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!

plaid

 

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

Meet the author… again!

Greetings All,

As requested here’s a bit more about me. Don’t forget to check out the Meet The Husband and Meet The Bartender posts!

For starters, as far as board games goes I really only played Monopoly, Scrabble, and Boggle. I played the occasional party or trivia game, but it was very rare. And with card and dice games I played Yahtzee and Poker. I was particularly gifted at Poker, which I think paved the way for some of strategy in games these days. So yeah… that’s really it. Games were not a large part of my childhood.

My husband and I met in 2011 and we got married the following year. I married into three lovely children and we were all very big on family time. It wasn’t long before we started branching off into games thanks to my husband. Among the first games purchased were Dixit, Catan, and Castle Panic. Two of these have become personal favorites. My husband loved the idea behind Castle Panic, it was something the five of us could do together… a game we could play fighting against a common enemy. Boy did that start one heck of loyal patronage to Fireside Games. Dixit was something that I got for me, it was one of my first selfish purchases. It’s art is so amazing and beautiful and I am quite a bit artsy myself.

I remember going to our now shutdown FLGS (friendly local game shop) and being super nervous. I was that way with everything really, my first visit to the comic shop was the same. I went through quite a large overhaul of personality when I met my husband. It was less a change and more of a discovery. I was very timid and sheltered. I didn’t have a whole lot of experience in anything but a not so family friendly lifestyle. The journey of discovering that there was more to the world, more to me… was exhausting and fun all at the same time. It was fantastic realizing that I am a geek. 🙂

From there, I just kind of rolled with it. I keep in great contact with board game companies and comic writers/artists. I started this blog, started volunteering for Extra Life, and started hosting International Tabletop Day. I maybe have gone a bit overboard with geek culture, but it shouldn’t be so fun to dive into. Haha.

My husband and I had been trying for a baby for a while despite being in a rough custody battle (It was awful, the other party sucks. Don’t ask.) during which we got 50/50 custody of our older three. We got news from the doctor that my chances of having a baby were low. My husband bought me my first cat Saint to cheer me up. Four months later a friend of ours knew of some kittens and my husband got my our second cat T’Challa thinking that it’d help cheer me up even more. I had finally accepted not having a baby when I started feeling rough. I went to the ER early one morning after taking my husband to work. I was told that I had a stomach bug and (at the same time Harry Potter was playing in the back, when Harry is told “You’re a wizard, Harry.”) that I was pregnant. Also note that this was right before my birthday, haha. I had to sit on that news all freaking day. I picked my husband up from work and let him complain about his day all the way home. I finally let the beans spill when we got home and here we are now. My baby is almost 16 months old. We procured a pug named Ganthet to grow up with the baby knowing that for half the week he’d be an only sibling. There are now six of us and three pets and it is tiring, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. We’ve started introducing the youngest to giant polyhedral sets and water proof cards. We’ll make a sixth gamer yet.

I now fill up my free time with several volunteer positions, a personal assistant job, Etsy shop, and this blog. You must be wondering where I get this free time. I don’t, things get done when they get done. My husband has made a lovely life for me and our children and I am grateful to him for it. We have a good lot of friends that game as well and it makes life that much more worth it. This year will be my first year attending Gen Con, why did I pick the 50th anniversary?? 🙂

Thank you for reading, I hope it wasn’t too long and boring. Please take a chance to like us on Facebook and follow of on WordPress and Twitter. Take a peek a the Etsy page while you’re at it. 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

How board games saved my sanity.

Greetings All,

This is a post that I have been extremely unsure in writing, but maybe it will help someone as much as it helped us.

My husband and I had some very unfortunate events happen to us this time last year. We were going through a rough custody case and ended up going several months without seeing our children. During that time, we had no clue what to do with ourselves… we went through a large amount of depression and the thing that helped the most was board games.

We played Ticket to Ride and Castle Panic like they were going out of style. I think it’s quite obvious that it didn’t fix the entire situation, but it was one heck of a coping mechanism and a healthy one at that. Board games exercised our minds and made us interact. I know that there were many days when my husband and I only wanted to curl up in balls and pretend like the world outside did not exist.

