Episode #19 – Michael & Stephen Stagliano / Mice & Dice

Week in Review is a podcast from Today in Board Games. It summarizes the top news stories from the week and digs a little deeper with interviews, reviews, and more. In today’s episode:

I interview Michael and Stephen Stagliano – twin brothers of hollywood fame who have brought their family game Mice & Dice to Kickstarter!

We would love your feedback on this episode! Please leave a comment here or visit us in ITunes and give us a rating and review!

Issue #153 – DJ Grandpa’s Crib


The Best in Board Games – In 5 Minutes or Less!
Mar 31, 2014 – Issue #153


  • Fantasy Flight announces Foul Play, an expansion to Blood Bowl: Team Manager The Last Banquet: a new social / party game.



Reviews & Previews

DJ Grandpa’s Crib

DJ Grandpa is a cool cat that hosts a weekly podcast interviewing Kickstarter project creators. While his show covers all categories he interviews a large number of gamers. This week’s episode goes live tonight at 9PM EST, and features Jamey Stegmaier of Stonemaier Games, Karl Fenner of Common Man Games, and yours truly. Karl is going to have a special announcement during the show so be sure to download and listen to tonight’s episode!


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Interview with Paul MacKinnon on “Allegiance: A Realm Divided”

Today’s interview is with Paul MacKinnon from Underground Games designer of Allegiance: A Realm Divided which is on Kickstarter now”

Allegiance_Box-2Give us an overview of your game and how it’s played.

Allegiance is a fantasy-themed, fully self-contained game of combat for two to four players. Featuring a unique board-game/card-game hybrid style, the game is deeply strategic in nature and usually takes between 30 and 60 minutes to play.

In Allegiance, players each assume the role of one of 10 powerful heroes and engage each other in combat. Each hero represents a different fantasy character class, and plays according to that character’s style, strengths, and weaknesses. Players can customize and level-up their hero by unlocking and utilizing the hero’s unique abilities, enlist allied units to fight on their behalf, and play tricky action cards to defeat their enemies.

What innovative  mechanic/creative  idea  distinguishes  your  game  from  others?

The primary feature that distinguishes Allegiance from other games is that of the heroes and how they are implemented. Each hero has their own interesting gameplay style and unique set of abilities, allowing players to interact with the game differently while still starting on an even footing. Players also get to pick and choose how they level up their hero, letting them utilize the hero differently every time they play.

Additionally, the heroes’ abilities and their cooldown ratings are implemented in a neat way for a tabletop game – reminiscent of a character abilities in RPG and MOBA video games – with cooldown ratings that determine how much time should pass between usages of the abilities.

Allegiance also features shared card decks (basic units, elite units, action cards) so that players can strategically select what type of card they draw each turn. This helps prevent getting foiled by unlucky draws (a common problem in CCG’s), and provides more tactical options for players to choose from on every turn.

Tell us about the spark or inspiration for this game.

There were three key moments in the design process for Allegiance that led the game to where it is today. The first was when the initial goal for the game was solidified – that Allegiance was going to build upon the combat-based card game feel of many popular CCGs, including their depth of replayability and strategies, but instead have this experience in a self-contained game that didn’t require endless repeat investment. While I love games like Magic, the ever-increasing price and barriers to get a balanced game started can be daunting.

The second moment came while discussing, just for fun, how one could recreate the feel of League of Legends characters within a boardgame – each with unique abilities with cooldown rates. This led to the creation of the cooldown mechanic, which led to creating the various heroes, and then suddenly the heroes ended up being the focal point of the game.

The final key moment came from a playtest session while getting feedback from local players. One player noted that two of the heroes at that time felt very similar to each other, which brought about the realization that it was crucial for each hero to have its own very distinct fantasy identity. A lot of time was spent making sure that each hero truly resonated the flavor of their character class, and that their play-style and abilities reflected the character as well. I think this is one of the most successful areas of the game, and the feedback about it has been really positive. To provide one example, when a player chooses the necromancer hero, they can’t draw units from the shared decks like the rest of the heroes, but instead “raise the dead” units out of the discard piles to fight on their behalf.

In terms of general game design, Allegiance was also borne out of years of playing games of all types. While playing other games, such as boardgames, CCGs, video games, you name it, I kept finding myself thinking about how the game was designed, what I liked, what I would improve upon, how I could port a mechanic from one game medium to another, etc.

