A Roll and Write Experience

Frustration. For weeks that was the predominant emotion. Maybe weeks is a bit too long, but for sure it was frustration. You see, I’d decided to enter the GenCan’t Roll and Write contest. A game design contest that with a one month deadline, that needed to involve standard dice (the roll bit), that involved writing on paper (eh…the write part), and that MUST include a solo mode. All three things made me uncomfortable as a designer. Generally I don’t like dice. I’ve very little experience with roll and write games. I’ve more experience with solo games, but have never designed one, and any ambitions I’ve had to design one usually end with exasperation as I try to find the balance between replayability (generally through random events, unpredictable outcomes etc.) and making the game about skill, not luck (generally though reducing randomness, avoiding hugely unpredictable outcomes). Continue reading

Designer Diary: Agency

This week I’m going to continue my designer diary. Previously I introduced Agency, a game I started (but moved beyond) with the restrictions for our Build A Board Game event, which we ran in August last year. Agency is a game about marketing; the player represents an advertising agency, looking to fulfil contracts in the market to earn cash. The player with the most cash at the end of the game, is the most successful. Just like real life cash is how we measure success, cash and victory points. Continue reading

Glen More

the-crafty-players-glen-more-contentsGlen More is an older game – it’s not polite to talk about someone’s age, but I bring up it up is to remind us that it belongs to a different time, a time when the “Euro” and “Ameritrash” genres were more clearly defined, with less “hybrids”. As a matter of fact I think it’s a perfect game to demonstrate the difference in opinion Emmet and I have in relation to theme and its importance to a game. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out Episode 7 of the podcast.

Glen More is ostensibly about building a small Scottish village, making whisky (interesting aside: it’s spelled with an “e” i.e. whiskey, if it’s country of origin has an “e” in the name. Ireland, America = whiskey, Japan, Scotland = whisky)  and promoting chieftains to gain influence and power which is represented by victory points. Obviously. The theme is “evoked” through kilted men and sheep on the box cover, Tam o’shanter caps, highland cattle, whisky production and use of the word ‘chieftain’. It might sounds evocative, but there’s very little to drag you into the theme, to immerse you in it and make you feel like you’re actually in Scotland building a village.

But to me it doesn’t matter because the gameplay is so good! Continue reading

Design Diary: Introduction

 

the-crafty-players-playtest-meet-up-13
A successful playtest meet up

One of our ambitions for 2017 here at the Crafty Players is to put out more higher quality articles. If you read our post about our new year’s gaming resolutions, you would have read that I have set myself the goal of having three games ready to submit to the Cardboard Edison Award in January 2018. To help facilitate both of these goals, I’ve decided I’m going to write about my experiences of trying to design board games. From the early steps of idea to early prototype, to playtesting and how I modify the game based on those playtests. Continue reading

Shogi and I

Today I’m going to talk about something a little different. It’s still a board game, but it’s not a hot off the shelf release from Essen, or a Kickstarter reward or my latest adventure in solo gaming. It’s about shogi, Japanese chess, the game which I have undoubtedly played the most in the past 10 years. Many people compare the game Go to chess, but shogi is much closer. Several of the pieces move the same, lending a sense of familiarity to those who’ve played chess. But it’s also hugely different, and in my humble opinion, better by far.

Before we go on, I want to say that I won’t be using the Japanese names for pieces etc, just the names in English that I know them as, as taught to me. It may not be technically correct, but to me the words carry more than just meaning. Continue reading

Adventures in Design

The reasons myself and Paddy chose the name “The Crafty Players” may be obvious: we enjoy craft beer and like playing board games. But part of the reason behind the name was  to reflect that both myself and Paddy like to make things. He’s mentioned before in blog posts and podcasts that he enjoys making board games and that he has a few prototypes in the works (one of which almost made one of our friends cry, so it’s gotta be good!), and while I also have notes for my board game opus scrawled across dozens of pages, at the moment the “crafty” side of me is focused on creating and writing adventures for Dungeons & Dragons. The first of these, titled The Graveyard Shift, is free on DriveThruRPG now! With that in mind, this week I’d like to talk about how I approach writing adventures and I’m going to use my current work-in-progress adventure as an example. So strap in because we’re venturing deep into the depths of my DM-Brain!

Continue reading

Dungeons & Dragon Age – Part 2

Alrighty, so I’m back with the second part on my conversion of the Dragon Age RPG from Green Ronin over to 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons. Some of the things that I discuss here refer to points I made in my previous article so if you haven’t read that I suggest checking it out firstA bit of a warning: this post really gets into the nuts and bolts of 5th Edition D&D monster creation. If you’re a new DM I’d recommend following along with the monster creation rules on page 274 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide.

dungeons-and-dragon-age

Continue reading