May 25 2020
One of the main elements of game play in Dead Reckoning is the sailor deck. In Dead Reckoning you add advancements you acquire by visiting islands and interacting with NPC ships to your deck in the same way you do in Mystic Vale and Edge of Darkness. Each card in your sailor deck has room for 3 advancements. You can put any advancement on any member of your crew.
The new twist in Dead Reckoning is that your sailors Level Up! Each card stack consists of a cardstock sailor card, a plastic sleeve, a clear card with the character’s art, and any advancements that you have earned. Each turn you can Level Up one of your sailors. You remove the cardstock card, and rotate it, then return it to the sleeve. When you make the 2nd upgrade you flip the card over. Each orientation has a set of abilities linked to that sailor’s role. Each time you play you can mix & match which sailors you Level Up and how you sleeve advancements on them, creating huge replayability!
Leveling up sailors and adding enhancements is key to building your strategy each game. As your crew members level up and get stacked with advancements, your options expand, but so does the target on your back.
The composition of your crew is important to winning a game of Dead Reckoning, it is also important when building a game the size of Dead Reckoning.
We have put together a first class crew to bring the Dead Reckoning game to you.
The Captain: John “The D Stands for Dangerous” Clair designed Dead Reckoning which will be the 7th game of John’s that AEG has published. His past hits include. Mystic Vale, Space Base, Custom Heroes, Edge of Darkness, Ecos and later this year Cubitos. John has become our featured designer as we have grown into a board game company and it is perfect that John has unlocked our next Swashbuckling world of adventure!
The First Mate: Mark Wootton started out as a deckhand at AEG many years ago and has leveled up to Number One as lead developer on some of AEG’s most successful lines including Doomtown Reloaded, Thunderstone Quest, Thunderstone Advance, Warchest, and Ecos. Mark is a great leader and has run a very tight ship and gets great results from his crew.
The Bosun: All of the art & graphic design for the game has been created by Ian O’Toole (who already has a great pirate name). One of the best visual creative talents working in the industry today, Ian is responsible for the look of games such as Lisboa, Escape Plan, and The Gallerist. What is so amazing about working with Ian is that he is a gamer and takes a deep dive into the games he works on. We think Dead Reckoning features his best work to date.
The Buccaneer: In charge of our Kickstarter boarding party, Luke “The soft hand of death” Peterschmidt. Luke has recently joined AEG but we have been working with him for years. We technically brought Luke on to help get the word out about our Kickstarter campaigns but the reality is we knew that he could infuse fun into the whole process and we are excited to have him on deck.
The Purser: Paul “The Rules Lawyer” Grogan. Great rules writing is so hard to find. So, before we set out on this voyage we enlisted the help of Paul Grogan, one of the best rules writers in the business. Paul is also a gamer and so he is not editing pre-written rules he is playing and writing them from the ground up.
The Gunners: Cannon Masters, David “Hidden Blade” Lepore, Nicolas Bongui “The French Pirate”, and Manolis “The quiet terminator” Trahoitis. These fighters will make sure the game gets printed, published, and delivered around the world.
The Crew: Kaz Bones, Josh Wood the Plank Master, The Dread Pirate Matty P, The Crimson Couple (Jon and Beth Bancroft), Goldmaster Goody, Todd “Salty Dog” Rowland, Taylor VooDoo Queen Butts. Brave Boot Shuss, Neil The Bloodthirsty Galley and Vlad captain of the scurvy crew of the lost Guatemalan princess.
Deck Hands: Old Crafty Captain “Z” and Ryan “Jamaica on my mind” Dancey.
If you want to set sail with us. Join our lists
Apr 29 2020
Want to join AEG for a Massively Multiplayer Space Base game on-line? Want to Host one yourself?
Here’s how to do it!
Space Base at Home requires a “Host” who will run the game, and 1 to 1 million “at home” players on-line to play along.
AT-HOME PLAYER SET-UP:
Get your copy of Space Base and remove two level 3 upgrades from the game; the U.E.S. Armstrong and the U.E.S. Gordon. Then set up your outposts and upgrade markets each with 4 cards (instead of the normal 6). Then, give yourself 5 gold, draw the top cards of the level 1 upgrade deck, pay for it, and add it to your base. Lastly, give yourself one more gold, because you (and all At-Home players) are considered to be “Player 2” for this game.
