stateofgameslogonewIn the last State of Games, we three podcasters talked about all sorts of things from one end of boardgaming to another. During that intelligent melee TC brought up some points on emergent gameplay, while Darrell and I were left scratching our heads wondering what the heck he was talking about. Since that part fostered generous discussion amongst you, dear listeners, we decided to dig a little deeper. And, so, here we are. Enjoy!

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stateofgameslogonewSometimes we have moments of brilliance on The State of Games. We come up with timely, intelligent points of debate and spend precious moments wringing every bit of knowledge we can muster in an effort to bring something new to the hobby and to our listeners. I’m here to tell you, this podcast isn’t one of those moments. But if you like three guys being random and silly, have we got a show for you.

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This Spring, Dice Hate Me Games will be launching a Kickstarter featuring six 54-card games as part of the Rabbit line of titles. Of these six games, four were chosen as winners of the Dice Hate Me 54-Card Challenge that was put forth in November.

Today on Dice Hate Me, we’re taking a closer look at the design inspirations behind the games in the second three-pack of “Globetrotters”: Graham Russell’s The Fittest, J. Alex Kevern’s Easy Breezy Travel Agency, and Dan Keltner & Seth Jaffee’s Isle of Trains. Look for the Kickstarter for these games and the first Rabbit 3-pack right now!

The Fittest by Graham Russell

TheFittestCoverPROMOAs a quick summary, in your own words, what is your game all about?

Graham: The Fittest is a game about reality competition shows, but without all that pesky strenuous physical activity or constantly-rolling cameras. It focuses on the reasons I think most people like reality TV: the tense negotiation, fragile alliances and reactions to situations for which contestants couldn’t possibly be prepared. Through the episodes of the game, players are presented with challenges that let them win prizes. To complete challenges, though, they’re going to have to convince other players to help, and since that means splitting the rewards, there’s always the temptation to build the smallest team possible and hope for the best.

What inspired you to come up with this design?

You know, this has been a while in the making, though not in any form you’d recognize if you play the game today. I worked with (Level 99 Games‘) Brad Talton on some projects in college, and while our design sensibilities often clash on a fundamental level, the collaboration really led to some interesting ideas. We had some games that were fun to play (if not particularly balanced, refined or at all able to write into coherent rules), but there was one dynamic that I thought had some merit and decided to keep working on over the next few years. At times, the game was about IT project management, an American Gladiators-like competition and even building an impressive high school transcript, but these were all frames for ideas that just weren’t clicking. So it sat for a while and I moved on to other things.

It was dormant for about two years when you announced the 54-Card Challenge, and then things just kind of clicked in my head. The mechanics were cleaned up in an elegant way by restricting it to a game of that size, and when it was boiled down to its best elements, this theme just made sense and I ran with it.

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Hello, dear readers! It’s that time of the year again – time to recap some adventures at one of my favorite “local” gaming conventions, PrezCon in Charlottesville, Virginia. The structure of the convention is similar to that of the World Boardgaming Championships, with week-long gaming competitions for everything from Ticket to Ride to Hammer of the Scots. I arrived at the convention a bit later than previous years but with still enough time to get in some quality gaming and meet up with friends old and new. And, so, I prevent a brief pictorial overview of the festivities – enjoy, and consider coming out next year to what we’re fast coming to call the “annual Dice Hate Me summit!”

vivajava

TC Petty III and Darrell Louder arrived at the con a full day before the rest of us and constantly taunted us with pics of all the fun they were having without us. One of the first sights that TC encountered when he stepped through the door was a group playing VivaJava – which is always a very cool thing to behold. (Photo by TC Petty III)

steampark

The taunts – too numerous to post in this article – continued until it reached it’s crescendo: Darrell and TC playing Steam Park, the game that has alluded my grasp since its release earlier this year. Some day, Steam Park… some day. (Photo by TC Petty III)

euphoria1

We arrived late Friday night and jumped right into gaming with our first selection, Euphoria, by Stonemaier Games. It was to be my first play of the dystopian dynamo, and I was joined by TC Petty III, Paul Owen, Dan Patriss, Darrell Louder and Stephanie Straw. As you can see from the picture, there is lots of beer and a fair amount of confusion and commotion in the faux utopian future.

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stateofgameslogonewIt was time. The female voice had been missing for far too long on this podcast. And, so, I set forth a challenge to three intrepid women gamers: Come on this podcast and get silly. And they did. And it was awesome.

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This Spring, Dice Hate Me Games will be launching a Kickstarter featuring six 54-card games as part of the Rabbit line of titles. Of these six games, four were chosen as winners of the Dice Hate Me 54-Card Challenge that was put forth in November.

Today on Dice Hate Me, we’re taking a closer look at the design inspirations behind the games in the first three-pack of “Dinner, Drinks & Dessert”: Matthew O’Malley’s Diner (the 54-Card Challenge Grand Prize winner), Ben Rosset’s Brew Crafters Travel Card Game, and Bryan Fischer’s Pie Factory. Next week, look for a feature on the second tier of games in the Rabbit line!

Diner by Matthew O’Malley

DinerWebPromoAs a quick summary, in your own words, what is your game all about?

Matthew: Diner is a fast-paced game about waiters in a friendly competition to make the most money in tips. Take orders for the tables in your section, gather the plates to fill those orders, and serve your tables, and do it as quickly as possible while showing up the other players.

What inspired you to come up with this design?

I started working on 54-card games specifically for this Challenge. I wanted to start with a theme that would fit in with the Dice Hate Me Games line, and I had two ideas that I thought might be successful (after listening to the State of Games over the past year): Cards of Cthulhu, and Diner. Cards of Cthulhu didn’t meet the Challenge requirements for a family-friendly theme, and it also didn’t feel like it would fit well with other games by Dice Hate Me. That left me with Diner, which I thought would fit both thematically and aesthetically.

The almost real-time nature of the game was inspired by Josh Tempkin, Cardboard Edison’s game Tessen, and a real-time multi-player solitaire game my wife’s family plays called Pounce. During early playtesting, I had table cards that would “age,” reducing the value of tips over time. While it worked, it didn’t really get across the feeling of working in a Diner. Josh suggested the action tokens, which does a much better job of giving the game that rushed feeling, of trying to get things done quickly to get good tips.

Both Cards of Cthulhu and Diner had double-sided cards from the very beginning. I think the first time I saw that used was in Bohnanza: when you create sets of beans, you set aside the scored cards as coins using the card backs. That was also the original scoring mechanism in Diner – after you served an “aged” table, you would set aside a number of cards equal to the current tip value to keep your score–now you just remove the scored table. One advantage of the double-sided cards in Diner (and the removal of scored tables) is to add some sense of unpredictability to the game; you can never be sure if all six of those steak plates are going to come out, so counting cards won’t assure you a win.

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stateofgameslogonewWe love reserved hyperbole (is that really a thing?) here at Dice Hate Me, so let me just say that, like all the years before, this coming year may just be the Greatest Year For Games Ever. With big titles sporting unique mechanics like Dead of Winter and SeaFall coming from Plaid Hat Games, a whole slew of indie upstarts shaking the establishment, and no fewer than 10 Dice Hate Me Games titles hitting the market, you can see that my hyperbole is warranted.

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