Formal Ferret Games

Gil Hova designs, publishes, and plays board games

The Formal Ferret web site and store is now up!

After months of work on the front, back, side, top, and bottom ends, the Formal Ferret web site is open for business!

You can find out about all our games and products here. Just as importantly, you can find out about the galaxy of extra mini-expansions and add-ons available for The Networks, Wordsy, and (soon) Bad Medicine.

And you can buy these things as well! Check out the store for lots of interesting items, including a bunch of products that I’m currently only selling at conventions.

And all this, just in time for Christmas New Year’s! People give each other presents during New Year’s, right? (In other words, if you order now, we cannot guarantee Christmas 2018 delivery.)

Most of the work here was done by Be Bold Games – and I should point out that Bebo was done months ago. The delays were all on my end, not hers. Bebo’s help was invaluable!

Shipping outside the USA

So when it comes to shipping outside the US, there’s a good news/bad news situation.

The good news is that our shipping is customs-friendly to the EU, Canada, Australia, and China. You won’t be charged customs fees.

The bad news is that for now, the shipping costs outside the US are a little high. I’m currently looking into ways to drop this shipping cost. Stay tuned!

Overall, the site is still fairly new, and there may be rough spots here and there. Like, I’m not crazy how it looks on a mobile phone in portrait mode. But the first step was to get this darn thing online, and I’m thankful that is done now!

Please let me know if you see anything funky. Thanks so much for your help and interest!

Formal Ferret events at Gen Con 2018

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As always, Formal Ferret Games will have a bunch of events at Gen Con! But things will be slightly different this year.

We will run our demo events in the Envoy area, between Halls C and D. The biggest change for you is that, unlike previous years, these events will all be free of charge! You will not have to pay anything for these events.

We’re also going to hold the first ever Gen Con Wordsy Tournament! Wordsy is a game ideal for tournament play. If you think you can out-word Gen Con, make sure you’re available on Saturday at 2 pm.

We will show off The Networks. If you haven’t played before, you can try the base game. If you’re familiar with the game, you’ll be able to play with the Executives and Telly Time expansions, both of which should be available at the show for purchase and backer/pre-order pickup.

We will close Thursday, Friday, and Saturday with a typically rousing game of Bad Medicine, with the Second Opinion expansion. If you’ve never played before, you’ll have no problem picking the game up, even with the expansion.

Finally, a lucky few people will get to try the game I have planned for my early-2019 Kickstarter, High Rise. This is a game about constructing tall buildings in a city that resembles a time track. You can gain advantages throughout the game by requesting “favors” from the city’s wealthy and powerful, but each favor is negative points at the end, and there’s a penalty for the player with the most favors left over.

I’ve been working on the game for a little over a year, and it’s become a really fun and compelling strategy game. My goal is to make it look and feel incredible, too. If this all intrigues you, come try the game!

So without further ado, here is the Formal Ferret event schedule for Gen Con 2018. Hope to see you there!

Oh, one more thing. Since Geoff and I had such a great response to our live Ludology episode last year, we’re going to do it again this year! I’m looking forward to answering your questions about games and game design.

April Fool’s Day and game promotion

Fifteen years ago, when the modern tech company was still being formed, April Fool’s Day was amazing. Their pranks were unexpected and delightful, and the sense of surprise was genuine. (It’s possible that, if I were as old, cynical, and crusty then as I am now, I wouldn’t recall it so fondly. YMMV. Anyway.)

These days, the corporate laughing wheeze of April Fool’s Day is something to be anticipated… and avoided. So many attempts turn out like, “yah, that was okay.” None of the shock and wonder we would have had in, say, 2003.

I’ve avoided April Fool’s pranks for Formal Ferret for this reason. Just like how I quit Reddit when I got sick of the same reposted joke over and over again (to say nothing of its other problems), or those threads on BGG Chit Chat where people amuse themselves by posting a new thread with almost the same subject line as another thread, but with one word or letter different, or someone replying to a long, belabored post with a familiar meme, it’s just not as funny as it used to be.
And this is not even mentioning the stock April Fool’s prank of posting something believable, getting others to offer genuine sympathy, and then toss that sympathy back in their faces. Sucks to be you for caring!

So… I haven’t been a big April Fool’s fan in a long time. Which is why I haven’t bothered with April Fool’s gags for Formal Ferret.

And yet, Google’s April Fool’s stuff tends to range from decent to really damn good. Today they integrated a bunch of Where’s Waldo games into Google Maps. I blew through them all this morning; they were a ton of fun. Play them if you get the chance!

It made me realize; there is still a right way to do April Fool’s here, even in 2018. It’s this: give people a genuine gift. If it’s a joke, make it a joke they can really experience, and perhaps even buy. Don’t just tease them with a Photoshopped press release; give them something they can actually enjoy. (With all due respect to my publisher friends who released Photoshopped press releases today!)

For fellow board game publishers, I think that means that if your prank is to send out a press release for a fake expansion for your game, then I think you should follow through and actually offer it. Like, as a print-and-play, or through POD, or even a tiny promo print run (assuming it’s affordable). Let your players actually participate in it, not just read about it with their April Fool’s shields up.

