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"P.S. They put up a 'Toys For Tots' box at my office today. In prior years my standard 'toy' for the box has been a copy of Scrabble. I figure, if I'm going to give some kid a toy at least it should be something fun and potentially educational. This year I think it's going to have to be a few Looney Labs games instead. Nothing against Scrabble but I simply MUST continue to spread the Fluxx Love!" -- email from Di

Thursday, December 1st 2005
by the Writer's Guild of Wunderland

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If you want something from our online store before Christmas, we need your order no later than Monday, December 19th! And don't forget our Holiday Special!

Redesigning Just Desserts

Sometimes, when you're developing something new, the best thing to do is to just start over, throwing away what you've been struggling to make work and beginning again with the lessons learned firmly in mind. I find this to be true in everything from romance to software development, and the value of going back to the drawing board was proven again this week, when we came up with an all-new way of playing Just Desserts.

Just Desserts is a card game I've been working on for several years now. This past summer, we brought out a limited edition beta-test run of the game, and a few rave reviews not withstanding, reactions to the gameplay have been basically lukewarm. The consensus has been that the concept and the components are really cool, but the actual gameplay wasn't quite fun enough, that it still needed something. The inescapable conclusion was that the original version of Just Desserts just wasn't passing the crucial "Let's Play Again" test.

Given these disappointing test results, we moved Just Desserts to the back burner and directed our attention to more definite successes. After Origins, we totally stopped thinking about Just Desserts, and instead focused first on finishing up EcoFluxx, then Family Fluxx, and also Fluxx 3.1 and the reprinting of Chrononauts.

But then came last week's holiday, which got me to thinking about Just Desserts again. You see, this year for ThanksIndians we decided to host a real-life dessert party. We cooked up a buffet of 9 different homemade desserts, and we used Just Desserts cards both to plan the menu and to label the offerings on the table. While eating leftover desserts with Alison & Kristin the next day, I started talking about new ideas I had for the rules, and in almost no time we'd come up with this great new way to play, which we think really does pass the "Let's Play Again" test! Woo-hoo!

As I said before, the components work great, it's the rules we're changing. (It's kind of like inventing a new Icehouse game: we're using the same equipment, but we're playing with it in a different way.) The system of icons, the food cards, the guests and their preferences, none of that has to change (although I'm sure we'll end up tweaking the selections a bit in the final edition).

The new way we play changes the focus from a crowd at a party to each individual guest, one at a time. Perhaps more importantly, the game is no longer turn-style. Instead of letting the "waiters" take turns working the crowd, the game now uses a much faster, simultaneous play system. (Some readers will remember that the original game included a "real-time" option which was rarely used... the new method is kind of like that, but less confusing.)

The new way is better because it focuses the players' attentions on a single problem, which everyone competes to solve first, instead of making players take turns solving a more complex many-to-many equation. It's very exciting!

Well, that's enough overview. If you've already got a copy of Just Desserts, please print out a copy of the all-new rules and give 'em a try! (Let us know what you think on the Betatesters mailing list!) And if you haven't tried Just Desserts yet, copies are still available in the Short Run Depot. Be sure when you buy it that you also download the new rules!

In other news, Chrononauts is back in print! Yay! (I haven't actually seen a copy of the new printing myself yet, but they've arrived at our warehouse, so we're shipping it.) However, there's a minor disappointment in store for the rabid Chrononauts fans who've been looking forward to seeing the redesigned rulesheet I described in my 3rd printing changes memo... that's not gonna happen until the 4th printing. It turns out Carta Mundi had a huge pile of little Chrononauts rulebooks left over from the 2nd Printing... they made too many back then, and just saved the extras, in anticipation of us wanting them someday. And being the environmentalists that we are, we couldn't just throw them away... they're still perfectly valid. Which means the fancy new version of the rules we've been planning will just have to wait.

AndyThanks for reading, have a great week, and Don't Forget to Play!

Thought Residue
Lessons we've learned from 3 movies we saw last week: 1.) Wal*Mart is destroying America, 2.) Not even magical powers can ease the angst of finding a partner for the junior prom, 3.) It's a bad idea to use brain-washing to change one's opinion of vegetables and 4.) Cheese can save your life!

It's that time of year again, when people ask me what I want for Christmas, but since I'm actively packing towards moving right now, I'm less inclined to receive more stuff than I usually am. So here's an alternative gift suggestion I'd always be happy to receive: a donation in my name to any of the organizations listed on the Stoner Fluxx Foundation Donation webpage. (If you're paranoid about sending a check to a group with the word marijuana in their name, how about Law Enforcement Against Prohibition?)
"When the logic is in conflict with the law, we change the law. We don't chuck our compassion. We don't throw away our pragmatism. In this country, what we usually do is we recognize this doesn't make sense any more and we make the change. Eighty years ago the edifice of law said a female, as compared to a male, didn't have enough intelligence to vote. Was the law correct? Of course not! Just in the same way you'd have a hard time looking into the eyes of an eighth-grade girl today and explaining why women couldn't do all the things that they readily do today, people in the future will look back and say, 'These people were putting away people who were sick and dying for using medicine that is effective, using upon their doctor's recommendation?' " -- Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the NORML, seen quoted in an article called "Drug War Victory"

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