This Tuesday, just out of nowhere, two of our former employees decided to drop by and visit our HQ. One came around 10 a.m., the other two hours later. Still, the scenario was the same – quick chat with me, congratulations on the Robinson Crusoe campaign and growth of the company, then run around the office talking with old friends in the team, then some scavenging in the warehouse and grabbing some boxes, and then goodbye, thanks for dropping by, see you next time.

That two visits put me in a much better mood than you’d expect. Put a smile on my face for long hours. Because you know…

Money. I built a businesswise successful company. It started as a small project literally in my bedroom, with me dreaming about publishing the best magazine about RPG. Ended up with the worldwide known brand, 40 full-time employees, and solid revenue.

Games. I built a company that puts out year after year games that excites gamers all around the planet. We added value to the hobby publishing games like Robinson Crusoe or Neuroshima Hex, and managed to put our own stamp in board gaming. We have a great community of fans who love our games and follow our process and journey.

People. And last but not least – I built a company that people like to work at. The team that enjoys each other, the energy and craziness, the passion and dreams. Having my former employees visiting us regularly, having people who worked here still being engaged with the brand, and cheering for our success is something really exceptional. Our ways split, they left the company but never turned their back on Portal.

I built a good company. And that puts a smile on my face.

Uncharted territory

I met Joel in person for the first time at Gen con 2012. I was running demos of Robinson Crusoe. I knew him as a YouTube reviewer and was very excited when he came to the booth to learn the game. He didn’t say a word for the whole game, and frankly speaking, I was terrified. He was really silent during the game, and I was pretty sure he was bored to death with it. After the game ended, he said he loved it, congratulated me, and left. 

I think the word that describes my feelings at that moment is “perplexed.”

***

I met Joel the very same day, in the evening. I was invited by fans to play a football board game and when I came, I realized that Joel was invited too. I sat next to him. We played.

He was calm with his emotions again but opened a little more. And he regaled me with super funny comments about football and the game through the whole night. His sense of humor was right at my alley. That game night was a blast. It is still one of the highlights of all my gaming.

***

I mention Joel today because last week, he recorded a new episode of his vlog, a celebration video – it’s been 10 years since he started his channel. Quite the anniversary! It’s one of the most respected review channels in our hobby, with a great audience. Joel doesn’t go for clickbait content, doesn’t run to review all the hotness; he does his thing, deep, thoughtful reviews of games he plays. I respect that a lot and love the content.

In the anniversary video, he said words that struck me, and I wanted to follow up today on what he said – that is how discovering new games and genres is an important part of our hobby. It’s the search for the spark, as Joel said, it’s entering the uncharted territory as I’d describe it.  

I remember myself in 1993 when I read about RPG for the first time. Had no clue what it was, but it sounded so amazing and was like nothing I saw before. More than a year later, after long months of reading about it and trying to figure out how to play RPG, I finally played it, and it changed my life. I fell in love and became obsessed with RPG. And then I discovered something called Warhammer Battle, and that was a new uncharted territory. I discovered miniatures, terrains, rulers, and all that jazz. And then I discovered board games. And then I discovered historical war games. Each step in these unknown territories was like a beginning of an epic adventure, it was Sam leaving the Shire, it was the beginning of something new. 

You’d say I saw it all. You’d say there is no uncharted territory anymore. You’d say it is over.

You’d be wrong. 

The spark is here. It’s called Rangers of Shadow Deep, I discovered thanks to Joel’s channel. It’s called Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective, I discovered thanks to Grant Rodiek. It’s called Risk Legacy I discovered thanks to Rob Daviau. It’s called The Mind. It’s called solo gaming and Arkham Horror LCG…

Been in gaming since 1993. Thanks to brilliant designers, I’ve been exploring uncharted territories for all that time. 

My beloved hobby!

Boardgaming is a ton of work. I look at any of these free weekends, and oh my God, I’ve been busy all day long. 

Let’s discuss last weekend. It all began with the new Arkham Horror expansion that I got. The suitcase, where I keep all my cards said enough, no space dude, you need to come up with a new solution. 

