Books on the Underground

This week was half term and to mark the occasion, Books on the Underground put lots of copies of The Board Game Family on tube trains and in stations around the capital.

The idea is that if you find a book while you are travelling about, you can take it home, read it and then leave it on the underground again, for someone else to enjoy.

Follow the journeys of these books on Twitter or Instagram. If you’re in the city – keep your eyes peeled. You might just get lucky.

Peter’s board game induction

The Dark Imp’s new director, Peter Hawtin, has started his board game induction. This week we played Gnome Grown and Don’t Count Your Chickens, which are both in BuzzleBox 1.

Peter made the mistake of taking unseen tiles in Gnome Grown and filling up his garden with combinations of items that wouldn’t score any points for him, but he did manage to finish the game with a completed garden and got some nice bonuses from that.

In Don’t Count Your Chickens, he used some reverse psychology to confuse Alfie and I made the mistake of guessing the last rule based on the erratic behaviour of others around the table… I lost! 

Playtesting coasters

All of the five unpublished coaster games have been tested at the London PlaytestUK session this week. During the playtest session the Royal Festival Hall, where we meet, was evacuated due to a fire alarm. Fortunately, when your game is just a coaster, it’s rather easy to pack up and move.

We decamped to the bar area of the Queen Elizabeth Hall next door until we were allowed back in. We kept playing and didn’t lose too much time. 

These games have had quite a bit of work this week. Players that don’t meet requirements at the different stages of Treasure Split can now still progress in the game, albeit on a less lucrative path.

In Ice Cream Truck, players buy ice creams to sell each day without knowing what the weather will be like. The game went down really well and just needs a few tweaks to slicken play. 

Free the Frog got its first test. In this party game, one player is a frog under a witches spell, the others must try to break the spell by guessing the spell-breaking word, with the help of some clues from the frog. One clue can be given from each category. I was worried about the game, having not been able to test it solo, but it was fun and well received. 

Sleuth Box is ready to go, but Alien Farm needs some more work. The idea of putting alien creatures into different enclosures on your farm and the action selection mechanics both work well. The problem is that some of the aliens, the Clump-Whistles in particular are too powerful and that some are a little too restrictive. My helpful playtesters provided some suggestions for tweaks and also to simplify the explanations of restrictions and scoring. On a beer mat, space is at a premium so simple is good!

Placemat changes

Following last week’s playtests, I’ve been hard at work improving and developing the two placemat games. Rescue Me? has a new end game condition. Now as well as being rescued or abandoned, players can end the game by deploying all nets and constructing shelters to become fully self-sustained.

Beach Life has cuter animals that have more of a story to hook the players in.

I’m now changing the way these games are laid out on the page to include the rules for play within the contents of the sheet. This will remove the need for a separate rule set and will be particularly useful for schools where children can teach themselves to play over lunch. We aim to have these ready for sale by Easter, so watch this space.