Strong recommendation!

I am huge sf fan. Which is a tricky thing these days. There is so many sf movies in cinema. Every damn month we have more new sf movies than we had per year when I was a kid. The problem is – well, at least from my perspective – that when I was a kid we had Blade Runner, E.T., Terminator, Alien, Abyss, Total Recall. Great stories with poor special effects.

Now we have the opposite – awesome special effects and no story at all.

That’s why a good sf movie deserves a post. That is why good sci fi makes me happy as a kid. That’s why once again this weekend I was proud to be sf fan.

Edge of Tomorrow, baby!

I poke you. It’s your turn.

So we were playing Sail to India and even though I liked the game, I had these moments of lack of concentration – when Merry and Ralph were doing their turn, I was checking my Twitter and Instagram feeds. At some point Ralph poked me in the arm. “It’s your turn, man” he said. “Oh, sorry. What did you do?” I asked him.

In response he gave me that look. He looked at me with his eyes telling me: “You were not paying attention and you were twitting all the time and now you want me to kindly describe you what I did in my turn?”

That look.

So I shut up and I did my turn. And then I put away my Iphone. No more twitter feed during the game.

***

I am active user of Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, I post photos of games I play, I banter about games on Twitter and I love the fact that I can discuss games with people from all over the world.

But…

At some point I might forgot that playing games is a social experience that involves real people sitting right in front of me. I might forgot that I should talk with them not with my Twitter feed. I might forgot that it is good – waiting for my turn – interact with them and have fun with them, not with my smartphone…

It’s cool to make a photo of the game and post it on Instagram. It is cool to post something interesting or funny about the game and share your thoughts with the world.

But it is not cool to sit with 4 friends at the table and stare at your Iphone all the time.

***

When I was at Gen Con I saw that sadly it was not only my problem. I saw that many geeks were distracted by their smartphones. I saw geeks who hold cards in one hand and their iphone in the other. I saw people checking their FB/Twitter/whatever every time they were done with their turn.

That sucks, people.

I say it loud and I say it honest – I was there too. I was social media freak too (well, I still am!). I was acting like jerk. But I am acting better now. Still, when I play board game, I take a photo at the beginning or at the end of the game. I post or tweet funny comment or my thoughts about the game after it is finished. But for the whole game I try to keep my smartphone in the pocket. I try to not get distracted. I try to be social… to people who sit with me at the table.

What can I say more. I poke you guys. It’s your turn to act.

World Championship, babe!

zdjęcieFor the past 30+ years I played football at least once a week. As a kid I played every day, in college I played twice a week, nowadays I play every Monday. I can’t say that about board games – every year there is a few weeks, when I take a break and I play no board games at all. There was no single week of break from football in my life.

I love board games, I am huge board games fan, but let me be honest with you – in my heart I am sport dude. If there is an offer on the table to play my beloved Mall of horror or to play football, I will choose football. Sorry to say that.

I also watch sport. I watch football (Premiere League) and I watch all mayor events in sports that involve team sports. That is why I was so excited and so freaking happy when Rob and his friends invited me this Gen con for a American Football match (Indiana Colts against NJ Giants). I believe they did not realize how huge it was for me and how happy I was that evening.

But let me tell you something. Let me tell you about yesterday evening.

Yesterday Polish volleyball team won World Championship. It is second gold medal in Polish history. We won it only once in 1974, two years before I was born. Yesterday we defeated Brasil, team that won 3 gold medals in a row and was World Champion for the past 12 years.

Watching our team reaching their highest skills, watching their determination and their will to defeat Brasil was something I will remember for years. Pure emotions. I was shouting, I was clapping, I was cursing, swearing, I was acting like a madman. And I was witnessing history – Poland won World Championship.

You sport freaks do understand me, huh? It was some about 20 hours ago. And I am still shaking…

What a feeling. What a night!

Gen con effect

For the past 7 years September was a month of fear. Month of bad tension. Month of sleepless nights. Month before Essen. Month before the most important 4 days in the year.

We had very stressful events back then. First copy of Stronghold I ever saw? Essen 2009. It arrived to Essen right in time, day before fair. I had no chance to see it before fair. Pret-a-Porter? Arrived to Essen 9 AM Thursday, an hour before fair was open for public. I was never before terrified like that Thursday. First box of Robinson Crusoe I ever had in my hands? Once again – Essen.

It was all on the knife edge. One small mistake and Essen was ruined for me.