While designing Allegiance, I took those years of thinking about game design and built upon elements of games that I liked while making sure to avoid the pitfalls.

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Let’s talk about the design process. Tell us a bit about the iterations the game has gone through and the refinements you’ve made along the way.

Allegiance has been in development since 2012. It’s actually funny to think about the first drafts of the game and trying out initial concepts – it only took 30 minutes to completely break the first version of the game and have to go back to the drawing board.

Once Allegiance’s overall gameplay had solidified, it mostly became a matter of balancing and fine-tuning. With 10 unique heroes to play as, and each with 7 unique abilities, a ton of hours were put into playtesting and tweaking to ensure that each hero is balanced and evenly matched with the others.

Luckily we have a great playtest group with a lot of gaming experience, both at the casual and competitive level, who have played Allegiance countless times to make sure that we get the balance right. We tracked statistics about each game during the testing process to get an accurate picture of the game balance.

What has been your biggest challenge in designing this game?

The biggest challenge has been the huge amount of time and effort getting the balance right between the heroes. I find that the number one factor in determining whether a game is fun or not is its balance – people enjoy close nail-biters, not one-sided blowouts.

Allegiance has a really large number of factors to take into account in order to achieve balanced games, so that’s unquestionably been the most frustrating and rewarding part of the design process.

Let’s shift gears and talk about you. How did you get into game design?

Playing games has always been my favorite hobby, and I could honestly play games all day long. I’ve been involved with casual gaming all the way up to gaming at the competitive level, such as the Magic: The Gathering pro tour.

More and more, I kept finding myself thinking about the design decisions of every game I was playing – what I liked about the game, and how I would improve it. Finally I just decided one day that I could make something great if I set out to do it, so I dove in and ended up with Allegiance.


What is your greatest moment as a game designer?

Definately the greatest moment as a game designer is seeing other people playing a game that you’ve made and truly enjoying themselves. I took Allegiance to a local boardgame group’s gaming night for them to try out, and watched two players play their first game of Allegiance. One player got the initial lead and was very close to finishing off the game, but then the other player managed to make just the right moves to pull out a come-from-behind victory. I could feel how excited both players were about their close, back-and-forth game, and it was incredibly rewarding.

Tell us a little bit about your life outside of game design and gaming: family? work? other interests?

Outside of game design I’m a computer programmer, and was working for an mobile app company until recently. I decided to put programming on hold however and focus full-time on developing Allegiance. In my spare time I also really enjoy playing sports such as hockey and volleyball. On the personal front, I’m getting married this summer, which is pretty exciting!

Do you have any works-in-progress or game ideas you would like to share?

Right now my main focus is on Allegiance and getting it off the ground, and I have endless ideas for new heroes and new cards. It’s a game that would lend itself well to expansions, with new heroes and cards adding to the already varied gameplay and high level of replayability. I’m hoping that Allegiance is a hit so that I can get started on expansion content!

Outside of Allegiance I have a few more ideas brewing in the back of my mind, including a tactical minis game, but they’re just high level concepts at the moment.

What games have you been playing lately? What have you liked, what have you disliked, and why?

I always love playing Magic: The Gathering, so I try to make time for it when I can. I’ve been very busy with Allegiance lately so I haven’t been as involved in the competitive Magic scene recently, but I’ve still been able to make time to cube here and there. Magic does have its pitfalls though when it comes to randomness, such as drawing too many or too little of your resources, or drawing unusable hands of cards. These are some of the factors of combat- based card games that I set out to eliminate when designing Allegiance. For me, some randomness is a good thing, but not when it’s responsible for taking a player out of a  game.

In terms of boardgames, I always really enjoy playing Smallworld, and I also recently have been enjoying Smash Up. Both games have a great mechanic to keep the games varied and fresh, by allowing you to mix and match what decks/races/classes you use each time. I like how these mix and match mechanics cause one game to the next to play out in different ways, rather than the games having nearly the same game state each time.

Allegiance works in a similar way by having each player play as a different hero. With 10 heroes in the base game, it gives you 45 different matchups to play, and each matchup plays out in different ways. And that’s not even counting the combinations of heroes in three and four player games, plus alternate gameplay variants.

Share your favorite game you haven’t designed and why?

