Monday, September 26, 2016

Six Publisher Speed Dating Tips

Let's talk about an interesting event that is happening within the board gaming industry: Publisher Speed Dating. These are events where about 15 game designers meet with 15 tabletop game publishers and have five minutes to pitch them each of them their board games. It's been a very popular event held at many gaming conventions around the country.

I, personally, have submitted to two speed dating events so far. My games haven't been picked for either of them, but I have come away with some valuable lessons I'd like to share with you:

1) Your sell-sheet matters. A sell-sheet is a single sheet designed to get publishers interested in your game. It should have the name of your game and a brief description of your game play, a list of components, the age, playing time and # of players and several reasons why your game is so great (I find bullet-points work best) - a compelling image to convey your theme and an image of your game "in action" also help. Contact info should always be on a sell-sheet. My first sell-sheet was light on the game play elements and I believe they are the most important. Don't worry about story or your finely crafted universe. Concentrate on the game play. Also, even though I didn't get in to the event, I did have a sell-sheet that I could show to other publishers and get them interested in my game.
 This Rayguns and Rocketships sell-sheet didn't have enough information on it about the game, the components or anything to get the publisher excited about my game.

2) The type of game matters. The last time I submitted to a speed dating event, I was told my game didn't get picked was because it was a two-player game and publishers weren't interested in two-player games. Therefore, find out what people are publishing and cater to that. I have been told that Deck-builders aren't very popular any more and it feels like the average consumer is getting burnt out on social deduction games. Miniature games can be very expensive to produce. Now,  I'm not saying don't make a game you aren't interested in, but it's always better to do your homework and find out what is appealing to the market.

While I feel this sell-sheet is much better than the previous one, the selection committee didn't want to see a two-player game

3) Your game is look and feel complete. A speed dating event is the "last stop" for the game designer. The game you be presenting should be polished, play tested and (in my humble opinion) look great on the table. I know many game designers and publishers have different opinions on how polished a prototype game should look, but from my experience, the publisher wants to see something they can visual as being a final product. The less work they have to do to get it out the door, the better. In reality, your games may still require final art, a better rule book, graphically designed cards, components, etc. but the impression you want to give is of a finished game.

4) Know your pitch and keep it short. See if you can make your game seem exciting even without the game being there. If you can get people to say "Oooh! That sounds like a game I want to play" even without showing them the game, then you have a strong start. The more you know about your game, the better, but you don't have to tell your audience everything about your game. Keep it short and sweet. There's a reason they call it an "elevator pitch" because you only have the time of an elevator ride to make it. You only get 5 minutes at a speed dating event. Make them count!

5) There are no guarantees. Even if you get in, it doesn't guarantee you'll get published. I have had several friends get into a speed dating event and meet interested publishers and others who have not. Don't get discouraged if you don't come away with a signed contract, because odds are, that won't happen. The best thing IMHO about the speed dating event is that it gets your face in front of a lot of publishers at once who recognize that you have a game good enough to be one of the finalists for the event. Sometimes it's an honor to just be nominated! Use this opportunity to make new contacts and keep in touch with them even if they don't want your game. This industry (hell, all industries) are about who you know.

6) Don't give up! I haven't gotten into two events but that isn't going to stop me from applying next year. I will have a new game and all of these lessons under my belt. Good luck with your own pitches and I hope to see you at the next publisher speed dating event!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

A Town Called Showdown How to Play video

Howdy Gunslingers!

Hankerin' to learn how to play "A Town Called Showdown"? Here's an instructional video to whet your appetite!

See you on the street!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

A Town Named Showdown

The wild-west town of Showdown holds an annual shootist competition; luring the fastest guns in the west. A crowd of bystanders line the dusty street as two mysterious strangers face off in the blazing sun. When the six-shooters go off, which gunslinger will be left standing?

A Town Named Showdown is a card and dice game for two players. Steeped in theme, tension builds as the gunslingers pace their way down the street each turn. Bystanders gather in anticipation of the shoot-out; some are there to help the gunslingers, others to hinder. Gear up with weapons and health modifier cards to give your gunslinger the edge when the shoot-out happens.

When both gunslingers reach the end of the street they "shoot" using their pool of six-sided shooters - adding and subtracting for bonuses from bystanders and modifiers. Hit your opponent enough times to remove him from the competition.