Last year we made a huge step forward. We printed all games few weeks before Essen. Everything was prepared in advance…

***

However… ‘Will the game be ready?’ is not the only question that puts you awake in the night before the Essen fair. There is couple more questions. Will people like the game? Will be any interest in the game? Will gamers buy our game? Will we be able to compete with all those big fishes and sell the game to many gamers? What the reviews will be like? What gamers will say?

Every year there is a few hundreds games published at Essen.

Every year there is tens of great games published at Essen.

Will my game be one of those tens?

You wait for the Essen like for the execution. Days pass and all you see are announcements from other companies. Man, they have gorgeous cover. Man, they have cool bits. Man, they have a huge hype. Man, another Feld game…

You wait. You can’t sleep.

September sucks…

***

This year September does not suck. It’s sunny, warm and beautiful. Imperial Settlers was released at Gen Con. I had all those panic symptoms in July and August. I couldn’t sleep in the summer. I was terrified in summer. I was bundle of nerves in summer.

Now it is all gone.

It’s the first Essen I will visit with pure smile and fun. Total chill out. The game is released. The game have great feedback. I am ready to celebrate Essen. 4 days of games feast.

 

 

The worst that can happen to you, dear gamer!

Let’s face it. Sometimes we all get a little bit too excited with new releases. It’s not our fault, obviously. This is totally fault of publishers and their marketing teams. They attack us by surprise (I am talking about you FFG and your Imperial Assault), they attack us by having great license (Alien Legendary? How can anybody resist that?!), they attack us by super combo of great components, great author and great brand reputation (Days of Wonder pay attention, I am talking about your Five Tribes now). They even use crazy approach like having blog about games written by a dude who can’t speak English (Portal Games your strategy is super unique!). Back to topic!

So we get excited. We buy the game. It looks gorgeous. We set it up, we begin to play and…

And it is great. It is damn good. Exactly as we dreamed of. Exactly as those cunning marketers told us. It’s hard to believe but it is really that good.

We feel excitement, we feel freaking joy. We feel like in heaven.

Round after round we feel growing tension and – I know this is crazy but before even we finish the first game, we dream about rematch, about playing it again and then again. Man, what a feeling!

We finish the game, we win, we look at our beloved wife to share this pure joy that we feel now and to ask her how she liked it.

‘I didn’t like it. It’s boring. Sell it. I won’t play it again.’ she says…

***

It’s like getting hit with a shovel. Huge one shovel. Right in your face.

I had it with Dungeon Twister.

I had it with Railways of the World.

I had it with Doomtown: Reloaded.

I had it so many times. And I bet you had it too.

You wife or your husband hit you with shovel right in your face.

Any dreadful stories to share? 🙂

 

 

It was hard before Kickstarter

pic147417This weekend I played game called Conquest of the Fallen Lands. Published in 2005 by small publisher Assa Games it was quite successful – it had pretty good rating at BGG, it had many votes at BGG and in a fact it nearly made it to the top 1000 in BGG ranking. That’s good.

Unfortunately it was not picked up by bigger publisher, it had no foreign editions and right now it looks like pretty dead title. It’s a pity. This weekend I had a good time with it and I believe this game doesn’t deserve to be dead.

If only there is Kickstarter in 2005…

With Kickstarter this game might have a much bigger success. If published in 2014 with Kickstarter:

1. It would have much better artwork, because these days you have to have great artwork,

2. It would have cardboard tiles and good quality cards, not these thin one it has now,

3. It would have fancy markers instead of these Ikea glass markers,

With successful Kickstarter campaign designer and publisher would have much more money to produce this game. That would lead them to have better production quality. That would lead to better reception of the game. That would lead to bigger chance for bigger success.

Conquest of the Fallen Lands deserves bigger or smaller success. Rules are simple and let players engage in the game. Game play is very quick. Theme is cool. The only problem – it can’t hold against today’s production quality. Because – let’s face it – games published these days look freaking awesome. Titles from 2005 look like antique. So does Conquest of the Fallen Lands…

Don’t turn your back. Act!

DISCLAIMER: NONE OF YOU HAS EVER TROLLED ME. THIS POST IS NOT ABOUT TROLLING ME BUT ABOUT TROLLING IN GENERAL, IN OUR LIFE AND IN GENERAL OVER BOARD GAMES FORUMS. I AM SUPER LUCKY THAT PROBLEMS I DESCRIBE HERE DO NOT TOUCH ME IN THE ENGLISH INTERNET. THEY, HOWEVER, TOUCHED ME VERY HARD IN POLAND. THAT’S WHY I DECIDED TO WRITE THIS SERIOUS POST.

WELL, ONCE A YEAR I AM NOT THIS FUNNY DUDE FROM POLAND. THAT WOULD BE TODAY.

