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Late for Thursday, July 12th, 2007

Archives Games




the last first friday & dump and grind, plus a christian wedding & worse than heathens


Haiku Reviews

Night at the Museum  :|

Sure, it's a kids' film,
but even children expect
films to make some sense.

Plus: Shut Up and Sing  :)


Happy Birthday


Tirade's Choice

Squared Circles


"A man came to the lab on Saturday evening while I was Top Rabbit and he said that our Lab was the best place in all of Origins. That in all of this huge, impersonal gaming convention *we* were the happiest, most open, most welcoming, most fun place. He said that particularly for newbies, we were by far the most welcoming. He compared us to some of the other large 'open gaming' rooms. He said that in his experience, and that of some of his friends, sure it was possible to go to some of the other rooms and play games, but mostly only if you had a large group of friends already assembled to game with. That to walk in, solo, it was almost impossible to get into a game and then often you weren't sure you were welcome, just 'tolerated' and it wasn't easy to learn a new game. But in The Lab *everyone* was welcome, solo or in a group or for a short time or for a long time, whether a person was familiar with our games or not. That it was filled with happy, friendly people in a happy, friendly space and we made everyone feel special and welcome." -- Di Sudduth, on the Origins mailing list, 7/14/7



Dead writers and cartoonists, Tatra, and a #1 plastic scrounge-recycling jihad


We Won Our Fifth Origins Award!

Well, we're back from Origins and as usual it was awesome!

The most awesome thing of all, for me at least, was the moment when my game Treehouse won the Origins award for Best Board Game or Expansion of the Year. Woo-hoo! I'm still jumping for joy about that.

It happens that I got a clip of my enthusiastic little acceptance speech, so I posted it on YouTube this week. (I have several hours of videotape to process, which I've barely looked at so far, so I'll be posting more Origins videos later on.)

The second most awesome thing was simply having the chance to get together once again with our community of friends and play a whole bunch of our games together. As usual it was great getting to see old friends again, new friends for the first time, and best of all, to put faces to people we've known up until now only by their email addresses. Of course, some faces we'd liked to have been able to see couldn't make it, and we'll hope to see them next time.

You can't pull off an awesome event like this without an awesome team and I want to thank everyone on ours for being so awesome. Y'all rock! Specifically...

  • Jared Newbold: The name I kept hearing the most when people talked about who was doing a rocking good job was Jared, who did an amazing job of wrangling werewolf hunters in the middle of the night while wearing a viking helmet adorned with flowers.
  • Tucker Taylor: My personal pick for awesomest rabbit this year was Tucker, who once again tamed the monstrous task of running the Fluxx tournaments, this time doing so while struggling with the fever of a developing case of lyme disease.
  • Emily Frawley & Nathan Dilday: Whenever I would look to see who was on duty as the Top Rabbit, it seems like the purple lab coat was usually being worn by one of these two. I was always happy, since I knew the Lab was in good hands!
  • Laura Marsh: Our new friend Laura has proven herself to be a powerhouse of game-teaching energy. It was amazing to see her working the crowd for hours on end at the Treehouse table in our booth.
  • Jean Frane: We were delighted again to have Jean helping us out in the booth, where she also seemed to have endless energy for teaching and demoing our games. It seemed like she was always over there showing people how to play Zombie Fluxx!
  • Elliott Evans: Besides the usual work of running the Icehouse tournament, Eeyore has begun teaching classes on the details of playing the original game. (He then went on to lose said tournament to one of his new pupils.)
  • The Ladies Dutton: The friend of mine with the most seniority who attended this year was Greykell, who brought along her fantastic daughters Aly & Kat, and it was great to have all their help again. Kat became my regular assistant for the Andy vs. Everybody sessions, and did a great job at it even after totally losing her voice. She also kept careful accounting of the scores: over the course of 3 sessions, I won exactly a third of the games I played (36 wins, 72 losses).
  • The Tackett Clan: We just met Katie & Corey & Eric & Cheryl last month at MarCon, but we're quickly getting used to having the Tacketts on hand to help.
  • Mort Myers & Mary & Frank: Speaking of clans we've gotten used to relying on, specials thanks as ever to the Myers not just for everything they did on-site but also for the year-round storage of a slowly-growing pile of bulky stuff we use only for the Big Experiment. Also, thanks for the purple paintjob on the medallion rack (which you built for us a few years ago), it looked awesome!

