Colorblind Ramblings! 

Beer and Boardgames! A Kickstarter Preview

More years ago than I want to consider, I went to my first board gaming event at a bar, at the now defunct Kildare's King of Prussia, PA location, thanks to Kevin and the Seize Your Turn folks.  I wasn't able to drink way back then...silly underage person but at least it was a bar / restaurant so they let me in the front door!  I didn't know it then but I'd spend a lot of time drinking beer and playing board games over the coming years at many locations.  One of the side effects of these experiences is having it rammed home that color vision deficiency(CVD) really hurts when playing games in dark dreary bars.  Look for two upcoming posts on this topic, one about CVD and one on the worst game I've ever played, at least for CVD folk like me.  The other thing to come out of this was when I heard that a game about running a craft brewery was coming to the Unpub Mini event at Games and Stuff in Glen Burnie, MD I knew I had to play it!  That was back in early June and I have played the game in question many times since and that is the real purpose of this post!

Brew Crafters by Ben Rosset

Kickstarted and Published(hopefully) by Dice Hate Me Games (Chris Kirkman).  Art by Jacqui Davis and Chris Kirkman.

I can't comment on the quality of the components or production, or even the colorblind friendliness of the game, because, well, nothing is finalized yet.  But that's a great thing in my opinion, Ben and Chris are working hard to get the best game into the hands of the fine folks who will end up supporting the game. 

Fortunately, I can comment on the quality of the game play.  Its great, but don't take my word for it, let me tell you how the game plays.  In Brew Crafters the players (2-5) play out 3 years of running a small craft brewery, competing for the most points at the end of that time.  Each year has 4 seasons that are more or less identical. The players place workers to collect brewing ingredients from a central market that also has some other options that I'll discuss shortly.  After that phase, during which one player's workers can block another, the players have a brewery phase, with a separate set of workers, which allows them to interact, with no fear of their opponents blocking them, with their brewery.  It's my understanding that this two phase worker placement mechanic arose because Ben had some cognitive dissonance with regards to some other worker placement games that shall remain nameless where your ability to say, have a child, was blocked if someone else did it (snicker).  The second phase is where you get to upgrade your player tableau(s) with additional brewing path ways, farms for growing ingredients and even research new brewing and management techniques.  However some of these upgrades come with a cost.  At the end of each Winter, you have to pay your operating costs. Costs come from brewery equipment, your brewery staff as well as skilled workers that you can hire to help your brewery.  Skilled workers help by increasing your efficiency, whether it be allowing you to store more ingredients, gather more from the market or score bonus points for taking certain types of actions during the market or brewery phase.  The research you do can get you new resources, score you end game bonuses or even generate special powers every winter as part of ongoing returns from your research.  I haven't even touched on brewing a beer yet!  Are you intrigued?

As part of setting up a game of Brew Crafters, you select a set of beers to use throughout the game.  There are categories of beer and you select 9 total beers, 3 categories, divided into 1 basic beer from each category and 2 advanced beers.  Basic beers require fewer ingredients but score fewer points. You must brew a basic beer before you are able to brew advanced beers of the same category.  I don't know how many beers they intend to include or how many will end being included but I've played with maybe 20 including Ales, Porters and Stouts. Advanced beers include a Lambic, Imperial Stouts, Chocolate stouts and Apricot Ales and more.  These beers require ingredients like malt, hops, yeast, coffee, spices, and fruit to brew.  Once you have all the ingredients in your brewery, you select the process beer action in your brewery combine the ingredients into a beer.  Once that has been done, it will move through the brewing process, from fermenting, through bottling and on to sale, garnering you $2 now and points at the end of the game( You must process beer 3 times (by default) in order to ship a beer).  I'm sure they will cover all the gameplay in more depth (is it possible...I'd love some feedback on whether I delved too deep into gameplay here) on the kickstarter page so let's move on.

All of the game reviews I've ever seen like to compare games, I don't think that's really helpful.  Because if a game is like, for hyperbole's sake, Trouble or Sorry, that doesn't tell you why you should consider the game under review instead of the game you are comparing it with. Play this game if you like player interaction through blocked action spaces, research (I'll leave learning about that as an exercise to the reader) tracks, individual player powers (advanced variants), player tableaus and games that take about 30 minutes per player.  Additionally, this game drips with theme, but not in the "I spilled beer on my beer board game" sense, in the carefully thought out and liberally applied sense.  Ben has done a wonderful job of marrying theme with mechanics and if you like the idea of trying to out brew your local competition, it will be a lot easier to do in Brew Crafters than in real life.

Complaints:

Another common feature of reviews and previews.  I guess my biggest complaint is that the game has enough thinky bits that I can't enjoy it with a pint of beer.  I need a clear head to even attempt to compete with Ben Rossett, but maybe this will be resolved when I can play against less experienced players, who don't have the entire spreadsheet that balanced the game in their brains....CURSES BEN....CURSES!!!! 

I'm sure the pros will have some gorgeous art to show off Friday when the campaign launches (scheduled for 30 days)  and I hope this preview has given you something to think about and hopefully it reduces the amount of time you sit contemplating the big green pledge button, because I can't wait to support my chance to play a full production copy of this game! 

