Archive for July, 2007

Twenty Sides

July 31, 2007

Just a quick one, a gambling game for use in your Dungeons and Dragons games in the vein of Three Dragon Ante, something you can play either in character or out of character.

Twenty Sides, players pick dice who have twenty sides in total, roll them, and the highest scorer wins the difference in score from the loser.

Infernal Contraption

July 30, 2007

I had a chance to play the new Privateer Press game, Infernal Contraption, yesterday. It’s a standalone card game for 2-4 players, where you build machines, and then use them to attack other players.

It’s quite fast to play, and quick to learn, with only a couple of pages of well illustrated rules. It has some interesting mechanics, where each player has an even share of the deck to begin, that makes up their parts deck. Players draw a hand from this deck, and use the cards to create their machines. When a player is attacked by a machine, then damage is done to the player by forcing them to discard from their parts deck. When a player has no parts left, they are out.

There are various rules regarding which cards can connect to each other, and all cards must be connected to a power source to function. These restrictions provide much of the tactical play in the creation of a machine.

Each turn you can play one card to build up your machine, you can then discard a card to play another, allowing you to build a machine quickly. This is a potentially dangerous move, as you draw up to 7 cards at the end of a turn, so playing quickly can exhaust your parts pile, and put you out of the game.

When you have finished playing cards, you pick one opponent and attack them with your machine. Each card in your machine has an effect on your opponents, as well as forcing opponents to discard from their parts deck,  there are cards that let you add to your parts deck, make opponents discard from their hand, and other special effects.

I found the game quite fun to play, but I don’t know if it has enough depth to hold my interest for long. In the game I played it became obvious towards the end that the turn we were playing was the final turn, and that one player had the opportunity to decide who won, and was not in a position to win themselves. I think that this could be a common occurrence in games of Infernal Contraption.


July 18, 2007

Necromunda is one of my favourite Games Workshop games. Each player takes control of a gang, consisting of around 10 figures. The gangs engage in vicious fights, to establish dominance and to stake claim over territory.

I like it for several reasons. It uses the Warhammer 40,000 Second Edition rules, which I think are well suited to games with only a few figures a side. They are too complex and detailed for games with a hundred models a side, but at the skirmish level presented in Necromunda, they are ideal.

It makes good use of three dimensional spaces. The gang fights occur in large urban areas, and terrain is a major feature. The boxed game provides several different buildings that are 2-3 stories high, and it is easy to place models on any level.

The game comes with ready made campaign rules, you get to create your gang, and thn customise them as time passes and games are played. This is a big attraction to me, it increases your attachment and engagement with the game. As the gang members change and learn, they become unique, and this has an effect on how the game is played. You often treat valued gang members differently to a new gang members that have not yet become unique.

It is relatively easy to create new scenarios for Necromunda, I have created several such scenarios, and also some other resources for the game. The ability to extend the game easily in this way is another benefit, as it helps to maintain interest for longer.

Necromunda is a specialist game in Games Workshop terms, which may mean that you cannot easily get a copy in your local Games Workshop. It’s still available through mail order, and online.

DnD Character Pack

July 16, 2007

I’ve gathered together all of the DnD characters I have written up and put on the website, and put them all into a single PDF file. There are 10 characters available currently, ranging from an Evil Cleric, to a Crazed Astronomer and on to an expert Swordsmith. These characters are all meant to be NPCs that you can take and drop into your campaign, with some tweaking to fit your setting. Some are adversaries, some will be helpful, and some are merely available to flesh out your gameworld.

As I create more characters, I will add them to the pack, and they’ll always be available on their own page on the website. You can download the character pack now.

Refocusing Advertising Efforts

July 13, 2007

I’ve been running an Amazon Affiliate link on my main DnD page for a while now, and I’ve decided that it’s not really working. It doesn’t look very good, and it also distracts people from the DnD resources I’ve created and released, sending some of them off to Amazon rather than staying and looking at the available adventures or characters. I’ve decided to remove this link from the page, and to put some effort into other channels, that might prove more successful.

I’m now offering some content that is only available to people who have bought something from toadflax games. It isn’t anything earth-shattering, but I’m hoping it will be seen as a nice little extra, something that says thank-you to the person who has paid for one of my games. This extra content will only ever be made available to people who buy something, you won’t find it on my website.

This is another experiment in advertising toadflax games, and I will let you know if offering free content to purchasers producers a better return than the Amazon links. I’m hoping that word of mouth will work better than running direct adverts, both for me, and the people that visit the website.

Designing Fun

July 11, 2007

When designing games, never forget that they are supposed to be fun, that’s why they are a game, and that’s why people will be playing them.

You can try and make them fun in many different ways, from straight humour, to lots of player interaction, to providing satisfaction for playing perfectly, to the joy of winning.

It’s important to only try and make games that you will find fun to play, because you’ll have a better chance of making a fun game that way. If you try really hard to make a humorous game, but don’t really enjoy that game style, then the game will not be a good as a game created by someone who loves that style. Bear in mind that during the development you will probably play the game many times, so make it something you enjoy.

Design to your strengths and preferences, you’ll make better games and people will have more fun playing them.

Popular Pages

July 3, 2007

I think that it’s interesting to look at what pages people are looking at most often on my website. I make use of Google Analytics to track page views, so that I can see what people are looking at most often, and what is less popular.

When I know this kind of information, then I can work more on more popular areas, and also try things out to improve the popularity of other pages. With the data I have collected, I can accurately measure what is and isn’t popular, and see which changes I make actually work.

I’ve crunched the numbers, and below is a list of my ten most popular pages, along with the percentage of visits to toadflax games that each page constitutes:

  1. Countdown Game (14.3%)
  2. Dungeons and Dragons index (10.3%)
  3. Necromunda index (10.1%)
  4. Into the Sewers, DnD adventure (8.6%)
  5. Roman Numeral Bingo (8.6%)
  6. Home page (7.9%)
  7. Games index (4.7%)
  8. The Endless Dungeon, DnD adventure (4.6%)
  9. The Evil Cleric, DnD character (4.1%)
  10. King of the Castle (3.1%)

Looking at the above, we can see that over 75% of all page views on the site are on one of these ten pages. The toadflax games homepage is not the most visited because many of my visits come from search engines (about 70%) and these visits all go directly to the linked page. This is why it is important to design all pages as if they will be the first one a user sees, because that is very often going to be the case.

I recently added extra navigation links to all of my DnD pages, and this has led to an increase in average page views per visit (from 1.98 to 2.35), as visitors find a popular character page, and then surf around and read more. I’m looking to make more improvements in this area, so that visitors who find toadflax games from a search engine spend more time looking at all that is available.

Make sure you are using analytic software, and that you are measuring your changes. It will help you improve your website, and the better the website is, the more likely people are to find it, read it and remember it, and hence your games and ideas will spread further.