The player with the most victory stars at the end of three shoot-outs is the winner!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

2015 Xmas board game gift guide

Do you have a board game player in your life? Are they hard to buy gifts for? Have no fear, Scott is here! help you choose the greatest gifts from 2015 for that special gamer.

1. Mysterium (Asmodee) $$

Mysterium is a social deduction game that plays like Clue meets Dixit. In it, players are psychic detectives seeking to learn who committed a murder. Fortunately, they have help from the ghost of the victim who can only communicate with the players via their dreams.

The dream cards are illustrated with images that (according to the ghost player) point towards whodunit which the players guess their suspect. Mysterium is a great party game for those gamers who are ready to move on from Clue and Mystery in the Abby.

2. Ghostbusters (Cryptozoic) $$

Speaking of ghosts, who you gonna call?
Ghostbusters  The Board Game is a light skirmish game based on the IDW comic (which is based on the movies) and pits the four ghostbuster players against spooks such as Slimer and the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man.

The game is quick to play and easy to learn. It features a great levelling system and comes with some very cool miniatures including the Ecto-1!

3. Castle of Mad King Ludwig (Bezier Games) $$ Secrets expansion $$

Based on the real castle built by the real mad king, players build their own castles by laying tiles to connect rooms but are driven by the whims of the King. If you like the first part of Betrayal at House on the Hill, then you'll like this game.

The game recently came out with an expansion - Secrets - which adds 30 more rooms to the base set.

4. Dead of Winter (Plaid Hat Games) $$

The worst part of any zombie movie has never been the zombies, but the humans. Dead of Winter gets this part right. The players are survivors of the zombie apocalypse struggling to survive their first winter.

However, the game features an unique system that puts the players at odd with each other in order to complete their own agendas. When you aren't fighting off the undead, players are wondering which other players are going to stab them in the back. Good fun!

5. T.I.M.E. Stories (Asmodee) $$$ The Marcy Case expansion $$

T.I.M.E Stories is a story-telling game where players are time-travelling agents who attempt to unravel a mystery set in a specific time period. Along the way they'll meet strange characters and uncover clues and facts. However, the players won't solve the mystery the first time around, so they must travel back to the start of the story and follow the threads that will eventually led to the solution.

This unique game has been making a splash in the board gaming community. While the play experience is short and not repeatable, there are several other scenerios coming out soon - starting with the Marcy Case - a mystery set in the 1990's.

6. Spy Fall (Cryptozoic) $$

Spy Fall is an easy-to-learn social deduction card game in which one player is a spy and the other players are trying to deduce his location - which the spy doesn't know. It's a tense game of how to get information without tipping your hand that you are the spy. Great fun for parties!

7. The Bloody Inn (Asmodee) $$

In this card game set in 1800's France, time are tough. You are an inn owner struggling to make ends meet and you discover it's much more profitable to rob and murder your wealthy guests.

The Bloody Inn's black humor might not be for everyone, but the art is beautiful and you have to admit the theme is original.

8. Star Wars Imperial Assault (Fantasy Flight Games) $$$ Twin Shadows expansion $$ Ally and Villain packs $$

If you hadn't noticed, there happens to be a new Star Wars movie coming out this winter. While there aren't many games based on these new adventures (yet) there are plenty of ways to immerse yourself into the Star Wars galaxy through some great board games.

Imperial Assault uses Fantasy Flight's popular Descent game system to create adventures and campaigns. It's like playing a miniatures-based role playing game. The miniatures are top-notch and while a little complex to learn, is great fun once you get the hang of it.

This year Fantasy Flight released it's first boxed expansion for Imperial Assault - Twin Shadows - which takes the players to the desert planet of Tatooine where they can battle Tuskin Raiders and socialize with scum and villainy in the famous cantina.

While playable from the box, you can upgrade villains and allies like Boba Fett and See-Threepio and R2D2 with miniatures (sold separately) that include more abilities and adventures.

9. Star Wars Armada (Fantasy Flight Games) $$$ Expansions $$

Remember the ending of Return of the Jedi? Now you can play the battle of Endor on your kitchen table!  Star Wars Armada captures all of the excitement of ship-to-ship combat with ships as large as a Star Destroyer and as small as an A-wing. It's simple to play and looks amazing on your tabletop.
The core game has been out for awhile, but there are some very cool expansions that just came out that won't break your Christmas budget.

