What’s your favorite Portal Games game…? ;)

You are all doomed

What you see above is a tweet from Rich Sommer who finally decided to give Neuroshima Hex a try. Rich doesn’t know what will happen next but I do. I am publisher of the game. I know all those cases. I know them very well. Rich is doomed.

Rich will fall in love with Neuroshima Hex because this game is freaking good. Since its release in Poland in 2007 it is bestseller, we sell more than 2000 copies here in Poland each year, we present it on conventions every damn weekend and we know what we have here – we have here one of the best tactical board games on the planet. Yes, I said it.

Rich will then learn about expansions. He will discover that here in Poland we released 11 additional armies and because the English rights for the game are back at Portal Games, we just released first new army in English. It is called Uranopolis and it has a cool girl on the cover. Rich will probably give it a try, it’s only 12 bucks, right?

Rich will love how Uranopolis changed the game and how it increased replaybility of the base game. I don’t know if he is a patient person, but I could see him ordering from Poland just few additional armies that were released only in Polish language so far, but man, the game is language independent anyway, right? These other armies look so cool…

I don’t know if the next guest at Cardboard! is Mel Gibson or Tom Hardy, but I know that it will be an awesome opportunity to close the circle and make Mad Max play Neuroshima Hex. That’s how it all began many years ago…

Nothing gonna stop us!

Me and Stephan Buonocore record Board games Insider on Sundays. Except these Sundays when we can’t record because we are at convention. Which means most Sundays. In these cases we have to improvise.

Last Sunday I was in Modana at Play Festival and recording of episode #4 was impossible. We set recording for Monday. Our episodes are released on Tuesdays, so I belived we will be ok. We record on Monday evening, I edit it on Monday night and on Tuesday it is aired.

Timing was important, because on Wednesday I had to go to Germany, to meet my friends from Pegasus Spiele.

***

Monday, 6PM my time. Everything is set and we start recording. After 11 minutes something happens…

Ignacy, where are you?

After 11 minutes of recording I lost Internet connection in my home. My provider has some problems and suddenly I am offline. No way we can continue. I send message to Stephan that I am very sorry and we decide we will try tomorrow evening, at 8PM.

Wednesday, 8AM my time. Provider fixes problems and I have Internet.

Wednesday, 6PM my time. I loose it again. In two hours I should record and I am offline again. I am really angry. And I am not going to give up. “Nothing gonna stop us!” I say and I drive 20 km to my office.

Wednesday, 8PM my time I am at Portal Games offices and I am ready to record this damn episode.

We record. We have it ready. Stephan says he will send me his audio file. I will edit it early in the morning and then I go to Germany as planned.

Wednesday, 7:20AM my time, Merry wakes me and tells me that we have Internet back and I can do podcast. I get up, I check email, I click link to Stephan’s file to download it and I go to bathroom.

When I am back, I can’t believe what I see. Transfer speed 1,6 kb/s Estimated time to download the file: 9 hours.

You must be f… kidding me.

My suitcases to Germany are packed, Merry is prepared to start our trip anytime. But well, nothing gonna stop us, right? I take pendrive, I copy my file of audio and I say: “We go to Portal office. I will download Stephan file there, I’ll edit podcast and then we go to Germany.”

Merry is not happy. We go.

You remember when I told you that my office is 20 km from my home? It wasn’t a case on this particular Wednesday. Exactly today they began road works on a path between my home and Portal office. Believe it or not. I need to take detour. We need 40 minutes to get to the office, that is 20 minutes more than usual. But #NothingGonnaStopUs

I turn on my office computer, I download file from Stephan. It goes fast. Good. I will edit his file with mine. I put pendrive with my audio file.

Computer doesn’t see this pendrive. I can’t copy my file, because this damn laptop is not reading this damn pendrive…

I am gonna explode in 3, 2, 1…

***

I made it. 4th episode of Board games Insider is online. It was ridicolous serie of events. It looks like made up story, but it is 100% real story of 3 days of unlucky events. It really happened.

