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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Boardgame Revolution

Every time I hear the name of the local game store I discovered recently, I get a flashback to high school, when a friend of mine made up a little ditty about the popular videogame Dance Dance Revolution.

"Dance. Dance. Re-vo-LU-shun!"

"Board. Game. Re-vo-LU-shun!"

There are several reasons I've come to like Boardgame Revolution over some of the game stores closer to my apartment:

1. Atmosphere

Boardgame Revolution is CLEAN.  It's quite the novelty compared to the poorly-lit stores that smell vaguely of sweat, cigarettes, and loneliness which I have had to suffer for the last few years.

The bathroom is one of the better public restrooms I have been in, quite the step up from another store that... well, let's just say that I'm always worried that I would get both herpes AND pregnant from that "restroom."

I have yet to enter BR without being greeted by a store employee and asked if I need help finding anything.

The staff seems quite knowledgable about the selection of games, which I appreciate in a game store staff.

The gamers with whom I have associated there did not smell bad, nor were they... overly enthusiastic about winning.

In general, it's just very pleasant there, with a nice, relaxed atmosphere inviting everyone to have fun.

2. Variety

Boardgame Revolution has been striving hard to get a tournament scene going for multiple enjoyable games: BattleCON, Call of Cthulhu, Game of Thrones, and even the recently-released Android: Netrunner.  I can stop by every Saturday afternoon (which is a GREAT time for me) and play a bunch of the games that I love.

Yesterday, not only did I get in several games of BattleCON, one of my all-time favorite games, but I was introduced to Sentinels of the Multiverse.  It was a delightful cooperative game where the players take on the roles of themed superheroes trying to stop a super villain controlled by the game's AI.  I'll probably write up a review soon.

3. Focus

Boardgame Revolution sells boardgames.  That's it.  It doesn't sell boardgames AND comics, or boardgames AND videogames, or boardgames AND miniatures AND painting/hobby supplies.  It's just boardgames.

I really like that.  It's just... so pure.  Now, I understand why other game stores can't be as focus; there isn't actually a ton of money to be had as a brick-and-mortar game vendor these days.  The boardgame INDUSTRY may be doing well, but a lot of that money is going to online distributors.  So supplementing a store's income with other products makes plenty of sense.

Boardgame Revolution doesn't have to do that.  They get away with this by renting boardgames.  It's genius!  You pay a portion of the game's price tag and can take home the rental copy.  You can try out the game with your friends, see if you like it, see if they like it, and if everyone's down, you can buy the game at a discount.  I mean, it's usually discounted anyway, because BR is awesome like that, but it will be further discounted by the rental price.  Why aren't more stores doing this?

BASICALLY, I really like this store and hope to be able to play there on at least a semi-weekly basis.  If you're in the area, I'd recommend checking it out.  It's at 411 E 1400 S in Orem, UT.  They're theoretically open from noon to 7pm M-F and 10am-7pm Saturday, but they hold regular card tournaments on Wednesdays starting at 7pm, so who knows how late they tend to actually stay open?  I myself was there until about 7:20pm yesterday.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Wings of Lightning Update, and My Next Project

If you frequent the boardgamegeek.com design forums, this is probably old news, but my gamebook, Wings of Lightning, did quite well in the 2012 Solitaire Print and Play Contest.  Out of the 48 completed entries, Wings of Lightning placed 8th overall.  Not too shabby.

In addition, it won first prize in the Best Paragraph Game and Best Large Game categories, and second place in the Best Sci Fi/Fantasy Game category.  Pretty good for my first completed gamebook.

The prize isn't spectacular--just a pile of "GeekGold" that can be used on the boardgamegeek website to purchase certain perks, like new microbadges to place under my avatar.  Still, it's a nice confidence-boost in my writing and design abilities.

Subsequently, I'm working on another gamebook, Traitors' Path.  This one is heavily influenced by space opera like Star Trek and David Weber's Honor Harrington series.  I think it will be a much better game than WoL in terms of balance and replayability.  It's much lighter on combat, which I think actually makes it faster-paced than WoL; the combat systems in both games is fun and unique from other gamebooks, but it can get repetitive.

Traitors' Path is about Seventh Fleet patrolling the edge of human expansion for fear of the return of an alien threat.  It turns out that the real threat to humanity, however, is itself, as the Interplanetary Socialist Initiative brutally and illegally takes power.  The ISI takes control of the military and seizes most human-occupied systems within a matter of days.

As a young commander in Seventh Fleet, you vow your loyalty to Admiral Vonn and swear to help her and Seventh Fleet free humanity from the tyrannical Izzies.  Check it out!  The first three missions are playable right now.  When the gamebook is complete, it will probably be the longest work I have ever completed.

And if you're interested in gamebooks, please check out this year's Windhammer contest.  There are some really intriguing entries, and I'm a little disappointed that I didn't find time to complete a submission of my own.  Next year, I suppose.  Anyway, the winner and two other "merit award" entries will get the chance to be published as an app by Tin Man Games, so be sure to vote!