Industry Interviews – Plaid Hat Games, Colby Dauch interview!

Greetings All,

Today I get to bring an interesting little interview from Plaid Hat Games own Colby Dauch! Did you know that he used to work for Hasboro and Wizard’s of the Coast? Well… now ya do! Keep reading for more info! Enjoy!

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1) I understand that before Plaid Hat you did game design for Hasboro and Wizards of the Coast. Did you enjoy your time with said companies and can you please list a memorable game you worked on for each company?
The work I did for Hasbro and Wizards was as a freelance game designer.  I did enjoy it, especially working under the tutelage of the great Craig VanNess.  Heroscape would be the most notable game I worked on. In fact that’s the only work I did at Wizards after having followed the game there from Hasbro.
2) Have you had any employment outside of the gaming industry?
Yes, I worked doing in home service with the mentally impaired, I worked at an after school program for at risk youth and I worked media director for a church.
3) Why did you choose the gaming industry for a career?
There was no point at which I made  firm choice to make a career in the gaming industry.  Rather it was something that evolved over time.  Started doing development work as a hobby, then kind of became a community ambassador and organizer around Heroscape, then picked up some freelance work, then developed a game of my own, started a game company to publish it, then over time Plaid Hat Games great to the point where I was able to quit my day job and do it full-time.
4)You’re often seen sporting a plaid hat. What came first the company name or the hat? (Where did the company name from?)
That hat came first.  It kind of became an identity marker for me in the Heroscape community and a member of that community suggested the name Plaid Hat Games.  I like the quirkiness of it so I ran with it.
5)What was the first game you ever designed and the first game published under the name Plaid Hat?
The first game I ever designed from scratch was called Summoner Quest.  I scrapped it early on because it was a mess.  I followed it up with Summoner Wars, which was the first game I published under Plaid Hat.
6)A few years ago Plaid Hat joined F2Z, how has the company changed since then?
We joined F2Z, that then joined Asmodee, so we had a couple of years there where we were in a state of flux.  Through most of the life of Plaid Hat it has felt like a scrappy little studio just kind of winging it at every turn.  Now Plaid Hat feels more like it has grown and matured and it now has the support of the Asmodee group.  Our decisions feel more thoughtful and our work is more focused as we are now a game design studio rather than a full publishing company.
7)How do you see the gaming industry (as a whole) fairing in the coming years?
Oh man, I wish I had the power to scry that out.  The trend has been up and up year over year for a long time and I have no solid reason to believe that won’t continue.  There are still a whole lot of people out there that don’t know how fun hobby games are.
8)What is your favorite Plaid Hat game and your favorite non Plaid Hat game?
My favorite Plaid Hat game is Dead of Winter.  It never fails to immerse me in an emergent narrative each time I play it.  My favorite non Plaid Hat game has to go to Heroscape.  It will always hold a special place in my heart.  It’s a spectacle on the table and is just good rambunctious fun.
9)Is your family also big into tabletop gaming?
I found games as an adult.  I’ve spread games to some of my family, but I don’t think many of them are engaging in-game play without my initiating it and they don’t exactly have Board Game Geek profiles.
10)Do you have any advice for someone aspiring to be in the gaming industry?
I get this question a fair bit.  I wish I was better at answering it.  The question has only really existed for about a half-dozen years, so I don’t think anyone has a good answer.  There are questions like it surrounding other media: “How do I get into the Book – Comics – Film – Video Game industry?”  The answers professionals of those industries give to those questions are often nebulous and the question of getting into board games is an even tougher one because all of those other industries have the advantage of being larger and having been around for some time.  You can take college courses in them.  
I really need to develop a quippier answer to this question. It wouldn’t be anymore helpful, but it would sound more helpful and you won’t have gotten bored reading it.
I hope you guys enjoyed this interview. I want to say thank you to Plaid Hat Games and Mr. Dauch for this chance, it is much appreciated. Keep sharing these things on social media, so I can keep getting interviews! Thank you guys for tuning in! And until next time..  Live by the Board.
-livingbytheboard

Gaming for Adam West.

