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We will soon be launching a pre-order for a game that is so secretive, we must disguise the link to join its emailing list in this newsletter. We need you as part of this daring conspiracy, but to avoid suspicion, we must leave it up to you not to miss the boat.
May 2016

Hello, it's great to be able to talk games with you again!

In this month's newsletter we talk about dice and dice games; specifically, an exciting dice project we are happy to be a part of, PolyHero Dice, that is moving into final production; and our upcoming release I Hate to Kill You, a dice game of daring duels in the world of The Princess Bride. Besides dice, our two feature projects also have in common that they are each designed by a pair of brothers.

And as always, we have a fun and interesting contest to enter to win a game.

The Life and Times Podcast

As always, the monthly newsletter is accompanied by a podcast, hosted by Michael Fox (Little Metal Dog Show, Myriad Games) and Dann May (Game Salute - Chief Creative Officer). The podcast features discussions about the day-to-day of playing and making board games, interviews with designers, and creative competitions.

I Hate to Kill You

A Dice Game for the Left Handed... and those Not Really Left Handed.

Designer Diary by Jim Harmon

Both my brother John and I are huge fans of The Princess Bride movie. When we learned at Origins 2013 that Game Salute was looking for small games based on the movie we jumped at the chance.  We came back from Origins and began brainstorming about what game to design. We considered escaping the fire swamp, climbing the cliffs of insanity and the clearing the thieves forest. But in the end we decided to focus on a game that recreated the sword fight of Inigo and the Man in Black.  My brother suggested a dice game where both players would roll a number of dice and compare the results, whoever wins a round would have to remove a die. At some point the players would be able to play "I'm not left handed" and swap the inactive and active dice.
I focused on this mechanic and began some initial testing.  Both players would roll their standard d6 dice and compare the result and then secretly play a card to manipulate the dice. What would determine the winner, the sum of the dice or number of "hits" with a hit being a 5 or 6 for example? How many dice should each player have? I quickly determined the sum worked best. I tried various number of dice and decided each player should have 6 dice. One problem with using the sum was it slowed the game down to add all the dice with a total ranging from 6-36.  At this point I decided to make custom dice with only blanks, 1 and 2 faces and the range would then be 0-12.  This worked well and we continued test. In order to add more choice to game I decided to weight the dice and giving each player 2 weak, 2 medium and 2 strong.  This change turned out to be a turning point. The players now not only had to try to win the round, but also had to worry about which die they would lose.

At this point we had a game we called  "A decent fellow" that recreated the sword fight between Inigo and the man in black that we submitted to Game Salute. The initial response was positive and I worked with David McKenzie to streamline the play and further balance the abilities. It was then suggested to add Prince Humperdinck and Count Rugen as playable characters. We knew we wanted give these characters unique thematic abilities. After more testing and balancing all four characters we arrived at the final game. 

I Hate to Kill You is a game for 2 players, lasting 5-10 minutes, for players of ages 8 and up. It is designed by Jim and John Harmon, with art by Felicia Cano and images from the movie.

PolyHero Dice - Warrior Set

Custom Dice to Die For

Design Diary By Dann May

As Chief Creative Officer with Game Salute, I get to work on some super fun projects with some great people. But actually, most of my creative career has involved working closely with my brother Greg. We were in bands together, went to art school together and worked as animators for many years in the same studios. Greg even does the amazing 3D renders that you will find on the back of many Game Salute game boxes. So it is with PolyHero Dice, a project that we developed and created together, sharing the design, modelling, Kickstarter campaigning and production oversight.

At the time we were developing the dice, I was working part time with Game Salute, and partnering with them (now us) was a very natural fit. Another partnership which has been essential is the support of our Kickstarter backers. They have all been incredibly supportive, particularly in those moments where we came up against hurdles. You can read on the campaign page a fairly in-depth story of how the project came about, and the stages of development before the Kickstarter, and even delve into Kickstarter updates if you are interested, but I can post some images to get you up to speed on where the project is right now...

