Thursday, 26 December 2013


So my friend dr Geof did me two possible logo's for Stormy Port games.

I like 'em both - but I think I refer the one wit the boat in the glass.  The only problem is - how will that look when shrunk down?

Now - best make some games.  :-)

Saturday, 30 November 2013


Is the eventual name I settled on for the coffee project.

I've had a bunch of ideas - which finally made it into a version that I moved some bits around the table with. but sadly that just did not work.  So back to the drawing board.

Some things are fixed.

After your turn anybody you've sat with will get a change to take a move buy drinking a cup of coffee (so no fixed turn structure - rather being near somebody means they might take another move).
It's set in a single coffee shop - with a single long bench - and when you move to a new seat you interact with the people around you.
It's about finding out what scoring opportunities exist - and picking the one you want.
The person who leaves the coffee shop first gets to pick the scoring card they want - while people who stay score up more resources to spend on those cards.  So that's a key tension to the game - go now and grab something or keep moving.

What is not fixed....

Why sometimes you'll want to interact with lots of people and why sometimes you won't want to avoid people (the choice is important).
What you get (in addition to seeing scoring cards) when you interact that is a known quantity.
Times when you'll want to stop after your move and times when you'd want to keep moving.

So this is me mainly saying "I'm not dead" - rather then having any specific plans.

Saturday, 16 November 2013


Or since that name is taken - what ever I end up calling it.

So I've got a bunch of mechanics worked out.

I now exactly what the missing needs to do - and the sort of trade off I wants players to be making on there turn (end the turn early for first pick/cheapest but have less resource and less idea of what the options will actually be - or end the turn late and have less options).

But can I actually turn that into anything remotely resembling a system - can I arse.  My brains got stuck.

Stupid brain.

Apparently I'll be calling it Coffeehouse since that name is not being used.....

Sunday, 10 November 2013


So I was reading the book A History of the World in Six Glasses (it's very good) and the section about coffee made me go 'Hmmmmm' about a game based around moving from coffee shop to coffee shop where drinking a coffee allows you to take another move.

And that was pretty good - and I got sketching out version 0.01 and then I ran into a problem.

So it's mainly around people meeting in coffee and exchanging information - which creates a trading mechanic.  However the key thing about gossip is that after you trade it- you still have it....

And all of the trading mechanics I can think off seem to involve the swapping of stuff.

I'm hoping to sleep on it and see if there is a stroke of inspiration....

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Looks at date of last post....

.....that is a while ago!

So what is going on?  Frankly - not a lot.

A bunch of personal things meant I've not played anything in ages - let alone got in a play test for Giant Stone Head.

I also seem to have lost any enthusiasm for the project.  I mean - it's a decent game - but I'm not sure it will ever be a good game.  I don't see a path from her to physical product that is worth selling.

So unless I have some sort of mind expanding road to Damascus moment I suspect I'm going to create a final personal version and then cease design.  It's been interesting and I've learned a lot.

Which according to Game Design: How to Create Video and Tabletop Games, Start to Finish is all you need to be a game designer.  The next step is not game design but games publishing - which is actually a totally different beast and it's the design which interest me.

I'm not sure I totally accept that argument since getting the game to be physically created is a really important thing- but we might want to consider Giant Stone Head the equivalent of a first novel - nobody expects there first novel to get published so why it would be different for a first game?

Anyway - onwards and upwards.

I was chatting to an internationally renowned fantasy artist of my acquaintance - and she raised the possibility of producing a simple game with some of there art on it to be sold directly to there fans.  They set a budget, a size, and a complexity level.  I've got a decent theme so that is the next project.

I've started looking through the ideas file - and there's some good stuff in there.

Monday, 22 July 2013

More Giant Stone Head!

Giant Stone Head
So despite actually making some new hexes – I never got round to cutting them out – so this version is the same as the version that went to Stabcon. 
This play test was pretty important since it was with “the breaker of games” who managed to break things really rather a lot when the last played.  And he gave it a good try – by making sure he went last in one turn and first in another – but as he was unable to force the end of the game he found himself over extended and not holding onto sufficient space for the last turn. 
One player messed up his penultimate turn – played his cards wrongly – but in a way that’s a good thing.  The existence of bad play means there is good play - which means the decisions you make matter.   Certainly the 3 card limit in a combat has made combat both more frequent and more common – which is good.
This build is feeling very stable - the game elements are now all in place – but what remains to be decided is what the correct proportions are
Now the breaker of games tried to avoid violence - the rewards were not sufficient he felt for random violence - just very focused violence at the right time.  At the moment you get most of your VP’s from actually building stone heads – which in turn comes mainly from holding territory that gives you resources and has space to build.  But is that proportion currently right – at the moment it feels a little bit like building a stone head gives you a smidge to much and violence gives you a smidge to little.  Building is 2VP’s a head, violence  1VP per a head – and it has to be that way round to reward the act of building.  But maybe values of 1.8 and 1.2 would be better?  Of course there is no way of getting that – but I could make building 2VP’s and violence 1.5vp’s – except I don’t want half points so I’d have to make it 4vp’s and 3vp’s which closes the gap but have things then swung to far the other way?  Not sure I have an answer to this but my instinct is to keep the numbers low.
One small change – the 4 empty spaces hex is just not being used until the last turn of the game – so it’s a bit of a pointless hex.  However the 3 empty spaces and a heart is being used – that heart makes it that little bit more attractive – so I think I’ll replace that one.
One of my readers (hello John!) said if there are ten steps of game design I’m on 9 and not moving forward.  Actually I think I’ve been on 6 and now I’m moving to 7 – all game elements are in place it’s now it's about proportion…….  And honestly I’ve no idea how to go about doing this stage – how do you work out the fine tuning – how do you decide if you want one more attack boost then defence boost?  How do you work out if the game would be better or worse with one more tree then empty space?  Trial and error have got me this far - and I'm not sure of the way forwards.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Stabcon play test

So Stabcon play test....

Only managed to get one play test in over the weekend and I'm trying to work out the feedback.

So it seemed to take a long time – about 3 hours – however we were very distracted due to the environment but that felt to long. What is odd is I don't know what caused that – previously the game has felt like a two hour game but now suddenly it's running longer again. There don't seem to be a sticking points – things bang back round to you pretty quickly.

The new rules about only being able to play 3 cards per a combat worked – there were more combats rather then a single big one, and there were times when cards would not save you. The attacker gets a bit of a choice – do they use a card which might not be needed or waste there opportunity to play it. And the combat tracker was generally well received – needs work as it was rough but it's good to have.

