Wednesday, March 29

Tiles Screen Captures

As promised in my last post, I've got some preliminary tiles images posted over on the Border Reivers design page. Have a gander and let me know what you think. There's still plenty of work to be done on them.

Tuesday, March 28

Border Reivers Tiles

I spent a good five or six hours yesterday evening on the tiles design for the limited edition of Border Reivers. It went really well, I managed to get the coastlines, roads and numbering done for the first side (I haven't started the second side yet).

I had previously done a version by hand, and I've nearly caught up with how much I had done for that version already. I've the trees, villages and waves to do and then I'm making forward progress again.

In the next couple of days I'll post some work-in-progress images of the tile design over on the Border Reivers website.

Monday, March 27

Lots of Puerto Rico

This weekend passed in a Advocaat-soaked (don't ask) blur, but we did manage to get 3 games of Puerto Rico in after various meals. The first one was with Karen, Jochen, The Wife and I (won by Karen) and then on Sunday, Rebecca, Paul, The Wife and I played another two games (one a piece to Paul and I).

All three games finished when we ran out of colonists, unlike the first time I played when Roman built all 12 of his buildings. Our scores climbed steadily through the three games as we learnt the game more thoroughly, and the final game was very close with me just scraping a win in the very last round.

The more I play it, the more I like it. It is a great game. I'm convinced that buildings are key to winning, as Paul got only 4 victory points from transporting goods to the Old World in the last game, and yet he very nearly won, despite my 18 victory points from transportation.

Oh, and as usual after every games session we finished with promises that we should make time for a game of Twiglet.

Saturday, March 25

Paint Shop Pro

I've started work on a new final version of the Border Reivers tiles. I'm creating two A3 sheets which feature the design for each side of the tiles. Previously I've attempted to do this by hand and using Microsoft Publisher - neither of which were the right tool for the job. Is Paint Shop Pro the best tool for the job? Probably not, but I own it and it's the best tool I've tried so far.

Should have some more to say soon, and we've got friends coming round for tea tonight and lunch tomorrow, and hopefully there'll be games after each meal :-). I'm hoping to give Puerto Rico another outing now that I've a better idea what I'm doing.

Friday, March 24

Border Reivers

Border Reivers was my first board game, and I designed it between Christmas '01 and 2003. The game has been finished for the last two years, and I've got a prototype that I made to playtest the game with friends.

Last weekend my parents came to visit and I talked to my Dad extensively about my games design work. As a result I've decided to manufacturer a limited run of Border Reivers, while investigating getting it properly published.

So, I've started working on the final deisgn of the tiles and cards and I'm going to invest in a hefty printer for printing the tiles and cards.

I'm thinking of using Plastics for Games for the pieces (although I'd prefer nice wooden pieces like those of Carcassonne, Puerto Rico and Settlers of Catan, I can get cheap plastic pieces that fit the bill in the UK).

Interested in a copy? Then either email me at or post a reply to this post.

Tuesday, March 14

Dollyo - Making Progress

As I mentioned in my last post Dollyo was started around two years ago, but paused for a very long time.

This time round I'm keen to take the game in a slightly different direction, by reducing the emphasis on combat and increasing the emphasis on trade and politics.

I begin my design of a new game by thinking about what elements I want in the game. To begin with I tend to include far too many elements creating a very complicated game, then slowly over time simplify out those elements that work the least well. I scribble down all my early ideas, then try to start playing the game against myself to set the mechanics up. It gives me a chance to tweak the elements of the design to improve the balance, or change the speed at which the game plays. At this point the board/tiles are scribbled on a pad of paper and I use pieces from other games to represent the game pieces & cards where I can, scribbling bits on scraps of paper where I can't.

That's as far as I got today - it'll be a good while before the game is ready to start playing with other people.

