PROJECTS: My July was dominated by the behemoth known as GenCon. It was my first visit to GenCon, the fair city of Indianapolis and the great state of Indiana. On top of that I brought my family to see the general hoopla and (I hoped) share in the excitement of Letter Tycoon being sold at the Breaking Games booth. It turned out to be a great time – tiring and overwhelming but great. We crowned a Letter Tycoon tournament champion, sold out of copies of the game and, most strange to me, people asked me to autograph their copies.
    August saw me starting work on a German language version of Letter Tycoon, the umpteenth iteration of my prison escape card game (now called Escape the Bastille) as well as working with Norv and Peter on Route 66.

    HOTNESS: Over the last few weeks I enjoyed playing Flip City and Cthulhu Realms at lunch. Flip City feels like if Machi Koro ate DominionCthulhu Realms is Star Realms. With Cthulhu. And slightly more complex card powers with dodgy iconography. I like it better than Star Realms though.


    PROJECTS: In July/August most of my creative time & energy was devoted to developing play testable versions of a prototype of a game design that Brad, Peter & myself are working on. It takes players back to the time of 2 lane highways with top speeds of 60 to 70 mph. The players score points by developing businesses somewhere in the Southwest along Route 66. We’re getting a pretty solid core design on the table. I’ve also been spending some time on a game design using Tile Laying/Exploring inspired by the Avalon Hill game of times past – “Source of the Nile”.

    HOTNESS: Towards the end of August I played “Love Letter” a couple of times with my wife in an attempt to encourage her growth in gaming.


    PROJECTS: This month was really the story of two cons for me–neither of which was GenCon.

    First, I attended Haiticon where I was one of many special guests along with industry heavyweights, Matt Leacock, Tom Lehmann, Ted Alspach, and Susan McKinley Ross. An extra bonus was that I got to hang out with fellow leaguer, Luke Laurie, who drove up from LA to attend as a special guest too.

    Haiticon is a fun little convention run in a beautiful urban church in a hip San Francisco neighborhood. It was a blast. I tested out a bunch of brand new changes for Secret Game X which seemed to largely work, but there are still further changes I want to make before trying another blind playtest with the publisher. My new Völuspá boards were a mixture of great from the start, blah and boring, and fun but horribly broken. I expected this since this was my first time trying out any of the boards. Each of the boards has its own unique twist and despite all of the problems, I am convinced the boards will be a great addition to the game.

    HOTNESS: Second, my wife and I attended Meeplefest, a local con full of some of the most avid and friendly gamers you’ve ever met. The game library is ridiculous. It may not be the largest, but it has every hot game you could want to try. However, my first two days I played games that were misses for me:

    A Study in Emerald A hot mess full of interesting ideas and fun theme, but too complicated to be a purchase for me.

    Flick ’em Up Great components, but I only made one shot the whole game and it killed a fellow teammate. So, it’s fun if you can flick well, which I obviously can’t.

    Dead of Winter Enjoyable, but it didn’t really live up to the hype for me. It certainly is not a must-buy.

    Luckily, half-way through the con, the games started to get really good:

    Orleans My wife taught me this game and it was a really solid Euro featuring a pouch building mechanic and lots of medieval workers to utilize in clever ways.

    Dominion Adventures Maybe the best new expansion since Dominion Prosperity. My wife and I love Dominion, so this one really excited us with all of the new goodies including reserve cards, event cards, and new duration cards.

    Gulo Gulo My boys loved this game. It feels like a fun combination of Candyland and Pick up Sticks with cute wolverine pawns. You try to take certain colored eggs out of a bowl without tipping over a stick stuck in the middle of the eggs. It is harder than it sounds!


    July and August were extremely busy for us at Cosmic Wombat Games. July was a blur in preparing for Gen Con by getting numerous prototypes ready, coordinating volunteers to cover scheduled events, setting up meetings, obtaining various items needed for the booth and swag, and many other odds & ends.