Set up the Reference board on the “Turn Side” with a marker/cube on the Turn 1 space. Make sure the board can be seen on your stream feed. Grab a 2 pairs of d6 and you are ready to go. If you want to play as well, also follow the At-Home player set-up.
The Host will roll for Players 1 and 3
The At-Home players roll for themselves as player 2.
1) DICE ARE ROLLED
The Host rolls for Player 1 and Player 3 and after rolling puts those dice on the reference board in the matching Player area on the reference board so that all players watching can see the dice. The At-Home players each roll for themselves when it’s player 2s turn.
2) PLAYERS SCORE RESOURCES
If the roll is from the Host, players score as they do in a normal game on another player’s turn. If it’s an At-Home players roll, it is treated as being from that player.
3) PLAYERS PURCHASE A CARD
If it’s an an At-Home players roll, players may purchase a card.
4) REMOVE 2 MARKET CARDS
After Player 3 rolls, the host rolls 2d6 and references the chart on the reference
board, removing the last card in each market rolled. Then slide the cards down and fill in the rest of the tableau.
5) NEXT TURN
The Host then removes the dice from the board and advances the turn marker. if this moves the marker off the 11 spot, the Host flips the board over to the End Game Side (rules on next page). Either way go back to player 1 and keep rolling.
How long should the 2nd player’s turn be?
As the Host, try not to rush the At-Home players when they are buying cards. We suggest you give them ~45 seconds on turns 1-6, and up to 1 minute on turns after that. Feel free to chat during that time to keep your player’s engaged!
End Game Board
When on the end game board side, after each Player 1 and Player 3 roll, the Host will use a cube and cover up that roll on the right side of the board. If there is already a cube there, the game ends after the next Player 2’s turn (so players get one final turn after this).
After flipping the board over, the next Player 1 roll is a 5 and a 1. The Host puts the dice in the Player 1 area as normal, but also puts a cube on the 5-1 space.
This will happen after every player 1 and 3 roll until a number is rolled that already has a cube on it. At that point, the game will end after one more at home player’s turn.
More than 1 player at a single At-Home location
Sometimes there will be more than one player in a single location playing along with the Host. In this case, the At-Home players will all use
the same upgrade markets. Randomly give one of the players the “First Player” card from the game. This card just means that player gets the first opportunity to purchase a card when it’s the At-Home players turn. Markets will not refresh after that purchase, so the next player to act will have one less card to choose from.
After each turn, give the First Player card to the next player clockwise, so all players get a chance to buy first.
Note: All the At-Home players roll their own dice when it’s the At-Home player’s turn.
Reference Card “Turn Side”
Reference Card “End Game Side”
Apr 26 2020
For your consideration
Let me start by saying that I am not a fan of campaigning for awards. It feels disingenuous to spend your time and money promoting games to try and win an award.
That being said there are only a few times in 28 years of making games that I have felt gut punched by something that has happened or didn’t happen. The first time was when I knew that Love Letter was in consideration for the Spiele des Jahres. The one accolade I would love for AEG to capture over any other critical success. I didn’t sleep the night of the nominations and my wife Julie knew we had not been nominated when I did not come to bed. I also felt that way at the GAMA show this year when the Origins Award nominees were announced and we did not get the nod for any of the amazing games we made this year.
I need to say that I would not take a single spot away from any of the great games that were recognized and there are some very good ones, but I did feel that if the games we made last year were not good enough to be recognized I don’t know what should be. I realized that I was not frustrated for myself as much as I was for the teams that worked so hard to bring those games to life.
I also realized that all of those signs in Hollywood reading “For Your Consideration” were likely less about the voters and more about the studios saying thank you to the creatives who worked so hard on those shows.
So… with the campaign season in full swing for the BGG Golden Geek Awards and The Spiele Jury making final decisions:
I present to you…. For your consideration, three games which I feel were the truly great work of our company in 2019, and that is saying something as we believe 2019 was one of the greatest creative years of our company’s history with release after release being wonderful successes!
