Thursday, February 26

Questionnaire Preliminary Results

I've started collating the results of the questionnaire I ran on BoardGameGeek yesterday. The competition still has 36 hours left to run, but I've already received well over 250 responses - it's been far more successful than I was expecting. I've collated the results for the first 10 pages of responses, and it's pretty interesting so far.

The questions were designed to be asked now and after the big BGG competition in a few weeks time to gauge how successful the competition was at raising awareness of my brand and my games. This was just the baseline.

Question 1: Are you aware of Reiver Games?

  • A: Reiver whatnow? Never heard of them.
  • B: I've heard of them, but not played any of their games.
  • C: I've played one or more of their games, but don't own any of them.
  • D: I own one of more of their games.

I expected that the answers would be A > B > C > D. There's obviously going to be some bias involved though - still not sure what.

Lots of people had heard of at least one of my games, but not my company. I guess that's to be expected, but it shows that the brand of my company is comparatively weak. Also, I was surprised at how few people had played one of my games but didn't own any. Especially in comparison to how many owned at least one of my games. Not sure why that is. It could be because there aren't many copies of my games in circulation so few people have played one, it could be that most people who play one of my games buy it (I wish!), or it could just be that people who own one of my games were more likely to respond.

Question 2: Are you aware of It's Alive!?

  • A: Never heard of it.
  • B: I've heard of it, but not played it.
  • C: I've played it, but don't own it.
  • D: I own it.

Again, I expected that the answers would be A > B > C > D. Since It's Alive! had been around the longest (several years if you include The Menorah Game incarnation) I expected more people in B, C or D than Carpe Astra or Sumeria.

This was more or less as I expected. Again the confusing ratio of C to D though. At least 35 people had heard of It's Alive! but not Reiver Games. Even with a game that's been out since June 2007, 20% of respondents had never heard of it. I've run an ad campaign on BGG and two on Boardgame News but they seem to have a limited reach.

Question 3: Are you aware of Carpe Astra?

  • A: Never heard of it.
  • B: I've heard of it, but not played it.
  • C: I've played it, but don't own it.
  • D: I own it.

Again, I expected that the answers would be A > B > C > D. I expected less awareness than It's Alive! since it's only been available for four months and there are less reviews available at the moment.

40% of people have never heard of it, and half as many respondents say they own it compared to It's Alive! According to the BGG ownership stats, one third of the number of people who own It's Alive! own Carpe Astra, so that might give some indication of the bias towards Reiver Games owners in the responses.

Question 4: Are you aware of Sumeria?

  • A: Never heard of it.
  • B: I've heard of it.
  • C: I've want to play it.
  • D: I want to buy it.

Again, I expected that the answers would be A > B > C > D. I expected less awareness than Carpe Astra even, since this has not been advertised yet. With no rules available, I was expecting very few people wanting to buy it.

Woohoo! I got this one right :-) Two-thirds of respondents have never heard of it (less than I was expecting) and several people are interested.

As several people noted, just by asking these questions I've raised awareness of the company and the games. Not one of the respondents could answer all As in a weeks time - they'd have to answer all Bs at least. Hopefully I've pushed a few into the C or D categories too :-) 82 new people are aware of my company, 47 new people are aware of It's Alive!, 95 new people are aware of Carpe Astra and 166 new people are aware of Sumeria. Reiver Games is number eight in the list of hot companies on BGG today. Plus I've got some really useful information to help me target marketing in future. Not bad for at most 13 quid.

Wednesday, February 25

Market Research

Here's another area I'm not very good at. This blog is turning into one long 'I'm hopeless' rant! On Tao and Pinebars advice I'm conducting some Market Research on BoardGameGeek. I'm doing it in the form of a small competition, to give people an incentive to take part - there's a free game up for grabs.

I'll run a similar competition/questionnaire after the main BGG competition has run its course to see how effective it has been at boosting awareness of my brand.

Feel free to enter, it's open to everyone.

