Friday, March 31, 2006

March 2006

Wow, what a month.
For me, this month was something special. From my view, March 2006 was the month we finished recovering from our break with AEG. It feels to me like Clout and Hidden City Games has really started firing on all cylinders. We went to our first major shows as Clout's US marketer, GTS and Wizard World. We finished R&D on Clout Marvel Heroes. CLINCH's many wrinkles have been ironed out. The Venture Demo Team has been launched, and met with enthusiasm from our existing fans. Defenders of Undersea is being met with excitement. These are just the things I've been involved with, so I don't know if it's the same for everyone. March has been an amazing month for me.

I'm really quite tired.

April, here we come!

Adam "Wildcard" Conus

Monday, March 27, 2006

Marvel Playtesting

In case you ever wondered what playtesting looked like, here you go! Actually, this is what it looked like after we finished, and I cleaned up.

Today we tested stacks using one of the new Marvel abilities vs. Fantasy Stacks (seen towards the bottom of the photo.) It went well. No major rules changes today.

Wildcard's Eternal Auction Rules Changes

For those of you who don't know what WEA is, click here for rules, and here for the current auction.

This week I've changed the rules to encourage a greater variety of chips being bid. The two changes really add to the complexity of the auction, so I'm going to keep a close eye on things. I worry that new members of the forum will be intimidated by the ever-lengthening rules and not participate. If anyone doesn't 'get' the auction, please let me know. I know I had one person ask me about it and I didn't take the time to explain it, and I'm pretty sure they've not bid yet. Big mistake on my part.

The changes alone are pretty simple: You can't bid a chip that's currently up for auction. If a Sepis Keep, Pallimus the Ranger, and a Sinkhole are up, you can't bid Sepis Keep and Sinkhole hoping to win Pallimus for effectively nothing. That just defeats the purpose of the auction, so I made that sort of thing illegal.

The other change limits the number of promo chips to one of each, per auction. Most of the auction bids are 2 (the old maximum) of each of the most common Promo chips. Since promo chips are worth 2 rares each, that meant players with a lot of promos were the only ones who could compete in the auctions. I'd rather lower the value of promos to 1 rare each, but I took a poll and the current system seems to be more popular (with a very few voters.) As new players come on board, the promos will become more valuable again and the problem will take care of itself. We'll see.

Thanks, and good bidding!


Saturday, March 25, 2006

Demo kits are bumped to the top of the list

Putting out the big Venture Demo Team e-mail really got the demo kit requests put into overdrive. No problem. I've got everything I need to get it all together right here, so I'll start assembling kits in preperation to mail them out ASAP. I mentioned a report that I'd require to get credit for tournaments and demo sessions. Here are the questions I'll be sending out:

Venture Demo Team Event Report

Your Name:

What sort event did you hold?

□ Demo
□ Tournament
□ Other ­­­­­­­­_____________________________

Approximately how many people attended?

□ Less than 5
□ 6–10
□ 11–20
□ 21–50
□ More than 51

Where was the event held? (Please include contact information if possible.)

When was the event held (date, start time, end time)?

When would you like to hold another event?

Describe a specifically memorable customer or situation from the event.

We are always looking for ways to improve the Venture Demo Team, kits, and events. Include any suggestions you have based on your experience with this or any previous event you have run or participated in.

Not too bad, eh?


Friday, March 24, 2006

Venture Demo Team

Hello everybody. I said I'd do it this week, and darned if I didn't! The Venture Demo Team has lauched. Everyone who's inquired about the team has just recieved the very first e-mail. It includes the basics of the program plus the benefits system. It also includes a way to earn Venture Points while never leaving your computer.

Everyone on this first list will be known as a Founding Member of the Venture Demo Team. There's no big bonus, but it's something that nobody else will ever be able to claim. If you didn't get an e-mail, but you want to be included as a founding member, you have until the end of this month to e-mail with your intention to join the program.

If you didn't get the e-mail, you're not currently on my list!

I do not have complete information for many of you, so you may be getting e-mails with some requests to fill my database/spreadseet.

I know there are unanswered questions in the initial e-mail, and mostly I have answers at the ready. Feel free to ask here, on the forum, or by e-mail.

You guys are the best, thank you!

Adam "Wildcard" Conus

Monday, March 20, 2006

WWLA - All Wrapped Up in a Bow

Wow, what a con!