Tiny Towns – Build your own Tiny Town in this unique spatial challenge! Work with resources chosen by other players to score the most points. Designer: Peter McPherson Developer: Josh Wood
Point Salad – Fast and frantic salad building as you collect veggies and point cards. Score points in up to 108 different ways in this easy to learn and quick to play card game. Designers: Flatout Games Developer: Todd Rowland
Ecos – Shape the world in this simultaneous play, bingo-like game. Develop flora and fauna for points, but beware the whims of your opponents who are also changing the landscape to their designs. Designer: John D Clair Developer: Mark Wootton
Apr 21 2020
If you are following along….back in the history of AEG #8 the company we created to publish Legend of the Five Rings, Five Rings Publishing Group (“FRPG”) got investment money to run a fast paced condensed version of our CCG plan. Our original idea was to grow the business to 3 CCG’s each with 3-4 releases a year. Basically one release every month.
The investors liked the plan only they wanted the timeline drastically sped up. So that is what we did.
Alderac ramped up development of Storyline CCG’s. The team at FRPG started looking at partnerships and acquisitions of games ready to publish.
And then, as requested, we started running the investors’ money towards the cliff. In less than a year we went from publishing one CCG to active development on six collectible products including an expensive and hard to wrangle dice game.
• Legend of the Burning Sands (“LBS”)
• Dune CCG (Last Unicorn Games)
• Rage (licensed from White Wolf)
• Deadlands: Doomtown (licensed from Pinnacle Entertainment Group)
• Star Trek Dice Game
Let’s be clear. FRPG’s CEO Bob Abramowitz believed in the “run your business at the cliff” concept with his whole heart and he was not afraid to throw money at a problem as long as it meant we were moving forward. He was generous, ruthless, and fearless. We learned a lot.
I still think it was a good plan but since we were running so fast we were making bad decisions and paying for them. Plus we got some good sales results that caused us to make some bad decisions.
FIRST: L5R Scorpion Clan Coup. We took a standard 150 card set and made it three 50 cards sets to be released in 3 consecutive months. The result was we sold 3X as many cards in the same time frame. This caused us to change the release schedule for Doomtown to a monthly model.
SECOND: The Doomtown plan was to sell a different sized set each month. Each package would pop up and become a different building in a little western town. It was very cool and looked more like the LCG releases popular now but greed, overwork, and bad data caused us to just change each release into a 50 card monthly release. Despite the horrible decision that we called Rolling Thunder (But became rolling blunder) Doomtown did well.
THIRD- Legend of the Burning Sands- An L5R spin off with similar but different mechanics. Our assumption was we would grow the overall player base between the two games. What we did was split the L5R player base in half. We took one healthy game and turned it into two struggling games. We struggled to find the right tone for this product during development but finally ended up in the right place IMO.
FOURTH: We took on Dune and Rage. One game past its prime and one game designed for the hard core gamer fan.
FIFTH: We did the Star Trek dice game and I have no idea how much cash was sunk into this one but knowing what I know now about dice games and licenses it was a flaming metric buttload.
During this phase of FRPG’s life, we operated on “hub & spoke” model. FRPG was the hub, which provided editorial control, managed production & logistics, and did all the back office stuff that was necessary to keep the company running (sales, marketing, legal, etc.) The spokes were the studios we hired to design the games we wanted under contract. FRPG had a contract with AEG to work on the L5R CCG, and the LBS CCG, and to make the situation more complex, AEG licensed back the rights to create the L5R RPG, and then we did a three-way deal to license the Deadlands intellectual property from Pinnacle Entertainment, and put AEG under contract to develop the Deadlands: Doomtown game.
We had a studio agreement in place with Last Unicorn games to do the work on Dune. We had a contract set up with Luke Peterschmidt to do the work on the Rage Relaunch game, which we licensed from White Wolf. We contracted the work on Star Trek Dice to Dan Verssen (before he had his own publishing company) and also did a lot of work with Ed Bolme on that game.
All of these games were in publication, development or playtest in the fall of 1996 less than six months after FRPG itself was created. We were spending money at a furious rate.
Needless to say one day I got the call just after the new year 1997. “Come to Seattle we are about to run out of money. Again”
Before we go into the crazy events of the next few months you should know that we had placed an escape hatch in the Five Rings Publishing Group (FRPG) deal. If FRPG ever went out of business or stopped publishing L5R it would revert back to the original owners. I prepared my management team at AEG for the possibility of us taking on the L5R CCG moving forward.
If any part of this story seems a little over the top to you. Buckle up, because it gets stranger. I flew to Seattle and met with Ryan and Bob.
