Friday, December 26, 2008

Simplicity vs. Complexity

I've been involved in attempting to make my game designs better (this is pretty much what I am always up to, but it's been a little more with school out for the holidays, this gives me more time). Anyway, I've come to realize a couple of things that I just wanted to put down here.

Firstly, I've really enjoyed designing Peril in the Promised Land. I like the game a lot and think it has a whole lot of potential. The problem has become that it requires a lot of play-testing and tweaking. I don't have a lot of time to do these things so I'm not sure how quickly the game will evolve and progress. I want to see it happen, I just don't have the time or resources right now. But I think this is mainly due to the fact that the game is very complex. First off it's a cooperative game. This means that a system has to be designed that challenges the players, who are working together. Normally there is some balance because players compete against each other. We have a pretty good system. Sometimes I just wonder if it's too difficult to overcome and then, how to make it a little easier. Not an easy task. Secondly, there are a bunch of rules. I'm still trying to put together the rulebook. It's very time consuming! And every time I explain the game to someone else, I think to myself, "wow! there are a lot of things to remember!" With this complexity comes more time to make sure it all works together "perfectly."

On the other hand, simpler games don't require the same time commitment (in my limited experience thus far anyway). We've currently got Hagoth: Builder of Ships that we're working on. It's competitive and a whole lot simpler. I've been keeping track of the rules as we've designed and played the game. I've just about got the rulebook put together (ready for review by friends anyhow) and it's only 3 pages long! Quite a difference. I'm struggling through the rulebook for Peril in the Promised Land and it's already 5 pages long, with several more to be added.

I guess I'm throwing this all out because I've pretty much decided that I'm going to attempt for now anyway, to work on designing less complex games. You know, the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) principle. Sometimes simpler is better (as long as the game is immersive, and therefore fun)!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Tweaking & Iteration

Yesterday I was able to play Peril in the Promised Land with a couple of friends. It's interesting how getting other people's perspectives on the game is very insightful. I have felt like the game is in a pretty good stage. I think things work pretty well and it's pretty balanced. Then they had a few insights as we played and after we finished (we lost!!) that really were completely logical and very helpful in making the game a lot better (at least it seems like it will be, I need to play it more with the changes to see how it all works). I guess you can tweak a game and go through iteration after iteration and, my question is, how do you know when you've finished or reached an end? Like I said, I thought things were good, but now, I wonder if other changes can be made to improve things. How much should a game be play-tested? How does one know that the game has reached an end of the design phase and needs no more tweaking?

On Board Game Designers Forum someone asked a similar question (here). Some of the response is that you can't really say how many times a game needs to be play-tested before it is "ready." It's important to make sure you are changing things up each time you play-test. One response in particular said: "remember your trying to break the game through your playtests try and find strange loop holes and other such things that will need changing to prevent certain outcomes or maybe even new strategies that you think need defined more so they may work." I hadn't thought of it that way before, but I think it is true. Each time I am able to play one of my games with a new person I get a lot of new insights that I hadn't even thought about before.

As a result I think I need to get my games to "a good point." Then I need to enlist several people at different times to play-test, with me as a player and with me as a spectator. Then I'll be able to get lots of different perspectives and the play-tests won't be the same all the time. I can also take it upon myself to attempt to play differently every time my wife and I play. It will reveal new things that haven't come up before.

I'm so glad that there are so many people out there willing to share their insights and experience, and that the internet offers us a place to do that.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Learning & Resources

12:09 PM by Mike · 0 comments
I've been looking around for some ideas about mechanics. I first looked on boardgamegeek under mechanics. The list they have is a lot smaller than I had thought would be there. I've also found a blog on Board Game Designers Forum by KrinkleChip about game mechanics. And of course, there is the wikipedia article. I've also come across some pretty good ideas regarding putting together a nice database of mechanics in forums here and there, but I'm unable to really find anything like that currently. It would be a huge undertaking.