I've been home for almost 24 hours and I'm still exhausted. That doesn't matter because I've got playtesting to do tomorrow, plus I've made promises of Demo Kits, Tournament Kits, and external playtest info to get out to folks, all this week. No problem, I can handle it.

I'm still working out what works best for tournaments, prize-wise. I really want to establish a set prize-schedule for convention events, including product but it's been really hard because we keep getting new products, new promo items, and the number of players at the events has swung wildly from event to event. As a result, I end up winging it every single time, which I hate. If not a set structure, at least a base-line that I can build upon based on attendance and what I have available.

I ran four tournaments at WWLA, and each one had a completely different prize structure. It was madness.

What wasn't madness was a little fun I had between rounds of the first Sunday tournament. I grabbed a Merfolk Play-Stack box plus several boosters and placed them on the mat. I then allowed all the players who were waiting the next round to pitch 10 (or so) chips into the play area. Once all the chips were thrown, the players whose chips were closest to the products won them. It was a bit too quick, but it was a fun way to give out a few prizes. One player managed to land his chip right on top of the Play-Stack box, and despite a few tries to knock it off, it stayed and he got it. That's the sort of thing I want to do between rounds. It's fun, it's got prizes, and it keeps people around the tournament area when they might otherwise wander off (which is only a problem when they don't come back in a timely manner!)

Day 1 - Intro to Clout. Wasn't really attended. Gaming hadn't really started at the con, and demos were the order of the day.

Day 2 - 10am (11am, really) - Booster Draft. Gave up on drafting. Between having all beginners and the noise of the hall, we made it a straight sealed stack/booster event, plus trading session. 16 players, in all. Very well recieved. Prizes included Boosters, Promo Chips, and a signed & matted Clout Art Print.

Day 2 - 4pm Constructed Stack Multiplayer. Wasn't sure what sort of attendance I'd get, but it turned out pretty well. 13 players, about 5 from the first event and 8 new ones. As I'd foolishly given away most of my boosters at the first event, I had more modest prizes for this one. A few Boosters (to everyone), plus a second print. As I mentioned before, Scott gave up the print to the second place player as he'd already won one.

Day 3 - 11am (12pm, really) - Constructed Stack One-on-One. Again, I figured Sunday would be dead, but I was wrong. 8 players, most from the previous day's events, showed up and played a very strong event. I had the DoU Play Stacks to give out as prizes by then, so everyone who stuck around for the later rounds (win or lose) ended up with one. The top finishers ended up with two (there are three flavors, Goblin, Undead, and Merfolk) In addition I had a fresh supply of boosters, for all, plus extras for the winners, and Ultra-Pro binders.

That was supposed to be it, but the booth was promising more tournaments and I had to think fast. Most of the players coming over now had just learned from the demo and had nothing more than a starter. The veterans that had been scoring and buying boosters all weekend would crush them, so I decided that only sealed starters and play-stacks would be allowed.

Day 3 - 3pm - Sealed Starter/Play Stack 3 player. I got exactly 9 players which was perfect. Three tables of three players each. The winners from each table would then face off in a final 3 player game (everyone else was eliminated, but got 4 boosters for playing) The hall closed at 5, so I had to make the event short. It turns out the starter Centaur stack can't handle the DoU Goblin play stack because of the all (strike), but folks still had a great time. Prizes were my last remaining boosters and my last remaining DoU Play Stack Boxes. We wrapped at 4:45, 15 minutes before the hall closed. I managed to grab the very last pizza in the food court-area.

That was my Wizard World LA. I want to thank Ryan "CloutHead" for all his help and being a great roommate at the hotel. He's a great guy and a talented game designer. If any of the players of the events read this, I want to thank you again for coming and playing. You guys made it a terrific experience.

See you all at the next one. GenCon SoCal, if not sooner!


Sunday, March 19, 2006

WWLA Day 2: It's a marathon, not a sprint

WizardWorldDay3 004
Originally uploaded by Wildcard6.
In this case it's literally true. I'm waking up Sunday morning to "Love Shack" blaring on a PA system and helicopters buzzing around the hotel like mechanincal gnats. The LA Marathon is starting, right below me. I took the photo just inches from where I'm typing this report, in my hotel room.

