Game Designer Spotlight - Kung Pao Chicken

Game Designer Spotlight - Kung Pao Chicken

We wanted to start 2018 off with some fun, so we reached out to game designer Ta-Te Wu. Ta-Te has been a designer for over ten years. He has licensed several games in addition to multiple funded projects on Kickstarter. His newest game, Kung Pao Chicken, is a small social deduction game filled with energy and laughs.

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Live and Growing

"Do try this fun game with your family and friends. It’s pretty fast and takes the players on a fun adventure through a dungeon that is full of monsters and friends who are just as bad as the monsters." -Father Geek

We are live on Kickstarter and over 20% funded right now. It has been a crazy week with so many awesome things happening for Loot the Body. We've had a blast doing podcast interviews and being featured on videos. You can catch us this Wednesday night on the Dice Tower's Crowd Surfing show. 

We found out today that Casual Game Revolution selected us for their monthly Kickstarter top picks. Last week we received the Father Geek Seal of approval after being unanimously approved by reviewers in all gamer tiers. We continue to hear great feedback from reviewers and have ordered a new set of games to fulfill the many game review requests we have received. 

You can keep up with all of the action by following our Facebook and Twitter accounts. If you haven't jumped in as a backer, come on in the dungeon. The loot is to die for. 

We Launch in One Week

We Launch in One Week

It's hard to believe that our Kickstarter Launch is only one week away. We are so excited to make Loot the Body available to the world. Here is everything you need to know. 

  • Campaign Launch is November 7th at 9 AM Eastern
  • Pledges are $25 for one copy of the game and all unlocked bonuses. 
  • Retailers can pledge $20 to join our Retail Partner Program and unlock discounts and exclusive items for bulk orders. The $20 is counted toward the first order from us. 
  • We have a special exclusive pledge level at $50. This level is limited to only 5 backers and includes custom playable characters that the backers get to design. 
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One Step to Better Board Game Design 

Designing a board game is a monumental task. However, you can take one step during the design process that will ensure your game is the best it can be. I want to share how we used that one step to make our game, Loot the Body, better than ever at delivering a great game experience. 

Our design team has enjoyed playing Loot the Body since the very first prototype versions. The visuals and exact mechanics have evolved throughout our year long play testing. We recently sent out review copies and the responses have been fantastic. Game play is fast and easy to teach to gamers of all ages. Reviewers and play testers alike have shown a great deal of love for the artwork and style of the game. The themes are fun and work with the game mechanics in a way that make game play intuitive and enjoyable. 

But, we wanted more. Like every designer and publisher, we want our game to be the “go to” game on everyones game shelf. With that in mind, we gave ourselves one last design challenge before we get our Kickstarter campaign going. If you want to make your game better, you can take on the same challenge we did. 

“Simplify: Remove everything that gets in the way of fun.” 

This seems like a no brainer for designing a board game, right? Not exactly. In the process of designing a game, there is a natural tendency to build the game up. It doesn’t matter if you are starting from a theme and then adding mechanics or if you have some great mechanic and you slap art on it later. Creating a game is largely an additive process. 

It’s easy for a game to bloat out of control or include parts that just aren’t needed. Do your players really need that extra character ability? Is a third win condition going to encourage people to play a second time? Does your totally functional mechanic add to the game experience or just the component list? Thoughtful game designers keep these types of questions in mind. The answer to most questions like these is to simplify everything you can. 

It isn’t always easy knowing where to begin. What needs to go, and what needs to be left alone? You are going to have to get your game in front of people and really listen to what they have to say. It is easy to talk about simplifying, but what does it look like in action? We’ll tell you about what we did to simplify Loot the Body and maximize the fun. 

Recognizing the Problem

At its heart, Loot the Body is a card game with a focus on making smart decisions faster than your team mates. The intensity of the game is supposed to mirror the epic battles that occur in traditional Role Playing Games like Dungeons and Dragons. Players think on their feet and act quickly. Different cards are better in some situations than others. I won’t bore you with the math, but it was designed so that every player should always have one or two useful cards no matter the circumstances. Real life isn’t always as friendly as the math might lead you to believe. 

Real life isn’t always as friendly as the math might lead you to believe..png

Married with Boardgames identified one hidden monster in their great review of Loot the Body. Luck of the draw had the potential to do more damage than a grumpy owlbear. Our game relied on two randomizing elements that were mechanically linked together. Randomizing Dungeon cards ensures that every play through of our game is unique. Randomizing the player deck built tension while equipping players to handle what came up in the dungeon. The combination of both mechanics, would occasionally lead to situations where no card in your hand was useful. 

Players all have the simplified and easy to read Action Cards.

The boys in the lab decided what worked best (and was more thematically appropriate) was for our players to have all of their available “weapons” in hand. Instead of drawing cards from a deck, players now all begin with a nearly identical hand which they maintain throughout the game. Players discard each card when played and the cards remain discarded until a turn is spent to bring them back into the player’s hand. Players still have to make smart decisions as quickly as possible, but no one is ever at a disadvantage due to “bad luck.” 