The reason I'm looking into all this is that, with the restrictions I've placed upon myself (discussed here), I'm working on a card-based game (calling it Korihor: Anti-Christ right now), attempting to keep the components down to cards, one die, and some tokens. In this attempt, I'm trying to become more familiar with the kinds of mechanics that have been implemented with cards before. Having that kind of knowledge definitely provides a great benefit. In fact, I think I'm going to join the effort to provide such a thing to others. Mainly because it would be a great resource, but also because it will help give me a lot more knowledge of game mechanics.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Guild

Last night I went to SLC to my first meeting with the Board Game Designers Guild of Utah. It was pretty much a blast! All us new guys (that's right, there wasn't a female in the room) introduced ourselves. There were 6 or so of us who were there for the first time. Overall, about 35 or so attended the meeting.

I played Dave Bailey's creation Igor. Players compete to build a monster and score points by doing so. It was a fantastic game. Dave said he had been working on it since about April, and that after deciding to join the group to play games and not design them. Only after members of the group convinced him to design one did he put together Igor. And now he's even been invited to send his game to FRED for play-testing and possible publication. There are a number of members of the Guild who have been published and who will soon be published.

One thing I very much liked about Igor was a mechanic for determining who gets what resource. There are 3 locations in the game where players go to collect resources. To do this there are a total of 5 tokens for each location. The tokens are numbered 1 through 5. Therefore, the town has 5 tokens that correspond to it, numbered 1 to 5. These are mixed up so that each player gets 1 token for each location. At the beginning of a round players decided, based on the cards showing in that location, among other strategies that can be used, which location they would like to visit. They choose that token from their 3 and place it face down in front of them. Once everyone has done this, all players turn their tokens over, revealing where they will visit. If 2 or more players choose the same location, they are able to pick their resource card based on the number on their token. So the player with the number 1 picks first, number 2 second, and so forth. Once that has happened, players then trade tokens using the following pattern: the player who picked first at their location trades with the player who picked last; the player who picked second trades with the player who picked second-to-last; and so on. It adds a lot to the strategy in trying to get the resources you need. Plus, once you've picked first, you have to give up that token. Very ingenious!

Overall, I felt completely comfortable meeting and playing. Those there seemed very enthused to play games and provide the designers with feedback. The designers who decide to bring their games need to be ready for both positive feedback as well as criticism as other members will be honest in sharing what they think are ways of improving the game. I don't have a whole lot of experience designing games, so I don't know that I'll be able to provide too much feedback, but I'm definitely going to join in and try to contribute as much as I can. It will be a great learning experience!

Friday, December 5, 2008

So Much To Do

I've come to realize that there are so many different places to discuss game design on the internet and so many more resources than I had previously even imagined. I find it difficult to focus on writing here on my blog. I mean, the forums at Board Game Design Forum and at, both offer a lot of insight into the world of game design. Not to mention the opportunity they afford to getting involved. Not to say that I've got much experience in this realm, but I am making an attempt to contribute in any way I can.

Game Journal for Peril in the Promised Land

Sharing my experience submitting to LDS/Mormon publishers

Plus, all of this has helped me meet others who are interested in this realm of designing games with LDS/Mormon themes.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

So much for that idea

3:49 PM by Mike · 0 comments
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I got a nice form letter response from Cedar Fort regarding my Armor of God submission.

Dear Mike,

Thank you for submitting your game, The Armor of God. After careful consideration, we have decided we will not to be able to produce your game at this time. We do however, encourage you in your endeavors to get it produced and into the market, and hope you will find great success.


The Editorial Board
Cedar Fort, Inc.

This is in stark contrast to my experience with Covenant Communications. I've had a lot of interaction with Phil and been able to get his feedback and input. This is pretty much the only thing I've gotten from Cedar Fort since I've submitted the game. Not that this is a bad thing, it's just not even close to the experience I've had and been able to learn from with Covenant. I would guess though, that this is more the kind of experience you would have with other game publishers.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Let Me Just Add This...

11:05 AM by Mike · 2 comments
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Well, I have found another restriction within which I must work: Mormon-themed games must be designed for more than 2 players. Yesterday I got an email from Phil Reschke at Covenant Communications and he said that 2 player games are a negative. He wanted to know if we could redesign Armor of God for up to 4 players. Well, it will take some doing, but that's fine with me. I've got a couple of ideas that I just need to try out with my wife and see how they go. Then I can take them to friends and get more feedback.

So be sure to remember the following if you decide to start designing Mormon-themed games and seek to get them published:
1) Include a minimal number of components; the easier and less expensive to produce the better
2) Make sure the game will accommodate at least 3 to 4 players
Other than that you should be good.