I know it most sound silly for me to say “if we can beat this game against all odds, surely we can put the pieces of our lives back together.” Something like that probably seems childish, but you know what it really was to us? Hope. It was a moment in our day where we could conquer this or that and have hope in our life. You’d be surprised at how far a small glimmer of hope can take you. No matter why you have that hope and how you got it, it becomes a powerful thing that can lead you out of your sadness and help you maintain sanity until the storm passes.
I can see how someone would doubt that board games could make that much of a difference, but it did for us.

If you are having a difficult time in life, board games are incredibly helpful. If you are frustrated by the way that things are going competitive games are great, like Ticket to Ride or King of Tokyo. The competitive nature of the games help let out the anger in a more productive manner, you can take a minute to strive hard to beat your competition and even if you do not win… it has taken some of the stress off of you.

If you are feeling alone or sad, cooperative games are perfect, like Castle Panic or Sentinels of the Multiverse. When you work together to reach a common goal, you automatically get a sense of closeness and it’s beautiful.
Our situation definitely called more for co-op games, although we did have our times when we wanted to compete.

We had many late nights with board games, tv shows in the background, and snacks by our side. The more we played our games, the more the two of us bonded. We started to consider board games part of our family and you know what? Well after we got our children back and that storm passed… board games are still part of our family. They’ve helped us bond with our children. We played board games with them before and after the custody battle and that is something that made the transition much easier on all of us. When we got them back, our board game nights made it feel like they were never gone.

Even now, when we have a stressful day or week we play board games to help overcome the stress. It works like a charm every time.
Having gone through sadness with and without board games, I can tell you that they really did make a difference. If you don’t try to relax you end up going through life so serious all of the time.

You know The Game of Life? While I can say that real life doesn’t quite happen the way that it does in that game, the creators weren’t entirely wrong in making a game called Life. I for one consider many pieces of real life to be like a game. I even make up “game plans” for stressful situations and more often than not I do manage to defeat the goblins or dragons and get prizes… like my car getting repaired.

Alright, now I’m just babbling and probably not making a whole lot of sense. My point is that board games are perfect for escaping life for a bit. You can be someone else, lead a different life… for however long it takes you to complete that game and it’s wonderful. I realize that these are things that you can also do in books and video games, but holding a controller is vastly different from moving your game pieces around the board or rolling actual dice as opposed to flicking the controller or tapping a screen.

In all honesty I can’t sit here and tell you for sure that board games will make as big of a difference in your life as they have mine, but what I can tell you is it never hurts to try. The games you play do not have to be the ones I’ve mentioned in this blog. Go out and try Jenga, Monopoly, or even Uno. Don’t let the stresses of life beat you down, take your dice and roll as best as you can. Until next time… Live by the Board.

-livingbytheboard

Recruiting New Gamers

 IMG_20141224_014332

Greetings All,

This is one I still struggle with. My husband, however, is much better at than I am, which is why I asked him to co-write this one with me. I’m fairly certain that half of the ability to convince people to try board games has to do with charming them. My husband is by the far the most charming person I know so he has a very easy time getting people on his side. Please read more below to get his take on recruiting new gamers. Enjoy. 🙂


-Husband-

To recruit new gamers, you need to at least have a vague idea who you’re playing with. This makes it way easier to potentially draw anyone from the hardened gamer to the total neophyte.

Know someone who’s never played board games, but loves video games? Too easy! Suggest an analogue of a favorite game of their’s! “You like Starcraft? How about showing me your strategic prowess in a quick game of OGRE?” Know someone who likes casual cell phone games? Too easy! “Something quick, easy and fun? How about you lend me 10 minutes of your time and play some Coin Age or Brave Rats with me?” How about a non-competitive type who just wants to have fun? “How’s about a co-operative game then? We can save OUR castle together!” I’ve found that far and away the easiest way to get people to game (in any situation) is to tailor your approach, almost like you’re trying to sell gaming as a product. “Man, have you ever heard of a game called Disc Duelers? It’s like a super open game of RPG battle pogs!!!” “Dude, Zombie Dice is like zombie Yahtzee…y’know, except without being schooled by old people.” I jest, of course! Or my general use line: “Can I borrow five minutes of your life? I’ll repay it 100 fold in entertainment!”