Managed to get some feedback from somebody who's opinion I wanted as he not only plays a lot of games but has been involved in game creation before – his response - “it's a good game – you'd never sell thousands but you'd sell a hundred.” He had no real rules comments – slight worry that the rich get richer but he felt it was very slight and balanced by the fact going later in the turn is an advantage. So I've got about the right level there. Also felt that once you were out of cards then you were a target – and while the card you got was helpful maybe it was not enough......

Some suggestions...

If you are below a certain level draw back to that level.
Draw two and pick one.
Change to discard unhelpful cards and draw new ones.
Some combination of those.

Concerns with this one are – getting more cards mid game would devalue getting a handful of cards. Would also encourage people at the start of the turn order to just burn everything out. The current rule is very simple and does not slow things down – inserting a choice (pick one or discarding one) would slow things down.

More feedback about design – which is not something I've spent a lot of time thinking about to be honest. Useful stuff like “make the bonus defensive on a hex not be in the middle but around the edge of the hex as a pattern”.

Also came up with a new card this morning +2 attack but only where there is not a heart indicator. Which is powerful but makes hearts slightly more useful.

So this time round what I want to do is......

Improve the combat tracker
Add in that one card – and remove something from the deck to make it happen.
Do some maths that looks at the number of spaces on the board vs the number of heads on cards and trys to estimate how many terms the game should run for.
And time a version of the game to see how long it takes – both in number of turns and also in time.


This year stabcon was boiling - scorching.  But that was an excuse for ice cream - so it all worked out well. :-)

New games I played this time round......

The village -

A very lovely worker placement game based around a medieval village and how your family builds up it's own reputation in the village – with the rather unique mechanic that as time goes on the older members of your family die and get immortalised in the village chronicles. Specifically worth noting for the excellent board design – once you've got an idea of the rules and started playing – everything you need is there. Has an expansion that adds a pub. :-)

If you want a good game without a violet theme then well worth picking up. I would say that the only downside is that there is not much player interaction – you mainly do your own thing with a little bit of racing to get your Meeples into the good places in the graveyard. However for some people that's a positive feature.

Lancaster -

One off the unplayed shelves – Hurrah! Almost the opposite of the village since it's a worker placement game themed around war where you spend a lot of time kicking each other out of jobs. Very good – lots of interaction and even has a mechanisum where you vote to set the laws which affect what gives your victory points. For example in a lot of game spare resources get turned into VP's – here you vote if you want that.

Infinity Dungeon -

Another off the unplayed shelves – Hurrah! And one I'd brought especially to take to stabcon for late night gaming. So it's a story telling game – which means it's more a way to get people to be inventive then a game. Indeed this game takes that to a new level with the fabulous rule that once you have escaped a certain number of rooms then the game is over and you've won but the person who had the most fun won the most..... It worked very well – without any of the confusion that Aye! Dark Overlord has been known to cause and we all laughed. Like most story telling games you need a certain sort of person to play them - and if you get the wrong person it all falls apart. We had the right sort of people - so our mad cap group of 'heroes' slaughtered and looted and drove there train around a dungeon with a great deal of aplomb. :-)

Did get a play test of giant stone head - but that will be for another day.......

Thursday, 4 July 2013

1/12 of a year

So it’s been over a month since I last posted anything about giant stone head and that’s because nothing has happened in that last month.  
Not for want of trying – I had a very clear plan a month ago – couple more playtests – get a locked down improved version to take to Stabcon this coming weekend and play test the same version  few times.  Maybe gather some numbers about where people score there points, and how turn order affects the eventual score rather than just my memory
The card deck needed tweaking that much was certain but I decided to avoid doing that until I’d seen the introduction of a maximum number of cards per play per a battle….
And then – every week for about a month I’ve tried to get people together to play and failed.  I’ve tried Wednesday, Thursday; I’ve tried Monday nights when RPG does not happen, I’ve tried sitting in the pub on a Sunday afternoon and luring people to me with pints.  Nothing, nada, zip, vilch. 
I seem to get one person who says yes – and then a bunch of maybes that fall through.  Just tonight I tried to get people together to play – sneak a test of it in and make the changes tomorrow before I zoom off to Stabcon……
And it’s not just Giant Stone Head either – I’ve failed to get people together to play anything at all.  All in all It’s been a bit depressing.  If time is money and the the goal is to publish by the end of the year – I’ve just lost 1/12 of my budget for no return.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Tales out of Anchor – take 2

Our usual Monday night RPG was cancelled due to holiday – but we did do our characters performance development reviews (PDR’s) since we are playing a game of Laundry. The PDR’s meant that we did not have enough time to play Giant Stone Head – so we played love letter with excessive amounts of politeness (which is the best way to play it) and had a poke at a new version of “tales out of anchor”.
I’d not had time to make new cards – so what I did was use the last set of cards with new rules.  This version takes it bluffing from cockroach poker – push a card at somebody – name a card – and they need to decide if you are telling the truth or a lie about the card.  Get it right and you get to play the card – get it wrong and they get to play the card – or you can pick it up – look at it and pass it on. But before long you’ve run out of people to pass it to.
Game ended very quickly – as opposed to the first one which went on – so the very random end sequence I’m not 100% sure about.  Maybe you play until the tokens have run out – but it is still might be worth being at the top during the general play.
Since I was using the same cards as before – they were not correct for the game and different cards are needed – but I had to feel how the bluffing worked.  And it was good more interaction between players – and more ability to drag somebody down – but there was a problem in that one person was ignored – the cards just passed over her.  But I think I can solve that – at the moment the cards are positive.  If the cards are negative cards however – moving people down – anybody doing badly will be pushed upwards – thus making them a target.
So the bluffing rules and the three part track worked ok together – needs to be tried with a fixed length game and cards with different effects.  Fortunately I have Monday off to recover from Odyssey (ancient world larp) so I should be able to bash out new cards before the next Monday and give the new game a try.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Tale from Anchor