So I came. I took all cards from expansions I already finished and moved them to separate boxes – lucky enough, I had these “Return to…” boxes that FFG has in offer for crazy dudes like me. 

It went smoothly, and I looked at my collection with pride. That was time spent well. Then I decided to move all cards from all other campaigns to a new place and keep in the suitcase only the one expansion I am playing at the moment, along with tokens, rulebooks, and other stuff, and by stuff I mean all these custom bits I hide in the box.

I was in a pretty awesome mood already, so when I finished moving all the cards to a new place, I put on my desk all cards for my characters and looked at the deckbuilding options I was postponing it for some time already. This Saturday seemed like a perfect time for that. So I built a brand new deck for one character and then brand new deck for the other one.

Fun time.

Then some sleeving. Then reading rules for the new expansion. OMG, this new scenario – exciting stuff. I was about to play it, but it was a late-night already. Well, it turned out I spent the whole day preparing. 

***

As with every hobby, board gaming is about everything except the actual hobby – that is, playing the game. We spend countless hours painting minis, we spend nights building new decks, we customize our games, and we spend day and night on BGG reading about the hobby. 

The percentage of time we spend on actual gaming versus the time we spend on the hobby is not in favor for game time. 

My wife Merry makes fun of me when I spent all weekends preparing for playing the game. And I guess, many of you are just like me. We smile and we have one honest response:

“Didn’t play the game. Had a blast anyway.”

Introvert has time of his life

NOTE: I am not a psychologist. It’s a crazy thesis. Everything I wrote below is probably false. Probably. You read. You smile. You have some reflection. Respect other people and our differences.

Extroverts rule the world. Everything here is built around them. Everything that is important for humans on this planet is built to please extroverts. Let me give you just a few examples—for instance, December 31st.

Every 365 days, the world celebrates New Year Eve. It’s an important social event for the whole planet, and let’s face it, extroverts told the world how we must celebrate it. There is a party, there is dancing, there are crowds on the streets—terrifying night it is.

And that’s just beginning. When two people love each other and decide to marry, they must extrovert it – that’s how the world is built. They must invite other people (often some they never met before, but apparently are part of the family) and they must share the joy with them. There is always a party and dancing and singing. And there are people, a lot of them. People all around. They smile and talk to you.

You can’t marry a loved one without that. Even the most personal event—birthday is run under the extrovert terror policy. It’s your own birthday, but you cannot spend it alone. You must meet those other people and extrovert it. Otherwise, you are a weirdo.

For the whole life, we introverts are forced to consume every critical event in our lives in an extrovert way, being stressed and under pressure for the whole time. Whenever it is my very own birthday, my very own wedding, or, granted, my very own funeral. I will be extroverted by force.

Well, well, well…

For the first time, extroverts are forced to live the other way. For the first time, the world makes them live a way that suffocates them, put under stress and pressure. Kept at home by social distancing rules, they are sitting alone in front of the TV, closed in four walls and it drives them crazy and nuts to be kept away from other people. No dancing, no crowds, no other people around. They suffer.

Dear extroverts! I know this pain. For the past 40 years, I felt it every time you made me party. Be strong. Yours sincerely, introvert Ignacy.

It’s hard to just walk away…

You designed a game. It got published. It was hell of a job to design it, to make it really great and what is most important, to make it real.

You did it. You have it in your hands. You have it on your shelf. You are proud daddy. Right?

And since – without having doubts – this is an amazing game you are eager to see reviews, opinions. You want to imbibe feedback that’s coming. Oh, yes. Gamers will praise you, will say nice things, will congratulate you… Yeah…

***

Here is what you can do now:

Either you gonna end up being stuck in front of monitor for the next half of the year searching for all reviews, comments, discussions.

Either you sit on your ass and start to work on new project.

That’s your choice.

***

Woody Allen doesn’t give a shit about reviews. When it’s done, he just walks away.

I’m not Woody Allen. I’m high. Handsome. And I can’t walk away.

So here is my advice. Stop talkin’ about Robinson or I won’t do new game.

Hello! People! I can’t focus on my new project!

About food, travels and me

I am very scary person in terms of food. This is stupid, this is one of my major problems, but basically I eat what I like and I don’t try anything else. I don’t eat foreign superb delicious food, I am stuck with food I know from my childhood.