As a programmer and a game designer I think it would be really cool to create an MMORPG, but that would require a ton of resources and capital to create. I loved the original Everquest, and wish that more current MMOs offered the high level of intensity and danger that it did, but with modern MMO innovations. Maybe some day…

A word of advice to your fellow game designers?

First off, you have to just get out there and do it. Start making a game. I had game design on the brain for such a long time, but wasn’t doing anything constructive with it until I decided to put myself out there to spend the time and energy to actually make something.

My other piece of advice would be to get outside opinions on your game. Don’t keep it to yourself for too long! Show people your game and see what they have to say. Even if you only end up using a small fraction of their input, sometimes you can get tunnel-vision and miss something that someone else might notice right away. I’m really glad we got feedback from many local gamers to help us shape Allegiance into what it is today.

Anyone you’d like to give a shout out to? (playtesters, design mentors, your friendly local game store, etc.)

Boy it’s a long list! I’ll have to generalize here to avoid a whole page of credits. First, I’d like to thank all the local players that have playtested and added immeasurably to Allegiance. A big thanks to Adrian and Alex for your idea and lore contributions, to Michael and Evan for the awesome graphic design, and to our amazing pool of fantasy artists. Thanks finally to my friends and family, who have made this possible. Everyone’s input, contributions and support have been invaluable in shaping the game.

Also a shout-out to my two local game stores in Calgary – The Sentry Box, and Phoenix Comics – for helping me get the word out about Allegiance.

Tell us how (and where) we can find you (social networks, BGG username, website, cons you plan to attend).

First off, please check out the Kickstarter campaign for Allegiance! It will be running until April 28, 2014 and funds raised will go primarily towards art commissions, production, and distribution costs:


You can also contact Underground Games at: Website: www.ug-games.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/UnderGrndGames Twitter: www.twitter.com/Undergrnd_Games  BGG Username: UG_Games

Allegiance BGG page:  http://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/147887/allegiance-a-realm-divided

Finally, I’ll be trying to get out to lots of local gaming events in Calgary throughout the campaign so that more people can try out Allegiance!

Core Worlds Digital Press Release

Stronghold Games and BrokenMyth Studios Announce Core Worlds Digital

“Core Worlds: Revolution” Expansion and Core Worlds Web Comic” also releasing in Q4 2014

 Somerset, NJ and Rochester, NY – March 31, 2014


1Stronghold Games and BrokenMyth Studios are proud to announce jointly the release of Core Worlds Digital, the digital implementation of the very successful and highly-acclaimed deck-building card game by award-winning game designer Andrew Parks.

The release of Core Worlds Digital will coincide with the release of another expansion for the Core Worlds base game, Core Worlds: Revolution. Furthermore, the Core Worlds Web Comic will be launching within the same timeframe.  All 3 of these projects are slated for the fourth quarter of 2014, ensuring a very enjoyable holiday season to all the fans of Core Worlds.

Core Worlds Digital will provide a new venue for experiencing this great game. Core Worlds Digital will not only give the ability to play Core Worlds remotely, but it will allow for a new streamlined, interactive, and engaging cinematic experience for all users. Core Worlds Digital will include multiplayer support via Game Center, AI opponents, pass-and-play, tournament play, match play, in-game rewards, limited edition cards, and in-app purchases that will allow you to customize the look and feel of your deck. Core Worlds Digital will be initially released for the iOS platform.

2To kickoff development of Core Worlds Digital, BrokenMyth Studios and Stronghold Games will launch a Kickstarter campaign in April 2014. The campaign will offer unique support levels and incentives that will only be available on Kickstarter. Watch the social media outlets for details of this campaign.

Core Worlds: Revolution, the second expansion for the Core Worlds base game, allows players to delve deeper into the story of the Core Worlds universe. Players will build incredible Advancements on their conquered Worlds, employ Heroic Tactics keyed to specific Heroes in a separate Heroic Deck adjacent to their regular draw decks, and take command of new Heroes.

Core Worlds Web Comic will provide fans with an ongoing look into the characters and events in the Core Worlds universe. The first ten page web comic will introduce the universe and potential plot lines to the readers. Additional five page installments will then be made every six weeks, taking fan feedback into consideration for future chapters. Core Worlds Web Comic will be presented on Inkbot.Net.

Core Worlds is the most thematic and rich of all the deck-building card games”, said Stephen Buonocore, President of Stronghold Games. “The great expertise of BrokenMyth Studios will deliver a cinematic experience for the fans that is second to none. Fans will also continue to enjoy the thematic richness with the Core Worlds: Revolution expansion and take it to the next level with the Core Worlds Web Comic.”