Kickstarter: Fund a Better Board Game

I've been working on a few different blog posts the past few weeks but life has been getting in the way.  Fortunately I've found myself with some free time so here I am writing an introduction about how all things eventually get published and preparing to fill you in on a brand new board game coming soon having funded a few months ago on Kickstarter, Euphoria: Build A Better Dystopia

Photo Copyright 2013

Photo Copyright 2013

I am familiar with Stonemaier Games because of their earlier success with Viticulture and so when I saw that Euphoria was being funded and I could have a copy of the game a few months early, I jumped on the chance!  Click through the gallery below for some images of the Kickstarter exclusive peices and other game components.

 

Gameplay Thoughts:

Euphoria Dice. Image Copyright 2013 by Eric Handler

Euphoria Dice. Image Copyright 2013 by Eric Handler

I have only put Euphoria on the table once since it arrived but it was a tight game with DC area designer Ben Rosset.  He eked out a victory when I bungled the order of placing my 9th and 10th authority tokens.  It was a tight game and that's great in a two player game.  I don't like playing a two player game where I'm ahead or behind 20 minutes into 90 minute game.  I certainly think I know how I would change my strategy for future plays as some of the penalties for not being involved in the construction of markets are brutal and I'd like to avoid them a lot more now.  However, with limited workers I don't see quite how this strategy will work.  Ben and I also didn't trade, which probably makes sense in a two player game but maybe just maybe exploring the options their could have made a difference for me.  I enjoyed the gameplay, the mechanics with dice based workers are new and different and the knowledge mechanic punishing you for too many workers and/or rolling poorly is very nifty.  The dice look awesome too!  More on components in just a bit.  The game plays quick once you grasp the rules and the rule book does a good job of conveying the rules.  We did ask Jamey (via twitter) to clarify when workers were rerolled, but we would have made the right call had he not replied.

Kickstarter Exclusives née Components:

I don't think there are words that can describe how awesome the premium Kickstarter components are so I'll let the pictures do most of the talking.  However, I can't remember which things are exclusive and which aren't and I'd rather go run my hands through awesome metal gold ingots...so... have some component photographs.  All I have to say is the wooden stars, while much nicer than the cardboard punchboard...pale in comparison to everything else.  Gold, Brick and Rock below as well as miner meeples, morale, knowledge and commodity/resource multiplier boards.

I can't get enough of the food tokens either.  They remind of fruit snacks from my child hood and if you've ever tried to play Galaxy Trucker with me the neon green tic tacs are my favorite!

Colorblind Notes:

The custom components for the Kickstarter edition are very good due to shape and color enabling me to distinguish them from each other.  I am a little concerned about the purple dice and the black dice in low light situations but I think they'll be okay for most situations.  Don't play in the dark and you should be fine if you have moderate Red/Green issues.

Conclusions:

Top notch production values with tight (possibly too tight?) game play in a two player game makes Euphoria an intriguing game.  I need play a few more games before I make final judgement, but hopefully this preview of the full production of the game satiates the desire that many Kickstarter backers  have to see and hear about the game before it arrives on their doorsteps.

A Note Regarding Early Delivery:

As a result of this early delivery, I am taking Euphoria to Labyrinth games in DC on October 20th and hoping to show of to local backers and interested gamers starting at 2pm.  I only have the one copy so we have limited space, but hopefully we can gather around and enjoy some gaming Bliss together. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pax Prime 2013: The Beginning

As this site comes online in its new glory, complete with photographs I took, thoughts I had and more, it does so at a time of great reflection and foreshadowing.  I think Pax Prime is situated perfectly to look at the year that has been and the years that will come in both the board gaming and video game industry.  I'd like to do a long preview post about all the upcoming technology, games and 2mm thick cardboard punchboard that lies just 2 short 10hr work days away from the gaping maw that is my consumerism but I haven't really had the time to pore over the schedule and the exhibitor list to determine all that shall attempt to satiate me for, well, hours.  However, I can write down a list of questions I have been pondering about the industries mentioned above (as well as some predictions) and leave you to connect the dots.  Without Further Ado:


  1. What is the relationship between games like Council of Verona, Mascarade, Coup and Love Letter?
  2. Will the XBox One (XBone) continue to evolve from the derided console that was described in the first press conference into something that believably approaches a 3rd generation console of the modern era?
  3. Will Star Wars: X-wing Miniatures Game or Star Trek: Attack Wing captivate me? The General Public? 
  4. Will anything surprise me since I haven't prepared for this con?
  5. What will the tabletop area at Pax Prime be like compared to Pax East? 
  6. Is Patrick Rothfuss going to be amazing and awesome and everything I ever dreamed? 
  1. I think different numbers of players = different ideal game. Haven't played them all so more once that testing is complete.
  2. Nope. I think the Ballmer-less Microsoft will screw it up again. 
  3. Nope. Nope, it will remain a gamer niche title. 
  4. Yes. Hopefully, YachtClubGames!
  5. ??? 
  6. He'll likely exceed those expectation! 

Hope this post serves as a strong cornerstone to many more posts to follow on this site. Hopefully some of those will be posted from the road at PAX Prime

 - CBBG