So a little while back I was chatting to a friend about the LARP they are creating and they said it would good if there was a suitable, unique game for people in the world to play.  Fun, easy to learn, and not something you had to give all your attention to so people could talk in character over it.
We got chatting – and I find that  limitations actually help the creative process as they remove options allowing you focus on those remaining – and so I’ve started work something which got it’s first play test last night.
The game has to feel appropriate to the world  and needs to reflect certain themes that the larp is about and since everything that follows comes from those I’d best outline what those are.
·         It’s about driving your opponent down – not killing them. 
o   So game mechanic wise - no eliminations it’s about status relative to other people.
·         It’s a world with bureaucracy.
o   So game mechanic wise – card or role choosing limitations on what you can do are in (it’s also a society with paper – so cards fit in).
·         It’s ok to cheat – to a certain point but no further.
o   So game mechanic wise – cheating/lieing are in within the game rules.
·         Trading is an important part of the background (even if not something the players will do as part of their game as it’s not got enough players to support that activity).
o   So a theme around trading makes sense.
Now we’d been playing Coup that night – which I love – and is a very simple game based around lying.  You have a couple of cards which give you actions – but you can play any action in the game and if you are not challenged you get to do that action irrespective of what cards your holding in your hand.  But if somebody challenges you - show the card you have claimed to have and they lose a card, fail to show that card and you lose a card. Or say you have the card that blocks the card that has been played – you’ll get away with it unless called.  If your called on it – the same comparison happens.  Lose both cards and you are out – winner is the last one standing…….
This gives use -  bureaucracy, and this gives us cheating – but it utterly fails to give us “no elimination”.  So I made a version in which it was about moving people up and down a single track.  However a solo play of that showed that it did not seem to work.  So I created another version with three tracks – to give people something to prioritise – each one representing a valuable commodity in the world (themed around trading).  Which seemed to go ok in solo play so it got dragged out for a play test last night.
It went ok – but lacked a certain something.  The actions seemed a little anaemic – one person got to the top of track and just stayed there.  Currently we don’t have the blocker actions – and that was something that was lacking.  Part of the trouble is I’m having difficulty thinking up good actions for moving up the track – we’ve got up track 1, up track 2, up track 3, up one track and down another, up one track and also somebody else up a track.  It was suggested that “move somebody else down” was needed but that’s the same as “move yourself up just in another way”.
I like the three tracks – I totally like the three tracks – but I’m not sure that coups lieing works for what we want to do.  But what about the lying in kakerlaken poker – pass a card – claim what it is – and you have to decide if reject it, accept it as true, or pass it on……….. Hmmmm
Say an action – pass as card.  
Player can accept that card - at which point if it is the action stated they get to target the action - otherwise the person playing the card gets to target the action.
Player can reject the car - at which if it is the action stated the person playing the card gets to target the action otherwise they get to play the action.
The player can pass a card – they look at it and claim an action (does not have to be the same action as before) – and pass the card to a player of there choice.  Starting the same action
Might well work – and hits most of the same themes.  hmmmmmm
Since this game is only intend to be played at a larp I'm more willing to lift a wholesale mechanic - although copying game mechanics is actually considered totally acceptable in board game design circles. 

Friday, 31 May 2013

Version 4.mumble

So this was a three person play test and the first three person play test in a while.  
Overall - pretty damn good.  It's not perfect and as in a lot of 3 person war games two people fighting opens an opportunity for the 3rd person but I can live with 'works for 3 - better for 4'.  Came in at about two hours - which would be 90 minutes if you know what you are doing.  Which is good.
The feedback at the end of the game was positive (from one newbie and one person who played some time ago and thought it much improved) – and I agreed with them.  In particular the person who played before said it now felt like a good length - not dragging on a little like it had before. Much more like a finished game and a good one at that.
There was still a little bit of “not sure going first is worth it” – but a lot less - and the person who held that belief decided they might be wrong.  So the new build cards do what they are meant to - or at least in the right direction.    The actual values need to be determined a bit better.  But that might require some in depth play to decided. 
This rather neatly throws up just how interrelated everything is - there is no way of working out what the build card values should be unless the action cards are fixed.  But how good the action cards are depends heavily on everything else......  
There was also a request for some sort of combat track to help keep track of peoples strength – seems reasonable and easy to do.  We’ve been holding up hands recently to track - so it’s clearly needed these days. 
Four ideas for action cards to get the combat more invovled - thinking that these can replace the standard "one attack or one defence card" as they are a bit bland.
Remove enemy big man
Add your own big man
Draw 3(?) cards when attacked
Counter a taboo card and get some sort of bonus (cards?) for having done so. 
That is the change for this time round – test that and then hopefully fix the action card.  I've already decided that what is on the board is fixed – so then it’s just tweak the build card values to get them right.
It’s coming together I think – the regular Wednesday play tests are coming together - and as always if anybody is interested let me know.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

More Play Testing.....