For the record the following stages my games go through are:

  • Making my own cards and pieces
  • Extensive playtesting with the rules regularly changing
  • Playtesting with infrequent rule changes and 'beta' cards, pieces, tiles and board
  • The prototype - by this stage I've made 'nice' bits, and the rules are fixed


When I created this blog I promised you design as well as reviews/session notes, but I've been so busy on other projects that I've not really done any solid design for a while - I've been limited to scheming while commuting to work.

Thanks to a snow day I'm now at home with some time to spare so here's my first thoughts on Codename: Dollyo a new game I first started about 2 years ago staight after Border Reivers, that has been paused for about 20 months :-)

Like lots of the new German boardgames available at the moment Border Reivers had a victory point mechanism (in the form of first to 40 gold wins the game), but it was possible to circumvent this mechanism by slaughtering your opponents before anyone reached the 40 gold target. In Dollyo I intend to do something similar, but with a couple of new (to me, at least) twists. The first is to limit the actions you can perform by the number of victory points you currently have. I like the idea of this, especially since it 'makes sense' in the setting of Dollyo, and I've not seen it anywhere else. The second is something that I've seen in Citadels by Bruno Faidutti (Fantasy Flight Games), the first person to reach the victory point target (in the case of Citadels the first to eight city districts) is not necessarily the winner - although you do gain an advantage.

Sunday, March 5

The Beast!

We finally got a chance to get another game of Twilight Imperium 3rd Edition in this weekend, only four months after the last game. We played with Paul, who had played with us last time so we had the double advantage of all three players having played before in the not-too-distant past, and only three players - so the finally total was only 4 and a half hours. It really is a beast :-)

Here's a snapshot of the penultimate turn before I got a lamping :-) Click on it to see the full-size image.

I won the game in the end, using the 10 victory points mechanism - as always seems to be the winning strategy. Unusally, there was no combat in the game until the final round when it was already clear that I was going to win - so there was a definite 'Well we've got to have at least some fighting' feeling about it.

I also tried a different strategy this game, using the Politics strategy to ensure a plentiful supply of the rule-bending Action cards, and making the most of my race's technology special ability, by ensuring that I never chose the Technology strategy myself - allowing both the primary and secondary usages. I ended the game with 13 technologies which was nice :-)

It was also the first outing of the Distant Suns expansion pack, giving each planet a random effect such as extra trade goods, hostile locals or radiation which kills your landing party. It slowed the expansion of the player's empires down and added a new dimension to the exploration and expansion - I'll definitely play that again in the future.

As usual after Twiglet games, we said we need to play again soon, to take advantage of us all have the rules in our heads, who knows when we'll get round to it though...

Hot Carribean Action

So after a few attempts that were called off due to sickness, I finally got a chance to play Puerto Rico from Rio Grande Games yesterday.

Expectations were high as it is the most popular game on BoardGameGeek, and first impressions after a single game are that it is really good. The wife is already saying that she definitely prefers it to Citadels which is also a great game.

It uses similar mechanics to Twilight Imperium 3 and Citadels where players choose a different role each round. However, unlike citadels where only one player gets to perform the action associated with the role, and Twiglet where the actions differ depending upon whether you choose the role or someone else did, in Puerto Rico everyone gets to perform the same action (although the person who chose it gets a related bonus).

Players take it in turns to choose a role, starting with the 'Guvnor' (which rotates clockwise each turn), and they and then the other players get to perform the action for that role. Because of this, you spend very little time waiting for other players like many of the other German games.

The aim of the game is to have the most victory points at the end, and there are two ways of gaining points: by shipping goods to the Old World, and by building buildings. You also get to create plantations which provide an income of goods for trade or shipping. In the game (with the wife, Jochen, Karen and Roman), I didn't concentrate much on generating money, so I couldn't build many buildings, which bit me at the end as I came out 4th out of 5. Next time I think I'll keep that in mind and try to get more building done.

In conclusion, there are a lot of really nice mechanisms in the game, and at first blush it seemed to be very interesting and certainly replayable, and, as usual with German games, the wooden pieces are great and the printed pieces are nice enough. All in all, I'm very happy with my purchase.