BATTLE POGS

If you do manage to secure someone for game night, its almost equitable to catching a fish on a hook… now you just have to reel them in! And how do you do that? You whip out the AAA titles from your game shelf! I am a thorough believer in “palate cleaner” or “feeler” games. By which, I mean shorter games that will better help you understand the temperature of the table. Did your table of new invites enjoy the rule light, rapid play game? Or the slower, more complicated/methodical game? These are important things to know about your guests to insure the success of your evening as well as potentially insuring the return of your guests.

Great “feeler games” I personally use are:

Love Letter by AEG

2-4 players (we’ve played w/ 5), 10-20 mins

Love Letter is easily one of the biggest, quickest crowd pleasers I own. Easy to learn rules, quick gameplay, and a friendlier competitive structure. Hard to go wrong with this one.


This Town Ain’t Big Enough For The 2-4 Of Us by TMG

2-4 players (we’ve played with 5), 10-15 mins

This game shares a lot of elements with Carcassonne. Fantastic simplicity coupled with a hidden level of complexity make this an easy way to spot the more thoughtful members attending your table.


We Didn’t Playtest This At All by Asmadi

2-15 players, 1-5 mins

This is a card game that is so absurd, it’s divisive. It’ll either be an instant favorite, or an eye roller. Great way to sift through senses of humor, or lack thereof.

Fantasy by Asmodee

2-4 players (we’ve played with 5), 20-30 mins

Fantasy is a slightly longer card game with (somewhat) simple rules, and a nice (you guessed it!) fantasy motif that keeps players in the game until the last card is dealt and the scores are tallied. A great game to help your table rev up for a tougher, longer game.


Now, let’s get to real meat and potatoes of all of this. The AAA crowd pleasers that turn these new acquaintances into fast friends:

Ticket To Ride by Days of Wonder

2-5 players, 30-60 mins

If you’re visiting this blog, odds are you’ve AT LEAST heard about this game…or I’m actively judging you and your life decisions. 🙂 Needless to say, few board games can truly pull in veterans and neophytes alike. It’s got a great, turn of the 20th century aesthetic, profoundly easy to understand rules, and utterly FANTASTIC gameplay. I can’t opine about this game enough!


Castle Panic by Fireside Games

1-6 players, 30-60 mins

I’ll be frank with you readers, this is my personal favorite game of all time. Published by Fireside Games, this is a co-operative “tower defense” style game. This game is a remarkable bonding experience for all involved! It’s you and your team struggling against a common foe, you’re all left with little more than randomly drawn cards and your wits! Fantastic for game nights!


Puerto Rico by Rio Grande Games

3-5 players (there is a 2 player variant), 90 mins

This one is quite a bit more complicated than the previous entries on this list. Puerto Rico is a “prosperity” simulator, in essence, this game tasks you with being able to expand your city and island faster (and more efficiently) than your opponents. There is a very little luck to strategy ratio for this game, so veteran gamers are likely dominate during the first play through with neophytes. This game is equipped with no “actual” game board to play on, but is managed through individual’s city boards and a PLETHORA of smaller game pieces, so this game does require a little bit of imagination. That said, this is a 90 minute game with a HIGH amount of strategy and lateral thinking…so this game isn’t for everyone. HOWEVER, I HIGHLY recommend this for every kind of gamer…at least to try once.

Variety is the spice of life, however, most people will be more inclined to try a new dish if it looks more appetizing. Bottom line, presentation AND substance are both CRITICAL in your approach to gaining new members of your table. Just play your experience by ear, and try to cater to everyone’s tastes without compromising anyone’s. And, above all else, MAKE SURE TO HAVE FUN!


I’ll have to have him co-write more often… I’m pretty sure he blew me out of the water! 🙂 Anyhow, his description was shockingly accurate to how our “gaming interviews” go. When I say gaming interviews it is exactly what it sounds like, we’ve even told people they were essentially being interviewed to be a regular at our table.

We both hope you enjoyed this topic, as it was readers choice. Soon I will be starting another three-day segment, this time regarding solo play games. Until next time… Live by the Board.

-livingbytheboard

The Do’s and Don’ts of a sick day.

Greetings All,

Yesterday my daughter (10yrs old) had to stay home from school because she had a fever. Yesterday was also going to be her first time going to a birthday sleepover. As you can imagine she was CRUSHED. In an attempt to cheer her up, we decided to have a family game night. We made it through three games before our “Do’s and Don’ts” became overwhelmingly apparent. That said I’d like to share the experience and games with you now.