Update: I meant to post this first thing this morning, but experienced some user error! The competition has received over 75 entries, and it's generally getting good feedback ('Thanks for giving us this opportunity' not 'stop pimping your games already'). It looks like there's a lot of potential for the main competition, lots of people have never heard of me or my games, and several have heard of the games but not the company.

Tuesday, February 24

Short Term vs. Long Term

Seth Godin has just posted his 3,000th post. In it he encourages his readers to post something really interesting today in honour of that achievement. No pressure!

I've received a couple of direct orders today, possibly due to this GeekList on BoardGameGeek, where my games (and Ad Astra!) are getting some good feedback.

This brings me to a conundrum. Do I take their money (and get a larger cut for myself) or direct them to a local retailer (and build up my company in the marketplace)? One is thinking short-term:

I normally get 40% of retail, if I sell direct to the customer I get 100% of retail, minus 15% tax - that's 45% more for me! Yeay!

The other long-term:

They'll ask for it at their preferred retailer. Either they'll sell it (and possibly re-stock) or they'll ask their distributor for it. Their distributor will either sell it, or order it from me. Since a distributor order is usually 30-70 copies, this will make me more money in the long run (and might even get my games into more shops and/or distributors). Yeay!

If the customer emails me first I'll always suggest looking in a local retailer, but once they've placed an order I'm not so rude as to refund their money and tell them to look elsewhere - that would be a pretty stupid thing to do. Some customers like ordering direct from the publisher, they know I'll make more money that way.

In the long run though, the only way this company is going to work is if tens of distributors sell my games to hundreds of shops who in turn sell my games to thousands of customers. For that to happen several things need to fall into place:

  • Distributors want to stock my games, either because I've contacted them and the games sound like they'll sell well, or because their retail customers have contacted them asking for it.
  • Retailers want to stock my games, either because they've seen the games on a distributors stocking list or because customers have been asking for it.
  • Customers want to buy my games, either because they've seen them in a shop or listed on an online store, or because they've played them and liked them or they've seen some of my advertising/seen them on BGG.

In most cases it's better when the customer asks for a game, as that convinces the stockist that there is a market for it. I can try to convince the distributors/shops that people will buy my games, so they should stock them, but when one of their customers is stood there with a dirty wad of cash they want to spend, that's going to be much more convincing than yet another unknown game company hawking their wares as the 'next big thing'.

As with any game, my games aren't for everyone, but bringing them to more people's attention means bringing them to the attention of more people who will like them. How best to do that? That's the 1,000,000 dollar question. I was considering running a poll on BGG to gauge how many people were aware of my company and my games (thanks for the idea, Pinebars!) but now I'm thinking I'm best off waiting until after the competition has run there. Maybe before and after would be more use?

Sunday, February 22

Playtesters Rule!

The feedback from my playtesting team continues to roll in. In many ways this is the first time I've done things properly (though still on a pretty small scale).

With Border Reivers, my first game, I played it a lot with friends and family, but I didn't try blind-playtesting until the game was nearly ready. I hired a pub function room in York and invited members of my local games club (Beyond Monopoly! along to try it out. I'd not been to the club yet, so it was blind in the sense that I wasn't testing it with people I knew, and though I (or The Wife) watched, taking notes, the players had to learn from the rulebook - we didn't teach them how to play. By the time I got around to blind playtesting, the game was pretty much finished - I was very happy to make changes to the rulebook to improve its clarity, but I was pretty much set on the rules. It's a weaker game as a result.

My second game, It's Alive! had been extensively tested by the designer, Yehuda Berlinger, so the game was pretty much ready to go. I tweaked the components to allow more players and changed the theme, but in essence I made very few changes. Again, there was a blind-playtesting night at a local pub, again with people from my local games club. This time I knew the people a little better, so their objectivity may have been slightly clouded.

Carpe Astra I tested mostly with hard-core gamers, and the blind playtesting was done with a group in America and a group in Germany. I didn't hold a pub night and had a relationship with both the groups abroad.