So another good play test – 4 people this time. 
The positive – the people new to version 4.0 felt that it zipped along at a much better speed, and the change to RongaRonga to allow you to flip one of your heads rewarded attacking a bit more.  And the quarry having a unique power did make it more of a focus – very attractive to the person with a 4 stone heads for example.  The combat seems to be working well – people trying to work out when to fight –and when to just take it.  Often looking at what is likely to be coming down the line.  The attacker winning mutual wipe outs does lead to a tendency for mutual wipe outs – since in a draw the attacker gets to flip there stone heads and play a RongaRonga.  That might need looking at…….
One good suggestion was a counter ‘totally taboo’ card – since currently the only counter is another ‘totally taboo card’.  Possible effects include allowing the original card to go ahead with a bonus – or blocking the player of the totally taboo card from playing any more cards……  Other funky cards that might be worth adding “remove enemy big man” and the flip “add your big man to a conflict”.  Not too sure about the ‘add a big man’ card as it actually saves you having to spend a food to put somebody on the board…..…  So it’s a two point swing plus.  It could just be remove a warrior a put a big man on the board.  This makes it less flexible but would still allow you to turn a wipe out into situation where you have got your big man left.  Which I think makes it more of a value with other cards (a two point swing in the right circumstances).
One oddity was that the game went on one turn longer than expected because at the end of one turn there were only three hexes with resources – so there a bit of an unexpected turn.  And I was the only person who realised that space to build in that final turn was the most precious resource in the game. Despite that it was still nicely tight – apart from for one player who was staggeringly far behind – in fact so far behind I wonder if they were not taking the VP’s when they placed there stone heads.
The interesting thing was that they went first for most of the game – and it is certainly why they think it’s why they did so badly. 
It’s certainly something I’ve been worried about – it’s why I hesitated about switching move order to being based of resource for so very long – so I’m inclined to believe them.  That said – I’m much happier with the secret VP’s and the flow of the game so it’s a case of making it work rather then going back to what we had.
Now at least part of that player doing so badly is based on decision they made.  They had first pick of the build cards – they could have taken the card that gave them a lot of Giant Stone Heads and hence VP’s but they chose not to.  That left them physically stronger but weak in VP’s which win you the game.  However while they controlled lots of space in the mid game when it has limited value – they lost it lost control of that space in the last turn when it was at its most valuable.
Another thing that happened was that the ‘steal a VP’ card only works on people with more resources then you (so higher in the turn order) – which meant he was always a target for that and could not use the card to claw back at all.  So easy fix there – allow that card to be used anywhere and hope the players us it to pick on what they consider the ‘correct’ opponent is.
This player did however manage to explain why going first is so disadvantageous – it’s because while you get slightly more cards and men then everybody else (and get a better fit to whatever you currently have so your discarding less cards) – when you go first your operating against every other player who is at full strength having just topped out on cards and men.  Even if you do nothing and defend (a dull option at best) then the player coming after you has one less player to worry about…
So some possible fixes…….
Give the player going first some sort of bonus in cards or men.  That’s basically the route the briefly lived shaman cards worked being powerful cards that the person picking first got.  Shaman cards are clumsy and I’m not sold on them – but just a general bonus “first person gets an extra two men, second person gets an extra man” could also work.  Still a bit clumsy in my opinion.
Make the build cards more diverse – at the moment the gap between the best card and the worst card is pretty narrow – widen that and the person going first has a significantly better choice.  A big problem with this (and also the first solution) is that the risk of a positive feedback linked to winning can develop.  I have more resources – so I have more men – so I have more resources…
Another option would be to radically change the game – so players take there build card, place giant stone heads but don’t get there cards and men until there actual turn.  Bit of a radical change – might work – would involve a lot of changes.
A fourth option would be to decouple the number of giant stone heads you get from the men/cards you get.  At the moment each build card has a budget – which works out how many men, cards and giant stone heads that card will have.  Well some cards have a slightly higher budget – a card with lots of giant stone heads will be weaker elsewhere to compensate.   However that link could be removed – either by allowing good all round cards or by making the number of giant stone heads not depend on the card but just on your turn position (so in a 4 player game you get 4 heads if you are going first).
Of them all – I quite like the idea of decoupling the value of giant stone heads.  So, for example,  there will be multiple cards that give you 4 men and 5 cards just with different amounts of stone heads on.  The actual difference in the number of cards and men can stay about the same – but with the existence of those if the person going first is not getting a lot of stone heads then it really is there own fault…..     
Another way of achieving this would be to just increase the budget of the build cards–while just making sure all the budget gets spent on giant stone heads.  I’ll hammer out values at some point – but I doubt I’ll have this ready for a trip to Coventry this weekend – which is where GSH got a lot of it’s early play testing.  Bless ‘em.  

Friday, 10 May 2013


So last night I play tested the new version of Giant Stone Head – number 4.0 due to the large amount of changes.  And it was good.  No really - it ended and I was quite pleased.
The two main changes certainly fixed what they were meant to fix.  Using just resources for build and turn order made the book keeping much quicker and easier (the whole game was about 2 hours for 5 players which makes the holy grail of 90 minutes look much more achievable) – while hidden victory points made the end game less anaemic as you did not have the sense of ‘the end result is obvious’. 
A lesson in ‘don’t change to much at once’ however the addition of shaman cards has complicated the game and I’m not sure it’s actually needed.  Perhaps just slightly wider diversity in the build would have been enough to make first spot a good enough option to be worth taking…..  That one really needs a game breaker to test it out....
I described it as “the first time in a long time I’d not had any nagging doubts”.  The core game mechanics now seem more solid even if I’m not sure about the Shaman cards.   And the book I’m reading at the moment repeats the following quote a lot “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away” (apparently that is from  Antoine de Saint-Exuper ) and the Shaman cards certainly look like something bolted on to be smoothed away.  So lets keep that in mind.
Once people had gone home – I started thinking about how the game was at it’s best when your spotting and exploiting opportunities and how the current cards (specifically the RongaRonga and Pimp Your Moai cards) don’t support that very well.  RongaRonga simply don’t drive your planning  because they are not a big enough while playing a pimp my Moai is actually an excuse to defend and do nothing. Equally the quarry – which is meant to be a place of exciting violence and high drama- has been grabbed by one player who has held onto it all game and not done very well out of it…..
Things I like – and are working – stone heads give you two VP’s when you build them –and one vp when you kick over other peoples.  I like that – it drives conflict – makes building stone heads the key sourve of VP’s (which it has to be in a game about building stone heads) and makes you a target by the very act of gaining VP’s.  It’s neat.
I’m less sure about how players gain additional VP’s from their own giant Stone heads (The pimp my Moai card or possession of the quarry which replicate each other effects).  So what I want to do – change the value of the quarry and the card – so the quarry is better in some way then the card not the same.  So possession of the quarry carries a greater premium and is not simply invalidated by randomly drawing a card (or likewise just drawing that card is not the stroke of great fortune). 
I also want to ensure people are active and doing rather than sitting defensively.  It would also be good to have a stronger reason to attack hexes that don’t hold a giant stone head.
So let’s keep the quarry as it is – at the end of the turn you can turn all of your giant stone heads to unwhorshiped for one VP each.
Lets change the ‘pimp my moai’ card so that if you win a victory against anybody you can flip one of your giant stone heads for 1 VP.  It’s still only 1 VP – but it also removes a reason to attack you which is good….
The later in the turn a player goes – the better the quarry is (less chance to lose it and more knowledge of the number of stone heads you'll have at the end) where as the earlier in the turn the better the pimp my moai card is (because it removes more peoples incentive to attack you).  Which is balanced – and you might well need more than one of these a turn so having a number in the deck is less of a problem. 
This rather fills the slot currently taken by RongaRonga cards (win fight – get 1VP) even if by a different mechanism – so I think this will replace the attack a person in a particular seat around the table.  So what happen to the “steal a VP” card? Well I think nothing.  We keep it as is – a Ronga Ronga card that’s used for hitting people further up the resource track then you – although I want to call it ‘Rob from the Rich!’. 
That feels a solid set of changes – and I’m unsure enough about how that will affect play that I’m going to withdraw the Shaman cards for the next play test.  They exist to make a tactic I don’t even know would work from looking appealing – avoiding resources and hanging around at the back – and last night people mainly used being at the back in order to grab being at the front next turn.  With even less stone heads on the board as people flip them mid turn being at the back to hovering up VP’s looks less likely.
All rather hopeful - i really should see if I can get a version ready to drag to bristol.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

So turns out.....

