Saturday, 31 March 2012

We have begun to let loose on YouTube

Well, it had to happen sometime.

And so the foray into online video has begun.  We have a few videos in the 'bank' as it were and will mostly be experimentation for the time being and feedback will always be appreciated. :)

Wee Ivor

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Saturday, 24 March 2012

A Wee interview with some Warriors and Traders - Part 2

Welcome to the second part of the interview with the Andrei and  Agnieszka from NSKN (first part of the interview).  NSKN is a company that grew out of the creation of a game, Warriors and Traders, which they took to Essen 2011.  Now we continue looking behind the scenes of NSKN and their first game Warriors and Traders.

7- How Many People Have Been Involved In Creating Warriors and Traders The Game? 
At first it was Agnieszka and I who played, made changes and argued about it. After a few months, we had a lot of people involved in testing Warriors and Traders, but there were four major contributors for the game development. All four of us are now part of NSKN Legendary Games. If you meant over all, I think there were more than 150 people play-testing and giving feedback, all contributing to the development of the game in some way.

We also had two great graphic designers who also played an important part in the making of Warriors and  Traders, especially because they had a lot of freedom to recreate medieval Europe.

8- What Games Have Inspired You Over The Years? 
I enjoy equally empire building games and Euro-games. One of my favorite games is Agricola - I guess everybody knows it - which is almost perfectly balanced and every time I play it I discover something new.

I wanted to accomplish the same with Warriors and Traders, to give the game good replayablity and to let the random factor come from the players rather than the game itself.

9- What Advice Would You Offer A Budding Game Developer Based On Your Experience? 
I myself have little experience in the game design world, this is my first published game and I am not sure I should be the one lecturing over game design. But if I must ... I would say that it is very important, at least in the beginning, to believe in your game and stay super motivated. The competition is fierce, but the final reward is worth all the efforts, just the thought of other playing your game.

10- What’s The Next Big Plan For You Guys? 
Our plan is to make more games! It's simple and straightforward, we are supporting Warriors and Traders, making rules updates and staying in touch with people and we are working on a bunch of new games, designing, testing, and improving. We are hoping to get a game or two out in 2012 and a few more in 2013. We will also diversify our games portfolio.

We covered gamer's games with Warriors and Traders and we will not abandon the genre, however our next game is a lightweight party game, appealing to more categories of players. My personal goal is to release a full 4x empire building game, a truly epic game. I started the work on this, but it requires a lot of testing and development, so this will be included in our longer term plan.

11- Are There Any Plans For Expansions? 
We have such plans, but it all depends on how Warriors and Traders will be received by the market. There are request already from Italy for a map with the countries around the Mediterranean. We also have an extension with a new technology path, whenever the market will ask for it, we are ready. I am also considering a print-and-play expansion. I saw that this genre has almost vanished from the market and I believe it's a great way to provide good value for... no money for your customers. I can say for sure that we will do this, but it is a personal goal for me.

12- Okay The 'Fun' Question. So Your A Dark Age King, Hell Bent On Domination - Which Nation Would You Start As And Why? And Who Tastes You Steel First?
First, let me confess, I have very rarely won the game, I'd say that everyone else who played this game has a good chance of having won more times than I did. Coming back to your question, I would start in Burgundy - just a personal preference to be in the middle of the map, wide option to attack the others :). Now, I would normally attack to get some advantage, mostly Victory Points, but I have had to just choose, I would go medieval on France - large country and lots of resources. Nothing personal though. Agnieszka’s thoughts on the matter: I would actually play Ireland, as I have already worked out the best strategy for me. Whenever I start in Ireland and there is no one playing in Scotland – Woo hoo! - and when Florin is playing on the main land (he is a Warrior 100%), then I know I will be calmly implementing my strategy and most probably win!