The table was set for an epic spring.
I was told we are about to run out of money and we cannot go back to our investors and ask them for more because we had reached the cliff and had failed to fly.
I thought, incorrectly, that this is where we talk about closing down FRPG. Not only did we go through all of the investment money. We had substantial printer debt and a significant overhead. I was told.
“We cannot ask for money to save the current business but we can ask for money to grow the business. So we are going to buy TSR.”
TSR, the publisher of Dungeons & Dragons, the company and game responsible for both Ryan and I being a gamers in the first place. Holy S%&$. Of course, why would I think that we would slow down. We weren’t failing. The stakes were just not big enough.
It was by all accounts a short trip to Seattle. Bob gave me a pat on the ass and said. “We need you to sell like crazy to keep this business open until we can close this deal.”
And so I did. I flew home, did my laundry, packed my bags for a big trip and hit the road. I would hit every distributor in person. Help them promote our games and push as much product into the market as possible while Ryan began our due diligence on TSR.
Apr 4 2020
This summer, from AEG and designer of Tiny Towns, Peter McPherson comes “Pete’s First Sushi Dinner!” Can you bring culinary newbie Pete through the challenges of trying strange new sushi? Or will you collect too many disgust cards, resulting in Pete running out and leaving you with the check? Find out this August in Pete’s First Sushi Dinner! And be ready two weeks later for the expansion: Pete’s First Sushi Dinner: Legacy, which adds 4X excitement and over 200 plastic miniatures!
At AEG our CEO John Zinser really only likes dice games. And as such, we have to try a lot of dice game prototypes. A lot. In this game, you too get to experience wading through tons of dice games! There are over 150 partially completed dice games featured via cards in John Only Likes Dice Games: The Card Game. Play 150 rounds to determine which game will be pitched to John and ultimately published! Will the ones to which you’ve been assigned developer see print?
Apr 1 2020
It’s official. My staff thinks I am old. That is me on the box (with the white hair). The running joke at AEG is that I am not allowed to approve dice games. It makes sense. I have an unnatural connection with dice and it is a distinct advantage in a dice game if the dice will listen to you.
Dice are finicky, but they will listen. This is a learned skill and so as a PSA to gamers I am going to give you some advice on how to get your dice to listen.
Let’s start with how you treat your dice. If you do not respect your dice they will just not listen or even worse they will listen and then disobey. Punishing dice seldom works, but occasionally benching dice for poor performance is OK. Remember that if you punish dice too severely they will remember and jump up to bite you when you need them most. I suggest retiring dice that fail too often and if they were once good dice I would retire them with honor so your other dice know that success is rewarded, even at the end.
I recommend that you keep your special dice in special containers. If you are a dice bag person make sure that the dice bag is a nice one. I have always recommended a Crown Royal bag. It shows you care without trying too hard. There are lots of styles and colors now.
You need to talk to your dice when you are not using them. It’s training. It’s also not crazy, although I don’t recommend you do it around other people. Pep talks for your dice when you are not using them should be private time.
Expensive does not mean better. I will admit to being sucked into some of the dice crazes. I have ordered some very nice dice recently on Kickstarter and can’t wait to get them, but how much you pay for a die does not determine its value. How it rolls determines its value. Think of your dice like the characters from Toy Story. Your older dice know you come home from conventions with new buddies.
Recalls – Give your old dice a chance to step up during important rolls. Test your dice against each other when the rolls are less stressful. See which dice are responding on certain days. Then when the roll counts, go to the dice who have continually stepped up.
Style Matters – Craps is the ultimate in “style matters” dice games. Everything matters; how you pick up dice, what you say, how you roll. Dice respond to style. Confidence, commitment, and belief are all part of the science of making dice listen. Bring that style to your other dice games.
Respect the Streak – If you start doing one thing like rolling left-handed or saying something like “Here comes the hammer!” when you roll and it works you must respect that power and continue using it. You should not abandon a hot way of throwing dice until it has failed at least 3 times. It’s not about total control, it’s about bending the odds in your favor.
The Zone – A smart person once told me that the zone is our mind and body in perfect harmony. Our brains are powerful and if you clear your mind of everything else and just let your mind control the roll then it can do the million/billions of calculations to get you the result you want.