“We are thrilled to be in a partnership with Stronghold Games”, said Jeff Roeters, VP of Business Development of BrokenMyth Studios. “We at BrokenMyth have loved playing Core Worlds since its release. We have a personal interest in delivering a phenomenal digital version of this game, and we plan to do exactly that.”


About Stronghold Games LLC:

Stronghold Games LLC is a publisher of high-quality board and card games in the hobby game industry. Since 2009, Stronghold Games has released many highly-regarded games, including the best-selling “Survive: Escape From Atlantis!”, the most innovative deck-building game, “Core Worlds” and its expansion “Core Worlds: Galactic Orders”, and the latest smash-hit game line “Space Cadets” and “Space Cadets: Dice Duel”. Stronghold Games publishes great game designs developed both in-house and in partnership with European publishers. Stronghold Games LLC is a Limited Liability Company formed in the State of Delaware, USA.


About BrokenMyth Studios:

Founded in 2007, BrokenMyth Studios is a digital design and custom application firm that is deeply rooted in gaming. As a developer of both corporate focused solutions, and gaming industry solutions, BrokenMyth has an excellent list of loyal clients that rely on them for leading them through the ever-evolving world of technology. BrokenMyth focuses  on finding creative ways to solve challenges using gaming technology and strategy. BrokenMyth Studios LLC is a  Limited Liability Company formed in the State of New York, USA



Picture (Device Independent Bitmap) 1Stephen M. Buonocore  President  Stephen@StrongholdGames.com Stronghold Games LLC

17 Sunflower Road Somerset, NJ 08873 USA

Website: http://www.StrongholdGames.com

Phone: +1-908-304-5711



brokenmythJeffrey Roeters

VP, Business Development Jroeters@BrokenMyth.com BrokenMyth Studios

30 Liftbridge Lane Fairport, NY 14450 USA

Website: http://www.brokenmyth.com Phone: +1-585-507-5519

Pioneers Press Release

Hitch up your wagon with Pioneers!

In Pioneers, you play as a pioneer headed west across the United States in the 1840’s. You will lead and protect your party members as you gather supplies, play action cards, and encounter events on your trek. The goal is to be the first party to reach the final destination by spending your resources to travel to cities and across rivers.

Hitch up your wagon with this themed family/strategy, educational card game and head out west, but beware of the pressing times ahead.

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Pioneers is a card game inspired by the old video game Oregon Trail. We have taken some of our favorite elements from the game and incorporated elements of resource management, risk assessment and theme immersion with a little bit of educational family fun to bring you a brand new, versatile card game. Play it with your family on family game night or with your friends when you bring it to board game night.

We have tried to include historical accuracy without sacrificing game mechanics. Some of the Events and Pressing Times cards are based on actual challenges some of the pioneers faced. Also, all of the travel destination cards are of historical significance such as Oregon City and Winter Quarters.

For more details and a quick video on the game check us out on our Kickstarter page!

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All Bunnies Eat Carrots Press Release

  1980279_222303137966643_318542825_oWe have just released our new game on KickStarter! 

All Bunnies Eat Carrots, nicknamed ABEC, is quick to learn and easy to play. A great family game for up to 4 players! Players gather items, find bunnies, and initiate actions using the cards they’ve been dealt. There are 11 bunnies to find and collect and each has its own needs and difficulty level. The higher the point value of the bunny, the more difficult it is to collect it! The first player to meet the needs of 3 bunnies ends the game and the player with the highest combined value of bunnies wins!

ABEC kickstarter postcardThe game is all designed and we are ready to send it off to production! We gotta hit our minimum to get these games to you and when you back us it lets us know our project is something you want and are interested in. We have more games in our burrow than just All Bunnies Eat Carrot as well! We have over 15 games in progress and are just getting started! We need your support to make these games a reality and are so excited for you to be a part of Design Machine Games. Let us know you’re out there; pledge now and pass us along to your friends!

Check out our Kickstarter page! All Bunnies Eat Carrots

You took too long

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Issue #152 – SaltCon


The Best in Board Games – In 5 Minutes or Less!
Mar 28, 2014 – Issue #152


  • Fantasy Flight announces Foul Play, an expansion to Blood Bowl: Team Manager The Last Banquet: a new social / party game.