13- Where Can Fans See You Guys Out And About This Year? 
For sure we will be in Spiel 2012, in Essen. That's where we'll launch our newest games. Before Essen, it’s difficult to say. We would like to attend as many conventions as possible, but we are few and very busy. Also, living in different countries makes it even more difficult to plan and travel. If for 2012 we still don't have a definite plan, I can promise this much, in 2013 we will be more visible.

I would say that we would love to go to many conventions and event, however it costs, usually it costs a lot. I am more than happy though to have board game play evenings, and I am actively looking for some play groups at the moment in Belgium. Personally I like friend-alike groups where you can actually talk to people and get to know them and play good games. 

Now hopefully that has given you a good run down of the background to NSKN and the game Warriors and Traders.

In the not too distant future we will have a Wee review of the game up, so watch out for it!

NSKN will be attending Salute this year as well as Essen.

You can also find more about NSKN on their website Facebook
Warriors and Traders can also be found on its own website | Blog |  Facebook | BoardgameGeek

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Thursday, 22 March 2012

A Wee interview with some Warriors and Traders - Part 1

Its funny what can happen when wee gamers go off to somewhere like Essen Spiel.  In 2011, a bunch of wee gamers went there (and i must admit i was seriously jealous!!) and they duly came back with tales of high adventure and much booty. AAAARRRRRrrrrrrr.

One piece of booty that Wee Andy came back with was a board game called Warriors and Traders from a company called NSKN.  And it looks beautiful.  A review of gameplay and contents will come soon, but in the meantime Andrei and Agnieszka from NSKN agreed to a Wee Gamers interview so people can get a sense of the makers of Warriors and Traders.

1) So, what is NSKN and how did you guys start? 
The story of NSKN started with Warriors and Traders.

It all started about 2 and a half years ago........

I was spending a lot of time playing games with the same group of friends and, although we were mostly Euro-gamers, we used to throw in some war games once in a while. It was after one of these games when I received a challenge from a friend, to create my own board game, in which to combine Euro-mechanics in a war game and to make it luck free.

I took it as a joke in the beginning, but after no more than two weeks, I started thinking seriously about actually doing it. The first thing I came up with was the name and the setting. I am a passionate history reader and I chose to place the game in the Dark Ages of Europe, when most great European nations crystallized. It was the high-time of mighty warriors to defend and conquer and of skilled traders to provide for kings means to go on with their battles. Therefore, Warriors and Traders!

And as a plus, it describes the game so well in just two words.

At first I kept on going out of curiosity, to see just if I could do it. After my first few tests with only two players it was pure excitement that got me going until I reached the point of having an actually playable game. I had a bit of a downtime then , but I started working as soon as I had a chance to test the game with 6 players and the feedback was very good. My motivation grew stronger in time, just by seeing that a simple idea was growing in front of my eyes into a unique game that possessed all the elements that I wanted from the beginning: war, trade and resource management in a random free environment.

One year later Warriors and Traders was no longer a dream project, but a fully playable game. I was still playing with people wherever I was going and I was encouraged to get the game published by people in the industry. At the same time I was thinking about a career change and then, it just happened. I spoke with some of my friends who were involved in testing from the very beginning and also had some decisive contribution in the development and we started our own publishing house. Although we were self-financed from the day one, we took our chance and produced the games in Germany and signed up for Spiel '11 Essen.

It looked very risky at first, but I was willing to invest all my savings into making this dream I had into reality without compromises. And this is how NSKN Legendary Games was founded.

2) Who’s Who At NSKN , Who Has All The Ideas And Who Makes The Tea?
We are four!

Since there's no way to order people by importance, let's order them by name.

Agnieszka - the advertiser, coming up with new ideas, challenging the others. She's as much a board games fan as she is a perfectionist in her job. She's also the one who cares!

Andrei - the game designer and the business oriented guy. He makes the business strategy and makes the first prototypes for games.

Florin - the guy who does things. Joking aside, he's been responsible for game testing, marketing and selling and all the logistics. So, we can say he really does it all.

