Designer Demo Night at the Uncommons – July/August 2014 schedule

Designer Demo Night is a weekly event in New York City, starting July 1, 2014, in which a single designer will show off his or her board game. These games will be available to purchase or to Kickstart, so you can try before you buy. And who better to teach you a game than its designer?

All events will happen at The Uncommons in Manhattan. They will all start at 7 pm.

Here’s a quick rundown of the schedule…

July 1: Tim Rodriguez – Ghost Pirates
July 8: Doug Levandowski – Gothic Doctor
July 15: Isaac Shalev – ChronoSphere
July 22: Michael R. Keller – City Hall
July 29: Emerson Matsuuchi – VOLT: Robot Battle Arena
August 5: Karen Hudes – Menu Mash-Up
August 12: Mac McAnally – Fire at Will, Chris Kreuter – Epigo
August 19: Ryan Shapiro and Charlie Winkler – Hogger Logger
August 26: Eric Zimmerman – Quantum

Here are more in-depth descriptions of all the games. All game descriptions and images below are from BoardGameGeek.

Tuesday, July 1:

Tim Rodriguez – Ghost Pirates

Ethereal pirates swarm back and forth over each other’s ships as the seas toss in the midnight storm. The decks of each vessel shift in and out of reality as the fighting begins. One captain and crew will emerge triumphant, and the loser will be damned to stalk the bowels of Davy Jones’ locker.

Ghost Pirates is a tactical board game in which two ghost pirate Captains encounter each other on the high seas; based on old rivalries, grudges, or whatever it was that happened on Skull Island, they each turn broadside and lay-to. Each crew, following captain’s orders, fights, fires cannons, and swarms their enemy’s deck, attempting to force the other captain to walk the plank. Each player’s turn consists of drawing a card, playing one or more cards to strengthen their ship and tactical position, moving your pirate crew, and finally, having them fight the foeman or take advantage and pillage the enemy’s ship. The goal of the game is to force your opponent’s captain to walk the plank.

Gameplay is designed to emulate tactical melee battles with a unique dice mechanic that is easy to learn and quick to play, especially for beginning gamers. It bears certain similarities to wargames like Axis and Allies, but on a much smaller, more fast-paced scale. The components are 72 cards which build the play layout and form the draw deck, 34 crew tokens, and a small handful of pirate themed six-sided dice.

Ghost Pirates was named to the 2013 GAMES 100 list, nominated for Best Family Game.

Tuesday, July 8:

Doug Levandowski – Gothic Doctor

Gothic Doctor is a card game for 2-5 players in which doctors compete with each other to earn the most money in a single night, broken up into 11 one-hour turns. The patients the doctors are treating are characters from Gothic literature, such as Mr. Hyde or Frankenstein’s Monster.

Patients are “cured” with a combination of cards from the hand indicated on each patient’s card. Number of treatments required range from 2 to 4 treatment cards, and harder-to-treat patients earn the doctor more money. There is also a “wild card” treatment in the game to speed up gameplay (though his treatment is required for some patients).

In addition to patient and treatment cards, there are also action cards, which allow doctors to affect how easily patients are treated, to draw additional cards, or to hinder another doctor’s efforts.


Tuesday, July 15:

Isaac Shalev – ChronoSphere

Time has shattered, and you have to put it back the way it was.
Or at least close enough to how it was to fool your opponents! Bluff your way through history!

Chronosphere is a bluffing and historical trivia card game. Players play their cards into a shared circular timeline called the ChronoSphere. Players try to arrange the events and inventions shown on their cards in chronological order, using one half of the ChronoSphere for cards from the time period AD and the other for the time period BC. The first player to successfully play all of their cards is the winner. Players can challenge the plays of their opponents and force them to draw cards for invalid plays. A player can also win by completing a fully valid 12-card ChronoSphere.


Tuesday, July 22:

Michael R. Keller – City Hall

City Hall sees players competing to become Mayor of New York City. They do this by attempting to be the most successful at both bringing people into the city as well as campaigning for the citizens’ approval. Whoever best balances these two goals will win the election.

There are seven offices within City Hall. These offices deal with a different aspect of building the city or campaigning, such as the Tax Assessor, Surveyor, or Zoning Board. In a round, each player will get to activate one of these offices. However, just because you activate an office doesn’t mean you will get to use it. The other players will have an opportunity to use their influence to steal control of the office away from you. Keeping it will require countering with your own influence. However, you can instead let another player control that office this round and add their influence to your own, giving you a leg up on controlling things later on.

In using these offices, players will buy land and build properties to create attractive neighborhoods which will bring the most people into the city – or they might place a factory next to an opponent’s housing complex to drive people out. They will also tax their constituents to raise funds (with the option of sacrificing popularity to tax at higher rates), buy and sell influence to the Lobbyist, and campaign to increase their approval level.

At the end of the game, the citizens of the city will vote based on which player brought them in and that player’s approval level. Special interest groups will also collect votes for players based on certain goals, such as Wall Street backing the player with the most money. Whichever player has the most votes on election day will become Mayor of New York and appoint his or her opponents to the Sanitation Department.

Tuesday, July 29:

Emerson Matsuuchi – VOLT: Robot Battle Arena

In 1994, the first national robot competition took place in San Francisco. Competitors from across the country brought their radio-controlled creations made out of spare parts. Several years later, the first televised robot combat competition was aired, which introduced the general public to the budding sport of robotic combat.

Decades have passed since those early competitions. The robots have become more technologically advanced. The base of spectators and fans grew at an unprecedented rate. Large technology firms took notice and injected significant sponsorship capital into the sport. Prize pools for robot battles grew to dwarf those of other televised competitions. Professional robot operators gained celebrity status as their matches became the most watched sporting events in the world.