“Of what use is a dream if not a blueprint for courageous action?”

-Adam West

Greetings All,

We had a small game night on Saturday and four of us played five games.

We got a game of Pandemic by Z-Man Games in and beat it shockingly quickly, but I’m fairly certain that’s because we forgot the rules in the beginning and were only drawing one card from the player deck instead of two for like two rounds, so we didn’t get an epidemic card for a while. That said we were not wanting to restart the game, so we just fixed the rules and rolled with it.

After that we played Ticket to Ride: First Journey by Days of Wonder. Being that it’s a kid version of Ticket to Ride, the trains and map symbols were huge and cute. The rules were simplified and yet there was some difficulty. I’ll do a review of this later because I was annoyingly excited to play it and I totally won.

The last big game we got in was Ghost Stories by Asmodee. I freaking love Ghost Stories, it’s so darn difficult and the defeat is sometimes earth shattering, but when you win… It’s a golden feeling. We beat the game and it was super fun.

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After hearing about the sad news that Adam West had passed away, we had to get some Batman games in at the end of the night. We ended it with Batman Fluxx by Looney Labs and Batman Love Letter by Alderac. The games are simple and relaxed and it was a nice way to say good-bye to Mr. West. I say relaxed, but truth be told Love Letter ended with our friend Sam comparing hands with my husband, beating him, and subsequently screaming WU-TANG!

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That said I’ll end this post by saying Sam… calm down. 🙂 And farewell Batman.

Until next time… Live by the Board.

-Livingbytheboard

Games I’m great at.

Greetings All,

Let me start off by saying that I did get the request for an author profile for myself since “The Husband” and “The Bartendar” did theirs. I will get to it, I promise.

For today, however, I’d like to discuss some games that I excel at. Three in particular. Five Tribes, Splendor, and Concept. Five Tribes and Splendor especially. I’ve actually had people turn down these games as suggestions for game nights because I seldom lose. Talk about frustrating. I love all three games and obviously the fact that I am what my husband call “supernaturally gifted” at these games makes me want to play, but in all honesty each game is fantastic and deserves more game play.

Please keep reading to find out more about these games and a bit of my strategy. Please keep in mind that this post isn’t going to be full-blown reviews, I will do separate reviews of these games in the future. Also note that not all of my strategy will be mentioned in this blog, I mean a great deal of my game groups have access to this and I enjoy winning too much. Haha.

five tribes

Five Tribes by Days of Wonder

Five Tribes takes place in Naqala after the death of the Sultan. Your job is to manuever the five tribes (represented by different colored meeples) to gain control over the land. This game is essentially advanced Mancala with meeples and camels. It is insanely fun. The biggest part about this game is being able to plan several moves in advance. It’s important to make back up plans as well, which I am pretty good at. I’ve noticed that most people I play with will be very obvious when they count with their eyes and sometimes you can hear them counting under their breath. This is by far the biggest downfall of the game. It is very easy to block someones moves when you know what they’re doing. There are days when I will count under my breath or follow the board with my eyes and I’ll do this in several directions to keep everyone on their toes and then when they try several times to take my lead and fail they just stop. After that it’s easy to just relax and focus on the real moves I want to make. By this time everyone is so ticked off that they keep guessing wrong, they don’t even try to take the move I’m making obvious. It’s a jerky underhanded move, but it is wildly effective. I will include an instructional video and the rules, but as I said I will do a review in the future.

