Bigger Isn’t Always Better
A couple of weeks ago I flew out to Dallas for my first Board Game Geek Convention. I had been to Gen Con in Indianapolis for the last three years and that was absolutely overwhelming insanity. In contrast BGG.CON felt a lot more reasonable and it featured a lot of industry experts meeting for drinks and games. It was a very laid back atmosphere despite being well-attended.
It was great to walk around the gaming hall and see folks playing all types of games. BGG.CON has a very nice games library where you can check out nearly any title you are looking for. There were also a few designated areas where you could try some of the latest offerings from the bigger publishers. The exhibitors hall was a manageable size and it made it a lot more comfortable to visit with different publishers and see their work up close and personal. Overall, I had a great time and would highly recommend it. The best and easiest part is that the con is at the DFW Hyatt Regency so you don’t even have to leave the airport!
#safetypin in the Post-Truth Era
I left Los Angeles and entered the belly of the beast: the big red state that is Texas. I went armed with my safety pin, my wits, and my fighting skills. Surprisingly, everywhere I went people were pointing out my safety pin and giving me the thumbs up. It was refreshing because I was definitely ready for some crazy political talk. I did have a polite conversation with a Trump supporter and a few talks with people that didn’t vote and had regrets. Apparently there were a few “Make America Great Again” hats out there but I didn’t see them. I think for the most part that the board game crowd is pretty accepting of different walks of life.
The impression I received overall was that folks just didn’t understand the big deal about the election. They had literally no experience with other cultures and they were either oblivious to or in denial of the gross injustices that Trump has planned for America. I know this is a board game blog but my games are also meant to educate and create a sense of belonging and the current political environment shows that our country is lacking in education and empathy. It’s painfully obvious that gerrymandering has stolen the government and given it to corporate interests and hate mongers. It is more important than ever to maintain an open community that is accepting of people regardless of race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation.
Unpub.net and Playtesting
I finally had a chance to hang out with the Unpub gang in their suite on the 11th floor of the DFW. It was super cool. I had a chance to play a couple of prototypes and chat with a couple of designers. They also sat down and played Wu Wei! Overall, the feedback was pretty positive. With these game gurus they wanted a more challenging experience. I started them at the Student level and they were all over it. Fortunately, most of their notes are already covered in the Master level of the game.
For the first time in quite a while I played a two-player game with someone that kicked my butt. It was really fun. Teale Fristoe from Nothing Sacred Games picked up Wu Wei in 5 minutes. By the time I realized he was kicking my butt it was all over. It was invigorating because I forgot for a while that I had designed the game. I was just a player. Thanks Teale!
Another great designer I got to try Wu Wei was Ted Alspach from Bezier Games. He’s the creator of a number of amazing titles including One Night Ultimate Werewolf, Suburbia, and Colony just to name a few. Not surprisingly, Ted won our 4-player game. He liked the idea of leveling up in the game. His biggest worry for me was the expense of my components. Selling Wu Wei will be expensive in retail stores because of the various markups that occur between publisher, distributor, and retailer. It’s a valid concern but I want to make give the Kickstarter version the bells and whistles and sell direct. We’ll see how it goes!
I set up Wu Wei down in the play hall and had a number of people come over to try it out. People picked it up pretty quickly. I think the strength of the game is that the first few moves can be made fairly safely (without fear of losing the game straight away) so people can get their head around the game as they play. By the end of the convention my voice was pretty hoarse from explaining the game over and over. It was totally worth it. I’m feeling confident in the rules and the components.
Rule Book Revisions
The rules are solid at this point but the rule book is getting another makeover. I’ve been working with Dustin Schwartz in earnest on clarifying the language of the rule book. We’re massaging the order of the rules and I will be creating a few more graphics to illustrate the rules of the game. It is really important to me that the rule book is easy to understand and follow. Wu Wei can look a bit intimidating at first but the rules are actually pretty simple. I’ve done my best to make the game play elegant in that simplicity and I want people to open up the game and feel confident enough to give it a shot. I will be posting updates about this in the near future.
I’m also working on a revision to the graphics for the board so that the quadrants are more easily understood. Here’s a mock-up. Thanks for checking out my ramblings! Until next time!