My gift to Afrika Burn 2016: Drawing your #spiritcritter

I had an absolutely magical time at AfrikaBurn 2016.

As one of the 11 guiding principles of AfrikaBurn is Gifting, everyone attending should bring along something to gift to people, free of expectations of getting something back. It could be anything – bring something, give something, a skill, objects, anything. It is your form of self-expression, as long as you gift responsibly, anything goes.

About two weeks before the burn, I decided to go. With such a short timeframe, I didn’t have a clue what to gift, and after some brainstorming, this idea came to me – I would draw people their spirit animals. But not “spirit animals” – because then most people would say “dog” or “cat” or “horse” or “lion”. I wanted to gift them their very own creature. Like a Pokemon. Like Pokemon cards!

So I guillotined a bunch of cards, doodled this board, and off I went to the burn to meet people and gift them their spirit pokemon :)

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The gifting experience was simply incredible. I didn’t do nearly as many cards as I wanted to at the burn, I VASTLY underestimated my ability to meet people and draw these things quickly. I bought 500 blank cards with. I drew 30 by the end of the burn. And totally forgot to take photos of a bunch of them D:

Chatting to people about what they wanted their spirit creature to be was incredibly amazing. It gave a glimpse into their mind and their life, the part that might otherwise not have come out through small talk and pleasantries, and for that privilege I’m superbly grateful. I feel as if I got more out of my gift than I gave.

Throughout the burn, I learned that asking people “what is your spirit pokemon?” very easily resulted in answers like “Charizard!” and “Pikachu!”. So after the burn I rephrased the concept to Spirit Critter, and now I collect these babies daily in my dedicated #spiritcritter tumblr.

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For the longest time I had wanted an ongoing project that would hold my attention. Previously I did daily pokepeopledoodles for a while, but then I eventually got bored of translating pokemon into human form. This, translating real people into pokemon, is *so* much more interesting and meaningful, so this is going to be an ongoing thing for me.

Hope to meet you and your spirit critter someday!

Here are some of them: Catch more of them on the #spiritcritter tumblr!

Dubai: Selected as Cardboard Edison Award Finalist!

Last year in November, I made a game for a 24 hour game design contest on BGG, it was called Burjs, the word “burj” meaning “tower” in Arabic, like the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa, in Dubai.

The game was spawned off of a previous game I had made called Cartel, whose central concept revolved around these 2D cards forming 3D isometric buildings.

While Cartel was cool, and was featured at AMAZE, our Indie game festival in Johannesburg, it wasn’t focussed on its core premise. As such, I felt, it suffered from an identity crisis. I sought to address that with this new design, by focussing strictly on the aspect of building. Simplicity is best!

Many iterations later, it’s now called Dubai for simplicity, and I liked it so much I entered it into the first Cardboard Edison Award. I had to make an awkward game introduction video :)

And Dubai was selected as one of 10 finalists out of 100+ entries! 😀

Much to my delight and surprise! :)

Right now I’m doing some final tweaks and balances to the game rules and structure to ensure that it’s as good as it can get before sending the final prototype (oxymoron!) off to Cardboard Edison for final judging. As that’s done I’ll put the latest files on.

For now, you can read more about the game, its evolution, and find the latest Print & Play files here on BGG :)

 

A great big shoutout to everyone who’s helped playtest this little guy, and given feedback. Trust me you’ll all get credit when the game has some kind of credit page :)

So so happy and flattered and all sorts of good vibes! 😀

 

Timeless Boardgames Day – Accessible Boardgaming

I went to a boardgame day yesterday, one that I hadn’t been to before, and of course, if I’m compelled to write about it, it must’ve been pretty great, right? Spoiler: Yes!

Mission, vision, etc

Firstly, Timeless Boardgames is a relatively new online shop in SA. I got in touch with them a while ago when I first heard of them, marketing an interesting concept of renting boardgames instead of selling them. It was an interesting concept with the goal of making boardgames more accessible to everyone – buying a big box of components is a big investment usually, and renting before buying would lower that barrier to entry for newcomers to the hobby who don’t necessarily do a ton of research online before purchasing, or know exactly what they may like or don’t like.

Unfortunately the rental model never took off, I’m sure with good reason. However, the heart of their mission: Making boardgames more accessible, lives on in these Timeless Boardgame Days.