Vlad - the developer. He does mainly game development, take things where others left them and finishes. Also, he's there for technical support.

There are also many other amazing people who have helped us along the way and we thank them, but we are the four musketeers, making things happen.

The most important thing is NSKN = first letters of our surnames. Yes, I know, it is so innovative – believe me, creating the company was not as intriguing as creating a proper name for it.

3) I’ve Just Come Into Your 'Shop' It’s Raining, I’m Not Happy, My Friends Are Coming Round....Why Should I Buy Warriors and Traders? 
I think that if it’s raining and you’re not happy and I’ll assume you are also cold and in spite of all that, you decided to buy a board game – it has to be Warriors and Traders.

Playing Warriors and Traders will be long enough to warm you up but not too long to bore you. The game play will be exciting and engaging so you’ll forget the rain and the cold awaiting you outside. You will simply cherish the beautifully designed map and Warriors & Traders’ components so all your sadness will go away. You will have the unique chance to become a Warrior, a Trader and a Builder just in one evening, while happily spending time with great friends, warm drinks, delicious snacks and a brand new innovative strategy game.

If your friends are coming round, it's a game for 6, so, being a gamer, you won't have more friends than that! :)

Joking aside, Warriors and Traders is a gamer's game. It's complex yet not so complicated and it runs without a trace of luck. I can rather tell you what others liked and how they responded to Warriors & Traders, especially during the official release in Spiel '11 Essen.

The first thing that attracted people to our stand was the design of the box and of the game board. Once we explained to people what the game wass about, we got a lot of positive feedback from interested gamers who wanted to know more. I knew from the very beginning that Warriors and Traders was not a mainstream game and I was surprised to see how many gamers were still interested after hearing the peculiar aspects like the lack of luck in a game with a significant war component or the mix of military and Euro-engine. Many qualified our game as "unique" which was surprising but describes the game very well.

4) How Did You First Come To The Warriors and Traders Idea And How Does The Game Now Differ From Your Early Concepts? 
As, I said before, it started with a challenge and it became serious over time. I would say that the concept stayed the same, it was just the implementation that changed shape in time. The original idea was to have a random-less game, to be historically accurate and interesting and to bring in battle (without luck) into a game with a Euro engine.

The early concepts showed some lack of experience. In the very beginning, I had countless types or armies; I had a map that contained almost every single present-day country in Europe and a much simpler tech tree. Through testing and a better understanding of modern board games I got them in the phase where they are today. I had some financial pressure as well, I had to make some cuts due to production costs, but I never gave up the core ideas.

5) What Do You Feel Is The Most Important Aspect Of Playing Board Games?
I cannot settle for only one :) I would say - and this is a personal opinion - that the most important role of board games is that they stimulate our brains in so many ways that we cannot even imagine. I am, of course, talking about thinking, reasoning, exercising our memory, but board games also develop our social skills. 

Board games are back - this is how I started my first interview after making Warriors and Traders.

I believe people realize that it is a better, more intelligent way to spend free time with friends, especially when talking just isn't enough.

It’s the magic which always makes playing board games an amazing experience. When you start playing board games and you actually like it, then you cannot find other way for filling your free time with anything else.

Board Games are one of the greatest ways of learning, seeing things ‘out of the box’ as well as planning and  structuring your life. Besides the obvious like socializing with friends and sharing your passion with others I believe the most important aspect of playing board games is the different knowledge approaches they teach us.

6- What’s Your Best Memory From The Development Of Warriors & Traders? 
It's difficult to say. I was equally excited after playing the first prototype when I saw that my project made some sense and it was almost playable.  Not to forget when I opened the first game that came from the producer in Germany. It was a magic moment to tear apart the plastic shrink and to punch out the token from a game I created.

It was after my knee surgery when I was facing a long and disturbing process of recovery, Andrei brought first printed pre-prototype of Warriors and Traders. I remember how much I did not want to play at that time, I thought – I have heavy pain in my whole body and he wants to play a game! 