splendor

Splendor by Days of Wonder and Space Cowboys

In Splendor you are a gem merchant. Your procure these lovely tokens representing gems, which helps you to procure permanent gems represented on cards that you buy with said gems. This all done in hopes of accruing enough points to win. Some cards have point values on them, but you can also accrue points by attracting nobles with your permanent gems. It’s very quick to learn and is a game that newbies will be able to keep up with table veterans easily. In this game I focus less on the nobles and more on slowly working towards large valued cards. While everyone else is focusing on getting the proper cards to pull nobles, I’m taking whatever I can get and waiting the that one slip up from another player that allows me to grab a high value card. I’ve actually tried going for nobles a few times and failed miserably. Please see the attached video and read the rules. 🙂

concept

Concept by Asmodee

Concept is a party game and is probably my favorite party game ever. It involves using your specific main subject marker and cubes to mark pictures on a board in order to convey something from the card you’ve drawn. It could be anything really. My least favorite are phrases… it is incredibly frustrating trying to convey a phrase with pictures. Some always adds an extra “s” to the sentence, or an “ing”. One subject that come up multiple times is Joan of Arc, so people usually mark “woman” as their main subject, followed by a cube on “history or real”, “conflict”, “death”, and “religion”. I don’t believe it has ever been incorrectly guessed at my table. Anyhow, you get points based on how much the subject was worth on the card and there is a cut off, but at my table things can get out of hand when we are all yelling at each other for not taking the “ing” off of the phrase, or thinking that “Shark Week” is the answer for what is clearly “Jaws”…idiots. Haha. Honestly, with this game everyone is just screaming answers loudly and I’ve almost always won by just keeping my mouth shut and waiting for the cue that we are close with our guesses. Not much else to it.  I will include a video and rules with this one as well.

To sum this up, I win because I stay quiet and my “metagame” is on point. No one focuses on the person not bringing attention to themselves. People get frustrated and confused when I start talking about “what I would do if I were them” or how “I’ve all but lost the game.” I plan ahead, I mislead… I would so far as to say I play rough. These are dirty ways to win, but when you’ve got a proven technique… you stay with it. It’s always good to have a back up plan though. I can say from experience that once your group catches on you will need to readjust. Sometimes I feel bad that these games don’t get played and I think about changing my strategy entirely, but if I’m being honest with myself I’m too competitive and I like winning too much. To quote It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia here… “When I’m doing good in the game, it’s like I’m doing good in life.” I laugh when people don’t want to play certain games with me, but it also sucks. I don’t want great games to be left out just because the level of skill or in my case sneakiness is so vast.

I love all of these games and I hope you enjoyed reading this. I’ll be doing a post about games that I absolutely suck at soon. Please follow us on WordPress, Twitter, and Facebook. Give us a like and a share if you are so inclined. Please remember to click on the attached hyperlinks for more information regarding these games and their publishers. Thank you all for being so wonderful and until next time… live by the board.

-Livingbytheboard

Meet The Bartender!

Hello Internets!

I figured I’d introduce myself to the blog fans, I’m J. I’ll likely be doing some behind the scenes stuff here, with an occasional article. I’d still like to introduce myself as part of the growing crew here, and as part of the board game table (you could call me The Bartender since I’m always bringing and making the drinks). I wanted to write an article about board gaming and a bit my history with it.

What a lot of people know about me is that I love video games, but they don’t really know that even younger I had a love of board games too. Friends of mine never cared for board games- so I was left playing video games alone or occasionally with family. I don’t have too many memories of my childhood (I blame that concussion I got in college) but one I do remember is playing Payday with my step dad.

If you’ve never heard of it, it’s a classic from the 1970s. You play on a month with 31 days, where bills and other things rack up. At the end of the month you get your salary and have to pay off all those bills that racked up that were unexpected or taken on in trying to earn more cash- by buying properties and the like. In retrospect it was similar to adult-life but without crying myself to sleep every night. The crushing reality was surprisingly still there though.

I didn’t play much else growing up. The occasional hated Monopoly game, the forgettable Yahtzee. The stuff they let you play in class with an educational twist (though I have to say, Spanish Scrabble is a lot more fun than regular English Scrabble). I got into trivia style games late in high school, but due to having a tendency of being able to guess the answer out of nowhere- no one wanted to play very often. In college there wasn’t many board games- mostly just Smash Bros, an N64, and the closest we got to board games in Cut-throat Uno and Euchre. I think maybe there was a Game of Life and a Family Feud the board game somewhere in there but nothing too exciting.