For Sumeria I opened the blind-playtesting up to people by holding a competition that was advertised here, on BoardGameGeek and Boardgame News. I had no connection with the people I selected based on my arcane criteria - I'd never met any of them (I think!), I hadn't corresponded with them previously and as far as I was aware they weren't massive fans of my games or my company. In addition to the competition winners, a couple of other groups are playtesting Sumeria, one in Wales and one in Germany.

I've been getting lots of high-quality feedback from the playtesters. They (and their friends with whom they play the game) aren't always huge fans of the game but they've been coming up with some great ideas. I see my role in this as acting as a mediator between the playtesters and the designer. I'm not going to make changes that the designer doesn't approve of, that doesn't help me at all. I've not passed all the suggestions on to Dirk, some of them don't fit with the game so I've rejected them. That's not to say they are wrong - just that they would take the game in a direction I don't want it to go. Now Dirk's back from his holiday he's started coming back to me with some changes too. It feels really positive, making last minute tweaks to further improve a great game.

One of the more major changes is to do with the 2-player game. One of my playtesters spotted that the 2-player game was very different from the 3- and 4-player game. The 2-player dynamic removed one of the most interesting things about the scoring. I'd not noticed this, nor had any of my other playtesters spotted it yet. Once he'd brought it to my attention it was obvious and I couldn't think of any way around it. Most people hadn't spotted it, but for those that did it really broke the 2-player game. So there were three choices:

  1. Ignore the problem - most people don't see it anyway
  2. Try to find a fix for the problem - probably by adding '2-player only' rules
  3. Ditch the 2-player game.

One was right out. That's a crap solution to the problem. Two is an option, but one of the things I really love about Sumeria is the depth of the game, coming from very simple rules. Adding more special case rules will clutter things up, make it more complicated. The archetypal Eurogame is one with depth, very simple, streamlined rules and a wafer-thin theme. Sumeria fits that bill as it stands, adding 2-player fixes could break that simplicity. The third option has strengths and weaknesses. Lots of people want to play 2-player games. Removing this option will make the game attractive to fewer people. It will however keep the rules simple and since several of the components were only needed for the 2-player game reduce the manufacturing cost.

After talking to Dirk, we've decided to go for option three.

Friday, February 20

Facebook Marketing

Two posts in one day! Madness.

I've been on Facebook for a while now. At the beginning it was all about Vampires, Werewolves and Zombies, but since then I've grown as a person and login very rarely. I just got en email from a shop who suggested I create Facebook pages for my games. It seemed like a good idea, so I've just spent the last hour or so knocking up a page for It's Alive!, Carpe Astra and Sumeria. As with all things social and networking these pages are linked together by people. If you're on Facebook (and you like the game!) you can become a 'fan' of it. When you do your friends see that you're a fan and they can follow the link for more information, or to become a fan themselves. In theory, it could lead to a huge groundswell of interest. Or not. At the moment all three games have one fan - me!

Feeling Chirpier

The sun is shining today :-)

I'm also starting to get some more positive feedback on Sumeria from my playtesters, and one of them (who hadn't noticed I was a co-deisgner on Carpe Astra) sent me a nice email about how much he liked Carpe Astra and how he's spread the word amongst his friends.

Back on topic:

If you have a weakness you're definitely best off recognising the fact and then trying to do something about it. I'm aware that marketing is not my strong point, so I've admitted it (here and on BoardGameGeek) and asked for advice. The next step is to do something about it. What though? My friend Wilka has recommended a few blogs that I've added to my RSS reader, I'm enjoying Seth Godin's the most of his suggestions, I was previously aware of it due to the Yak-shaving story but I'd not been following it. I should also get my hands on a decent book on the subject, as yet I don't know what that is though.

Of course, if I had more money I'd be able to hire a decent marketing guru, but in the meantime, I need to be able to do an adequate job by myself. Reading through the blog's Wilka recommended they make a lot of hay about Twitter the micro-blogging tool (it allows you to post blog-style comments about what you're doing limited to 140 characters in length). What do you think? Is it worth Twittering as well as these longer blog posts? Does anyone care? Would anyone read it?

