Sep 302016
 

Escape Room - The Game

Topic -    Live from GenCon 2016!  I was invited to a special, after-hours edition  of the live action escape room the Spin Master Games had erected to support the release of their new game, “Escape Room – The Game”.  While I was there, I snagged a few minutes of audio with game designer, Brady Lang about the new venture.

Enjoy the show!

 

Media - 

GenCon 2016 

 Spinmaster.com

Escape Room – The Game

Where to buy -

On Amazon

At Target.com

At Toys-R-Us.com

At Walmart.com

 

 

 

 

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Sep 282016
 

GenCon 2016 Game review – Ice Cool

IceCool

At a glance –

School is almost out in Antarctica but a few of the penguins are too hungry to wait!  They skip out on class and, racing through the hallways, make their way to the cafeteria to grab an afternoon snack.  Will they make it before being caught by the dreaded hall monitor?  Welcome to “Ice Cool”.

“Ice Cool” is a surprisingly fun and innovative “flicking” game for 2-4 players published by Brain Games.  The gameplay is fast and intuitive.  Although it’s geared to younger players, I’ve played the game with several different age groups, including a mixed session, and the result is always the same, LOTS OF FUN!

8fbe28_b86fe61c8ebf4bd28d0871faa4ef4a3d

The Object -

 The players choose a color and collect the corresponding penguin and ID card.  One of the players is chosen to be the Hall Monitor (called the Catcher). The other players (called Runners) take turns flicking their penguins, trying to get them through the doorways that have their fish clipped to the top.  If they make it through, they collect their fish and score a fish card.  On their next turn, they begin making their way toward their next fish.

The Catcher has a different goal.  He or she is trying to collect the IDs of the Runners by flicking their penguin so that it touches the penguins of the Runners, thus, collecting their ID cards.  A round ends when either, one of the Runners collects all of their fish, or the Catcher has all of the IDs.  There are as many rounds as there are players so that everyone gets a turn to be the Catcher.  Also, there is a bit of a “rubber band” mechanic built in.  You look at the ‘fish cards” as you collect them.  If, at any point in the game you have collected two cards that only have a “1” on them, you can “ice skate”.  You turn over your two “1” cards and get to take an extra turn.  After all of the rounds have been completed, the players total up the numbers on their “fish cards” and the highest total wins.

The Board – pic3188780_md

The board for this game is a VERY innovative design called “Box in a Box”.  Inside the box are 5 smaller boxes with holes in the sides and art depicting the different rooms of the school.  These all clip together with the holes matching up to create the doorways and a kind of obstacle course for the players to navigate by flicking their penguins from room to room, collecting fish and (hopefully) avoiding the Hall Monitor.  The art on the board/boxes themselves is a convincing depiction of what a penguin school would look like, complete with overhead views of desks, chairs, a gymnasium, a cafeteria, all of which are complete with nice little touches like posters, drinking fountains, and basketball rims.  (Even though I’m sure that penguins are terrible at basketball)


8fbe28_407f327266a44ba2a39921d72625f763

 

What’s in the Box? -

(4) Plastic penguins;

(5) Cardboard boxes – rooms;

(16) Wooden fish tokens (12 fish in 4 player colors and 4 fish in white color);

(45) Fish cards (each showing 1, 2 or 3 victory points);

(4) Color reminder cards;

(4) Penguin ID cards;

(1) Rules booklet

Several re-sealable bags for component storage

Components –

The components for this game are quite nice. The cards are of good quality, and the “fish” are solid wood and seem to be very durable.  The real features of this game are, as described above, the board itself, and the adorable little penguins.  The penguins are rounded at the bottom, and weighted so that they can’t lie on their side.

For those of you who know what they are, think Weebles.

il_fullxfull-260793308

When flicked, they flop and flounder, spin and turn, but what they don’t do, is lay still.  With a little practice, you can begin to steer them around corners, make them jump over walls and, if you’re really good, you may even be able to get them to travel in a straight line!

Check out the “Ice Cool” promo video on YouTube to see an AMAZING shot near the end.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hhzIZUQvLng

If you’d like to listen to our interview with the man who, both, made that trick shot, and helped design this game, it can be found here:

 http://carpegm.net/interviews-ep-17-ice-cool/ ‎

Learning Curve –

This is an easy one to grasp for kids and adults alike.  If you’ve ever flicked things on a table you already have the basics down.  Spend a few minutes reading the rules and a couple of minutes setting up the board and you’re ready to go. There is a bit of a learning curve as you figure out how to make those pesky penguins do what you want, but not so much as to make the concept unattainable.  In any case, in a game like this failure can be just as entertaining as success!

pic3188778_md

 

Packaging –

As I said before, I’m absolutely enamored with this box.  Not only does it hold all of the smaller boxes, but, because there is no insert for the smaller pieces, the designers included small, re-sealable bags for storing the other components.  This allows “Ice Cool” to pass the “shake test” with flying colors.  Store it however you’d like!