So when I reconnected with The Husband a few years ago and he asked if I wanted to play board games, there was interest for sure. He knew me as mostly a video gamer, but fast with rules and how things are played. And I’m glad we did. I never knew how much the industry had grown in such a short amount of time, and how much it’s still growing. I’m happy to play some of my faves with new and old friends alike. We’ve had some heated arguments on rules a few times, but there’s still love at the table.

If you’re just starting out like I was a couple years ago and all you know of is something like Payday- some of my faves are Ticket to Ride, Takenoko, Splendor, and my newest in Tiny Epic Galaxies. Don’t get me wrong- there’s plenty of other great titles I enjoy playing, but those are my personal faves for sure. Start slow, with a group one evening you’re free. Bring some drinks like I usually do. And the next thing you’ll know it’ll be 1 AM, and you’ll be asking yourself how many games you guys played that night.

When you stop counting, you know you’re having fun. When you start counting again because it’s not enough games in one night- you know you’re a fan. Until next time, cheers.

J, aka The Bartender

Spontaneous Gaming

Hi readers!

Filling in today for your standard contributor, is…her husband. I haven’t the time (or really the inclination) to come up with a compelling pseudonym, so…I’m the hubby. Weak introductions out-of-the-way, all right, let’s dig in!

Today I wanted to discuss “spontaneous gaming.” I classify this as when a table top game breaks out with little forethought or planning, and usually in a public place or atypical venue. For instance, I used to work in a hospital. I had the pleasure of unplanned, intermittent lengths of downtime due to nature of my position. I also had the pleasure of interacting with many, many patients. I met with patients whom suffered from conditions that allowed few opportunities to leave their rooms, or…move. I found very quickly that the best way to alleviate the pain and frustration of a physical malady, is by entertaining the mind! This became an increasing practice of mine as I found more, and more regular patients to interact with.

Now, the key to making a “spontaneous” game session work, is having the right game. This requires a number of considerations:

1) Length of play. If a game shows even a hint of going over 20-30 minutes, it’s a no-go.

2) Footprint. If a game exceeds the (admittedly smaller) size of a standard bedside table, it’s a no-go.

3) Gameplay. If a game isn’t particularly engaging, or has a longer period of downtime between player turns, it’s probably a no-go. What’s more, the more simplistic the rules are, generally the better experience you can have in an “on the fly.”

Having run some games through this algorithm, and having tried to account for universal appeal (have to account for non-gamers out there,) we have my following list of games that I found most favored by people for “spontaneous gaming”:

fantasy

1) Fantasy (Asmodee)

A Simple, set collecting card game for 2-4 players. So, this game has a general (you guessed it!) fantasy theme, wherein you collect all manner of cards (representing forest inhabitants) in the hopes of having to most by the end of the game. This game plays in about 15-20, doesn’t take up a lot of space, and has a more engaging form of gameplay. See, on every turn, the cards (which range from goblins, to elves) you play effect both you and your opponent’s cards. It’s a good way to keep a person’s head in the game, and trying to formulate their own strategies. Deceptively simple, intriguingly deep.

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2) Mr. Jack Pocket (Hurrican)

Excellent theming and puzzle-like gameplay make this little game shine! A 2 player game in which one player controls the Jack the Ripper killer, and the other player controls Sherlock Holmes, John Watson, and a dog. The detective player moves his characters around the edge of a modular grid, taking actions in an effort to investigate several key suspects to determine who the actual killer is. Meanwhile, the killer player is taking efforts and actions to undermine the detectives. If after a few turns the detectives haven’t found the killer, the killer wins. This one is a bit on the heavier side as far as rules go (as far as quick games go), so the first game may be spent primarily getting accustomed to the mechanics for newbies. But, once both players are well acquainted, this game gets TENSE! Nothing beats the verbal jousting you and your opposing player will have during turns: “I know friggin’ well that the killer is in that center square! You can’t run from me!” “…Yes I can!!!” Also, nothing beats a when a patient waxes rhapsodical about getting away with murder to an unaware member of medical staff. Classic! In summation, the game takes up a moderate amount of space, plays in roughly 15 minutes, and will call for attentiveness from both players during each turn in order to assure victory.