So much of staying fresh and relevant means realizing when a formula is tired and drained, and figuring out a way to revitalize it. For the next few years, I would love to see more companies embrace April Fool’s as a holiday of genuineness. Like, still be lighthearted and playful, but offer a genuine gift for your fans and customers.

The upshot here is: I have 365 days to come up with an awesome gift for everyone on April 1, 2019.

Introducing The Networks: Telly Time!

Telly Time cover

The Networks: Telly Time is an mini-expansion for The Networks that I’ve been wanting to do for a while – a set of Shows based on classic British television! I will release this mini-expansion at UK Games Expo in 2018. It will be available in retail worldwide soon afterwards.

Note that you must have The Networks base game in order to play Telly Time! The base game will be available anywhere games are sold on April 4, 2018.

Telly Time will cost $15 USD, which will probably translate to between £11 and £13, depending how stores handle VAT. You can pre-order it here.

Telly Time comes in a small tuckbox, which contains 59 cards and 35 small plastic chips. Most of the cards are new TV shows.

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“The Offenders”

And yes, the puns are just as bad.

What’s in the box

45 of the cards in Telly Time are brand new Shows. There are three new Genres represented:

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Chat Shows have a special power: the moment you Develop one, you may rotate all Stars and Ads in one of your timeslots (including the one the Chat Show is going in) to their good sides.

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Quiz Shows also have a special power: at the end of each Season, you may use any Quiz Shows active in your lineup to convert money into Viewers at a rate of $1M to 1 Viewer, up to $3M for 3 Viewers for each active Quiz Show in your lineup.

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Kids Shows have no special explicit powers, but tend to get you a lot of Viewers for their cost, and you can stuff them with Ads. But they only want to go on your earliest slot, with a big penalty if you put them on in the wrong time slot.

(The asterisks in the upper-left corners of the cards are for setup, to ensure as equal distribution of Genres as possible.)

These 3 new Genres make for a total of 9 Genres. In Telly Time, you no longer get a Genre Bonus for getting 3 or 5 Shows of the same Genre, as that would be too difficult.

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Instead, each player will get a different Genre Bingo Card. Whenever you develop a Show, you cover its corresponding Genre with a plastic chip on your Bingo Card (if it’s not already covered). If you ever get 3 chips in a row (noughts and crosses, or tic-tac-toe to Americans), you get a Genre Bonus, and remove the 3 chips in a row.

Each card has a Genre-Bonus-O-Meter at the top. You’ll start with a plastic chip on its leftmost space. Whenever you get a Genre Bonus, you’ll move it one space to the right. If you get it to the rightmost space, you’ll score a 5-Show Genre Bonus.

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“The Ancient Ones”

Telly Time comes with replacement Network Cards that replace their counterparts in the base game anytime you play with it. “Good Branding” now gives 3 Viewers for every Show you have of the same Genre, and “Market Research” is now an immediate card that allows you to place a chip anywhere on your Bingo Card.

Expansions

The Networks: Telly Time is partially compatible with The Networks: On the Air. I don’t recommend playing it with the Shows from On the Air, but it will work just fine with the Stars, Ads, and Network Cards from On the Air.

The Networks: Telly Time is fully compatible with The Networks: Executives. Mogul Cards work the same way, except that you pick them up when you move the marker on your Genre-Bonus-O-Meter to the end.

There are some changes to Executives. Generic no longer places Marker Cubes on their board. Generic may score a Genre Bonus when they place their fourth chip on a Genre Bingo Card. If they do so, they have to disable two squares on their Bingo Card with a Marker Cube. Generic still scores a Genre Bonus when they get 3 chips in a row, and in that case, they don’t have to disable squares on their Bingo Card.

The player who takes Specialist is the only player in Telly Time who gets a Genre Bonus when getting 3 Shows of the same Genre. If they push the chips on their Genre-Bonus-O-Meter all the way to the right a second time, they get a second Mogul Card.

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“Monster Flatmates”

Telly Time brings back ace illustrator Travis Kinchy and first class graphic designer/game designer/rulebook editor/nuclear tank enthusiast Heiko Günther. I also enlisted a bunch of my British friends to make sure my references were solid.

To be honest, when I started Telly Time, I expected this to be just a pack of funny Shows with maybe some interesting new Genres. The Genre Bingo Card originally required players to fill out the entire card, but my playtesters suggested that they really wanted to play tic-tac-toe (noughts and crosses). Once I put that in, Telly Time really came into its own.

I’m really proud of this expansion. It came together ridiculously quickly, and Travis and Heiko worked very hard to meet a crazy deadline. I’m looking forward to playing it with all of you!

Formal Ferret 2018 convention schedule

2017 was an amazing year for Formal Ferret Games, and part of the reason was an ambitious convention schedule. I attended all 10 conventions on my schedule last year, and The Gathering of Friends made it 11.

So of course, this year, I will be at more. It’ll be 13 events in total, plus the GoF. And that number may go up if I decide to attend more trade shows!

Here’s the schedule for 2018.

Want to help me at one of these events? Yes please! Go here and let me know what you can attend, and I’ll get back to you. Thanks!