Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Sir Reginald in a box! Plus the insanity of Z-Man!!

Sir Reginald is now out of my hands and is hopefully whisking his way across the big pond. To follow his adventures, here's his tracking number: 8618 7464 2310. Hippodice IS in Germany, right?

Anyway, in the rush to get a nice Sir Reginald prototype built and ready-to-go to Germany for Hippodice, I was somewhat surprised to find out that Genji didn't make the cut. It's a card game with a fairly unusual theme (romancing Japanese women with poetry), and is very nice on the eyes. It's not your usual "build up your resources and cash 'em in for Victory Points" that I assume most players are going weary off (however, with the recent rush rush of love for Cuba, I guess I could be wrong with that!)

Of course, the good news part of this equation is that Genji was shown to Zev at Z-Man Games at BGG-Con, who apparently snatched up the publishing rights quite quickly. So congrats! go out to Dylan for that!

But the frightening thing to me is this list: the planned roll out of games for Z-Man in 2008. 18 games!!! Sure, you have to figure that at least a few will fall into 2009 or so, but man, that's a lot of games for effectively, a one-man show to keep track of in various states of publishing. And, as far as know from people I've asked, this is still a part-time affair for him!

While I have nothing but admiration for anyone who can build a company out of being devoted to a hobby, I'm often left wondering "just how many games can the hobby market hold?" I guess I much prefer the Days Of Wonder approach, where they work on publishing maybe 1 game per quarter or half-year, and concentrate on that, hope that some amount of those games "become evergreen."

Granted, I have no insight into the business plan of Z-Man, or any inkling of their financials, or distribution chains, or what not. (I wonder just how many hobby game are purchased at your friendly local game store versus online anyway). But it just seems to me like a dangerous path to take, and conceptually, overloading a promising company way past stability by throwing way too many darts at a wall while trying to maintain a high standard of quality.

Or worse, a potential stress-causing heart attack.

Now, I guess there is a problem where, if you find a really good game, you need to produce it, I suppose. And if you find a streak of good games that you feel can be produced, then you have to decide to bite the bullet and produce them all (which it appears is what is happening here). Even still, I think I would've rather played it safer, and just try an concentrate on improving fewer games. It appears that Z-Man is still looking for that one big hit that can carry the company through thick and thin, ala Settlers at Mayfair, or Ticket to Ride at Days of Wonder. While Z-Man is known for pretty darn good games with pretty darn good production values, nothing in his library has really crossed over the line to be more mainstream. Hopefully he'll find one in the next year, even though, in general, his games are a little more geeky than the stuff that Days of Wonder puts out, which fell a bit more mainstream.

In the end, I can't do anything but to wish them well, and hope that it all works out in the end and they don't implode from the sheer amount of stuff that they intend to produce.

In other news and a plug:
Usually when I go to Vegas, I try and spend a few days out at Lake Mead hiking. On the last trip, I took along my Vibram Five Fingers. I've been using them for indoor rock climbing and general health club workouts. It turns out that they are truly the best shoes I've ever worn while hiking at Lake Mead.

Lake Mead offers a really interesting mix of everything, due to the inescapably low water level. Rock scrambling on large gravel, sand, wet silt and mud, water, hard rocks. Lots of up and downs. Since the Five Fingers truly "fit like a glove" it allows your whole foot to wrap around everything and provide maximum traction. In the past, climbing up steep hills of loose mini-boulders often resulted in a two steps up/ one step slides down approach. But these shoes allowed for a complete monkey-grasp of the rocks.

Additionally, since they are curved to meet the soles of your feet, they don't get sucked off in muddy siutations, and they generally don't allow sand and debris inside due to their tight stretchiness. And they are thin on the bottom, so they allow you to feel the edges and curves of the rocks, so you get MUCH better stability than any other shoe.

Anyway, if you have the means, and are interested in a great low impact hiking or workout "shoes," I heartily endorse the Five Fingers.

I'd upload some pictures, but they are currently trtapped in my digital camera, as my Compact Flash card reader refuses to acknowledge the Memorex CF card that the picture are on.

Plug off.

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Blogger Dave said...

I'm a fan of Z-man games since I playtested their ww2 germany bombing run game (duel in the dark?). it has a lot of the flexibility of wings of war -- you can keep it simple, or you can ramp up the complexity and simulation-ness.

2:40 PM  

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