Reviews & Previews


I’m at SaltCon this weekend, look me up if you are here! Everyone have fun gaming this weekend! – Roger


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Baffledazzle Press Release

Baffledazzle — Puzzles that baffle the mind and dazzle the eye

An adventure-in-a-box puzzle series launching April 2nd on Kickstarter.

Baffledazzle puzzles combine solid wood jigsaw puzzles with clever riddles that lead solvers on a quest to uncover the story that lives beyond the images and shapes. Five puzzle series were developed for this campaign:


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La Plage, Ozuzo, and Cirkusu are available for $99 during the campaign ($125 after the campaign), Lucharán and Biurko are available for $49 during the campaign ($60 after). There is also a set of 4 mini-puzzle coasters, called Code Breakers, available for $25.


All Baffledazzle puzzles are made from solid wood, acrylic, or 100% wool felt and cut with a laser. Each series comes with illustrated riddles that guide you through the puzzle.


The experience

Every puzzle leads you to something real: a moment in history, a scientific discovery, a hidden culture, a tradition forgotten by time, an ancient joke. So there are endless ways to solve the puzzle. Most of what you need to get to the solution doesn’t come in the box, but can be found by searching the world around you.


Dozens of wood, acrylic, or felt puzzle pieces start you off. You start to gather clues from the piece shapes and textures, from the images they form, from the words etched into their face. A cryptic printed riddle helps you along; it gives your efforts direction and nudges you back onto the trail when you get lost. Mysteries and information gaps challenge you to look closely, think deeper, and search for sources that bring you closer to the solution. No two paths to the answer are exactly the same.


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 The creator

For creator Rachel Happen, Baffledazzle puzzles are the culmination of a lifetime of developing experiences for others. Trained as a dancer, she grew from performing others’ choreography to creating her own performance art. Now, she uses business infrastructure to capture the exploratory nature of art in products like clothing, footwear, and now puzzles. These products aim to deliver creative experiences, like solving a mysterious puzzle worthy of Indiana Jones, that help all of us see the world a little differently.


The details

This all-or-nothing funding campaign must raise $12,000 by May 4th for the funding to be collected and the puzzles to be produced. The puzzles are fully designed and ready for production. The campaign will help cover the cost of a laser cutter.

Baffledazzle is all about discovery and exploration. More puzzles, experiments, and experiences can be found on:

If you would like a reminder email when the campaign launches, please join the Baffledazzle mailing list here: http://eepurl.com/Q0qeL
By |March 27th, 2014|Press Releases|Comments Off on Baffledazzle Press Release

Issue #151 – Warring Kingodm


The Best in Board Games – In 5 Minutes or Less!
Mar 26, 2014 – Issue #151




Reviews & Previews

Warring Kingdom

Warring Kingdom breaks from traditional deck-building games by adding direct tactical conflict with your opponents, making this game highly interactive and highly fun. Warring Kingdoms is for 2-4 players each taking on the role of a disgraced lord attempting to usurp the crown. Balance economic development with military prowess and you’ll have what it takes to destroy your opponent’s castle and claim victory. Warring Kingdom is on Kickstarter now – a $37 pledge gets you a copy of the game.


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Troll Hunt Press Release

troll_hunt_laatikkoRoll D6 Games Announces Troll Hunt!

Roll D6 Games is pleased to take its first steps into the international market with a Kickstarter campaign for Troll Hunt, a tactical tile placement board game for 2-3 people, ages 8 and up, one game taking 45 minutes.

Espoo, Finland – March 20th 2014

Roll D6 Games is a young board game publisher based in Espoo, Finland. To date the company has published 3 family board games solely for the Finnish market.

troll_hunt_prototype_2This time the company wants to approach international audiences through Kickstarter. The funding campaign will run from March 18th until April 17th, and Troll Hunt will be funded if it gathers $2000. The estimated shipping time is December 2014.

Roll D6’s partner company in the release, GameSalute, will handle many practical issues from campaign management to shipping & handling the game to backers.

Our mission behind Roll D6 Games has always been to support Finnish, quality game-design and bringing it available to a wider audience around the world.


More information can be found on the campaign Kickstarter page:


Or on company pages:

Roll D6 Oy

Upseerinkatu 1

02600 Espoo


+358 9 3158 1086


By |March 25th, 2014|Press Releases|Comments Off on Troll Hunt Press Release