Another big thing on those blogs is Word-of-Mouth. Getting customers to market your product for you to potential customers by being enthusiastic enough about your products to convince others to try them. How do you cultivate Word-of-Mouth? I've no idea yet - that's something I'll have to work on!


I'm still catching up on the backlog of posts from the blogs Wilka recommended. One of them, Brand Autopsy, had posted in December this list of great marketing books published this year. Look's like a great place to start...

Wednesday, February 18

Feeling Low

When choosing a game to publish you're hoping that enough people like it to buy all the copies you've manufactured. If you sell out, you can then decide whether or not to re-print, but selling out has to be your first goal.

With any game there will be people who like it, people who are ambivalent towards it and people who don't like it. If you've chosen well there will be people who love it and there may well be people who hate it. You're hoping that enough people like it enough to play it again with new players, and that some of those will like it enough to play it again with new players and so on. So you're hoping that despite the 'cult of the new' the game will attract enough 'let's play X again' players and not too many 'God no,not X - that's terrible/dull' players.

The playtest copies of Sumeria are now out in the world and the feedback is starting to trickle in. I'm convinced it's a great game - I personally love it and in my first rounds of playtesting several of my playtesters really liked it too though a few were only slightly positive/ambivalent. So I was hoping that the blind playtesters would on average be positive towards it - convincing me I'm made a good choice that would prove largely popular.

So far, the feedback has been decidedly 'meh'. Don't get me wrong, this is great and what I needed to hear, but it's got me in low spirits. Admittedly some of the playtesters ended up playing the game wrong (due to a lack of clarity in my rules) and some others found some weaknesses in the 2-player game that either need to be fixed somehow or require the 2-player version to be stripped out (which would co-incidently remove the need for some of the components and hence reduce the cost both for me manufacturing and for the customer). I've also had several ideas for changes which could improve things significantly (or not!).

Personally, I found that the game improved the more you played it as you found out how to improve your strategy, and most of the feedback so far is from people who've only played it once or twice. But this is important feedback. If you play a game once and think it's 'alright' you're more likely to move on to something different rather than play it again. I was hoping the simple rules (very Euro-esque: clean, simple, no exceptions and short enough to fit on 4 sides of A4 with lots of diagrams) would be popular with the Euro crowd and the wafer-thin theme not too much of a problem.

I don't think the problem with the early feedback was close friends being too positive - I've had plenty of negative feedback from them in the past for other games. I think it was just their kind of game, and as I get a bigger sample of the game playing public I'm getting a more accurate judge of what proportion of gamers will really like it. My initial sample was biased (not in a personal way, but just by being a really small sample that just happened to be made up of a high proportion of people who really like the game).

This, combined with the decidedly mediocre ratings it's started to pick up on BoardGameGeek and the drop in the scores of It's Alive! and Carpe Astra (both of which are really popular with some people) over the last couple of months have got me down. Just to prove it never rains but it pours, I also heard the returns I was hoping for from Alliance this week won't start until next month, so my figures for this month will be quite poor. Next month should be great and I'm still on target for the year, but disappointing nonetheless.

I was in two minds about posting this, in case this post was read by my blind playtesters and then influenced them to be more positive in their feedback, but I figure I should trust them to be honest - they don't know me and have no reason to want to please me. In the end I figured this blog should be about the ups and downs of running your own games company so it can stand as encouragement/warning to those who are considering a similar move. I can't just keep posting about how great everything is, especially when I'm feeling quite down about things.