Rules –

The rules document for this game is clear and concise, has little comic-style penguins all over it making it fun for kids to read, and even covers some of the unpredictable things that can happen when you get a few people around a table flicking plastic things through cardboard things.

Play time – 30 minutes

 

The “Sweet Spot” –

The game is rated for 2-4 players.  The sweet spot for this game, in my opinion, is 4 players.  The more pieces that you have flying around the board, the better!

Replay Value –

Due to the shape of its components and the nature of dexterity games in general, the replay value of this game is quite high.

Price Point - $39.99

 

Notes - 

Even though most of the components are cast or printed in bold primary colors, color blindness may be a concern.  That said, because of the gameplay and the mechanics involved, this could be overcome with just a little assistance by other players. The cards are easily read, but the penguins and wooden fish are all the same, only differing in color.  However, adding multiple casts to a game is extremely expensive, sometimes adding tens of thousands of dollars to a game’s initial bottom line.  This would have probably priced it out of its market and, all things considered, is probably not necessary for our chromodysoptic friends to enjoy it.

Rating –  9 out of 10

 

Final Thoughts -

Even though “Ice Cool” is targeted toward younger players, I think gamers of all ages will have a lot of fun with it.  I’ve seen older gamers pull the chairs away from the table so that they can line up their perfect shot as if they’re playing a tiny game of billiards, while a game with younger players looks and sounds exactly like what you may think;

 Raucous excitement sometimes mixed with the spell cast by a basketball circling the hoop in an Antarctic gymnasium.

I highly recommend this one, particularly if you have children.  However, I think this game would be a welcome addition to any collection, whether it’s found in a kid’s closet or the college campus.

In a word, “Ice Cool” is white-hot!

But then again, this is just my humble opinion.

 -Dan Whorl

(CarpeGM.net Game Reviews)

 

 

A review copy of Ice Cool was given to me at GenCon 2016 by the game designer.  No money or further compensation changed hands or has been promised for a good review.  They earned it!

 

Sep 212016
 

IceCool

Topic -    Live from GenCon 2016!  I was able to spend a few minutes talking with Egils Grasmanis From Brain Games about their new, super fun dexterity games “Ice Cool”  We talk a little about the design process and how the idea for one of the most popular casual games of the year came to be.

Enjoy the show!

 

Media - 

GenCon 2016 

 Brain Games.com

 Ice Cool

 

For our full review of the game, go to

 http://carpegm.net/game-review-ice-cool/ ‎

Egils Supported:

Mikkel Bertelsen’s game “Klask

Check out the Ice Cool promo video!

 

 

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Sep 102016
 

GenCon 2016 Game review – Mr. Game!

logo-mr-game_large

At a glance –

Part board game, part social experiment, all chaos…

Mr. Game! challenges nearly every convention of the classic roll and move board game.  This modern spin on retro style gaming has become a family favorite for game night at my house. It checks boxes that I didn’t know existed and jumps through hoops that I had no idea I was holding…Refreshing!

The object is simple.  Everyone starts on one space and races to land on the “goal” space to win.  That’s pretty conventional stuff, right?  Wrong.   Mr. Game! creates an atmosphere where even the concept of “what is a space?” can be challenged.  The road to victory is complicated by an ever-changing board, as well as an array of cards with different types of wacky functions, a goal that just won’t sit still, and of course, Mr. Game!.

Mr game board

The board – 

The board is a pretty straight forward design with the numbers 1-4 in the four corners and some wandering paths of spaces in between.  You start on “1” at the beginning of the game and you’re trying to land on “4”. This is subject to change.

The cards –

There are 3 types of cards in the game, “Actions”, “Badges”, and “Powerups”.

display-action-goalswitchdisplay-action-singularitydisplay-action-banish

Actions” are the most common cards in the deck and are played immediately when drawn.  The effects of these cards vary wildly including (but not limited to) moving other people’s pawns, adding or moving spaces on the board, changing the goal, etc.

display-badge-mrwhistledisplay-badge-mrcaffeine

 

Badges” are cards that are kept secretly in your hand to be played at just the right moment. Some of the effects may be similar to “Action” cards but the ability to weaponize them makes them valuable.  The results of a well-timed “Badge” can range from devastating to hilarious…

…or both…

…or neither…

…or…

Never mind. Moving on.

display-powerup-jetpackdisplay-powerup-sleightofhanddisplay-powerup-ballandchain

A “Powerup” is a card that is played immediately when drawn and changes the way your pawn behaves, giving you some sort of ability or taking one away.  For better or worse, you’re stuck with these until someone takes them or you roll doubles.

