New Canadian Games Reviewed

A sneak peek from the Canadian Heritage Collection newsletter...


With the holiday sales season upon us, most of the new Canadian game releases of 2010 are now available from distributors and making their way into the hands of eager customers. With that in mind, I thought I'd share some of the customer reviews and commentary coming from BoardGameGeek, a popular gaming site among game enthusiasts. While commentary on the site doesn't always reflect the opinions of the broader market, it nevertheless offers some interesting insights into how you might want to present a given game to your customers. Read on to hear what people the world over are saying about some of the latest board and card games designed and published right here in Canada...

Best New Family Game of 2010?

It's always exciting (and a little nerve-wracking) to see your creations finally out there in the wild. So far, however, I'm grateful to see that Two By Two is being well-received.

With its current average rating of 7.03 out of 10, Two by Two is the 6th highest rated game on a religious theme over at BoardGameGeek, nestled right in there between the religious editions of Carcassonne and Settlers of Catan. That's fairly good company to be keeping, as those are both considered to be fairly highly regarded versions of the original classics (which are themselves rated 7.47 and 7.57 respectively).*

Codename Punk and How to Kickstart a Baby

It's Essen season in the board game industry and all eyes are turned to Germany. The big scandal this year is that one of the major European component suppliers has fallen behind on their orders and, as a result, a lot of highly anticipated games are delayed and won't be available at the industry's biggest trade show. This is devastating for some small publishers for whom that may be their only title this year. Fortunately, Valley Games is unaffected. They've run afoul of late deliveries in previous years so this time around they made sure to fly everything out to Germany a month in advance and warehouse it there so it would be ready and waiting for them when they arrived yesterday. Here's wishing them luck and some great international exposure for Two by Two.

"Two by Two" now available from distributors

Just a quick note to say that Two By Two is now available at the distributor level and should start appearing on store shelves sometime next week. Yay! I've waited a long time to see this game become a reality and I'm looking forward to reading the first reviews and session reports as they crop up online. I've been through this process a number of times before with my video games but thankfully that sense of childlike wonder never quite rubs off.

A Little Help From My Friends

Two By Two is expected to make landfall somewhere along the Pacific coast this Sunday. From there it will go to the warehouse of central wholesaler Publisher Services and then out to various distributors such as Lion Rampant here in Canada, ACD in the US, and Alliance for the US and worldwide. Online and brick & mortar retailers will include Two by Two in their regular orders from these distributors and the game should ultimately start appearing on store shelves sometime around the end of the month. The publisher had a few advance copies flown over from the actual print run (rather than preliminary proofs). Many of those will be going out to different reviewers and industry press but one should be arriving on my doorstep sometime tomorrow.

So, with the game almost in the hands of the general public, I thought now would be a great time to offer my thanks to all of the people who've helped along the way.

Announcing the Canadian Heritage Collection

As I alluded to in my previous post, I've been doing a lot of thinking about the Canadian board game industry, its long history of innovation, and the robust and very active state in which it currently finds itself. Despite that long tradition and current health, however, there appears to be a bit of a disconnect at the retailer level. In speaking to retailers, I've found that many are unaware of the full extent of that heritage and all of the exciting new developments that are occurring right here at home. Rather than simply blog about that disconnect, I've decided to take action and tackle it head on.

So, without further ado, I'm very happy to announce the Canadian Heritage Collection, a Canadian content education and labeling initiative for the specialty games market. The initiative consists of two parts:

Talking Shop

I've spent my last couple of weeks of evenings and lunch hours dropping in on the various boardgame retailers here in Edmonton. It's been a great opportunity to talk shop with the owners, and leave them with copies of a Two by Two Retailer Flyer that gives them some information about the game and where they can order copies. For those reading, go ahead and forward copies of that flyer to any retailers you think might be interested.

As a game designer, I'm way at the beginning of the pipeline but store owners are right at the very end, actually putting copies of my games into customers hands. It's always useful and interesting to listen to them, get a feel for the challenges they face, the markets they serve, and what I can do to help them sell my game. They were all wonderfully enthusisastic and very happy to take the time to talk shop and share insights into their business.

A Flood of Fun

The fine folks over at BoardGameNews have been posting a series of Two by Two design diaries that I wrote for them.
A wide-eyed unicorn peered out of the dense underbrush of the inland jungle. The sandy beach spread out before her and, beyond that, a grey and choppy sea that swelled to fill the bay. And there amidst the wind-tossed waves, the strangest sort of boat approached – short and squat, deep-bellied with no sail to speak of, capped by a peaked roof. Monkeys leapt and screeched across the deck and a pair of mourning doves cooed softly to each other in the rafters, taking shelter from the rain. Nervous, the unicorn watched the ark approach. The raindrops flowed beneath her hooves and out onto the beach where the ever-rising waters swallowed up the sands. She raised her head and stomped her hooves against the loamy earth, calling out for her mate on the far side of the island, praying for an answer...

Marketing - Perils and Pratfalls

Two by Two has experienced  minor delays and the publisher, Valley Games, has chosen to push out the release date to August. Delays are quite common in the industry and I'm not particularly concerned by this one, although it does mean that the game likely won't be on hand at the Origins Game Fair in Ohio. The good news is that the publisher has received the print proof of the game from the manufacturer and given it the thumbs up. That means that final copies are likely coming off the press as we speak and getting collated, boxed, shrink-wrapped, and loaded onto pallets for their journey across the Pacific. Something about that journey seems very fitting, given the game's theme.

A Tentative Release Date and a Brand New Look

Blogger just released a brand new template editor which provides me with a lot more control over the look and feel of this blog. I know, I know - with great power comes great responsibility!

Announcing Two by Two

Well, it's official. =o) Publisher Valley Games has announced the upcoming release of my first published board game, Two by Two. The cover art is by Calgary-based illustrator, Patrick LaMontagne, who quietly let the news slip last September. The origins of the game go back to November of 2006 when I first started sketching out the rules and putting together my initial prototypes. The components and rulebook are almost production-ready but it will still be a while before the game actually makes it to store shelves later this summer or fall.

So what's the game like, you ask?