Friday, February 13


Marketing is really one of my weakest areas - I have no idea what I could or should be doing in this arena. There are a few different levels of marketing, to the different customers in the supply chain:

Marketing to Distributors

Distributors are my main customers, the vast majority of my sales are to distributors, who then sell to shops/online stores and then on to the final customers. I've put the most effort into this form of marketing, though very little money. I've been sending emails and making phone calls to potential distributors and I've had some degree of success. I've picked up 17 distributors for my games, ranging from the US, to lots of Europe and Taiwan and New Zealand. The big weaknesses in my coverage are: Australia, Eastern/Southern Europe and Canada. Eastern and Southern Europe has the added problem that my games aren't available in the languages of those regions. Shipping to the US is very expensive unless I send a lot of games via sea freight, so I'm considering a flooring deal in the US. The same goes for Australia, which also has a fairly small population, so the market is smaller as a result. My best chance of picking up Asutralian distribution might be to wait until I have more titles and then try to get an Australian distributor interested in a mixed pallet.

Marketing to Shops

This is the area I'm weakest at. I've emailed a bunch of UK shops to tell them my games are available, and had replies from just over half of them. My coverage of UK shops seems to be pretty good. Not knowing the companies elsewhere I've not done any of this abroad. I'm hoping that the distributors will do some of this themselves (they've got stock to shift after all), but I'm wondering what more I can do to help the distributors (and hence myself).

Marketing to Customers

This is where I've spent the most money. I've run ads on BoardGameGeek and Boardgame News. I figure if the customers want it, they'll ask their favourite stockist, who will ask their distributor of choice, who will ask me. This has already happened in the US (it's how I picked up Brown Box, Inc. as a distributor). The problem is while Carpe Astra is definitely a geek's game, It's Alive! has broader appeal. Advertising where I do is never going to reach those other people. Also, while BGG is the larger market of the two, lots of people on BGG pay money to hide the adverts.

How can I improve?

I asked this question in BGG a while ago, and received lots of advice. One of the suggestions was a BGG competition. This has several advantages over straight advertising:

  • You're offering something for free, so people are more interested
  • You can make the competition require knowledge of the game, hence driving people to your website
  • BGG AdBlock doesn't cover competitions - so you reach all the BGG users
  • Competitions get pride of place in the 'News' section at the top of the front page

As a result they are more expensive! But, I'm going to suck it up and run one shortly.

Another thing that came out of the thread was a former Marketing Assistant for Fantasy Flight offered to help. In exchange for a free copy of Carpe Astra and It's Alive! he offered to ring around the big shops in the US, bringing my games to their attention. The games are relatively cheap for me, so I took him up on his offer. Hopefully, this will help US availability and awareness, if it does I'll try to make more use of him (for more recompense).

I still don't know the best things to do to help build my company, but I'm learning all the time so hopefully in a few years time I'll be good at this (or I'll have hired someone who is!). In the meantime, any advice you've got is gratefully appreciated. And if you want to support me, ask your local shop to carry my games. Unless you run a shop, in which case ask your distributor of choice to carry my games. Alternatively, you can just buy a couple of thousand games from me directly!

Thursday, February 12


I've been thinking about where I want to go with the company. At the moment, my first full-time year is on track, but even if I meet my goals for the year, I'll not make a profit (I spent a lot of money getting Carpe Astra and It's Alive! manufactured, too late in the year to recoup the cost). I've worked out my targets for next year, which include a significant growth in sales. If I meet them I hope to turn a profit next year and be able to take some money out of the company.

But what do I want to do long-term? Get to the point where I can pootle along, making enough money to live on? Or dominate the world?

There are a bunch of case studies. I'm going to use American companies that do strategy games as case studies, I don't know enough about the German ones and most of the UK ones are run as hobbies (Ludorum, Ragnar Brothers, Fragor), with only Warfrog and JKLM that I know about as a full-time job.

The ones I'm going to concentrate on are: Fantasy Flight, Rio Grande, and Steve Jackson. I don't know anything about Days of Wonder or Z-Man.

Fantasy Flight are the 800lb Gorilla founded in 1995. Their 'American' games are often licences, feature nice art and cool components. According to the 5,000 fastest growing companies in the US their 2006 turnover was $6.2 million dollars, and they had 28 employees in 2007. Nice.