Other Rabbits would helped out this year who I wanted to make sure I said thanks to: Diane Sudduth, Johnpaul Adams, Chris Ballowe, Eric Zuckerman, Kimberly Terrill, Jessie Clark, Melissa DePlanche, Petra Mayer, Robert Bunn, Shane Tilton, Amy LoCurto, Liam Bryan, David Pryor, 'Becca Stallings, Dayle Hodge, Josh Hipsher, Lisa Padala, Marissa Wells, Ryan McGuire, Steven Black, Beth Dillon, Teddi Banks, Tim Eller, Jeff Wolfe, Jay Forbes, Ross Andrews, Dan Brashler, Gwendolyn Schmidt, Josh Matisoff, Derrick Brashear, Justin Clothier, Shin Blue, Mark Binfield, Rachel Evans, Shanna Grow, Rachel Heck, Shaun Klein, Nathen Wurzel, Shannon Seaman, Marc Hartstein, Karyn Hunt, and Timothy Hunt. (Congrats again on winning the Triple Crown in your first ever IIT, Timothy!)

I'd also like to thank all our friends over at Paizo, who handled all our sales functions in the exhibit hall where our booth space was located. It makes such a difference knowing someone else is taking care of the cash register so we can focus on promoting the products! Thanks! (And we'll see you at GenCon!)

Most of all, I want to thank the incredible women I have the joy of working with: Robin, Alison, and Kristin, who worked in the booth non-stop, and of course the wonderful Carol Townsend, our outgoing full-time Rabbit Coordinator. While we're sad to see her leave as a regular employee, we're happy to say she's agreed to work for us again next summer, on a contract basis, as the Origins Rabbit Coordinator. We couldn't have pulled off this event without her!

This Summer's Promo Cards

We had a couple of different things going on with our new promotional Fluxx cards this year. We've been doing them a certain way for many years, but this time we tried 2 new things at once, and one worked great while the other was a problem.

  • Fluxx 10th Anniversary Promo Packs: We created a really cool pack of 7 new cards to celebrate the 10th year of Fluxx, and they came out great except for being ever-so-slightly the wrong size. The whole print run was recalled, but we didn't realize the problem until we got to the show and started giving them away, so collectors take note, there are at least 100 of these flawed packets out there. Meanwhile, our printer is redoing them and we'll be offering them online soon, and we'll be giving them out at GenCon.
  • Start the Clock: With a classically near-impossible deadline, I had this idea for making postcards featuring a punch-out promo card, and Kristin once again accomplished an amazing feat of manufacturing coordination, which was delivered to us on the first day of the show, and which worked out just as well as I'd hoped it would. The postcard features some slick Zombie Fluxx marketing imagery created for us by the team at Tim Kenney Marketing, whom we've hired to help us with this sort of thing, and it looks really cool! Proclaiming that the "Countdown to Zombie Fluxx Has Begun," the punch-out promo card is a New Rule for Fluxx called Start the Clock, which causes the game to end (with a possible sudden-death winner, or no winner) when a 5 minute timer rings. These postcards will be available in various ways in the near future.

Tournaments

We ran an unbelievable number of events this year, and gave out a record 50 Big Experiment Medallions. Check out the Gallery Page for the names of [some of] the winners!

We ran so many events that it's actually starting to be too many for us to manage, and we're not getting enough competitors for some of the older, more complex pyramid games, so next year's schedule is going to be cut way back. I was very pleased to win the Zarcana tournament, since it could be the last one we do... it was a great match, but we only had 5 competitors. I feel sure there'll never be another Gnostica tournament... when we couldn't convince anyone else in our crowded Lab to play Gnostica for the medallion, we awarded it to Ryan by default. And we ran way too many preliminaries as stand-alones this year. Anyway, we'll be talking about which events to keep, and which ones to axe, in the coming weeks and months on the Origins planning list, so sign on there if you want to voice an opinion.

