Thursday, August 31

A Bad Craftsman...

There's a saying in England (and probably a whole host of other places too):

A bad craftsman blames his tools

I can think of two possible meanings for this:

  • A bad craftsman refuses to take responsibility for their own mistakes, blaming them instead on an inanimate object which can't refute the claim. Failing to admit responsibility for, and hence learn from, their mistakes will just make matters worse.
  • A bad craftsman buys cheap, sub-standard tools, and hence it genuinely is the tool's fault when an error is made.

When you're trying to do a complex job I think the quality (and applicability) of your tools can be a key factor in your success or failure. Good tools can make an awkward job faster, more reliable and lead to better quality.

On that note I thought I'd share with you what I use in the production of Border Reivers, what works, and what doesn't. First up, cutting tools.

I use a Mapac self-healing, non-slip cutting mat that's slightly larger than A3. I've had it (and used it) for many years and it's starting to get to the point where it's a bit dilapidated. It's still really good though, and manages fine. When I come to replace it, I'll likely get an A2 mat, as the smaller one is just a bit too small for some of the jobs I have to do - I end up having to rotate the mat so I can cut along the diagonal. In addition, I use a X-Cut craft knife with snap-off blades. The blades are impressively sharp (as my left index finger has repeated proved) and the snap-off blades make for a quick replacement as my cutting requirements blunt blades very quickly. Finally I have three cutting rulers, a plain 30cm steel rule, a rubber-backed 30cm aluminium ruler with steel cutting edge and a 80cm rubbed-backed aluminium ruler with steel edge. The rubber-backed rulers are great for preventing slippage, however the steel cutting edges don't touch the surface - leading to a slight burring of the cut edge. The steel rule gives a great quality and more precise edge due to being flush with the surface, however it is prone to slippage. Rulers of different lengths are essential as I need a long one for long cuts, but that is too unwieldy for the shorter cuts. Ideally I'd like a really decent rotary guillotine like the Rotatrim my Dad has. Too expensive for now though, sadly.

Next up a long-arm stapler:

I staple the rulebooks to hold them together, and since they are made from A4 folded in two, I need a stapler with more than 15cm reach. This was surprisingly expensive, but it's just what I need.

Last up the bloody expensive corner rounding tool:

For Border Reivers I need to round 20,000 corners. When you've this many to do you really don't want to be pissing about with hopeless little craft corner punches, or a pair of scissors. Trust me. So I splashed out on this tool, the cheaper of the few I found on the internet. It's a great tool, you slip the cards against the guides, hold them in place with the guide, and then use the handle to punch the corners off. It does a great job, well worth the house I had to mortgage to pay for it.

Wednesday, August 30

A Treatise, On Box Size

Ok, so the rhyming title is not up to Yehuda's poetic standards, but it amused me.

When it comes to board games, the bigger the box the more the game is worth. Apparently. With the exception of card games (which usually come in very snug little packets), most games try to boost their apparent value by shipping in a box that is bigger than necessary. We've all seen them. The box that is 80% air, with a nice plastic insert keeping the handful of components safe in their own little trays.

Why do I care? Well I guess the reasons I'm interested are because I recently had to design a box for Border Reivers and I live in a tiny flat. When I was designing the Border Reivers box I had one thing in mind - minimising the raw materials required. I wanted to do this for two reasons:

  • To reduce the burden on the environment - I'm a bit of an Eco-nut and I'm very keen to recycle as much as possible and to avoid unnecessary packaging - especially plastic packaging.
  • To minimise my costs - the box size I used was only just small enough for the labels to fit on A3 paper, and for a full box to be made from one sheet of 60cm x 45cm greyboard.

I ended up with a box that was 20cm x 26cm x 4cm - the same size as the Fantasy Flight Citadels. However, Border Reivers completely fills it's box, unlike Citadels which is just some cards, some chits and a handful of plastic counters. The downside of this is that when people first see the box they are expecting a cheaper game, so when they hear its price they're surprised and immediately thinking 'That's expensive for a game of that size', which makes converting them into customers more difficult. The contents are roughly in line with the price when you see them but that is too late for a first impression.

Is there anything we can do to reduce the sizes of boxes? Do you even want them smaller? I'd appreciate smaller boxes, I'd be able to fit more games in my flat and I'd feel better about the packaging situation. I don't think any publisher would voluntarily do it, as they will be making their games look expensive, since we judge value by box size.

Will the move to Internet retailers make a difference? Games aren't judged by their boxes when bought over the Internet, and one of the reasons Internet retailers are cheaper is they can cram games into cheap real estate.

In other news, I took the day off work, and spent most of it making boxes again. I'm trying to get to the point where I have finished games that aren't already claimed, but at the moment I'm selling them as fast as I'm making them. I also popped into the bank to give the manager his copy and he seemed very pleased with it. He paid me £5 over the asking price too, which was a nice surprise.

Tuesday, August 29

Great Day Of Gaming

Yesterday was a good day for my games habit. It started off with the first real playtesting of Jorvik. I played three games against myself, changing the balance a few times to try to get it to play out like I'd imagined. When I felt like it was beginning to get there I asked The Wife if she would mind play against me. She's not usually up for playing 2-player games with me, and she grudgingly offered to play it, but warned me that she'd likely only play it twice during it's development - did I really want to waste one of those today? I thought so, it's important to see how the game plays out when you don't know the contents of your opponents hand.

She played a game, and won it - particularly enjoying one of the cards. Then she wanted a second game. I won that one. Still, she enjoyed it enough to play it again - an encouraging first outing.

Next up was a lot of box construction and some tiles preparation. I'd not got done as much as I wanted (where have you heard that before?), but it was still good progress - I'm getting there.

I rounded the day off with a trip to Paul's games night. It was just Andy, Paul and Paul's wife Lisa - the others were all off on holiday. Again, it was all new games for me - just what I need to improve my design skills.

First up was Diamant by Alan R. Moon and Bruno Faidutti. That's two big names right there, coupled with the fact that I'd heard good things about this, already I had high hopes. It's a quick and simple filler where you all compete in the same exercise, trying to collect diamonds and rubies. Players have to push their luck, trying to maximise their income by staying in the mine the longest, but the longer you stay, the more likely you are to lose everything. It was a really nice game. Quick, simple to explain and understand and nicely played out. The pieces are really nice too - the gems are really well done. Only that morning, The Wife had suggested using square cards for Jorvik, and here they were in action - I thought it was the first time I had seen them, but now I come to think of it, I've seen them in Power Grid too.

