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"We bought a box of Fluxx years ago at the check-out line in Borders and are now on our fourth deck--the cards get torn, stained, and occasionally blow off in a stiff wind, so we must buy a new deck at least once a year. We give Fluxx to clients as Xmas gifts and stuff and have hooked several people on the game." -- Kathleen of Clayton, NC


Thursday, August 3rd, 2006
Sponsored by Looney Labs

What's New?

Redesigning Just Desserts, Again

You might assume this delicious-looking slice of cake is a new piece of art for Just Desserts. That'd be a good guess, but this cake is actually for Fluxx Espanol. I'm showing off to celebrate the fact that Alison is just about finished, at last, with the 14 color Cosa illustrations she's been doing, which include Cake (since Fluxx Espanol will include Cake instead of Cookies). So the Spanish version of Fluxx is inching closer and closer to the printer!

But while this cake isn't a Just Desserts dessert, I do have exciting Just Desserts news to report: I've redesigned the game again! And I think this time we really have found the winning formula! The newest way to play has a zing to it that takes it from playable to "Let's Play Again!" Whoo-hoo!

Unlike last November's redesign, you need to make some minor modifications to the cards in order to use Version 3 of the rules for Just Desserts. However, it's very simple (you just need to add a number to each Guest card with a permanent marker) and the reward is a much more fun game to play!

Just Desserts has basically been a problem child. Whereas some of my games (like Fluxx and Treehouse) have popped into my head nearly fully formed, this game has been my most challenging to create (and that includes the months of research that went into my Chrononauts games). I first started mapping out the dessert universe 4 years ago... I remember quizzing family members about their favorite desserts (and making some preliminary cards) at the Looney Family Reunion at Skyland in November 2002. It took a really long time just to work out the structure of the Guests and the tastes they were interested in. I noodled around with these concepts for years. As of last summer, I finally had a deck I was happy with, along with a fairly playable initial version of the rules, so we went ahead and published a limited run of the beta-test edition, with rough black & white art, so we could get more reactions. (A few copies of that edition are still available.)

Then last November, after absorbing all the data I'd been getting from reactions to the Version 1 rules, I came up with a totally different -- and generally better -- way of playing a game using the same set of cards. We've been playing it that way ever since, including during the tournament at Origins, but at the end of the day I had to acknowledge that the play value still wasn't quite good enough. Also, there were elements to the original version which people missed. So I went back to the drawing board... and the result is Version 3, a really nice new ruleset that takes the best of the first 2 versions and mixes them together with some new ideas to create a truly delicious combination. If you've got a beta edition, take it out and try it the new way!

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who's helped me coax the fun factor out of this game over the years. Obviously that starts with Kristin and Alison, and especially includes Josh Drobina, Russell Grieshop, the Wunderland Toast Society, the Mad Lab Rabbits and anyone else who played any version and gave us their feedback (including a special shout-out to Billy Brahma, who put a bug in my ear at Origins about bringing back the stealing mechanism). Lastly, I'd like to give an extra special thanks to Robin Vinopal. She's been our full-time Director of Operations for a couple of months now and she's been doing an incredible job of getting our slightly-too-casual company running like a real business ought to run, which has included setting up a lot of new weekly meetings. Last week she suggested we start having official "Design & Development Meetings" where we can focus on playtesting my new ideas, and these new rules for Just Desserts are a direct result of that. Moreover, since this was Robin's first time playing any version of Just Desserts, she had some excellent insights and once again proved herself to be one of my most helpful playtesters.

Anyway, between these new rules and the great responses we've been getting to our search for yummy dessert artwork, it looks like the long wait for Just Desserts might not take too much longer!

AndyThanks for reading, and have a great week!
PS: No update next week... we'll be at GenCon!

Thought Residue
I feel sorry for Yogi Bear. Last week at King's Dominion, I was struck by the fact that the classic attraction I recall as "Yogi's Cave" had been lamely rethemed as a generic "Treasure Cave." Why? Everywhere around me I saw examples of booths and rides with some sort of character or brand grafted onto the front, up to and including the park itself, which now is officially known by the awkward moniker of Paramount's King's Dominion. So why was poor old Yogi kicked out of his cave? It can't be that they lost the license... Boo Boo still has his ride right next door. And it's not like some other newer more important character had taken over, as has happened elsewhere in the park. No, the cave was simply de-Yogized. The re-themeing was so clumsy as to leave intact subtle gags that don't make much sense now, like the sign that says "Bear Left." But then again, I guess that's the point: instead of encouraging us to imagine that Yogi Bear was around the left corner, the sign now tells us that the bear has left the cave. But why? Where did Yogi go?

I'm fondly remembering our family's favorite ice cream parlor, long gone now: Weile's Creations. They had brightly-colored whipped creams and amazing sundaes so big you needed a team to eat them, with fun names like the Drip, the Empire State, the Tin Roof, and the Brown Beauty. They'd top their desserts not just with cherries but with small toys and such... I remember saving the little flags that came sticking out of the top of a Washington Monument. No Wikipedia page yet, but Joe H described Weile's as "the greatest, most spectacular ice cream parlor of all" (in the DC area, anyway), remembering that they offered a sundae called the Lincoln Memorial, which cost $30 at the time and was meant for a party of 50 people. I was reminded of Weile's last weekend, when Dad told me a funny memory he'd just heard from my sister Kathi... she described a time when she was 3 or 4 years old (which means I was around 8) and Dad used a spit-moistened hanky to clean the residue of one of Weile's Creation's off of her face. When she complained about it to me, I reportedly said "Well, you should learn to use your napkin!"
"Consumers might warm to the idea that anytime viewing brings with it a tradeoff in the form of unavoidable commercial viewing." -- Mike Shaw, ABC President of Advertising Sales, seen quoted in an article on ABC's efforts to disable the fast-forward button on DVRs

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