....coming up with ideas for nine powerful but hopefully not over powerful cards was pretty easy.

Now if they are actually balanced or if there game breaking - that will have to wait till a play test to find out

The cards are....

Declare peace with one person for one turn - this is basically adding back the recently removed 'Invite your neighbor' card - which always seemed a little over powered.
End a conflict and retreat attackers bits without resolving. 
Remove enemy big man - and gain 1 attack or defense. Not sure if this should be +1 or +2 a 3 point swing is good but not that much better then a standard card, well a 4 point swing seem pretty damn good.
Cancel card just played - and take into your hand.  Improved version of totally taboo
Get a card out of the discard pile or search through the deck for it - a classic gaming power that's not in the game.  While not powerful it does mean you can pretty much get the card you need.
Steal 3 cards from an opponent - which is going to ruin somebody's day.
Score an extra one for each head you flip - does not allow you to flip heads.  Could yield about an extra 4/5 VPs if played right - but you do still need a way of flipping them. 
Put your big man into this fight from off the board.  Seems like just a 2 point swing - which it is - but provide they live - saves you the cost of bringing them on next turn which is also plus 1 person.
Take an extra man, an extra card, and an extra giant stone head. Not a game changer - but a nice boost.

So questions to be answered - who gets these bonus cards and when do they get them?

I think that on turn 2 and turn 3 - everybody but the last two players in the turn gets a card (so in a 3 player game the 1st player gets on, in a 4 player game players 1 and 2 get them, and in a 5 player game players 1 to 3 get them).  The first player draws as many cards are going to be given out - keeps 1 - and pass the remaining cards to the next player - who keeps one.  So 3 players - draw 1 get that.  5 players - draw three - keep 1 and pass 2 on.  Not sure about the user interface for this to make sure it happens and does not get forgotten.....

So onto the next bit - RongaRonga cards - creating opportunities to gain VP's and hurt people who are doing well.  These have to be changed because

Thursday, 18 April 2013

i ain't dead

Sorry about the extended radio silence – after deciding that I was not going to push for Bristol Comic Con – the drive went out of me – which combined with a trip to Japan rather pushed GSH to the back burner.  As for Japan – well curry donoughts are ace and I’ll say no more. About it.
A play test!  I think this was the first time with the new card mix.  Took about 2 and half hours – reasonable length of time – but still feels overly long to me for the amount of game you get.  It’s only  4/5 turns in total – with a chunk of book keeping and with more down time in there then I’m happy about.   
5 players – 3 of which were in a tight group at the front – and two of which languished at the back.  One of those people got kicked at the start – and then made the mistake of grabbing and holding the quarry for multiple turns – while losing everything outside of it.  And the other had the problem that we went for a big burst of violence – that ran straight into a horrible defensive card combo that killed him stone dead – and left him a bit broken.  I also think they did not use the advice that going last is generally best – and let other people take that advantages spot in the turn order.
The feedback was good – they all got and understood the game – and seemed to enjoy themselves. 
There was a decent discussion about changes and how to cut down the book keeping - and the idea was raised that there might not be major rules problems rather it might be a peoples interaction with the game that’s the problem (user interface seems a good term).  Counting resources is a pretty minor bit of booking keeping – but it seems to slow things down a lot as we work out peoples build order.   Turn order – which has fundamentally the same mechanic – is much smother.  So the suggestion was that we create a track for resources – and see if that helps smooth it out.
Feels very sticking plaster to me – and it also feels very much like this issue is the elephant in the room that I’m not addressing.  The niggling doubt that won’t got away no matter how much I tweak.  I have had this before – were I ignored that feeling about a major issue the drive to attack – and kept tweaking and tweaking until I finally gave in and accepted that I was just wrong and a major change was needed.  I postponed the game production in order to have the time to get things right – so lets get things right.
There is a very big trap I need to avoid – earlier version actually did not actually have proper incentives for attacking but people did it anyway because that’s what the game was telling them to do.  And I need to avoid that from happening again.
I think there are two unrelated problems with game play – I should point out that when I’m writing this sort of post I’m often working out what I think as I go along.  So sorry if it’s a bit of a ramble. 
The first is the entire building and placing portion of the game – and without doubt it’s the best it’s been – but it still takes up way to much of the game time and breaks up the flow of the game something rotten – with almost no interaction between the players.  It’s not helped that the turn order jumps around every turn preventing people getting into any kind of flow – but I think that’s really important.
The second is that the end of game is a bit flaccid.  People know the scores and there are no major surprises at the end of the game.
I think the second problem has a simple fix - make victory points secret.  That injects an element of uncertainty into the last turn but in doing so it utterly breaks the current way of deciding turn order – and removes what is meant to be an important negative feedback mechanism to stop people who are winning from just keep on winning by giving them last choice in turn order – which is hopefully the least advantageous one. 
Good job I’m thinking about reworking that portion of the game then. 
Assuming we want to keep the “winner picks turn order last” if victory points are secret then we have to pick up another characteristic to count as ‘winning’ for determining the turn order – some examples are examples are how many stone heads you control, number of hexes you control, the number of men you have, the amount of cards you have, the number of resources you have.
Number of stone heads you control is tempting – it’s got a connection to VP’s after all.  But the ultimate goal of this is to smooth out and speed up this entire section – and there seem no better way of doing this then using a number you were going to work out anyway.  So the amount of resources it is….
The simplest way of doing this is to take the build cards in the order highest to lower and then use the same order for movement.  So the person who gets the best build card – also gets the first movement (which is generally the worst). 
 This is an idea I’ve been thinking about for ages – but I’ve always avoided before (I don’t think I’ve ever brought it in before – sometimes I forget – the versions blur together if I’m honest.)
I’m rather uncertain about this because it could well introduce a perverse incentive – where players try and maintain a low resource total (and thus not attacking or taking territory removing a key part of the game) in order to move last because it’s a bigger advantage then taking the first pick of build cards.  Fix that by making the gap between the build cards bigger and you end up with a positive feedback mechanism where players with the most resources get the best cards and they keep on staying at the top because they have more men and more cards.
Resources actually provide two things - superior access to build cards but they also provide the space to build the giant stone heads that win you the game.  At the end of the game that space is at a premium and highly valuable – but in the beginning space has little value because there is so much of it.  This means that at the end of the game the need for space will mean that players will be fighting over resources – if not for access to the build card then access to the space to build a giant stone head for the vps. 
So we need to make the earlier picks high picks of build cards more valuable then just cards on general – but I think not the first pick because that's just based on placement – rather then having emerged from play.
So what sort of bonus could they get?
It could be bonus victory points – but that feels rather bland.
It could be ongoing additional resources – extra men/cards/giant stone heads – which sounds like it might be a bit of an overly positive feedback mechanism.
It could be a one off chunk of people/cards/giant stone heads – but that is both a little bland and also positive feedback.
The idea I think would work would be a powerful one off card. This does present a couple of problems – not least of which is coming up with a roughly 6/9 new cards with interesting effects that over powered but not to overpowered.......
Secret VP's
Special one off cards if you take a build card higher in the sequence at the start of the 2nd/3rd turn.
Needs to rework the rongaronga card – and in general I need to think about the entire portion of the game which is how the cards open up opportunities for you – because I think the game is at it's best when it's about spotting opportunities for mischief and going for it......