Dice Can Smell Desperation – Dice respond poorly to desperation and fear. You see, dice respond to powerful emotions. If you are afraid of your dice failing or desperately need a number to come up, the emotional power will find its way to your dice and YOU will be responsible for the failure. Power over dice is like the Force.
Don’t Ask Too Much, Too Often – Finally, don’t ask your dice to respond on every roll. Every roll is not equally important. Don’t waste dice kharma on rolls of little significance.
Now who wants to play some Space Base?
Do you have a special set of dice? Show them some love and share their picture and story here.
Mar 16 2020
We attended GAMA and it was a very good show. We learned quite a bit and my team was able to talk about what our plans are for the rest of 2020 and beyond.
The highlight of the show for us was contact with retailers. Attendance was down at the show. We were told that total retail shops were only down by 10%-15% but the number of attendees per shop was down by about 50%. That seems close to correct. If I were to guess I would bet that total retailer attendance was down a bit more, maybe 25%. Our booth was very busy on the first day but not overwhelmed as in years past and we had a slow burn of retailers come by during the long second day.
The retailers we did see were positive and upbeat especially about AEG. We got a lot of compliments about our recent line-up of games, our decision to do fewer releases, and our promotions to help retailers stock deeper with less risk.
We were sort of SHOCKED to find out that over 50% of the retailers who came to see us at the booth or at our seminars had not yet signed up for the Alderac Retailer Central Facebook page and were not aware of the P3 program. Obviously we have outreach work to do to bring those retailers into the fold. If you are a retailer reading this and not a member of the retailer group please go sign up now. Membership means access to valuable information and bonuses for your store.
NEW GAME DEBUTS
We got very little gaming in but we did get to play Mariposas, Santa Monica, Dead Reckoning, and Cubitos. We got rave reviews from the few people who got to play and are excited about our 2020 releases.
Wow dice are HOT HOT HOT. We counted no less than 7 dice booths and maybe more. No matter what happens in our industry gamers love their dice. Wiz Kids is killing it. I stopped by their room and ogled all the cool stuff they are making including this awesome diorama of the Yawning Portal Tavern with the entrance to Undermountain. This brought back good memories. We want a copy of Iello’s “Dark” version of King of Tokyo ASAP. (You know where to send it). We did not get to play but we did laugh along as others played Breakdancing Meeples from Atlas games. Paizo’s new in store display was very cool. It was also great to see Christian Peterson stalking the hall again. We knew he could not stay away and he has multiple cool new projects in the works including upgrading his print on demand service and an online creative workspace built to offer the industry some of his organizational secrets (We suggest all game companies take a look at this).
Finally, I lost the Credit Card game which meant I got to buy dinner for my peers.
We hope everyone is safe and happy at home. For the meantime we have decided that GAMA is our last trip until Gen Con and of course Gen Con itself is a game time decision.
Mar 6 2020
Mar 6 2020
We recently opened a new Facebook Group for Game Designers and Game Industry Creatives. We welcome all industry talent to join the conversation.
We started the Alderac Design Center for a few reasons.
- I realized that there is a giant pool of talent out there to whom we are not talking.
- I also realized that there is very little in the way of support and education for designers aspiring to get their games successfully published and ultimately sold to consumers.
- We have not found a continually reliable way to stay in contact with designers to schedule pitch meetings and to keep the wider audience of creatives updated about work opportunities with AEG.
It is an experiment that so far has worked very well. We currently have 495 members and growing. To get things started in the forum, I set up an Elevator Pitch Contest. The Rules: Put your best Elevator pitch (70 words or less) on the thread along with a maximum of one picture. I then asked the community to thumb the pitches they liked. I promised the top vote getters a chance to Skype pitch me their game.
It escalated quickly and we ended up with about 180 entries. Big kudos to all of the community members who read all the pitches and made comments and gave their Thumbs. I made comments on every pitch and have a few takeaways that might help designers when trying to get their foot in the door.
So what did we learn from the contest?
- Know your audience. In this case you were pitching to game designers so we found that interesting mechanics got thumbed more often than other ideas. Even in an elevator pitch you want to edit for who is listening.
- It’s X meets Y…. This is the classic Elevator Pitch and it works. What we found was that it works best when people actually connect with the games you are using as examples. Many of the pitches used games I have never played or only played once long ago and that did not help.
