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Making it happen

So, I've been spending time working with some manufacturers of games to see if they would be interested in picking up Cthulhu Deckbuilder. It will be a longer process than I would like, but, I understand the various game company's concerns. Two Cthulhu deck building games coming out on Kickstarter and they don't want to enter a crowded field.

Would you all like to purchase the game via a Print on Demand process? Two issues I can see with that, first, the price isn't what I'd want it to be and, second, shipping is whatever they charge and I can't do a thing about it. I'm thinking the game will be $39 (plus shipping) from the print on demand - and - the dice would be $10 (plus shipping) from me. If this is something you think would work for you, please let me know. (contact page or visit the Facebook page and let me know there)

Cthulhu Deckbuilder Review

This review is in Polish, they've translated it for me and I'm including it for you to read below (slightly edited for clarity):

Not every king has a beard, a cloak and a crown. Don't you believe? Meet Hastur, the King in Yellow. You can find him and another powerful creatures call Ancient Ones in the game Cthulhu Deckbuilding. But the meeting with Azothoth isn't recommend - reputedly he is in state to destroy the world.

What decides about success of board/card game? It's combination of attractive theme and working well mechanic. Is seems Paul Davis, the author of Chtulhu Deckbuilding, discovered two components to create good game. The first is a theme related to myths created by H. P. Lovecraft. The proof of attractiveness of theme mentioned is not only popularity of Lovecraft's novel but also the fact, that creatures from his novels are known in pop culture. You can even find mems in Internet with slogan: "Chutlhu for president!” The second component of good game is mechanic. Paul Davis decided on deckbuilding - mechanic introduced by Donald X. Vaccarino. Gamers loved the mechanic and currently a lot of games contain elements of deckbuilding. Gamers loved also myths Cthulhu but will they get to like combination of the components mentioned? Let's check.

Monsters everywhere

In game Chtulhu Deckbuilding you expect to meet Ancient Ones. In reviewed title there are ten of them, all look terrifyingly and they have powerful abilities. There are also minor monsters (cards Horror). Part of these monsters attack when they appear in the game. But all of them you use in same way for our purposes (about this matter - later). In the world of Cthulhu not only monsters and Ancient Ones are dangerous - the same you can tell about Events. In this threatening world gamers play investigators who have unique ability. Fight with evil single-handily is hard. Fortunately, heroes can enlist Allies. In addition they buy cards of Equipment and Spell. Every type of card look differently - it facilitates the play. For instance cards of Allies have blue elements, Spell feature illustrations that look like sketches. Cards in the reviewed game are aesthetic, their thickness is standard and their amount is huge (there are over 200 cards).

With allies you'll defeat even Cthulhu

Reviewed title is based on deckbuilding - it means that players buy cards to create own decks. In Cthulhu Deckbuilding make decks to fighting with Ancient Ones (Ones provide victory points). Bought items, spell and hired allies also provide points. Next source of points are cards Horror but the process of gathering them is quite complicated. In order to get Horror to the deck some player must put the card to stack banished and paid the power cost the card. Then any player can get the card in his turn if he has a card with such ability. All described action is worth of time because Horrors have got interesting and powerful abilities. They also introduce negative interaction between players. The mechanic of Horror is interesting and rather unique in card games.

How does the party in Cthulhu Dechbuilding look like? In the beginning of the play gamers draw one card investigator for one person. Every hero has got unique ability, for example Professor can increase or reduce level of his insanity. Cards of investigator lie on the table (face up). Then players create first deck - they get 7 Strength and 3 Fear cards. Gamers shuffle own decks. Then they shuffle Story Deck - cards to buy. In the middle of the table they put five cards face up. On both sides they put cards: Psychic Blast, Corruption and properly prepared deck of Ancient Ones. In his turn active player takes five cards to his hand. He adds cards from Story Deck to get five face up. When the turn starts happen first:

• Events
• Effects Surprise (Horror cards)
• Effect Awaking of Ancient One if new One was exposed.

Then the gamer plays cards from his hand to get Allies, Spell or items from Story Deck. The currency is power. The player can also put the banished stack and bring them out from the stack. Then he can play the Horror from banished stack. Other played cards are discard (they put on the graveyard). The player can also get card of Ancient Ones if the gamer have power and proper level of insanity. In same sense you also buy the Ancient Ones. Ally cards played or not are put to the graveyard of gamer and next person starts his turn.