1

-Brave Rats by BlueOrange Games-

2 players, 1 – 15 mins

Brave Rats is a short two player game that requires a bit of strategy. In Brave Rats you are part of a rat clan at war with your rival rat clan. Each player gets eight cards that are labeled 0-7 and all have separate abilities. Each player has the same set of cards, just a different clan and color. Players use strategy and probability to beat the other player by choosing what card to play each turn. The players flip their cards over at the same time and for the most part, the player with the highest card wins. The first player to win 4 rounds wins the game. There are exceptions to the general rules, which you can see here: http://www.nonsensicalgamers.com/brave-rats-review/ *** The lowest price I’ve found is at Walmart: http://www.walmart.com/ip/39580105?wmlspartner=wlpa&adid=22222222227027265244&wl0=&wl1=g&wl2=c&wl3=57058379169&wl4=&wl5=pla&wl6=89570793129&veh=sem *** You can see more information at the OrangeBlue Games website: http://www.blueorangegames.com/index.php/games/braverats

2

-Takenoko by Asmodee-

2 – 4 players, 30 – 45 mins

Takenoko is a beautiful game and probably one of my favorites. Players compete to complete different objectives based around three different types of objective cards: Gardener, Panda, Formation. There are many different rules to this game, but it is well worth it and once you have the rules down you can play it with your eyes closed (not really, don’t try it… it makes a huge mess). A player wins when they complete an X amount of objective cards which is based on how many people are playing. This game is for 2-4 players, BUT there are five of us. We play with all five… this leaves us with one less board, but when you know the game well it is very much so possible. You can see how the game is played on Tabletop: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wv4n-e-hb_o *** The lowest price I’ve found is at GameSurplus: https://www.gamesurplus.com/advanced_search_result.php?keywords=takenoko&osCsid=ahbn2b5uol5mnrtgkv56c8i326&x=0&y=0 *** You can find more information at the Asmodee website: http://us.asmodee.com/ressources/jeux_versions/takenoko.php

3

-Clue by Hasboro-

3 – 6 players, 30 – 45 mins

Clue is a classic board game in which you are an investigator trying to solve a murder, but most of you should know that. It’s a fun game and there are tons of different styles and expansions. We have the 2013 edition as shown above. Amazon has fantastic prices on clue and a very large list of the different Clue editions: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_0_4?url=search-alias%3Dtoys-and-games&field-keywords=clue&sprefix=clue%2Caps%2C315 *** The Hasbro website has additional information including reviews, demos, and a price comparison: http://www.hasbro.com/en_US/search/_/Ntt-clue?Ntk=All&Ntx=mode+matchallpartial

Ok so time for the fun part. Brave Rats worked well, it was a great chance to have a short one on one game with a single child which not only helped keep their attention, but allowed for my ill daughter to have her own little bit of attention. That said, my other daughter (8yrs old) does not do well when she isn’t the main focus. For a great deal of the time when my husband was playing with our 10yr old, the 8yr old was trying to push her way into the action. Takenoko on the other hand was nice and new to my 10yr old. Our 13yr old son and 8yr old daughter had both previously played. Playing a new game with a sick child is a bit of a fool’s errand, but it definitely took her mind off of her illness. The 13yr old had just had dessert and was very hyper the entire time, while the 8yr old pretended to be sick and sat out of the game. Clue was a new experience for all of the kids, again a fool’s errand when one of your children are sick. We did not get to complete Clue because the 8yr old did not acknowledge one of the cards in her hands when the 10yr old was making a guess. From there it just became extreme confusion and frustration for everyone.

Alright time for the Do’s and Don’ts.

-Do’s-

*Play a familiar game with a sick child, it raises their spirits.

*Have a Family Game night, it really improves family relationships.

*Pick a game that allows you to focus on one child at a time, like a two player game.

*Make sure that everyone is truly up for a game before starting.

-Don’ts-

*Avoid playing games directly after dessert.

*Do not play NEW games when your children are ill.

-Conclusion-

Hyper 13yr old boy + Sick 10yr old girl + Jealous 8yr old girl= A headache

I will say that I love our game nights, but we need to pick the time better. 🙂

I hope you enjoyed this and thank you for reading. Until next time… Live by the Board.

-livebytheboard