Imperial Fighter Squadron expansion comes with a whole mess of teeny-tiny TIE fighters, Bombers and Interceptors. Plus new cards with pilots and actions.

The Rebel Fighters Squadron expansion comes with two squads of A-Wings, B-Wings, X-Wings and Y-Wings. Perfect for assaulting a Death Star or Starkiller Base.

Rogues and Villains expansion pack adds several smuggler and bounty hunters to your space-combat including the Millennium Falcon, Slave I, Hound's Tooth (Bossk!) and the Outlander.

What's a Star Wars battle without a Imperial Class Star Destroyer (or two)? Now Darth Vader can join the battle in his Star Destroyer from the original Star Wars (Episode V to you kids)!

Finally we have the "pickle ship" - the Home One expansion - as seen in Return of the Jedi. You can discover your own trap with Admiral Ackbar at the helm of this massive model!

10. Star Wars Risk (Hasbro) $$ Star Wars Black Series Risk (Hasbro) $$
If Star Wars Armada seem too daunting (and expensive) for your gamer, I suggest the new Star Wars Risk game. It also captures the excitement of the battle of Endor but also allows you to fight the ground troops too! In fact, this game is based on Star Wars: The Queen's Gambit - considered one of the best Star Wars games made before Fantasy Flight got the license.

There is a second version of this game that is slightly more expensive called the Star Wars Black Series Risk.
It plays the same as the other version but has upgraded components like models for the Millennium Falcon, Super Star Destroyer and Death Star II. Also it comes with little tiny storm troopers. This version is a little harder to find and, as far as I can tell, only available on-line.

There you go! A list of ten great board games for your "nice" gamer. Happy Holidays everyone!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

YOU PLAY NOW! Risk Legacy

NOTE: What's done can never be undone. This is the ominous message on the sticker that seals every game of Risk Legacy. It is a warning, but also a promise of an amazing experience.

When I was in high school, me and my friends used to play weekend long sessions of Risk. We would put together two boards and try to assault this double world. Invariably by Saturday night, I would lose and spend the rest of Sunday waiting for the game to end. I never played another game of Risk again... until I heard about Risk Legacy.


While the heart of the game is the same - use troops to conquer the world, that's where the resemblance ends. The troops are all different and unique - there are mechs and Mad Max-esque troops on dune buggies and even barbarians who ride badgers. These troops can be upgraded with abilities and advantages every time you play.
In fact, unlike most board games, Risk Legacy is meant to be played about 12 - 15 times to get the whole experience... which starts when everyone who plays signs the board. Write on a game board!? Sacrilege! Every time a game is played, the winner writes on the board. The player with the most signatures on the board gets advantages at the start of the next game.
The designer Rob Davieau had a brilliant realization that players bring history to the table and yet games never reflect this truth. Risk Legacy does. Winners and losers, grudges and rivalries all help form the game as player add permanent stickers to the board, change rules in the rule book, even tear up cards. Seeing a life-long gamer tear up a card is worth the price of admission alone.
 The greatest innovation is the ramping of the game. There are several envelopes that are not opened until certain game conditions are met - much like achievements in video games. Once these are opened, new rules are added, factions change and the game play morphs in unpredictable ways.

 Risk Legacy is a masterwork and no matter what your history with Risk has been in the past, should be played. All games should try to be like Risk Legacy, even if a little bit.

1-2 hours to play (per session)
66.97 on

Monday, August 24, 2015

YOU PLAY THIS! Imperial Assault

Scott says YOU PLAY THIS!

If you've ever played Fantasy Flight's fantasy adventure game Descent, then you'll have no trouble with Star Wars Imperial Assault.

Intrepid Rebel heroes battle against the ceaseless forces of the Empire in this action strategy game. Can be scaled from a simple skirmish game to a complex multi-session campaign.


Includes a two-player skirmish battle game too! Lots of great miniatures available with more on the way.


$64.99 on
Takes 2 to 4 hours to play

Sunday, August 23, 2015

YOU PLAY THIS! Guillotine

Scott says YOU PLAY THIS!

GUILLOTINE. A mean-spirited and hilarious card game where you screw with your fellow players to chop the most heads off of French aristocrats.

Takes about 15 - 30 minutes to play...
$11.99 on