Anniversary Homebrew: Wife Edition

Greetings All,

If you’ve been following the blog you’ll know that my husband and I made our own little versions of games we love for our anniversary. And if you’re just now tuning in… you might want to check out the other anniversary posts. Anyhow, between being ridiculously busy and sleep deprived I’ve been dragging my feet on this post. Also small disclosure here, the picture I’m adding is not an original. My husband cropped it together, but it is not his art.

I didn’t like my end product. Even though I will admit that I am adorable and my little Above and Below parody game followed suit, it just felt extremely lacking. I’m not a great storyteller (No clue why I have a blog) and I knew I wanted to include playable scenarios for every year of our relationship, but doing that made it where I could not actually use my stories in the game Above and Below. My characters can totally be played in the actual game though.

On to my husband’s game. He was going to make three chapters for Mice and Mystics centered around my favorite character Filch. He was only able to finish one because he had been working so many extra hours at work. Luckily he assures me I’ll get to play the other two for Christmas. I really enjoyed playing the first chapter. Filch is wonderful and I’ve always been upset by how little love he gets in the game. My husband was able to capture the right attitude and speech patterns for Filch and it made the story sing. I couldn’t stop smiling. He is so good at storytelling and has charisma for days, his theatrics made the experience that much better. My husband was a bit upset because his game wasn’t anniversary themed, but I loved it. I suppose he could have made a cute love story between the characters or something, but instead he chose to write a story for a character that I demand to play with every time we play. It means more to me that he is writing these chapters for me to go on an adventure with my favorite character than it would have to just make a random love encounter between characters that I have no interest in. It appears that Mice and Mystics is over with Plaid Hat and that saddens me, but because of my husband I still get to enjoy a new story and that’s absolutely wonderful. It makes me think of all of those television series that were abruptly cancelled and I never got closure, I’d kill for some new content for them. At least I get two more chapters this month! 🙂

So now that I’ve rambled and have made everyone bored… I promise I’ll get caught up with my overdue content. I have several game reviews half written and several interviews in progress. Thanks for reading and until next time… Live by the Board.


Anniversary Homebrew: Husband Edition

This was such a wildly personal topic, that I didn’t know how to approach it.  It’s as though the blog readers would be flies on the wall for a private moment in my life that I wanted to keep all my own.  But, after some thought on the matter (and insistence from my wife,) I decided to go ahead and write review of my wife’s anniversary game.
Let’s address the elephant in the room now, her game was vastly more “anniversary themed” than mine.  In fact, my first words upon seeing the bit of the game were: “…Were we supposed to follow a theme? Was I not paying attention again???”  Well, evidentially, I was paying attention…I just even fathom the pantheon of cuteness that wife operates at.  It was as though the entirety of her project was tailor-made to elicit “d’awww” sounds at virtually every impasse.  With every turn of the page, I felt as though I was CHRONICALLY UNDERPREPARED.  But enough of my (deserved) self-criticism, let’s talk about her game.
The game itself was like a separate, mini module for the (excellent) game: Above and Below.  Although, the entirety of the gameplay fixated on one mechanism in that game, the exploration.  During the exploration phase of Above and Below, you’d assign two or more characters to go below ground and “explore” for treasure.  Upon selecting these characters, you choose a card from a deck with six, seemingly random numbers on said card (with each number having a corresponding number from a die face on it.)  At which point, you roll your die, and that selects a scenario from the Scenario Book that comes with Above and Below.  These scenarios consist of anything from: “An old man is sleeping, what do you do to him?” To: “You stumble upon a pack of ravenous under dwellers, how do you proceed?”  And you usually have at least two or three options on how to proceed, that require higher dice rolls to accomplish more daring (or dastardly) feats.  It’s a really fun mechanism.
The moment she presented the game to me, I could tell that I was gonna cry like a baby.  The game presented scenarios that actually occurred in our real lives, segmented into the last six (often tumultuous) years of our relationship.  Let’s be totally frank about two things right off the bat:
1 – This was less a game, than a storytelling mechanic.  It was LITERALLY IMPOSSIBLE to lose.
2 – These scenarios were designed to tear my soul asunder, leave my anima nothing but cinders, and leave me in a blathering, bawling state…she succeeded.  …that she-beast.
Characters in Above and Below are usually obtained by procuring them from an open pool where you can (more or less) purchase them.  In my wife’s version, they were obtained automatically, just as they came into our lives.  And were often introduced with great fanfare, and in a beautiful (if albeit romanticized) way that made all of the scenarios feel cohesive.  The one revolving around an old pet of ours was particularly wonderful…and heart rending.
I’m gonna be honest, readers…I am not comfortable discussing this at any more length.  This was special…and it means a lot to me.  But, I’m simply not comfortable sharing anymore of it with you if for no other reason than this: You couldn’t feel it the way I do.  No amount of felicitous vernacular, or intensive description, or several thousand characters of text could properly convey how this made me feel.  And that would rob you of much of this experience.  Imagine the first time you saw a movie that really resonated with you, now imagine showing it to someone who doesn’t particularly care for it.  How would you react?  Would the intensity of the love you had for the movie effect how that other person’s indifference (or possible disdain) affected you?  I’d hazard to say it would.  So…I’m gonna keep the finer points locked up in the porous colander that my brain, and the steel trap that is my heart.
Sorry for a particularly meandering post, readers.  I appreciate anyone who had the fortitude to stick it out and finish…lord knows I barely did.  Either way, thanks for reading, and (ideally) I’ll be back soon with some indie gaming reviews.
Thank you for reading and please keep an eye out for my Anniversary homebrew: wife edition.
-The Husband

Industry Interviews – Matt Quock, Mountaintop Games.