There are also four blank cards found in the deck that prompt you to use your imagination…or not.  It’s up to you.

Spaces –

Given the ubiquity and familiarity of spaces in tabletop games, I hadn’t really considered the idea of describing them until I got to this point in the review.  On one hand, because of the nature of this game, they need to be discussed.  But on the other hand, it feels a little like describing to someone how it feels to blink.

download

 The spaces on the board, at a glance, are rudimentary.  You have normal spaces that prompt no action. As mentioned before, there are four spaces in the corners of the board that are numbered 1-4 and serve as the “goal” spaces.  There are spaces marked with an exclamation point that prompt the player to draw a card.  There are also spaces found sporadically about the board that prompt you to “roll again”.   If that’s not enough, all of these spaces can be different colors depending on where they are found on the board.  The colors of the spaces have no bearing on their function when playing with the rules as written.  That said, the colors, location, and even the null area between spaces can (and probably will) routinely come into play because of this game’s chaotic nature.

Tiles –

Tiles are essentially spaces that can be added or moved on the board once prompted by a card, changing the effect of a space or adding a new one altogether!  There are several types of tiles.  Nearly all of the spaces described above can be found in the stack of tiles, as well as webs in which your pawn can get “stuck”, portals that allow you to quickly traverse the board, and null spaces to cut off possible avenues for your opponents.

Mr. Game! – 

Last but certainly not least, there’s Mr. Game!.  Before you begin playing, you decide who will act as Mr. Game!.  While all players are expected to interpret the rules, this player will have the final word on any decisions to be made concerning them.

From this mechanic, chaos is born.

While the other players are constantly trying to take advantage of any given situation that may get them closer to winning, they invariably will be challenging the very conventions of a roll and move game.  This, coupled with a purposefully minimalistic set of written rules, creates an environment where house rules are necessary.  This is where Mr. Game! comes in.  During play, Mr. Game! will have to make any number of probably ridiculous and unforeseen rules decisions.  As these situations are arbitrated, they become rules for the remainder of the game.  Keep in mind that whoever is playing as Mr. Game is also playing the game with everyone else and, as such, must uphold and is subject to his or her own rulings throughout the game.

What’s in the box? – 

( 1 ) Game BoardMr game board

( 1 ) How To Play Booklet

( 1 ) Alternate Game Types Booklet

( 104 ) Cards

( 18 ) Tiles

( 8 ) Player Pieces

( 8 ) Player Cards

( 2 ) Four Sided Dice

( 2 ) Goal Markers

( 4 ) Blank Cards

Components –

The components of the game are all of very good quality and have weathered several plays with little to no wear and tear.

Learning Curve –

If you read every word of the rules pamphlet it’ll take you about 10 minutes to learn to play. The set-up is minimal and the core mechanics of the game are extremely intuitive.

Packaging –

The storage space in the box holds all of the components well and passes the “shake test” with minimal movement.

Rules –

Ordinarily, a rules document that leaves so many unanswered questions would receive bad marks in this category. However, this one, because of the nature of the game, is perfect.

Play time –

The play time varies from game to game.  Most of them last 20 to 60 minutes with 4-6 players,

The “Sweet Spot” –

Rated for 2 – 8 players, the more the merrier! We’ve played with as many as 7 players with no negative experience regarding gameplay.  That said, after having experienced the game several times with varying group sizes, I’m going to put the sweet spot somewhere between 4 – 6 players.

Replay ability –

Having many variants and additional rules included in the “Alternate Gametypes” book that comes with the game, several more variants published at http://whoismrgame.com/your-house-rules/, along with the fact that you can play a completely different game just by changing the people playing or who presides as Mr. Game!, the replay ability of this one is off the charts!

Price – $35

You can purchase your copy here.

Final Thoughts –

The charm of Mr. Game! is rooted in the unpredictability that spawns from just playing the game. This provides the players with an experience that is unique not only to their gaming group, but to the individual session, which prompts the telling of stories and anecdotes about those sessions.  This is a trait usually found in meatier board games and tabletop RPGs such as Dungeons and Dragons rather than a simple roll and move game.  But then again…

Just a simple roll and move board game, Mr. Game! is not…

I believe that Mr. Game! is, in and of itself, an experience.

Rating – 10 out of 10

But then again, this is just my humble opinion.

-Dan Whorl

Check out our interview with the creator of Mr. Game!, Frank DiCola, here.