Saturday was the big day at Wizard World. I'm told the booth was crazy with demos, but Ryan (forum name: Clouthead) and I had our own job to do, running tournaments in the gaming area. As usual, when the convention began about 1% of the con-goers had even heard of Clout. As we provoded Starters for every attendee of Wizard World, that number has now gone up a bit!

We had two tournaments, one a 'sealed stack' tournament with starters and boosters to play. While modestly attended (most people just discovered the game that day) It was fun to see a dad and his two very young children playing, a pair of hard core comic fan brothers called "Rage" and "Sin", along with couples like Sarah and Martin. A fellow named Scott managed to take time off from his booth to win not one, but both of the tournaments. He was really cool, and gave the prize for the second tournament to the 2nd place player.

Oh! I'm running out of time. Got to go.

My next blog will be from home, so I'll see you next time from lovely Renton, WA.


Saturday, March 18, 2006

Wizard World Day 1

Not much to report, I'm afraid. Yesterday (Friday) was a big blur of demos. Two of the day's highlights were people I met. At the beginning of breakfast we were joined by Andre, our new marketing manager. I can't say much about him, yet, other than I like him and I'm excited to see what he can do for us. Towards the end of breakfast we were joined by Ryan from Game Daze (who flew in straight from GAMA). Now, a day later, I can say that Ryan and I have hit it off. Of course, that's extra good because we're roommates. As Ryan flew in on his own dime, I really want to make sure he has a great time today.

The rest of the day is a blur of demos. Today we're running the starter draft in the morning and the constructed stack event in the afternoon. It's a crowded con, and I'm really glad Ryan's here to help me out. If the crowds are what we expect, I'm going to need it!


Thursday, March 16, 2006

Wizard World LA

Whew, I'm tired. Nothing too dramatic to report, yet. Boxes arrived, booth dressing arrived, we arrived. Spent the better part of the day setting it all up, with the help of our "union guy", Steve. We exibitors always grumble about being forced to use union help to do the smallest of tasks, but Steve was both cool and helpful. We talked about some of the other shows he's worked, including GenCon SoCal and E3. It was all good.

I'm taking as many photos as I can, which hasn't turned out to be that many. I think I'll do better tomorrow. I've uploaded them to Flickr.

It's about 7:30pm now, and time to go search for some food. We're putting starters in the con goodie bags, so this weekend could be CrAzY! We've also got the first Defenders of Undersea product, so if any of you Clout fans do show up, mention the blog and I'll make sure you get a DoU Playing Stack (while they last.)

We will see what tomorrow will bring!


Innovative vs. Fun

First of all, I'm writing this from a lovely LA Hotel (the Westin Bonaventure, specifically). Wizard World LA is right around the corner and you can expect what passes for regular reports right here every evening, complete with what passes for photos.

After re-reading the CLINCH flyer, I realized the first thing it says is how innovative Clout and CLINCH is. IMHO, that's true. However, I did post on a boardgamegeek Clout forum how I'm pushing fun over innovative, because I think that's the most important aspect of the game. That's also true, at least in theory. In practice I seem to be telling people both. I thought I'd better own up about my double talk, right here!

Of course, the reason I'm hear in LA is so I don't have to tell anyone anything. Cons are all about showing the game. In that spirit, I present my Wizard World LA stack...

Border Chaser
Home-Guard Trainee
Home-Guard Trainee
Novice Scout
Questing Warrior
Young Harpy
Fallaheen Elite
Seeking Shot
Precise Shot
Mountain Pass - Base
Mountain Pass - Base

Mountain Pass surrounded by Doomsayers is a pretty tough nut to crack. Most stacks will have to deal with the combo early or get into a points race which will be hard to win. Versus green and black the chips use their 2 range to spread out, minimizing the effect of the ALL chips (except Gangris, which will tear this up.) Versus orange and other purple, the chips get bunched up around whatever bases survive, combining 2 range Weakness 1 and 2 range Protect 2 for a pretty sturdy defense against nearly all strikes and seiges. A lot of destroy and/or double raze will give this stack the most trouble.

I can't wait to play it!


Wednesday, March 15, 2006

CLINCH Announcment

Okay, I know I'm posting alot of links, releases, and the like. At least this link is to something I wrote. If it's a little too "rah-rah" you can point the finger squarely at 'ol Adam.

Gaming Report posted our CLINCH flyer we wrote for GAMA. I'm pleased as punch they posted it.

