Published on April 20th, 2015 | by Nicole Jekich1
Meet Seattle’s Game Designers: Issue #1
Our First Mini Unpub of 2015 at Raygun Lounge
This past weekend was the first solidly sunny weekend in Seattle and it also marked our first After a very successful Unpub event last summer, we were encouraged to do it again. I took into account all the satisfaction surveys and helpful comments that designers and participants shared with us from last year’s event. Now with the Raygun Lounge we have settled on a regular Unpub mini event every third Sunday of the month to showcase local, unpublished games. We had a fair turnout this first time and enjoyed playing a handful of different games:
Designed by David Gerrard and illustrated by Justin Hillgrove
We started off the day by playing JunKing. 2-4 players participate in a race to the bottom of the junkpile to find valuable treasures. As Scavenger Imps, players collect junk into their personal hoard and don a number of devices, helms and mounts for victory points. Specialized junk items allow players certain abilities to outwit their opponents and add junk to their hoard. Players compete for the most victory points over a series of three games. The end of each game occurs when a player draws The Crown from the junkpile
Unlike popular king-of-the-mountain game Munchkin, JunKing is far more considerate to gamers of all levels and ages. Every turn follows the same pattern: Draw a card from the junkpile, Place a junk item on your Scavenger Imp (optional) and use an ability (optional). Abilities are also simple and don’t vary to drastically in cost or risk. Players can quickly and easily react to different situations and literally stack the deck in your favor.
The strength of JunKing comes from the balanced mechanics. Beginning with the 60-card communal junkpile, David used his familiarity and enjoyment of Magic the Gathering to create a balanced multi-player card game that players in about 20 minutes. David also mentioned that he designed JunKing to be a fun replayable game to play with his daughters that would also keep a parent’s interest as well. As the oldest of four, I too remember the issue of finding games to play with younger siblings. I would tire of games that were too simplistic and more complex competitive games saw a lot of ganging up on the veteran player. JunKing solves that common problem and is a perfect inbetween game.
The whimsical creatures and art comes from a local artist Justin Hillgrove who designed all the cuddly creatures. These Scavenger Imps are also part of a larger Imp Lands world originally designed by Justin. It is the consistent and eye-catching original art of JunKing that first grabbed my attention.
JunKing is currently on Kickstarter and at the time of this article has 18 days left on the campaign. At the $25 tier level, a backer can receive the base game, mini expansion and all stretch goals, which feature additional characters (some recognizable homages to popular nerd culture characters) and component upgrades.
Shadow of the Elder Gods
By Laboratory Games
We affectionately refer to Shadow of the Elder Gods as “Arkham Horror Lite” because players fail to defeat the Cthulhu bad guys in 15-20 minutes instead of a laborious 3 hours. This title is a recently fulfilled, successful Kickstarter game by Laboratory Games, a pair of friends and game designers looking to create thematically-driven micro games. You might also recognize this company as the same designers that brought you Province.
1-4 players work together to defend Arkham from the invading forces of corruption and madness. Players take turns visiting different parts of town in order to take out money, exchange for muscle, gather knowledge and prevent the spread of corruption. Each player controls a character with a unique ability and a randomly dealt power that character can use when wielding the Ring of Shadows.
There are multiple ways to lose and only one way to win. Players have carefully work together in a rapidly changing Arkham to defeat the elder threat without succumbing to madness or becoming overrun with corruption. I felt most of Shadow of the Elder God’s replayability comes from the multiple failures in the first couple games. Players want to try again and again to see if they can defeat the looming evil. Thankfully players’ efforts and time don’t feel wasted as a game only takes about 15-20 minutes. Elder God’s is a challenging micro game and although it is set in the Cthulhu universe, the board set up action economy and characters presented a unique experience not normally seen in a Cthulhu-style game.
Laboratory Games currently has a different game on Kickstarter called EJiPT: a roll and move collecting game set in a pulp setting.
Designed by David Fooden
Yukon Salon has been on my radar recently and I was very excited to test it out at the event. Designer David Fooden of Game Company No. 3 came up with a casual card game where players take on the roles of competing hair stylists looking to rack up a satisfied rapport of clients. Since this is the Yukon Salon we’re talking about-clients are in short supply. Players can choose to fix up hairstyles for bears or beard styles for lumberjacks.
Upon a successful roll, players can take the satisfied client into their tableau. Of all the completed clients, players can also look to collect bonus points for having exclusively bear or lumberjack clients and also collecting clients with hats or flowers. The combination of woodcut style portraits and tacky 80’s graphic design is a humorous style choice and really draws in gamers who are interested in obscure thematic games.
We hope you’ll be back next month to meet a new set of designers and games coming out of Seattle. We hope to see you then!