Friday, January 27, 2017

Kitnapped published on The Game Crafter

Kitnapped, the game of duelling cat collectors has now been published on The Game Crafter!
Kitnapped started life as an entry in the Board Game Geek 24 hour game design challenge back in June 2016. Since then, it's been tweaked and tested more extensively that the 24 hour deadline would allow, the art has been upgraded, and two test games have been printed. There were a few minor tweaks needed to the test games before it was ready to publish (the recommended ages on the top and bottom of the box didn't match, and a few minor rules clarifications) - these changes have now been made so the public can also enjoy this exciting game!

In Kitnapped, you play as cat enthusiasts trying to amass the greatest litter of kittens. You can find kittens by drawing cards, but it's much more fun to lure them away from other players using sqeuaky mice, saucers of milk and balls of wool. Of course, everyone else will try to lure your cats, so you want to block their lures with collars, microchips, and the all powerful naptime. You can also make other people's cats sick. Whoever has the best collection of healthy cats when the Crazy Cat Lady arrives wins the game.

I'm also playing with some ideas for an expansion which will materialise sometime soon. It's got some new mishap cards, and the ability to upgrade your cats with unique special rules.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Tricky new bricks for Toppollo

Tonight I have constructed twelve tricky new bricks for Toppollo - four each of the curve, arch and pyramid block. The curve and arch pieces are not perfect - I had to use the scroll saw with which I am not very comfortable yet.
These pieces should make things much more challenging. They will be play tested on Thursday, and based on the results, some of the simpler pieces like the cube and oblong may be withdrawn from the game.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Toppollo: A dexterous balancing game for children of all ages.

Recently I've been playing around with making wooden toys - mostly because my school's woodwork teacher decided to open up the workshops for staff to use after school once a week. This is a fun little game I designed to be made from wood. It's quite simple to make and uses fairly limited material. I know I've seen other, very similar games, but a quick search on Board Game Geek failed to turn up anything much. So here it is - Toppollo.

Toppollo tower and blocks. Well, the blocks made so far.


Object of the game: to get rid of all your blocks.
Toppollo Tower (basically a small plywood table just large enough to hold four blocks - in my case 60mm diameter)
Four sets of blocks, consisting of:
Curve (the bit cut out of the block to make the arch)
Slanted Oblong
Slanted Cylinder
(these will be made from 30X30mm pine and 25ish mm dowel - closest I could get to 30mm dowel)
Place the Toppollo Tower on a hard, flat surface such as a table or board within easy reach of the the players.
Each player is given a complete set of blocks.
Starting the game:
Each player takes their cylinder piece and tosses it underarm towards the tower. The player to land their cylinder closest to the center of the tower goes first. Blocks are allowed to touch the tower and land on top of the tower.
Playing the game:
Players take it in turns to place one of their blocks.
Blocks must be placed on the Toppollo Tower or on top of blocks which are already on the tower.
If any blocks fall off the tower, the player whose turn it is takes these blocks into their collection.
The first player to get rid of all their blocks is the winner.
Yesterday, I made the blocks and the tower. Well, most of the blocks. I had a problem with the saw which meant I had to re-cut a few pieces and ran out of time and material to make the arch and curve pieces. I had a shot at the pyramid, but found it very hard to cut accurately. It's been back-burnered to next week when I will try again.
I have just returned from my illustrious flute riddled opponent's house, where we playtested the game with his daughter. The game proved very popular with her, and it was actually quite hard to get her to stop playing and go to bed. Foolishly, her father thought that sleep was more alluring to the five-year-old brain than falling wooden blocks.
Mad Juzzy the Flutist adds a block to the teetering tower. Note that his daughter has maintained tradition by stealing my hat when I hugged her.

Gaining a huge concentration bonus from the hat, Elana places a block.

The tower starts to look a little... crazt.

Oh dear.

Juzzy takes a photo while I throw up the obligatory rabbit ears. We're playing on a book on a carpet to minimise noise and avoid waking the slumbering prince (ie: his infant son)

Here are all the parts for a three player game stacked up. This was after we finished, and I wanted to show off the pieces.
Due to my novice level wood cutting skills, pieces are not exactly square, and the angles are not exactly the same on slanted blocks. This just adds to the fun of the game by introducing more unpredictability.

Some basic blocks, the oblong and cube for instance, are very stable, while others are harder to use. I'll build the arch, curve and hopefully pyramid and see how they help. If the basic shapes are still being too easy, I'll either remove them or cut their ends at slight angles to make things harder and less stable.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Escape from Grimm Manor: a horror game for Hallowe'en at Coal Creek.

Sample Brawn challenge card.
Coal Creek, the local historical park where I run Gippsland Gamers every Thursday evening has been holding a highly successful Hallowe'en event for years now. This year, they had the idea of running some games in a darkened room, lit only by flickering candles with a suitably spooky sound track, and they asked me for ideas. I spent a while trying to think of the right game, something atmospheric, but simple enough for kids to play it. After spending a lot of time nosing around on BGG, I started to think that all the really atmospheric horror games were quite complex, and all the simple horror games lacked atmosphere...
Which obviously meant I'd have to have a bash at designing my own.

Escape from Grimm Manor is about just that - escaping from a haunted manor after dark. In order to escape, you have to overcome a series of challenges, but the real fun comes from forcing your opponents into challenging situations. It's something like Betrayal at House on the Hill meets Munchkin in game play, although the atmosphere is more like the former and less like the latter. I've been working on developing fairly simple and intuitive rules - you have three sets of dice, one each for Brawn, Brains and Bravery, and you roll these to overcome the challenges. You start with one die in each, but you can gain or lose them as you play. There are also Blessings and Curses which can either help you, or hinder your opponents. So far there has been no playtesting, but I have been working on designs for the cards and player aids.

Sample Bonus card (I'll rename
these 'Blessing')
I'm thinking about getting this properly printed using The Game Crafter, since it'll be played in public and all. Obviously, I'm going to want to playtest thoroughly first to ensure it's good enough to justify the money, but the experience of developing for print has been rewarding and educational so far. I've had to change the way I usually design cards to accommodate things like bleed and safe areas - things which are not such an issue when you are going to cut things out by hand (although cutting out by hand leads to it's own set of issues!).

Stand by for updates, and it goes without saying that if I get this printed by The Game Crafter, I'll be making it available to anyone who wants to order a copy.