Wowsers~! Here we are.
I’m pretty thrilled with the quality of everything. The artwork from Morgan and Lindsay is beautiful, the board is superb, and all the new pieces are just as high quality as I hoped. Also, I’m glad Liz talked me into replacing the ‘green’ tiles with ‘purple’ tiles; they’re very pretty. And I love those token pieces in general– I could just eat em up!
There were a couple little things that irked me. Bits of the sticker edge on the board were ripped, the two sides weren’t quite aligned, and they seem to have been printed on different printers since the color changes a little bit from one side to the other. Also, the logo that says ‘Rum Run’ on the board is cut in half by the divide, so maybe I’ll rotate that 90 degrees from now on. Also, in the fold of the board we lose about 1/4″ of grid real estate. And some of the distillery cards printed maybe 1/8″ off center. And they flip in the wrong direction from what people find intuitive. But whatever– it all turned out great and I can’t imagine anyone would notice these ‘issues’ except for me.
Oh, but there’s also this:
Those barrels are huge right!? Maybe it’s just me, but I was a little thrown off by them being a different color from how they look on the website and also a lot bigger than I expected. That being said, they’re quality painted wooden pieces, and they’re very stackable (unlike mancala gems). Morgan and I are talking now about the possibility of replacing them with little cylinders. It would lower the cost of the game by a couple bucks, and also allow us to shrink the holding areas of the distilleries. The only downsides: they’re super abstract and the color choices are not ideal. Not sure on this– feel free to voice your own thoughts.
Oh yeah, and we’ve been playing the game too. Some random notes on that:
- A couple things have been streamlined: we’ve been choosing the starting player by having everyone pick their first piece at the same time and having the player with the weakest piece go first. Also, we’ve made the ‘win conditions’ simpler: a 4 player game is 6 barrels, 3 player game is 8, 2 player game is 10– all regardless of the number of barrels in play.
- The flippables are an excellent addition! I love watching the push-pull of a player fascinated by what the piece is, sometimes constructing their road specifically to hit flippables on the way, or taking a detour from reaching a distillery to check one out.
- I like the elegance of having 2 good flippables and 2 bad flippables, but I’m also tempted to create one that affects barrels a little more directly. Morgan and I talked a little about this on Monday and I’ll be sure to test it, but what if there was a flippable that created a second Town Center? Or a tunnel that would transport barrels to the Town Center if the barrels can remain unstolen on top of it for three turns, kind of like Age of Empires II relic monopolies? The idea is to give players a fighting chance who have had their connection to the Town Center completely severed.
- Another variant we’re talking about is the ability to use the roads of other players, with their permission. If your Town Center connection is in trouble, you could make deals with players like, ‘if you let me transport 4 barrels over your road I’ll give you 1’. Of course, the rule would stand that any barrels on an opponent’s road belong to them, so there’s plenty of opportunity for backstabbing. Very of-that-era.
- There have been some instances of analysis paralysis, where a player is overwhelmed by their choices and takes forever to make a move. Like is done in chess, I’d like to start playing ‘time attack’ Rum Run games with people who are familiar with the rules. This should shorten play time and hopefully keep everything a little more lively. After all, in normal chess games people get fed up with their one opponent taking too long to make a move– imagine how that might feel with three opponents.
- The blank tiles are a really nice addition particularly because they make road repair less of a ‘once in a blue moon’ capability. And it balances out nicely that they’re such weak roads.
- The backs of the distilleries are ovals with ‘?’ in them. This is a subtle optional variation that allows players a game where you don’t know how many barrels the distilleries have until you get there. And finding the entrances isn’t very difficult since you know they’ll be somewhere on the bottom of the oval. I’ve played one game with this variation and, coincidentally, my opponent and I guessed correctly every time we entered a mystery distillery– we were always at an entrance. But again, your chances are generally about 3:1 that you’ll guess right, so that’s nifty. So no road waste!
- Dan King and I tried a 2 Player game in the style of before, and it was a little too insane, primarily owing to the fact that in addition to two of every piece, we also have the addition of all the ‘blank tile’ roads, which if you don’t know can take on the number of any other piece, but like their Scrabble counterparts, are worth nothing. This allowed for some insane moves, for example playing a 6-6 followed by a 6-6 followed by a double blank as a 6-6 followed by a double blank as a 6-6 followed by a 5-6. To be clear, that’s 5 roads in one turn. Too crazy. In the rules I’ll still include the 2-player variant where you have 2 of each piece, but I’ll be sure to mention that blank tiles should not be played with.
Finally, after playing a lot of Portal 2 recently, I came up with the brilliant notion to have a one-player version of the game where you solve puzzles. It’s great for fostering the thinking you’ll need in for potential scenarios against human players, and it’s fun! I want the rulebook to have a 10-puzzle campaign of increasing difficulty, and then somewhere on this website I’ll also set up a page where people can post their own. The idea is simple: using the 10 highest ranking pieces (3-3 through 6-6), get from the Town Center to the barrel(s). On the way there may be obstacles, opponent roads, and/or free roads to help you on your way.
Here’s a picture I took of a puzzle I made while watching Shakespeare in the Park (hence the weird lighting):
That’s all for now folks! Check back periodically for updates on the rules. Morgan and I are back to Skyping every Monday, so hopefully we can have a beautiful and complete official release by the end of the summer. Of course if you’re impatient, I’m happy to give you the secret link to the game and you can buy an advance copy without the rules. Heck, you could even look at the old rules and you’d figure it out. But the new rulebook will be pretty. Really pretty.
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