Monday, 4 March 2013


....February has been for a number of reasons a total bust in terms of play testing or designing.  I will be honest and say I'm not a jot closer to either being happy with the game or having started budiling the final versions.

Which gives me two months - March and April to get the game ready for Bristol Comic Con.

Not going to happen especially as I'm now meant to be prepping for a new interview and also I'm out of the country for two weeks at the end of the March. 

I'd best admit it now.  Bit sad - but I've just not been able to make any progress on the damn thing recently along with a good pile of doubts if it's actually any good.

Due to the lack of actual content - please find a link to a useful post on Board Game Geek from the designer of Britania - here

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Play test! Yeah!

So play test last night – first in a while – only change was a reduction in the end of game points for resources and hexes.  4 players – bit over two hours – but with lots of faffing and talking about larp.  So 90 minutes is starting to look like a reasonable time frame.
Very solid game – worked well – I thought I was going to run away with it but got caught up with (and passed) on the last turn after I messed up - seems smooth and sensible.  Not all of the cards seem to be working – specifically the points awarding ones.  The Shaman says what cards – some of the RongaRonga’s.  I did mess up and forget the very important rule of “if attacked – draw a card” which is the second time I have done that.  And it’s very clear just how good a rule that is as somebody got pounded on when that rule was missing……..
There has also been feedback that setting the cards up differently – so it was more obvious that the cards where an “or” would be good and there is an idea floating around to flip the bottom part of the card over so it’s more obvious what way you play it.  That combined with needing to reduce the number of cards down to 54 means that the next bit of work is clearly redoing the cards. 
So glad I got that sorted.
I’m considering removing invite your neighbours– it’s a pretty powerful card and it reduces the whole “running around like loons” part of the game.
Need to work out the ratio of dual use cards to single use cards.
Need to work out the amount of movement cards – because without movement cards your options are pretty limited.
Not sure about the ratio of “men” to “cards” you get when you pick a build card either.  A small hand of cards is quite crippling as you lose the ability to do stuff.  And with a fairly low cap on the total number of men you can have – a card that gives a lot of men will not always be the most welcome.  But cards are random while men are certain.  Given the game only takes 4/5 turns I’m thinking maybe of just getting more men and cards into the game – and hence more options and more fights – is a good thing.    Not sure about this one.
It’s feeling like a very solid framework of basic rules – now it’s all about ratio’s and balance.
But big problem is making sure stuff is play tested before the final version is made……..

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

All quiet on the Stone Head front

Not a lot of action on here – but then that is because there has been not a lot of action on the GSH front – which is actually pretty disastrous production wise as the clock is ticking.  I was going to meet up with Dr Geof to talk art, cardboard and printing on Wednesday but he called it off.  We have rescheduled to next Wednesday.
I also let an opportunity for play testing go past this weekend – as I headed away for a really rather fabulous weekend of gaming and totally failed to do a play test.  I believe the word you are looking for is doh.
So lacking anything else to talk about – I’ll talk about a rather fabulous weekend of gaming.
This all started from a rather off the cuff comment about how cool it would be to play castle based board games in a castle – ok maybe cool is the wrong word – maybe geekily awesome is the phrase.  And then nothing happened until one person appeared and said “I don’t have a castle – will a manor house do” and we all went “yes?”  And so bouncecon was born – named after the bouncy castle it was possible to hire but we never did – not a proper con but a group a friends who wanted more gaming.  The manor house in question was a somewhat sprawling pile that could not only hold 24 people, but get all of them in the dining room at the same time while having more reception rooms then we knew what to do with.  What with having the dining room, the kitchen table, main hall and the library - the lounge and music room pretty much got ignored – and I only think the snooker room, table football room, air football room and children’s room only got used by people who went out of their way to use them.
And cost – just over £100 per a person – for Friday, Saturday and Sunday night.  Much cheaper than any other con I’ve been to and with some fabulous facilities – take a good kitchen (well two of them) as read (and the third back up kitchen) and then add in a sauna.  Which I did take full advantage off – relaxing on the Sunday morning in the Sauna – before bolting out of the sauna – running down the corridor and throwing myself into the snow to make a snow angel.  I swear there was a hissing noise as flesh hit the snow.  Bracing – and requiring a trip back to the sauna to warm myself up.
 Actually I have just realised I totally lost track of where the second kitchen was and could never have found it again if I had needed to – it was that sort of place.  It was an excellent idea – organised brilliantly – and we are already talking about number 2 and I’m tempted to arrange something similar for my 41st birthday.
I’ll leave you with this fabulous photo of the location and an awesome snow meeple it was that sort of weekend……. 

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

When I got to work.....

....I saw this.

Do you think they know that Giant Stone Heads are meant to have hats or was that just one of those things?

Monday, 14 January 2013

Quick Empire

There was a quick play test of the Empire game post RPG.

General feeling was - good idea - had nice thematic elements - but the scoring was overly complicated.  One specific criticism was that Virtues had to be the best card set for themetic reasons - but there was a set of 8 cards.  Which was fair.....

People now get six cards - and the deck composition has changed.

So there are now 7 virtues, 4 generals, 4 merchants, 4 senators, 4 mages, 4 priests (representing the 5 in character groupings such as the Bourse for merchants) and 1 empress. 

Still 2 cards face up, and 2 face down.

To go out you either need all 4 of something and 2 of something else. 

You then score points based mainly off how much of the something else you hold.  But it looks much more obvious then what we had which was a little obtuse.