The second game of the night was Masons by Leo Colovini. This was an interesting game of building cities, with each player holding a hand of cards which score various components when a city is completed. The components scored are either part of the just completed city or not part of any city, depending upon the card. The game progresses with each player trying to complete cities that will score them lots of points, while hoping that other players don't have cards to capitalise on that city. The game ends when you run out of any one of four types of piece, and since the pieces can get recycled back into the spares pile it's not clear when the game will end - so there's that to contend with too. I coped fairly well, with another second place. I like this one too, an interesting game with lots of tactical planning. Again the pieces were nice, and the use of dice to determine which pieces you get to place doesn't make the game feel too random, as you get to choose the locations of your original wall piece and the additional, dice-determined, pieces.

Last game of the night was Guillotine by Paul Peterson. This was another quick and simple filler. The artwork was nice, if cartoony, and it fit the humorous style of the game well. You are competing headsmen, trying to manipulate the queue of nobles for the guillotine to maximise your bragging rights in the locker room at the end of the day. The game is good fun, and the action cards that allow you to change the order of victims are, in some cases, laugh out loud funny. A great end to a great day of game action.

Monday, August 28

Glue Woes

As I've mentioned before, I'm constructing copies of Border Reivers myself. That involves gluing the tiles artwork to both sides of the board they're made from, and gluing the labels onto the box lid and tray. These are two of the most time consuming jobs. However, they're very different jobs. The tiles involves sticking large sheets (A3 and half-A3) of paper to a flat surface, while the labels are being applied to a three-dimensional object and they require bending of the paper - which then tries to bend back into it's natural, flat, shape pulling against the glue.

Initially, I used watered-down PVA glue for both the tiles and the box labels. The PVA glue is quite forgiving: it can be wiped off areas where it has ended up unintentionally; it's water-soluable and non-toxic; it doesn't dry instantly allowing you to re-position things if you don't get it perfectly positioned the first time. The disadvantages are that it takes a while to set, and the water seeps into the board of the tiles/box and can warp them a little. It was taking ages to make the tiles using PVA as I needed to apply pressure across the whole sheet until the glue had set, and anywhere I missed had to be re-glued at the cutting out stage. The labels took a while and were a bit of a faff, but it was manageable. The tiles were ridiculously slow.

So I had fourteen boxes labelled with PVA and two sets of tiles made with PVA and the tiles were taking forever. Time to try something different. Next up Display Mount. This is a spray glue, it's fast to set and very strong. It was perfect for making the tiles, no more applying pressure for ages or re-applying to fix areas where it hadn't worked - this did a perfect job straight off the bat. But it too has some disadvantages. It's posionous, and being in aerosol form you end up inhaling it. It gets everywhere in the sense that you get a fine coating of it throughout the room. It's not water-based so if you get it where you don't want it it's a bitch to get rid of. Still, since the tiles are a simple job (large flat sheet to large flat sheet) and it works.

Yesterday I tried to use the Display Mount to apply some box labels in an effort to speed up box construction. Since it dries much quicker I thought it might be good. Not so. The more complicated nature of the box labels means that you end up with a lot more glue where you don't want it, and it's very difficult to get rid of erroneously applied Display Mount. I ended up writing off a box lid. D'oh.

So what's next? I asked Dad, and despite professing to a lack of knowledge of glues he did recommend Cow Gum, a rubber adhesive, which is not water-based but can be easily removed from areas you don't want it. Sadly, it's no longer made, but something similar exists in Studio Gum. I'm going to try to get hold of some today and try it out.

In other news, I'm off to Paul's tonight for games again - hopefully I'll get some more excellent games in again.

Sunday, August 27

Blood, Sweat and Tears

Board games production - don't try this at home.

When making the ten copies of Border Reivers I took to TCAD, I cut myself making the last copy. I was tired and working with a very sharp craft knife. I cut myself on the tip on my index finger (which for the record seems to have lots of nerve endings). Fortunately I was able to nip off and get a plaster on it before I stained the game I was making.

Guess what. I was making a copy this morning around 0:45am (don't ask), and I did it again. Exactly the same spot - the last cut had only just healed. I obviously need to change my method, or invest in one of those chainmail gloves that butchers use. If they are any butchers reading this, feel free to donate one - it won't go to waste.

I think you can get thimbles made of metal, that might be the way to go. This one finger is holding the steel rule in place while I cut and is obviously in the firing line. Still, it'll be protected by a plaster for the rest of the weekend, so hopefully is safe now.

I'm taking advantage of the long weekend to try to get a load of construction done. The boxes full of print jobs and stacks of cards are taking up a large portion of our flat, so the more I can get made and sell, the more room I have available.

Saturday, August 26

Jorvik: First Prototype

I've now made my first prototype of Jorvik. The first prototype is to be played by myself while testing out ideas. I'll play a bunch of games against myself, with one 'player' trying one strategy and the other theoretical player trying another. I'll play that game several times. Does one strategy always win? If so, tweak the game. As such the first prototype must be:

  • Cheap to make and change
  • Quick to make and change

It doesn't need to be pretty, or especially functional, there is absolutely no point in expending time adding artwork or flavour text as everything is likely to change before it's finished.

As a result, my first prototypes for cards are always made from sheets of ordinary A4 paper, torn in half four times to make sixteen small cards. These cards are too small, feature rough torn edges, don't have their corners rounded and are on flimsy paper. There's no artwork, or text or anything just the barest smidgeon of symbology so that I know what they are. I write on them in pencil so that I can rub out and re-apply as things change. I've used nearly five sheets of paper for a total cost of around four and a half pence, and it took less than half an hour to construct. That way I've not invested too heavily in it when the inevitable changes are required. As time goes on and the game settles down the prototypes will get nicer. But as they say in the computer programming world: 'Don't optimise early'. It'll only waste time and effort.

Here's a picture of some of my cards:

Friday, August 25

Jorvik: The Brief

Aside: Woot! Post 100 :-)

To the point. I've been thinking a lot about my next game over the last couple of days since I first had the idea. I've been thinking of various options, lots of ideas. My design method will be to try out several of them until I find something that balances about right - then I'll try to simplify it further to make a cleaner game. I've decided to post my brief for the game. I'm not including the theme (until the game is nearly ready) or any of the mechanics (as these are likely to change over time). So it'll just describe what I'm aiming for with the game:

Codename: Jorvik will be a 2-player card game which will play in under thirty minutes. The game will feature simply rules and yet enough strategy and choices to make the game interesting. There will be some conflict between players. Players will be balancing maximising their own score, while limiting the score of opponents.