Anyway – I played, and after two hours of playing and another two hours of exiting brainstorming, discussing and challenging the rules amazing thing happened – I realized that I forgot about all my pain so we played till early morning next day.

Maybe it’s silly but still – this is the best memory from the development of Warriors and Traders I have.

To be continued............. 

What's that? Is that all? Do not worry all you Wee Gamers out there.  This is the first half of the interview.  The second part will be going up soon.  So come back for the next instalment, before we start looking at the game itself :)

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You can also find more about NSKN on their website | Facebook
Warriors and Traders can also be found on its own website | Blog |  Facebook | BoardgameGeek

Monday, 12 March 2012

Some like it (Lego) Hoth!

So it is a time of Rebellion yady yady yah, Its Lego dude!  

To review a Lego game may not seem like its really work and you would be right. Let’s face it there’s two kinds of people in the world, the Chosen who love Lego and then some other people.  So really, if you like Lego, nay LOVE Lego, you're probably gonna like this no matter what your told. Add into that mix a Love of the Star Wars universe and you are on cloud nine. We (mad gamers) have all I’m sure at least seen the photos from dedicated fans who have put together the Battle of Hoth in Full size Lego, but let’s be honest that’s well outside the price band for many gamers, regardless of their level of love for the bricks or the Force. 

Enter Lego Games and the Battle of Hoth. 

A Lego game sized Battle of Hoth offering you the chance to battle on the icy wastes of Hoth with Imperial and Rebel forces in suitably mini scale. 

As with all games in the range, we once again have a sturdy card box intended for the storage and use of the game. It certainly seems sturdy and fingers crossed my Lego Heroica Game box still doesn’t look the worse for wear. Inside we find our several bags of Lego, the construction manual. As well as the how to build your board and components the last few pages offer several more ‘board’ set ups - though really once you see how the movement works adapting the board shouldn’t be too much effort. - Its worth a note that you really shouldn’t bin this, if any of the minis fall apart or meet over enthusiastic players its handy to see how things go back together. Next up is the multi lingual ‘Rule Book’ despite its size we are only looking at 4 pages of English rules and even then its Lego, its not Rules heavy. There are several characters and components not used in the…em, basic game! But the book suggests alternative or additional rules that would employ them thus altering how the game works. The Bags of Lego, don’t need explanation, so lets jump to what you get to build! 

Game parts 
The Board, this is made up of two end zones - rebel base and Imperial base, Tiles with the forces icons denote the base, while the base areas themselves are grey tiles. The battle area is made up of white, grey and blue tiles, disks and planks. A few blue clear single bricks add some ‘ice’ for effect. 

Imperial forces 
Two AT-AT’s each with two mini snow troopers. (Yes you can pose the legs and head and guns!) One Imperial AT-ST with an mini imperial commander riding shotgun. This is more Walker flavour than the AT-AT’s, but looks okay. One Imperial Gun Emplacement, with Two mini Snowtroopers operators‘. There is then a ‘Unit’ of 4 mini Snowtroopers and, or should I say AND a Two man unit lead by Mini VADER.  As options to the manpower there is an additional Imperial Commander and ………. BOBA FETT! Weeeeeeeeeee! 

Rebel Forces 
Two Snow Speeders, which are as dinky as the AT-AT’s, again crew of two (one faces backwards) rebel pilots, grapple gun represented. One Tauntaun and rider, personally I feel it looks more effective than the AT-ST, but what the hey. There is also a Rebel Gun Emplacement crewed by two rebel ground troopers. There is a Unit of Rebel Ground Troops and……….LUKE in X-Wing uniform leading two more Rebel Ground Troops. The additional Rebel manpower coming in the shape of Han in Hoth Gear and Chewie. SWEET. It is also worth noting that a nice suggestion in the paper work, is the breaking of the game board in two at a certain point, allowing it to fit, still built into the box for storage. So What’s the Game Like and About? As with nearly all such Lego Games, Roll the special Lego Dice, Move and do something, in this case Blow each other up with Blasters and stuff - And USE THE FORCE! 