Give it a try. I hope you’ll enjoy it. I work really hard to give it to you!

Link to Board games Insider.

10 games, which made Neuroshima Hex real thing!

Haker 3I have today guest post – follow up written by Michał Oracz.

1) Colosseum – this is my own logical game (quite old), it’s about battle between two factions, quite similar to NS Hex. I have used its basics, which have been changed later and in the end created a new game.

2) Magic the Gathering – many elements which are typical for Magic were used in Hex. It was natural for me to keep your army tiles hidden to create your “deck” (for very long time I have been using word “cards” instead of “army tiles”). What is more – 20 HP, and the fact that death of units does not affect player’s HP.

3) Light speed – this real time card game was source of initiative, which determines the order of units but also direction and strength of attacks, armour, which protects certain sides of the card (in NS HEX – tiles) against shoots. Obviously, we have used game design – you have to deploy your units first, and then all units take part in battle at once.

4) Zombiaki – this game was source for the rule of discarding one card (tile in NS HEX) at the beginning of your turn and some things like net, grenade, sniper, division into board and instant cards, blocking of line of sight etc. Even today while making a new army I am looking through Zombiaki (and other our games) searching for rules which might be useful. Every time we are able to do it I am very satisfied, it is great fun.

5) Kingdoms – this board game (finally board game not a card game!) was source for method of arrangement of tiles on the board and what is important very strong modules which affects adjacent spaces. When I was designing NS Hex I was convinced that I am designing battle clone of Kingdoms.

6) Chess – chess are deeply rooted in my mind every time I design any game – for NS Hex I have borrowed various figures of special usage which are easily to destroy, and the King which is the most important unit (in NS HEX it is HQ).

7) Knights of the Cross – although, it is a computer game in fact it is a very good board game. Like in chess, there are various pieces, some of them are very thought, other very strong or fast. In the game we use those pieces to compose our army and then to confront our enemy who has completely different set of pieces (also a few of them). In NS Hex I have been trying to reconstruct this system.

8) Illuminati – from this card game by S. Jackson I have borrowed connectors which combine cards into more powerful systems, what became modules connectors in NS HEX.

9) Cave Troll – NS Hex was put aside as useless for a long time waiting for the last piece which was later taken from Cave troll, and finally NS Hex started to work. To be precise NS Hex was waiting for Battle tile. After playing this piece it starts that what is the most important i.e. action connected with victory conditions and sums up the whole puzzle we prepared during the game (in the Cave Troll there was a token which was starting summing up of points, also several times during the game).

10) Neuroshima RPG – it was obvious that we have to place our game in our own universe, so I decided that world described in our role-playing game Neuroshima will be the best.

Just in case you don’t know…

IMG_4238 On Sunday we were visited by our friends from Switzerland and France. They stayed with us for Easter and couple days after Easter. We spent 4 days gaming like crazy. We played Matagot prototype. We played Portal Games prototype. We played dry like Sahara euro games (Orleans!) and we played party games (Bausack!). We had trick taking games in play (Abluxxen!) and abstract games (Okiya), we had family games on the table (Takenoko) and we had gamers games (Nefretiti). I did not record our plays, but I’d say we played more than 40 games these past few days.

***

Last game night. The very last game of this breathtaking game marathon. 1812: The Invasion of Canada. Me and Merry against three of them. Team play like no other. We command American forces and talk with Merry in Polish to discuss movement of our forces and how to outsmart opponents. They command Natives, Canadians and British forces. They talk in French discussing how to crush us. We use English only for two purposes: to banter and to lower morale of the opponent. Well, Hicham (CEO of Matagot) uses English for something more. He uses it to pretend he is English officer. And I bet you can’t imagine how person with strong French accent sounds trying to speak like noble Englishman.

It was 90 minutes of pure joy. Amazing summary of great game marathon. 5 people from different parts of Europe. One table, one board, one passion.