I'm aiming for a gateway game. Basically what Peter over at Nimrods calls a pub game. Light, fast and simply, with hidden depths. Lofty goals. We'll have to see how well I do over the coming months.

Thursday, August 24

Worth A Mint?

According to this thread on BGG a copy of Jati just sold for $1026.76 plus shipping. That's over £540 in real money! Apparently it's a real collectors item as only one hundred playtesting copies were made back in 1965/66, and most of those were destroyed.

Wait a minute. I've only made one hundred copies of Border Reivers...

Buy now to reserve your 'Guaranteed to be worth a mint in 40 years time'* copy.

* The last statement is a complete fabrication. It's not really guaranteed at all.

Wednesday, August 23


Now that Border Reivers is finally on sale I've started to think about what game to do next. I've a game in progress currently known as Codename: Dollyo, however, due to the large costs and huge amount of construction effort required for Border Reivers I'm keen to do something a bit simpler next. Dollyo is not simpler. It will also have tiles, cards, wooden pieces, etc.

I've been thinking I'd like to do a card game. I'm not too keen on games like Hattrick and Who's The Ass? as these are basically just modified decks of cards (i.e. they feature numbered cards in different 'suits'). But a nicely themed game such as Lost Cities would be great.

The only problem? I had no idea of either a theme or a mechanic. Until yesterday :-) An idea suddenly came to me, and the more I think about it (pretty much 16 hours a day) the more I think it's got legs. Currently I've not even got the most basic of prototypes together just a handful of notes and a head full of ideas. Still, it'll give me a chance to blog about design rather than production for a change. Currently known as Codename: Jorvik. Those of you with a good knowledge of the Vikings will know where I'm going with this one...

In other news, Border Reivers is coming on nicely. I found a new (and cheaper :-) ) supplier for the Display Mount glue, and I hope to post of a couple of orders this week. It's also garnering some interest on The Geek. It's appearing on some GeekLists, and I'm getting some ratings and personal comments too. Yeay!

I also got to pay in some of the cash I've earnt from selling pre-orders to the bank yesterday which was great. Unfortunately, I was a bit foolish during the last stages of production on Border Reivers and I overspent on my business credit card. It was the legendarily expensive corner rounding machine that did it. Anyway, I've been in cash flow trouble for the last couple of weeks knowing I didn't have enough cash yet to pay off the card. All that changed yesterday. I've still nowhere near broken even, but at least I'm not in debt.

Tuesday, August 22

Paul's Games Night

Last night I went round to Paul's for a games night - I had high hopes after a disappointing Beyond Monopoly session on Saturday. There were four of us: Spencer, Paul, Andy and I. First up was My Dwarves Fly by Michael Palm and Sebastian Jakob.

This felt very similar to Munchkin - another silly fantasy game where players fight monsters for treasure. The game supposedly lasts up to an hour, but our game went on for an hour and a half - I think we were all too keen to accrue massive collections of creatures, which meant the battles that earnt you the gold needed to win were few and far between. In the end Andy got to fifteen gold first, I came second with ten, Paul had eight and Spencer four or five. I made good use of my Medusa card wreaking havoc on my opponents creatures, until Spencer very wisely used Doppelganger to ape it and destroy it. Should have seen that coming really. It was an entertaining game, but I'm in no rush to play it again.

The second game of the evening was Alhambra by Dirk Henn. I'd heard of this one, though I'd not played it before. It's another Spiel Des Jahres winner, which is usually a sign of a game I'll thoroughly enjoy. I read through the rules (none of us had played before) and while they weren't as simple as Ticket To Ride, it was still pretty straight forward and we were underway very quickly. I could see from the intricacies of the scoring there was a lot of potential strategising over which tile to buy, but I tended to go for the ones I could afford (I was strapped for currency cards throughout the game). As a result I ended up coming last (although not by as much as I thought I would - maybe twenty-five points behind the leader), but I still enjoyed the game. It's definitely one that I think I could improve at with a few plays. I'd definitely play it again.

It was a good evening's gaming - thanks Paul!

Monday, August 21

Sunday: Under-Productive

On Sunday I meant to make four sets of tiles, finishing off four games that were just waiting on tiles. Sadly, I didn't get quite as much done as I intended.

I spent a fair chunk of the day driving around doing chores, and when I finally settled down to do some tile construction, I ran out of glue. Which brings me to another reason why my Dad warned me off using Display Mount. It's expensive. The can I just used up did about 10 games and cost me £12.34. That'll add £1.23 to the production cost per copy at that price. It doesn't seem like much, but it all adds up. I'm going to have to try to find a supplier where I can get wholesale prices. Still, at least I got one copy finished.

In other news I'm really looking forward to Paul's games night tonight, after the disappointment of my local games club I'm up for some fast, fun games that I've not played before. Should be good.

Sunday, August 20

Beyond Monopoly

I got down to my local games club: Beyond Monopoly yesterday for an afternoon of gaming. I turned up around 1:15pm, and it was surprisingly quiet. The last few times I've been there have been around twenty to thirty players, yesterday there were less than fifteen - I guess the summer holidays are in full swing at the moment. There were three games in progress and as I wandered past one, I was offered a seat. Adrian, George, Mike and Paul had started a game of Manifest Destiny with Andy, but he'd disappeared, so they offer me his seat. They were still in the first turn, and it turned out later that they had set up at 10:30am - nearly three hours earlier - that should have been a warning to me...

In the very first turn I played, I was surrounded by other players limiting my ability to expand - I tried a few combats and lost the dice rolls every time. I was off to a bad start. Things got steadily worse. Being boxed in, I was unable to increase my profit level, which limited my ability to buy progressions and control tokens. Various cards came out that knocked lots of players down the profit scale, but going from sixty to fifty isn't too bad - I was going from thirty down to twenty, which considering I had to pay five every turn to a couple of players, and the progressions cost at least twenty-five completely screwed me. It was no fun at all. For over four hours. I'll not touch that again with a bargepole. Though the others seemed to enjoy it.

Do I sound like a sore loser? Maybe. But I didn't whinge and whine during the game, and previously I've loved games that I've been beaten at. Lost Cities was a classic example. The first time I played (with a different Paul), I was completely creamed - the score was something like forty-six to minus seventy. But I loved that game. I think it was the fact that I had to sit through over four hours of not just losing, but losing so badly that I couldn't really do anything. It didn't help that (a third) Paul had started a game of Pitch Car on the table next to us, which looked (and sounded by the noises the players were making) really good fun.