Rio Grande, founded in 1998, predominantly re-publish German games in English, although with Dominion they are branching out into publishing original titles. Again, according to the Inc 5,000, in 2007 Jay had a second employee and a turnover of $4.2 million dollars. That's a lot of turnover per employee.

Steve Jackson Games, founded in 1980, tend to focus on role-played games and lighter games such as Munchkin. According to their 2008 stakeholders report their turnover was $2.9 million dollars and they have 18 full-time employees. 75% of their turnover comes from Munchkin! If you've got a winning product - you need to keep it in print.

So there's a few different results and a few different methods of getting there. So what are my goals in terms of games, turnover and staff?


I want to concentrate on publishing new games. Although re-printing already popular games is a bit less risky (you've got some indication of how popular they are already) I'm not that interested in that, whether it's first English editions of otherwise foreign language games or re-printing out of print games. As to what type of games, I'm still not sure. It's Alive! was fairly light auction game, Carpe Astra a more thinky brain-burning game, Sumeria will be a more family Euro-type game. I think a range is best to start of with, until I find my feet.


It's clear from the numbers I've shown above that there is plenty of money in the games market. But as a newcomer I've got to fight with the established companies to get my share of it. I'd like to get to the point where I can earn a decent living from the company and ideally employ some staff to do the bits I'm not so good at (marketing). It would also be great to have someone to playtest/co-design with during working hours. Fantasy flight do a lot of their games design in-house, and to get to that point you need a whole bunch of talented people on hand. I guess I'd like to be turning over £1 million in 10 years. That's a hard goal, but as the above has shown, it's possible.


As far as I'm aware Z-Man is a one man show. Jay Tummelson of Rio Grande does a stirling job with only one other employee. Steve Jackson and Fantasy Flight are much bigger companies which give them some strength in depth, holiday/sick cover and means they can do a lot of work in-house. I'd like to get several staff (maybe 5 or so) in that 10 year period. Enough so that I can offload some of the drudgery, share in the games design/playtesting and recruit people with skills I'm missing.


How do I get there? That's the hard question. I need to keep coming up with successful games. I need to sell out the print runs I do to maximise my return on investment. I need to strengthen my relationships with distributors and expand my list of distributors to increase the reach of my games. Alliance Game Distributors (the largest distributors in the US) has over 2,000 customers. If each took one copy of Carpe Astra it would have sold out. And that's not including any European or Asian sales. If I can get to the point where I'm regularly doing medium-size print runs (5,000 - 10,000 copies) with 5 or more games in a year I'll be doing alright. Getting there from where I am now is going to be the difficult part. At the moment I don't have enough capital to do runs that large, I need to work up to that. Each game I do has to at least break even, that way I'm growing the money in the company. I think marketing will help there - increasing customer and shops knowledge of my products. What's the best thing to do there? I'm not yet sure. More on that in another post.

Monday, February 9


This week I'll be mostly playtesting. I've received several prototypes in the last few weeks, and along with some games that I've had for a while, I need to start going through them. Since the move down South my playtesting has dropped right off. In York I had a weekly playtesting night, but I've yet to set one up down here, I need to get to know a few more gamers first.

I got a couple of games in at Tim's on Saturday and today I'm soloing a few submissions for the first time. Soloing a game for the first time lets me see if the game is worth putting in front of playtesters when I get a chance to hook up with some.

I'm also trying to put some effort in on Codename: Nine, my sci-fi license idea. I've been making some notes and trying to get a game flow in my head. I've not made any prototype bits yet, or started playtesting - I'm just trying to capture the feel of the original and then I can start mocking things up.

I also need to go and collect some more stock, probably on Wednesday weather permitting. I've plenty of It's Alive! at home ready to ship out, but only one copy of Carpe Astra!

Friday, February 6

Sumeria Sketch

I've just received a sketch idea for the Sumeria box cover from Harald (the artist).

As usual, click on the image to see a larger version.

It's a first draft idea for the cover of the box. I love it. Especially the rich, red colour scheme, the Sumeria font and the hieroglyphs in the background at the top. What does everyone else make of it?