I'm sort of missing the 6 realms, 5 herbs etc - but putting them in caused a lot of problems.  But now with 6 different things to collect it seems like there is more options.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Giant Stone Head and Empire

Two very distinct things in this post.

First off a play test of Giant Stone Head.  All good - nice tight game (I did really badly) but the end of game points were just to much.  I think they need to still be very focused - so only a few players get anything but the end result was just to extreme a swing.  So they need to be trimmed down.

The cards when unable to place a GSH went fine - and the the increased value for the "all the cards" build card worked.

One thing we did do was play with one less build card - so only as many build cards as the number of players.  It worked fine - made resources more important - but was a bit meaner as the last person got no choice.  Overall I think I preferred it as resources have always felt a little unimportant and this seems to kick them over a little bit.

The second was that I play tested a new game today - working name is Empire Jong.  So I go larping (or cross country pantomime as I've heard it called) and the company I go to are about to start a new game "Empire". 

So I've got talking to people about making a game to play in character - and this is a very different design experience.

So there are some very clear design requirements - it has to be easy to learn, suitable to play in a poorly lite tent while drunk, deep enough to interest a gamer (so contains interesting decisions) and reflect some aspects of the background in it's set up and style.

In many ways I'm after something that feels like a decent classic card game - something of a similar nature to Whist.  However using tiles rather cards - because tiles will feel more suitable - and with a different distribution you can create a different game. 

It pretty much started from the background fact that there are "seven virtues, and six realms".  Which made it very tempting to create a version of Dalmutai skinned for Empire - but it felt wrong as the "virtues" should be important.

So what got play tested this weekend - a couple of quick hands was.....

A deck made up of eight materials, seven virtues, six realms, five herbs, 4 coins and 1 empress.

You have seven cards - there is one face up in the middle - or two face down.  You can either take the face up and replace it or take both the face down and replace them.  The aim of the game is to get a single full set and then the rest of your hand of seven as the same thing.  The empress is wild and different hands are worth different things.

It went well - couple of suggested changes.  Two face up cards rather then 1 - which will mean the addition of an extra tile.  The empress as wild is too good.  So the plan is to make the empress just give bonus points if you can go out holding her - and introduce a wild card that costs you points if your holding it at the end of the game (currently it's going to be called 'the Foreigner').

I also think that there needs to be more scoring opportunities so holding the most of some cards - say materials or virtues should give you some points as they are much harder to complete......  Will need balancing but currently hopeful.

Monday, 7 January 2013


It was pointed out to me over the weekend that I'm generally writing for people who know what I'm talking about - people who have played the game or myself - rather then a wider audience.  Which might be an error even if it's an understandable one when I created this blog to stop bombarding my non-gaming friends on other social media sites.

But lets set out what actually needs to be produced to make a copy of giant stone head.  I'm not going to talk about art assets since that is in the hands of dr Geof of the island of doctor geof.  Since I'm going to talk about costs I should point out that I believe I have a production budget of about £15 per a copy.  I'm sure I have have talked about where that number comes from before but if not - just go with it.

Box -  easy to overlook but we obviously need something to keep it in.  I've not actually tried to source this one yet - as I figure it should be easier to do then a lot of the other issues.  But to get 100 copies of a custom printed box of an appropriate standard size I'm estimating will cost about £1.

Rule Book - another one I think will be easy to do and this one would be easy.  Using digital printing 100 copies of a rule book is not going to be over 50p and if I can write out the rules out well might well be a lot cheaper - I think the rules for Giant Stone Head might well be possible to put on two sides of A4 which would make it a single double sided piece of paper which would be very cheap.

Score chart and turn sequence  somewhere to keep track of the VP's and turn order and general help and advice.  This just needs to be on thinish card - so that's about 50p.  This would replace the player aid cards.

Pieces - each player needs 18 meeples and a single piece for a big man - I've received a quote for suitable pieces at £1.50 a copy. I even end up with a lot of spare pieces due to the minimum order.

Hexes - I need 19 hexes - printed on one side.  This one is a bit of a printing nightmare being a pretty specialist printing job with a run size so low no printer could be bothered.  But the idea has been floated of getting the hexes laser cut out of plywood.  I like this idea because having nice wooden hexes with patterns burnt onto them would be something of a plus point when coming to actually sell the game - and making a virtue out of a problem would be good.  I've got a very rough quote of £6 for a sheet of wood A3 sized - which we think should provide enough space with some wastage around the edges.

Worshiped and Unworshiped stone heads.  After a talk about 3D printing getting more of the lovely heads I have in my test version done is just not going to be possible.  So it's either getting a mold done and hand make them or lets make a virtue out of a problem again.  I need about 42 Unworshiped stone head markers - one for each space on the board.  And I was planning on getting them cut out of the wastage around the edge of the wood on the hex board...   If I get a giant stone head cut into one side with the other side blank - then I can create two sided counter.  Cost - nothing - since the cost is included in the production of the hexes........  it's going to be a pretty crowded piece of wood if we are honest so that's a possible problem.

Build cards - these don't even need to be cards since there are only 12 of them and they don't get handled as much- in fact some sort of token would work just as well.  I suspect they could be printed on reasonable card and then cut out.  Possibly manually - since getting proper punch out bits I'm not sure is an option - that's very specialiced printing.  Thinking about it I'd be tempted to put them on the magic sheet of wood - but then that gets supper crowded.  But lets assume we are looking at a sheet of card that gets manually cut out that looks like it's another £1 for thicker card.

Action Cards - there are currently 72 action cards and apparently I need to be looking at multiples of 52 for a professional printer.  At the moment card mix is something that needs sorting - so it's possible - there are a lot of repeats in the deck so trimming is possible.  With a maximum hand size of 7 and 5 players then we should always have at least 17 cards in the deck so that's workable.  Sadly well I've contacted a couple of card printers I've heard nothing back - I'll have to chase again - but I've got not idea of the cost of this.

So how are we doing with our £15 budget.....?

Box: £1
Rule Book:£0.50
VP sheet and turn sequence £0.50
Bits: £1.50
Hexes £6
Worshiped and Unworshiped free! (maybe)
Build cards £1 (with a bunch of hand cutting)
Estimated Total - £10.50

Which leaves a budget of £4.50 for action cards - which is not going to be enough....... There might be some over estimation caused by rounding in there but I don't think that much........