Happy designing!!

Monday, December 1, 2008


So, I was looking back over the 2 reviews I had written (It Came to Pass and Settlers of Zarahemla), and I discovered that they were pretty bad. I mean, I thought to myself, "If I were to read these, do they really tell me anything of value or something that I would be looking for in a review?" Well, I thought that they didn't do a very good job of that, so I updated them accordingly and now they are a lot better; still probably not what might be considered Superb Reviews, but definitely good enough to get the points across.

Peril in the Promised Land
Due to the Thanksgiving break and our trip to Nevada, I have had no internet connection for the past 4 or 5 days. But now that we're back I want to update our activities with Peril in the Promised Land. I ended up going to Kinkos and having them just print the board in two halves on 11" x 17" paper. It came out so much better than my inkjet at home. Then I used a glue stick (I'm still trying to figure out a better way of attaching the printouts to the board) and glued the printouts to the Trivial Pursuit board. It wasn't easy, but at the same time it wasn't really very hard. Once we got them glued, I used a utility knife and cut the edges, as the printouts were a lot smaller than the board itself. Once it was all finished I was extremely pleased. I actually felt like I had reached a point of not needing to revise or redo the board anymore. It felt fantastic!!

I ended up printing out the Captain cards on sticker paper and sticking them to one of my kids puzzle boards that we were going to get rid of a while ago (it was old and some of the pieces were missing). I didn't like the way they looked, but having them on the thicker cardboard was definitely cool. I'm going to revamp the look of the Captain cards and print them out one more time.

Other than that, I've got to finish the rulebook, which is turning out to be a lot more difficult than I had ever imagined. I'm glad that I found Board Game Designers Forum. It's given me the chance to put my ideas together in written form. I've also been able to get some guidance from others there on the forum. I'm in the process of finishing my Game Journal for Peril. Once that's finished, I'll use it to put together the rulebook. Hopefully that won't be too far into the future.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Peril in the Promised Land Update

12:46 PM by Mike · 0 comments
Here's what I've put together for the board. Like I said before, I'm not an artist, but I'm putting something together. I picked up Trivial Pursuit from DI yesterday. I'm going to have the board printed today and attempt to attach it, in some manner or other, to the Trivial Pursuit board. We'll see how it goes. Then, I'll pretty much have a decent prototype put together. We're going to my wife's parent's home for Thanksgiving, so I'll be able to play it a bit with her brothers, and possibly with her mother. It should be a lot of fun. I'm going to put up pictures of the "finished" prototype after Thanksgiving. I'll post about the experience of attaching the printout to the Trivial Pursuit board as well.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Settlers of Zarahemla: A Review

12:40 PM by Mike · 0 comments
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Another review here. This time we played Settlers of Zarahemla. I've got to say that I just enjoy the whole "Settlers" idea. I'd played Settlers of Catan a few times before and I think it's awesome. This LDS-themed version is just as good. It's built on the idea quite well and added it's own little touch.

When I looked at Settlers of Zarahemla, I didn't think I'd like not having individual hexes to place at the beginning of the game as in Catan. But, I've decided that it doesn't really matter too much. It's nice to have control over the design of the board as a player (I've tried to add that into the games that I'm designing), but it isn't as necessary as I had once thought. Settlers of Zarahemla comes with 5 pieces that make up the board: 1 five-hex piece, 2 four-hex pieces, and 2 three-hex pieces. These are laid down within the confines of the board. The board also includes a "score-keeping track." Around the edges of the board is a track with spaces labeled 1 to 12. Each player has a marker that moves along the board as the player's score increases. This was a nice touch. In Catan everyone just has to be aware of who has what score. This gives everyone an easy way to keep track. After setting up the board, the number tokens are placed on the board hexes. This was quite a pain. The instruction book tells you to place them on the board in alphabetical order. Not a big deal, right? But the letters on the tokens are extremely small and some strange looking font was used which added to the difficulty of reading the letters. Lastly, place the Gadianton Robber on the appropriate hex.

We then proceeded to place our settlements and roads. Not too much difference or difficulty there. Game play from here on out was pretty much the same as with Catan.