Still, It wasn't all bad, Pitch Car Paul (one of my playtesters for Border Reivers) bought his pre-ordered copy, and he's invited me to his games night on Monday - hopefully I'll get some more fun games in then.

Saturday, August 19

The Cast Are Dice: The Aftermath

Last TCAD post, honest!

So TCAD was nearly a week ago, how have things gone since? Monday I received two more orders and some interest from the States. Only yesterday I was saying the £30 price tag hadn't seemed to put people off. Not true. Due to the ridiculous exchange rate at the moment the £30 price tag plus postage and packaging to the States comes out at a staggering $70! Unsurprisingly that's putting people off. Where are all the multi-millionaire American board games collectors when you need them?

I've avoided doing any construction for a few days to rest my hands which are still sore from last Friday's construction. I'm afraid I've got a hint of RSI or something in my right-hand - I keep getting painful twinges when I try to grip something. I'm hoping that clears up soon. I've a few more copies to make this weekend. I started on the next few sets of tiles last night and cutting through the 2mm board was really uncomfortable - D'oh.

I'm making one hundred copies, and after discounting my TCAD sales, pre-orders and review copies I've got about seventy-five copies to sell. I'm hoping to sell them all within a year, which means I need to average around one and a half copies a week. This week I've sold three copies which is a good start, and I hope to have bursts when I go to a convention.

To be honest, this rate is ideal as I have to fit the three and a half hour construction per game around a full-time job. If orders were coming in much faster, I'd have real difficulty meeting them in a sensible amount of time.

Anyway, enough TCAD ramblings, normal service resumes tomorrow.

Friday, August 18

The tales of a casual games designer: Part 4

Well, I got to Cast are Dice for the Saturday and managed to say hi to Jack who came over (after seeing my boardgamegeek avatar which I'd printed off and stuck to my back) and introduced himself. Glad he got a decent strike rate with Border Reivers and I hope it continues to go from strength to strength. The start of my Saturday's gaming was The World Cup Game which a guy called Shaun Derrick had designed, sent to a company in Germany to print up and seal and has been selling it himself. He was there hyping the game which I must admit was brilliant and I really enjoyed myself playing it (even though I couldn't quite get England into the final!). I asked him a number of questions about his approach to publishing the game and found out that for the 1000 copy print run it had cost him £13,000!!!!! Now I don't have that kinda money on me and it's one helluva investment and probably why he was selling the game at £29.99. If he'd been offering it at £20 to spread the word from the con then I'd have bought it without a second thought, but £30 is too much just to jump into. I'll buy it, but later in the year (I have birthday and Christmas within ten days of eachother). Anyway I got to playtest my game "Tour" which is a cycling game with a 'similar' mechanic to Formula De but, with the addition of cyclist statistics and cyling tactics (breaking away makes you tire quicker) it didn't seem to suffer from the early leader winning by miles. My cyclist who DID break away early DID win, but only just in a sprint with a cyclist who made a MUCH later break for home, and the other two early breakers were easily gathered up by the peloton around 40km from the end. I got really good feedback on the game and a few ways to finish it off. Mike Hibbert (hear him on the podcasts "The Dice Tower" and "Into The Gamescape") said that when I make the saleable copy he'll definitely be buying it as he actually CARED about winning. He and Paul spoke about it in the most recent Gamescape podcast and were very positive about it. Excellent! Can't BUY such coverage! So, I've charged into production of Tour with aplomb. This section will now keep people updated with news on Tour and a football management game which I'm working on while waiting for parts etc for Tour. THE CYCLISTS: Today I received a sample bag of plastic cyclists from Dice & Games in Suffolk. I've really fallen straight on my feet as they've told me they can provide continued supplies of cyclists for me if I desire. The price was very important as I was needing 30 cyclists per game, 5 in 6 different colours. Thankfully if I buy 600 (enough for 20 games) at a time it works out well within my self-imposed budget which is a weight off my mind. The colours they have are blue, red, orange, yellow, green and PINK (whoo!) and they're attractive pieces. I'll be placing an order in the next couple of days. THE DICE: Another major part of the game 'stuff' are dice. There are dice for 'normal' speed and dice for 'breakaway' speed. I was deciding whether to enclose just two dice per game OR two per player (12 dice). I asked Mike and he told me that geeky gamers tend to be okay paying a little more to have their own dice per player. I'm trying to get coloured dice for each player but they need to be blank as one will have 2-2-3-3-4-4 and the other 5-5-6-6-7-7. Bit of a pain but meh, such is life. OTHER STUFF TO BE SORTED: * Peloton tokens to keep track of tiredness; * Counters to place on cyclist abilities; * Board design, printing and creation; * The box; * Writing up people friendly rules; * MORE testing and feedback!

The Cast Are Dice: Analysis

I said yesterday that I'd post a marketing/sales analysis of my performance at TCAD, but seeing as I have no marketing training or experience, and my sales training and experience is now ten years out of date, it'll not be too deep :-)

My goals for the weekend were to play Border Reivers with as many people as possible, and hope that some of them would like it enough to buy a copy. I had three copies in my head as my target to sell on top of the two pre-orders I was hoping to fulfill. Initially I had wanted to take ten copies with me to sell, as the maximum attendance was capped at two hundred people and there was no way I could see me getting a conversion rate as high as one-in-twenty (1:20). As it was, as I headed off down to Derby, the latest tally was just under a hundred attendees, and I had six copies to sell - more than enough for my estimated conversion rate.

I'll be honest, I had no idea what my conversion rate would be, I picked one-in-twenty as an unreasonably high figure, convinced it would come in my lower than that, I just wanted to ensure I had enough copies with me - running out would have been bad.

My selling strategy was pretty simple, play the game with as many people as possible, while explaining the nature of my development and production effort to them as we played. I didn't want to give them hard-sell, or to over-hype the game with blatantly inaccurate or over-zealous comments. I wanted to let the customer decide what they thought of the game. Hopefully those of you who played with me think I managed that - I think I did fairly well, but only those on the receiving end can give an honest opinion. I knew the game wouldn't be to everyone's tastes, and also that any feedback I received would be sugar-coated - with people not wanting to hurt my feelings by slagging off my game to my face.