The Dice has 3 possible faces.
RED - is a hit, each hit removes a figure - a vehicle once devoid of crew isn’t destroyed! No only when its hit again is it removed. 
RED with Imperial/Rebel symbols - The Force, its an ordinary hit, but if you rolled for Luke or Vader then the Unit is destroyed. 
White - Miss, easy. It’s good that you can play with the hit/miss rules as much as you want, the force might push units back, maybe you don’t like the idea of Luke killing, or Vader being too powerful. 

Winning in the basics is 1- move a unit into your enemies base zone, or 2 - kill everyone

Again as you play its quite simple to start to see how you could mix that up. 

Every UNIT type has an attack zone and range, so Troopers are good up close, but useless beyond a square away, the diagonal firing units may be more of a challenge, and certainly take the unwary by surprise.  

Units can only move along paths to empty disk spaces. They cannot jump gaps or cut corners, thus the maze style board and different fire zones for units comes into play well. So is it any good really? Like I said, if you like SW/LEGO then you really know what to expect, and your happy button will already be pressed. If you’re a die hard gamer, obviously you know that this isn’t Memoir 44 or ASL. It is a fun little game, which you will get between 15-30 mins of play out of for each game, unless you start going mad with house rules. 

Therein lies the secret I think with Lego games, planned by them or not any gamer with a degree of wit is going to quickly and simply enhance and adapt rules to make the game more demanding, yet still fun. Your options as they say are limited only by your imagination. I’ve already looked at pressing into service some of the mini models that came with the Lego Advent Calendar. 

Keeping it in balance is all that matters really. To Score a Lego game like this is an odd fish. I think you have to accept the simplicity with which such games will come and either stick with that and be happy or adapt the game with your own house rules. 

So that in mind I have to give SW BOH 9/10. 

The quality can’t be faulted, Lego is Lego at the end of the day. The Flavour is SW, and they capture in mini the figures and ships well. Just be happy that this is a spare time game for you and your mates or family. The loss of 1 point for me is that even as a ‘kids’ game I think it’s a little too easy and the game board could be bigger, even a few extra tiles to allow you to expand it. Personally a 2nd box is in the offing to give that larger play area. I hope that this gives you a better idea of what’s packed in the box and what it does. 

Keep playing 

Wee Andrew.

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Thursday, 8 March 2012

Between a Stonewall and a hard place

Privateer Press have released the details of the first Colossal, Cygnar's Stormwall.  And what a big beauty it is too!  The blurb gives it a nice background too.
Perhaps Nemo’s greatest creation, the Stormwall towers over Cygnar’s enemies with all the majesty and menace of a looming cloudburst. From the thunder of its guns to the blinding cracks of arcing electricity from its lightning pods, the Stormwall is the mechanikal embodiment of the tempest. Powered by both steam and surging voltaic energy, it riddles the enemy lines with cannon shells and hails of bullets before smashing survivors with its electrified fists.

The price tag is a beauty as well.  Coming in at $134.99, or about £85.  This could then translate to as much as £100 once transport and taxes kick in.  Maybe more.

So will it be worth it?

Wee Ivor

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Thursday, 1 March 2012

Happy (Dungeons and) Dragons Day

Today is Saint David's Day or Dydd Gŵyl Dewi (in Welsh).

It is the feast day of Saint David, the patron saint of Wales, and always falls on the first day of March which was chosen in remembrance of the death of Saint David.

Tradition holds that he died on 1st March 589 and so the date was declared a national day of celebration within Wales in the 18th century.

And so, as on of the Welsh national symbols is the Red Dragon, i herefore declare this as Worldwide Dungeons and Dragons day too ;)

Have a good one and happy St David's day to all my Welsh friends.

Wee Ivor

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