- A picture is worth a 1000 words. Good pictures helped, bad pictures hurt. Pictures of sleek prototypes or interesting components got thumbs, pictures of an early hand cut prototype or off theme idea did not help.
- My most common note was… This sounds like many other games that already exist. You have to be able to clearly identify the cool nugget in your game that separates it from the tens of thousands of games on the market.
- The Hook. My second most common note was… Needs a better hook. Similar to the answer above your Elevator Pitch needs to make me ask the next question; can I see it? how does that work?, etc.
Everything about an Elevator Pitch is about getting the listener to ask the next question. This skill is something every creative who is showing off their work to sell should work on. We take hundreds of pitch meetings a year and they often are 30 minutes at a show. Many game designers have multiple games to show off and so we always say hit us with the Elevator Pitches and we will tell you which ones sound interesting.
If the Elevator Pitch before the actual pitch is not engaging it also affects our ability to engage in the pitch itself. Imagine how tired we are at a show on Sunday after 75 pitch meetings. If your Elevator Pitch is not exciting we may have already checked out. Not on purpose, but just due to exhaustion.
Solving your Elevator Pitch means you have drilled down your idea/game to the core idea that will make it stand out and get a game buyer to take a look.
Join us at the Alderac Design Center. Our next contest will be about prototyping and we will use it to build a list of prototyping essentials that we will share with the group.
Some of the top vote getters:
Marcus Phoenix- Octopus Chef
Players sit on the floor back-to-back-to-back-to-back to embody the legendary Octopus Chef!??
Octochef is a frantic, real-time, co-operative, sandwich-making game where each player represents the tentacles of the one and only octopus chef, who has risen from the deep to open up his seaside sandwich shop! Players work together to complete as many sandwiches as possible before time runs out!
Jonathan Gilmour- Verbo City
VerboCity is a word building city building game of strategy and lexicographic knowledge.
Designed to bridge the gap between folx who love word games and their partners who love strategy games. The longer the words you spell, the more tiles you get to move into your city as buildings. Building the right tiles is as important. Spell special words to earn awesome structures (a sports word to build the Stadium).
Chris Lawrence- Chronilogica
Chronologica: The only game played nonlinearly!
Throughout the game players table draft cards representing actions and slot them into a large timeline in front of them, hoping that later in the game they’ll be able to get the cards they need to actually resolve that action (losing points if they can’t). At the end, players run through everything they’ve “done” and hope their empire stands the strongest.
Tony Tran- Dim Sum
Have you ever played a game where a lazy Susan is the main component?
In Dim Sum, players relax around a lazy Susan to offer bites to their friends. As in Chinese culture, you must encourage your friends to eat and only eat when offered food. Your goal is to bring the most sought after dish on the table. Now, sit back, and enjoy some Dim Sum!
Phil Amylon – It’s Dixit meets The Mind:
Am I the One? is a cooperative game where everyone at the table has an identical picture – except maybe you! Using limited communication, can you figure out if you’re the one who’s been dealt a different image?
A Few Extra Thoughts
We’ve seen close to a thousand game pitches in the past 5 years. So we’ve gotten pretty good at quickly identifying a pitch that sounds likely to be worth considering. There are a few tips we can give designers to help them get over that first bar:
1: “My game is most like X”. Many designers are afraid to say this, and we are afraid to ask it. Everyone should lose these fears. There is very little new under the sun but there is a lot of cleverness in recycling good ideas. If you DON’T know what game your game is most like, it probably means you haven’t spent the time to understand the kinds of games that yours will be competing against.
2: “My game ends when…” We ask designers “how do you win” as a part of our standard interview. If your answer is “have the most victory points” please lead with “my game ends when X, and the player with the most victory points is the winner”.
3: Party games are hard to pitch. One of our internal references is our belief that some of our review team would not have selected Codenames for further discussion assuming that it was pitched to us in a rough prototype form. Pitching party games is extremely hard because often the best part of the game is external to the game – it’s the way people interact while they play. If you want to pitch a party game, think about how you can capture “the fun” in a face to face pitch meeting. That may be impossible. If so, either don’t pitch the game in that format, or bring some friends to help with the pitch. If you tell us that you want to pitch a party game and want to pitch it to us via a live stream with a party atmosphere, we’ll be receptive.