Information Overload

Removing the draw mechanic required us to decide which cards our players needed. Before the change, every card in the deck was performing two functions; simulating a D20 roll and acting as the weapons wielded by adventurers. Every card had two separate values for players to keep up with, a D20 based Armor Class and an Attack value. Tracking both values could be a challenge for new players. We dropped the D20 mechanic from the cards and kept only the attack element.

Removing the D20 element from the cards created multiple other opportunities for simplification. Our monster cards were relying on FOUR different numbers to show what they were capable of. In addition to that, some monsters had special abilities that show up in text boxes. Players had to look at how tough the monsters were, compare that number with the two numbers on their cards, consider the monsters ability, and then decide which of their available cards was the best option. The system worked and got easier the more familiar you were with the cards, but the last thing we want is a bias against new players. The first time a player plays your game is always the most important. Changes to the action cards meant we could remove the Armor Class value from our monsters.

Removing the Armor Class Symbol and adding color was step one in simplifying our dungeon monster cards.

We replaced the D20 element with an easy to understand color system. Utilizing the background color of the action cards makes it easy to identify which cards are useful against a dungeon card. This was a great start, but we decided to take the simplification even further. 

We were now relying on color to tell us important information about every dungeon card. After several play tests, we discovered that by standardizing reward values based on color, we could eliminate another two values from the monster cards.  We then removed all text boxes and replaced them with easy to read symbols. With all of the freed up real estate on the cards, we were able to increase the size of the artwork we so dearly love. We can't show it all, but you can check out the full gallery of art here

The final simplified version of our dungeon monster card is free of all but one icon and still provides all the information needed to play. 

We did more than just simplify the monsters. We removed numbers and anything that might be confusing from all of our dungeon cards. Greater than and Less than signs get confusing when you look at a card upside down. Traps and treasures rely on simple background color to let players know what they need to do to avoid taking damage. 

Our Trap and Treasure Cards received the same simplification treatment. The before and after is astounding.

In the Right Place

The player aid provides easy access to monster ability symbols and damage tracker.

Older versions of Loot the Body relied on the draw deck and D20 mechanics to create emotional tension and an impetus to act quickly. By removing the draw mechanic, those crucial elements were removed from the game. There was no longer any possibility for gaining an advantage with a Critical Success card, or experiencing the emotional roller coaster of drawing a Critical Fail. These are core elements of Loot the Body that set it apart from other card games. Needless to say, this was an issue we had to address. 

The solution turned out to be a simple one. We added a deck of twenty cards labeled from one to twenty. We utilized the same tried and true mechanic of drawing to determine which player gets a penalty for being last. The deck also creates opportunities for players to gain greater success when they draw a Critical Hit, or feel the anguish of a Critical Failure. This deck gives us all of the benefits of the original setup without any of the negative consequences. 

Know When to Stop

The changes we made were small but significant. By the end of our process we had a game that utilized all of the original core mechanics without the bloat of unnecessary randomization or information overload. With just a few minor changes and a focus on simplification we were able to turn an already great game into something spectacular. Loot the Body is more easy to learn and play than ever. Gameplay is streamlined without any of the elements that could occasionally feel clunky. Randomization works for the game in creating unique experiences every time it's played without ever making players feel left out of the action. And, in what felt like a bonus to us, the changes allowed two player games to function exactly like games with larger groups. We no longer have a need for a “dummy” hand. 

Real life isn’t always as friendly as the math might lead you to believe.-2.png

Simplification works! It made our game better than it has ever been. This one design step is a powerful tool you can use in whatever game you are designing as well. Never get so attached to an element of a game that you let it outlive its usefulness. Remember to keep asking yourself those insightful questions as you are working on your game. If something can be made more simple, chances are it's better off that way.  We want to hear how a focus on simplification affects your game design. 

You can keep up with Loot the Body and our other exciting projects by following us on Twitter or Instagram @BTeamgames

The Latest Rules for Loot the Body can be downloaded here.

Loot and Win Contest

Enter here for a chance to win.

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The Contest

Loot the Body! has come a long way since the day I first woke up and madly typed up a rules draft. Throughout the many revisions, multiple prototypes, and extensive play testing the only true constant has been the name of the game. 

"Loot the Body" is a phrase anyone that has ever played an RPG is familiar with. It doesn't matter if adventurers just defeated a lowly thief or a dragon king, looting the body is always the thing to do after a victory. The phrase pops up more often than you might realize, and we want you to help us find it. There is of course some sweet loot up for grabs if you do. All you have to do is find a reference to Loot the Body and share it with us and the world using the #LootTheBody. 

Prizes

  • Grand Prize - $500 and a Custom Copy of Loot the Body! with a custom  playable character designed by the winner and 2 Monster Packs. 
  • One Winner will receive a Custom Copy of Loot the Body! with a custom  playable character designed by the winner and 2 Monster Packs.
  • 5 Winners will receive a copy of Loot the Body! and 2 Monster Packs
  • 5 Winners will receive a copy of Loot the Body!