Wednesday, February 4

Russin' Frussin' Printer

I've an HP Deskjet 9800 A3 printer so I can print large format artwork. In general, I'm fairly happy with it, but I didn't get the prototypes in the post today, and it was all down to the printer.

The first problem occurred yesterday. I wanted to print out the board art, ready for gluing onto the greyboard, but my printer was having a hissy-fit. It was printing everything mirrored. All the text was backwards and the art was reversed. Weird. After a while rooting around in the printer settings I found a 'mirror-image' setting, which was inexplicably ticked. I un-ticked it. Tried again. Still mirrored.

Next stop was HP's support forums. I searched and couldn't find anything, so I tried their 'Instant Chat' support feature. Well, I would have done, had I been able to use it, I needed a product code and a serial code, the serial code was clear enough on the back of the printer, but the three things that could have been the product code didn't work, and the 'where do I find the codes' section only covered computers, not printers.

Time for a general Google search. This throws up a potential driver problem, and suggests installing the drivers for an entirely different printer, and using those drivers to interface with the 9800. Finally, it works!

Today I was trying to print the rule-books and it took a while to get the right settings in InDesign to get it to print the A5 rulebook in booklet format. Even when I thought it was working it was offsetting everything on the page so that some of the text and art was clipped. Needless to say I've wasted a lot of paper and (very expensive) ink in the last couple of days.

I've now got everything printed successfully, the rulebooks folded and stapled, and the boxes made. All that remains is the spray-gluing and posting, which I'll do tomorrow.

Monday, February 2

Getting The Prototypes Ready

Now that the antibiotics are kicking in and I can put weight on my ankle again, I'm pressing on with making the Sumeria prototypes to send out to the lucky winners of the competition I held a couple of weeks ago.

The prototypes are going to be fairly rough and ready, but they'll give an idea of the components and are perfectly playable. I've made tray and lid boxes using the same techniques as I did for Border Reivers and the limited edition of It's Alive! I've not bothered covering them though - I'll just add a label to the top and that's it. The wooden pieces are almost the final pieces, a little shorter for the traders, and the pawns will probably be similar - but not exactly the same.

Today, I'll get out my colour printer (currently in its box under a stack of other boxes) and print the boards, city-state tiles and influence counters. These have some rough prototype art that I've knocked up on, so they are the things that will change the most between prototype and real versions. These will then be glued onto thick card and cut out. I'm still trying to work out how to do a quad-folded board - the only other one I've made was a single fold - much easier!

The last thing to do is to update the rules. They are currently in a text file with no diagrams. This is fine for my personal testing purposes, but if I want to get good feedback about the clarity of the rules these need to be as finished as I can make them - so I'll include diagrams featuring the prototype art.

I'm hoping to get the prototypes in the post by Wednesday, we'll have to see how successful I am at that, and how much the snow affects things!

Sunday, February 1

Good News, Everyone*

* who is waiting for a prototype copy of Sumeria.

The wooden pieces arrived from Germany on Friday - nearly a week before I was expecting them! This has caught me by surprise, to some degree. I spent most of last week doing financial things, not preparing the prototypes.

I've a few things to do, I've already sorted the bits and bagged them up ready to go. Yesterday I prepared the boxes ready for cutting out - I'll do that this afternoon. I also need to print out the boards, tiles and counters and glue them onto some thick card, add some diagrams to the rules and print them out. I hope to have everything done by Tuesday. Things have been slowed down by an infected wound in my (good) ankle, which caused the whole ankle to swell up and is so painful I can't really walk at the moment. I've been prescribed some antibiotics though, so hopefully things should start improving by tomorrow.

Making these prototypes, especially bagging the bits and making the boxes really reminds me of the good old days with Border Reivers and the first edition of It's Alive! It's a lot more fun when you don't have to do hundreds of them though!

In other (good) news, a restock order from America and the returns from one of my consignment customers means that I'll be halfway to my target for February by the end of day two :-)