Our First Contest Success!

Updated: Jul 17, 2020

Monster Garden has advanced in the Board Game Design Lab "Design Challenge 2020!"  Tons of feedback for the prototype of Arid, and with any luck, The Clockwork Maze of Professor Blunderbuss hits the table this week with a potential publishing partner.

Monster Garden Moves to Round Two!

Exciting news! One of our latest games, Monster Garden, has advanced to the second round of the Board Game Design Lab "Design Challenge 2020!" Thanks to all the judges who deemed our fun little game worthy of advancing!


The next round is up to the voters! Consider jumping over and voting us up in Group C by June 12. You'll need to watch at least 2 of the three-minute videos for games in the group, and provide feedback on their submission. If you're looking for a second choice, consider my buddy John de Campos's "DICETROY the CASTLE!" which looks like awesome dice-hurling fun! Thanks for your support, and we'd appreciate your votes!


For those who haven't checked it out, Monster Garden is a game for kids 8 and up that's fun for adults, too. Play a fantasy character (a Princess, Hero, Wizard or Ogre) trying to collect sets of monster plants for their magical garden. Characters ride a Merry-Go-Round from activity to activity in order to collect seeds, grow seeds into monster plants, draw Magic cards, and trade plants with other players. One of the fun hooks is that in the physical board game, you’ll feed seed cards into a machine, turn the crank, and out will come a monster plant!

Messages From The Maze!

As we wait to hear the outcome of playtests by our potential publishing partner, we're pretty excited about some changes to the ruleset, inspired by feedback from the last Protospiel before lockdown.  We made two major changes to the amount and type of randomness in the game: the mechanism for the Professor's Smokestacks emerging on the board, and also the mechanism for Maze tiles rotating each turn.  


Smokestacks: One persistent criticism we heard frequently was that the potentially game-ending Smokestacks could come out too fast and too soon in the game, possibly before the players had any hope of tamping them down.  The mechanism we used to see if a Smokestack emerged was a d6 die roll.  That only gave us a very narrow range of probabilities to play with.  The Smokestacks would either emerge about 17%, 33%, 50%, 67% or 83% of the time, and as the game progressed, could only increase in those increments.  We have now replaced that roll with a Smokestack Deck: a mini-sized deck of cards that begins the game with 5 "Safe" cards and a variable number of "Smokestack" cards depending on the difficulty level you choose for your game, 1 for beginner; 2 for Standard; or 3 for Expert.  As the Professor's Alert State increases over the course of the game, 1 additional Smokestack card is added per alert level.  This has tested well, and allows for much more precise fine-tuning as testing continues.

Maze Tile Rotation:  Another constant note we got was about the fiddliness of rolling too many dice as the game progresses to determine which Maze tiles turn and by how much.  In the past, we would roll one d6 to see which color tiles turn for each of the Professor's alert states, and then roll another d6 for EACH TILE to see how much it turned.  Too much dice rolling!  Also, referring to a guide to see what number on the die linked to what color was aggravating.  We created custom color-faced dice, one for each alert state, which can all be rolled together and interpreted at a glance.  These are now rolled along with a single standard d6 to see how much ALL the tiles of the target color(s) rotate that turn.  My goal is that these colors will eventually be reinforced with symbols to help color-blind players.


Stay tuned for more updates from the Maze!

Bow to Your Alien Overlords!

About six months ago, my wife, 12-year old son and I were sitting in a game store waiting on a playtest group that never arrived.  We were stood up!  My son suggested we make use of the time by designing a new game of our own, and I couldn't have been more on board!  We laid out the broad strokes of our latest game, Arid! This idea sat in a folder on my computer for a while, and I picked it up this month and have been developing it fast.  Here's the idea:

An alien race has destroyed their home planet’s eco-system and turned their planet into a desert. What they need now is WATER. They have come to Earth and captured YOU, some of the planet’s greatest eco-scientists. You have been trapped in a giant arena in Earth orbit, built to simulate the broken alien homeworld. The aliens have commanded that you take the resources available on their planet (all represented in the arena) and turn them into breakthrough technologies to return their scorched planet to a lush paradise. Knowing how competitive humans are, the aliens have made this trial into a contest. You must try to find a combination of breakthroughs that’s better than the opposing team’s, and whoever creates the best water-replenishing solution is the team that will survive!


Your Scientist must discover and harvest resources, craft tools and take control of terrain features. Combine all these to develop Breakthroughs that generate clean water. Whoever’s Breakthroughs can fill their underground cistern first wins. We've gotten some phenomenal feedback from playtest groups small and large.  But this game is still in need of more playtesting.  If you have Tabletop Simulator and want to check it out, drop us a line!

As always, thanks for keeping up with our progress here at Stone Age Distractions!

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