(I took down my cut-and-paste of the copy in a failed attempt to fix the blog's formatting!)

Even More Marvel Press

From our own local Everett Herald

In particular, it has a terrific picture of Jesper!

What happens at GAMA stays at GAMA

The GAMA Trade Show takes place in Vegas every year. It's where retailers, publishers, and distributers meet, connect, and conduct the business of gaming. I've been twice with Wizards and it's a terrific show. More 'professional' than player-oriented shows, but when it comes to brass tacks, still just a bunch of gamers checking out games. Just at GAMA, the gamers are keenly interested in what will sell (so they can eat!). After it was decided I would be going to Wizard World instead of GAMA, Merchant TO's started asking if they could meet up with me there. Darn it. I'll make sure to go next year. GAMA has a great vibe, short hours, and it's in VEGAS! Wizard World is right near the Staples Center in LA, but I doubt I'll be free enough to catch a game, even if I cared about the LA Clippers (Lakers, maybe. Clippers, no.)

Oh my, I found a picture on Gaming Report!
Paul, working his Mojo!


Tuesday, March 14, 2006

More Marvel Press

This is sort of fun. Goodle Alerts just popped to life with Clout info!


Monday, March 13, 2006

Clout Marvel and More

What an exciting Monday!

The big news is the official Press Release announcing our next game, Clout: Marvel Super Heroes.

In addition, I've completed compiling the rulings from the Clout Forum into a single document and, thanks to Warlord Kharn, also compiled the errata into a what he (and now I) call the Clout: Fantasy Living Rulebook. Its just the normal rulebook text with a few improvements and all the current errata replacing the old text. Both of these documents can be found in the sidebar!

It's 12:10, and time for some lunch!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Rankings...We Don't Need No Stinkin' Rankings

This is the plan. The plan could change at any time. I expect this to begin in May-June. We were shooting for April, but the usual delays happened. I now have a lot more sympathy for software publishers who never make their target dates!

CLINCH requires no reporting at any level. Instead, players will win Medallions at every level, including the store and club events. There will be over 20 different Medallions, worth between 1-6 "Personal Clout" points each. A players' Medallion collection acts as their ranking for purposes of invitations to larger events like Nationals. Once the Medallion is given to a player, it's up to that player to collect it, trade it, sell it, or whatever. Neither HCG nor the TO need to worry about them after they are given to the players. No reporting and no central ranking system (two of my mandates from Peter when I got hired!)

Only one of each Medallion will count in a player's collection. Five different 1 point medallions is worth 5 points. Five copies of the same 1 point medallion is only worth 1 point. At the store level, there will be a single 3 point winner's Medallion and one 1 point faction Medallion for each faction included with every kit. To discourage TO's from just taking the Medallions for themselves, I plan to make medallions themselves one of the benefits of being a Clout TO.

At qualifier-type events, the value of the Medallions increases to 4 for the winner and 2 each for the factions. Also, qualifier Medallion points are cumulative with store level ones, so qualifiers really, really boost your totals quickly, particularly if you win. If you never played anything but Undead (and never traded or bought any extras) and won at both the store and the qualifier level you would have:

3 Clout Winner Medallion
1 Clout Undead Medallion
4 Clout Qualifier Winner Medallion
2 Clout Qualifier Undead Medallion

Your Personal Clout "Ranking" would be 10. Success of the program will determine how much Personal Clout will be required for Nationals entry. I'm leaning towards 10 for nationals and 15 for Worlds, but the final requirement isn't set in stone. Those events will have custom, one-of-a-kind Medallions worth even more personal Clout.

Store and Qualifier Medallion values will expire over time (probably every year), but Nationals and Worlds Medallions will provide their winners with permanent Personal Clout.

The medallions are being cast as aluminum chips, the same size and shape as standard Clout chips for easy storage and display.

Here is a sample, 6-point Medallion mockup put together by Jesper. The only way to get the 6-pointer would be to win Worlds! In the colored section, we'll put the year.

Let the questions begin!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Online Demo with an International Twist

As much as I like our online Clout Demo, I like it better in Japanese!

Hobby Japan's Online Clout Demo

Friggin' Sweet!

Defenders of Undersea Wallpaper

Mmmmm...fishy backgrounds!

Every week a new Defenders of Undersea desktop wallpaper will be put up on the Hidden City Games website. Who says we never update the site? (besides everybody, I mean!)