 

 

English speaking geeks treat me super kind. With one or two minor exceptions, I did not meet any English speaking trolls and haters so far. I am like living in a dream where every person in the Internet is kind and nice. I know this is not true picture, I know that Internet sometimes is not a nice place, I know there are trolls and haters but well… I didn’t meet them. It’s like living in a fairytale.

What’s interesting, it is exactly opposite here in Poland. In Polish board games forum I am the most hated person. If you remember what was the reaction of people when they heard that Ben Affleck will be new Batman – that’s exact kind of reaction I get here in Poland each time I release new game. And you know, I am not exaggerating. Really, it’s super nasty here.

Last week I withdrew from Polish board games forum. I asked admin to remove my account. After nearly 10 years on the forum, I withdrew. Trolls and haters had their victory.

***

When you were a kid and saw one kid bullying other, you probably did stay in defense of bullied kid. When you see some jerk acting bad you of course act. When we see inappropriate behavior in real life, it is our natural reaction to act and defend person in need. To help people who need help is obvious and natural reaction.

It’s not a case in the Internet though. When we see troll bullying other person in the Internet, we rarely act. We think: ‘Oh, it’s just troll, just ignore him.’

Let me tell you – this ignore policy doesn’t help bullied person. It doesn’t stop troll or hater. It only makes him stronger. It let him think that he can do and write whatever he wants to and no one will stand against him. Bullied person in the Internet is alone. You face trolls and haters alone because others just ignore troll.

For the past few years, from the moment I published Stronghold I was bullied in Polish Internet with tremendous strength. Every week there were attacks, nasty comments and hate all over me, sometimes including even my family. I was fighting back, I was trying to defend, but for the most time I was alone.

There was me, haters and ignore troll policy. For years. Last week I gave up.

***

Board games industry is an amazing industry – there is no wall or something like that between customer and producer. We gamers can easily interact with many publishers and with many designers. They are active on game forums, they are active at conventions, they are within our reach. You can have Antoine Bauza sign your copy of his game, you can have cow sketch in one of Portal Games box, you can tweet to Eric M. Lang, you go to the pub and have a great time with Stephan Buonocore from Stronghold Games… This is one big family and I find it truly amazing. I love all people who work here. This is great crazy family.

Family that can very easily be attacked by trolls. We are so open to gamers, that some asshols just can’t wait to take advantage of that. So here is my honest request – when you see troll attacking our family, fight him back. He is trolling us just like bullying someone in real life. You wouldn’t turn your back in real life, wouldn’t you?

Don’t turn your back in the Internet too. Protect our family.

Don’t let haters win. Like they just did here in Poland.

 

Moloch it is!

moloch_enIn 2003 me, Michał Oracz and Marcin Blacha wrote and published Neuroshima RPG. One of the key concepts of this postapocalyptic universe is Moloch – AI that decided to destroy humans (this is not entirely true statement about Moloch, but I will not dig into details here). 

Rulebook for Neuroshima RPG gives exact date when Moloch is born and the war begins. It is 5th of September 2020. End of the world we know. Beginning of war between humans and machines.

For the past few years we celebrated Moloch Day here in Poland and did some events to remind our fans that time is close. For today we also had something in mind. We wanted to post this super cool artwork you see above on our website as a pop up screen. When you enter Portal Games website, you see this screen.

Small celebration of 5th September.

***

And this is the moment when funny story comes. As usual when Portal Games in involved, right?

For no reasons whatsoever today 02:00 AM our website was attacked by maleware, changed into some sort of f… engine to attack other websites and begin to attack everybody all around. It did a lot of ugly things. Right in the morning Polish time our website was shut down by our provider and labeled as a thread.

When I approached office today at 9:00 AM guys greeted me: ‘Happy Moloch day, boss. All our websites are down.’

Our Polish site, our English site and our Retailers Online system was down. Sweet.

It took us few hours to get back online.

Well, what can I say… Happy Moloch Day. It was hell of celebration this year!

OK, let’s look 9 years back…

Did you read Flashback articles at BGG News? They are cool idea to look few years back for our hobby. Few days ago Scott posted Rick Thornquist’s article about Essen Spiel 2005.

Spiel 2005. My very first Essen. Lots of memories.

***

I come from a small city. I had never been at any fair, big or small, dedicated to board games or to hammers and drills. I had never seen anything like that. So when I walked into halls, I had a hard reset. That was mind blowing experience that my mind did not handled well. I was mind blown.

You know, I have this – super useless – skill: I remember names and titles. I know which designer design which game, I know which publisher published this or that game, I know all this stupid stuff. If only there were TV game shows dedicated to board games, I would win billion dollar just like that.