Try before you buy. Heck, just have fun.

This is the point of their boardgame days, and that makes quite a subtle but very interesting difference.

The typical boardgame days we find around are a hobbyist’s gathering. The message is usually: “Everyone bring games, anyone can play anyone else’s game!”. With the secondary message “Don’t have games? Don’t worry! We all love to share our games, just come!”. While the boardgame community is very welcoming, newcomers don’t understand that, and are often daunted by the thought of “I shouldn’t go if I don’t bring games”.

Timeless Boardgame Days flip that on its head – the message is specifically “Come play if you don’t have games!” – they have a huge selection of open games (almost the largest single-ownership collection I’ve ever seen) for you to play, and every month they open new games based on a voting system – you can vote on which game you want to see in the next Timeless Boardgame Day if you’re at the event, which is very fun.

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A day out

This focus accessibility has made these day events very successful in a short time. There is a cover charge of R60, but that’s really nothing for a day’s entertainment.

The venue is spacious, clean, with nice sturdy chairs. So often cheap plastic chairs get destroyed (granted the laughs those generate when it happens are great, but I’d much rather not see potential injuries)

You get free tea, coffee, juice, biscuits, brownies, etc etc. The desserts are a really nice touch, and lunch can be bought at a reasonable price. It was a boerewors roll, and you’re free to top it up with a selection of salsa, which is also a nice touch, and doesn’t remind me of the usual convention food standards.

Great company is to be had as everyone is super friendly and there are always staff on hand to explain or run the open games. Non staff are also more than happy to play with too.

Overall, Timeless Boardgame Days is yet another great addition to the growing list of places to play boardgames in Joburg!

Details

I’ve put the details in my Ultimate Joburg Boardgaming Guide :)

 

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Cartel News – Korea, A maze, Piston

Cartel is a card game that I’m working on that’s in prototyping stage. You can get the Print and Play files here.

So many things going on! I’ve kinda left Cartel alone for a while, and all of a sudden, it’s sprung back to life with not one but THREE bits of exciting news!

 

Finalist: 2014 Korea Board Games Contest

Cartel has been selected as a finalist in the 2014 Korean Board Game Contest! Annually, Korea Board Games runs a game design contest on Board Game Geek. This year, the theme was “fast play” – or games that end in 60 minutes, and Cartel just so happens to fit that very well, so I entered it.

Out of 214 worldwide submissions, they selected 25 finalists, and I’m super proud to say that Cartel is among them.

What’s also very cool is that on top of the usual finalists they also selected five elementary school kids’ designs! How cool is that! Very cool to see that Koreans actively encourage game design as a proper career path even from a young age!

 

Set phaser to A MAZE 2014

Cartel is being shown at A MAZE 2014 – Third International Games and Playful Art festival, right here in Joburg! I’ll be there, there’ll be dedicated people there to teach the game to anyone who wants to play, and it’s gonna be awesome 😀

What both of the above means is that I have to make some prototypes to A) Send to Korea and B) get it made to be played at A MAZE, so that got me thinking – what can/should I update in Cartel?

 

Piston City Cartel

So there’s this idea that’s I’ve been kicking around in my head. That idea is Piston City. A Steampunk Noir setting where crime isn’t only bad, it’s dirty. Where government regulate the “air” you breath, where steam vents can be, and how tall your umbrella can go. But all rules are more often broken than enforced, and steam-powered automatons run half the city’s businesses and amenities. Or do they?

Cartel: Piston City Racketeers

In this vision of Cartel, criminal rackets build legitimate businesses so they can acquire steam automatas legally (regulations require a registered business, along with site-inspections, for an automata to be issued), then put them to more nefarious uses, like territorial battle among rival Cartel gangs.

The idea is that I can take Piston city and stick multiple titles under its umbrella, and make a bit of a cool running story type thing around it. Build a world that I’d love to populate and grow and nurture into the scumbag dystopia of mecha and dirty cops I love to hate!

 

What do you think?

1. Should I not bother with it cos I can’t dictate what publishers – if I ever get that far – do with a game?

2. How do I name the buggers? I *would* like to start names with the game title itself, so like Cartel of Piston City… Or Cartel in Piston City… Cartel: Piston City… That sounds retarded. Right now Piston City Cartel sounds the least wonky… But again yea,h I wanna start with the game title 😛

3. How’s the art look? Does the art and the story line up? :)

 

If you’re interested in giving Cartel a play, you can download the Cartel Print and Play files here right here!

