BGG Con 2016 Recap & Happy Holidays
Greetings, Fellow Traders!
We’ve been very busy since our return from BGG Con. This was our first time attending this convention, and it was fun. As advertised, playing games was much more emphasized than tournaments or dealers’ rooms. We did have a dealer’s booth for one day, and played a few games there, but ended up playing more once we got out into the open gaming area.
One of the things we were really looking forward to was showing off the pre-production prototype of Star Traders and being able to play with the actual d4 Contract dice that Panda brought to the show, newly delivered from the manufacturers. They were too big (more about that, later), but they worked really well.
Overall, the game was well received. We’d been told that the typical BGG Con attendee is an alpha gamer — someone who drives decision-making on game purchases for his or her gaming friends, and who deeply analyzes games. After four days there, we can vouch for that description. One gamer sat down with about 15 minutes to spare between games and asked for a description of Star Traders. We started with the backstory, as usual (“you are a star trader …”), but he wasn’t interested. He simply wanted the mechanics, and he needed no explanation of why we had included any of it — he knew right away why there were five actions per turn (rather than four or six), what the pros and cons were of the Prestige Meter, and the various effects of the Trader’s Luck cards. I have no idea whether he will eventually get the game, but he seemed satisfied that the game worked.
We also got a chance to connect with several backers whom we hadn’t met before — it was exciting to show them the game that they have been helping us make. All of them seemed pleased with the updated components and a few even had time to play a game or two or three 😉 with us. One of the cool things about taking the game to shows is getting to play with first time Star Traders. Some take to it really quickly, while others gradually discover the intricacies of the game as they play. Either way it’s always an enjoyable time.
And talking about playing with gamers; I got into a conversation with another player who wanted a diceless variant. (Actually, I think he would have been happier if there weren’t any dice in the box at all.) Having discussed it with him, I realize that we could design a game very much like Star Traders, without any dice — but it wouldn’t be Star Traders. Meanwhile, another player at the same table was vociferous in her desire to keep the dice in the game — she repeatedly told me that it would be much less fun without the dice. These kinds of interactions aren’t normal at the other shows we’ve been to, but it’s always good to get detailed feedback from knowledgeable gamers.
Dice pros and cons are something I haven’t discussed much. Star Traders obviously bucks the trend toward games with fewer random elements and more long-term strategizing. I can enjoy a game like Through the Ages or Race for the Galaxy (while they each have a deck of cards, they are definitely less random than a game like Star Traders). I enjoy them, but I have much more fun playing a game like Star Traders. And I definitely have less fun playing a game like Agricola, where there is little randomness and the resources are painfully limited — a game like that is too much like work for me. 🙂
Which isn’t a knock against any of those types of games; they are just less what I’m personally interested in playing.
In general, I prefer a game with equal parts luck and strategy, so that:
- everyone (even the least skilled or newest) has an actual chance to win the game,
- every game has “you’ve got to be kidding” moments,
- more game time is spent talking and interacting with each other than with single-minded focus on each person’s next best move, and
- everyone walks away from the table rehashing their favorite moments
That’s been my overall objective with Star Traders: fun. It certainly isn’t the game for everybody, but I am convinced that it will be fun for a wide range of players, from young to old … once we get it into your hands!
We also had the chance to play some other games while we where there, chat with fellow creators and even meetup with some of the Steve Jackson Games design team.
BGG Con is a great show and I can see us returning there again, but first we need to get this game out to you all and that’s what we’ve been focusing on since we got back.
Read more about that in our latest Kickstarter Update.
Meanwhile, back to the pixel mines! Along with trying to keep the manufacturing on track we’re also focusing on getting the other backer rewards ready for y’all. So if you’re a backer you can look forward to those coming together very soon.
Here’s wishing you all happy holidays and a merry new year.