I can’t explain it reasonably. Sorry. I am moron. I know.

But for all of you who are not… Here is something you may try this year…

Geeks recommend!

Few days ago I asked on my Twitter feed ‘What is your favorite board games reviewer’. As you can suppose, answers pop up quickly. And pop up in big numbers. 🙂 I collected them, counted and here I have them for you. Geeks recommendation for best reviewers in board gaming hobby! Here is vox populi!

1. Rahdo Runs Through

Amazing man. He is a living container for positive energy. When I watch his movies, every single second I am afraid he will just explode in front of camera. Pure energy. Rahdo has this amazing idea for his reviews – cut in 3 separate videos. First one is general overview of game play and example of first turn of the game. Second movie shows extended game play- if you are interested. Third one is opinion about the game – final thoughts.

2. DriveThru Reviews

I met Joel and played with him at Gen con. Super cool guy. His reviews are – I would say – quite opposite to Rahdo’s, I mean, Joel looks like he just woke up a minute before he started to record. 😉 His movies are shorter, he is not talkin’ much about rules and game play, he focuses on core of review – opinion about the game.

3. The Dice Tower

His Majesty Tom Vasel, world’s most famous reviewer, owning The Dice Tower channel with reviews, news, audio podcasts (yes, plural!)… He publishes a lot of reviews. As he says, he want to review every game out there. It is certainly mission impossible, but he does his best to provide us with as much information about games, as possble. His channel has 60k subscribes. Quite a number, huh?

Geeks recommend also:

4. Undead Viking,
5. Ryan Metzler (część kanału The Dice Tower),
6. Shut Up & Sit Down,
7. The Game Boy Geek (część kanału The Dice Tower),
8. Watch It Played,

…and many many more.

Time to brag. A little.

I am not that good with bragging. I mean, I try to talk about my successes and achievements, but I am always afraid of this small line between sharing happiness of achieving some success and between bragging. Talk to much about your self and you no longer act like happy person. You act like jerk.

So here I am. Thin line. Not bragging. Just sharing my pride and happiness…

 

Gameinformer picked Robinson to Top 10 Tabletop Games of 2013. Yuppi! Nominations are here.

Space-Biff put Robinson as #1 choice at Best 2013 Alone / Co-op. All other great games you will find here.

Space-Biff put my other game – Convoy – as #7 choice at Best 2013 Head-to-heads. Great games for2 players you will find here.

In the meantime ZMan published their second print of the game and Robinson jumped to #23 rank at BGG. In my most cocky dreams I would not predict this. Thank you for all your votes! Thank you so much!

I know this game is hard to get. If you have chance to play it – have a try. This is really a fine game. 

 

 

 

Robinson meets Friday

This week I finally managed to play Friday by Friedemann Friese. Game was released years ago, but my copy arrived early December, from Polish MathTrade.

I played and it was shock – Friday has exact the same game mechanism like Robinson – this is deckbuilding! Just like in Robinson you draw a card and you decide if you discard it or fight it and as a consequences you shuffle it into a deck. 

How on earth this is possible! Two game designers working separately came up with the same theme (Robinson) and used exact the same mechanism!

And what is more, how it is possible none of reviewers spotted it?! Why all reviewers who review Robinson say nice things about my idea, but none of them mentions published one year earlier Friday? Is Friedemann thinking that I stole his idea? Why no one sees that? I am the only one who see that both of us came up with the same idea?

This is very awkward situation – but I have good advice here. Play Friday. It is very cool solo game. I recommend it… just like my own design!

Image

Give them fun!

I spent Christmas playing games. Of course I played with Merry for most of the time, but I played with my kids too. And after this – nearly two weeks – of pure gaming I have this reflection: For Christ’s sake! Stop designing memory games! Don’t you have any other ideas? Don’t you know that kids like adventures. They want fun. They want princess and dragons. They want enchanted forests and magical potions. Cool stuff. Not another fucking memory game.

My this year’s Essen game is in jeopardy. I may sit at my desk and start work on a kids game. I am really sick of poor kids games. Children deserve something more.