 

Awesome, thanks for catching up with me on Cartel, please comment if you have any questions! 😀

Ultimate Johannesburg Boardgaming Guide

I’m a Joburger boardgamer, and I’m always on the lookout for:

  • More games to play (good ones, though I’ll try everything once)
  • More people to play with (boardgames are all about the meta – playing the same game with different people makes it a completely different experience!)
  • More flexibility (the more groups you know the more you can find the right time to fit around your schedule)

If any of the above ideas tickle your fancy, I issue you my official Seal Of Awesome. So many people stick to their regular playgroup and never venture out of it, so I thought it would be great if we all came together in glorious boardgy more often than the annual events!

 

The focus is on playing

I have collected here from my experience and some grapevines some of the best ways I know to get playing with groups outside of your immediate friends. I wrote this with the focus on inclusivity and playing, not on buying stuff, though those aspects sometimes do happily coincide.

 

1. Boardgames Joburg group on meetup.com – Monthly

Joburg Boardgamers meetup group

Meetup.com is a great place to find common interest groups who are well-organised and regular… Yes… Regular. the Boardgames Joburg Group is a great group that has a general meetup at least once a month where people bring and play a pile of different games, and often has themed meetups in between for the popular choices (For example Catan and Dominion).

Notable games being played: Every kind of game, really.
Frequency:
Once a month minimum, often 3-4 times a month.
Base: The most common venue is around William Nicol close to the N1, but it varies.
Contact: http://www.meetup.com/Board-Games-Joburg/

 

2. Amuse Cafe Boardgame – Tuesday Nights

Amuse Cafe

Amuse Cafe is a cool little pub/bar joint in Linden that is super boardgame friendly. They have boardgames that patrons can pick up and play any time, but they’ve set aside Tuesday nights for boardgames. Once a month it’s a quiz night, but boardgamers still welcome. They have decent pub grub, liquor license, and amazing Glühwein when winter has come. Lots of character, it’s like a Central Perk for boardgames :) I’d go more often if my Tuesdays weren’t already taken by Capoeira.

Notable games being played: Pub-style games, so more casual, but anything goes too. Also a monthly quiz.
Frequency:
 Once a week, after 18h30.
Base: Linden: Shop 12 Manlam court 34 5th Street, corner 4th Avenue
Contact: https://www.facebook.com/AmuseGamesNight

 

3. Animeworx Boardgame Fortnights

Unfortunately this one seems to have stopped happening. Sorry :(

AnimeWorx Boardgame nights

AnimeworX is our local mainstream geekery retailer, and known for hosting a couple of different clubs. Their games evenings used to be weekly but had been changed to every two weeks (that’s what fortnightly means, I’m sure you know what it means, but that was for *their* benefit). Could you say just say “Fortnights”? Cos it happens to be night too? Or do you have to say “Fortnightly Nights”? Anyway the AWX evenings are good ones, they’ve even been thoughtful enough to disallow Warhammer games, which in the beginning kind of overtook most of the tables (because they get REALLY sprawling and isn’t very social :P). This has made the event a lot friendlier and social.

Notable games being played: X-Wing miniature game, Netrunner, but also whatever else happens to be there. Great variety. No Warhammer!
Frequency:
 Once every two weeks, after 18h30

Base: AnimeworX, Brightwater Commons
Contact: https://www.facebook.com/AWX.AnimeWorX/events

 

4. Outer Limits – Public Holidays & other whens

Outer Limits Melville

On most public holidays, Outer Limits (the quintessential Joburg hobby shop!) hosts boardgame days. It starts right from the crack of the morning light (ok 9am) and runs till about 5-6ish. Super kudos for converting their holidays to work days, but a fun work day! Plenty of people turn up, plenty of different games get played. Outer Limits also has regular game nights for Magic the Gathering and Heroclix, two super popular collectible games, so definitely look them up if you enjoy those monstrously addictive games. They also do an annual Lory Park Zoo games day where we all go hang out at the Lory Park Zoo, play with big cat cubs, gorgeous parrots, enjoy nature and boardgames, in support of the great conservation work they’re doing just here in Midrand. It’s sublime!