This world needs heroes

Due mechanic and theme we can compare Cthulhu Deckbuilding to Ascension and Thunderstone. In mentioned titles players buy cards of creatures/items and fight against monsters. However in Anscension and Thunedstone players always decide to fight or not. If they don't want combat - nothing happens and they don't suffer any wounds. But in reviewed title the situation is different. Part of monsters from cards Horror have ability "Surprise attack" - that means they attack when they appear. Besides, they attack all player so every hero can suffer wounds. Ancient Ones attack in the same turn they appear and they inflict injuries to all players. In Cthulhu Deckbuilding defense against monsters is harder and world seems more dangerous.

Mechanic of the reviewed title generate atmosphere of fear so it fits in with theme of the game. The effect was achieved not only due monsters. Events are also dangerous and they can entire change the party, e.g. event that stop drawing card from Story Deck. So the is unpredictable. The climate of horror and threat isn't the only advantage of the game. The next of them is two-step process of gaining Horrors, described earlier. Due "effort of gaining Horror" we get cards with unique abilities, we introduce interaction between players and we get victory points. The mechanic of insanity is also very interesting. In the game we must pay attention our insanity - low level of insanity mean we can't get the Ancient Ones. But high level can cause death because all wounds in the game are psychic injuries. But the reviewed title isn't game without weakness. There is same problem with card of Ancient Ones. On the card we can find "slogan"(e.g. harvest), that mean tasks, e.g. discard same amount of cards. In the first plays we aren't in the state to remember what actions particular slogan means. So we have to flick through the manual. There are ten the Ancient Ones so it can be awkward.

Cthulhu Deckbuilding is a climatic game. The mechanic fits to heroes' struggles in dangerous world. Combination theme from novels of H. P. Lovecraft with deckbuilding did good. I recommend reviewed title all horror's fans and enthusiasts of adventure games.

Pluses:
• climate game
• mechanic fits in with theme of the game
• interesting mechanic of gaining Horror cards
• tried deckbuilding shows new face

Minuses:
• slogans on the Ancients Ones make players flick through the manual

Expert Ancient One Revealed

An Expert level Ancient One, He who shall not be named...

Epic Attacks cannot be defended against. The concept behind the expert level Hastur is to create a hazardous condition where the lowest, worst powered cards are put on the bottom of player's decks. This makes it difficult to defeat Hastur (if not impossible) once you've reached the area in your deck where you only have low powered cards (the most a 3 cost card can do is +3 Power, most do 2 or 1 - with 4 cards, you'll average 8 points, Hastur requires 15 to defeat) And if you don't play cards, well, you go insane...

Even if someone manages to overcome Hastur's power, the damage done with the decks will play out against other Ancient Ones and the story board.

Ancient One Secrets!

The new addition to Cthulhu Deckbuilder, adds a whole new level to playing the game. Instead of keeping Ancient Ones, you can play with the secrets and just get a game long effect and a one-time secret ability. Each Ancient One has their own secret fit to their abilities.

Lost 13 Tribe Horror

Check out the new artwork for the Lost 13 Tribe Horror - showing up on Friday the 13th!

Lost 13 Tribe Equipment

Check out the new artwork for the Lost 13 Tribe equipment:

Lost 13 Tribe Ally

With their home all setup, the Allies are the first to make an appearance

Lost 13 Tribe Location

The home of the Lost 13 Tribe has been done!

Steve's Playtest video

This one is on Facebook, check it out here:
Steve's Comments

Book of Azathoth

Now that we have Azathoth drawn, his book made it to us! The Book of Azathoth!

Game Reviews ... hoping for better

Game reviewers, don't know if I'm a fan of that just yet. Just got Cthulhu Deckbuilder reviewed and I'm wondering if that was worth the time and money. The review wasn't favorable (well, it got favorable comments, was a higher medium ranking - but the tone was more like "I like X game so much, this isn't that, so..."). What is worse is that the review is factually wrong. The demo copy of the product has placeholder images for several cards - because they are prizes for the Kickstarter (which was detailed in the request for reviewers) - not because they "aren't done" - the reviewer not only totally omits this information, but wasn't detailed enough to actually count the cards (we have 84 unique cards, 29 aren't with final artwork - that is 34% or about 1/3. Looking at it from total cards, we have 240 cards and about 20% aren't done - the article said "about half" which implies that 50% of the cards aren't done - unless you're randomly picking which cards to count, there is no way to logically get to 50%). Also, the reviewer talks about the new mechanic (Insanity) and in the summary says there is no new mechanics. Even the game play setup isn't accurate in the review. The reviewer suggests a "house rule" for putting the toughest three Ancient One's on the bottom of the Ancient One stack. We printed out the rules (in color too) and included them. First page under "Setup for your first game" item #4 says to do exactly that. Makes me wonder what else was ignored in the game. Lastly, the reviewer connected with me about a design choice, I said give me a couple weeks to resolve that - but I got it done in less than a week - too late, he'd already posted the review the day after he contacted me, didn't tell me until days later.

