the game anywhere where there are board game fans so more people will play and enjoy!

Once again, thank you all...

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Essen Day 2: It's Alive!

Hi everybody!

The second day of Spiel'11 is over. It was a busy day. A lot of people from all over the world came to our stand. We managed to hold 3 demo games and for tomorrow we alreday planned 2 more.

So far, we are getting a lot of attention and positive feedback and it feels great. So thanks everybody who supported the development of this game during the last 1.5 years. We appreciate it. Also thanks everybody who is showing an interest during this days. We also appreciate it and you are always welcome at our stand in Spiel'11. Special thanks to those who are buying our games - hope you have a great time playing and be sure to let us know what you think!

Lots of things happened today:
  • we got in the Boardgamegeek GeekBuzz - it's a top of new games at Spiel'11. We are curently ranked #7 in the medium traffic category and for some time during the day we were ranked #1 overall. For tomorrow, we hope to get into the high traffic, so keep our fingers crossed.
  • we got a short review on facebook, by brettspiele-report
  • we have the first tweets about W&T
  • during the demo games, I saw a strategy that we never thought about during development (and it was effective). I am happy for this, because one of our goals as developers was to create not a game that is played in a predefined way but rather one that is rich and consistent enough that players are allowed creativity in using the rules

A small change in the blog today - I posted most of the pictures on facebook and will only link them here: day 2 pictures. One reason: it is faster to upload on facebook. Second reason: I am experimenting with different ways to provide updates in order to find the most convenient one for the people receiving the information. Feedback is always appreciated.

Finally, just one picture from the demo games today:


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Essen Day 1

The stand is prepared. The games are ordered neatly in their boxes on our shelves. We are ready ...

... set ...

9:45 - a large crowd is waiting outside the gate to the exhibition centre. 10:00 - the gates open and the Spiel '11 begins

we even got a demo game going in our booth ..

an last but not least, we sold some games

that's it for today.


Essen Day 0: The Booth

Yesterday we got up early and packed the car ...

... we started towards Essen. It was the last stand preparation day, before the opening on Thursday. We had some rain in the morning, but soon it stopped and we got to the hotel we are staying at, close to Essen ...

Then we went to the exhibition hall and started building IKEA shelves and tables. The electrical screwdriver helped a lot.

Here's our stand near the end of the day:

We did a bit more work after the picture was taken but I dont't have the final picture because we had to live in a hurry as the exhibition grounds were closing. I'll show you tomorrow how it got to look in the end.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Essen: Day -1 The City We Built

Hi all,

Last time I left to go working for our concept for the Inventor's Booth in Essen. We did just that and now we have a game prototype that we shall call for now "The City We Built". It's a city building, bidding, cardgame for 3 to 10 players and we are quite proud of it.

Tonight we finished doing the mechanichs and it was time to print and cut the cards:

... then we procedded to add color graphics:

here's a close-up of the "Saloon":

With the deck ready, we went to Sorin's place to get the electrical screwdriver. Once there, we naturally played a test game. For bidding, we used Twix candies:

One specific bidding round started small...

... and then got bigger ...

.... and even bigger ...

... in the end Sorin almost won the game but we left because it was getting late.

Tomorrow morning (which is actually soon) we leave for Essen where we will prepare our exhibition stand.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Essen: Day -2

Hi everybody,

As we wrote before, we are taking W&T to the Spiel'11 in Essen. While the gates of the event will open for the public on Thursday morning, we have to do some preparations until then. So today we took a trip from Brussels to Essen to see our booth.

Spiel'11 is held in a venue called (I think) Messe Essen. And let me tell you, it is one very impressive venue.

The building complex is huge (I believe there are 12 exhibition halls). It took us 15 minutes to find our hall, the number 4:

... and soon we also found our booth:

... we were able to get the car in the exhibition hall, in front of the booth and offload the first couple of boxes:

... and a W&T poster:

next steps: find some furniture and setup a nice looking exhibition booth. I'll tell you about this later - now I have to run and work on our concept for the Inventor's Booth.


Monday, October 17, 2011

First War

Well, Hi!

Three weekends ago, as the games were finally getting to our warehouses, I was planning to quickly have the first playing session and post some pictures to show you how a table with W&T on it looks like.
Then I got a bit lazy and prefered to play some more instead of actually posting about playing - that is until now. Here's how it looks like - a picture from my fifth playing session with the boxed version of the game:

here's a detail with a section of the map:

and here's how the full layout of the game looks like:

Click on the photos for larger versions.


Friday, October 14, 2011

Join us in Essen

This autumn, like every other autumn, the biggest event for board game 'geeks' takes place in Essen. It is one of the biggest gaming conventions in Europe and the place where the big names in the industry show their newest creations for the first time. I am, of course, talking about Spiel '11.

We are joining them and will launch our own game, Warriors & Traders™.

With the amount of new games announced for Spiel '11, this year's convention is bound to be a hit. We are hoping you'll stop by our stand and enjoy a game under direct assistance of the very game creators!