The stakes are higher than ever. Do you have what it takes to step into the robot battle arena?

VOLT: Robot Battle Arena is a tactical game of robotic combat. Be the first player to score five victory points. Players earn victory points by having their robot on the active control point at the end of the round or by destroying opposing robots. You must use your wits to out-think and out-maneuver your opponents to win!

Tuesday, August 5:

Karen Hudes – Menu Mash-Up

Play a round of Menu Mash-Up and get ready for a hilarious game night everyone will remember. Cooks use Ingredient and Prep cards to create a menu that fills the Diner’s order (whether it’s delicious or downright off-the-wall). The Diner chooses the menu that best fulfills the order—awarding the Dish card to the Cook who prepared it. Whoever earns the most Dish cards wins the game. Menu Mash-Up is the ultimate game for the food obsessed.

This game plays like Apples to Apples, but instead of a one to one card match, you match a number of cards that add to a meal to match the dish card drawn.

Tuesday, August 12 (double feature!):

Mac McAnally – Fire at Will

Fire at Will is a real-time card game. Two players take on the role of airship captains in a fictional civil war era steampunk universe. Players play cards from 6 randomized command decks and play them into action piles in order to score successful shots against their opponent. While speed is important, accuracy is vital – one wrong play could cause your cannon to blow up during the Scoring Phase!

Fire at Will features both beginner, intermediate & advanced modes – allowing new players to learn the patterns of the game gradually. Intermediate mode introduces Battleflag cards, which can be played to mess with your opponent and provide additional scoring opportunities. Advanced mode adds an addition later: Captains – which present unique scoring opportunities for each player.

Chris Kreuter – Epigo

Epigo is a new two or four player strategy game that should feel both fresh and familiar. Epigo’s simultaneous action selection makes every round of the game exciting, even though Epigo features relatively simple rules and mechanics. Epigo is also modular – the boxed game includes rules for 21 variants, with more variants available on our website. Variants modify one or more of the core rules, providing unique challenges and adding countless hours of replayability.

To win, be the first to capture three of your opponents’ Epigons by pushing them off the edge of the board. Epigons have a rank between 1 and 7 dictating the speed at which they move. At the start of every round, both players choose and stack three Orders from their hand. The top Order of a stack marks the first move, the middle tile is the second move, and the third tile is the last move. Each Order has arrows on one side, indicating the direction the corresponding Epigon will try to move. Once both players have locked in their moves, the stacks are revealed and unraveled. First, compare the top Order on each stack. The higher ranking Epigon moves one space in the direction shown on the arrows. Then the other Epigon (matching the lower priority Order) moves in the same manner. If both players reveal Orders of the same rank they cancel and neither Epigon moves (players often try to make this happen intentionally for various nefarious purposes). After three moves, players pick up all of their Orders and start the next round.

When moving an Epigon, one of three things will happen: it will Slide, Push, or be Blocked. When an Epigon moves into an empty space, it Slides into it. If that space is occupied however, the Epigon tries to Push in that direction instead. An Epigon must have a majority of friendly pieces moving in the same direction whenever it tries to Push otherwise the move is Blocked. The full rulebook contains detailed explanations of the movement rules, and is available on our website.

The boxed game accomodates up to 4 players in teams of 2, and introduces variant play.

Tuesday, August 19:

Ryan Shapiro and Charlie Winkler – Hogger Logger

Hogger Logger is a fast-paced game of Hi-Lo in which you are trying to become the “guesser” by playing cards from your hand that will improve your odds or reduce your opponents’. The game takes minutes to learn and is full of upsets and reversals, highs and lows, and ridiculous guesses and second guesses. Players plan their moves so they control the power position last. Staying in power is as simple as guessing higher or lower. But since everyone can play cards on any player’s turn, the odds of holding on are lower than you’d think. Shoot for last, just don’t over-shoot.

Tuesday, August 26:

Eric Zimmerman – Quantum

Send out the scouts! Position the Flagship in tactical orbit! And reconfigure that Battlestation into something new! Your fleet of loyal ships, powered by the might of quantum probability itself, carries your empire to the far-flung stars. How will history remember you? As a ravenous destroyer? A clever tactician? A dauntless explorer? Command your armada, construct world-shattering technologies, and rally the remnants of humanity for a final confrontation.

In Quantum, each player is a fleet commander from one of the four factions of humanity, struggling to conquer a sector of space. Every die is a starship, with the value of the die determining the movement of the ship, but also its combat power – with low numbers more powerful. So a [ 6 ] is a quick but fragile Scout and a [ 1 ] is a slow but mighty Battlestation.

Each type of ship also has a special power that can be used once per turn: Destroyers can warp space to swap places with other dice and Flagships can transport other ships. These powers can be used in combination for devastating effects. You’re not stuck with your starting ships, however: using Quantum technology, you can spend actions to transform (re-roll) your ships. Randomness plays a role in the game, but only when you want: Quantum is very much a strategy game.

You win by constructing Quantum Cubes – massive planetary energy extractors. Each time you build a new one, you can expand your fleet, earn a new permanent ability, or take a one-time special move. The board itself is made out of modular tiles, and you can play on one of the 30 layouts that come with the game or design your own. The ship powers, player abilities, and board designs combine to create a limitless set of possibilities for how to play and strategies for how to win.

With elegant mechanics, an infinity of scenarios, and easy-to-learn rules that lead to deep gameplay, Quantum is a one-of-a-kind game of space combat, strategy and colonization that will satisfy both hard-core and casual players.

Quantum won the 2012 Game Design Award at the IndieCade Festival of Independent Games, as a prototype game with the title Armada d6.