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Stabcon Play test

So the 2013 winter Stabcon has been and gone and it's been the the traditional mess of games, drinking, terrible breakfasts, and lack of sleep.  Seriously it is a fabulous convention and I would do my best to convince everybody I know who likes board games to go.  Maybe it's my use of the term 'Broken on the Stabcon' that does it?  So what did I play?
Aye Dark Overlord made me laugh like a drain and involved the most outright unpleasant story we have ever done.
cards against humanity  remains a Stabcon late night favorite as more people encounter just how fucked up fucked up apples to apples can be.  Any game which generates the phrase "I can't believe I pulled out Anal beads and only came second" has a lot going for it in my book....
I brought and played a copy of ugg-tect which caused large numbers of people to look at us strangely as we bashed each other with inflatable clubs and grunted
Somebody showed me how to play space alert which as promised delivered insane miscommunications and cock for hilarious results and I'm now looking forward to getting my copy of the unplayed shelves.
Article 27 was excellent and involves lost of shouting and negotiations and gavel banging. 
struggle of empires which was probably the heaviest game I played that weekend as Prussia rampaged around the European Theatre but only coming second to Russia's massive international empire in the sun.
Spartacus a game of blood & treachery which for a board game linked to a TV show is cracking even if it did drag to the end as we all tried and failed to win but were massively knocked back in the process and I think it needs a house rule that if anybody gets to 12 influence the game will end that round no matter what else is done.
I finally played discworld ankh morpork and found it very good and certainly managed to feel discworld in a really good way -the secret victory conditions certainly worked.
Go Goblin Go was a nice enough race game but I'm not sure I'd play it again - even if it is funny you expend rocks to move your goblin by pelting them from the seats.
guildhall  was a nice little card game that seemed confusing - but soon made sense and involved a certain amount of opportunistic dickery which I'm very fond off.
Article 27 was excellent and involves lost of shouting and negotiations and gavel banging - no really it comes with it's own gavel.

I seem to have a bit of a blank spot on Friday night as I only seem to recall playing struggles and cards against humanity.  Did that really take up 10 hours?

I've got a production based blog post brewing following several conversations at Stabcon but that can wait till I'm more human.

Something very unexpected happened at Stabcon while I was play testing Giant Stone Head - a total stranger stopped by the table - looked at stuff - and suddenly went "I've read your blog!".  Turns out he was googling for Stabcon and this blog popped up.  That was odd - somebody I don't know reading these ramblings.

The play test went well - 4 person - about 2 hours although there was a lot of faffing - 5 turns.  It went a little odd as two players decided to simply beat each other to death rather then go after victory points which meant I rather ran away with it - despite saying things like "by taking this card I've put a giant target on my back".  But that felt like player decision making rather then rules oddness.  I mean if I decide to spend my entire game of Agricula making pretty patterns with fences rather then getting victory points there is not a lot a designer can do about that.

On reflection I saw two possible areas of concern  The first is running out of space for Giant Stone Heads really can knacker you - especially since at the moment you don't get anything.  I can see a simple fix for that - if you are unable to place any giant stone heads you get a card for each giant stone head you are unable to place.  It does not happen that often but if somebody is in a stuck situation.  The second was that with a hand size of 7 the build card that gives you 8 cards seems very poor.  I can see two possible options - the first is to raise the hand limit - the second would keep the hand limit the same but increase the number of cards to 9.  The best 7 out of 9 cards is more attractive then 7 out of 8.

I suspect the first change will go in - not sure about the second needs some consideration.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Production - Part 1

So I've received the first quote for components - the bits - for Giant Stone Head and it's not to bad....

£1.50 per a copy (with some assumptions about shipping costs).  Which is about 10% of the total production costs...... Which is a little worrying as this is a the most standard of all the parts.

Although I would end up with 2,000 additional large pawns (for the big men) in 5 colors because there is a minimum order of 500 of each type/colour which is 400 more then I need.....

If I found some other way of sourcing the big men then it would be 0.60p per a copy but I'd need to find 500 bits to be in a matching 5 colours which would be tricky.

Still to source.....

Giant Stone Heads
Unworshiped Stone Heads

I've got an idea for Hexes, Giant Stone Heads and Unworshiped Stone Heads - although if that's not practical I'm buggered..........

The rules I think should be easy, the box is tricky, but the cards.... ahhh the cards are a real issue......

Thursday, 3 January 2013


But before that a picture......

Thanks to Grampus for my christmas present which now adorns the top of my work PC......

And now onto Kickstarter.....
So a couple of people have talked about trying to kickstarter Giant Stone Head which given the size of my readership is all of 6 people that must make it the elephant in the room so I’ll talk about it.
This reflects my own personal experience of kickstarter your mileage may vary.  This is one I put my money down for…
And very quickly I had a finished product in my hand.  Because what they offered is a pre-order for a very well developed game– with the art done, the production arranged and them simply waiting for the money to arrive.
It’s about getting enough money so that you can cross a production threshold – probably a 1000 copies - and enough copies pre sold so that you are not going to be left with a ton of stock to warehouse.  And heck if other people paid for them to be made you can ditch them
And if you don’t make your kickstarter – well – you can head to a publisher with a design good to go and see if they will take it.  Heck you might even be a publisher looking to expand.
Like the guys behind this….
 And if you can do it – it’s a good and clever business model.  So why am I not interested?  Because it’s running before you can walk.  Lifted from the write up of the people responsible for that above game
James Mathe (Owner of Minion Games) has been a part of the hobby game business for well over a decade. <snip> We have delivered more then 5 kickstarter projects to date! More info can be read at my personal website below”
That’s where I want to be – but that’s a goal – not a first move.  But why is it not a first move?
What does kickstarter get you?  Kickstarter gets you – a website, a secure way of doing the transactions with people and that is it.  That’s all they give you – if I started a kickstarter I’d be responsible for pimping it and driving people towards it.  And you know what – I’ve no experience or forum or reputation to help with that.  I don’t see how kickstarter helps me find 500 people to buy my game and I don’t think I can find me 500 people to buy my game – and without that an order of 1,000 copies is just not practical. 
And even if I was successful I’d be left holding a massive pile of dollars with a lot of international orders.  Hardly ideal for me in the UK  It would also up the scale of the whole thing massively – print 100 copies it’s a hobby – print a 1000 and it’s a business and the tax man cometh……. 
So production issues aside – I believe that making a 100 copies and selling them direct is an important first step that I need to undertake.  And with a number of them under my belt – well then I can try and kickstart a proper business going – but there is a lot of ground work that needs to be done first