Tag Archives: camaraderie

picaresque in pictures

I spent three nights in a  cozy cabin in the North Woods of Wisconsin with seven great guys. Our annual Boys Cabin Weekend means different things to each of us, but we all look forward to a few days of relaxation and camaraderie, free from the pull of jobs, family and responsibilities. We hike, snowshoe or cross country ski. We do a little target shooting. We spend hours just reading. We talk and argue and laugh and listen to music. I like to use this time to work on game design and to play as many games as possible. Here are a few of my favorite moments from this weekend.

I taught Perry Rhodan: The Cosmic League to Colin while Michael set the play list.


Perry Rhodan: The Cosmic League is a neat little two player game of transporting goods and passengers around the solar system. Nice design.


A photo purported to capture the elusive Nuke It From Orbit in play. Several rounds of this delightful game were enjoyed by all!


Many fine beverages were enjoyed over the course of the weekend. I brought a bottle of bourbon barrel aged cyser, a homebrew club project from a couple years back.
We played the first game of a brand new copy of Risk: Legacy!


Scotty advances on my poorly defended territories in Europe.
At least I held Scandinavia against the ravaging hordes.


I did some work on my Dungeon of Doom prototype and was able to get a play test in with three players. Worked quite nicely.
We drove to a nearby tavern to watch the Packers game with the locals. It was an exhilarating, if ultimately disappointing game.



a cabin in the woods

I’m leaving in the morning for a long weekend of tomfoolery, camaraderie and isolation in the North Woods of Wisconsin. I’m bringing a few games and prototypes, as well as my Chevee Dodd-inspired Idea Box for rapid prototyping while I’m up there.

I mentioned isolation–I’ll have negligible Internet access while I’m up there; I don’t own a smart phone, and there’s no Internet access at the cabin. I’m really looking forward to a few days away from the Internet. My pal John Kovalic has been leaving his smart phone at home when he’s working at his studio. I hope it’ll help me be as productive as he’s been.

I’ve got a brand new game to work on while I’m there, and a couple others to play test. Additionally, this morning I had an idea for a game based on the old Persian fairy tale, The Three Princes of Serendip. I think it’s  a perfect basis for a game, and I want to explore the idea of serendipity in game mechanisms.

Before I go, I want to share this insightful video from one of my favorite YouTube series, Extra Credits. Fascinating stuff.

Snake and Ladders may be one of the oldest and one of the best “Mechanics as Metaphor” games out there.



picturing a round house

I always mean to take more photos at Roundhouse, but I’m always too engrossed with whatever it is we’re doing. Here are a few moments I did manage to capture.

I drove to Roundhouse Wednesday night, with my good friend Jeph Stahl. We stopped on the way at Dark Horse Brewing Co for a late meal and a beer. The Dark Horse brew pub has a well-worn, comfortable atmosphere and the biggest collection of mug-club mugs in the country. Andrea the waitress thought Jeph might be a werewolf.


inappropriate ice cream cone
The local ice cream parlor is run by our generous host’s family. The flavor of the week when we’re in town is usually lemon: my favorite! James’ brother was working the counter when we arrived, and made me an extra-extra large lemon cone. It was way more than I could finish!


Sure, there’s plenty of nutritious food and drink, but Roundhouse Retreat is also for play testing! Here, Chris Young contemplates his next action in my game, LXIX: YEAR OF FOUR EMPERORS, while James Kyle looks on.


Sometimes, players in LXIX can surge ahead with big scoring leaps while others struggle to catch them, as this final scoring shows: red is 37 points ahead of black! The discussion after this game led to a really great suggestion from Greg Daigle that will help to even out these kinds of point spreads. A couple more play tests and I think this game will be ready to send off to a publisher.


I never pass up a chance to play test the latest game in the Birth of America series. Here, Greg Daigle and designer Beau Beckett face off as the French against the British, represented by James Kyle and me. They got an early flush of Native reinforcements, so James and I enacted a risky third-round double-Truce play to force an early end, and took three flags to make it 4 to 2. Due to my own tactical blunder in not leaving a unit to cover the back door, Greg and Beau were able sweep a massive army in and re-take a critical location, and won another location on the final roll of the die to win the game. Agony! Such a good game! Jeph and Beau had this one in heavy play test rotation all weekend, hammering out some exciting new rules not seen in the first two games.


You never know what kind of wild life will show up at the Roundhouse. This year, we had a juvenile hawk we nicknamed ‘Crazy Hawk’ stalking and attacking his reflection in the house windows every morning, while a momma deer and her tiny fawn browsed in the back yard. Previous years featured an angry gopher and more spiders than I care to consider.


We got the word that absent Roundhouse alumn Dave Chalker’s fun game HEAT had finally funded on Kickstarter and took a quick break from the dice game design challenge to send him a virtual congrats!

There’s still time to back Dave’s game HEAT on Kickstarter!

Update: Dave’s game HEAT was successfully funded!

in a round house in the woods

I’m excited and distracted today, because tomorrow I’m driving to Michigan with my buddy Jeph for the annual Roundhouse Retreat.

Roundhouse is four days of intense play testing and development, game design discussion, debate, camaraderie and a little goofing off, with a group of game designers I deeply respect and admire. It’s my favorite game event of the year.

Internet access can be spotty out in the middle of nowhere, but I hope to be able to update periodically throughout the long weekend. On Thursday, we’ll try to record an episode of Design Time with James and Kory with absent Roundhouser, Kory Heath.