Notable games being played: Everything ever.
Frequency:
 Once every two weeks.
Base: 8 Main Road, Melville 2092
Contact: https://www.facebook.com/outerlimits.melville/events

 

5. DeeTwenty Geeking Venue

DeeTwenty Geeking venue

 

(photo credit: mbLife – http://www.mblife.co.za/Passion/DeeTwenty-Geek-Street-Pippa-Tshabalala/)

DeeTwenty is a new concept in the boardgaming socials – a few intrepid geeks once had the same thought I did (riiiight up there in the opening paragraphs), so they started up a venue dedicated to geeking. It’s a really different concept – it’s not a restaurant, you don’t have food there. It’s not a shop, you’re not be tempted to buy something shiny, it’s not a pub, so you’re not gonna get sloshed, it’s just a simply pure geeking venue. So how it works is you pay for use of the venue. There are daily, weekly, monthly membership options, and they regularly have events going on. Check their calendar to see what’s on!

Notable games being played: Probably everything ever.
Frequency:
 Often, check the calendar!
Base: 18 Consuenol Dr, Randburg 2194
Contact: http://dee-twenty.com/calendar/

 

6. Netrunners SA Events – when we can

Android: NetrunnerSA 2014 Regional Championships

ANR:SA is our local Netrunner players community. We have events at least once a month, with cool swag and excellent people to play with, so if you enjoy deep, strategic card games, come join us! Netrunner is the BEST board/tabletop game ever. Richard Garfield took Magic: The Gathering, fixed all the gameplay problems with it (mana-screw syndrome, impossibly large card pool full of useless crap, decks that run themselves), then Fantasy Flight Games took the design and fixed distribution problems (Living Card Game format means no random boosters and stupid expensive singles, three-per-deck card limit means no stupid 30-of-a-single-card broken decks) and now it’s just sublime.

Notable games being played: Android: Netrunner.
Frequency:
 Once a month, at least. Also regularly at other meetups, including Amuse and AWX ones, as above.
Base: Usually at Outer Limits, as above
Contact: https://www.facebook.com/groups/netrunnerSAevents/

 

7. Outer Limits Pretoria – Wednesday Nights

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Pretoria also counts! I haven’t been to the Pretoria Outer Limits, but they look like an amazing bunch over yonder. Every Wednesday night they have a boardgame night, and it looks like a great blast, especially if you’re closer to that side of town. However they’re also close to the Hatfield Gautrain station, so travel isn’t entirely impossible.

Notable games being played: Everything ever, but they also have a few dedicated groups to Android: Netrunner, and even Vampire: The Eternal Struggle, and other classics.
Frequency: Weekly
Base: Outer Limits Hatfield, by Varsity Bakery. 293 Lynnwood Road, Pretoria
Contact: http://www.meetup.com/Board-and-table-top-gaming-in-Pretoria/

 

8. Timeless Boardgame Days – Monthly

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Super accessible, the whole point of Timeless’ boardgame days is come and play games for a day, especially if you don’t own any games. Tons of open games to play. I wrote a whole thing about them here – so read that.

Spoiler: Highly recommended!

Notable games being played: Everything ever. The point is that noone needs to bring their own, of course you may if you want to.
Frequency:
 Once a month.
Base: Bedford Chapel, 4 Bradford Road Bedfordview JHB
Contact: https://www.facebook.com/timelessboardgames

 

9. Battle Wizards Centurion – Wednesday Nights

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Battle Wizards is a new FLGS (Friendly Local Game Store) is open in Centurion, and they were also at rAge expo. They do a weekly boardgame evening on Wednesdays, as well as a bunch of other focused, regular events for Magic, X-Wing, Warhammer, Netrunner, and other big games. I haven’t been to them personally but they look pretty awesome, and doubly so if you’re in their neighbourhood.

Notable games being played: Everything, and presumably whatever people bring or get there.
Frequency:
 Once a week, Wednesday evenings.
Base: Shop 79, Doringkloof Mall, Lupin avenue, Centurion, Gauteng
Contact: https://www.facebook.com/battlewizards/

 

That rounds off this list for now!

If I missed anything you know, please let me know via the comments under here, or you can Tweet me, or mail me, or whatever, and I’ll definitely add it here and issue updates :)

Play you around! 😀

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