The game adds the possibility of building a temple. A combination of brick and stone will allow you to place one of your temple building blocks onto the temple, which is located at the top of the board. The first player to add 3 bricks to the temple becomes the "Greatest Temple Contributor," which is worth 2 victory points (similar to the longest road).

One thing that was weird was the Stripling Warrior development card. This allows the player to move the Gadianton Robber and steal a card from a player. It just seems strange to use a Stripling Warrior in conjunction with the Gadiaton Robber. Doesn't quite mesh with the Book of Mormon stories or theme.

The artwork on the board and the box is awesome. It really adds to the feel of the game (I think that artwork for games greatly impacts the experience; I'm not saying a game needs great artwork to make it fun and engaging, but it definitely helps; Too bad I'm not more artistic!). I was surprised at the thickness of the cards, but I just got done playing It Came to Pass, so I was comparing the two. The cards were fine, shuffling, dealing, etc. I did find that the wooden dice don't have the same bounce or something to them. But I'm sure that doesn't affect the numbers rolled.

Overall, I give this game a 5 out of 5.

I very much enjoy this game. It gives players a lot of options and makes winning difficult, as other players have those same options. A lot can happen in just one round of play. The only other thing I would add is that playing with only 2 players isn't as exciting as 3 or more. I know the box says 3-4 players, but the instructions explain what changes to make for a 2 player game. This make 2 games, It Came to Pass included, that playing with 2 players actually detracts from the experience. Overall, I enjoyed the game and am a fan of the Catan series, but are there some exciting 2 player LDS/Mormon themed games out there?

Buy from

Friday, November 21, 2008

Self-Imposed Restrictions

1:05 PM by Mike · 0 comments
So, I've been thinking lately and I've come to the conclusion that I have actually imposed upon myself two fairly big restrictions when it comes to designing games. Firstly, I am looking to design LDS/Mormon themed games. This is a self-imposed restriction, as I am confined to the Book of Mormon and LDS culture. This is a restriction that I have chosen. I did it consciously. And I want to stick to it. Like I've said before, there aren't a whole lot of LDS themed games available currently and there aren't a whole lot published each year. I would definitely like to contribute, in whatever way I can. So far, I haven't really found this to pose too much of a problem. I have had many ideas for games that have been quite easy to theme.

The second restriction, one that I just finally came to realize is very real, is the need to keep the component count for each game very low. More components equals higher price for those who publish these games. Since the market isn't all that large, they can't take big chances with games, hoping that they'll be successful. I'm not exactly sure how this will be overcome. I guess this is my small attempt to help the situation (not that I know it will work, but I'm sure it can't hurt). Anyway, this all just hit me last night after I got done teaching (8:15 pm) and was sitting at the table with my wife eating dinner. It all happened in my head and is just now making it's way out. I've found that my wife is very patient and understanding. And most times she enjoys playing games with me and helping me improve my designs. I've just got to tone it down sometimes. So I didn't bring this up with her last night.

Once this realization came to me, I immediately started thinking of another design that would keep the components to a minimum. The idea goes something like this:

Components include cards and dice (4-, 6-, 8-, & 10-sided)
The dice are used as pawns. Each player would have his/her own set (color). At the beginning of the game each player would roll all 4 dice. The results would determine a few things about that pawn (for instance, if the 4-sided die came up a 3 then it would be able to do this, this, and this).
The cards are used to thwart your opponent, among other things, and create the board. The board would be created as the game progressed, depending on what the players wanted to do.

Well, it's obviously not a very finished design, but it definitely gives me a lot to think about. The only problem is that I'm having a hard time fitting it to a theme from the Book of Mormon. I'm kind of thinking that most of the other designs I've had started with a particular theme in mind, and if they didn't the theme came very quickly. I just haven't really had a hard time like this trying to theme a design. Not that this is in any way going to deter me from fleshing out the idea, it's just a first for me.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Board Game Designers Forum

I just started my Game Journal about Peril in the Promised Land over on Board Game Designers Forum (here). I'll probably put more about the game there than I will here, as far as the rules and components go.

Theme, Mechanics, & Immersion

I just sent off the submission of The Armor of God to both Covenant Communications and Cedar Fort. I'll be waiting patiently to see what, if any, response I get from them.

