Yeah, yeah, I know — it’s been a few months. This blog hasn’t been as high of a priority as it should have been, and I’m sorry.

Where is Chris now?

As I type this, Halifax, Canada — in a few days, the Toronto area in Ontario. We’ll be in Canada until it’s time for Essen. The picture above is of the Board Room Cafe — easily the best place to game in Halifax.

OK, maybe not the most appropriate game ever, but Cards Against Disney makes for a great icebreaker…

Since my last update in June 2019, I’ve been in Tallinn, Estonia, Lisbon, Portugal, and on a cruise to cross the Atlantic Ocean. I’ve been fortunate to do a little bit of playtesting at each of these places… but to be really honest, Canada has already been amazing for playtesting and will only get better.

What games are you playtesting?

  • Royal Wedding — this game’s come a long way, but it’s become clear the mechanics and theme are diverging in a way I’ll have to fix soon. It may not be a spiritual successor to Love Letter, as I’ve sometimes described it, but
  • Unicorn Zoo — feeling really good about this one. Some instinctive tweaks have made the game more intuitive and easier to play. I’m still tweaking, but every playtest of this auction-and-bargain-unicorns game is better and better.
  • Next Great American Novel — this one’s still one of my favorites to show to more serious gamers since it packs a ton of strategy into 108 cards. Recent playtesting has been really helpful in identifying some of the game’s weaker spots, bu
  • 5 in a row — this one’s still fairly new, so allow for a brief explanation. It’s currently an abstract / unthemed strategy game about getting five of your pieces in a row. Cards you play allow you to place new pieces on the board or manipulate your pieces already on the board. It’s one of the few games currently in my bag that plays at 2 players, and while I haven’t yet attached a theme to it, I’m not yet convinced it needs one.

What’s happening behind the scenes?

  • A ton of researching and pitching for Essen. I’ll write up a post about what I’ve been learning during this process — look for that in the coming days.
  • I have about 30 appointments with publishers from around the world at Essen, so the next few weeks will be busy making sure games are as polished as possible before meeting with people.
  • I’ve redesigned the sell sheets of the 10 or so games in active development / pitching. The goal here is to emphasize the photos of the game in various stages, and by having more real estate taken up by photos, it leaves less room for lots of text.

Beyond my own games, I was privileged to attend Supernova, an invite-only long gaming weekend in Halifax earlier this month. Many of the gamers brought their bigger games (the sort that take 1-2 hours to play — or longer), so it was nice to see some shorter games make it to the table.

Two favorites at this event: Point Salad, a simple but surprisingly strategic game about drafting veggies that’s quickly become one of my favorite games period, and Draftosaurus, a 15 minute game about drafting dinosaurs and placing them in various pens on your board (as seen above). Awesome component quality, and a legitimately short game… but it was almost too easy…

What’s the next big thing?

This weekend is ProtoTO in Toronto, and I’m looking forward to Essen in about a month. I’m not sure how much playtesting I’ll be doing of my own games, but I definitely intend to spend a fair bit of time trying out other people’s games…