Here are the final samples of the dice, that we approved mid-April and will be in production until mid-June. For more images of the samples you can visit the facebook page
Game Salute has a monthly slot in Meeple Monthly magazine, and this month Greg and I got to make an ad for the Warrior Set!  You can also see in the ad the hard cases that were added to the product after the campaign. 
A stretch goal that was hit during the Kickstarter campaign was to make "Knight Fight", a game I designed to be played with the Warrior Set. You can see most of the cards below.

I wanted to design a game that would work well with the dice, and as the game was being developed at the same time, the design of the dice was partly influenced by the game. The lower numbered dice are all weapons, and the lower they get the smaller and faster the weapons. Equally, the higher numbered dice are all defensive items. This is at the heart of the way the game works. There are eight knights in the game and their colors match the colors on each of the four sets of dice we are producing, so in that way also, the design of the dice fed directly into the way the game was themed. 

The other big influence on the design was the idea of a rock-paper-scissors inspired system that used actual items (the dice) and had information available to make your choices tactical. I'm a fan of Sirlin Games' Yomi, and the way it uses a rock-paper-scissors inspired system in an original and tactical way. Often during the process I thought of the dice as a hand of cards that you are needing to manage or refresh (with the dice that your Squire is collecting and returning to your hand when you Rally). Other card games, and mechanics like the one in Game of Thrones: The Board Game, where you need to play all your cards before you can return the set to your hand were also in the back of my mind as I was developing the game. I knew it wasn't going to be a card game, I wanted the dice to do all the work, but it was interesting to be thinking about a hand of dice being used in some of those card like ways. 

There are, of course, actual cards in the game. These aren't used in your hand at all, but are always placed on the table and give you special abilities, or empower your dice, such as turning a weapon die into a magical version of itself. Once I had the core system working, designing the powers for the different Knights was a lot of fun; and illustrating them to reflect the colors of the dice and their powers was too. 

The overarching goal was to design a game that played fast, had something of the feeling of a duel, and wasn't brain-burning but had some depth. This is will be my first published solo-design, and though it is a small game, a lot of thought went into designing it and I'm proud of the results. Knight Fight will, at least initially, be printed in a fairly limited run, mostly to fulfil the Kickstarter backers, but there should be a few copies that make it to retailers from this first printing.

Knight Fight is a game for 2-4 players, lasting 5-10 minutes, for players of ages 8 and up. It is designed and illustrated by Dann May.

PolyHero Dice - Warrior Set is a set of 7 custom dice, available in 4 colors, designed by Dann and Greg May. 

The pre-order for the Warrior Set and Knight Fight is still open, and will be until we are ready to ship. With the dice now in production and with us working through our shipping options, we are currently zeroing in on a delivery date between late-July and mid-September.

Every month we give away a board game (or more) by posing you a fun little creative activity or question...

Last month's game was to respond to the following challenge. 

Pretend you are making a board game that has the player colors of blue, red, black, green and yellow. In this imaginary game players play as fantasy creatures, and so each of these player colors will also be accompanied by a fantasy creature. What fantasy creatures would you combine with those colors? Imagine you are casting the figures in colored plastic, and there is artwork of the creatures with those color schemes.

We received some seriously creative entries.The lucky winners of the game were Alex Wynnter, and Wyle Fox! We talk about the entries in detail on the podcast. They both win a copy of Dungeon Scroll!

The prize for May's game is a copy of Sangoku, by Mike Elliot and the challenge is to:

Propose a fifth suit for a standard deck of playing cards. Hearts, Diamonds, Clubs, Spades... _______. The standard suits all have an historic significance, and there are a number of other traditional suits used in various contexts and games (you may have heard of "Cups" for instance). Your fifth suit may have its own significance, perhaps related to our modern world, or to some other concept that works interestingly with the four existing suits. Or maybe your suit will be purely ridiculous, or something entirely personal to you.

We'll select our four favourite (and all significantly different) entries, assign each to a card, and then randomly pick a card to decide the winner! Entries will close May 30th.

You can enter the competition by emailing your entry to
That's it for another Life and Times of a Board Game! We hope you get to play some great games over the coming month. Happy gaming!
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