Last night I read a pretty interesting article from The Games Journal about Theme, Mechanics, and Immersion of games (here). It really made me think about what I've got going in my games. All of my pondering was focused on Peril in the Promised Land as this is my favorite of the few games I'm designing/creating right now. Personally, Peril in the Promised Land has a great theme. I mean, who doesn't want to take the lead of an army of Nephite soldiers as they go into battle against the Lamanites under the Title of Liberty, seeking to recover their lost cities and freedoms!? It's the very popular good vs. evil theme. As Andrew Hardin points out the theme should do 2 things: 1) it creates an immediate sense of immersion and 2) makes game play easier. I've been working on making game play easier. I've cut rules, making things less complex and simpler to understand and follow. I've tried to get the rules to "connect" more to the theme, kind of making the rules seem logical in the given context of the theme.

The theme of Peril in the Promised Land also gets players immersed both mentally and emotionally, as discussed in the article. Firstly, players are mentally engaged in protecting themselves from the Lamanites, while at the same time they are trying to figure out how to go about recovering the cities that have been lost to the Lamanites. There are a number of possible strategies a player could choose. Options seem to be a good thing to keep players engaged and immersed as well. The emotional side comes in, which I think is very individual or person specific. This probably hits home more with members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as they are familiar with the Book of Mormon and the struggles between the Nephites and Lamanites throughout the book. Emotionally players can feel the tension that is caused by Lamanite actions and the need for your army to not only succeed, but to survive in the process.

Thinking about these things makes me wonder: Is it the theme that really attracts someone to a game in the first place? For me, a lot of times I think it is more the mechanics of the game that draw me in. For example, I enjoy Heroscape, but I first became interested when I saw it in the store and found that you could change the terrain, design it however you choose. I also wanted to play Settlers of Catan because of the hex-shaped board pieces that you set up at the beginning of play. Shadows Over Camelot appealed to me because of the cooperative nature of the game play. Maybe my question is way off. But, there are probably people who pick up a game because of it's theme. In the case of Peril in the Promised Land, I would want people to pick it up because of theme, but also because of mechanic. I want to attract people who think playing as Nephite generals in a war with the Lamanites would be fun, but also those who think playing a game where players cooperate against the game (the Lamanites) would be fun. In the end I think it is about theme and mechanics to begin with. That has to draw people into picking up the game in first place. After that, I think the author is right, it's all about immersion. Those themes and mechanics need to really immerse the players in game or the attraction of the theme or mechanic will be lost rather quickly.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Armor of God

Since I received word from Covenant Communications about not wanting to pursue Peril in the Promised Land at all, I started working on a game that I had come up with a few months ago. It's a card game so it may fit better in their "less risk" category. I call it The Armor of God. Players compete to be the first to collect all 7 pieces of the Armor of God. It's got a sort of War feel to it, as players play point cards trying to have the highest point value associated with a piece of the armor and in this way "win" that piece. The pieces of the armor act like suits on the cards. I'm currently putting together the rules/instructions in a document that I will submit to both Covenant Communications and Cedar Fort per the suggestion of Bruno Faidutti (here). I'll also link to the document once I get it finished and off to them.

Here is the figure that I'll include in the document. I know it doesn't mean a whole lot removed from the rest of the rules, but those will be up tomorrow, right after I submit it all.

Monday, November 17, 2008

It Came to Pass: A Review

I got a hold of a copy of It Came to Pass this weekend and my wife and I played it a few times. I'm offering this short review as a result. Keep in mind that this is pretty much coming from the perspective of a would-be game designer/self-publisher, so it probably won't be like so called "normal" reviews of games.

First off, I started with the thought that the game was going to be a lot like Uno (I think this was the case because I read, I think on gameboardgeek, that the game was similar to Uno, and the guy who lent me the game also told me it was like Uno). This was a big mistake! I was reading the rules and thinking Uno the whole time. My wife and I had to consciously stop thinking it was going to be like Uno so that we could understand the rules. So we finally got over that and pretty much understood what we were reading. In other words, don't bring in preconceived notions of what the game is going to be like, it will hinder your understanding and perhaps enjoyment (even after learning how to play I was still comparing it to Uno).

Before I opened the tuck box and looked over the rules I read the outside. which can also be found on gameboardgeek:

A heart-pounding, card-slapping game of strategy and fun for Latter-day Saints.