    Of course the end of July was Gen Con! We were there on Tuesday (7/28) setting up our booth, during which it was literally over 100 degrees in the exhibit halls (they don’t run the air during setup as the dock doors remain open for unloading) — it was absolutely miserable, but we persevered. On Wednesday, we finished the booth during the day and in the evening Jeff went to cover our Trade Day demos while I gave an orientation meeting to our dozen volunteers. Thursday started off strong and it never let up until Sunday evening (as even after the show ended we were on a tight schedule to get the booth torn down).

    Even though we had completely lost our voices by the end of the show, we always very much enjoy meeting people and showing them our games. We had six different games being demoed this year, both in the booth and through 100 events in the gaming hall as well as a few in the playtest hall. People were really drawn to and loved our giant sized Campaign Trail floor mat, and there were a lot of people really interested in the game! This year we also participated in the Cheese Weasel ConQuest program, which added even more to the already high booth traffic (we’ll have to wait and see if it was actually worth it). In addition to the booth (which we were at almost the entire time the vendor hall was open) and events, we had over 15 meetings throughout the con (most in the evenings).

    We averaged 3.5 hours of sleep a night (which is at least better than the 2 hours a night last year) and literally would not have gotten to eat anything if it had not been for my wife making food runs for us! Overall, despite the exhaustion, it was a great time and we are extremely thankful to all our volunteers — without whom, it would not have been possible! As for the rest of August… it was also a blur as a result of working on many, many tasks in preparation for the Campaign Trail Kickstarterlaunching September 16th.


    PROJECTS: Oh summer! Where did you go? July is my birthday month, so of course I played tons of party games!

    The highlight of the summer was Gen Con, of course! This was my first con with no real agenda – no Tabletop Deathmatch, no volunteering, not even any event tickets – and so I spent a lot of it roaming around and meeting up with awesome Internet friends and game designers. I ran into Jeffrey Norman Bourbeau, the Gamelyn Games crew, the Bamboozle BrothersIssac Shalev, and fellow Leaguers Luke Laurie, Kelsey Domeny, Peter Vaughan, and JR Honeycutt.

    Next up? Publication of my first game, Bearanoia, to be released in October 2015!

    HOTNESS: I think I maybe played five games, all prototypes, throughout all of Gen Con. But I met dozens of game designers, listened in on podcast interviews with industry heavyweights, and of course, bought some super sparkly new dice after swearing up and down that I had enough polyhedrals already.

    In August I attended the World Boardgaming Championships, started work on my new RPG, Camp Friendship, and began work on a few new board game prototypes, including a 4X about birds trying to collect shiny things.


    Missing in action.


    PROJECTS: July was prepping for Gen Con where we hosted our second year of The Amberden Affair Live. 5 Sold out events later, we were exhausted and totally pumped. We also prepped some prototypes for meeting with publishers. We took two with us and left both in the hands of publishers we respect and would enjoy working with. So, we’ll see what happens!

    In August, we have been continuing development of Four Omens of the Tu’i Tonga. We’ve had some very exciting “ah-ha” moments in our development and couldn’t be happier with where this game is going. It was accepted into the Tabletop Showcase at Boston Festival of Indie Games. So, we’re excited to join other great designers in the showcase there tomorrow, and play our game with more new people! If you’re in New England, come to the festival! We’ll be at booth I-10.


    PROJECTS: July/August has given me an unexpected treat! In June I started experimenting with some small, quick games, and in August the cream of the crop revealed itself. After a brief facebook poll, I decided to call the prototype Trellis. Because I’m planning on finding a publisher for my next game or two, I’ve spent a bit of time making the prototype look nice to really convey what I imagine the final thing could be. Trellis was put through the ringer at the awesome League organized Celestispiel prototype event at Celesticon, and I’m happy to say that it went over very well!

