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Magnate news round-up: August 2018

Progress to publishing Magnate continues to move at a pace. Here’s a quick round-up of the latest developments from August.

Magnate BGG page is up

I am very happy to say that Magnate now has it’s own Boardgamegeek entry. Suddenly, – as I’m sure hardcore gamers can readily imagine – it all feels a lot more real. This both makes sense and doesn’t at the same time. Of course, BGG is still the closest thing to the officialdom in the industry but if Magnate wasn’t real before, what have people been enjoying all these years? I suppose there will always be a buzz seeing your creation listed among the greats in the place for games regardless!

As it turns out, I could probably have had an entry much earlier in the game’s development. But I didn’t dare submit it before, in case it might not be deemed ready. I have since discovered though that many less close-to-completion projects are already there. The recently kickstarted Escape Plan, for example, seems to have had one 5 years ago! For any future projects this is something I shall bear in mind.

Perhaps even more awesomely, the entry already has some (positive) ratings!

Playtesting success at Handycon

In the middle of the month I attended Handycon, a small 3 day gaming convention in Berkshire. I’d booked a playtesting table so I could take Magnate out to as many people as possible – most importantly, as the playtesting mantra goes – people I have never met before! This would be far from the first time that people outside friends and colleagues have played it. But it would be the first time I’ve done so much playtesting with new people in such a short space of time. While I had already taken Magnate to another convention – Manorcon in Leicester – Handycon was a bigger event where playing prototypes is actually a thing. I knew in advance I was going to be knackered, but I didn’t know how well the game would be received.

I am glad to say that it was a huge success. I played a full eight games of Magnate over the weekend and received a lot of positive and useful feedback in the process from players of all kinds. Several of my testers were designers themselves, including seasoned industry veteran David Mortimer. David in particular helped me out by giving voice to a small problem the game has had for a while, but I had never really properly engaged with. Often at the beginning of the game, bidding for turn order seems a little arbitrary because the players don’t yet know why going first is an advantage.  While not a major issue, it’s one worth solving, if I can. I don’t want players ever feeling that they aren’t understanding why they have to engage with something the first time they play, even if they choose not to or don’t yet understand it’s full strategic value. At the same time, the only thing I need to be a little careful of now is making radical changes to a product that already works. One message came through loud and clear; the game worked very well in general. It had people very engaged all the way through and thinking about it long after it was over. I don’t want to lose that.

I have to say, Handycon was absolutely brilliant in general. While I didn’t get a chance to play many games other than Magnate, the event really impressed me. Great venue, great people, great energy and a great sense of community; it managed to combine the charm of a smaller con and slickness of a larger one. Paul Harris and his team have done a great job with it. The next Handycon is definitely on my attend list!

Artwork progress

Things have been a bit slower on this front recently. By now, I had hoped to have some new cover art (not just what I mocked-up in photoshop), new map tiles as well as finished buildings. But its taken a bit longer to get these things right than originally anticipated. I will share them as soon as they get closer to their final form.

I think that’s the way to do it though: these things can’t be rushed. I am working with some great people and I am determined that this game will be beautiful. People should want to touch and feel the buildings, enjoy simply surveying the map for itself and gaze longingly at that box. As Caezar of Alleycat games recently advised me, ‘don’t skimp on Artwork!’ Amen to that.

Next stop(s): Tabletop Scotland, Tabletop Live

It’s a whole lot of Tabletop for me next month! I’ll be playtesting Magnate at Tabletop Scotland on the 1st-2nd of September for anyone who is interested. Then we demo Magnate on a stand at Tabletop Gaming Live on the 29th-30th of September.

If you’re going to be at either of those events, it would be great to see you there!

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