So, just in case you didn’t know it yet… I love board games and I love you, gamers, people who share this passion with me.

Old classic

hex3_cover_EN_hdWhen we were preparing to publish Neuroshima Hex back then in 2005, we didn’t expect that ten years later the game will be still in print. Bestseller in Poland for the past 10 years, with 9 additional armies, with IOS app, with many local editions including French, Italian, Russian, Spanish and many more it just blew up our expectations. We did believe in the game, but man, it grew much bigger than we could dream.

Now, 10 years later English rights for Neuroshima Hex came back to Portal. One could say: “Hey, Ignacy don’t waste your time on marketing old game and you better focus on your new releases!”

I say: “Neuroshima Hex is not an old game. It’s an old classic. It’s one of our most important releases in the past few years for me. I’ll make you play the game because I know you should at least try it!”

***

Just few days ago I wrote an article about brainstorming, about designers developing and improving other designers ideas and creating new games based on the older ones. What’s interesting, it’s hard for me to point out games that are Neuroshima Hex’s successors, games that used Neuroshima’s mechanisms and grew into something new. The game is still super unique, just like not discovered gem. It’s strange. I can’t explain this.

As Zee Garcia points out in his review (below) Neuroshima Hex is an unique blend of abstract tactical game and thematic game. The same conclusions were presented by Joel Eddy in his review. He called Neuroshima Hex Abstract Trash game, meaning that it has abstract, very clear rules and at the same time it is so much thematic! Yeah, water and fire, abstract rules and thematic experience.

It’s hard to explain, it’s hard to understand how Michał Oracz, designer of the game managed to do this. What is clear, this is a game like no other.

***

If the game is on the market for 10 years. If the game has 9 great expansions. If the game has active tournament scene. If the game has it’s own, dedicated site run by fans, with regular updates (neuroshimahex.pl). If the game…

It means, this game has something.

I strongly recommend you to try it. I would not promote a title if I don’t believe in it with my whole heart. I promote NS HEX and recommend it because I do belive. With my whole heart.

Worldwide brainstorming

Most of you know Citadels by Bruno Faidutti, old classic game that so many gamers love. Brilliant character selection rules that let us bluff, outsmart opponents and what is most important – have lots of laught. Not all of you know that actually this brilliant piece of mechanism was invented few years earlier by Marcel-André Casasola Merkle and introduced in a small card game called Verrater.

So many of you love Battlestar Galactica. Released in 2008 was a blast right from the very first day. It’s been a while since the first print and yet the game is alive, the game is played over and over, every week I see it when I look through my Instagram feed. Gamers love this great game of betrayal and hidden agendas. I am eager to know how many players who enjoy Battlestar Galactica know that actually traitor mechanism was invented three years earlier by Bruno Cathalha and Serge Laget in 2005. The game is called Shadows over Camelot and was first coop game that introduced traitor mechanism.

Two or three years ago Francis Drake got a tremendous buzz among US players. So many reviewers where pointing how cool the port mechanism is and how great choices it delivers. Invented by group of Italian designers, introduced to European players in 2009. Called Egizia. Super elegant and smart, very popular in Poland eurogame.

***

Unlike in any other industries, board game industry is friendly place. It’s not only friendly in terms of social aspect, in terms of us being kind to each other, us inviting new people to the table and being welcome to other people. It is friendly also on this other level, on the level of creation. Nor Marcel-Andre Casasole sued Faidutti. Cathalha did not sue Konieczka… There is no patent war. In a fact, there is quite the opposite. There is ongoing brainstorming, ongoing process of creativity, process of taking great ideas from other designers and creating something new. Adding value to our hobby. There is no stealing. There is adding. Improving. Developing. Worldwide brainstorming.

That’s why board games get better.
That’s why we see better and better games each year.
It’s a community of designers using each other ideas to bring more value.

I wish it’s true for other industries and other aspects of our life. We give great example to the world.