So how did I do in terms of conversion rate? There are two I'm going to consider:

  • Proportion of convention attendees who bought a copy, and
  • Proportion of players who bought a copy.

If the game is decent I would expect the latter to be much higher than the former, since the proportion of attendees who even noticed me will limit the former.

Nick reckoned there were around one hundred and thirty attendees, and I sold five copies, giving me a first conversion rate of 1:26. That's pretty close to my wild guess at an upper bound - so I'm pretty happy with that. I sold two copies to people I played with, but I only played with ten people (excluding people who had already bought a copy, and treating couples as a single person - since they're not going to buy two copies). That gave me a second conversion rate of 1:5, much better than the first. Why am I interested? I'm going to be attending more conventions in the future, and I need to ensure that I have enough copies with me, and I obviously want to maximise my sales. The number of people I play with will be limited by the length of the convention, and how much of that I spend playing with potential customers. Since a 2-player game with an inexperienced player takes around forty minutes and a 3- or 4-player game takes around an hour and a half, I'm best off trying to fit in lots of four player games - to maximise my exposure.

Talking of exposure, my location on the first day wasn't very good. The layout was three games rooms:

  • The entrance room, through which the other two rooms were reached. It featured the front desk, the tombola table, a handful of games tables and the bring-and-buy table, so it was a central hub.
  • The bar room, which featured the bar, games tables and a sofa area at the back. This was clearly visible from the entrance as the dividing wall was largely glazed.
  • The third room, which was up a small flight of stairs and round the corner, and featured nothing but games tables.

On the first day I was two-thirds of the way down the third room - a crap location, there was no reason for people to wander by, unless they were looking for a table to play a game on. Despite this I got pretty good trade, there were some quiet spots but I was mostly busy. On the second day I had a much better position in the entrance hall by the tombola table. However, I received much less attention, whether that was due to less people or more focused gaming, I don't know.

What I've learnt from this is that it pays to get there early and grab a good location, ideally you want somewhere where people have a reason to wander past en route to something.

On Saturday evening I decided to leave a copy in the games library, available to anyone to borrow for a game. I didn't think of it earlier, but to be honest I don't think that copy was played, people going in the library were probably looking for a particular game. So I missed maybe seven hours of game library exposure, but I don't think it lost me any sales.

One final point - why did people buy the game? I had several things against me:

  • High ticket price (£30)
  • Unknown designer
  • No pre-conference buzz

And several things in my favour:

  • Collectability of signed and numbered limited edition
  • Goodwill towards designer launching his own product
  • Well finished product

So why did people buy it? Of the five sales, two were people who played the game and liked it as I've already mentioned. Two were via word of mouth from people who had noticed me or played the game. The last one was a reader of this blog who had heard the trials and tribulations of the production. I really don't know how to benefit from that knowledge, but I find it interesting none-the-less.

Thursday, August 17

The Cast Are Dice: Day 2

Day two started without a fry-up breakfast as the cafe was closed :-(

We'd got there early enough to set up in a prime location in the entrance room - right next to the tombola and bring-and-buy tables. We set the table up with a similar display to the previous day (though thankfully lighter on copies). I let Dunk wander off and experience the delights of the other games tables. Man, had he earnt it yesterday. As a result, I ended playing mostly 2- and 3-player games.

First up was a 2-player game with Tim, which was my only win of the day. Considering everyone I played with had never played before, I had a particularly bad day - I put it down to tiredness, and providing more guidance to the players than the day before. I don't think it was Tim's kind of game, but he got on well with it, and gave me a run for my money.

The second game of the day was with a couple of lads from Cambridge: Kerrin and Ray. Ray and I left Kerrin to use the mine, but I didn't get enough money, due to failing to build enough settlements. Ray built lots of settlements but Kerrin won the race to forty gold.

Third up was Simon, who also beat me. I don't think it was Simon's kind of game either - I think the audience of the conference was predominantly Eurogamers, and the gambling for reinforcements in particular is unpopular with them - dice are out of favour. Not much later Kerrin came back to buy a copy, he said it was the least he could do after beating me.

I was struggling to find players, the conference was noticably quieter on the second day, and people seemed to have particular games they wanted to play. Anyway, I managed to find a fourth opponent in Mark, who also beat me - although in this game I had a terrible run of luck. Mark attributed it to playing against a chess player, he thought it had some similarities to chess - you had to build a strong defence in a similiar way before attacking or settling.

After that game I wandered over to the adjacent table and offered the guys at it a game, saying that I'd invented it myself. One of the guys, Jerry said he'd heard about it, but that they weren't up for a game. Steve (my first pre-order from someone I didn't know) was at the table too, and he gave it a bit of a plug, and a few minutes later Jerry came over and bought a copy, that was five out of my six copies sold.

I'd wanted to head off around 4pm as I had to head back to Derby to pick up my car before heading home. With players thin on the ground, Dunk and I packed away Border Reivers, and we picked a game to play from the extensive library. Dunk chose Gloom, the ultimate game for goths! Each player starts with a Addams family-esque family of five characters, and the aim is to make your family as unhappy as possible before their untimely deaths. You do this by playing and drawing events which either cheer up or depress a family member, you aim to play the depressing ones on your family members and the happy ones on your opponent's family members - then kill them off at an opportune moment. There were a couple of nice gimmicks though.

  • The cards were made from transparent plastic, which in itself is just a gimmick, however, they made use of it by having symbols on cards which obscured similarly placed symbols on the cards below.
  • You're encouraged to tell the story as you play the event cards, each card has a title such as 'was wounded by wasps' and you're supposed to the events link together into a story.

I enjoyed it, but I'd not rush to play it again.

We made our way back to Derby, and then I headed home, it had been a good convention, I'd thoroughly enjoyed it, and I'd sold more than the three copies I'd set myself as a target. The Wife and I went out for dinner to celebrate that night, then I slept the sleep of the dead.

Tomorrow I'll post an analysis of my performance at the convention, from a marketing and sales perspective.

Wednesday, August 16

The Cast Are Dice: Day 1

Saturday morning I required industrial-grade blasting equipment to get me out of bed. Not only was I shattered from all the construction, but Dunk and I had stayed up fairly late (for me at least) chatting over a couple of beers, and then when I finally went to bed a couple of drunken fools across the road were having a massive row in the street. I struggled out of bed, we then packed and headed over to Stoke. It only took forty mintues to get there, so we arrived early enough for me to nip to WHSmiths to buy a receipt book (optimist that I am) and then to go to a local cafe for a fry-up breakfast - I really needed the coffee.