I was clear on my reviews, I wanted them around the time of the Kickstarter release. The point of a review is to generate traffic on my Kickstarter to get pledgers. I see no other reason for a Kickstarter game maker to go through the expense of sending a free game, pay for the shipping - and it be a prototype game which cost a considerable amount of money - to a reviewer to have the review factually wrong and posted at a time when it does zero good for the game or the Kickstarter. I am hoping other reviewers will - at least - hold their reviews until the Kickstarter campaign.

TsunamiCon Fun!

TsunamiCon was a success! I enjoyed meeting and playing with everyone who played. I really appreciated the feedback and the very nice comments I received from the game. My two favorites were "I wish I could play this game all weekend, I would never leave" and "Love isn't a strong enough word for how I feel about this game". I had several repeat players who visited with me and one couple that are headed up to the Midwest Convention next month and will be looking for us there.

At the feedback from a reviewer and one of the guys this weekend, I am working on an Expert Level for the Ancient Ones where they will be easily able to defeat the players and be a lot more oppressive. Should be interesting :)

Azathoth!

Two versions of Azathoth!

Nyarlathotep Artwork!

Just had Nyarlathotep colored and it looks AMAZING!

Playtesting gone wrong...

Sent the games to several reviewers, the first one got it and played it last night ... and ... it went horribly wrong. I seriously need to focus on writing better rules. Almost all of the issues that happened were due to my rules not clearly explaining how to resolve some difficult situations. I am also convinced I need to create a Standard rules and an Advanced rules because the game is complex and using all of the cards from the start leads to locked down games.

Having built the game and worked with a group of people who played it for months, we figured out how to play the game and not let it win. Not everyone else has that time/advantage, so I need to make the rules work for them as well. Also, not being there to help kills me, when someone spends 90 minutes playing my game and doesn't have fun, because I failed to explain the rules in the rule book, that is my fault and I feel bad. I will do better, I promise.

New printed artwork in!

Artwork for two Ancient Ones and a new design for the Events (so you CAN NOT miss them!)

Archon Experience

Archon was a mixed event for us - the organizers didn't explain how the gaming was setup and we spent 75% of our time in an area where people went for scheduled games (as in they wanted to play X, paid to do so and went to a specific time and place to play) - verses - the "pick up area" to demo the game which was in another building entirely. Once we got to the other building, we were able to play several people and demo the game. The players REALLY liked the game and enjoyed the theme, balance and playing of the game.

We did meet and see a TON of people in costumes, that was pretty cool. I also spoke to an author of a series of books (Steps of Power) - if you're in to high fantasy and a book that is designed to entertain you (and not preach at you...) check them out - http://www.stepsofpower.com and buy the book from them (directly) if you want to support them. The first book - Kings or Pawns is out right now and they have a large (100 page) sample of it on their site. They are also here on facebook at http://facebook.com/stepsofpower check them out!

Cthulhu Deckbuilder Rules

Cthulhu Deckbuilder rules (alpha word document converted to a PDF) - please read and let me know if it needs clarifications:
Rules

CogCon25 Event

CogCon25 was great, met several groups of players, got some great feedback on Cthulhu Deckbuilder. Everyone who played liked the game - I'm looking forward to seeing them at the Kickstarter and at future conventions!

New beta version of Cthulhu Deckbuilder on the way!

I've just sent off to the printers for the next "beta" set of cards, with changes that Gregg Bolinger pointed out on the cards. I also went with a softer "red" background on the horrors for the surprise effect, changed the events to be a rules based "this just happens when revealed" as opposed to adding that text to every card. Removed all of the token references as well. Added the Gained keyword to the Ally cards that had a gained effect for consistency sake. Other minor updates to the card's rules as well.

