Yesterday I paid the second half of my Essen stand (400 Euro) and then the second half of the It's Alive! print run. Apparently I'll not be getting the two finished copies I was told about, the almost finished one I received last week will do that job instead. This means I'll not see the punched coins until I go to the warehouse to collect the pre-orders for shipping. But the latest update is that they should be ready to ship next Wednesday or Thursday. I didn't have to pay until they were ready, but they won't ship until the games are ready (obviously) and they have received my payment (which takes three days to clear). So paying them now means that as soon as the games are ready they will be able to ship them. I'm desperate to begin selling them (several customers have been chasing me), so the sooner the better.
Yesterday was rounded off with another of my playtesting nights. It was Lisa, Jon and I, and we played a couple of games of Carpe Astra and one of Codename: Backyard. Carpe Astra went well, with both Lisa and Jon saying it was the best version they'd played (they've played a lot!) and wanting a second game straight after the first to improve their strategy. I'd played several games with these new rules solo over the last week, and though both Lisa and Jon have played the game a lot, neither of them had played this particular version. The scores were ideal for this. I won both games, but they both scored better in the second game than the first (so there's a learning curve, the most experienced player won, with more plays leading to higher scores). In the first game I was the start player, in the second game I went last, but I won both, so there's not a strong first or last player bias.
This morning Paul and I did some playtesting too. We played Carpe Astra and then a new prototype: Codename: Aces. Paul also liked the new Carpe Astra (and again I won) and he also really enjoyed Aces. It's a sports game, more mainstream than my other games. I need to play it more to get a better feeling for it.
In other news, one of the two prototypes I sent to US distributors last week has arrived, so hopefully I'll hear something from them soon.