Lost-Legacy-Logo

3) Lost Legacy (Alderac Entertainment Group)

I thought hard about choosing this PARTICULAR title. See, it holds the distinction of being the spiritual successor to the INSANELY popular card game: “Love Letter.” Personally, I love them both. And, I must also admit, Love Letter plays better as a 2 player game, than Lost Legacy. That said, I had to choose Lost Legacy. It simply doesn’t get enough attention, and it is a fine game in its own distinction. The largest difference between the two games is in their approach to other players. Love Letter emphasizes eliminating other players, whereas Lost Legacy (though still having the option to eliminate other players) emphasizes deduction. Lost Legacy plays virtually identical to Love Letter, insofar as you have a small deck of cards, you draw one card each turn, play one card each turn, et cetera. Lost Legacy’s whole bent is trying to find the location of a single card, and doing everything you can to improve your odds of finding it before anyone else. I REALLY like that approach, I like protracted rounds where everyone has a chance of victory, even if slim. The game plays in roughly 5-10 minutes, takes up extremely little space, and features quick and engaging gameplay.

Though I referenced my time playing with patients at a hospital, these games are accessible in most any public situations. I’ve had some fantastic times just whipping out Lost Legacy in a restaurant, or Mr. Jack Pocket at a park. It’s also truly fantastic to have people approach me and what I’m playing. It’s always a nice thrill to give someone a taste of the hobby, and for it to be a positive recieved…that’s just a great feeling! Either way, I’ve prattled on far too long as it is. So, until next time, live by the board! (I’m just gonna steal that tag line until I come up with one for myself!)

-The Husband

Day 1 (of 3): Takenoko and my 8 year old daughter! :)

Greetings All,

Today I start a three-day segment about my children and their favorite board game. I did mini interviews with all three of them.

-Takenoko by Asmodee Games-

2-4 players (We’ve played with 5), 30-45mins

Takenoko

Above you can see standard Takenoko and all of it’s components. My daughter is 8 years old. She wishes to let everyone know that Takenoko is pronounced “Tah-Keh-Noh-Koh”. 🙂


Me: What is your favorite board game?

Daughter8: Takenoko!


Me: If Takenoko was a story what would it be?

Daughter8: Well, I’ve read the comic so I kind of already know the story. (In the rule book is an adorable mini comic). The Emperor figured out that the Panda keeps eating all of the bamboo and the Gardener keeps having to regrow it. The Gardener is upset and tells the Emperor he wants the Panda gone. The Emperor says that the Panda represents peace and he will not make him leave.


Me: Can you give me a short summary of the rules?

Daughter8: You have to grow bamboo and eat bamboo in order to finish cards. The first person to finish 10 cards gets the Emperor card that gives you an extra 2 points. Everyone adds their points up to see who wins.


Me: Who do you think this game is for?

Daughter8: Families all across the world!


Me: Why is Takenoko your favorite game?

Daughter8: I like to work together, even though it’s a competitive game you can help people. I like to work together to finish my cards. I only like competing when I’m in the mood.


Me: Why should people buy/try Takenoko?

Daughter8: I feel like people would appreciate being able to help others with their cards.


Amazon has the best pricing thus far, it’s $35 and free shipping. 🙂

You can also check out the Asmodee website to see more information.

You can see a good review from The Dice Tower and a great play through on Tabletop.

I hope you enjoyed my daughters take on Takenoko! I will be back tomorrow with my 13-year-old sons take on his favorite game! If you liked this review and want to be kept up to date please follow my page and like me on Facebook. Until next time… Live by the Board.