Another attraction of this year's exhibition is the Inventor's Booth. This is the place where game creators show their yet unborn games. This is a unique chance to see what's going to be on the board games market the next year. We'll also be there, with a new concept. I wish I could say more, but I don't want to spoil the surprise.

There are already people out there playing Warriors & Traders... in Essen you also have your chance!

Did I mention when and where? 20-23 October, Messe Essen, Germany.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The games have arrived

It all started one and a half years ago with a dream and now it's stone cold reality! The games are in the NSKN warehouses and ready to be delivered to our first customers.

Making the games was much more than a game, it involved hard work, imagination, patience and more hard work. The last step was to bring the games from our partners in Germany who physically produced the games to our storage places in Belgium and Romania.

This was supposed to be an easy task, we had everything arranged way ahead of time and it was not the best time for surprises. But life has its own twisted sense of humor... Just a few hours before the pick-up time, the transport company who was responsible to load a full 20 tons truck of games for Romania cancelled on us and another two hours later the van for transporting to Belgium became unavailable.

With a supreme effort of calling, begging and threatening, we managed to limit the delay to only 24 hours. Calling almost every single transport company in Belgium and Romania, we found our salvation. Last Wednesday, in a foggy German morning one truck and one van were loading all the brand new boxes of Warriors & Traders and just yesterday everything arrived without further events in our warehouses.

It looks like every part of the making of these games has its own story to tell and we're hoping for more stories, happy ones from the people who will very soon enjoy our games.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Yes, it is true!

Since we're preparing an online store where one can just come and buy with the credit card, we thought that the pre-order option will be just too much trouble. But, after seeing how many people are interested in having Warriors & Traders now, yesterday if possible, we made it happen!

Now, everyone can sign up on the Warriors & Traders website and get the game at the earliest moment possible.

Why pre-order? First of all, it's a matter of pride, you'll have the game before the others and, most important, you could be playing before the official release, in Spiel'11 Essen, at the end of October. Second, there's a significant 20% discount, namely 10 EUR, and the shipping is included.

Pre-ordering will be possible only before 10th of October 2011. Afterwards, the online shop will come online and the board games will be available for it's original price. So, there's only one thing left to say, hurry up! 

The beginning (part 1)

The idea of Warriors & Traders came to me in February 2010. 

Being in a group of board games enthusiasts, we were playing almost anything we could get our hands on. One day, during a game of Risk, the dice were not on my side and I started complaining heavily, so a good friend said the magic words "If you don't like this one, why don't you make your own board game?!".

Those words stayed in my head for a long time, until it finally came to me, why don't I start designing my own game? I had already though about this, but the idea seemed overwhelming. I needed something different from everything we had played until then.

By April 2011, the answer was clear, I needed to make a board game that is interesting, fun to play and  involving no luck! Having this settled, I chose the environment, the Dark Ages of Europe, and I started working on the mechanics.

Warriors & Traders - version 0.1
The first version of Warriors & Traders looked nothing like it does today, but it kept the paradigms of game design that can be found in the commercial version: military strategy, economic development and social interaction through trading. And let's not forget about balance and no luck.

There was a map, there were armies, many, many types of armies -, there were development cards and a very basic set of rules, on a small piece of paper.

During the first month of testing, the versions were changing from one day to the next and testing involved only another person, who I have to thank for the patience and diligence. The main issues were having a coherent set of rules and ... making it playable.

For the next two months of testing, the time between two consecutive versions increased from a few days to a few weeks, but still I was already at version 0.11 when I decided that it was the high-time for larger scale testing.

The first to see the game were the very people that are now involved in NSKN and made this project possible.

Stay tuned for the rest of the story...

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Warriors & Traders

You must be wondering what is Warriors & Traders...

Well, it's a board game, but not just any board game! Right, everyone says so about their own games, it's the best, the coolest. Well, it is right. Let's just look at the facts! First of all, it is a pure strategy game, that means that there is no luck involved, no dice, no unforeseen events, it is just you against your opponents, starting with the same armies, resources and it is only up to you to outwit them. Warriors & Traders is a game where one has to plan ahead, to develop a strategy to defeat the others or buy out their good will.

Second of all, it is interesting! The universe of Warriors & Traders is set in the Dark Ages of Europe and you will choose a country to grow into a great empire. You will raise large armies to battle your enemies, develop your economy and trade for resources, all for one final purpose, the final victory.

Last but not least, Warriors & Traders is fun! There are a lot of interactions between players, you can negotiate with your gaming partners during the trade phase, discuss your plans and strategies, declare war and settle for peace. It's a game where promises are made and broken, where you can play in a powerful alliance or face everyone on your own and enjoy every bit of your time.

For sure, if you will be a fan of Warriors & Traders or you are just curious what's going on in the board games world, you might want to follow this blog. We will bring you the news, we'll discuss together about strategy and we'll give you the latest updates on Warriors & Traders.