A review copy of Mr. Game! was given to me at GenCon 2016 by the game designer.  No money or further compensation changed hands or has been promised for a good review.  They earned it!

 

Sep 102016
 

Topic -  I was finally able to sit down with Frank DiCola, the creator of Mr. Game!, one of my favorite family games EVER! In this episode, we discuss Mr. Game!, the nature of its design, and some house rules.  Frank also gives a little insight into Kickstarter and we discuss some of the hurdles of being an independent game designer.  

Enjoy the show!

 

Media - 

GenCon 2016 

whoismrgame.com
Mr. Game! (@whoismrgame) | Twitter
Mr. Game | Facebook
Frank DiCola (@Yoshgunn) | Twitter
drinkinggamezone.com/drinking-games/mr-game
Tabletop Simulator on Steam
Buy Mr. Game!

For our full review of the game, go to

http://carpegm.net/game-review-mr-game/

Frank Supported:
Aether Game Cafe

 

 

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Aug 152016
 

GenCon2016-small

Indianapolis – The numbers are in…

Yet another record shredding year for GenCon 2016!

The “Best Four Days in Gaming” in the past few years. This year’s show featured more than 500 exhibitors, along with continued growth of turnstile attendance with more than 201,000 attendees, a sold out pre-show Trade Day program with more than 550 attendees, over 16,500 ticketed events, and more than $35,000 raised via on-site programming for their official charity partner:

The Pour House

The convention this year also just seemed to feel better.  There was a palpable excitement in the air that I didn’t even notice was missing from the past couple of years until I arrived. It was positively electric. Perhaps this was due to a few changes that the owners and organizers made in the hopes of enhancing the experience for the attendees.  Namely, the expansion into Lucas Oil Stadium and the conference spacing found therein, as well as, among other things, a rerouting of the Annual Cosplay Parade, and a new pricing structure allowing for better planning of events.  This added consideration created a much more inviting and less cloistered feel to the entire show.  Unique attendance was nearly the same as last year.  While that may not be another record shattered, it did serve to create a very clear dichotomy of the convention with and without the added space and considerations.

The owners and staff of GenCon were not the only ones on top of their game.  The vendors, exhibitors, and contributors hit it out of the park as well.  The convention is always a hotbed of gaming and geek pop culture with many events and releases that can only be found during the best four days in gaming.

Along with a few of the show’s staples like True Dungeon (a live action dungeon crawl), the charity auction, a very nice costume contest, 24 hour gaming, and countless other reasons people come out to Indy in the middle of summer every year, there were some new goings on that caught my attention.  There was not one, but two, live action escape rooms.  One of which was right in the dealer hall!

(Interviews with representatives of both, Think Fun and Spin Master Games, as well as reviews of their room escape board games are forthcoming)

IceCool

Also to be found in the dealer hall, was the white-hot, penguin flicking, dexterity game, Ice Cool by Brain Games, as well as  the potato-weighing mayhem of UK game designers, Big Potato Games debuting their library of games in the USA.

bigpotatologo

(Interviews with both companies and reviews of their respective games, are also forthcoming)

In addition to games, some attendees may have wandered into the exhibitor section of the hall where you could find scores of authors, craftsmen, and art like the critters created by Creature Curator, Brian Colin.

Brian Colin

These are his aptly named Pocket Monsters!!

 

By all accounts, GenCon 2016 was a complete success. The convention will be returning to Indianapolis August 17-20, 2017 for the 50th anniversary of the show.  This is sure to be a fantastic spectacle. I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

As the title states, this is just an overview of this year’s show.  Over the next couple of weeks, you’ll be seeing loads of GenCon content here including several interviews with some very innovative game designers, and LOTS of reviews of new titles and GenCon exclusives.  We’ll also be posting audio from some of the panels that we attended given by some very important individuals in the gaming community as well as written articles about some of the highlights of the show and our Convention Tradition where we scour the con for something old, something new, something redone, and something cool.

Lastly, The CarpeGM Gamecast will soon have a new show on the feed…

With a trial by fire, no safety net, live with random strangers, we’ve recorded the first episodes of a little show that we’re calling Geek 16.

 

Cheers!

-Dan

 

GenCon2016-logo big

-About Gen Con

 

Gen Con, LLC produces the largest consumer hobby, fantasy, science fiction and adventure game convention in North America. Gen Con, The Best Four Days in Gaming!™. Acquired in 2002 by former CEO and founder of Wizards of the Coast, Peter Adkison, the company is headquartered in Seattle, Washington. Gen Con 2016 was sponsored by Mayfair Games, Paizo, Inc., and Rio Grande Games.