How to Enter

There are four ways you can enter the contest.

  1. All contestants must sign up here for to be entered into the contest. 
  2. Find a reference to "Loot the Body" somewhere in media that already exists. Share the reference with us and the world on Twitter using #LootTheBody. If you are the first person to give us a particular reference, you receive 5 entires into the contest. Example Tweet: Tiberius Stormwind wants to #LootTheBody on #Criticalrole Episode 5 at 36 min. 
  3. Retweet or Share one of the Find Loot the Body Contest posts from our social media. Each retweet and share gets you 1 entry into the contest. 
  4. Create your own reference. Share a creative video of you or a group of friends saying the phrase "Loot the Body" with the #LootTheBody on social media. Every unique post receives 1 entry in the contest. 

For the complete rules and all terms and conditions go here

Underleague: A fresh take on Strategy Card Games

Image of Cards on Table.png

Underleague: A fresh take on Strategy Card Games

If you’ve had your eye on Kickstarter, you may have seen some of the new releases that came out this week. One of the newest offerings is a unique strategy card game called Underleague. We spent some time chatting with the designer Fergus Blair about what makes Underleague special. 

Underleague is the first publication from independent studio Cogwright Games. Fergus and his design team are based in London, England. They have spent the last 4 years putting together a very strong offering for anyone that has ever been interested in strategy card games. 

Fergus wanted to create a strategy card game that anyone could play right out of the box. Most strategy card games require what feels like a ‘lifestyle’ commitment. There press release sums it up nicely. 

The rules can be learned and taught quickly even by those with no experience playing card games, and the pre-built decks in the box provide a huge amount of replay-ability. Central to the game is a unique betting mechanic: as well as fighting your opponents’ creatures, you also have to predict which creatures will win and lose fights each round. This adds an additional layer of strategy to the game – you have to know when the smart play is to bet against yourself, and you need to think about how your bets will influence the other players’ decisions.

Most strategy card games rely on card mechanics to keep players interested. Overtime, the same mechanics can get old or predictable. That is why Wizards of the Coast consistently release new sets of cards for Magic the Gathering. They rely on new and interesting mechanics to keep players enticed and enjoying the game. Underleague takes a much more human approach. 

Construct Card Example.png

The betting mechanic ensures that every game stays fresh and interesting. Winning isn’t just about who has the more powerful cards. The bets you place during the game affect how you and your opponents play the game. Gameplay is always fresh and exciting and you never have to buy an additional card or learn new rules. 

Underleague is live on Kickstarter now. We hope it funds because we can’t wait to play it. You can find out more on their campaign page or on twitter at @CogwrightGames

Backer Talk: What do backers look at before funding your game?

Backer Talk: What do backers look at before funding your game?

Kickstarter has become the bread and butter for small independent game publishers. With upwards of 250 tabletop games at any given moment, the community is thriving. Themes and mechanics can vary from traditional to the bizarre and that is exactly what backers want. With so many games to choose from, campaigns need to make a great first impression or they risk being overlooked entirely. There are dozens of articles on best practices, tips, and tricks, but we wanted to know exactly what gets the attention of real backers. So, we asked them. 

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Character Bio: Lady Swyftaxe

Character Bio: Lady Swyftaxe

The Lady hails from the southern continent of Ungar. The humid jungle of her homeland is widely known for the monstrous and dangerous creatures that dwell within. In a home where the first law is eat or be eaten, Lady Swyftaxe learned to defend herself from ferocious beasts at an early age. Several years ago an evil lich rose to power by harnessing the ancient magics he found in a forgotten temple deep in the heart of the jungle. The lich poisoned the great river, and shortly after, the minds of all who drank from it. As their minds began to decay...

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Designer Interview: Sarah Kennington

Designer Interview: Sarah Kennington

We had the privilege of speaking with independent game designer Sarah Kennington over the weekend. She is in the thick of her first Kickstarter campaign for her game Ore-some. This fast paced wild west mining game is filled with beautiful art by Justin Wyatt and clever mechanics. Sarah has spent over two years getting the game just right for Kickstarter, and the hard work is paying off. Just over a week into the campaign they have already reached 67% of their campaign goal. Check out our interview below to find out how she did it. 

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Designer Interview: Travis Hancock

Designer Interview: Travis Hancock

We are excited to present the the first part in a series of interviews with independent game designers. We had the pleasure of speaking with the designer from the recently funded Tortuga 1667, Travis Hancock. Travis is the founder of Facade Games. Tortuga 1667 is his second independently published game in as many years. With nearly 11,000 backers it is clear Travis is doing something right. 

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Top 10 Tabletop Game Pieces

Top 10 Tabletop Game Pieces

If you are an avid tabletop player, you know how important game pieces are. Along with solid game mechanics, quality game pieces are often what make or break a players first impression of any game. Some game pieces go on to be more famous than the games where they originated. Wooden tokens have been used in games practically forever, but it's the iconic "meeple" token from

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