We arrived at the convention around 10:30am, half an hour after it had opened, and once we had followed the sound of voices to the convention location (signage in the entrance hall wasn't that obvious) we reached the sign-in desk and met the organisers: Nick and Sue of Shire Games. Nick and Sue were very welcoming, and proved excellent hosts all weekend.

The place was very busy already, and Dunk and I set up on a table right up the far end of the top room - not an ideal location, but there you go. That'll teach us to turn up a bit late. We set up for a 2-player game and arranged the boxes in an 'attractive' display. I could do with some marketing experience - I'm sure someone with a marketing background could had done better.

Dunk and I played a quick game before a passing couple were drawn in by the name - Russ and Jen. Jen was from Carlisle, so it's local history for her. We set-up a 4-player and played that out while I chatted about the game and it's history. Russ and Jen seemed to enjoy it and made all the right noises - I felt like I was off to a good start. After that game, I asked Nick to introduce me to Steve, who had ordered a copy based on very limited information several months ago. We were introduced and as soon as Steve's game of Tempus was over he joined us for a game. Ivan joined in too, so we settled down to another 4-player. Halfway through that game Russ and Jen came back from lunch and bought a copy, and seeing as I had the paperwork out Steve paid for his copy too - this was getting better and better :-). Jen's quote also filled me with a warm fuzziness:

We were still talking about the game when the food arrived - we knew then we needed to get a copy.

We finished that game, and I got more positive feedback, although I don't think Ivan was enamoured of it - especially the gambling for re-inforcements.

Next up was a 3-player with David, which Dunk won, breaking my winning streak. At some point Nick swung by and bought a copy based on the feedback he'd heard from Russ and Jen. He also told me it was the first game to go from the Tombola table where winners got to choose a game from those on offer - things were going very well.

At that point Dunk and I packed up and headed off to a local Italian restaurant for some dinner. Seeing as Dunk and I had now played for about seven hours straight, I decided that I'd have the evening off playing and selling, and give Dunk a break. When we got back in however, we bumped into Nigel and Jed who had wanted to play earlier but were in the middle of something else. So I sat down to a 3-player game with them. I think they were the least keen of the people I'd played it with - which is fair enough - it's not to everyone's tastes.

After that Dunk and I joined Nigel and Jed for a couple of dexterity games: Hamsterrolle and Polarity. Hamsterrolle was great, like anti-Jenga set in a hamster wheel - it's got to be seen to be believed. Sadly, I was hopeless at both of them, and as a result Nigel and Jed beat Dunk and I both times. During those games, a couple sat down next to us and the guy - Ben - noticed my carrier bag full of Border Reivers. He'd been reading my blog and was glad to see I'd got them finished in time. He said he might buy a copy the next day, and asked to look at a copy. I passed one to him, and five minutes later he bought it. Yeay!

During one of those games I spotted Luke (from this blog), by his BGG avatar printed on the back of his T-shirt. He was obviously leaving so I popped over to say hello - I was hoping to get a chance to play First Past The Post and his Tour De France game with him during the weekend. Sadly he was leaving, and he wasn't going to be there on Sunday - so I missed the boat on that one. Still, he said he had a good convention and that his Tour De France game was well received (you can hear about it on the latest Into The Gamescape podcast from Mike Hibbert). I'll have to catch him earlier next time.

After Nigel and Jed left, I introduce Dunk to Lost Cities a great card game by Reiner Knizia. Then we headed back to Derby for a well-deserved night's sleep.

If I'm honest, I had hoped to sell three copies over the weekend, plus the two pre-orders to Dunk and Steve, and I'd sold that on the first day - I was feeling exhausted, but pretty chuffed.

Tuesday, August 15

The Games Factory: Day 3

Friday got off to a mixed start. I'd still not completed any copies yet and the convention started at 10am on Saturday. I was intending to go down to Dunk's house on Friday night and we were going to go over to Stoke from there, so I had to stop at a sensible time on Friday night. So my situation was: twelve hours construction available, number of completed copies: 0.

I got cracking on the set of tiles I had started the night before, and by 9am I had my first completed copy. I was really happy with the production quality, but the tiles construction was proving to be a nightmare. It took so long to stick the paper onto the board, and then as I was cutting them out I was having to fix some of the tiles as the glue hadn't taken very well all over - there were some bits that needed to be re-applied.

Anyway, like an idiot I soldiered on. By the time I'd completed my second copy I was at a crisis point. It was taking about two and a half hours to make a set of tiles, at this rate I could complete the four copies that were already spoken for, and if I was lucky a fifth to sell at the convention. Situation update: eight hours construction left, number of completed copies: 2. To make matters worse, I'd run out of the PVA glue I was using. I had two choices - I could take an hour out of the construction (further limiting my output) to nip into town and buy more PVA, or I could use the Display Mount spray glue I had bought ages ago. Dad (who's a retired art teacher and artist - so he know what he's talking about) had warned me off spray glue. He'd said that it gets everywhere - hands, furniture, where you want it, where you don't, and that it was really tacky and nasty to work with - plus it stinks and is toxic if inhaled.

However, I'm young and foolish and I don't listen so I decided to go with it anyway :-) He was right. On all counts. Fortunately, because I'd paid extra (and quite a lot extra at that) to have my print jobs laminated it didn't matter. The spray glue got on the face of the paper, but instead of damaging the paper or pulling off the ink, it just rubbed off the laminated surface once it had dried. The spray glue also made things much easier - it was very tacky, dried quickly and stayed stuck down which made the construction much easier. I start making sets of tiles in batches of three. I'd glue on three fronts, then three backs and then cut them all out. After the first batch I looked at the time. It had taken three hours to make three sets. An hour a set. Wow - that was a huge improvement. So now things were looking much better: five hours left and five completed copies. Extrapolating I could get ten copies ready - the four that were spoken for and six for sale on the day. Things were looking up.

By the end of the day I had met my target and I had ten copies ready to go. The construction had taken its toll on me though, I'd spent forty-two hours on it over the last three days. I was very tired and my arms and fingers were sore from pressing down on the knife and steel ruler while cutting out the tiles. Towards the end as I got more tired I started losing my concentration, and I ended up damaging one of the tiles (which ended up in my copy until I can replace it), and then I cut myself - D'oh. Still. Job done. I necked a Red Bull and drove down to Dunk's in preparation for the convention.