Well, that seemed a little cheesy to me. I got a similar feeling when I read the back:

Get your hand ready, slide to the edge of your seat, and see if you dare to say, "PASS."

So much for first impressions.

The cards felt really nice. They were thick and had a very nice glossy/non-stick surface that made shuffling and dealing easy. (I can't wait to order from GuildofBlades to be able to compare the two.) Overall, the design of the cards was pretty basic. There are six different suits (colors in this case) and each suit contains numbers 2 through 10 and a Charity card and a Desolation card. The game can be played with just these cards (it's the Basic Gameplay). We, of course, didn't play this version. We were in for the "more excitement" that was promised when we were ready to move on and add the Option Cards (again, I got that feeling of chessiness). So basically, the front of the cards contained color and number or words (2 - 9, Charity, & Desolation). The backs of the cards have a nice looking logo, which comes from Mayan culture (the box also explains this). Overall, I thought, "how simple," and "I think I may be able to come up with similar designs."

The rules are explained on 2 "double-sized" cards included in the tuck box. This is another good job of keeping things simple. The rules are clearly explained, in a short and concise manner. It gave me hope that I can do the same with the rules/instructions for my own games. As I looked back over the rules, I noticed that some things are not explained; it's as if they are taken for granted; me, as the reader, should already know what I need to do. I guess that sometimes it's better to not try to explain everything in such great detail. As long as people are somewhat familiar with games in general, then they should be able to understand and play the game without having to read over too much detail. In other words, just include enough for people to play and don't worry about making sure each and every detail is covered in the rules. I guess I've got to find a balance (isn't it that way in everything we do in life?).

The whole object of the game is to build a hand of cards that contains the least amount of points. This is done by drawing and discarding. Here again I was comparing it to and thinking about Uno. In Uno you have to match either number or color, but in this game you can discard whatever card. It doesn't have to match what's already in the discard pile. The Charity card removes the point value of any other cards in your hand of that same color. Therefore, you can actually build a hand consisting of zero points. The Option cards add variation and fun. You definitely want to play with them in.

I give the game a 4 out of 5

I think the game is fun. The rules are simple. As with what others have said (here's a review of the game from boardgamegeek), I think it would be much more fun with 4 or more people. It was fun with my wife, but it didn't last long and we were ready to move on. (Little side-note: the Secret Combination card should probably be removed when playing with only 2 players.) I would bring this out with a larger crowd and would definitely enjoy myself. So, I would recommend it to others, larger groups, as a fun, party-type game.

Buy from

Friday, November 14, 2008

What's been published? (& Other things)

So, I used and found a list of Mormon/LDS themed games that have been published ( It's interesting to see that most of what appears in the list are games that are pretty much remakes of already published games. I'm not sure how to react to this. Firstly, I think, it's probably a good strategy: those games have been successful, people are already familiar with them. But then I think, is it really good for helping move forward more Mormon/LDS themed games? Then I think about the publisher (I guess my own experience with them kind of lit that up for me). They have to be extremely careful with what they take to printing. They have to worry about making money and whatnot. Maybe more grassroots/self-publishing type movements would actually be beneficial for this small niche that I'm jumping into.

A few side notes:
1. I just realized, in reviewing my post about Peril in the Promised Land, that I didn't really explain too much about the game. I'll have to do a much better job of that.
2. I've been able to join the Board Game Designers Guild of Utah (Yahoo Group). I wasn't able to attend the November meeting (they meet on the first Tuesday of each month in SLC), but I'm hoping to go in December. There are a lot of very accomplished designers in the group. It should be a lot of fun meeting with them and quite a learning experience.
3. On the Board Game Designers Forum I've set up an account and will be attempting to use their Game Journals goody to tell others about Peril in the Promised Land and share my design and prototyping experiences.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Peril in the Promised Land

So here is an overview of the game I have been mentioning.

Title: Peril in the Promised Land

The game is a cooperative game where players take on the roll of one of the Nephite captains from the book of Alma in the Book of Mormon during the great war. Currently this includes Gid, Lehi, Teancum, and Helaman. Each captain has a "special power" that aids him in his play (a-la-Shadows Over Camelot). The objective is to fulfill the orders that come down from Chief Captain Moroni (these are in the form of cards). There are 5 different "kinds" of orders, like retake the city of Cumeni or raise a Title of Liberty in Omner. The players must fulfill 1 of each type of order in order to win. But, they must accomplish this while protecting Zarahemla from within (the King-men who are trying to take over the Judgment-seat) and from without (the Lamanites attack Zarahemla).