Greetings All,

Today I’m bringing you an interview from Matt Quock. Mountaintop Games is small company that is hoping to put their game The Primary on Kickstarter next year. The Primary is actually on their site and available for PNP Playtesting for those of you that are interested. If you’d like a good in-depth look at their game, you can check out The Board Game Workshops interview with Mountaintop! Enjoy!

Mountaintop Games Logo

1)      How did you get into gaming – what made you want to have a gaming company?

a.      I’ve been playing games of all kinds my whole life, but only got into hobby board games two years ago when I moved back to Madison, WI. Some old friends from college re-introduced me to board gaming and we formed a regular game group. I had such a good time that I figured I would try designing one myself. The idea for a company came after stumbling across a fun game design and falling in love with the idea of running my own Kickstarter.

2)      Your company is out of Madison, WI – is that the reason for the name Mountaintop Games?

a.      There aren’t really true mountains close to Madison, though there are a few small ski hills I like to frequent during the winters. The name Mountaintop Games came from my first game design, which had a backpacking theme. I’ve always loved the outdoors and I felt like reaching a mountaintop was a good metaphor for the quality of games I want to create.

3)      Is this your primary job or do have employment elsewhere?

a.      I wish board games could be a sustainable full-time endeavor for me, but that’s currently not the case. I work as a product development manager at Spectrum Brands, where I help design small kitchen appliances, like blenders and food processors. There are definitely parallels between game design and product design, and I like to think each can make me better at the other.

4)      I understand that you are wanting to self-publish your game The Primary on Kickstarter next year, will this be the first game published under your company?

a.      Yes, The Primary would be the first game published by Mountaintop Games and my first published game as a designer. During this process, the amount of work that it takes to publish a single game has definitely been eye-opening and I have a ton of respect for all the other part-time designers and publishers out there. Despite the challenge, I have enjoyed it a lot and would love to continue doing it.

5)      What contributed to your decision in going forward with a political themed game?

a.      The political theme of The Primary is the biggest hurdle that I worry about, as I move towards Kickstarter. I feel like it could be something that limits the overall market for the game, but I hope that potential backers can look beyond the theme if it initially turns them off. The mechanics and gameplay came from the idea of a primary election, and at this point, I feel like they are too closely intertwined to re-theme the game and maintain the same overall experience.

6)      Do you believe a voting game will spark an interest in gamers to get involved in real life elections and get out there and vote?

a.      I’ll be optimistic and say yes. The game is much more strategic / tactical than it is political in nature, but I think there are some concepts mentioned in the game (like Super PACs, gerrymandering, and plutocracy) that may spur players to do some research and get more involved in the political process.

7)      Are there other games in development at Mountaintop Games right now?

a.      I have a few other games in the works, but only on the back burner. It has been my main focus to perfect The Primary as much as I can, and get it out into the world. After the Kickstarter, I’ll try to re-evaluate my design and publishing approach, and maybe work on more games in parallel.

8)      What is your favorite Mountaintop and non-Mountaintop tabletop game?

a.      I go through phases, but right now I’m into deckbuilding and worker placement games. If I have a few spare minutes, I enjoy a quick game of Star Realms on my phone. With my girlfriend, I really like the 2-player Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small. Of the few game concepts I’m working on, my favorite at the moment is probably a necromancer-themed game that is a little too ambitious at the moment.

9)      Does your family also enjoy tabletop gaming?

a.      We played traditional board games like Monopoly growing up and I have recently tried to introduce them to some lighter games. Lately, we’ve had fun playing Hanabi, Love Letter, and Patchwork. I’m excited to continue trying out new games with them and hopefully getting them as hooked as me!

10)   I see that on your Design page on your site, you have lists of resources used for learning how to design board games. It is seriously one of the neatest things I’ve come across doing these interviews. What is your one bit of advice for people hoping to get involved in the board gaming industry?

a.      Thank you, I hope others have found it useful too! The board game industry is incredibly welcoming and friendly – ask anyone and they will agree. My advice would be to get connected and soak up as much information as you can. Everyone I have come across is not only willing, but genuinely interested to help out however they can. Don’t feel afraid to ask anyone for advice or input.

I’d like to thank Mountaintop Games and Matt Quock for the chance to interview them and wish them luck on their Kickstarter next year. 🙂 Thank you everyone for reading. Until next time… Live by the Board.