Interesting use for rejected dice

So, with quality control on the dice, we have several with different numbers colored red and white. I'm thinking, hey, those could be "special" dice that people could buy and whatever the color of the die number is determines if you're sane or insane (one has 17 and 18 white, most have 11 red) - could make for some challenging games!

Postcards for Cthulhu

Just got in the postcards for promoting Cthulhu Builder:

Dice Defects

On the Dice order from China, we went through each one and removed the defectives - contacted the maker and we will get them replaced. Not too many, given they were hand done and painted. Oddly enough, no errors happened to the 4, which 12 had the most errors (the 1 not being colored in) and we had some dice with the wrong numbers colored white/red.

Went to TableTop Games in Overland Park, KS

Went to Tabletop Games last night and played the game with a long time deck builder player, he gave me some honest feedback we're going to take to heart - and - some ideas for the game we're going to playtest. Once per turn, gain 2 corruptions for 1 power and those corruptions go in to the graveyard at the end of the turn (so no easy destruction for a point). Like the idea! Also and idea for locations which we will also test out.

Then I met with a couple of people about the Kickstarter - what to do from someone who's done it before - and - also - a marketing person who wants to help the game reach as many people as possible. Was a VERY successful night!

Pricing from China

Finally received printing and shipping costs for the cards for the game from China. Another notch in the planning for the Kickstarter done! With the dice and box pricing, I can setup the Kickstarter to have some nice price points. Seems so far away before I'll be able to run the KS, but, it will be well planned!

Updates to the investigator card art

Check it out:

Back of card improvement

Much improved back of card artwork:

 

New Arcane card art!

This one is a significant improvement:

Ancient One template

Here is some awesome work on the ancient one:

The hound v2

Here is another take on the hound:

Summoning Circle

Here is the first draft for the lessor summoning circle

Back of card design

Here is the back of the card design:

The MAD House!

Take a look at Arcanum!

Location and Book card art

Here is the artwork for locations and any book type equipment:

First Monster!

Equipment card art

Here is the card template for the equipment:

New Investigator card art

Here is the card art for the investigator:

Arcane Card Art

This will be the card art for the spells/arcane stuff:

New card art

Thinking about using this one for the basic cards of the game (strength, fear, corruption)

Early Card Artwork

This is an early work in progress for an artifact for the game:


More Card Templates for Ancient Ones

Cthulhu, Zig, Hastur and the like may soon find themselves on a card like this:

Possible Card Templates

Card Layouts

Here is a sneak peak at some of the possible card layouts.  We're thinking of using more than one layout and we will see if we can swing it. These are looking GREAT!

New Header Image

Cards of Cthulhu

Cthulhu Deck Builder Game Introduction

\n Hello all!

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\n Well, I've built the game, done playtesting, working on the template of the game, hiring artists and all, but you're probably just interested in what the game is about, so here goes:

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\n Cthulhu Deck Builder is a deck building game (surprised?) where you play the role of the investigator.  Your job is to use your resources to collect equipment, allies, locations, spells and possibly even a horror or two along the way to defeat the Ancient Ones.  If you're not familiar with how deck building games work, let me explain... You start the game with a handful of common starter cards, usually 7 power and 3 useless cards, shuffle them and draw 5.  This will give you from 2 to 5 power in your opening hand as each starting power card gives you 1 power. With these you can buy cards from the story board (where the main deck cards are put in to play).  These all go to your graveyard when done with your turn. Then you draw 5 more cards.  If your deck runs out, you shuffle your graveyard up and it becomes your library to draw from.  Then the next player takes their turn.

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\n I've been working on the game now for several months.  It has been playtested with 2 to 5 players.  The two player games are shorter - 30 minutes to an hour, while the 4 and 5 player games can take a couple hours.  I wanted to create a game that had a very reasonable balance.  One of the problems we've seen with deck building games is that the game is unbalanced, one player can gain an advantage and then it becomes very difficult to overcome that player's advantage and the rest of the game is a pre-determined and people lose interest.  I also wanted to honor the Cthulhu genre and make it so the game can beat the players in rare instances. 

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\n The game will have two sets of rules, one for easy play where some of the less pleasent impactful cards are removed and some of the rules are modified so the game isn't as hard to beat.  The harder rules make for a very nice Lovecraftian game.  I really hope you'll be interested in the game and follow us up and until the launch.  The more you stick around, the more information you'll have about the game and the Kickstarter and be better able to participate and get the rewards you want.

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\n Till next time!
\n Paul

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