The board is pretty much a map of the promised land with cities and roads. All cities, except Zarahemla and Zeezrom, start out as occupied by the Lamanites. Dice and cards are used in the game. There is a 6-sided die that is rolled to determine what action the Lamanites take. A 4-sided die is rolled to determine the number of spaces a Nephite captain can move. Cards are used to attack, defend, raise Titles of Liberty, etc.

I'm currently finishing my own art (I am in no way an artist, but I wanted to put together a good looking prototype). I will be using some game boards that I find at DI to make the board. I found Guild of Blades online ( and I'll get my cards printed by them. And I'm using meeple ( as the pawns players use. I'm also working on finishing up the rulebook/instructions so that I can get that printed as well.

Well, there you have it. The first game that my wife and I have designed and are in the process of prototyping. Soon I'll post regarding some other games that I'm working on.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A long story made, longer

It must have been in February that my wife and I played Shadows Over Camelot. I guess my (I should really say "our," as my wife helped an awful lot) development our game went rather quickly. By April I was contacting Covenant Communications in hopes of being able to submit the idea to them, which we were able to do in May. After the Spring semester was over we took a trip to southern Utah (we have family there that we wanted to visit). On our way down we stopped by Covenant Communications in American Fork and I sat down with Phil Reschke. His first reaction ws one of surprise of what I had. That was quickly followed with a concern for the 3D miniatures that I had and the number of components. I had gone to my local hobby gaming shop, Phoenix Games, and picked up some D&D minis that I was using. It just made playing a whole lot cooler, but this was not a requirement for publishing. Anyway, I ended up sending him the game about a week later so that he would be able to share it with the committee who makes the ultimate decision regarding new games. Two weeks later they still had not reviewed it, so we decided to wait until November, as they already had the 2 games selected that they would be pursuing for publishing (he told me that they do 2 to 3 games a year). That way they could consider it for next year. Well, here it is November and, after contacting Phil via email, I got the following response:

Hi Mike,

Yes, things have been very busy. I would say that given the current economy, we won't be taking any complex, multi-component, unknown games to market for this next fall. We'll probably focus our game efforts on lower cost, lower risk games that appeal to a bigger segment of our market. Thanks again for letting us evaluate your game. I wish you well in all your efforts.


Needless to say, I was quite disappointed. I mean, I've (my wife and I) been working on getting this ready for the last several months. We have made many changes, making things less complex, reducing the number of components, and using more "standard" kinds of components. I'm not sure what I'll do with this idea now. I've looked into self-publishing a little bit, but I've got more to research before I could make a decision there.

Last night, after I informed my wife of the whole situation, we decided that we had other games that are less component-heavy. So, I'll be submitting a card game idea that we've put together. Hopefully I'll have it all ready tomorrow or Thursday. I guess we'll see how it goes.

You live and you learn.

Monday, November 10, 2008

How it all began

2:05 PM by Mike · 0 comments
Early this year a friend introduced me to Shadows Over Camelot. It was the first time I had ever seen a real, published cooperative board game. I had thought about such things before, especially when my wife and I would play games, which wasn't a whole lot because of the contention it would produce. We're both quite competitive so it was hard to lose. "Wouldn't it be cool if there was a game we could play that wasn't competitive?" I thought. After we played my mind really got going. I've had game ideas in the past, but now I really had something to think about. As I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints I thought that it would be fantastic to have a game that couples could play (not that it wouldn't be fun for anyone else) in which they could cooperate in an attempt to be the game, not each other. One of the early ideas that I had (it was basically just an idea, I had never really done much but think, wouldn't that be fun) was players playing as Captain Moroni moving around the board, raising Titles of Liberty. So I went back to that idea and started really thinking about it, with the goal of making it a cooperative game. In the end it became a game of Nephites vs. Lamanites set during the Captain Moroni period of war. Players play as Nephite captains seeking to recover lost Nephite cities and protect Zarahemla from the Lamanites.
So, there you have it. That is how it all began.
More to come on this game and others.
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