Sunday, August 13

The Games Factory: Day 2

Well, The Cast Are Dice has been and gone, and it was a blast, but I'm going to let you know how the construction went first before getting around to a convention report. So here's how last Thursday panned out.

Thursday got off to a great start with the 8am arrival of the two print jobs I was waiting for. An offer of a customer testimonial and a plea for a swift turnaround got me my print jobs three days earlier than my printers Asterisk Digital had originally estimated. The print quality was great and I really liked the lamination - it made the print jobs look and feel much more professional - well worth the large increase in cost. I immediately got cracking on completing the rulebooks I had prepared the day before, I just needed to fold the covers (one of the two print jobs) and staple them together. It felt great to be finishing things, until that point I had been starting loads of stuff (constructed boxes that weren't labelled, rulebooks missing covers and not yet stapled, cards that were cut out but without rounded corners) but nothing was finished.

Just as I did the last of the 24 rulebooks the doorbell rang again and this time it was my new toy - the very expensive corner rounding tool. This was very cool - I set it up, calibrated it and started corner-rounding - I got through 24 decks (480 corners) in about an hour - another completed component - this felt great. At this point I knew I'd have some copies to take to TCAD, but how many I'd complete was still up in the air - I was aiming for fourteen: two of my pre-orders would be in attendance, my copy to play with people, a copy for the tombola table and ten to sell - which was way more than I thought I'd need.

After lunch I started labelling boxes, each one took about half an hour, and I worked my way through the fourteen boxes, finishing about 9pm. I was delighted with the boxes, the laminated paper labels looked really good once they were glued on, and it looked surprisingly professional - so far so good.

I finished the day with a set of tiles. Each set of tiles consists of seventy-two tiles which start out as a sheet of 2mm thick greyboard slightly larger than A2, and four sheets of A3 with the front and reverse designs on. I have to glue the two front sheets on, line up the back sheets and glue those on then cut out the seventy-two tiles. I was using the same watered down PVA glue that I'd used for the boxes, and it really didn't work very well - it took ages to stick it down (you need to apply pressure for quite a while) and then it needed a lot of re-sticking in areas where it hadn't stuck so well - this was going to take ages. In the end I stopped just after midnight - a sixteem hour shift.

Wednesday, August 9

The Games Factory: Day 1

I've taken three days off work to get Border Reivers ready for The Cast Are Dice. Today I was half-hoping that the print jobs would arrive from the printer but they didn't which left me plenty of time to get on with the rulebook and some decks of cards.

In the morning I went through the rulebook incorporating the feedback I got from my playtesting session last week. That took most of the morning, as I had to print it out to proof-read it a few times. Once I was happy with the rules I printed out twenty-four copies and folded and collated them. I couldn't staple them yet as the rulebook cover is one of the two print jobs I'm waiting on.

This afternoon I was at a bit of a loose end, as all the stuff that I need to do for TCAD is waiting on the two print jobs which have yet to arrive. So I wandered the internet and found a staggeringly expensive corner rounding tool (to use on the cards), and then found one that was only bloody expensive, so I bought that one instead. It should round a 10mm thickness of card stock in one go, with a nice 3.5mm radius arc, and it should arrive tomorrow. Yeay! New toy :-)

After that I set about cutting out the cards for the rest of my pre-orders. I'm hoping to take fourteen copies to TCAD, but I've sold another ten already, so I've been getting those together on the back burner. I made eight more decks this afternoon and evening, getting me to the twenty-four I need in total. Each deck took just under half an hour to cut out. That's two and a half days of card-cutting alone for the whole print run. Gulp.

Tuesday, August 8

Playtesting Feedback

Last Thursday I held a playtesting session at a local pub for a few friends who'd not played it before and some guys from my local games club who I didn't really know. During the session I got the players to fill out a questionnaire to give me some feedback.

Now I've got all the questionnaires back I can collate the feedback. It's mostly advice on how to improve the rules, which was just what I was after, however I also asked the players to rate various mechanics and components of the game on a numerical scale from 1 (awful) to 10 (excellent). Here's the results:

Question Average Score
Rules: Clarity 6.00
Rules: Completeness 6.86
Gameplay: Strategy Cards 8.14
Gameplay: Tiles 8.00
Gameplay: Reinforcements 6.86
Gameplay: Combat 7.86
Gameplay: Player elimination 7.00
Gameplay: Game length 8.00
Artwork 7.00
Overall Game Rating 7.71

I'm very happy with the results, as they quelled my last minute nerves that the game wasn't actually any good. Even if you discount the results from my friends the results are still pretty good:

Question Average Score
Rules: Clarity 6.50
Rules: Completeness 7.00
Gameplay: Strategy Cards 7.75
Gameplay: Tiles 7.75
Gameplay: Reinforcements 6.00
Gameplay: Combat 8.25
Gameplay: Player elimination 6.00
Gameplay: Game length 7.50
Artwork 6.50
Overall Game Rating 7.75

Monday, August 7

The Glass Is Half Full

I'm feeling more optimistic today. The last few days I've been convinced I wouldn't have anything ready for The Cast Are Dice next weekend.

Today's been a mixed bag, but overall I'm feeling like I might pull it off. I got home to a delivery of card and corner rounding tools (for rounding the corners of the strategy cards). I tried out the corner rounding tools and the radius of the corner is huge - so they are no good. Not a good start.

Next up was checking my email - better luck here. I had received the last two proofs from the printer on Friday and over the weekend I had to send them an email confirming I was happy with the print quality and colour balance. I sent the email to the director of the company (who I had been in touch with pestering him with questions over the last three or four months). I also asked if there was any way they could speed things up, as I had a deadline, and I'd been delayed by another supplier. I finished the email with an offer of a happy customer quote, in the hope that this would carry some weight and help my cause for getting my jobs rushed through. Early indications are good :-). He had replied saying they'd get them done ASAP, and thanking me for the testimonial offer. Fingers crossed.

I then popped into town (I'd finished work early) to collect a parcel from the Post Office and try to buy a better corner rounding tool. The parcel was the last of the wooden pieces from Germany. So all I'm waiting on now is the two print jobs. I think there's a chance I'll pull it off...

Sunday, August 6

Games Club

I managed to take some time out of my busy Border Reivers schedule yesterday to get down to my local games club: Beyond Monopoly. I nipped down just after one and stayed until the end at six. In all I got five games in - all of them new - so another great session.

First up Trans Europa by Franz-Benno Delonge.