  • PROJECTS: I haven’t played a lot of published fare lately, but I did manage to get in some prototype testing. I’ve gotten Alter Ego to the table a number of times lately, and after playing it with the TMG crew at GenCon, I’ve got a new format which makes the game feel more teamwork-y and less downtime-y. That game is really shaping up, and I’m hoping it can be finished in time for a GenCon 2016 release.I’ve also revived an old design I’d started with Tim Fowers called Now Boarding – designed at the first installment of our Game Design Attack event. Now Boarding is a cooperative game where you control airports in a region, and you must send passengers to their destinations at your fellow players’ airports.

    The other prototype I’ve gotten to the table lately is Odysseus: Winds of Fate. I finally tested the latest changes, and for the most part they went well. That game is slowly progressing.

    In addition to my own prototypes, I played a few TMG submissions I brought home from GenCon. Who knows, maybe you’ll be hearing about some of them down the road…


    Missing in action. (When asked about a rundown, Mr. Jolly answers in the affirmative).


    PROJECTS: July and August were two SUPER busy months for my game design work. I’ve been assisting a bunch with the development and finishing touches on The Manhattan Project: Energy Empire, which is gearing up for an October Kickstarter launch.


    In July, I was able to attend Haiticon in San Francisco and play some great games, meet other fantastic designers, and help a good cause.

    Saturn Rising” was rejected by one publisher and submitted to another publisher on the same day at Gencon. My game Stones of Fate was being sold for the first time at Gencon at the Cosmic Wombat Games booth.

    Meanwhile, I threw together the core of an entire new game, “Califia – The Rise of California,” which is a tile placement game with semi-cooperative engine building. Actions are carried out through a scaled-down deck building mechanic.


    Not to mention, I did all the prep work to bring the second annual Celestispiel to life, which turned out to be a HUGE success.

    I finally got to play “Compounded” at Gencon. I picked it up after the con from my FLGS: Leisure Time Games, along with New York 1901 (which I previously had the pleasure of playtesting), and last, but not least: La Granja – which is awesome.


    PROJECTS: We had a blast at GenCon showing our board games to publishers and designers and seeing them around the convention. Twilight Creations was running demos of our cooperative game Jupiter Rescue all weekend, and we talked to Tasty Minstrel Games about some very exciting plans for our “build-your-own-worker placement” game, Chimera Station. We spent a lot of the convention pitching our newest prototypes to publishers, and ContrabandBlazing SpudsOceanica and Strife are all now under review!


    HOTNESS: While we didn’t get a copy before they sold out, we loved the demo we played of Codenames Christina is a sucker for strategy and word games, so the combination was really intriguing. Hoping to add that to our collection soon!


    Missing in action.


    Missing in action.


    PROJECTS: Calmer than June, as my latest two games were in production, but both Boomtown Bandits and Letter Tycoon were gearing up for essentially their major debut at Gen Con, which was still a huge task in preparation. I was working on something related to the games or promotion to the minute before the con, like helping design a 3D model of what would become a Wild West saloon facade at our booth Letter Tycoon coaster promo!

    Letter Tycoon promo

    In August, I have started work on Route 66 with Brad and Norv, and having a blast in co-design. Speaking of co-design progress, I also solidified the new direction for Dwellings of Eldervale with Luke. I can imagine unique projects with each of the League – perhaps that’s what this has all been for!

    I have also been playing a few games Squirmy Beast is considering for development, as well as taking time to find a dedicated design space in LA. We’re translating the rules (and in some cases designing) for games in German, French and Spanish in anticipation of Spiel at Essen later this year. I mailed a ton of Gen Can’t 2015 packages and found my way back to my local con, Strategicon Gateway, at the end of the month.

    HOTNESS: I suppose my hotness should be the games I sought out at Gen Con, even though they haven’t all hit the table just yet. After pouring over Eric Martin’s Gen Con Preview, I decided on New York 1901MysteriumCastles of Mad King Ludwig: Secrets expansionImperial Settlers Atlanteans expansion, and Nevermore as my priorities. The Mysterium line was a no-go, and Castles exp wasn’t out yet but happy to have snatched up all the others. My favorite of all Gen Con acquisitions might be a cool fox on the fun Lanterns promo tiles.