The moment I walked into Essen halls, my system just went down. All my knowledge, all my freaking huge knowledge about games was gone. 

Too many games on my sight per minute. I just looked around, I saw This game! And this game! And woow, they have this game! And man, this super rare game! 

And then bum! I knew nothing. All designers, publishers, everything just mixed up and I knew nothing.

Major malfunction.

***

Back then I was reviewer for Polish magazine Star Pirate and aspiring designer with two small games under my belt. I was walking around halls and I felt like I was day dreaming.

I had scheduled meeting with Philippe des Pallieres. We were sitting at the restaurant and talking about possible cooperation with Portal Games. Suddenly Bruno Faidutti approached to the table. Bruno Faidutti, designer of Citadels, my beloved game. Bruno himself. He said ‘Hi’ and sat with us. 

I reached to my backpack and pulled out my copy of Citadels. ‘Can you sign it?’ I asked. ‘I love this game.’ I added.

‘I can see that.’ said Bruno. 

Well, I don’t use sleeves, you remember, right? And I played the game more than 100 times. You can imagine how my copy looked like…

zdj-cie (1)

We were talking and suddenly another two people approached our table – Bruno Cathala and Serge Laget. Shadows over Camelot team. OMG.

I reached my backpack again, pulled out copy of Star Pirate magazine with my review of Shadows over Camelot and asked for autograph.

zdj-cie

Imagine that – kid from Poland sitting with 4 famous designers at one table. Pretty awesome.  

***

Essen 2005 was a great fair. Days of Wonder was promoting Shadows over Camelot and Pirate’s Cove with huge 3d boards that looked like terrain for miniature game, Zoch Spiele was promoting like crazy their Spiel des Jahres winner Niagara, and Hans um Gluck was celebrating 5th anniversary of Carcassonne.

Looking back I think Cash & Guns might be one of the most important or significant game of this fair – Repos Production and their huge sombreros were one of the highlights of the fair and since then they began to grow like crazy putting one great game after another. Back then no one was expecting that these crazy guys will bring us Ghost Stories, 7 Wonders and many many more…

9 years. Not that many on one hand. Another era, on the other. Me still kid Repos just debuting, Carcassone celebrating 5 years…

I brought home quite a good number of games. Here is a pic I took when I got home.

Łupy Essen 2005

 Do you know any of these? Few of these titles is pretty amazing.

 

Social media I love you

I am a huge fan of social media. I use both Facebook and Twitter a lot. And before I move further, let me throw here few examples.

I am in Bojszow, south of Poland and I tweet: ‘I’ll be in Chicago next week. What places should I visit?’ In a moment my Twitter feed gets crazy. I get addresses of 3 game stores. I get address of Jazz cafe. I get address of super amazing book store. And I get this: ‘I live in Chicago. Let’s meet and have a game or two.’ And soon after: ‘I live in Chicago too. Game night? When you come?’

Few weeks later I am in Chicago at the train station. I tweet: ‘I have train in 3 hours. I am in Chicago downtown. What do you recommend?’ In a moment my Twitter feed gets crazy again. I got one cool idea after another. That’s how I discover super cool mexican restro and that how I discover Chicago stuffed pizza.

I tweet: ‘Wyndham hotel sucks!’. Two minutes later I get replay: ‘I am at Wyndham too.’ Few hours later we play game at hotel lobby and have great time. First I teach Dan and his buddy Imperial Settlers and then they teach me Trieste. Another super fun evening. Because of one tweet.

***

There is this famous YouTube movie called Look Up about us being enslaved by smartphones and technology. Well… I couldn’t disagree more.

Because of Twitter technology I met Tony, Brian and Walt and had an amazing game night in Chicago. Because of Twitter technology Brian knew I was looking for Star Realms – so he took me to the local game store where I could buy Star Realms. Because of this technology I met Jeff ( ) and Chevee who both became Portal Games Team at Gen con and who are freaking awesome guys.

10628033_10152685811829686_8739424373074691564_n

I could now post few hundred names and nicks of people whom I met at Gen con for the first time in person. People who I knew from social media, with whom I banter about games every day and who live few thousands miles away. With social media we stay in touch. With social media we make jokes, we talk, we explore and celebrate our hobby. And once a while, when we have a chance to meet in person, we do Look Up. And we have fucking awesome time.

This Gen con was an amazing experience. I was not stranger. I was not alone. Wherever I looked, there was a person I knew from social media. I was among my people.

Now I am back in Bojszow, Poland. I am back to Twitter. Till the next con. I Look up and I Look down. I have fun for the whole year with my gaming friends.