New Games

Besides celebrating the classics, both vintage and modern, Origins was also the showcase for a bunch of exciting new games.

  • Zombie Fluxx: We're trying to get this finished as fast as we possibly can because everyone is super excited about it. I had 2 copies of my current working prototype available for people to test and they were almost constantly used all weekend. Yet I only have a few changes to make as a result... the design has proven itself to be a winner, we just need to get the artwork done now.
  • Black ICE: Origins marked the debut of my new booklet 3HOUSE, which includes a new game I created just for this product, called Black ICE (previously known as Secret Project 3H-1). Reactions to it have been great! We were constantly running demos of it at the booth and I saw a lot of people trying it out in the Lab. It's been favorably compared with Master Mind (a game that really grabbed me when it was new and I was a kid). Yay! Black ICE is a hit!
  • Stonehenge & Timehenge: Origins also marked the debut of the new Stonehenge anthology board game published by our friends at Paizo under their Titanic Games imprint. More importantly, I got to see the galleys (with groovy artwork!) for the game I designed for the first expansion, Stonehenge: Nocturne, which is being published this fall. I got a very productive playtest/review session with fellow designer Mike Selinker (who oddly enough was the presenter for the Origins Award I received). On top of all this new-game goodness, I sat in on Mike's Stonehenge game design seminar on Saturday morning at Origins, and during this session we actually cooked up a rather intriguing new game for the system, based on input from the audience, starting with Shane Tilton's suggestion that it have a time travel theme. I tossed several good ideas into the mix, including the name: Timehenge. Look for it soon on the Paizo website.
  • Xi City: Jim Steiner (who gave me a way-cool Martian Chessboard last year) presented me with a truly amazing hand-drawn prototype game he'd cooked up. It's his own version of the German hit Carcassonne but recast in a Martian theme and using Icehouse pieces as meeples. It plays great and it looks wonderful... he created all these tiny drawings based on my various images and ideas about the ancient Martian civilizations, described in The Empty City. Thanks Jim! Chris Ballowe and I played it on Sunday night, during the post-con gaming session, and I really liked it!

On our way home, we lingered awhile in West Virginia, in the region we're strongly considering moving to. It being Kristin's birthday, we rented a couple of canoes and paddled down the Shenandoah River. Coincidentally, we did this same trip last year (although with a bigger crowd of friends, since it was on a weekend). If we canoe for her birthday next year, it will be a new tradition!

It was just the four of us in two canoes: Kristin & Alison in one with myself & Robin in the other. This was Robin's first time ever in a canoe so of course I was worried about causing a mishap, but I was well trained during Boy Scouts (yes, I have Canoeing merit badge) so I'm happy to say all went well and she had a grand time!

 

Whew! What a lot I had to talk about this week! Anyway, thanks for reading and have a great, uh, at this point, I'm so late with this bi-weekly update that I can once again just say have a great week! (In my defense I'd like to note that as soon as we got home I was knocked out for a few days by a really nasty bout of stomach flu...)

AndyThanks again to everyone for an awesome Origins!


Thought Residue
Dairy Queen finally has chocolate soft serve! Ever since I was a kid, chocolohics like me have had to get vanilla ice cream with some sort of chocolate add on when visiting DQ. (For all I know, this is either ancient news, or untrue beyond the outlet we visited in Martinsburg, but it certainly stuck in my mind.) Meanwhile, in a fascinating yin to the yang of this first observation, I noticed this same week that Wendy's now offers Frosties in original chocolate, plus new vanilla!

Now I'm really hoping Gore jumps into the race at the last minute: his son just got busted for possession! Gore the Third got caught because he was speeding (driving a Prius at 100 mph!) and once they'd pulled him over the cops had probable cause for a search, during which they found his stash. (Let this be a reminder to all the stoners out there about the One Law at a Time rule).
Elevator buttons should toggle. That way, you could avoid trips to accidentally-pressed floor numbers, and could save yourself from the pain of stopping on each floor after some prankster pushes all the buttons as they exit.