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Feeding the Monkey

In case you want to know what I like, these are the the blogs I read everyday.

My name is Adam, and I'm an internet addict.

Frantic (not like the boring Harrison Ford film)

Folks, it's crazy this week. We're working on CLINCH, the Venture Demo Team, the new game, the final edit of the second expansion (Aaaaaarrrrr) was just completed, plus most of the company leaves for GAMA on Monday! I leave for Wizard World LA on Wednesday.


On a different note, while I've tried to remove reporting from all organized play processes, it's become clear that there will have to be reporting for the Venture Demo Team. Simply put, in order to reward you for helping us, we have to know what you did. My goal is to make the reporting as painless for the Venture Teammates (is teammates a good term?) and as useful for us as possible.

The best case for a demo would result in the Clout-player-to-be so excited about Clout that not only do they buy some on the spot, but they give you their name and e-mail address so we can contact them with even more exciting Clout news in the future.


I've read this is possible, but in practice it's tough to do. Future demo team members, we'll be cracking this nut together.


Monday, March 06, 2006


Does anyone like playtesting? I love playing, I'm pretty lukewarm on playtesting. When I worked at Wizards I was always amazed at the people who would give their left (something) to playtest when I simply hated the process. Of course, CCG's are probably the least fun thing to playtest in the universe. Clout is more fun to playtest than the average game. It's still not my favorite thing to do. Writing this, for example, is more fun to me.

Right now we've got two things in playtesting. First we have the new game. That's pretty well underway. Paul's really good at getting the game into a fully playable state before we begin, which makes life easy on me. We make nice printouts of the chips on stock round stickers (no art, but better than the chicken scratchines we were using!) and play until we've made so many changes it doesn't make sense to play any longer each day. The schedule's so tight we may not have time for external playtesting, which seems really bad, but I'm certain will be fine. The game is still Clout, and still a base set, so we're not too far off the beaten path. The new abilities are what really need testing and those we can handle.

While we're doing all this work on the new game, the CLINCH promo chips also need playtesting. Time's just as tight with these and I'm contacting a few forum regulars and existing playtesters to see if they'll have time to give the new chips a look-over. I'm sure they're fine, but until you play with them, you never know. I've already chosen who I'm going to ask, but if you're really interested, you can go ahead and ask to playtest. I'm looking for:

Players who play more than once per week, with groups of 4 or more. I'll need all members of the group to sign Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDA) before I can send any files or materials. Players who are prolific on the message boards will certainly have a leg-up.

Requesting at this point probably won't get you in on this round of playtesting, but it may well get your foot in the door for whatever we do next.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

You can't post? That's not right!

It seems I had the setting for this blog set so only members could post comments. Doh! I want to hear from you. All of you! (Both of you?)

The problem should be solved now. Comment away!

I Love...Toys!

Love it or hate it, VH1 has assaulted us with another "I Love" series, this time featuring not only toys, but our own Peter Adkison announcing 3rd edition D&D from old GenCon footage. D&D ranked 98 of 100. Better than the Magic 8 Ball, not so good as Chutes and Ladders. With the exception of Wil Wheaton's attempt to explain it sanely, the game gets savaged. That's okay because they savage everyting on that show. I'm sure Woolie Willy (#91) fans have already started sending those nasty e-mails!

My goal: Have Wil Wheaton try and fail to explain Clout on VH1's I Love Toys, 2012. Go Wil!


Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Demo Kits

About a month ago I offered demo kits to the tournament organizers. Several of them took me up on my offer and requested the kits. After a month of mis-starts, I've got all the requested kits boxed up and ready to ship. What I'm hoping for, and I'll be asking each of the people that got kits this directly, is info on how and where they demoed, whether or not the 5-chip stacks included as the kit's giveaway item were interesting to people, did the kit contain the right amount of 'stuff', and what future demo kits should contain.

While I'm waiting for the feedback, I'll be getting ready for Wizard World LA (still looking for volunteers, by the way!) but not sending any new demo kits. You can certainly request them, so when I do ship more kits you'll get them right away.

On an unrelated note, it looks like I'm going to Europe in April to present CLINCH to our partners over there. This will be my first trip across an ocean, and I have to admit I'm a little nervous. If anyone's got any travelling suggestions, I'd love to hear them. Heck, if you've got presentation suggestions, I'd take that too! =-)