Jan 152016
 

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s that time again… Gen Con 2016!

Once again, we at CarpeGM.net are planning to attend the biggest four days in gaming August 4th,through 7th.

Below, I bequeath unto you the press release with all pertinent information.

Gen Con 2014: Level Up!
Reminder: Badge and Housing Registration Opens in One Week
It’s almost here! Badge Pre-Registration begins one week from today, starting on January 22 with Housing Registration opening at noon (Eastern) on Sunday, January 24. Gen Con will be here before you know it!Please note: a valid 2016 badge is required to take part in housing registration.The Gen Con team would like to stress again that it is important to note that demand for downtown hotel rooms vastly outstrips the available supply. Not everyone interested in downtown housing will have access to these rooms. Suburban housing inventory typically is available throughout the convention, however. As mentioned last week, Gen Con again will randomize each customer’s access to the Gen Con Housing Portal to book lodging. If you have questions about housing, you can get them answered at the Housing Q&A forum page or by emailing customerservice@gencon.com. Please don’t wait until the last minute to get your registration questions answered, as customer service will become very busy during the opening of Badge Pre-Registration and Housing Registration.When you participate in Housing Registration, you will need to go the “My Housing” page located on gencon.com under your username after you sign-in. When housing registration opens at noon (Eastern), you will be assigned a random access time, if you have purchased a 2016 badge. When your countdown time expires, your page will refresh and provide you with a button to “Make Reservations.” Housing registration countdown times may last up to three hours. Once you are granted randomized access, you can book your housing from the remaining choices.Have more questions about housing? You can check out the newsletter from earlier this week that covers some specific badge and housing questions at this link. There is also a web page atgencon.com covering Housing & Travel, as well as a web page with information on getting your badgefor 2016.

Official 2016 Charity Partner

Earlier this week, Gen Con announced its selection of The PourHouse as its Charity Partner for 2016. Each year, Gen Con partners with one charity, local to Indianapolis, hosting events intended to create donations for the partner organization. Opened in 2004, The PourHouse provides street outreach and peer advocacy for individuals experiencing homelessness in Indianapolis. You can read more about this partnership through Gen Con’s Charity Page or via the official press release.“Gen Con gamers have found a way to extend their creative reach into the streets of their host city, and The PourHouse is honored to have been chosen as the Official Charity Partner of Gen Con 2016”, said Andrea De Mink, Executive Director of The PourHouse. “Your generosity will provide opportunities for housing, healthcare, and restoration of lives.”Last year, Gen Con’s programming generated more than $40,000 for the convention’s 2015 Charity Partner, The Julian Center. Since moving its convention to Indianapolis, Gen Con has raised more than $200,000 for local charities.Want to learn more about The PourHouse? You can LIKE their Facebook page or FOLLOW their account on Twitter. Interested in learning more about their mission? You can check out the following video from The PourHouse.
Gen Con’s mailing address is:

Gen Con LLC

120 Lakeside Ave #100

Seattle, WA 98122


Copyright © 2016 Gen Con LLC, All rights reserved.
Aug 222014
 

Topic - In this episode, we talk about games that we hate and how to make them better.  Also, we take a look at the last 2 years of podcasting and the misadventures that came with them.  This is not a standard episode of the Gamecast, so if this is your first time listening, be sure to check out a couple of other episodes as well!

Hosts - Dan, Mack, Bryan, Steve, and Lucas

 

 

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Jul 292014
 

Special Guest - Erik Carl

Topic: I had the great pleasure of sitting down with my good friend, host and Executive Producer of Metagamers Anonymous, and patriarch of the Prismatic Tsunami community, Erik Carl.  We discussed gaming with kids and his latest venture, TsunamiCon!

Support! Support!  Support!

 

 

Media - 

 

 Be sure to check out and support the Tsunamicon Kickstarter, a National level gaming convention based in Wichita, Kansas and being organized by our sister podcast, Metagamers Anonymous.   Only good things can come of this……..

Tsunamicon Kickstarter
Tsunamicon.org
Tsunamicon Facebook

Erik Supported:

BobCon: A gamer retreat in Kansas City
BobCon 2014 by Brad Kelley — Kickstarter
BobCon | Facebook

 

 

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Oct 042013
 

Archon logo

Hello all! If you’re in the St. Louis area, the place to be this weekend is : Archon – a sci fi and fantasy convention held every year in Collinsville, Illinois, about 25 minutes from downtown St Louis.

This is the 37th annual Archon. It’s sure to be a good time. I’ll be trying to score a few interviews while I’m here. Stay tunes to the feed for more info!
Check out Archon’s homepage for more info

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