This is a nice little train-themed network game. Players take it in turns to add one or two tracks to their network with the intention of being the first to link their five cities. Joining up to another player's network combines the two - helping both of you - so you need to be careful. Once someone has completed their network the other players lose points for every missing rail they needed to complete their network. Bill, Doug and I sat down to a 3-player, and while we were trying to decypher an English translation of the rules, Tanya (who had played before) and Richard joined us - so we set up a 5-player instead. The game was impressively quick, lasting only two rounds before I lost, having failed miserably both rounds to get anywhere near my outlying cities. Still, despite the trouncing I received, I liked it - it has very simple rules and yet there are lots of options every turns as you try to minimise the losses you'll receive, while not helping your opponents.

The second game of the day was Trias by Ralf Lehmkuhl, a tile-laying game themed around dinosaurs on the early super-continent of Pangaea.

As the game plays out, players move tiles away from the centre splitting the single continent into several smaller ones. As new continents form, and at the end of the game, players get points for having the majority of dinosaurs on a continent. Jon, Doug and I sat down for a 3-player - only Jon had played before. Again, I struggled to develop a winning strategy for this one, and I was lagging behind throughout the whole game. The way the tiles move is pretty cool, but the dinosaurs dropping into the water and then climbing out again was a little dubious. Unexpectedly, in the end I scored very well in the last round of scoring, and ended up coming second behind Jon. There were only 2 points between the three of us though, a tight game.

The third game of the day was Money! by Reiner Knizia, an auction card game based around trading money, with Jon and Doug once again.

The cards represent different values of various currencies and the aim is to blind bid for one of two sets of cards available. Players then exchange their bid for one of the sets, with the highest bidder exchanging first. The scoring rewards collecting sets of the same currency and once I got my head around that I managed to rescue an early losing position and end up coming second. I'm not usual one for card games but I did enjoy this - I think I like the auction aspect.

Next up was a 5-player game of Hattrick by Klaus Palesch. This was s pretty simple trick taking game based up a modified deck of cards (20 cards in three suits), with players getting points for taking tricks in the suit they get the most of, while losing points for tricks they win in other suits. We only played a couple of rounds before Adrian had to head off, and by this point Adrian had a nice lead, and I was the only player with a negative score! I'm not such a fan of card games, especially the ones where the cards are similar to a pack of cards - the only differences being the number of cards and the number of suits.

The final game of the day was a 3-player Sisimizi by Alex Randolph, a game about connecting anthills via lines of ants, with Paul and Jon.

It's played on what is effectively a hex grid, though it uses circles. During their turn, players can place up to three of their pieces (including one anthill if they want), and then move up to three of their pieces already on the board (including one anthill). The aim is to connect your seven anthills with lines of ants. What I like about this game was the ability to move your pieces to adapt to the positioning of your opponents, which kept the board adapting, as you tried to head off an opponent they could move their target anthill and head off in a different direction. I won this one in the end, which was a nice end to the day since I had been comprehensively creamed in Trans Europa and Hattrick.

All in all, a good day's gaming.

Friday, August 4

Blind Playtesting

Last night I organised a blind playtesting of Border Reivers. Blind Playtesting is when players get to play the game as if they'd bought it - i.e. from the rules rather than being taught by me - the main purpose was to improve the quality of the rulebook by finding out where the rules were unclear, imprecise or incomplete.

I'd invited a bunch of people from my local games club, plus a few of my gaming friends who hadn't yet played it. In the end we had seven players, none of whom had played it before. The spread was pretty good, three friends (all of whom spoke English as a second (or third) language - which is great for checking the clarity of the rules) and four people from the games club whom I didn't really know. It's important to play with people you don't know as you're likely to get much more honest feedback from them rather than friends - who don't want to hurt your feelings.

I took three prototype copies with me, but in the end we ended up only using two of them - we played a 3-player (and then I joined in afterwards for a 4-player) and the other group played two 4-player games. I'd booked the venue for four hours, and we ended up playing for less than that - the games coming in around the one and a half hour marks, discounting the time taken to digest the rules and fill in the questionnaire.

How did it go? I was pretty pleased. Generally people seemed to like the game, there were bits they preferred, and bits they were less enamoured of (which is to be expected), but overall it went down quite well. The weakest bits (as voted by my audience) were the reinforcements (gambling - which is likely to be unpopular with Eurogamers), rulebook (the whole point of the evening was to improve that) and the artwork (it's all self-drawn, and I'm not a artist or designer). I got loads of useful feedback on how to improve the rulebook, which I'll digest and implement over the next few days.

The million dollar question on the questionnaire was would you like to buy a copy, and of the seven players I could not expect more than six 'yes's since two of the players were a couple. I got four 'yes's and a maybe, evenly split between my friends and the games club members - so I was delighted with that - it's boosted my confidence that I'll be able sell the one hundred copies I'm feverishly constructing.

My favourite quotes of the evening:

It's not as good as The Settlers of Catan with all my expansions, but it's nearly as good as Puerto Rico.
We'd play it again at our games nights.

Thursday, August 3

The Storm: Part 1

This week I've had a two-fold goal, both to prepare for the playtesting event I'm holding tonight in a local pub, while simultaneously trying to sort out the various print jobs and piece orders to ensure I'm ready for The Cast Are Dice next weekend.

It's been busy - very busy. I've been getting home from work and then working on things until about 12:30am most nights this week, and considering I have to be up at 6:30am for work - I'm unsurprisingly exhausted by now.

This week's been a blur - the wooden pieces arrived from Germany, but I'd had to change my order as some of the pieces I originally wanted were no longer available. In the rush to get a new order sorted in time, I made a mistake and ordered some pieces which won't work very well, so I've now had to lodge a second order for replacement pieces.

The first print job has arrived, and I'm very happy with it. It's the scoreboards, cards and mountain ranges so I've spent a lot of time cutting those out by hand in preparation both for the playtesting event and beyond. I'm preparing 23 copies, which is enough for me to take 10 copies to The Cast Are Dice and satisfy my pre-orders. I've got most of those together now, with the exception of the cards (which take an age to cut out), and the second wooden pieces order and second print job which have yet to arrive. The rulebooks aren't done yet either - they're waiting on the feedback I hope to get from tonight's playtesting session.

Am I going to make The Cast Are Dice? Well, that's the million dollar question. At the mo I'd say there's a 25% chance that I'll have the copies I want to take ready to go. There's a bigger chance that I'll have some ready, but the most likely outcome is that I won't be ready, but still waiting for something to arrive. It really sucks - but there you go.